Isaiah 48:17 - This is what the Lord says--your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
Life can feel like a merry-go-round.
You think you’re moving forward when in fact you’re just going around in circles. It especially is difficult for people living with a mental illness.
Sometimes our view of the world is tainted. We feel like the world is against us. We can work hard on a particular habit to erase its influence on us, but when you let your guard down for one minute, you find yourself failing even if you use all the strength you have.
Also, a person suffering with mental illness can’t seem to get off the merry-go-round of life, because someone close to them uses their weakness against them. Maybe we worry a lot, because our “friend” tries to tell us all of the negative aspects of a situation and how we better be careful or we’re going to fail again.
I don’t understand why people have to be so judgmental. This, too, causes much grief. All we want to do is complete the tasks we have to do each day. When someone expects us to not just do our day’s work, but to also complete a whole new project, it can become overwhelming. It’s then that our co-worker may make fun of us, or worse, may turn us in to management as being a hindrance to completing their divisions expected output.
No matter what you do, it can feel like you’re life will always be going around in circles and sometimes you even get stuck. How do we remedy this problem? Planetofsuccess.com has some answers in their article, “Feeling Stuck in Life? 10 Powerful Ways to Free Yourself.” One of their examples includes overcoming the perception of impossibilities. Feeling stuck can paralyze us. It’s time to explore some new options. Also, be honest with yourself realizing that there are many solutions we just have to come up with the courage to choose one.
Now, back to the merry-go-round. In addition to the suggestions of how to get unstuck and get off the ride in the article above, here’s an idea: Stay focused in the moment. There, you can pause and find the off switch. Take some time off and rest. Jesus will heal the dizziness you feel from circling your life and give you his Word and prayer to find direction and strength to become unstuck. This way, if you happen to end up back on the merry-go-round, at least you’ll be better equipped and it won’t take as much effort to find the off switch.
Psalm 41:9 - Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.
When other people find out we suffer from a mental illness sometimes they want to pretend it doesn’t exist so they pull away.
It’s easier that way, or so it seems. Or is it? But you don’t know what’s going on in their life.
Mental illness takes its hands and wraps them around the throat of the one suffering. It reaches inside and grabs a hold of our hearts. And when we see our friend pulling away, it can feel like the last straw. The last bit of hope is gone. The last chance to turn the corner and feel human again has slipped away.
You see, mental illness can also make you feel like a monster. Sometimes it causes you to act in ways that you wouldn’t normally. And when we feel this way, it isn’t our friend who pulls away from us; it’s us pulling away from all of the people who care about us.
How do we stop relationships pulling apart when we have a mental illness? Nami.org posts the article, “How to Love Someone With A Mental Illness,” in which they suggest to resist the urge to say, “Try harder.” If someone is having an asthma attack you don’t tell them to try harder to breathe. Also, let go of your time table as to how long it could take to find wholeness.
In addition to the suggestions in the article above, realize that the one suffering from mental illness could share much insight into what life is like for them, and provide help to others who are coping with the hard things in life that may turn into mental illness. By allowing them the opportunity to share their life, you can toss out your fears and let in the light of understanding. Then you’ll be giving them the chance to once again become your close friend. Someone they can trust with the difficulties of living with mental illness.
Psalm 40:17 - But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.
It can be normal to ask for help. When you are in your work environment it is common for fellow employees to be a sounding board for your work and even help you with an assignment.
However, there are other times that receiving help can almost seem impossible to do. I’m speaking of those who suffer from emotional pain and mental illness.
Maybe we don’t want to look needy.
Maybe we don’t want to look helpless.
Maybe we’re afraid of rejection.
Maybe we don’t want to look like a failure to others.
But we don’t have to feel that way. Everyone has a bad day now and then when things don’t go right and we’ve come to the end of ourselves; especially, if we battle emotional pain.
Sometimes we don’t ask for help because things have turned messy in the past when we have or maybe we’ve felt guilty for needing that help.
What happens, though, when we just try to make it on our own? Our lives can fall down like a row of dominos with one thing after another knocking us down. And it can make us feel weak.
So how do I have the courage to ask for help when I already feel weak and like a failure? Huffingtonpost.com has an excellent article titled, “6 Reasons Why People With Mental Illness Are Strong, Not Weak,” such as you’ve had to carry your intense emotions, other people’s emotions, and perhaps the world on your shoulders as well.
Learning that we’re actually strong when we are weak can strengthen all areas of our lives not just when we need to ask for help. God sees us and though we may wonder if he sees us as weak, understand that God is a deliverer and will help us as we begin to walk in a way that strengthens our inner being.
Proverbs 2:9 - Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path.
“This isn’t fair.”
How many times have we said this to ourselves and maybe even out loud.
Let me tell you it to you straight. Even though your heart feels like it’s been dragged over hot coals, life isn’t fair.
