5 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health Today
I started to post the above article on Facebook but got a little carried away. So here we are
It does not surprise me at all to see Relevant posting a story on Mental Health. I was surprised, however, to hear our local Christian radio station doing a segment on the topic. I was surprised even further by what the doctor they interviewed was saying (I only caught the last ten minutes of the segment, so I can not speak to the whole segment).
She suggested that in MOST cases of anxiety and feeling down, a balanced diet, regular exercise, drinking enough water, getting enough rest and maybe an added supplement like fish oil, are enough to pull you out of your slump. BUT in cases of depression and severe anxiety, medicinal intervention PAIRED WITH counseling are necessary and important, along with diet, exercise, water and rest.
It is so encouraging to hear this being talked about honestly on a Christian radio station!!!!
Why am I so blown away by this?
In my experience, “the church” does not have a grasp on the reality of mild and severe mental health issues. The church, and society at large, expect people with anxiety and depression to just stop and be happy.
“Why are you depressed? Think of all the ways God has blessed you. Jesus DIED for you!”
“You must not pray very much.”
“Is there an area of sin in your life you need to repent of that’s causing you to feel this way?”
I HAVE HEARD THESE THINGS BE SAID!
Some of these things have been said to me and some of them I’ve heard be said about others.
I have seen the church tell pastors and leaders that they are not fit for leadership because they wrestle with anxiety and depression.
Okay, yes, I have seen this up close and personal but I’m not just talking about my experience here.
You don’t have to look very far, even in mainstream media, to see countless stories of pastors and Christian leaders stepping down from their roles in the church due to burnout, anxiety, and depression. Athletes are leaving their teams. Artists are giving up their outlets. People are leaving their faith.
I would argue, that on some level, everyone experiences anxiety and down days. I agree with the story ran by Relevant and the segment I heard on the radio. Start with eating well, exercising, evaluating your water intake and sleep schedule.
Personally, I would say I have slightly above mild but not near severe anxiety and depression. Exercise and water alone reduced my bad days drastically. I will tell you all about it if you want to know the story. It’s essentially why I work at the Y.
But after I had Anna and then again after I had Bennett, things were not good. Maybe it was triggered by pregnancy and delivery, maybe it was that my life was chaos I don’t know. Either way, a prescription and regular meetings with a counselor were necessary. It wasn’t just going to go away. My mom and dad and Drew called me out on it in such a loving and supportive way while most people dismissed it.
I felt supported from my family and my mom friends who had been there. In the midst of this, I saw the ugly reality of what the leaders at my church really felt about it. Then I essentially walked away from an entire denomination when I saw how they treated leaders who were open and honest about having the same struggles as I did. Sadly, I don’t think they realized how many people in the congregation were there because for the first time in many of their lives, they thought they had found a safe place because the pastor was open and honest about his struggles. And even at the church we attend now, I’ve seen members of the congregation kind of roll their eyes and chuckle when they talk about the pastor taking a sabbatical.
This is not okay, BUT I AM ENCOURAGED this week that maybe, just maybe, we’re moving in the right direction.
It’s 2016. The pressures of this world in this time can be debilitating for even the happiest, bounciest, most cheerful person.
Divorce, addiction, sexual identity, overwhelming social media comparison, information overload…these things are not going away and they’re causing some major crisis in people’s lives.
Can the church do better to be a safe place?
Can the church be more open and honest about taking care of our bodies and our minds?
Can we pray AND seek help AND encourage others to do the same?
Can we allow our leaders to be humans who need prayer and encouragement and help? Can we support them in that like we would want be supported?
Can we acknowledge that although some people suffer from anxiety and depression every day for their whole lives, for some, it’s lasts only for a period of time and can be triggered by things like burnout, a change in seasons, or a hormonal imbalance? That regardless of the reason, or the time frame, a person is more than the state of their mental health and everyone deserves to be loved and encouraged yet held accountable but never dismissed or ignored?
Mental Heath Awareness month. I like it. We’re a messed up bunch of people. None of us have it all together. Let’s all be better together 🙂