You know what? I wish this calling on my life was a different one.
I remember reading somewhere that we are divinely called to the one area of our life that we struggle with the most. For me, that area would be my mental health and frankly, I’m tired of it.
Last Monday night I sat in class relatively ok, laughing and multitasking as I typically do when all of a sudden, the desire to cry wafted over me and I found myself wanting out of my classroom. I took a minute to email my professor, grabbed my phone, and walked out. I only walked to the next floor and around to a secluded corner, but it was far enough away for me to breathe. The air felt different and I was just counting down the minutes until it was time to leave. When I returned to class, my classmate was still presenting but I was texting my therapist asking him for a referral to additional resources because I was genuinely growing concerned about how quickly my mood can change. I’ve been concerned for some time and, even though I had a therapy appointment scheduled for the next day, I was going to need some more help.
I checked out. Normally when I check out in classes, I complete work for other things like church or work but this time, I had checked out of everything and I just wanted to get in my car and cry. With minutes left in the class, I packed up my things, put on my hat, and braced myself for ignoring my classmates as I left the room. Someone asked if I was ok and I think I answered her but my concern was getting away from everyone as soon as possible. I power-walked to my car and once I was alone and able to pull out of my parking spot, the tears began to flow. But these weren’t normal tears, these were angry tears directed towards God, asking why I couldn’t be “normal.”
For the record, I don’t like the word “normal” and I try to use “typical” whenever possible. However, in my crying state, normal was the only word that could express my pain and frustration. I was tired of being different and tired of dealing with mental health issues. Mental health is looked down upon anyway; why couldn’t I have a physical disease or disorder like everyone else? Maybe then people would actually care about me and listen to me as I constantly SCREAMED out for help.
As someone who has borne the pain of both a mental and physical crisis, I can tell you that the physical crisis gets more love. In 2016 when I entered what I call The Dark Place (six months of deep and intensive depression), calls were limited. No cards came my way; few glimpses of concern were passed my way. Yet when I experienced a car accident in 2017 that left me unable to work, sit, or walk properly for weeks, the calls flowed. Even earlier this year when my gallbladder was removed, people expressed interest and concern about my well-being. Physical issues are deemed more significant than mental illnesses… yet as any physical trainer would attest, your body only does what your mind tells it to do. Simply put, if the mind isn’t strong or up to its optimal health level, the body will do nothing. But I digress…
I was upset (and low-key, still am) because I just don’t understand why me. Yet as I drove and cried, I was able to hear what God had to say….
“You are anointed and appointed, with an assignment and My assurance.”
That messed me up. God had called to my remembrance the words that He had spoken through my pastor the previous day and caused me to remember that His grace is sufficient for me.
I’m still a broken vessel, trying desperately to navigate this life that God has given me and the mental illnesses that can’t simply be “prayed away.” I’m starting to understand that they are just my thorns that I must bear, continuing all the more to rely on Him for strength. I am recognizing that even as I take up this cross and carry it daily, God promises to walk with me and bear my burdens for me. I’m learning that as I press, I surrender and God will give me all that I need- even if what I need is a good psychologist. Sidebar, we have to get out of the habit of telling people not to seek therapy or counseling when they are experiencing problems. Healthy help comes in many forms and I truly believe that God gave us this help for a reason. I digress, again…
Beloved, all I have for you is this: when you need a resource, go straight to the Source. While prayer may not be the only answer, it is a great start that opens the door for many more powerful moments. “What a friend we have in Jesus; all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer…”.
And, to answer my own question….
“Why me?” Why not me? Who better to talk to someone who may be going through and point them towards Help, than someone who had to seek the same help herself? I also asked God during that Sunday sermon, “what have You called me to do?” And as I type today, I feel His answer reverberating through every part of my body….
If you are experiencing mental illness and are in need of assistance, please reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at www.nami.org or 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).