This year has been filled with a wide range of emotions: fear, confusion, grief, anger, loneliness, and sadness. Most people are tired, stressed, burned out, and craving the stability of “normal life.” This difficult year is taking a significant toll on our mental health individually and collectively.
For some, the chaos of the last few months has brought to the surface issues that have been brewing for a while. For others, it’s brought on mental health challenges for the first time. For millions of people, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns are part of daily life, and it’s something we need to talk about.
Depression has been part of my story off and on for about fifteen years. In some seasons, it has been nonexistent. In others, it has been overwhelming. But in all seasons, God has been present, faithful, and good. He has taught me that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). He has never left me or abandoned me (Deuteronomy 31:6). And He has renewed and restored my soul (Psalm 23:3). Even on the darkest of days, He has been faithful and true.
I want to share a few of the things I’ve learned on my own mental health journey, and I pray these truths will encourage us all as we face the days ahead.
It’s OK to not be OK.
We see example after example in Scripture of people who struggled. Physical ailments, circumstantial upheaval, painful life experiences, and mental health issues fill the pages of the Word. Yet somehow in our social-media-filtered world today, we convince ourselves that we should have it all together and be happy all the time. Sadly, one of the places this idea is most prevalent is the church.
It’s uncomfortable to admit that you don’t have it all together, especially when you are struggling with your mental health. No one wants to admit weakness. It’s scary to ask for help. But it’s also vital to your well-being and the well-being of your loved ones to admit when you are struggling and seek out the help you need.
Be honest with yourself and be honest with God. The psalms are a perfect place to turn for reminders that God hears our cries and He welcomes the honest laments of our hurting hearts.
Fill your life with the Word of God.
The Word of God will be your lifeline during seasons of mental health struggles. Read it. Memorize it. Listen to it. Hang it up in your home. Fill your car or your house with music that affirms it. Let it saturate your mind and heart as much as possible.
The truth is, there may be days you don’t want to read the Word. Perhaps hope feels too far away, and the promises of God feel out of reach. Reach for the Word anyway. Set your mind on things above (Colossians 3:1-2). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Remember that He holds all things together (Colossians 1:17), and that means He can and will hold you together too. His Word truly is living and effective (Hebrews 4:12). It will not return empty (Isaiah 55:11). Stake your life to the truth of the Word because it will point you to the One who is your firm foundation in all circumstances.
Be honest with others about how you’re feeling.
You don’t have to tell every person in your life how you’re struggling, but it’s important to tell trusted people who will support you on your mental health journey. There will be days when you don’t have much hope or you feel like the burden is too much to bear. You will need others who can carry the burden with you. They will keep believing and hoping on your behalf when you don’t think you will ever feel better.
Reach out to a pastor, friend, family member, or counselor who will be in your corner and encourage you consistently. God will care for you through the love and support of the people He has placed in your life. Let them be His hands and feet as they hold you up when you feel weak. Be open to suggestions and resources that will help you heal. There are doctors and counselors who are trained and equipped to provide support, and there are also people in your life right now who love you and want to be there for you. It’s OK to let them.
Take it one day at a time and keep going.
Perseverance is an important aspect of our faith. In both Romans 5:1-5 and James 1:1-4, we learn that trials shape our character and produce in us hope, maturity, and endurance. Sometimes healing takes time, and suffering lasts longer than we would prefer.
Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health are all connected, and often multiple pieces of the puzzle must work together for healing to occur. But slowly—day by day and step by step—God will transform our hearts and minds and heal our hearts. Keep taking the next right step under the guidance of God’s Word, the leading of His Spirit, and the wisdom of the trusted people you’ve invited on the journey with you.
I can tell you from my own experience that this season of mental health struggle you may be facing right now will not last forever. I promise there are good days ahead, and God will faithfully carry you through to experience them. Acknowledge you’re not OK, cling to God’s Word, lean on the support of the people He has placed in your life, and keep going.