Mental health in relation to Christianity/faith isn’t spoken about enough. It's almost as though as a Christian, if I were to admit that I am struggling with my mental health it says that I'm not spending enough time in God's Word, I'm getting caught up in issues of the world or I lack faith. It's ironic because Jesus Christ experienced depression.
As many of us have, knowingly or unknowingly, I have struggled with depression, anxiety and paranoia. I couldn’t live in denial of all I was feeling and experiencing. I would ask myself questions.
Am I alone in this as a Christian?
Does experiencing these actually mean my faith is low?
How come people assumed that by shouting “you are not depressed in Jesus’ Name!!”, those dark hours, days, weeks… would instantly stop.
In all the searching, I ran to the world and people looking for temporary fixes which always left me disappointed. I ignored all I felt. I tried to keep pushing which just led to break downs and burn outs. I tried to do it on my own which is hilarious because how can I, a mere human being, understand and attempt to heal a mind the God of all has so intricately and deliberately created?
Ideally, I wanted to write this with references from my 2017 prayer journal, because that year God fought a beautifully powerful battle on my behalf in terms of my mind. I was searching and was so desperate for detailed answers that went beyond surface level ‘it’s going to be ok’ conversations and raised hands & tears once a week on Sunday at church. I was in trouble mentally and I needed help that only comes from God.
I cried to Him. Oh, I cried. I spent so much time with Him. I dug deep into His Word. It's amazing now looking back because it's evident that He worked my depression and paranoia for good. It stirred up a hunger for His Word and a desire to be in His presence like I've never experienced before and honestly, have not experienced since.
In that season, God revealed triggers to me. He taught me how to fight when the enemy tried it with my mind. He gave me the strength to clapback with the Truths of His Word when negative lies clouded my mind. He taught me the importance of taking breaks and deliberate mental health days doing what I loved. It could be as simple as going on photo walks, deep conditioning my hair and buying myself flowers weekly. He brought me a tribe of encouragers in the form my mother, family members and friends-old and new-who held me so close to their hearts in form of checking on me and praying for me.
I read His Word, books (Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey and The Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer being two favourites), listened to podcasts, watched sermons, covered my walls in scriptures to counter all the lies in my head with the Truths only the Bible holds.
I saturated my life in The Word of God in all forms not because I was trying to be the best Christian ever, but because without living and breathing these truths I would have been crushed from the weight of the lies of the enemy.
During this period, a dear friend said to me 'do you know Jesus was depressed? He's gone through it for you so He understands and feels it'. That really ministered to me so I went looking for more in The Bible.
Matthew 26:38 says "Then He said to them, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me.”.
This was while He was in Gethsemane praying before He was arrested. He knew what was to come but He was still crushed in His soul. He went through it when He didn't have to, for us, so we would be free from depression, anxiety and all other mental health disorders in life. We need to remember that we have been offered the freedom. The Name of Jesus is above the name of depression.
Now, let's get even more practical. After all, faith without works is dead.
It helps to remember that those negative thoughts aren't ours-they're the enemy working so hard to steal our joy and separate us from God. It's not easy-it requires a daily fight and renewal of the mind through The Word.
When I studied that chapter in Matthew, I found that there were key things Jesus did:
1. He recognised what was going on-He wasn't in denial/ignoring it.
2. He spoke about it. Jesus was speaking aloud to Peter, James and John when He described how His soul felt. Talk about it with people you trust, who you know will speak the truth of The Word of God over you.
3. Jesus brought His people with His to pray with Him. Fight the desire to seclude yourself. He recognised that this feeling was in His soul and that the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
4. Lastly, He still honoured His Father. Look for at least one thing every day to be grateful for. Take it one day at a time. Gratitude is so powerful and we have so much to thank God for. Maybe even open up a gratitude journal?
The Holy Spirit is our comforter for a reason. He always, always comes through.
I was and am still desperate for more of Jesus because He is, quite literally, my lifeline. All in search of answers, which He beautifully and wholly revealed.
God cares deeply about our mental health because He created our minds.
I’ll type it again.
God cares deeply about our mental health.
He asks us to renew our minds, guard our hearts and not to lean on our own understanding. I’ve been reflecting on how far God has brought my mind. I’ve been remembering to remember how How He’s healed me, continues to heal me and free me of behaviours and thought patterns I had accepted as ‘I just get really, really low once in a while’. I’ve been reflecting on how He’s shown me the beauty that my mind is, because He created it beautifully & wonderfully and He’s called it holy and blameless in His sight. He’s shown me that when we go through terrifying, dark, bleak and seemingly hopeless times He is there with us. Sometimes it feels like we’re so distant from God but know that in that darkness, He is germinating seeds. You might not feel, see or hear it but He’s working. He will never leave you or forsake you, even when we don’t deserve it-because Grace.
God knows. He understands what you can’t seem to understand and He cares. Your mental health is precious to Him. Pour it all out to Him. If you can’t put it into words because you don’t understand, sit with Him. Sit in silence, His Word/music playing, in ugly snotty tears, in confusion, in anger. He’s there in it all and He can handle it all. He can handle our humanness.
This was my mantra on days I felt like I couldn’t trust my own mind. I would stand in the mirror and repeat this aloud in faith until the tears stopped and until I believed it:
Your mind is whole.
Your mind is perfect.
Your mind is healthy.
Your mind is beautiful.
Because the whole, perfect and beautiful God created you in His image. You are a reflection of Who He is.