Balancing Mental Illness With My Faith
Walking in faith is one of the very first lessons we are taught in the Christian faith. We are instructed to believe that God is good in any situation. Trust in God is a key component of the faith walk, but somehow, it’s something we’ve all struggled with. The lack of trust we experience is often directly connected to a relationship we’ve experienced with someone close to us. Perhaps it’s a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a coworker, but it is not uncommon for us to immediately attach human failures to the nature of God. Especially when you have lived out difficult life circumstances you hoped would be resolved in a more favorable manner.
I can say for me, I’ve not always relied on him the way that I should have. Sometimes instead of relinquishing the thoughts of worry about what’s next, I find myself stressing and panicking about if God, who has never failed me, will somehow fail me this time. The inability to control these thoughts has brought me to the realization that my mental illness and my faith are at war. Ever since I can remember I have battled anxious thoughts and depression. I always thought these feelings and thoughts were related to life circumstances that weren’t going right, and truthfully that could still be a part of it, but it’s not the whole story.
This year I decided to take charge of my mental health. Days came and went where I felt like maybe I didn’t want to be here anymore. My doctor grew concerned for my well-being and referred me to a psychiatrist where I am now receiving the help and treatment that I need. Ashamed about this reality at first, I was reluctant to share. Pride would not allow me to be vulnerable. But now, understanding how this might be helpful to someone out there, I am an open book. My doctor diagnosed me with severe anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
Well, what does any of this mean you might ask? It means I struggle with settling my mind and controlling my thoughts. (I am working on this because this is out of the instruction and will of God.) My mind often goes to the worst-case scenario. I worry about almost everything and it stops me from being able to move forward in life. Depression is a chemical imbalance and directly corresponds with bipolar disorder. My moods can be extreme. Some of you might think it means multiple personality disorder, but that is not the case.
Bipolar disorder just means I have extreme lows and highs. One week I can feel like I no longer wish to be here and another week I can feel invincible. I may make rash decisions and choices I wouldn’t normally make during the peak feelings. These feelings of invincibility are referred to as manic episodes. They look different for anyone battling bipolar disorder. Despite this diagnosis, I can see how God has been faithful even in this. Learning of these conditions has only drawn me closer to Him. I spend more time in prayer and practicing/exercising my faith. The balance comes in between the two where I take the medication and treatment offered by healthcare professionals, while also spending more time in prayer and in God’s word.
Drawing close to God amid mental illness is important to find the right balance. Never let anyone make you feel guilty for choosing to do both. If you are battling with any mental illness, God will honor the treatment of the medical professional, and he will also be faithful in keeping you through it. My mind reflects on the scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:8 where Paul begs for the Lord to remove the thorn from his flesh. The Lord instead reminds Paul that His grace was sufficient to carry him through without removing the thorn.
I’ve come to see my mental illness that way. I still believe God is a healer and a deliverer. But I understand this may be in His will for me to endure so I can be an inspiration to people battling this as well. I can only testify and witness to what I have experienced. Therapy and Jesus make a good recipe for healing. Please find someone to talk to that is a professional outside of your normal friend circle.
To help me on my journey I’ve also began practicing mindfulness. Here is an article on how you can get started.
Also, if you’re battling negative thoughts, check out this post for more encouragement,