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.