There was a year of my life where I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was throwing up almost every day, falling behind in my schoolwork, and spending my free time alone. Something was wrong, but it took me a long time to admit it. Later, my doctor diagnosed me with severe depression and anxiety. It didn’t sound right when she said it. I had Jesus in my life; wasn’t that enough? He was - and is - everything to me. I lived and breathed Jesus; I didn’t think I should struggle to be happy.
One in five young people have a mental illness like me, but all young people can have lapses in their mental health (Mental Disorders, 2020). Spirituality can be very important to good mental health, but poor mental health can also be damaging to spirituality. I found that accepting the help around me was just as important as praying without ceasing.
God has remained my rock, but there have been times when I couldn’t hear Him clearly enough through the clouds in my mind. When I went undiagnosed and untreated, I became distant from everyone important, even God. Sometimes, things would get bad enough that I would stop feeling anything at all, and everything would be a haze. Becoming numb to emotion made reaching out to God all the more difficult.
My godly Seventh-day Adventist therapist once said this to me: “Sometimes God works miracles, but often He doesn’t, and then we have to work with what we’ve got.” I realized that I’d been feeling guilty for the condition I was in, like I was wrong for struggling. I broke down and cried good, cathartic tears. I’d been asking God for help and expecting instant relief instead of accepting the professionals He placed in my path.
It would have helped me to understand sooner that I wasn’t ungrateful; I was sick. I wasn’t a bad Christian or not praying hard enough. I struggled with my mental health because of a genetic chemical imbalance in my brain.
There was a Sabbath after I started getting the help that I needed that I sat in church feeling like the clouds were finally clearing. It was like being a kid again: suddenly, I could pray without feeling quite so distant and worthless. Faith is a fight, and having poor mental health makes the fight just that much harder. God is healing me, but He’s using people and medicine to do it.
-Anonymous Campion Student
“Mental Disorders.” Teen Mental Health, 2020, teenmentalhealth.org/learn/mental-disorders/.