Though I’ve never personally struggled with suicide, I’m in close contact with those who do and mean everything to me. However, I have fought the battle of anxiety almost every day since I was a little girl, and more recently, every night and day of the past two years.
I get it.
There is a stigma associated with Christians needing mental help when “just pray more” and “Jesus will fix it” is thrown around like candy.
Though these statements can be factual, and I certainly believe in God’s redemptive power to heal, mental health is not something that should be taken lightly or covered with a Christian cliche. These kinds of statements are not helpful and can severely wound individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, or suicide. Those struggling already feel like they are drowning without someone making them feel like less of a Christian for not having their life altogether.
As a Christian myself, I find this type of post challenging to write for two reasons: 1) I don’t want to come off as more spiritual than others. That simply isn’t true, and I’m just as broken and fallen as everyone else. However, my major fear is with number 2) that someone will misread or misinterpret this post as me discrediting God’s power, something also significantly not right. I believe that God alone can break chains, heal any disease, and provide whenever and however, He sees fit for any and every need (anxiety, depression, and suicide included)!
I fully believe that someday I will be free from the struggle of these things, but on this side of the earth, it’s a battle I’ll continue to war with daily. Though I am pressed down, I am not crushed. Though I feel alone, I will not be abandoned. My King fights for me and is fighting for me even when I can’t feel or see it.
But you know what? It’s okay to go to counseling. It’s okay to need someone to talk to. It’s okay to seek help. It’s okay that when you read your Bible and can’t hear anything at all besides the ringing in your ears and endless thoughts running in your mind to say, “Lord, I can’t do this, but you can.”
It’s okay to stop and cry and sit in His presence when you have a million other things to do. It’s okay to say, “God, I’m trying, but I can’t focus on your Word,” when everything within you yells, “I’ve failed You yet again.”
It’s okay to admit that you can’t do this life without Him. It’s okay to be weak and fail and feel vulnerable, shattered, and broken beyond repair. It’s okay not to be okay.
Because in the “ands” of life, there is a time for weeping, sorrow, anxiety, and depression, but there is also a time for joy, peace, redemption, and freedom. We will experience both.
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus reminds us that when we’re at this point of despair, we are called to look to Him:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 1:28, ESV).
I often tell my counselor that one of the major problems with my anxiety is that it likes to manifest itself in different forms and appear out of nowhere. It seems that in the places of being idle, worry creates itself. The problem is that the same goes for Satan, who will cease any and every opportunity to fill your mind. The solution? Never let your mind go idle, but continually and steadfastly stay focused on the Lord.
Again, I get it.
It often feels impossible to stay focused on Him when the mind runs a million miles a minute, and depression becomes your closest companion. But slowly, over time, I have learned that there is power in reciting and meditating on His Word. When I speak the name of Jesus to silence the lies whispered all around me, there is an authority. There is might in writing down the truths I am covered in and crossing out the lies, no matter how tempted I am to believe the latter rather than the former.
I have spent countless nights in my bed paralyzed from fear, anxiety, and depression, and last night was one of them. I recited prayers and Scriptures until I couldn’t think anymore, yet the morning still greeted me with exhaustion.
Some day’s I don’t think twice about having anxiety. I go on my way and realize no one would know that I struggle. On most, however, it’s a constant battle of the beasts. A day full of panic attacks while I’m driving, hyperventilating on my floor, and sleepless nights of sorrow. Those days are becoming fewer, but society needs to know that these realities don’t make us any less holy or Christian; they make us human.
2 Corinthians 12:9 faithfully declares, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV).
I’m not afraid anymore to tell others that I go to counseling and couldn’t handle anxiety on my own. In fact, I preach it to my students daily that the Miss. Ginter they see in class is the same one they will find at the grocery store, insecurities, anxieties, and quirky dispositions. You better believe that I tell them I go to counseling and am okay with them knowing that because that’s the type of thing that society needs to hear and not be ashamed.
I go to counseling for anxiety, and I’m not crazy.
I struggle with panic attacks, but that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me.
I’m the worst of sinners, fully acknowledging my weaknesses, yet Jesus chose to come in love and die for me (1 Timothy 1:15, ESV).
The world needs to hear these truths in combination with the prayer, Scripture reading, Christian relationships, and Church services we’re told to seek after. Jesus alone is enough, but it’s okay to go to counseling and need help. Counseling is not a cure-all or replacement for these things, but it certainly can supplement the tools He’s equipped us with for right thinking and a sound mind. He’s the Great Physician and Doctor (John 5:1-9, ESV) after all, but going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re weak or not a good Christian; it just means that’s the burden you’re presently struggling.
When you break a bone, you don’t wait to go to the Doctor to get an X-Ray; you go as soon as it happens to have the full potential to heal. The same goes for counseling and asking for help. Why would you wait to help the healing process along?
I waited until my anxiety had peaked to attend therapy, but I always regret waiting that long.
I didn’t realize that going to therapy can deepen your faith and help others understand that no one is perfect, not even those who look like it on the outside.
September is suicide awareness month. It’s time that we silence the lies of the stigma with the truth of the Gospel. It’s time we start talking about what matters.
“I have the utmost respect for people living with unrelenting depression or constant anxiety who continue to trust Jesus and follow Him even when it seldom feels good,” (Kay Warren).