I believe many Christians feel that because they have a relationship with God they should not have depression or anxiety. It can make them feel bad when other Christians tell them to pray it away. It might make you feel like you are not praying hard enough when your depression and anxiety don’t go away. I do believe God can heal but there are also many times in the Bible when he sends a person to help. Most Christians don’t feel bad going to the doctor or taking medicine for physical illnesses. There is no difference in going to therapy or taking medication for mental illness. Actually, mood disorders are technically physical illnesses, too because your brain is still a part of your body. Many people have a chemical imbalance in their brain. Exercise and diet can help with the chemical imbalance but often people need medication and therapy and there is nothing wrong with that. For so long I felt like there was something wrong with me because I could not “get rid of” my depression, anxiety, or OCD on my own. I think I was 29 when I started talking to my therapist. I feel like I probably should have started talking to a therapist around 19.
Because I am a helper by nature I also want to take care of everyone else. Especially after getting married and becoming a mom I thought it was selfish to take care of myself. I would feel like a horrible mom for wanting time away from my kid. If anyone else is feeling this way I want to let you know self-care is not selfish. Self-care is a skill that needs to be developed. I have to tell myself if I am able to take care of myself I can better take care of my family. I also need to remember it is not possible for me to take care of everyone.
“O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, ‘We have defeated him!’ Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing because he is good to me.” Psalm 13 NLT
A lot of Christians feel that it is not okay to be sad but there are many Psalms where the author is lamenting. Jesus even lamented (John 11:35; Matthew 27:46). There is a perfect example of lamenting in the book, God Behaving Badly by David T. Lamb:
“When I first came to my seminary, I met James, a new student who shared with me about the struggles he and his wife had in their efforts to become parents. They had tried for several years to conceive and finally became pregnant. Just two months before I met James, his wife had miscarried while in her first trimester. They were in the midst of grief but were torn because somehow it didn’t seem right for Christians to complain. James said, ‘But God is good and I shouldn’t complain.’ I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything for a while. Eventually I said, ‘I think you should complain. The psalmist complained’ (I should have added, ‘And even Jesus lamented’). We prayed that God would help them grieve and lament their loss and also that God would bless them with a child someday. Later, when James took my psalms class he wrote his own psalm of lament about the miscarriage. About two years after our initial conversation and prayer, I rejoiced with him when his son was born.” (pg. 159)
If you are struggling with grief, depression, or anxiety know that God loves you and he hasn’t forgotten you. Be honest with him about your struggles and tell him how you are feeling. I used to feel that I couldn’t ask God: “Why am I going through this? Why don’t you take this away?” But it’s okay to ask questions and God already knows you’re thinking these things anyway. I am a strong believer in prayer but I am also a strong believer in self-care. If you are struggling with any mental illness please do not be embarrassed to get help. In November I had a breakdown and I was seriously considering suicide. Please don’t let it get that bad before you get help. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with you for feeling depressed, anxious, or struggling with intrusive thoughts. God loves you no matter what.
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
“Therefore in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2nd Corinthians 12: 7-10 NIV
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 NIV
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NIV
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255; www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org