Tuesday, August 12, 2014

mental illnesses aren't just for the crazies

The world is going to miss Robin Williams.

Because of his death, depression has become a hot topic.  For some, there may be a temptation to say, "People need to just get over it." Or, "Find a new hobby."  Or, "Work on your relationship with God."  (Which may actually be the worst of those 3.)  The truth?  None of those are fixes.

"Getting over it" is something that we do when someone flips us off on the highway.  It's not a feasible solution for overcoming depression.  And while I do believe that participating in life-giving hobbies is beneficial to our souls, it doesn't have the capability to block out depression.  No doubt in my mind that there is a ton of spiritual stuff at the bottom of depression/anxiety issues, but getting to a new place with it takes much more than Bible verses on note cards.

I am in a different spot in my life because of the anxiety that started in 2012.  Now, I feel almost completely healed.  However, I'm always susceptible to it and still work hard to guard my mind and heart every single day from darknesses that just won't benefit me.

For me, the "fix" was a combination of things.  I talked with friends about it.  I went to counseling for several months.  I prayed and received lots of prayer.  I clung to God like nobody's business.  All of that pulled me through.  But in order to maintain where I am right now, I have to be careful, paying attention to everything that I allow to fill my mind, how far I let my brain spin an awful situation, and how much I let myself dwell on the future.  It's still work, but I'd rather be managing anxiety than be crippled by it.  I got to the other side and I'm so grateful.  But I'm one case.  And how silly it would be to assume that all cases of anxiety/depression are the same.

Some people need medication, some don't.  But ALL need help in some way.  ALL need to talk through things, express the truth, and feel understood. 

If you haven't ever experienced it yourself or walked with someone who has experienced it, count yourself blessed.  But with that, muster up as much compassion as you can for those that are struggling.  I truly used to think mental illnesses were just, well, for mental people.  The crazies.  The people with bad home lives.  The people who were just too weak to handle life.  The people who just needed the Lord.  I was so wrong.  Turns out, mental illnesses can affect anyone and everyone - even the "normal" people.

It's unbearable and isolating.  It's empty.  It sounds crazy because it feels crazy.  It's terrible feeling the symptoms of anxiety and depression emotionally and physically. 

If you are struggling with a deep feeling of sadness/emptiness/loneliness/nothingness, get help.  If life feels impossible, get help.  You don't have to live in darkness every day.  You may have to battle it every day, but you don't have to live in a state of helplessness.  Things can be better for you. 

It's not weird to have anxiety or depression.  It just feels weird because it's so misunderstood.  It'd be easier if it was an ailment that just needed an antibiotic, but it's not.  It's hard work, but it's worth pushing through to get to the other side.  Worth every penny spent on medication or counseling, worth every tear that you dread shedding in front of a counselor you don't know, worth every uncomfortable word you speak to your friends/family as you explain your situation.  All of it is worth it because you're worth it.

Give yourself a gift by allowing yourself to overcome darkness and find the light.  The light isn't full of perfect people, but people just like you and me who are fighting to be who they were created to be.  Darkness doesn't have to win.  And, really, it's already lost.
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

{For all posts on anxiety/fear/panic attacks, click here.}

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