I was recently introduced to ProjectSemicolon through Instagram. It's important to raise awareness to the issues of mental health and I support anyone trying to make a difference when it comes to depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. We have always heard the side of the media, but have you ever heard about it in church?
Growing up, mental health was something that wasn't really discussed in my church. I grew up thinking that if you had "stinkin' thinkin'" (as I've heard a popular preacher say), that you just weren't as in tune to the Lord as you should be. I've read books that talked about the war in our minds and the power we have to change the way we think. Most everything pointed to it being the problem of the individual and how close their relationship to God was.
It wasn't until I entered college that I noticed some changes in my mind. My hormones had definitely shifted and changed, but I thought perhaps my struggles came from my relationship with God. I dug into my Bible after recommitting myself to Christ, studied the Word like it was my handbook to life, listened to Christian music, applied everything I could possibly apply to all aspects of my day, dived headfirst into leadership and submersed myself in all things God. No matter how "Godly" I was, I still struggled in my head.
A year later, I began to experience intense mood swings. I didn't matter how many scriptures I attempted to internalize, I still reacted off the cuff with every slight change. I'd be completely fine and content one minute, drop my pen and loose my mind the next. My outbursts were not just limited to anger, but also to tears of joy, unexplained laughter, grouchiness, extreme fatigue, lethargy, confusion and frustration. I was a ball of tangled emotion and I felt utterly distanced from God. I was told that it was my fault. I was told that I could control these things and just chose not to. I cried a lot and those feelings quickly turned to depression. I didn't want to get out of bed some days and when I did, I didn't want to talk to anyone or do anything. If I felt overwhelmed, my body would go straight into a panic attack and I'd feel as if I were dying.
When I was at my annual appointment, my lady doctor noticed something was wrong and asked about it. I honestly could not control what was happening to me and for once I felt like I wasn't being blamed. After a process of several tests and visits, we found that my hormones were more out of wack than we thought (this was also when they discovered my endometriosis). I started a regimen of mood stabilizers, birth control and (as needed) anxiety medications. I began to feel "functioning" again and I finally started to enjoy my interactions with life.
That should be where my story ends, (happily ever [after) medications.] When people began to find out about my medications and my diagnoses, I was harshly judged. I didn't even share the things people would say to me with my closest family & friends. No one knew how bad the struggle had become for me. I was embarrassed and hurt and lost. After some time, I stopped taking my medications because of the ridicule and judgement I felt upon myself. Regardless of those willing to admit it, to them I was a "Christian" who needed medication to feel balanced. I was a disgrace to the name of "Christianity" and a woman of "little faith" to those who knew. If I had been a true Christian and a woman of faith, my faith would have made me whole.
Please know dear friend that this is FALSE!!! DO NOT BELIEVE THE LIE!! You are NOT less of a person or a Christian because you need help. We all need help in different ways! If you had cancer, would you be less of a Christian if you took chemo treatments? NO! If you're a diabetic and you take insulin to keep that in check, are you going to hell because of it? NO! Do you really think you have diabetes because you're not trusting in God enough?? Absolutely NOT!! There will always be someone who doesn't understand the chemical imbalance in your head, who will blame your lack of healing on a lack of faith. Don't for a minute let the lies of the enemy bring you to a place that will lead you away from trusting in Christ! Remember that your identity comes from the one who created you! He loves you and wants you to be well in all aspects of your life!
It took me some time to come to this realizations and it took me longer to understand that God hadn't healed me for a purpose. Sometimes it's hard for us to understand why we must endure things we think we shouldn't have to endure. Becoming a Christian doesn't mean that bad things will stop happening to you. It just means that God will use those bad things in your life to help others who will experience similar situations.
I have been off my medications for almost 3 years now, but only because we are planning to begin our family in January and we know it's best to keep my system clean of these medications for at least 6 months leading up to pregnancy. I know without any doubt that Christ loves me. I feel no condemnation or judgement from the one judge that matters. I am still trusting God for a complete and total healing and I'm getting closer everyday. We have even started eating better and I admit that it has helped quite a bit more than I ever thought it would. There are some days when I still struggle in my mind, but each day that I win the battle and weather the storm inside, is another victory for Jesus! Don't give up and don't lose hope. Your story isn't over yet!!
If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, our friends at Project Semicolon have lots of resources available for you and you can find help here. Their main tagline reads
"A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. The sentence is your life and the author is you."
The strongest theme and motto for the movement is "Your story isn't over yet" which is something that truly resonated with me, and one that I hope others will draw inspiration from. Let God be the one who decides when your story is complete. You have so much more to do!! If God hasn't taken you yet, it's because He still has a plan for you. Cling to your creator and continue to look toward bright horizons. Don't fixate on the endings, but look forward to fresh starts and new beginnings. It's never too late to start over with God and His mercies are fresh every single day!!
If you would like to donate to help funding for mental health awareness and education, you can do so here.