Mental Health Awareness Month 2019
Does God Care about my Mental Health ?
I believe the real question here is, Do I care enough about my Mental Health to take it to God?
When I say take it to God, I don’t mean beg him to take it away. I mean, do you care about it enough to take it to God to let him HEAL YOU ? I know you might be reading this saying “Yes, Yes I do”, if you currently struggle with any mental health difficulties, you might even say “I did take it to him”. Whilst I’m not here to criticise what you did or didn’t do, I want to tell you what I did, what I learnt and what, I want to ask you to do or, do again.
A year ago, I lost someone to suicide, roughly 3 weeks after someone very close to me had also lost someone to this phenomena. The truth is this rocked my world, more than I ever expressed to those around me and possibly more than I let myself know. A couple of months after that, I found myself on the floor behind a flower pot calling my close friend and my parents telling them I love them because there were gun shots flying in the air, chairs and tables being thrown over, bottles dropping, people running. I was in a foreign land with a foreign language, separated from my friends, in the midst of a shooting . Next few months were characterised by insomnia, tears, sleeping, starving and not knowing what the hell was going on. Months go by and I’m diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety and PTSD.
And like that, my life was completely consumed with the words, “I’m tired” “I don’t know why I feel this way” “I can’t breathe” “ Please call me” “ I can’t do this anymore”. I went from positive smiley Motun to grumpy negative Motun who isolated herself from everyone around her, fought with her housemates, didn’t go to classes, slept a lot and constantly cried to the lyrics of High’s and Lows by Hillsong Young and Free.
I didn’t know I was ready to tell this story till now. Truth is my heart cries as I type these words with Whole Heart ( Hillsong United) playing in the background. My heart cries because this is how you feel or felt too. You felt broken, lost, forsaken, unloved, unwanted, confused. You feel emotions no words can express, the weight of your world on your shoulders. No joy, No peace and ultimately No Hope. Good days, Bad days. Relapses. You don’t want this anymore, you don’t want to die but you want this to end. Death seems like the only option so you ponder and ponder on it. But hey, dear reader; it’s not. I, Motunrayo Onafowokan, who felt all those things, no longer feels that anymore.
I want to tell you how God and I, hand in hand fought, fought and are fighting for my mind, my life, my destiny. My story. I don’t just want to give you hope, a temporary relief or a sense of peace. I want to give you a strategy. A strategy to fight back.
To fight back you have to fight with God. Without God, you cannot win this battle. This battle isn’t merely a spiritual one, its also practical. Whilst the spiritual is extremely important, that’s not what I’ve come to tell you today, there’s enough messages online about that. Google them. Today I am writing to you about the practical.
You see God gave us three parts, after all he is God three in one; Father, Spirit and Son. Likewise, we are three in one; Body - Spirit - Soul. As I took my pain to God, I realised that I had been living a life where I was whole in my body and in my spirit but I was not whole in my soul. This lack in my soul eventually pierced into my spirit and body and this was not good. It meant that I was functioning with two when I was designed to function with all three. Imagine God and Jesus without the Holy Spirit ? Or vice versa? Not quite wholesome is it ? No, it isn’t. So, I had to learn how to fix my soul.
Fixing my Soul
Fixing my soul was not a quick fix, in fact, it still isn’t seen as I am still in the process of doing so. Indeed I am convinced that we are always in this process of fixing; a process of learning and unlearning. It’s the same way with our Spirit, we are constantly edifying it by challenging the patterns we’ve adopted alongside digging deeper into the word to refuel it. That’s what I believe we are called to do with our souls however, somewhere along the way the world lost understanding of that or, perhaps never even gained it.
So how does fixing my soul, healing and bringing my brokenness look like practically ? What was and is my strategy?
Determine that you want to see the Other Side
Do you want to heal? A silly question I know but a necessary one all the same. The deeper question is how desperately do you want to heal? The more desperate you are, the closer you are to the other side.
Trusting the Process
Firstly, you MUST trust the process. If you don’t trust the process, you will give up in the middle of it. Trust that you ARE healing even if you can’t see the differences, one day the flowers of our healing will spring up and you would’ve forgotten that you ever planted those seeds. Don’t give up on the process, trust it.
