[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.
This article was written by a guest author, Samantha Pasielski, a mental health advocate. She graduated from BCIT with an Associate Certification in Graphic Design, and currently does freelance graphic design work as a side hustle. Samantha grew up in a Christian home, accepted Jesus into her heart when she was five years old, and was baptized when she was twelve. She loves Jesus, worship music, swing dancing, DJing, and the colour turquoise. To see more of her design work, you can go to www.spasielski.design or follow her on Instagram @spasielskidesigns.]
I had been struggling for a while before I recognized what was going on. At first, I thought it was just stress from my circumstances, which everyone deals with. But then I hit a breaking point. I started sobbing in my manager’s office, overwhelmed by anxiety. My manager kindly took me on an “errand” to Starbucks to recover [sprinkle]. There we began brainstorming doctors I could go to for help—the anxiety behind my tears was deeper than what a soy salted caramel hot chocolate could fix.
One of my coworkers had a doctor who happened to be right by my church in Fort Langley. So I gathered enough courage to drive to that doctor’s office to see if they would accept me as a new patient. But I couldn’t bring myself to go in by myself. Since my church was nearby, I texted my pastor to see if he was working and if I could come talk. Thankfully he was there [sprinkle]. One of the female pastors heard my story, and joined me in going next door to the doctor’s office [sprinkle]. When we walked over, the door was locked. Whether they were closed for the day or for lunch break, I’ll never know, but because they were closed, she gave me the name of her doctor [sprinkle]. I called them that same day, and although my pastor’s doctor wasn’t accepting new patients, they had a new doctor in the office who was. And I got an appointment the next day [sprinkle].
At my appointment, I was asked to take two written tests. I thought they were both for anxiety. When the doctor reviewed the results of my tests with me, she said I had mild anxiety and severe depression. What? I was in shock; I didn’t go in there for depression, and I didn’t even realize I’d taken a test for it [sprinkle].
Now that I knew what I was dealing with, I needed to decide how to seek healing. I knew that the use of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can be controversial for some Christians. But I believe that God can use people like doctors and things like medication to help us [sprinkle]. For three months I consulted with my counsellor, my doctor, and also with myself about whether medication was right for me. I decided it was [sprinkle]. It would help me have the energy to use tools like counselling and motivation to do the work of healing. Some may decide differently, and that’s okay. But there is no shame in taking medication. Each person needs to decide for themselves what they need, after discussing with health care providers and with God.
In my small group, someone was coming off antidepressants at the same time that I was starting my medication journey [sprinkle]. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without him. I remember the first time I opened up about my struggles with mental health to my small group. He actually came over, and asked if he and his girlfriend could support my mental health journey [sprinkle]. He struggled with depression, and she struggled with anxiety, and they had both taken medication at one point or another. Of course I said yes. When I did start my meds, I was constantly texting him with questions: How long will this headache last? Is my irritability because of the meds or because of my anxiety? So many questions!
Once I opened up about my struggles to my small group, they prayed over me [sprinkle]. It was a struggle for me to pray myself; there were many times that all I could do was cry or express my frustration through an exhale or a groan. I know that God could interpret those non-words for me [sprinkle], but it really helped to hear the words of others. And it was meaningful for those who were trying to help me [sprinkle]. So often, I felt sad for no reason, and while talking with someone was helpful, I didn’t know what else they could do for me, except pray. So, I would ask for prayer often [sprinkle].
In the midst of my anxiety and depression—one of the hardest things I’ve gone through—it wasn’t easy to see evidence of God. Yet now, a few years into my recovery, I look back on my story and I see so many sprinkles of God’s work in my life.
He gave me my manager, my doctor, and my friend. My diagnosis, my treatment options, and my medications. He provided my small group, many friends, and lots of prayer. And these all came at just the right time.
Even when I don’t see God’s hand in my mental health challenges, that doesn’t mean he’s not there. His presence and power don’t depend on my ability to notice. But when one of his sprinkles does catch my eye, it’s such a sweet opportunity for gratitude and praise.
Take courage! In all of life, whether we’re flourishing or floundering, God is at work. And one day, we’ll be able to see that even the ugly things in life are covered with beautiful sprinkles.
Did you enjoy this article? We encourage you to check out more articles in our #mentalhealth series.