"You Have No Reason To Be..." and 9 Other Stigmas Towards Mental Health...
It wasn't too long ago, when I was at a church service and there was an altar call, and if you wanted to be prayed for/with, you could come pray with a pastor. At this time, my depressive state was not the best and it seemed as if my journey was taking a few steps backwards. So, I went to the nearest pastor and asked him to pray with me after telling him a little of what was going on.
His response? "Oh honey, you have no reason to be depressed..."
My response? The floodgates that are my eyes, were open and the tears started rolling down my face. This broke my heart. It is SO often that mental health has SUCH A STIGMA in the CHURCH. IN THE CHURCH, y'all!!!!! And we wonder why putting on our "Sunday morning smiles" is a thing!
Now I know, he's probably never been through it and he had no ill intent, but there are just some things that need changing in todays society!!! The stigma toward mental health, ESPECIALLY in the church, is one of them!!!!!
I have been going to church, and bible studies, devotions, you name it, for 17 years!! And the only time mental health/illness has ever been brought up is when I started struggling with it and was open and transparent about it!! As a society, this needs to be talked about!! And not looked down upon. Your depression, anxiety, or whatever mental illness you are struggling with, is not something to hide or be ashamed of!!
And to my people who have never struggled with a clinical chemical imbalance in their brain: It is not the person's fault. Unless they are turning away from God or don't know Jesus, its not a faith issue, and lastly, they can't just snap out of it.
Here are 11 stigmas towards people with mental health, and things you SHOULD NEVER say to someone struggling...
1) "You have no reason to be... (fill in the blank; depressed, anxious etc)"
From your point of view, this may seem true, and sometimes, the reason is chemical and not situational.
2) "You don't look like you're... (fill in the blank)"
Ahem... have you ever heard the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover"?
3) "There must be something wrong with your spiritual walk..."
Yes, a lack of Jesus and faith can cause a void in someones life resulting in depression and sadness... but unless this person has blatantly stopped following Jesus, doesn't seek Him and live for Him daily, or has never encountered Him... this statement isn't true.
4) "You have everything you could possibly want in life..."
Again, someones situation, whether they seem like they have it all together or not, this doesn't matter!!!
5) "This is just a phase..."
Oh, so you'd say the same thing if I was chronically ill, right?
6) "It could be a lot worse..."
Yes, it could be, but someone else's rock bottom might not look like yours.
7) "Its a choice you have to make..."
Oh thats right, I forgot I decided a few months ago, that I WANTED to be chemically depressed and anxious.
8) "Everyone gets depressed sometimes!"
Depression is different than being sad, and clinical depression is different from situational depression that you go through with a big life event. Clinical depression is a chemical imbalance that you CANNOT control, that some people, like me, will have to battle for the long run. And yes, sometimes the best way to battle it is medication.
9) "Just don't think about it..." / "Think happy thoughts..."
If only it were that easy...
10) "Have you really prayed about it?"
Chances are, if the person struggling with their mental health knows Jesus, they've spent countless hours on their knees crying out to Jesus, and they will continue to, but remember, we are sometimes given MORE than we can handle on our own... a blog post on: "Why God Gives Us More Than We Can Handle.
All of these things and more have been said to me since I started being open about my struggle with my mental health. And trust me, they hurt, words hurt.
My prayer for you is that, after reading this, you don't hold these stigmas or thoughts against mental health. We ALL have our own battles.