1 in 5 people struggle with a mental illness, I am one of them. Around one-third of the world considers themselves a Christian, I am one of them too. I am a Christian with generalized anxiety disorder and borderline depression. There is a HUGE stigma within my faith that if you have anxiety or depression, it is your fault for “not seeking God hard enough”. I call bullcrap. Mental illness has nothing to do with my relationship with God. God is not punishing me with mental illness because I haven’t “chased after him”. As humans, we are flawed. From the beginning we’ve been imperfect beings in need of a Savior. My struggle with mental illness and I are no different. I’ve been on anxiety medication since mid-October 2016. I remember the hardest thing about it was learning that it was okay to ask for help. I remember talking to someone from my faith about my depression and how at the time I was suicidal, and he told me that I was “being selfish” and “wanting to take the easy way out”. I got no help until my very conservative, religious mother told me that it was okay to ask for a helping hand, and whether it be medication, prayer, therapy, or a combination of the three, she was going to go through this with me. She understood that for me, every day was a battle. Sometimes I won, most times I was thrown down by defeat. She understood that things were not all right in my mind. She understood that the Great Physician created these great minds who develop medicine for people like me for a reason.
The stigma within my faith needs to end. Having a mental illness means that there is something wrong with my hormones and my brain, it has nothing to do with how “good” of a Christian I am. Saying that Christians aren’t allowed to have anxiety and depression is like saying Christians can’t get the flu. Sounds insane, right? Fellow Christians, I urge you to dismount your high horses and be more Christ-like. Model yourselves after the Savior who is seen constantly throughout scripture as helping the lame, the sick, and the blind. Stoop down to help those who cannot help themselves on their own. Christianity is about love and compassion, and many of us still fall into the stigma that people with mental illness don’t deserve to be loved or are undeserving of compassion without pity. They are treated as subhuman. We are worthy. We are loved at the same magnitude by the Creator as you are. We are valid.
I am 1 in 5 people who struggles with a mental illness, and I will not be shamed for what I cannot control on my own. I will not be shamed for needing medication. I will not be shamed for my brain not doing what it’s supposed to do. I will not be treated as a subhuman weakling for taking action against the silent inferno within me. I will not stop fighting Satan’s lies that I am unworthy, that I am unloved, and that pills make me a traitor of my faith. I will not be shamed by the stigma. I will rise from the ashes of mental illness, and bring up others who have sunken under the rubble and destruction. I will be okay. If not today, then someday.
I continually ask God to help with this season of my life, but I know that even if He choses not to heal me just yet, He will still be here to bring me courage to ask for help, and courage to help others who also struggle.