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It’s Mental Health Awareness Month

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month

~ by Shawn Johnson

It’s Time to Talk About It

  • Have you ever struggled with anxiety, depression, hopelessness, or suicidal thoughts?

If you have, you’re not alone. Those thoughts are running rampant in our world today.

The CDC says that over 50 percent of all Americans will struggle with mental health issues during their lifetime. That stat tells us that every one of you reading this right now have either dealt with anxiety or depression yourself or know somebody who has. It's that prevalent in our society today.

Which means there couldn't be a better time than right now to start having really good, open, honest, and biblical discussions about mental health! But unfortunately, the church can be the hardest place to talk about it.

That was my story. I'm the pastor of a large and growing church, but for years I kept my mental health struggles to myself. I didn't talk openly about them because I didn't think I was allowed to. So instead, I suffered silently until I hit a breaking point and couldn't hold it in any longer.

  • There's this weird stigma with church where we talk about, learn about, and sing songs to Jesus, who gives us peace, joy, and freedom. But for many of us, there is a disconnect between what we are singing and what we are actually feeling. Because in the middle of our seasons of mental health struggles, peace, joy, and freedom are the furthest thing from what we are experiencing.

And so we start to feel like we must be second-class citizens, second-class Christians. We think we are the only ones struggling and we start to think, Maybe I don't have enough faith. Maybe I don't really believe in God. Maybe I'm too broken. Maybe no one else will understand.

Since we feel like we are the only ones struggling with mental health, we assume we must be doing something wrong. Plus, we feel so much shame about it that we start to think we are supposed to hide it. After all, everyone else has it all together, so no one else will understand, right? So, I've just got to hide it and pretend that I'm okay.

We treat church like a courtroom instead of a hospital. We go there and pretend that everything's okay instead of being open and honest about what we're struggling with.

And Satan absolutely loves it. He wants us to suffer in isolation.

  • The Bible says that we're supposed to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2). But when we hide our burdens, how can anyone help us carry them? How can they bear it if they don’t know it exists?

I’ve learned over the years that we're all suffering from the same thing, but we don't know it because we're all keeping the same secret. It's time to start talking about this in the church. We have to start admitting that it's a real issue. And the starting point is calling out the lies of the enemy:

No one will ever understand.
I must be going crazy.
I'm so broken.
I've got to hide this stuff.

Those are lies from the pit of hell. The Bible shows us that we don't have to just deal with depression and be attacked by anxiety, but through the spiritual weapons that God has given us, the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us, and the powerful name of Jesus, we can experience more peace, joy, and freedom than we ever thought possible.

And it all starts with opening up the discussion!

Written for Devotionals Daily by Shawn Johnson, author of Attacking Anxiety: From Panicked and Depressed to Alive and Free.

* * *

Your Turn

It’s time to talk about it! If you’re dealing with depression and anxiety, you are not alone. Most importantly, God’s promise is that He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). But also, there are people are you who are willing and ready to listen, comfort, and come alongside. You don’t have to suffer alone.

** If you are seriously struggling and have any thoughts of self-harming, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They’re available 24 hours a day in English and Spanish. 800-273-8255.

 

 

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