Disclaimer: this is my personal journey. What I went through isn’t anyone’s fault.
I was diagnosed with depression four years ago. After a few months, I started to feel better, so I stopped taking meds. I was well for a year, then the monster came back with a vengeance. (Lesson: don’t quit meds cold turkey.) I’ve been taking meds again for a year and a half now.
This mood condition has been harder the second time around. My old medicine stopped working and made me gain weight. I’ve had more panic attacks that would render me dysfunctional for days. Worst of all, my faith was shaken.
I reached a point where every morning was a cruel reminder that I exist. It was cruel in the sense that I couldn’t move and I couldn’t get myself to do anything, but I was still breathing. In those moments, I questioned everything—my existence, my beliefs, my purpose.
I wondered why I felt so alone but I couldn’t get myself to talk to people since I had no energy to do so. I wondered why the stigma towards mental illnesses exists. I wondered why the church doesn’t seem to address mental health but prays for physical healing all the time. In the few times that I opened up about what I was going through, I felt judged and reduced to lack of faith and willpower. I felt like I had to learn to just suck it up and move on. I stopped going to church for almost three months because the mere thought of going triggered panic attacks. I was scared of my second home, and I was scared of myself for reaching that point.
I toyed with the idea of abandoning my faith, but I couldn’t because of the encounters with God I’ve had in the past. I couldn’t deny the existence of God because He’s proven Himself to me countless times. In the times when I felt most alone, He would comfort me in ways that I can’t explain. God is real, and I wanted Him. I needed Him.
Where else could I learn about God when I was too sick to study His Word for myself? I knew I had to face my fears and apprehensions by going back to church. There’s nothing mystical about the church or the building, but going back was my way of saying, “God, I need You. This will be hard, but this is how badly I need You.”
Hard, it was. My mind would race or go blank. Everything and everyone felt foreign. I would even start to have rashes out of anxiety just by being in church. But that was my way of fighting this illness that has no hold over me.
It hasn’t been perfect these past months. My questions about the stigma and the church are still unanswered. I learned to understand that the church is people too. They may not deal with my condition perfectly, but I need them to remind me of God’s love. Maybe someday, I can help address the misconceptions towards mental health. I also realized that the church also has people who have helped me battle for the past four years, and I’m grateful for them.
This season of shaken faith left me with a stronger faith in God. Even though it’s difficult to live with a mental health condition, I know that God is real, and He will see me through.