I just finished reading a book called “Still Waiting” and the authors main struggle was trich. Which is a mental illness characterized by pulling out hair, eye lashes, eyebrows etc. There were two chapters today that hit really close to home, the first was “When waiting feels like shame” and the other was “When waiting feels like suffering”. In these chapters the author talks about how people who have a mental illness feel like they have to “just get over it” or that its “embarrassing” to have those things.
As someone who struggles with social anxiety daily, I can say I have definitely felt shame about it and I have been told by others to “just get over it”. The thing is, mental illness is something you can’t just get over. You can’t totally control it, its not a lack of faith, its not your fault and despite medication, you can’t stop thinking about it. When I say I struggle with it I don’t mean that I sometimes experience anxiety. What I mean is, I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that keeps me on alert at all times, my brain is constantly every minute of everyday telling me that someone is going to hurt me.
Even with a great husband and a relationship with God I still have anxiety. Its so frustrating because the people around you dont and probably won’t ever get it. The most common response is that you should just “get over it”, you’re being “dramatic”, or you have to “grow up”. These things are some of the worst things you can say to someone with a mental illness.
I am here to say, yes, I struggle with social anxiety, my hands are sweaty all the time so I dont shake anyones hands, I am always wearing dark colors because I sweat too much from being nervous, and I often dont say anything Im thinking because Im too nervous. I am also here to say, I am not defined by my anxiety and me having social anxiety does not mean I lack faith. God is good, and he does hear us and want the best for us. he is the great doctor, the great physician, but He is not our servant. God does not HAVE to do anything.
God may not “heal” us or “take away” those thoughts but He will love us and allow us to grow and be able to help others who are dealing with the same thing. I am not ineffective as a follower of Christ because I deal with this. I have grown so much because of God loving me and showing me that I am not alone. I have great friendships with people who deal with the same thing and I feel less like an oddball because of it.
If you’re struggling with feeling shame about your mental illness, I am here to say that it does not define who you are. You struggle with it but it is not who you are. I am here to listen and love you! God is here as well,and He loves you so much.