the burden is not light

The girl in the pictures above looks happy, light, and care free. But it has taken quite some time to feel comfortable in who she is, flaws and all.

Talking about mental health and working through those issues is hard. But discussing it in the south, seems even harder.

Almost two years ago I realized my anxiety was something I couldn’t control on my own anymore. No matter how much I tried to remove stressors from my life, practice self-care, or pray about it, I just couldn’t do it on my own.

I was worrying over minute details. I was always exhausted, but couldn’t seem to find any rest in my body or my mind. Concentrating on tasks at work was hard. I became irritable over the strangest things and would allow these moods to ruin my day because they were controlling my life.

I finally decided to do something about this and sought medical help for a prescription. While it took some trial and error with different medications and took my body some time to adjust, it improved my day-to-day life tremendously. I could finally function again.

But oddly enough, I felt embarrassed I needed help. I felt ashamed every morning I pulled my little green pills out to take one. I grew up learning people who sought assistance with something like anxiety or depression basically just needed to toughen up and pray about it.

Many will say, “Oh God is just testing you, He never gives more than you can handle!” or “Your mental illness is a punishment for sinning.” I prayed and pleaded with God for so long. I felt as if something were wrong with me or I was doing something wrong and that is why I couldn’t shake the feeling of anxiety constantly overwhelming me. So why wasn’t God “fixing” me?

The prevailing culture of silence along with misguided attitudes and erroneous expectations often cause suffering believers to feel shamed, blamed and very unsupported. *raises hand*

It look me quite some time. But I finally became PROUD of myself for taking the initiative to do something. Through this journey, I have even found a therapist I love (who I should definitely visit more often.) I know some people laugh that I pay money to express my thoughts and concerns with a “stranger” every few weeks. But whew it is money well spent!

I encounter this stigma around mental health often living in the south. The idea that the disruptions in our brains can be simply solved with prayer. I have to pause and say that my faith is very strong and real and I believe in the healing powers of Jesus. But He also created modern medicine and the will and sense to utilize these resources. We get confused when we think we can’t take a prescription because it would mean we don’t trust God enough.

So friends if you are going through it or have been there before, please know you are not alone. I am so proud to see how progressive the mental health movement has become and the openness a lot of my friends and I have about needing a little extra “help.” Let’s continue that momentum and encourage others to take care of their mental health in whatever capacity they need.

High High Hopes

If you didn’t know already, I love a solid black outfit. One that can be worn to work, dinner with the girls, or just on a casual shopping day. I typically don’t think I look great in a peplum style top, but this one from Rent the Runway, is super comfortable and flattering. Seriously – the fabric is stretchy but sucks you ALL in! It is great for every day wear and can be easily dressed up.

This week I ventured out to the this civil rights mural depicting Bloody Sunday and the civil rights marches in Selma beginning at the corner of Lee and Montgomery Streets. (Mural painted by Sunny Paulk.)

Sometimes in my day-to-day life in Montgomery, I forget how rich the history is running through these streets. I will run out to grab lunch and see tourists walking around downtown and I am instantly reminded of the stories and places that gave rise to a movement and created change.

Standing in front of this mural, I couldn’t help but think how great change can come from peace and hope and that the world still needs a lot of people bringing about peace and equality for all. I am inspired by the stories of those who came before me and the courage and sacrifices of each of them.

This theme of hope is rampant in our lives daily. We constantly speak in what I call “hope language”:

  • I hope I am healed.
  • I hope she isn’t mad at me.
  • I hope my prayers are answered.
  • I hope I can pay my bills this month.

The issue isn’t whether you hope, but what holds your hope. Remember these things as your attach your security, your sense of peace and rest to something every day.

  • Your hope is in something – What are you placing your hope in right now?
  • Hope is a lifestyle – You always live your hope in some way, it isn’t just something you do with your mind.
  • Most of our hopes disappoint us – When our hopes disappoint us, it is a sign we’ve put our hopes in the wrong thing.
  • There are only two places to look for hope –You rest your hope in the hands of the Creator or look to the world for hope.
  • Hope in God is sure hope – Hope placed in God is well placed and will never disappoint.

I hope this blog post inspires you as enter into a new week. Let me know you keep your hope well placed by commenting below!