Saturday, August 29, 2020

Mental Health & God: It's Okay to Talk About It

It's strange how someone like myself can suffer with anxiety and panic attacks, yet be of help to someone else who is suffering from the same struggle. Sometimes, even the most college educated licensed therapist or psychiatrist can do very little for someone. It's all about who you click with--not what kind of degree is hanging up on their walls. They're probably still paying off student loans and wishing they went into another line of work, and of course, there are some who are purposely there with passion, and a heart for those suffering. But in my opinion, you don't need a degree to help somebody else suffering. Sometimes all you need is experience with exactly what they are suffering with. I'm not saying schooling is bad---I am only trying to reiterate that experience goes a long way when someone is trying to explain to you what they are feeling. If you've experienced it, then you can relate and then tell them what worked for you. I will say this: when I was suffering with debilitating panic attacks, the people who've helped me the most were the ones who suffered themselves. It goes beyond psychiatry or licensed therapists who can give you 'smart and logical' answers, but the people who work as peer counselors, like NAMI, who are there to help you when you call a crisis line are the ones who truly make a difference.

Recently, I was on a Zoom meeting for a wellness program with a quite a few ladies who attended. The program teaches you about mindfulness, and sharing your experiences with one another and also, a solution or remedy that you found helpful. So it's not just a whine fest---it's to figure out what works best for you. I was asked what works best for me in my time of suffering. I didn't think twice about it (and totally forgot that this is kinda politically incorrect to do in a wellness program)----but I said, "Praying to God, and turning up worship music when I feel anxious. It changes the atmosphere and motivates me, instead of leaving me in a pit of despair."  One of the directors started to clap and shake her head and said, "Girl! That's exactly what I do! I turn up my gospel and I start to remember the promises of God and to not fear." Then she reminded me of the scripture, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."---Philippians 4:6-7

Then I explained to her that every single morning, I verbalize aloud Psalm 91. It encompasses all that is happening in the world right at this very moment.

Psalm 91 
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly plague.
He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.

I also reminded them, since we all suffer with anxiety, that the word "fear" is listed in the Bible 365 times. That isn't a coincidence. It's there for us to read for each day of our lives. I truly have not found  such intense help as I have when I sit, pray and meditate on the Word---miracles start happening. Miracles do not have to be "winning the lotto" or coming into a windfall of some sort. Miracles are the little things we sometimes miss during our day---little reminders that God is always with us. Not only is God with us, but he is IN all of us, which is why we have to remember, when you hurt somebody else, you're also hurting God. When you help somebody else, you're also helping God. Always treat it that way, and you'll see how beautiful that concept is and how God blesses you along your journey. It's not to do something for someone else to get something----it's doing it as "God's employee," or as I prefer, "God's child helping out their siblings" ---in any way you can, big or small. God knows what you can give, and what you cannot give.

In the world of mental health awareness and psychiatry---we're forbidden to talk about religion. Well, I don't have a religion. I have a relationship with Jesus. It's different. But for them, that's even worse. Even if your therapist or psychiatrist is the same faith as you---they are not allowed to talk about a certain faith or claim it. I would never want to be in that line of work only because I can't share the word of God. Now they have Christian coaching and therapists who are of the same faith, which is good, but as you would expect, they get less clients. "You will be persecuted just as I was." --Jesus

And that's why I do what I do. Those of you who have followed me on all social medias, especially Instagram, know that I suffer terribly with anxiety. I write it all out on there. If I'm having a bad day, and sometimes those days feel like they may be my last---I write it all out only to monitor the help I receive days, or even weeks later. You can see the spiritual attacks I go through, and then you can see the spiritual help I get. I'm not ashamed of what I go through, because millions---billions go through mental health struggles, and it's okay to not be okay sometimes. I believe that God has put me here for a purpose, and gave me this cross to bear for the sole purpose to help others who are suffering. I'm starting to 'get it' now and I am so grateful for all that has taken place recently.

I also have to say that I have some amazing friends who have been there for me recently and reminded me of my worth. Some gave me tough love, while others just listened with zero judgment. With all that's going on in the world, it's nice to know that we are not alone in this struggle and it's okay to reach out for help when you need it.

Sometimes when I'm having a bad day full of anxiety, I look up scriptures that are relevant to my situation. You can do a concordance study and look up the word "fear" and find amazing passages that can relate to your situation.

"Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hoops in God! I will praise Him again--my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember your kindness--from Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar." --Psalm 42:5-6

"God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline." --2 Timothy 1-7

"I am leaving you with a gift---peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be trouble or afraid." ---John 14:27

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectations of salvation."---Romans 5:3-4

One thing about is, I will never be politically correct or hide my love for God. I may talk and write about other topics, but that doesn't mean that my faith as watered down. It only gets stronger. Sometimes, I will refrain from writing, only because I may be suffering myself, and needing to hear these scriptures and encouraging words from somebody else. And that's okay too. It pushes me back to where I have to be.

Never be afraid to help someone else who is struggling with similar issues as  you. You may be the best help they ever receive. And that....is how God works.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com
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