I woke up feeling slightly disoriented. I had a feeling like I had forgotten something or that I needed to be rushing to do something. Neither of those things were true but no matter how many times I said to myself “You’re ok” I kept feeling as if I wasn’t so I cried. But I was still getting dressed for work. I cried in the shower, I cried brushing my teeth, I cried getting dressed. I took small breaks but this was the remainder of the day that day and it wasn’t the first time I had felt this way. The crying was how I coped. The pressure of nervous energy I felt in my chest and hands, I had taught myself to release in deep sobs. I was ok with that.
Unfortunately, this carried on much longer than I had experienced in the past this time. That one day turned into a week of deep sobbing. A week of barely eating. A week of not answering my phone because “How are you?” and “What’s wrong?” from people who knew exactly when to ask was too difficult. I had called out of work for a day because I couldn’t collect myself long enough to be in public. My dog was quiet and attentive. My parents and sister was concerned. My best friend offered to drive a few hours to sit with me. Although there were so many people who obviously cared about me, I was still very embarrassed to be falling apart without what I would consider “good” reason. Feeling that way was unfair to myself and I would later realize disobedient to God.
As a member of the Christian faith, I can’t recall hearing much about seeking professional help with mental and emotional disorders in church settings. Depression was supposed to be prayed away, anxiety was sinful because the bible says don’t worry, and many other conditions were overlooked. Thankfully I have a mother who offers to pray for me but urged me to talk to a doctor in the very next breath. She reminded me that I don’t have to feel that way by myself, that there are people trained to help with this kind of thing and I should see someone as soon as possible. The craziest thing is, I knew this. I don’t always want to take medicine but I am fully aware that Doctors and mental health professionals are the answer to the prayers we’ve been praying for comfort during times like the one I was having. But part of me was still just very embarrassed to talk to someone. What would I say? I didn’t even know why I was sad or what brought on the anxious feelings. Then there was the part of me that desires complete control over my daily routine. What kind of person am I that I’ve let sadness interrupt that? What couldn’t I just get it together and handle my business? I needed help but I didn’t want help because I always believed a person like me shouldn’t need anything from anyone and that was my problem.
“Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be open unto you.”
The bible very clearly says to ask, seek and knock. All actions that require some participation. I asked, with prayer but I hadn’t actually sought out any of the solutions to my problems. I asked God what to do but when God sent me people to tell me to seek help, I didn’t and felt ashamed of doing so and it’s mainly because, although I knew I needed help, I didn’t want to need help. There’s nothing about our faith that encourages us to be lone islands or that I should shoulder the weight of everything in my life alone. So by refusing to seek the help that is available I was being disobedient.
Soon after I had this revelation, I scheduled an appointment with a new doctor in my area. She’s a wonderful Caribbean woman who, though she isn’t a mental health professional, still asked questions about my mental health during my general wellness check, listened to my concerns, hugged me and recommended me to some counselors in the area. Know I’m in the knocking phase. I’m researching her recommendations and making contact to get the help I need and that I have grown to actually WANT.
I’m sharing this to encourage us to talk more about seeking help for mental and emotional issues as part of having a healthy faith. I’m sharing this to encourage anyone who may be feeling embarrassed about needing this kind of help. It’s ok and you deserve whatever will help to improve your overall help. Lastly, I’m sharing this as proof to myself that I recognize I don’t have to keep this to myself and deal with this alone. I know that sharing this may bring judgement but I can’t worry about it. I want help for myself and for anyone else reading this who may need it also.
As fall approaches, some of us may begin to notice we are emotionally affected by the change in temperature and fewer hours of sunlight. Or maybe you haven’t really paid close attention to it but when you start to think about it, you are a bit less perky and sometimes more irritable than you may have been during the warmer months. I am not a medical professional and cannot diagnose anyone but if your change in mood is interrupting your daily routine, you may want to consult a medical professional to see if you identify with some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or any other conditions that may make it difficult to function in your daily life.