Being healthy mentally is not necessarily genetic, dependent on circumstances, or just easy for some and hard for others. While these factors may contribute, they are not absolute sentences for good or bad mental health.
I fight for mental health. We may share some periods of time where the battle can be most fierce?
moving away from home
becoming a mom for the first time
realizing I was a special needs mom
Adding a second child
moving back home
switching from man-to-man defense to zone in parenting with #3
extended hospital stays
No matter the reason for the fight, the rules of engagement and skills needed often remain the same. Make no mistake, this is a battle of epic proportions and the life of “exceedingly abundantly more than I can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20),” or “wandering aimlessly in the depths of despair” remains in the balance. So, how do we fight?
Three ways I fight for mental health
- Admit the struggle to myself and someone else.
When I’m struggling the most, I want to shut down. Inviting someone else into the struggle may be seeing a counselor and/or medicating, but it’s always someone who knows me and won’t let me be alone in my struggle. This helps me not carry my burden alone and decreases the likelihood of letting myself dismiss or ignore my symptoms altogether.
Often I just need to borrow the faith of a friend or truth from their overflow until my heart feels what my head already knows.
2. Taking the dark and exposing it to light
When we move the shadows into the light, it lessens their power over us. As long as we convince ourselves we are fine, we do nothing to change. Hidden fears or anxiety feel shameful. Admitting the trouble allows us to apply the correct balm to start healing.
When we’re lonely, we may need to be reminded God is with us always. We may stray away from him but he never steps away from us.
We may be fighting for friendships because it takes so much work and time to build them. We may need to be reminded that everything in life is not about us. Sometimes people don’t have space (physically or mentally) for new friends. We keep trying until we find a good fit.
When I’m sad over life circumstances, I need the biblical truth that God is still working. Sometimes I’m not believing a specific truth about God and his promises to me and need to be reminded.
3. Refusing to settle for less
One of the most important things to do when in a rut is to keep doing what we know to do. Some days getting out of bed is a win. Other days inviting a friend for coffee is a vulnerable step in the right direction. Spending time reading and meditating on scripture and praying despite how we feel is the foundation on which we will get up again.
If you’re like me, we want to isolate until we feel like a better fit for human interaction, but that really never works. On our own, we can’t pull ourselves out of a hole. When we feel crummy, we have to force ourselves to keep fighting for God’s best instead of feeling powerless and settling into long-term survival.
We have to claim HIS promises until we feel them and see them realized. This is a constant, daily process because we are all a work in progress. We will never arrive until we leave this world.
Life is hard, my friends; but God is good. Hang in there & fight! I often feel like Jacob, a “God wrestler” who says, “I won’t let you go until you bless me (Genesis 32).” I fight to stuff truth into my head and heart until my body’s auto-response is trust and faith over fear and doubt.