We have websites where people who are sick share their updates, fundraising needs and ask for prayer and encouragement. Families of those recovering from auto accidents, battling cancer, brain tumors, MS, you name it, there’s been a page dedicated to supporting the hopeful survivor toward recovery.
But not mental health. Not severe depression. Not those of us who have contemplated suicide. These battles are silent wars. Internal wars we are, most often, asked to bare on our own. Society expects us to hide away until we “get better” and then it might be acceptable to talk about what we’ve gone through, with discretion.
See, I get that this stuff is hard. It is dark, it is not easy to face. But, just like physical ailments that we often share about and ask for support for, could you imagine if we continued breaking down the stigma attached to mental health and we could have the same level of support and understanding for the suffering we are enduring as we fight to overcome the challenges of our mental health?
Often the conversation around breaking down the stigma of mental health and suicide comes far too late. Often, we start talking about how we could have prevented a loved one from taking their own life after they already done it.
But why? Why can’t we have these conversations more openly? I mean, I’ve been told to be more cautious about sharing my own mental health journey so openly because of employment discrimation or people “treating me differently”.
I get that it’s a risk. Believe me, I do. I experienced this in Uganda with Abide. I was spoken to and treated as “less than” because of my mental health. It was an awful experience. I was hurt in ways I don’t know that I’ll ever reconcile. But you know what? That says a lot more about the folks I worked alongside of than it does about me.
As a social worker, as someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for justice, I would be compromising my core beliefs by remaining silent about my personal journey with mental health.
Does that mean it’s always easy to share about it openly? Of course not. It’s pretty damn hard most of the time.
But I have seen God as completely redemptive in this area of my life. He has continued to show me purpose and internionality of this specific way I have suffered. He has allowed me the opportunity to share with folks who are also walking the painful road of battling Bipolar, Depression and suicidal ideation.
I do not believe the God delights in our suffering at all but I do believe that He is so good that He can take our pain and turn it into something beautiful and good.
I have the capacity to love and walk alongside others who have experienced the trauma, suffering and brokenness in a way I would never be able to had I not walked similar roads myself.
God is giving me the gift of being able to praise Him through the darkest and most discouraging days because He has shown me so much purpose birthed out of my own pain.
I encourage you to get honest with the folks in your life about your own darkness. Whatever that looks like. Sugarcoating it or dumbing it down does nothing to help you heal and it certainly takes glory away from God as your walk toward recovery.
You will be so surprised how God can and will bless this level of honesty and transparency. I promise.