Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A Mental Health Moment: Depression, Anxiety, and Hopelessness, even Suicide

It’s cunning in it’s power, persistent and draining. It saps our zest for life and eats away at our well-being. Toughness and strength seem to little avail against it’s power. Upon waking in the morning many battle it tooth and nail. In the depths of night we find ourselves wide awake. Errant thoughts come and go, and sleep stubbornly refuses to come. A sinking feeling holds us from within. The future seems like too much to take, and the past seems like a dream. Each day begins a new battle to hold onto hope, love, and joy.

For many in our high-paced society, this is their daily struggle, as they deal with the various forms and manifestations of mental health issues. Whether it be depression, anxiety, sleep problems, or panic attacks, or issues like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, many in our society deal with it everyday.

The head of the psychology department at the University of Pennsylvania committed suicide on September 10th of this month, leaping from the 17th floor of a building. He was an expert in the area of mental health and particularly in the area of resilience.

On September 9th 2019 associate pastor Jarrid Wilson committed suicide at the age of 30. He was a pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship, a megachurch, and a mental health advocate who cofounded Anthem of Hope a Christian mental health organization.

Sometimes we may be tempted to think that we have all the answers, based on our psychological knowledge, or even our religious understanding, but often life’s circumstances defy our ability to understand the depths of the pain and suffering of humanity.

Depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts are everyday concerns for people in the world, in the United States, and in Owosso, Michigan. How can we address these issues as a community? How can we help those who are struggling with mental health problems? What can be done to heal?

First of all, if anyone reading these words is currently struggling with these issues, please remember one thing: You are not alone. Others have these same problems, and there is hope for a better future. Please don’t give up, and keep seeking for healing, hope, and truth.

Secondly, if you have ever struggled with mental health problems in the past, and you’re in a better place now, recognize that you have a testimony, a story you can share with others to help bring them hope and healing. The word of God speaks of the wounded healer, the one who has been hurt, and healed, and who then goes and helps others to heal from those same struggles.

Thirdly, how can we find real expressions of community? Often times we can so isolate ourselves that we become an island of one. And one person alone is not a safe place for someone struggling with depression. We need others, even when we just want to be alone, we have to find ways to connect with others. Join a group that does things together in the community. Join a church or religious fellowship, or a Bible study.

Fourthly, often times when the pain in our minds become so strong, we look to self-medicate. We begin using drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and other substances to numb away the pain. Or we go from relationship to relationship, or one night stand to one night stand, distracting ourselves from the problems we face. Or we self-harm, through cutting, or reckless behavior, or even shopping sprees or starting fights to drive off the pain and numb ourselves. But this approach simply brings about more pain and destruction in our lives, and makes the inner problems worse not better. Please, seek a better road for healing.

Fifthly, if need be we should seek out a doctor or therapist who we can work with to take medication or engage in therapy sessions to find healing. And don’t be afraid to reach out to a local pastor or priest, and seek advice and guidance from spiritual leaders. Often times many of our hurts, habits, and hang ups go back to struggles we’ve had in our lives. If you haven’t ever done so, consider writing out your story, as honestly as possible, then sharing it with someone else, and seek to understand and heal from what you’ve gone through. Pray over the words you’ve written, and ask God to heal you within. Then take the pages you’ve written and burn them, as a declaration of departure from past hurts, by moving into a new future.

In conclusion, if you are struggling today, there is a road forward. And if you’ve been through the battle, you have an opportunity to help others. How can we as a community support those with mental health problems? How can we help those who are near the edge and thinking of ending it all? It’s a bigger problem than we might realize. Ultimately, we have to find a way to do our part in helping others fight these battles, if we can. There is still hope, even when lives are lost, and people give up, there is always hope for a better future.