If you aren’t aware, May was Mental Health Awareness Month. You are, however, probably aware that it is June. So this is old (and late) news. Because of the effects of my mental illness, I can struggle with being late (something I’m working on). So, I decided to keep this conversation going on my blog even though it is a month late.
This leads to a couple of questions: Why do we need to keep this conversation going and why am I someone to keep it going? Great questions! Here is my attempt to answer those:
Why do we need to keep this conversation going?
The stats* point out that “50% of Americans will meet the criteria of a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life.” You can spend a lot of time debating the validity of the criteria for diagnosing or defining various mental illnesses, which is often done in Christian circles. Regardless of your opinion in these debates, what this stat shows is the concept and effects of mental illness are highly prevalent in our culture, and therefore, will be highly prevalent in our churches. Frankly, I think most of us could agree that there is so much more we could do in the church to discuss the warning signs of mental illness, as well as helping others deal with walking through mental illness. Mental Illness is not just prevalent in the month of May. People sharing their stories and continuing conversations helps people find healing and helps others help others. And that’s why I feel compelled to share my story as part of this larger conversation.
Why am I someone to help keep the conversation going?
It’s been almost 2 years since the genesis of more acute mental illness came knocking on the door of my mind. Through the fall and rise, ebbs and flows, highs and lows of the healing process, I learned a lot. Honestly, I don’t want OCD to be “the thing” that defines me. Like, “there’s Mindy, here she is talking about OCD again.” I really don’t want it to be my platform. Having a Mental Illness can feel shameful. Nevertheless, I do feel called by God to share my story. So I share it and talk about it, and because of that, in a way, having OCD has become my thing whether I want it to be or not. I know that being open about experiences has helped some people learn and has given some people courage to keep fighting. So that is why I keep talking about it. I’ve shared my story and had someone come up to me and say that they have never met anyone else who struggled with OCD. People have told me that hearing my story has helped some people keep fighting or have the courage to get help for the first time. Sharing stories of God’s healing grace is an important part of helping others. Trust me, mental illness wages war against a person. You can’t fight this stuff alone.
My story is not unique. As mentioned in the stats above, there are many who have experienced mental illness. But yet, every story is filled with distinct twists and turns. The way God heals is very specific and particular. So there are certain things about my story that I know add a unique perspective to the conversation. Some of those things are that I am a Christian, my husband is in ministry, and that I utilized both biblical counseling/christian community and secular counseling/support groups in my recovery. I have also had some education/training in psychology/counseling, which was a long time ago so I don’t write from an “expert” perspective or from the viewpoint of a professional. I include that to say that psychology and mental health have been interest areas of mine. But, my writing is from the vantage point of a person who struggles with OCD/mental illness, and this is my personal experience and I realize it may be different from what others’ experience. Consider that my disclaimer- please use what I share as a conversation starter and go talk it through with your christian community/pastor and a professional you trust.
So, this serves as the intro into a series that I will write about this month. Some topics that I plan on discussing include:
- My recovery story (Including Physical and Spiritual healing)
- Spirit & Body Connection in healing
- Spiritual Components of OCD
- Making the Church a Safe place for mental illness
- Things to consider when helping those who struggle with mental illness
- Healing in community
- Mental Illness and the family/social support
The topics may evolve, but this is a list I’ve been mulling over in my head for a few months. If there are topics that interest you that could be added to the list, feel free to e-mail me or comment.
I’m a little nervous to make these thoughts public, but I’m trusting God that he is doing what He wills with my story. I take great confidence in knowing that He is still the author of my story, even as I am writing out my perspective of what He has done in my life so far. He writes my story in a way that no one else could, making every detail (good and bad), work together for my good and his Glory. And that’s why I share some of these details, so that others may see and know more of Him.
*From an infographic on the Mental Health America website