Since becoming a mental health advocate I’ve received a lot of uplifting messages. A very popular message I’ve received is that people are keeping me in their prayers, or that they will pray for me. Although I don’t believe in most of these people’s God, I appreciate it. I used to go to church, and I was a confirmed Catholic as a teenager, but since I’ve found another religion that better suits my beliefs. Still, there is a comfort in knowing people wish me well, and are praying for me. To me, that is kind.
There is a thin line with this though; I cannot stand when people tell me to turn to God instead of medications. I cannot stand when people tell me it’s “evil” to take medications or to listen to what my medical professional is advising me to do. And I really get angry when people tell me that I just haven’t found Jesus yet.
I believe the world runs on balance; sometimes you need to own your shadow, sometimes you are covered in light, but the secret is finding that balance in between.
I don’t like knocking someone’s treatment plan. Everyone needs to do something to keep their mental health in check, whether it’s through big pharma, homeopathic remedies, or a little bit of both. We also incorporate some of the things that bring comfort into our lives into our treatment plans. This can be something like self soothing behaviors, animal therapy, sports, and even religion. I use a lot of techniques in my treatment plan, and yeah, religion is one piece for me. Although I’m not open about what I practice, I don’t believe there is good or evil. I believe the world runs on balance; sometimes you need to own your shadow, sometimes you are covered in light, but the secret is finding that balance in between. Remembering that brings me peace; because I know my bad days are simply that; bad days. There are better days ahead. I can pray and keep in mind my humanity. That’s what works for me. If you need to pray to Jesus, or Allah, or any God or deity, that’s your business. As long as it helps you find comfort, and you’re not hurting anyone, then that is awesome.
But like anything else (especially in the mental health field) I’m not a big fan of extremes. Prayer is not always the answer, and Jesus isn’t going to cure me. If you believe that for you, awesome, but please don’t impose your beliefs like that onto others.
When people don’t seek help or seek out a professional (be it medical/homeopathic, anything) they run a higher risk of hurting themselves or others.
Mental health is an extremely delicate issue. It’s hard to understand,because you don’t see someone sick all the time (though sometimes you do). Mental health is a very silent infliction of the mind to outsiders; but torturous to others. It’s damaging when people say things like “It’s all in your head,” because 1) no kidding, it’s obviously in my head when it’s an illness of the brain and mind and 2) it discredits mental illness, which makes people hesitant to seek help. When people don’t seek help or seek out a professional (be it medical/homeopathic, anything) they run a higher risk of hurting themselves or others. Mental health is manageable, but not always alone.
When you struggle with mental health, you are chronically ill, and you need support and lifting, and there is no shame in that.
When you send a message saying “you just haven’t found Jesus” or you talk to someone about how their mental illness is associated with demons, that’s terrifying. That discredits mental health for religious folk. That puts blame on people who are sick. Truth is it’s not your fault if you suffer with mental illness (seriously, it’s not your fault!!). You aren’t possessed; you are actually sick. We wouldn’t go up to someone with a broken bone and say it’s their fault their bones aren’t stronger. When you struggle with mental health, you are chronically ill, and you need support and lifting, and there is no shame in that. You aren’t at fault, and didn’t ask for this based on your religious preference. You are plain and simple, sick.
Pray for me, bring my name up in your church. Light a candle for me, say kind words about me, whatever you need to do. But don’t shame me based on religious preference, or tell me something is wrong with me. Keep your God(s) and Demons out of my diagnosis.