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I thought I was doing better . . .
That’s the accusation that crossed my mind the evening after one of my worst panic attacks. It had been two months and my mental health was stable. I could drive without blacking out. My feelings of nervousness had mainly subsided. And while I was still deeply depressed, I was happy to be making progress.
In the blink of an eye, my hope of getting to the other side of depression and anxiety came crashing down. I was back to square one, rocking on my heels, as my hands pushed against the cool bathroom floor beneath my feet. And I was utterly ashamed. Embarrassed. Too defeated to stand.
I should be better by now . . .
After three years of counseling, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t fixed yet. And at that moment, I didn’t understand that mental health recovery isn’t a linear process. But I guess some part of me thought that once I learned to live with my symptoms either God would permanently remove them, or they would magically cease.
Today, I’m learning, often over and over again, that while Jesus can choose to heal, mental health struggles often require us to embrace living with a limp. And what does living with a limp mean?
Living With a Limp
Much like physical scars that often remain with us, when I say living with a limp I’m talking about something you just can’t shake. For me, it’s depression and anxiety, but for you, it might be an obsessive-compulsive disorder that rattles your mind daily, or perhaps a debilitating fear of failure that keeps you from taking risks. Even social anxiety can prevent you from making and keeping friends. Limps come in all shapes and sizes.
Living with a limp means embracing the wounds we presently carry and the ones we may encounter later in life. And if you’ve been walking with a limp for any time, you may quickly realize that limps aren’t like broken ligaments that can heal for good. A limp can remain long after the healing has occurred.
Even if you limp for the rest of your life, have hope. This world is not our home, and suffering is temporary. We are but a vapor just passing through (James 4:14). And this is why it’s especially important to give compassion, release blame, and remain hopeful along the journey.