By Tena Jeppesen
Mental illness. Two simple words that have the capacity to end your seemingly normal life. This is the struggle I have been dealing with the in the recent present. And come to find out, so many others are, too. But despite the many people that are also struggling, why do we always feel so alone?
Even through my best efforts, there is no way to explain the feelings of mental illness to someone who isn’t challenged by it, as well. There isn’t a blog post, an article on WebMD, or a TEDtalk that can relay the message of how messed up we actually feel. And so we end up not talking to anyone and keeping these feelings in the best we can. We convince ourselves that we are normal and that everyone is experiencing these kinds of things. It isn’t until one day someone says something like “No, I’ve never counted how many hours of sleep I get” or “Oh, I had completely forgot that we even had that conversation” when you realize we realize that something different is going on. Not everyone has a tornado of thoughts, worries, and panic everyday at every second.
I felt like I was slapped in the face when I finally woke up to my own mental illness. Everything changed for me. I realized how I couldn’t make it through a day without being distracted by some sort of negative thought, and how I avoided people or situations because I knew they would make me anxious. I hid behind my routine and my people marked as “safe.” I was so far gone that I didn’t think God could reach me. It was a black hole that I couldn’t crawl our of. My head was stuck in a beehive of worries and that’s just how life was going to be from now on.
Others who are suffering from anxiety and depression or others who knew me well enough would encourage me and implore me to “give it to God.” A phrase I used to tell others all the time had become the bane of my existence. I was to the point where I almost forgot there was a God until the days when it got really bad and I had nothing left to do but fall to my knees and beg for help. And even still, through the tears and the begging, I couldn’t give it all to Him. There were too many thoughts and anxieties, how could He handle them all? And an even better question was why do I have them in the first place? Why did He give them to me, someone who has been faithful to him for years? Why did I have this crippling anxiety and depression that seemed to be dragging me further and further down into that black hole?
Here's not all the answers, but one of them: God calls us to grow in our weakness. It's actually precisely in our weakness where we will find Him. =Our ability to lean on Him and trust in His plans are tested and strengthened through the struggle.
This is seems like such a backwards concept, but as it says in Isaiah 40:31, “They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar as with eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” God is the eternal Father; He will never leave us no matter how broken we are. He can dig us out of that hole and give us the strength to carry on. We literally just have to “let go and let God.” Strive to make it as simple as it sounds and enjoy the life God has given you to live. Not only will you prosper, but the Kingdom of God will too.