This has been a week where mental illness has stolen the lives of some well-known names, and my heart breaks for their families, as it does for any time a life is lost, particularly by someone’s own hands. Media uses these stories as a flash to remind people to call a suicide prevention number if they are struggling. And while that’s wonderful and needed, it’s so easy for Monday to come around again and life to keep moving forward. And guess what, you still feel alone. Unimportant. Not heard. Overwhelmed. Trying to escape the burdens you feel.
If that’s you today, can I tell you that nothing you are facing will swallow you whole and if you were not here, you would be missed. Your absence would affect others. You are loved more than you can imagine and even when it seems like the world is too big and you can’t fight it anymore, you are seen and you can fight this. Not alone though. Loneliness, worthlessness, and depression fester in darkness. When they aren’t talked about, they feed off each other and it grows bigger and bigger.
Mental Illness is real and like any other illness, it has to be dealt with. Anytime there is a suicide, it reminds me of how cruel mental illness is. While cancer might infect your bones or liver, mental illness infects your brain and the way you think and handle life. The good news is that with the help of modern day medicine, psychiatrists, and therapists, help is available and the use of medication can assist with the balance of the chemicals in your brain. Mental illness IS possible to treat. The sad thing is that there is such a stigma around it which prevents many people from ever getting help. But know that you are not alone in your struggle. If you are ever battling depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, please tell someone, even if the thought of that seems exhausting. While spirituality is a component in healing, it is not the only component. God is our Healer and He has given us amazing medical resources to help with healing, including medications. Please don’t ever feel like you are a bad Christian because of your struggle or ignore your battle hoping to pray it away. Mental illness is not your identity. It can be overcome. Healing can happen. The world needs you in it. It may be something you struggle with but it does not define who you are. Seek help because life doesn’t have to end by your hands. You are too loved to let that happen.
To everyone reading who doesn’t struggle with this – please, be kind and loving to those you encounter. This week is a reminder that happy faces can be worn, pretty pictures can be posted, and yet people are still fighting these demons despite the image they project. Money, fame, and status do not equal happiness. Hardships are real and we are in no place to judge or make assumptions about why someone is the way they are. We need to not only take the time to lift others up, be kind and encouraging, and give undeserved grace, but also to invest in community and people so that conversations are able to happen. That means you may need to answer your phone instead of sending it to voicemail, or ask someone for coffee, or follow up on a vague social media status.
I know it’s often really hard to pray when you are in a dark place. Personally I have learned that writing or journaling my prayers or thoughts has been helpful.
I found this prayer on Cross Walk and wanted to share it here in case you need to tab and save it, pray it now or in the future, when you can’t find the words, or if you want to rewrite it to bring peace to a dark place.
The darkness has taken hold me and I can’t find my way back to the light. In this moment, ending it all seems like the best option, the only option, the only way to escape. Yet, there is something in me that wants your light to snuff out the darkness. So I ask, Lord, that you would do just that. You are the only light that can shine in the darkness.
I know when I’m consumed with thoughts of death I’m believing lies from the enemy. I ask Lord that you would remind me of these truths: when I feel alone, you are with me; when I feel invisible, you see me; when I feel worthless, my value is knowing you and being known by you.
Lord, help me to understand that you are enough, because you are everything I need and more.
Remind me that when I feel hopeless, you have hope in me and for me. Remind me that when I don’t have the words to cry out to you, your son Jesus is praying for me, and your Spirit intercedes for me with groanings too deep for words. Let this remind me that I am seen, heard and deeply loved.
I often feel out of place in this world. I don’t fit in and I’m not sure I want to. Remind me that this world is not my home and while, as your child, I will never fit in here, my time here isn’t over. Not yet. Please, give me the desire to live.
When I feel like I don’t matter, remind me that I was created with purpose. When I don’t know or understand why I feel the way I feel – remind me that you know the depth of pain in my heart, in my body and in my being. You know me better than I know myself… and yet you still love me.
When I feel like my death would go unnoticed because my life seems to go by uncelebrated, remind me that you celebrate me and that you hurt for me when I’m in this dark place. Remind me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I am worth more than I know.
Remind me that this life is not mine to take.
Remind me that suicide is not the only option.
Remind me to love you and to love myself.
As I say these words I know in my heart that you love me and I feel incredible guilt for wanting to take the life you gave me. I feel embarrassed to admit these thoughts to you. I feel overwhelmed that you know these thoughts without my even saying them, and yet you still love me.
Remind me that Jesus did not come to earth and die for me so that I could live a defeated life. Help me to desire life and to live fully in you.
In Jesus precious name, Amen.