By Vivian Bricker, Crosswalk.com
Mental health is a topic many of us are hearing about in the modern day. It causes us to be vulnerable in our struggles and encourages us to be more open with others. As someone who struggles with mental health, I know the challenges that come with it. If you are also navigating your mental health, whether it's depression, anxiety, or something else, know that you are not alone. God is always with you, and there are also people all across the world who battle for a healthy mind too.
The Mental Health Journey
If you are reading this, you probably struggle with mental health issues. Despite what others may have said to you, know that having mental health issues doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. In my own life, I have had many people tell me I was sinning for struggling with mental health issues. If you have also experienced this, know that it is not true. Struggling with mental health or being diagnosed with a mental health disorder is not a sin, nor are you any less of a person for having a mental health illness.
I struggle with various mental health issues, including anorexia, depression, and anxiety. Maybe you struggle with one of these issues too. Depression and anxiety are extremely common in the modern day, and eating disorders have been on the rise since the pandemic. Whether you have one of these disorders or another mental health battle, know that your mental health matters to God. He loves you, and the love He has for you cannot be measured or pivoted by mental health problems. The Father is your Heavenly Father, and He only wants the best for you. Just as an earthly father would want to help his child, the Father wants to help us in our struggles.
The Importance of Prayer and Bible Reading
Even though God never promises to take away our mental health struggles, He will always walk with us through every storm. He doesn’t only stick around during the good times. Rather, God sticks around with us all the time, even during the dark days. Your mental health matters to God, and He can help you in your struggles. From my own experience, I have found that talking to God about my mental illnesses has been extremely helpful in recovery. It is better to talk out loud about these problems with God because it can help you have peace and serenity. Things might be hard, yet God is always ready to listen.
It is also important to be active in your Bible reading time as I have also found this to be helpful. By reading the Bible and reminding yourself of what God says about you, it can help steady your heart and affirm that your soul is safe with God. As an example, when I’m particularly having a negative self-image day and the anorexia thoughts are screaming at me that I’m too ugly, fat, or stupid, I remind myself of what God says. God says we are wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalm 139:13-16). Each time my negative thoughts get too strong, I talk back to them with Scripture. Maybe you can also talk back to your negative thoughts or compulsions by quoting Scripture.
Be Mindful of the Company You Keep
God always cares about our mental health, and He wants to help us in any way He can, but beware that not all people want to help. Our therapists and doctors will tell us to build a support group for our recovery or our current struggles, but from my own experience, I haven’t been able to find a support group that has truly cared about my mental health. Now, that's not true for everyone, and I encourage each person struggling with their mental health to find those who can support, uplift, and hold them accountable. Meanwhile, be mindful of the company you keep on the road to mental health recovery.
When I first was diagnosed with anorexia, depression, and anxiety, I only told my sister. (She was aware of my issues even before I had a formal diagnosis.) My sister has only been supportive through my recovery as well as my consistent struggles with anxiety and depression. While other family members and friends made insensitive and triggering comments, my sister was there to help point me back to God and what He says in the Bible. On these repeated occasions, she has helped me to remember that my mental health matters to God even if it doesn't matter to others. I say the same to you—your mental health matters to God. He loves you, and He will never leave your side. Through every setback, trigger, and hurtful word, God still cares about your mental health.
Mental health is often seen as inferior to physical health, yet this shouldn’t be. Our mental health can directly affect our physical health and manifest in physical problems. God wants us to take care of our mental health and prioritize working on positive behaviors to aid not only the mind but body and spirit too. A person’s mental health affects their entire body and cause damage if left untreated. I can’t stress to you more the importance of your mental health and the need to take care of it. God wants you to take care of your mental health because He loves you.
I have struggled with anorexia for a decade. Only during the past few years have I entered recovery. With recovery comes many difficult things, such as weight gain, worrying about what other people will think, and the fear that people won’t like your new appearance. While these fears are valid, and I have experienced them all, they are nothing compared to the freedom that comes with recovery. If someone cares more about the way you look or your dress size than you as a person, then they are not your real friend. God wants us to take care of our mental health, even if this might sometimes mean abandoning what others might think about us.
Resist Returning to the Struggle
Triggers are known throughout mental health. With my anorexia, anxiety, and depression, I have many triggers. Maybe you are aware of some of your triggers as well. As the youngest of three girls, I have two older siblings. My oldest sister, not the sister who has continued to be supportive of my recovery and mental well-being, but the oldest of the three of us, also has severe anorexia, and she has never wanted to get better. As you can imagine, that has been awfully triggering for me as someone who is trying to get better. I’m gaining weight to reach a healthy weight, while my oldest sister is actively losing weight right before my eyes.
Everything in my head tells me I need to resort back to the same place—to lose weight, exercise excessively, and restrict my intake of food. However, there is just one Person who has kept me from going back to that dark place—God. Each time I am tempted to restrict, to exercise a little extra, or to obsess over numbers, God’s words come into my mind: “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Through God’s love and support, I keep going in my recovery, and this shows me God truly cares about my mental health.
I could easily fall back into the same disordered behaviors, but God is always reminding me of the truth of His Word. Even though others may say hurtful things, and they have, I’m not going to let it derail my progress nor am I going to let it hurt me any longer. In your own struggles with mental health, remind yourself of what God says. The more you read the Bible and go to God in prayer, the more you will see your mental health matters to God. It matters because He loves you.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Chad Madden
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.
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