Yet, let me tell you a secret – There’s someone else out there who also doesn’t think life isn’t fair; and they may have a mental illness also, but aren’t brave enough to tell the world.
So here goes:
We’re all going to face tough situations in life that don’t seem fair. Read the article, “Life Isn’t Always Fair: 5 Steps to Accept Tough Situations,” on tinybuddha.com and find some ways to accept tough situations.
Your heart may feel like it’s being dragged over hot coals, but you have the power to take your bucket to the streams of Living Waters, fill it up and pour it over your heart.
But save a few drops to share it with someone else.
Isaiah 42:7 - To open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
On an island, far away on a distant shore, stands a castle. It’s stones are weathered and due to the elements some of the walls around the castle have broken down. But as one takes a closer look they will see this castle is not a castle at all, but a prison with bars on the windows and gates locked in place.
Inside one of the inner rooms, a woman sits in the corner of her cell wishing that someone would rescue her from the dungeon. But no one knows she’s there. So she sits in the darkness.
One would think that she would cry out for help, but no sound escapes her lips. She stopped crying out for help long ago, because after years of pleading for help she’s given up on being set free.
Mental illness is this island. Depression fills the inner dungeon. Fear of rejection are the bars on the windows. While anxiety holds its hand over the one who’s trapped mouth preventing its prisoner from crying out.
When battling emotional pain sometimes we are the ones who placed us inside that prison.
We tire of people expecting a smile on our faces all of the time and laughter escaping our lips. They don’t know how hard it is to try to look like we have a “normal” life. Keeping our disease to ourselves helps no one.
But what are we to do? How can we find help when no one seems to want to listen to us?
The first step is to know the warning signs of mental illness. Mentalhealthamerica.net has an article entitled, “Finding Help: When to Get It and Where to Go,” that discusses the signs such as confused thinking and excessive fears.
The two most common ways to treat mental health issues are with prescription medication and some form of psychotherapy. So the next step is to seek out help from a physician or local mental health agency. Psychiatry.org makes some suggestions in their article, “Warning Signs of Mental Illness.”
In some severe cases a residential impatient mental health center may be needed.
Support groups can often be helpful in realizing that you’re not alone in this and to provide a place where you can talk openly about your issues with others.
Dealing with mental health issues is difficult, but with the right support you can realize that though you may be in a prison, the cell door has been unlocked all along. All you have to do is open the door, and you’ll find the help you need from the One who will always love you and can set your captive heart free.
Psalm 44:21 - Would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?
All across America people are sitting in churches, PTA meetings, in cubicles at work and at the dinner table at home. They put smiles on their faces trying to hold onto control and not give even a hint of the secret they hold inside.
So what is this secret? Two words – mental illness.
Whether it be depression, anxiety, PTSD, or Bipolar Disorder they all hold a stigma. Many don’t know how to deal with it when it affects a friend or loved one. They want to pretend it doesn’t exist so they pull away. If you’re the one who has a mental illness you may not know how to handle it either. And it’s almost like people treat you as if it’s somehow your fault and that you can “snap out of it” if you want.
So, how big of a problem is this? According to christianitytoday.com in their article, “1 in 4 Pastors Have Struggled with Mental Illness, Finds LifeWay and Focus on the Family,” one in four U.S. adults, including pastors, experience mental illness in a given year.
Many pastors have compassion for those who are mentally ill, just as they comfort those living with physical illness. However, they appear to find it difficult when speaking to a larger audience.
Perhaps it is difficult for pastors to speak about mental illness from the pulpit, because they also suffer from some form of mental illness.
So, what’s a person or a church to do? Let’s take a look at the Bible. God knows our secret struggles and has compassion and comfort waiting to touch our hearts, just as he’s been touching hearts throughout biblical times.
There are many people in the Bible who struggled with mental health issues. Moses, Elijah and Paul thought about suicide (Numbers 11:15, 1 Kings 19:4; Philippians 1:20-26). Jacob, Job and David went through seasons of depression (Genesis 37:35; Job 3:11 and Psalm 38:6). Jesus was also among those who felt emotions like we do including anger, distress and sorrow. Paul, one of the great heroes of our faith was not healed from all of his struggles. Whether they were physical or mental we don’t know. But we do know he cried out for help, and it wasn’t God’s will for him to be healed (2 Corinthians12).
I know it’s a risk, but never be afraid to cry out for help from God and from others. Keeping your mental illness hidden in a secret place only keeps you from being the only person who can help someone suffering. Take the risk. I did. And when I did I found others who had seasons, and sometimes lifetimes, of struggling with mental health. God meant for us to be together in our efforts to remove the stigma of mental health and bring the help others are waiting for.
Have you or someone you know struggled to find help and support from those around you with your mental illness? If you found help, would you be willing to share how you did? To leave a comment, just click on the blue "comments" below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.