Sometimes, when it comes to mental illness, it’s just about getting through the day isn’t it?
Amidst the monitoring of moods, taking of medication and trying to strike that ever-so delicate balance between paranoia and self-care.
Is that a symptom? Am I relapsing? Am I just sad or it a sign of something more?
Is this it? Does my diagnosis mean that this is just my life from now on?
They’re thoughts I’ve had countless times over the past decade of living with mental illness.
And sometimes, it’s a little overwhelming, and in trying to avoid the lows, it can sometimes feel as if you have to give up on the dizzying heights, too.
At some point over the last couple of months, as I’ve emerged from a year which saw the darkness return with a vengeance I’ve realised that I don’t want to live my life looking over my shoulder to see if the darkness is following me.
There is more to life than a struggle for survival.
There is life to be lived – and I want to make sure I live it.
Ever since my teens, the words of John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and destroy. I have com that they may have life, and have it to the full” have given me comfort and hope. It’s Jesus’ promise to his flock – and it’s not a promise of an easy life (as much as we may wish it) but it’s the promise of a full life with the presence of the Good Shepherd.
The thief of mental illness may come to steal life and wreak havoc – but Jesus came that despite what we face – we can have a full life.
And as His bride, the Church has a part to play.
This week is mental health awareness week and at ThinkTwice we’re setting out five ways to see that life for those with mental illness is #MoreThanSurvival.
Firstly, #MoreThanSurvival means getting equipped. It means knowing what you’re dealing with the it comes to mental health whether that means attending a seminar on it at a summer festival, booking some training from people like us(!) or buying a few good books on the topic. Survival requires that we know what we’re trying to survive!
Secondly, it means getting sleep. It’s often the first sign that something might be awry with our mental health and we need to be encouraging people to take a sabbath and get regular rest and sleep.
Thirdly, it means getting food. Whether that be helping a friend with their food shop, trying to ensure you have a balanced diet or helping to make someone’s life with an eating disorder more bearable by asking them what would help.
Fourthly, it means getting social. Calling a friend, visiting your local Mind or having someone round to your house. We need each other!
Fifthly and finally, #MoreThanSurvival means getting hope. Hope from the one who gives and sustains life; through studying John 10 with your small group or downloading a talk or worship songs if you can’t get to church or going along with a friend so that they have a familiar face. Life with Jesus is about more than surviving.
This article is also published over at Threads.