Tuesday, 22 May 2018
Recently, my boyfriend and I attended a large sporting event. Outside the stadium, volunteers were supplying blue glow bracelets to promote a major Australian mental health organisation. We both grabbed one and inside the stadium, I made sure mine was on full display.
Five years ago, I didn't believe depression existed. Today, I advocate for aids like the organisation above because I have seen and felt the effects of mental health on myself and others in my personal life, my professional world, and society in general.
Christians especially seem to struggle with the concept of mental health and depression in particular. How many times have you heard that a Christian cannot possibly be depressed for they have the Joy of the Lord? If you're suffering mental health issues, then maybe you're being attacked by Satan and in that case, maybe you're not even a Christian in the first place. Sadly, this extreme reaction can and does happen. Few people have an issue with physical health problems but somehow mental health can still looked on entirely differently, especially in Christian circles. Take me for example. I used to be very uncomfortable with the idea of people having depression, thought it probably did not exist, and that psychologists were bad. Turns out, I've likely had it myself for many years.
There are many different mental health disorders but two of the most common are anxiety and depression. Chances are you know someone who has or has had one or both of these. Maybe you have. I certainly have suffered from both.
Anxiety and depression don't happen because you're a bad Christian and / or the devil is controlling you. There are many causes including chemical imbalance in the brain, environment, abuse, traumatic circumstances and more. Even the symptoms of depression / anxiety may be different from what you think. Whilst suicide, self harm, and feeling sad are all results of mental health illness, so are tiredness, fidgetiness, panic attacks, feeling worthless or bad anxiety. (Useful info from mental health site Beyond Blue).
Just as it's not wrong to see a doctor for physical ailments, it's not wrong to see a doctor, counsellor or psychologist to help with mentsl health. In fact, if you are suffering from a mental health illness, I strongly urge you to seek some kind of professional help. It could be life changing. God often heals us through prayer AND medical intervention - we see this all the time with physical illness, so why should it be any different with mental health? (To be strictly homest, I need to do a better job at this myself and I do understand that it is H.A.R.D. to overcome some of the stigma around this subject.)
If you're reading this and thinking, *thatst me!" or feeling triggered by this post, can I encourage you to seek out professional help, or at the very least look for information to help. Here are some suggestions:
You're not alone xx