It’s been a little over a year since I started the blog, and I have met so many wonderful people through it, in addition to getting to know more about my friends and family through their own mental illness experiences.
If anything, I have learned that there are so many of us out there who feel alone in our struggles. With an illness that takes place so much in the mind, it is nearly impossible for someone to “see” that you have a mental illness, let alone understand something that is essentially invisible.
Like I’ve said in previous posts, the holidays can be an extra hard time for a lot of people, especially those with eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. As someone who has all of these conditions, I find that during the holidays I have moments in which I am severely overwhelmed on the one hand and moments where I completely zone out on the other. And the worst part is that these phases are entirely unpredictable and difficult to process.
When we were in New Orleans last week, I’d go from being ecstatic one minute to sitting on a bench and contemplating the futility of existence the next. My mind saying You’re on vacation! You’re acting like an ungrateful snob. What do you have to be sad about? Get over yourself! Why on earth did you plan a vacation around the holidays? You don’t need those extra pounds! And what about the money? You might not even have a job in a few months. And then of course I just felt worse about myself and the negative energy I was putting out into the world.
And then since we’ve been home, I’ve felt constantly on the edge of a big messy crying fest. Nothing is necessarily wrong. I’m just in a fixed state of anxiety about the uncertainty of next year. I have no idea if I’ll have a job, where we will live, how we’ll pay bills. Those aren’t questions I should even waste time fretting about because God is sovereign. He has a plan. But sometimes that’s a whole lot easier to say than to think. I’m working on holding it together, in a continual state of prayer, clinging to God’s promises.
Some days, some seasons, every other word is a prayer, and you feel like everything is spiraling all around you. That’s this season of my life for me. Amidst at all, however, I am practicing gratitude, trying to cultivate a sense of optimism and joy because these times of intense growth and change produce beauty, if we trust Him. I have to believe that.
A recent sermon I heard really helped me to internalize this, as the pastor reminded us, “It’s when it is darkest that God’s light shines the brightest. If you are in season of despair, there is hope. Life is hard, but God is good. Deliverance isn’t the answer; the Deliverer is the answer.”
No matter where you are in your life, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a new year full of God’s grace and love and joy and the peace that comes with knowing that our souls have worth because of Him (no matter what the future holds!).
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.