Let me just start by saying I am no expert in the area of mental health. It's also a subject I never really thought much about, until it hit close to home. I've been in church since the womb, and the topic was one that was never brought up. If you even looked like you were feeling down, the saints would pray (and I mean they would pray HARD) until you "felt better". Now, don't get me wrong, I am all for prayer, as it is always my first response to anything...but, what happens when "feeling down" doesn't have the look we expect it to have? This is the question that lead me to want to add the Mental Health Resource guide to churchgirlconfessions.com.
So, what does it "look like" when someone is struggling with some things mentally? It can very well look like tears, sadness, etc. Guess what! It can also look like smiling, dancing, singing, and laughing. I watched a friend be extremely bubbly, take care of everyone, happily serve in ministry, shout well into the pastor's message, and scream GBYM (if you know you know) to everybody he encountered. He was sincere, he was friendly, he was a light to all because of his spirit. Little did I know, I would receive some of the most devastating news in August 2017. My friend, this ball of joy, was gone. I think I believed he would just be here forever, so I would always have time to catch-up. But I was wrong. This situation caused me to take a step back and say, Mental Health issues (depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety) don't have a look at all...sometimes the phrase "I don't look like what I've been through" is a little deeper than we think. People are silently dying right in front of us because we have been taught to "just pray about it" or "talk to pastor". Let me be real with you though...as much as I love Jesus, I have had moments where I didn't feel like praying nor did I feel comfortable enough to talk anybody in the church. I felt like sharing details with leadership would result in me being talked about or judged and in some cases, that is what happens.
Let me encourage you really quick...YOU CAN HAVE JESUS AND A THERAPIST (had to say it loud for the people in the back). To be clear, dealing with your mental health does not make you crazy or mean that you don't love The Lord. Also, understand mental health covers more than just suicidal thoughts...it covers depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. Although, I've never had suicidal thoughts, I have suffered with depression and PTSD (that's not just a military veteran issue). I've had moments where I didn't know how I was going to pull through and I had to find a safe space of my own. Counseling and therapy is not a slap in the face to God. He actually wants us to be healthy and whole. That starts in the mind. Stop feeling like you don't have anyone to talk to....talk to someone before you lose it! It feels great to see so many of us pew babies taking control of our own personal walk and striving to be better physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Let's also strive to be the safe spaces for others that we didn't necessarily have growing up in the church. I don't want anyone out here feeling like they have to face life on their own. When someone reaches to you, hear them out...and if you are feeling overwhelmed say something! Stop feeling like you are a burden! Be willing to talk. Be willing to listen. Be willing to pray....And be willing refer to a professional if you have to. It can save a life, y'all. I'm here if you never need me!