[Editor’s Note: Everyone has mental health experiences on the spectrum between thriving and struggling. Perhaps you (or a friend) are in a season where you need extra mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical support. In this #mentalhealth series we want to balance personal experience/story with input from mental health and medical professionals. We want to also explore, “How does our faith in Jesus relate to our mental health?” Our desire is to support you as you work towards mental well-being.
If you are considering hurting yourself or someone else, or you know someone who is, please contact a mental health emergency hotline. If you need urgent counselling support, Kids Help Phone is also available for young adults up to age 29 for phone calls, Facebook Messenger, or texting conversations.]
I often struggle to accept that God hasn’t yet instantaneously healed me of my mental illness. I find myself asking God, “Why don’t you heal me? Why don’t you remove my mental illness from my life? Jesus, you healed people so effortlessly during the days you walked this earth. Why not me now?”
Recovery is not an instant solution, a one-time achievement, or the complete elimination of symptoms. As much as I have hoped and prayed for instant healing, it has never happened.
The Canadian Mental Health Association defines “recovery” as:
“the personal process that people with mental health conditions experience in gaining control, meaning, and purpose in their lives. Recovery involves different things for different people. For some, recovery means the complete absence of the symptoms of mental illness. For others, recovery means living a full life in the community while learning to live with ongoing symptoms.”
I am learning a new definition of recovery.
All of us are broken in different ways and suffer from mental health challenges at times. It is amazing how consoling it is to remember this. It is a vain imagination that people out there are perfect and have their lives fully together.
I don’t often think about the fact that, even though Jesus healed so many people, they still had broken bodies and lived in a fallen world. Even after Jesus healed them, I am sure they still faced social hurdles and eventually they died. There are no perfect and unbroken people. We are all in a process of recovery.
All of us are broken in different ways and suffer from mental health challenges at times.
In my unique journey of recovery, I have come to value every person who has invested in my mental health. I don’t feel alone when others share about their journey with mental illness or take time to listen to my journey. I am thankful for mental health professionals who have educated me and for family and friends who have cared for and prayed for me.
I am grateful for a tool belt that I can employ when needed. I have learned it is wise to have many diverse tools that address the multi-faceted aspects of my complex mental health.
Through patience, endurance, trial, and error, I have learned what does and does not work for me. I am also better able to discern how to get the most out of therapy, which can be expensive.
It’s frustrating when you can’t get an accurate diagnosis and cure immediately. In my experience, it has taken years and the insights of multiple different therapists to gain insights into the complexities of my mental health. And because we humans are not static in our mental health, I expect to learn more about myself on the journey ahead.
Try as best you can to work with caregivers to access a diagnosis that most accurately explains your symptoms and enables you to assess the severity of them. Be a student of yourself. Check in with yourself often. Take notes. Notice patterns in your life. It’s not an exact science because you are unique.
Amid a busy life, it was easy for me to be absorbed entirely in spiritual activity and forget that I am a holistic being. Focusing solely on my spirituality is not enough to sustain my recovery. My plan needs to address the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions of my life.
- How am I cultivating hope for the future?
I can believe that God promises complete healing in the next life where he will wipe away every tear.
- How can I see myself more as Jesus sees me?
I need to give myself the same kindness that Jesus has already extended to me.
- What am I personally responsible for in my recovery?
I can understand what I am able and unable to do to help myself.
- How can I educate myself and advocate for myself better?
I can keep mindful of recovery options by reading helpful resources.
- How can I develop support systems and engage in community?
I can review my support systems by listing and then reaching out to people I can count on.
- What routines will benefit my physical health?
I need to prioritize things like walking, exercising, sleeping, and spending time outside.
Although I would never have wished mental illness upon myself and I hesitate to call it a gift, I do see the unique opportunities it affords me. Every bit of suffering and pain in the process of recovery turns me from my self-sufficiency to dependence on God. If I didn’t have a mental illness to work through, I would be more prone to making my identity about my accomplishments, my experiences, and my possessions. In short, I would be a lot less dependent on God.
Did you enjoy this article? We encourage you to check out more articles in our #mentalhealth series.