Faith and Mental Illness

I struggle with mental health. This is going to be a bit of a rocky post, but bear with me as I go from mental health ally to mental health advocate.

Important note: Not a medical doctor, just a fellow sufferer with experience in social anxiety, major depressive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar type 2. Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

These are three things I do before I go down into the rabbit hole of depression-

I ask, Am I doing the things I can to be more in touch with Heavenly Father? Remember, for those of faith, being depressed can make you feel as if the spirit isn’t with you. If you know you’re doing what you can to be in touch with God, rest assured He is with you. For me these acts of faith include prayer, scripture study, reading or listening to sermons and attending church.

I consider my physical body. As with heart disease- I try to do what helps my condition. Diet, exercise, rest, meditation and medication can be life-changers for a chronic condition. Remember, you do what’s right for you. Not everyone with heart disease needs medication, but some do. Diet and exercise alone may not be what’s right for you.

I consider my allies- But when these things don’t seem to be working- when life seems irrevocably dark despite my best efforts- I remember this is my illness. And I hang on for the ride. I may have no energy for mental health beyond uttering a prayer. During these times, understanding is needed from my allies- friends, family and my therapist. Depression is a battle. Sometimes we need a shieldbearer. Sometimes we just need a hand there for us when we reach out.

As a final thought, I quote Jeffrey R. Holland, “we are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions!” The rest of his talk, Like a Broken Vessel, is hopeful. On bad days, I play it over again. I’ve linked it below.

We are more than our depression or anxiety. We are more than our burdens. Yet we do struggle, we do stumble. And that’s okay.

https://youtu.be/kNAx2Rgq-uI

God will not always take the burden from me, but He can lighten the load.

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