In middle and high school, I often suffered from mild to moderate anxiety that I suppose the average teenager suffers; how I would do on tests, if a boy liked me, or what my teachers and peers thought about my character. However, as I grew into young adulthood, this mild anxiety developed into a paralyzing diagnoses.
Unfortunately, growing up, I often heard many myths about mental health that miraged my view of what it meant to fight something no one could see. I denied my struggles on and off for years, and avoided asking for help.
Shortly after I finished student teaching and graduated from college, I began facing serious health concerns. After numerous trips to the ER, a colonoscopy, and days on end of physical and mental agony, I was diagnosed with genetic anxiety-inducing IBS-C with a tortured colon. The culprit, a genetic disposition of a curse that was never dealt with well by myself or prior descendants: anxiety, fear, depression, and mental health.
A few months before my diagnosis, I had started hurting daily from what I now know were severe panic and anxiety attacks, mind spinning, crying at the drop of a pen, feeling overwhelmed to the point that I thought I'd have a heart attack, and almost blacking out from fear while driving were what made me realize my anxiety was not healthy.
Finally, I listened to the advice of loved ones, and dared to seek counseling, something few had been advocating for me to try for years. Still, I could hear the stigma associated with a term synonymous with “crazy” in the back of my mind.
Only crazy people go to counseling. I must be mad.
“If I'm such a good Christian, why can't I conquer this anxiety on my own?” I could hear my thoughts saying. “You need to pray more. Have you tried reading your Bible and praying? Are you trusting God?” the thoughts and comments from prosecutors filled my cup while emptying it at the same time.
Perhaps you've faced the same challenges while seeking help for mental health, praying that someone would reassure you you're not that crazy. If that's you today, it's my prayer that in debunking these three myths the church often believes about mental health, God will bring light, blessing, hope, joy, and restoration to your life.
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