I’ve always struggled with depression and anxiety.
As a kid, I remember never going to sleepovers or camp because I would always become so anxious and emotional that my mom would need to pick me up late at night.
In college I remember who seasons when I wouldn’t engage with friends. I would stay in my dorm room or apartment by myself, go to class and work, and return right back where I started. I wasn’t good at making friends, I’m an introvert by nature, and I didn’t understand that seclusion only made me struggle more – and the more I struggled and felt excluded or uninvited, the more I battled with depression.
When I was fired from my corporate job I was terrified and spent weeks and weeks replaying the events in my head, as if that would do anything to change my circumstances. My anxiety now included a fear that I would never be hired again. When I was asked to resign from ministry, the anxiety, fear, and depression were so overwhelming that I honestly don’t remember much of the rest of that year.
I don’t sleep well. I worry about almost everything. I have brain fog and fatigue and I find it far too easy to believe the lies the enemy throws at me, even when my brain knows God’s Truth. I take medicine every day to help for the same reason I take medicine for my thyroid – there is a part of my body that doesn’t function the way it was created to, and I’m discovering that self-care isn’t just quiet time and a cup of tea but taking care of ALL of me. Sometimes self-care is also making appointments with counselors and trusting God to help you find the words to explain what is REALLY going on under the masks we all wear so well.
It means being a good steward of my mind, body (with exercise and drinking enough water), and soul (with time spent with God). May is mental health month and I’m not ashamed to tell you that depression and anxiety are part of my story. But it’s also not the end of my story, or the whole thing. It frames the way I view life, the way I write, and the reason I’m passionate about things like holy hustle and quieting the shout of should.
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33
Even in the hardest seasons, we can find peace in Jesus. We can rest, knowing that it’s not all up to us and no matter how alone we feel, we’re never on our own. The Savior of the world, the One who conquered it all, loves us more than we can imagine. And He knows our struggles, doubts, anxieties, worries, and fears – and it doesn’t stop Him from inviting us into His kingdom work.
Take care of yourself, friends. Make your mental health as important to you as your physical health. Have honest conversations with friends, counselors, and doctors to make sure you’re doing the very best you can to live the abundant life God has planned for you – without shame or guilt. We need you here, to do the work God has for you. xoxo