Let's Talk About Mental Illness
Mental Illnesses (cue the intensity behind the word), a subject with a lot of stigma behind it, and also a lot of silence. Not many are open to talk about it, not many are open to discuss it or confront it, but worse not many are willing to admit they suffer through it because of shame. It is a scary subject, but more over it is a scary situation. We see the suffering, we see the pain, but what are we doing to stop it, why do we keep silent, and why don’t we talk about it? Especially as a Christian community, what are we doing to help those who are fighting through this? Our silence is not helping, so lets talk about it.
Okay, so what exactly do the words “mental illness” entail? Mental illnesses come in various forms; depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, anorexia, bulimia, and many more. I can’t really tell you where these disorders derive from, but what I do know is that they affect more people than we know, and more often than not, the last people we could have ever imagined are fighting with mental illnesses. I guess the words themselves are not scary, but really what is, is the reality behind these mental illnesses and what they can lead to, as many of these become a “silent killer” to those who battle against them. Worse part is that many people dealing with this are secretly fighting against them alone, allowing them to consume them completely and in some cases leading to self-injury, suicidal thoughts, or even worse- suicide.
Woah, how intense did that just get? But that is exactly the thing, everyone is so afraid to talk about this and to realize how big of a problem it really is because of the intensity. Mental illnesses are hurting our loved ones, the people who we care about the most and sometimes we don’t know how to confront it, or we are too afraid to admit it. I know what you are thinking, “We are Christians, Christians don’t go through mental illnesses or depression!” Wrong, so very wrong. Christians just like any other human being are not exempt to mental illnesses and the side effects. The sad part is that their is so many people who think like this, causing fellow Christians to feel bad about suffering with mental illnesses, causing them to keep their struggles and pain a secret, and it should not be this way. Now my question is, how do we, as Christians, go about this? How can the Christian community and the church be a stepping stone and help those with mental illnesses?
I have noticed for a long time that the church really does not talk about mental illnesses, and treat the subject as a “taboo”. The few preaching’s that I’ve heard mental illnesses actually be addressed, they are addressed in such a small way, followed by “Jesus can take that away.” Yes! Of course Jesus can and will take that way. But, HOW?! I can honestly tell you that you cannot tell a person suffering through mental illnesses that simple statement, because they need help, they need guidance, and they need to be see the love of God. I have met so many broken souls suffering through illnesses as such, and all I can say is that try as I might I will never fully know what they feel and I will never be able to fully understand their pain. There are so many types of mental illnesses, and a thousand and one ways of people feeling them. No one ever understands each other’s pain or understands each other’s journey. But I can tell you that no matter what they are feeling, no matter what they are going through, they must know that they are never alone. It is very hard to understand a person with a mental illness, and it needs all the patience and empathy in the world. The way that we can help them is by being there, listening, loving them, and constantly praying for them, showing them the love of God, because after all love is still the most powerful think in this world. As the church, we need to be more open about the subject and stop treating it like it is something shameful. In the book of Matthew, we read about Jesus healing a man with leprosy, a disease that was shameful in the time of Jesus, so badly that whoever suffered with leprosy was shunned from the town and avoided by the people, being the lowest of the low. Jesus, in his everlasting love, and unending mercy sought and helped the lepers, because they too needed love, healing, and kindness. He went after the most shamed people and was there for them when they needed him, and he accepted them, loving the unlovable! This is the kind of love we need to learn from and that we need to share with everyone around us. To those suffering from mental illnesses, we need to be loving, patient, accepting, and merciful just as Jesus was with everyone who crossed him. As a the church, we need to be more open about the subject and confront it hand in hand to help those who are secretly fighting alone. We need to support them with our unconditional love, our faithful prayers, our relentless company, and willingness to fight with them.
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, a day when we encourage those who are battling depression and suicidal thoughts, to continue to fight because they are loved and never alone. Suicide is a consequence of many mental illnesses, and takes thousands of lives each year, and that is only in the US. Please, lets stop the stigma and stop shaming those who endure through mental illnesses with our silence and instead be a loving soul, a listening heart, and a helping hand to those who are in pain. Let’s talk about mental illnesses, let’s address the problem and confront it together through the strength and love of God. The silence needs to stop.