I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14NIV
I spent these last four months of Covid-19 in a bouncing spiral. Some days I was dropping with the unrelenting pull of gravity. Other days, I was calmly ascending toward peace and serenity. Lost in the ride, I slowly lost myself. Bipolar raged daily.
Mental illness is not a sin. What my mind does with it is. Anger, bitterness, jealousy, rage infiltrated my heart. The prisoner effect of a national lockdown, uncertainty with employment, being home with the entire family for weeks (love them, but) all played a role in my compromised mental health. As we know, I was not alone.
Statistics showed a steady climb in mental health-related contacts so far during the pandemic. This article from The Hill indicates a 338% increase in the Disaster Distress Hotline in March compared to February. We are all going through something. For Christians, our hope and faith will carry us through. Reminding ourselves of this fact is crucial.
I felt terrible for my emotional sins in previous months. I knew it was wrong, but it kept coming. I fought to take back my thoughts and leave the behaviors behind. Where I am today is a stark contrast to May. I didn’t beat myself up for my lack of faith. We are in different times fighting uncommon worldly trials. I recognized my lack of belief was increasing my sin.
Focusing on Jesus removed the anger and sadness. Overwhelmed by despair, we stare at bleakness. Hypnotized by constant media hype, changing stats, shaming social media posts leads to zombie states. I was in a rat race of information overload. The confusion was an automatic wall designed to keep me imprisoned. Eventually, I turned it off, leveling the wall. Once free, I climbed right out. I took back my thoughts and my sanity.
Fighting mental illness is a series of replays, retakes, and reruns. The intensity is frightening and exhausting. Understanding our imperfections as part of God’s perfect plan will diminish the impact. Believing our Creator can use our flaws to transform us is critical to peace in who we are.
Yet, when it comes to cycles of depression, mania, anxiety, and other mental illness elements, we fail to recognize this truth. Challenged to hold on through the battle, we march on. The end will come, and we will be stronger for it. Our stumbles don’t dictate failure; in Christ, they dictate growth.