Just quickly, off the top of my head, I can count 6 people in my life who have a mental illness. You might be one them 😉
And it is nothing to be ashamed of – although many with mental illness are ashamed. Take for instance my son, Kota. He was diagnosed with Anxiety Induced OCD a while back and has just recently talked publicly about the illness. He kept so many of his struggles away from us because he didn’t want to burden us. I had no idea until a few months ago that he never really goes to bed. He just goes to his room and repeats a couple handfuls of routines over and over again until he gets each one just right. And there really is no right… just a tension and pressure to repeat acts… all night long, without sleep.
Because I know my son so well I can say that mental illness is not a bi-product of personal failure or weakness. It isn’t something that happens because you repeatedly stole post-it’s from your work, or because you made fun of “special people”. It can be biological, genetic, environmentally caused – but it isn’t something you’re afflicted with because you tripped a girl in the 3rd grade.
More so, it is not something you should be ashamed of. However, many are. And I have spoken to countless of people who live with a mental illness, who are christians, that are afraid to talk about it to their friends, family, or in the church. This is what they’re typically told…
If you had enough faith your mind would become stronger.
I kid you not. I can’t make this stuff up. And if you battle with mental illness and are reading this, I bet you’ve heard that line at least once in your lifetime.
My dear friend Heather says it kind of like this… Your brain is an organ. Your heart is an organ. Your lungs are an organ. When you have heart problems – you go on heart medication. When your lungs are failing – you take medication to strengthen them back up. Your brain is an organ… but when it is ill, for some reason, it doesn’t deserve the same respect. If you have to take meds for your brain it’s because you are weak or lack faith.
Well, if I cussed publicly I’d be cussing all over this space right now – I ain’t even gonna lie.
That is nonsense. Mental illness is a real thing. And real people, with real hearts, with real passions, with families, with jobs, with ministries, live with it every day in silence because they’re being told it’s basically their fault they have it.
Mental Illness is real. And it afflicts many. And it does not discriminate.
I have lupus. I did nothing to my knowledge to get it. It just decided to wake up inside of me one day many years ago. No one says if I had enough faith it would go away. That would be ugly and hurtful.
So how can we look at mental illness through the lens of compassion instead of the lens of judgment?
Why do you think our society is so uptight and judgmental toward mental illness?
Do you know someone who lives with a mental illness?
I would love your thoughts on this! I think this is a conversation that needs to be had and I always love to create a safe place to hold these at.
So feel free to email or comment your thoughts. I want to hear your voice on this.
And thank you Jennifer for suggesting I write about this!