Saturday, October 13, 2012

Coming Out of the Closet (sort of speak)

Why is it in our society that admitting to having depression, anxiety, eating disorder - or any such mental health issue - seems a bit like coming out of the closet? According to the World Health Association: "Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Although there are known effective treatments for depression, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment."  I read this statistic and wondered why people don't receive the treatment they need. I honestly believe that one reason is that people hide. There is a certain stigma that our society attaches to these such problems. If someone has cancer or heart disease they don't hide it, they tell people, they ask for help, they aren't blamed or seen as weak or as less of a person or a bad Christian because of their illness.

Today marks the end of Mental Health Awareness Week. I didn't even know it was this week until Thursday. I haven't exactly hidden my struggles. I have been fairly open. But, I have never come right out and said it -
 I suffer with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. 

I've opened up to some people about it and in some cases received great support. In other cases I received strange looks and comments such as, "You just need more Jesus." or "You just need to CHOOSE to have a different attitude." Now, I am first and foremost a Christian. I believe in the power of prayer and I believe that God can heal. But, just take a quick read in the book of Psalms. If David were alive today he would probably be diagnosed with clinical depression. He dealt with a lot of emotions. Psalm 55: 2 "hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught." Psalm 8:1 "Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble." Psalm 13:1-2 "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide  your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?" Yes, it is David who said these things - David who was also called a man after God's own heart. A great book that I would HIGHLY recommend reading is The Cry of the Soul: How Our Emotions Reveal Our Deepest Questions About God by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman

It being Mental Health Awareness Week in addition to a very disturbing article on yesterday are what led me to write this post.  The link to the article is here: The young lady in this article dealt with bullying, which is another issue, but often, as in this case led to major anxiety, depression and panic disorder. She left a chilling youtube video and her body was later found - she committed suicide.

All of this has got me to thinking. I'm doing fairly well right now. I am seeing a counselor and take medication as needed. But it bothers me that I have been somewhat "forced" into hiding because of societal stigmas and some thoughtless reactions from well-meaning people. I want to "come out" because I think it is essential that others know if they are suffering they do not need to suffer in silence. I want anyone reading this to know that you are not alone... I am here. If you don't want to talk to me, that's fine, but talk to someone. I want you to know that you don't have to suffer in silence. Please don't wait until it's too late. Don't stuff those feelings inside and keep them to yourself. First and foremost reach out to God - He is ALWAYS there. But, don't be afraid to reach out to your friends. "Come out of the closet" with me - be bold, be brave. It is not a sign of weakness to get counseling. There are a lot of great counseling services out there. Don't allow the stigma that society puts on mental health issues keep you from getting help. It doesn't mean you are weak, it doesn't make you less of a person, it doesn't make you a bad Christian, IT IS OK to NOT be OK!



  1. Sherri, I love your honestly and your use of Biblical truths!! This is So inspiring and heartfelt. I can definitely feel your heart and emotions in this post. Thanks for being open... it's not an easy thing to do but it is appreciated :)

  2. Thanks Annie. God has put the passion there and I'm just trying to be obedient to what He asks me to do. When I read stories such as the one I linked to it just breaks my heart. I think for every story that I read like that there are probably hundreds who are suffering. I just can't stay silent about it - people are hurting and they need to know they are not alone. Thank you for your encouraging words!

  3. Beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing. Like I told my friend today who is also going through some very difficult times. "You sometimes have to be broken to grow stronger". It is not a sign of weakness to struggle with these issues. It just reveals at times that we can't often do things alone. We need the help of God, friends and family, or professional counselors. Being broken means we have an opportunity to redefine ourselves and come back stronger as we realize just how important we are and life is. You are certainly brave for sharing your pain with us. I pray for your continued strength. :)