Part of why I love to blog, write, and paint furniture is because it's been good for my mental health. I don't think this comes as a surprise to anyone because developing a hobby made me a better mom.
We live in a tough world. I hear about things every day that make me sad, angry, or frustrated. I can also get stressed out easily by the noise that comes with my day-to-day life. When I can give myself that mental break, even if there is still some noise around me, my mind is quieter. It's a mental shift to something constructive, positive, enjoyable, and I love that it inspires me to think and pray.
Lately, there's a trend to bring awareness to mental health. My own sister over on her You-tube channel shared some things this week. Another You-tuber I follow: Natalie Bennet from Nat&Wes and the Rest just revealed her battle with depression and anxiety. Her confession got to me because she is so upbeat and positive in every single video I watch. Her joyful energy is admirable. When I saw her video title of "I'm Not Doing Well" my heart just sunk and I thought, 'No! Not Natalie, she's such a positive person!'
Then I realized, that's exactly the kind of stigma that needs to be broken! Just because someone is positive or upbeat doesn't mean they can't ever be touched by some mental health struggles. I am so glad she spoke out.
Another stigma that needs to be broken is that Christians don't wrestle with mental health...or that they can be cured overnight if they just believe in Jesus enough.
My friends, please don't think like this. Please don't believe those lies. While we are here on this earth, EVERYONE will be broken in some way or another. We all will have struggles, we all will have suffering. That is a guarantee.
The one difference that we should be seeing in a Christian with mental health struggles, or ANY kind of suffering is that even in the midst of the pain, we have HOPE and we can have JOY. Our hope and joy does not come from the possibility of being cured from mental illness, our hope and joy comes directly from Jesus.
Through His perfection, His death and resurrection, we can be with HIM in eternal existence. We'll be pain free, suffering free. We will have the sharpest minds we'll ever know, ready to absorb the Glory of God without anything in the way.
I remember when my baby was giving me the hardest run I've ever experienced of not sleeping through the night. It was almost a year! I tried everything. I won't get into all those details now... but I was incredibly sleep deprived and depressed. I didn't realize how depressed I was.
Then, I started having anxiety attacks during the night. I had paranoia about him waking up just minutes after I would fall asleep. So...I didn't sleep. I couldn't fall asleep because I was worried about having to wake up. I was not in my right mind and felt totally out of control. A few nights I experienced full-on panic attacks and thought I was probably dying.
My dark thoughts and sleep deprived state sent me on a path towards thinking and fearing, 'I am going to go insane, literally, and end up in a mental institution. I'll be unable to care for my children and my life and theirs will be ruined.' That was my worst fear.
In a counseling session I learned to accept my worst fear. Trusting God totally meant that instead of panicking about my worst fear I would be ready for it if it came. The "What ifs" needed to turn into "Even Ifs". Even if I am sleep deprived, even if I can't get my kid to sleep through the night, even if I go mad, even if I end up in a mental hospital: God is GOOD all the time and He has a purpose in everything. The perfect life is not to be lived right now. God will always be out for my good and His glory and I may not understand it at the time, but if that means 'worst case scenario' then He will help me through that.
Easier said than done, of course! But this changed my thinking and I began to heal. I took care of myself holistically (physically and spiritually), WITH HELP (husband, church family, counselors, resources, friends etc!), and slowly began to get better. We finally got my kid to sleep through the night and before I knew it that dark chapter closed. Now I feel better equipped for it if or when I struggle with anxiety or depression in the future.
So, if you wrestle with mental health please know you're not alone. Talk to your spouse, talk to a friend, talk to your church leaders, talk to your doctors. Get help, get accountability, get the support you need. Don't be afraid to ask hard questions and don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Surround yourself with people who will constantly remind you of the Hope and Joy we have in Christ, because if left by ourselves, we forget. We need His word, His church, and each other. We are all more alike than we think.
The picture for this post I vaguely remember taking and thinking... someday I might want to look back on this season and SEE how tired and out of it I really was. It's hard for me to share this photo publicly but I know how it easy it is to feel alone and ugly when you're in the trenches. Especially with instagram and snapchat filters we always see the highlight reel, not this. Well...this is me, unedited, in the midst of some real raw postpartum depression (undiagnosed) and chronic sleep deprivation back in 2015. I am so thankful for that season of intense spiritual growth and challenge, even though it was hard, I learned a lot about God, my faith, and myself through it. It is weird to be thankful for a trial. But God is good all the time. Reach out if you need to. There is understanding, love, hope, and joy that is for you.
This is a repost from Jessica’s personal website and has been minorly edited. See the original here!
Jessica is a mother of 3 and has been married to Nick for 8 years. She has a degree in Psychology and is passionate about approaching marriage, motherhood, womanhood, and everything with a biblical worldview. She also loves blogging and DIY projects. Check out her work at jessicadenyse.com.