Mental health is the topic of many Christian blogs and water cooler discussions due to the recent, tragic death of Rick Warren’s son, Matthew. Many are aware of the pain and despair Matthew felt for years prior to him taking his own life. Some of these discussions are supportive and understanding, while others are judgmental and harsh.
In the Christian community, mental health is still a taboo topic. If someone struggles with depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder, many Christians think “If I only had enough faith, I wouldn’t struggle with this.” Or other Christians go back to the New Testament times wondering what “sin” this person has in their life to cause these issues. There are a couple of other explanations: life and chemical imbalances. This life is tough! Why do Christians assume that life won’t be difficult? Why do Christians think they should be super-human as followers of Christ, rather than broken vessels saved by grace? Mental illness and issues are real…for many people. Most families have a family member suffering or who has suffered from some type of mental illness or mental health issue. It is more common than we believe or want to admit.
We hide our pain. We fake it. We put on that happy smile outside, while we weep on the inside. We put unrealistic pressure on ourselves to try harder, believe more, and snap out of it. Until people are able to admit, unashamedly, that they are struggling internally, healing will be difficult. My hope is that Christians rally around those who struggle with mental illness and mental health issues. There is help. Sometimes people need a prescription, a counselor, a friend, a support group, or any combination of these and more. What they do not need is to feel ashamed for their struggle.
So if you’re suffering in silence, putting on a smiling mask and telling yourself, “If I just had enough faith…” today is the day to tell someone. Satan loves to isolate us and say, “You’re the only one!” But, you are not alone. That is a lie. Talk to your spouse, your parents, a teacher, a pastor, a trusted friend, or a counselor. And be patient with yourself. Healing is a process.