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, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 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.

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


Nerve Pain

fire rages through my veins
through my ligaments
through my muscle
i tighten my legs
count my breaths
hold perfectly still
prey in the mouth of predator
the TENS unit blazes a hole through my calf
it’s not enough to distract
not enough to let me sleep through this fire

Why I Don’t Talk Much At Parties #3

I’m feeling like I’m standing too close to the oven. Just about to burn. And nothing stops this pain. Sleep won’t come. I’ve got a TENS unit on blast. Oil of CBD. vitamins. I’m tired of capitalizing my P-A-I-N. of talking about it. here there be dragons. doctors say I’m off the map. what do you think? ok, see you.

The Trivial Life

my table holds my husband’s work station- double computers and all
my children each set up randomly round the house with their laptops
and i
do nothing
which is to say i read and write and practice handwriting
poke ghosts with sticks then water the garden but nothing big
I’m the trivial life
tonight i am well enough to cook dinner spaghetti
i laugh with my children past bedtime
question each about their care of each pet
i wander far into my own thoughts
a cloak of silence
and watch the cars on the highway make a lap

So What Do I Love Now?

When I was healthier, pre-illness, I trusted my body to do what I asked. I hiked my gear in and out with my trusty dog Mr.B. I worked out. I volunteered. I never accepted help- which drove my husband crazy. I was fit strong. Then whack. ME hit hard.

Next 5 years in bed. Couldn’t think straight, focus, get downstairs. Shortly, it was hell. I found the right med combination for me and the last year I’ve been slowly getting my life back. As in grocery shopping. As in spending time with friends. Little things I overlooked when I was running around conquering life. This is not what I look like today. 5 years in bed was rough on me. But I walked through hell for over 8 years and got my smile back. I see this picture which used to bring me despair- and now see hope. Hope for a life back in nature, back in the world, back on my feet hiking in my gear. But today is not this day. It may be again because exists the opportunity to grow– and for that I am eternally grateful. Right now I love what tomorrow will be, I love writing as always, I love second chances and I believe in all of them with all my heart.