A Conversation About God and Mental Health

TRUE OR FALSE:

Jesus did not address mental health.

Depression, anxiety and other disorders can be controlled. 

People with mental illnesses need deliverance.

The bible talks about emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. 

The bible references 'healing' only for the body and nothing else. 

Let's go through this together. 

I used to think mental illnesses weren't real - made up entirely in your own mind because you've allowed it and it's your fault. I don't know when I decided that was the case, but I did. I'd hear people say about someone, "he is under demonic influence and needs deliverance, that's the only thing that will help him" and figured that made sense, I'll never have to worry about struggling like that. 

That was until my mom died and the doctor told me I had anxiety disorder and depression. I started to think about my life and my history. The doctor asked me if I could tell him the last time I remember having 'a clear mind,' a time without unwelcome thoughts parading around. I sat there stunned. I couldn't remember. Could it be true? Did I have an anxiety disorder? Only one memory came to mind. I was in worship and felt peace but right after it ended my mind was on overload, replaying scenes and conversations over and over and over again. Actually now that I think about it more, I remember my mind was also at ease when I'd be laughing - when someone or something made me laugh. 

I've been a Christian ever since I was little, with a few college years of walking away but always returning because I could never last long away from God. I remember right after college I had such extreme anxiety but at the time, I didn't know that's what it was. I would listen to these cd's on the way to work voicing scriptures. I would read Joyce Meyer articles on the 'battlefield of the mind'. I did everything I could, not really understanding why it was so hard for me to just be at peace. I thought I needed to repent of like 68 things every day because surely there was something that was causing me to struggle so much. 

To other people who know me, this is probably rather shocking. I am a bubbly person who makes jokes and laughs a lot. People sometimes say they feel 'at peace' around me. Isn't that funny? They feel at peace around me except my own mind is far from it. 

I was given medication about three years ago to help calm my mind so I could sleep at night. I took it and easily became dependent on it. It would give me this warm fuzzy feeling and I longed for that feeling all the time. My dose had to go up, and it became a pattern that wasn't healthy. I am NOT saying medication is the problem. It definitely helped me sleep at night during those first few months without my mom. If you break a leg and go to the doctor, chances are they will give you medicine to help you heal. I think the medication in this case, served the same purpose. 

However, for me personally, I started to see my whole personality changing, and not for the better. I was isolated, groggy a lot of the day. I wasn't laughing at anything. I just looked forward to the pill that would calm my mind. For me, it wasn't the be all end all solution I needed. 

I ended up in a bible school because I wanted to learn for myself what the bible actually says about everything controversial. I wanted to know for myself what I believed in.

Where is God in all this suffering? 

Well, Jesus brings up mental health far more than we give him credit for. He talks about anxiety, a lot. The psalms are written by someone who is fighting against his soul being downcast and figuring out how to get himself in line with who God says he is. 

The bible talks about Jesus healing a man who then became 'whole'. This word can be interpreted as the spirit, soul, and body - where the soul is the mind, will, and emotions. Now in other cases, Jesus simply tells us not to be anxious even in trials but to pray and look to him because he has overcome the world and will always be a present help in times of need. He tells us he will give us the Holy Spirit, the counselor. 

If we study all the references to mental health, and not just Jesus, but also the letters from Paul or the Psalms, it's evident that

God has planned for us to live a happy, free, fulfilled, and blessed life. 

This is his plan even though we live in a world that is fallen. Our struggles are not so we live a hopeless life of suffering, unable to attain the peace we so long for. There are many reasons for mental health disorders and struggles, be it an illness or something temporary.

This is my personal belief:

Sometimes it's genetic. Sometimes a hormone imbalance. Sometimes a combination of factors including environmental influence, trauma, or abuse. Sometimes it requires medicine to balance the hormones and other times it doesn't. God can and does heal people suddenly but lots of the time the healing is a process. Therapy and counseling are tools for us to use so that we can heal from the inside out and live content. Sometimes it's lies we are believing about ourselves that keep our minds captive to modes of thought - a type of oppression. Other times it's just a bad day and renewing our mind with what God says is a key. We are not alone in our struggle. God is always with us. People need us. We are able to share our experiences so that we know we aren't alone. 

There are times when my mind just can't get ahold of itself and I want so badly to take anti-anxiety medicine. I personally made the choice, with the help of professionals, that the route I want to take doesn't include medicine like this, and that was okay for me. I've had to come up with a routine - I spend about two hours every morning writing, reading, and praying. If I don't get this time in the morning, it's hard for me to cope if something triggers me. The triggers are dying down, less and less now. I have found my voice and my ability to be a strength for others. It's hard. I understand. Sometimes I look around and wonder why it feels harder for me to be content and at ease, compared to other people. 

But you know what, everyone struggles even if they don't show it. Comparison is a dead end. We are truly in this together if we allow it.

There is one truth I always stand by - there is ALWAYS hope. 

Thanks for reading. 


 

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