Letting God Break you to Heal you
This healing process isn’t a linear one, its a one of ploughing, breaking, cutting open and sewing back up. You have to be willing to let God do this. For example, all my life, I have struggled with friendships. I have never really felt like I had my people, I knew I had people but I didn’t ever feel like I had my people. This meant I had low expectations but I was also very easily disappointed. I didn’t however know this, I didn’t know how much it affected me, how it shaped my independence, my unwillingness to share and be intimate etc. But God cut me open, he revealed it to me slowly but surely. I then had a choice, will I keep making excuses for why I felt and acted that way ( Trust me I could, I had many reasons to stay in that place) or will I let God work on it, heal it and turn myself around ? I had to be willing to get uncomfortable in order to get truly comfortable. I had to be willing to go through the wilderness in order to get to the promise land.
Will you let God humble you ?
This process cannot be done alone. Will you let God bring others along side you in this journey? Will you let them in ? My answer was no. During the worst manic episode I ever had, I has lost a friend- the only friend I felt I had left. This friend was the only one who knew what was going on to its depths. And I lost them. So, why earth will I let anyone else in? Why would I make myself that vulnerable again ? Because I am desperate that’s why. Remember I said, the more desperate you are, the closer you are to the other side. I HAD to let friends in, I had to tell my family, not in a surface level “I’m depressed” way but in a deep revealing and vulnerable way. I had to allow myself cry in front of my friends, on the phone to my parents. I had to let them advice me even though I thought I had all the advice in the world. I had to let others carry my cross. Mind you I didn’t feel like I could, remember I said I didn’t ‘have’ friends? I had to create this community myself. I didn’t wait for them to check up on me, I had to invite them in to do so. I had to create the support system I felt didn’t exist.
The cliche and painful but, powerful next steps
This looks for different for everyone. And, it changes overtime for everyone. For me, this currently looks like Therapy. At some point, it looked like going to the gym. Before it looked like reading Christian books. There is no one way but with the way, Jesus, you will get to the other side. However here are my recommendations-
Therapy- This is the best decision I coulee made for myself. I know not everyone can afford it and truth is I can’t either but luckily I am on a free therapy program with an organisation called IAPT. I know not everyone has access to this so let me highlight other forms of Therapy; self therapy. Self Therapy means getting the therapy resources ( online) and working yourself through them. I KNOW this is difficult and takes a lot of discipline but its worth it, it’s worth your life.
Gym- This isn’t about looking fit, getting a summer body or looking good for your MCM, this is about creating healthy pathways in your mind through activity. There is something about going to the gym that cleanses your soul
Read - Read books, Christian or non Christian, Self Help or Non Self Help, feed your mind with something other than it’s harmful thoughts
Mental Health Services - At your School, Uni, where ever you are. Or Online
Taking Communion - Jesus’s blood was shed and body was broken for your healing. Claim it
Frequent Prayer, Praise and Worship
Getting the word in - Read your Bible, do devotions, listen to sermons - what does God have to say about Mental Health.
Truth is,I’ve deliberately made this list short because I want to unpack each and every single one of the recommendations but I am not fit to do so because I don’t have all the knowledge. So, this is where you come in; YANA COLLECTIVE. If you’re reading this and you have a story to tell, a recommendation to give, an understanding of why going to the gym for example in important for your mental health, this is your opportunity to share.
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This is how God cares about your Mental Health, by creating other people to do life with. By inventing Therapy, by allowing Me, Motunrayo Onafowokan, go through the valley of death so that I can turn around and give you a hand to walk through it and come out the other side. And ultimately, by letting his only Son; Jesus Christ , go through hell’s gates so that you might have healing. He foresaw you then and now, he still sees you. My dear reader, I love you. With my whole heart, I love you in your brokenness but like God, I love you enough not to let you stay there. Healing I cannot personally give you but what I can give you I will. I give you God, the Healer, the El Roi - The God he sees you.
A short prayer to invite God into your Mental Health,
Thank you for sending your Son Jesus, thank you for sending him for me, for my healing.
Lord today I want to invite you into my soul. I want to invite you into my ( Insert Mental Health difficulty) and I ask that you walk with me in this healing process. I ask that you carry me to the other side. I thank you because, ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no Evil because you are with me and you see me, My El Roi. I know that this season doesn’t tell my story and I ask for the strength not to give up on you. I love you Lord.