I want to be the first to admit 2 things. 1.I am not a mental health professional, but I have learned a few things about how the mind works along the way and 2. I have had to do battle with my own mental health to the extent that I know what it is to come back from the edge of eternity. OK. I will just say it. I went to the place where you try to kill yourself...because of the months on end of rushing thoughts tripping over themselves in my mind, and I could not stop their onslaught. Suffice it to say that faced with the illness, I, like so many others, found myself helpless in its grip. And no amount of calling out to God brought peace.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus Phillipians 2:5
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7
God does not want us to go there. It is not he who takes us to the brink of suicide, and certainly is not he who would carry us into its reality. But I wouldn't entirely blame Satan either. I am not a doctor, but I have some strong feelings about mental health. And I certainly would not impose them all on our readers here. But there were a few things that stand out for me, that I learned, which have aided some others along the way, and I want to mention only a few here today.
1. Mental illness is as much an illness of an organ as heart disease. Unlike the flu for instance, there isn't a medicine that helps it get well in a week or two. My chiropractor once said the nerves die at a regular rate..something like an inch or so a month, let's say. The significance is - when the spine is adjusted and pressure released off those pinched nerves, the feeling coming back initially hurts worse, sometimes, and it is going to take almost as long for the injured nerves to rejuvenate as it took them to lose their feeling. Months to years to heal.
Injury to the brain is more that kind of illness. Hurt it and it will take a long time to recover. The chemical/mechanical balance that is upset for any one of many reasons is as deadly as it is disquieting. Mental illness is a progressive disease. It happens slowly, and it's warning signs are as recognizable as the symptoms of a heart attack are for the heart's illness:
Symptom 1: rushing thoughts. When your thoughts won't subside, you have pushed yourself past a point of just over doing it a little! You are on the verge of severe mental illness. Be warned. Ask for help.
2. Persons born with mental illness may have a mechanical defect. That is something they must learn to live with. But those of us that slowly pinch off the brain's ability to function by making choices that harm it little by little, will be like the proverbial frog in the pan. We bring ourselves to a point of no return, almost without knowing we have done it. None of us believes we could go there. Be we are all capable. ALL OF US.
3. Having life come at you so hard and furious that you scarcely have time or energy left to consider what it is doing to your brain, isn't really something we can always stop. So if you have gotten to a point where you realize, "I think sometimes that I am going crazy," you are in great company. Christians are just as liable to find themselves feeling desparate, clinically depressed, and menatally challenged to just face the day, as anyone. So-
the first element of healing is to recognize you are in need, and forgive yourself for letting life take you there.
Any number of medical conditions can precipitate the breeding ground for mental illness. Probably the number one thing that taxes the system is hormonal, in combintation with stressing ourselves to our limits, which depletes the chemicals the brain uses to operate. Stored in small amounts, I learned from many sources, that those tiny amounts are depleted quickly under long periods of stress, or adrenaline use, and can only be repleninshed with food over incredibly long periods. Trying to cope without considering what it can do to your brain, is unwise.
In my own case, an underlying issue was my blood sugar. In my shop, I was growing more and more busy. I spent ridiculously long hours skipping meals, and pushing til the work was done. I wanted to please people with no failures, and that in itself is a recipe for disaster. I cannot tell you how often I wanted to kick myself in later years for refusing myself something, as simple as a small piece of chocolate, which would have regulated my sugar and gotten oxygen to my brain. Oxygen to my brain! Would you actively choose to deprive your brain of oxygen? Yet we do it with shallow breathing, bad food choices, & allowing fear, worry and stress to rule our days and nights. For years I deprived myself, feeling guilty because of weight, of the very thing that would have brought my body back to a normal environment, and would have helped me be mentally healthy enough to realize, I needed to eat every 3 hours. I was my own sacrificial lamb. I went to work unprepared for the times when I was too busy to eat a meal. Add to that the long hours, and walking away with things undone, taking on too much work for one person, the sleepless nights worrying over bills, and a lot of things began to cascade. Then, one day, when I couldn't handle one more thing going wrong, my car broke down in the middle lane of an 8 lane highway, just before the close of the workday, while trying to deliver some very important flowers, AND the address fell out into the rushing traffic. --SOMETHING SNAPPED.-- I now know that I had a light stroke. It took about 2 and one half years to recover, but the cascade of things going wrong continued, and I didn't know how to fix the food issue. That stroke developed into a severe depression. What that did to myself and my family, no family should ever have to endure.
- Give yourself a break if you aren't super human. That's God's category to handle the superhuman stuff. Know what you can handle and give the superman stuff to God.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9
- Never get so caught up in trying to achieve, that you are doing whatever comes at you. It's OK to draw a line on the things other people expect of you. It's OK to say "NO." And it's OK to fail, to not get enough done, or to simply realize you are too tired to do it. Set limits, make plans, and stick to them for your healths sake, not your commitment's sake.
Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established. Proverbs 16:3
Basically, what this adds up to, is giving your mind a break. A rest period from all the TO DOs, is not just healthy, it is critical.
Lord, I can not thank you enough for bringing me through the journey to recognizing mental health is a very real need. Intervene in someones's world today, before they let life carry them to the edge. AMEN
P. S. If you are in the depths of a clinical depression, please know that what I have said here, is highly oversimplistic. Let the first step you take be one of realizing deep inside that God does care, and he will heal. Just take the step. One step and ask him what is the next step. But give yourself permission to rest your mind long enough to hear his voice.