Today is World Mental Health Day.
Sometimes I feel silly writing posts like this because I don’t know a lot. After all, I’m just a 21 year old girl writing about my own lived experiences. I’ve come to realize that lots of people have similar experiences.
I feel like I have to share a disclaimer – I don’t have it all figured out. I am nowhere close to having it all figured out, and I’m still trying my best. As of right now I am only six days free of using ed behaviors. I’ve certainly done better and I’ve definitely done worse. However, it feels important to me to continue sharing my thoughts. You definitely don’t have to agree with them, and it is really good for me to write things out and even share them!
So, on World Mental Health Day I wanted to share something that has been tremendously helpful and hopeful for me around ending the stigma surrounding mental illness in my own life.
I hate the word but.
But is a disqualifier. Using the word but takes away from the legitimacy of two juxtaposing things existing together at the same time. Two things can be opposite, coexist, and still be true. Take rain and sunshine for example. When you put these two things together you get a rainbow.
For so long I struggled with this concept. My therapist told me about it two years ago and it has taken a while for me to fully adopt this concept into my everyday language. One of my biggest struggles was coming to terms with my eating disorder in relation to my faith. I love Jesus. “I am a Christian BUT I have an eating disorder.” I used to get so stuck on this phrase. I felt like because I had an eating disorder that I couldn’t be a Christian, that I was doing something wrong, that I wasn’t reading my bible enough or praying enough.
This belief weighed so heavily on my mind and was only made worse by people in the church who met my cries for help with “well are you spending enough time with the Lord?” instead of “Have you considered seeking professional help?”
I saw this post on instagram this morning by Charaia Callabrass. Her words are beautiful and I resonate deeply with them. Did I not think highly enough of God to know that he can use the people around us to speak truth and healing into our lives?
For so long I felt shame because I was seeing a therapist. I have recently turned this whole mindset around. What a gift it is to go to therapy. Going to therapy or taking medication for mental health issues is not a second line of defense if your faith isn’t strong enough. I believe wholeheartedly that these things are gifts from God.
I love Jesus and I am recovering from an eating disorder. I am a Christian and I go to therapy and take medication to be moving forward in a safe and healthy way.
So why was all this important to share?
Mental health issues are not something to be ashamed of. It is something that makes us human. The stigma around mental health is real. It was so deeply ingrained in me that I put off seeking help for too long for fear of looking weak.
Seeking treatment is one of the bravest and strongest things I’ve ever done. Recognizing that you need help is huge. It is powerful. It is vulnerable. It is real. It is something to be proud of because you care about yourself enough to want to do the work to get better.
I have a resources page on the blog, linked here. A lot of the resources are specific to eating disorders, however, there are so many resources out there for whatever you may be struggling with.
Maybe I’m just writing this post as a reminder to myself that I am doing the hard and brave thing by continuing going to therapy. And if that’s all this post does, I am thankful because something I need the reminder.
And maybe, just maybe, this post will mean more than that for someone, encouraging them to take the next step in doing the hard and brave thing, whether that means opening up about their struggles with mental health for the first time, asking the hard questions around their loved ones and being prepared to sit with them and love them no matter the answer, or to just know that they can be going through a hard time and still be deeply loved and cared for by the people around them.