Fighting Mental Illness
By: Trent Bizub (@thetrentbizub)
One's own set of personal beliefs often dictate what that person does in times of struggle, pain, and hopelessness. Often times, what we say we believe opens us up to criticism and harassment. The communities we associate with decide how we are ultimately scrutinized by people who either do or don't know us personally.
In 2015, I took a big step in my personal battle with depression and confessed to my school counselor that I had been contemplating suicide because of my deteriorating mental health. This was the "easy" part of coming out with my mental struggles. However, what I worried about after that discussion was how everyone else in my family would react.
Mental illness runs in my family, so my parents were very patient with me in regards to helping me seek therapy and making sure to check in on me every day. A handful of my friends had also battled mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, so I knew I could obtain some knowledge on how to live with my illness through communicating with them.
While I was raised Christian, it took me until February of 2014 to make the decision to dedicate my life to Christ. However, since that time, I had been very open about my beliefs. When I announced my mental illness to the world, I could feel a lot of the apprehension: I knew a many people on the secular side would tell me "so what? If you believe in God you should just pray the depression away." On the Christian side of the spectrum, I was worried they would tell me to do just that, pray that I get better and to not act on it.
Here I was, a 17 year old just looking for answers, and from all sides of the political/religious spectrum, I felt like I was being persecuted. I didn't feel that I could choose the "right" answer, because no matter what direction I chose with my recovery I knew one side would tell me I was wrong.
This is not an advertisement for religion. This is not even an advertisement to believe depression is real. You are allowed to believe whatever you want to believe.
You are allowed to believe whatever you want to believe.
Say it with me, one more time, for the people in the back: you are allowed to believe whatever you want to believe.
There is nothing stopping you from accepting or denying whatever belief you wish to accept or deny. Because of this free will, I chose a moderately paced recovery. I just recently stopped going to therapy, finishing after one year. I am now at community college, finishing up my AA transfer degree, as I plan to transfer to a four year school next fall.
For me, I use my struggle with depression and self harm to let other people know that they are neither alone or too broken to be loved. While I may have different beliefs than others, which alters how I view and fight my mental illness, I have done my best to avoid adding to the multiple stigmas that are attached to depression.
People who believe in prayer can overcome mental health problems. People who do not believe in prayer can overcome mental health problems. There is no right or wrong way in dealing with your illness. There is only your way.
I quote that I love, and one that correlates to my faith is by an unknown author. S/he writes that "as of now, there is still time for faith and holy decision. May we obtain them tonight." Whatever faith means to you, you can still embody that faith if you choose to stay alive. Whatever decisions are holy, or "good" in your eyes can still be lived by if you choose to stay alive.
For me, choosing to stay alive has empowered me to live by my own faith and convictions. You don't have to be religious to have faith. Whatever ideas you want to stick by, you can stick by them. This is just one way you can encourage yourself to stay alive. If fighting against the stigma is becoming exhausting, fight for your faith. And above all, stay alive, because that the number one way to defeat the stigma: live to tell people about your testimony.