Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month is a great time to remember that your struggles are not a lack of faith.
I’m getting a little personal today because we are going to talk about mental illness, Christianity, your faith, and all the things in between. Before we get started, I just have a couple of things I need to say right off the bat.
First off, I am not a mental health professional. I am not here to give expert advice. I cannot diagnose you. I cannot help you in any way if you are struggling with mental illness.
If you are currently struggling with suicidal thoughts or ideation in any way, I want to encourage you to reach out for help to your doctor, or your mental health professional, or if you’re in the USA you can call the hotline at (800) 273-8255. If you’re not in the USA, I’m sure that there is a lifeline or hotline available to you. Please take advantage of those.
The second thing is I’m going to share my story and my journey with mental health, healing, and my faith. If you are of the camp that believes the only thing that you need to do to deal with your mental health or mental illness is to pray and have better faith, this is not going to be the article for you. I’m not going to tell you that because I don’t believe that’s helpful.
Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month: My Journey
I have struggled with my mental health in one way or another since I was a teenager. There’s a lot about puberty that can often trigger mental health issues and struggles, and I was no exception to that. I had a lot of things going on in my life as a teenager that were really hard.
My father was an alcoholic. We had a lot of chaos sometimes in our home, and I struggled with depression and anxiety as a teen. It eventually got to the point where my mom took me to go get some help. I went to get some counseling and we tried medication.
Now, I didn’t have a very positive experience in the beginning with that, partly because the meds that I got weren’t a good fit for me. Also, I didn’t want to engage in the counseling process for a lot of reasons that I’m not going to get into. So I quit.
Those issues went with me into college where I finally was able to feel safe and find a safe space and a safe person to address a lot of those issues with. I was able to meet with a doctor who prescribed the right medicine and I saw a lot of improvement in my mental health overall.
Then, I started having babies. I had my first son when I was 22. When I decided that I wanted to become a mom, I stopped taking my meds. I didn’t want to deal with the medication and pregnancy so I was off of my meds for a really long time, almost two decades.
Fast forward to the last year or so when I really realized that my mental health was really struggling and I needed some support. This is not because of anything new happening. My life is a constant hard thing after another hard thing after another hard thing.
That really takes a toll on a person, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I finally came to the realization beginning of 2023 that I was struggling with depression and anxiety so badly that I needed to do something about it.
I am in a unique position having gone through therapy before because I know all the things to do when I’m struggling. But I found myself in a space where even though I knew what to do, what would help, and the kind of support I needed I wasn’t mentally and emotionally in a place where I could do those things.
That’s when I knew I really needed to get on this because I didn’t want to be severely and chronically depressed for a long, long time. I decided to back to therapy and get back on some meds to help me get to a place where I can really care for myself, have the motivation to live life, and have the energy to do the things that I know I need to do to take care of myself.
I share all of that with you because if you are struggling with depression or anxiety or whatever, I feel for you, and I understand. I know that it’s hard, especially in certain Christian circles, to be the person who’s struggling with your mental health. Today I’m going share six things that have worked for me that might also work for you if you are struggling with your mental health.
Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month: You Don’t Have a Lack of Faith
The first thing I want to say is that your mental health struggles are not a lack of faith or a sin issue. Being depressed is not a sin. Being anxious is not a sin. Needing to go to counseling or therapy or any kind of treatment that is going to help support you as you get to a place where you can be your best self, be whole, and do well mentally, emotionally, and physically is not a sin. You are not depressed or anxious because you don’t have enough faith in God.
It really frustrates me to hear people say that to others. Can we please stop doing that? My depression was not because I suddenly stopped believing in God or because I did something wrong in my life. It’s the way my brain works. It’s a natural reaction to experiencing trauma and having hard stuff happen.
We all have mental health issues and struggles. Some are greater than others, but we all go through these seasons and it’s not any indication of the state of your walk with God. The next thing that I want to put out there is that prayer, time in the Word, and spiritual growth efforts are fantastic. I talk about it all the time, I am a Spiritual growth coach after all.
I’m not going to knock it. But when you are struggling with your mental health that isn’t always the only thing you need. Please pray, go to church, be in the word, and do all of those things. But if that’s not helping you feel better, then that’s okay. There are other things out there for you.
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Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month Tip#1: It’s Okay to Seek Professional Help
The first thing that I’m going to share with you is therapy and also medication if necessary. I don’t know why therapy has such a bad rap in certain Christian circles, but it does. I know, I’ve been there. I’ve heard it all. I get it.
But listen, being able to go talk to somebody who is licensed and trained in how to help support you on your mental health journey is so important. I mean what I say when I say a licensed trained professional. I’m not a huge fan of biblical counseling or layperson counseling for mental health.
If you just want to go talk to somebody, talk to a friend, a mentor, or your pastor about what’s going on. That’s fantastic. When you’re really, really struggling you need somebody that understands the mind, understands the brain, and who’s gone through the training, gone through the education, and has the know-how to actually help you.
If they don’t have that training, knowledge, and oversight of licensure, you can do more harm than good. I’ll hop off my soapbox now. Therapy is a great place to start also medication when necessary. Sometimes you need to have a little bit of boost or support that meds can give you.
They can help you get to the point where you can take those baby steps toward better mental health and taking better care of ourself. The best thing that I have ever done recently was go to my therapist and say, I have tried all the natural things and all the other things and it’s not working. What kind of medicine do you think will help me?
Always work with your healthcare professional and your mental health professional when you are making these decisions. When you’re making these choices ask your questions. You want to know how the medicine works, the dosing options, the process for increasing/decreasing the dose, and what the side effects are. Ask all the questions that you have and share what you’re going through because I guarantee you that there’s something that can really help you.
Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month Tip #2: Get Some Sleep
Personally, for me, I have two things going on right now that are just not serving me well in this season of life. One is that I don’t sleep well. I can fall asleep but then I’m restless all night and then wake up and then I’m up for five hours before I can go back to sleep. I feel like a mess the next day.
Sleep is a great way to reduce stress. If you’re not able to get adequate sleep you’re going to spiral and spiral and spiral. Getting a low-dose medicine to help me fall asleep has been super helpful. Because I’m not sleeping I don’t have the motivation to do what I know I need to do.
I know what I need to do to take care of myself, but I just can’t get going. Being able to work with somebody who knows what I need and what will help has been key. The next thing is rest.
We are so busy these days. Everything is go, go, go, and we don’t rest. There’s a good chance that you’re probably in chronic sleep deprivation all the time. I don’t have any teeny-weeny people that are up multiple times in the night keeping me awake. I should be getting good, solid sleep.
I should be able to sit down and relax, but I can’t. Whatever you need to do to get the rest that you need, figure that out and make it a priority. Practice good sleep hygiene and get off the screens at night.
Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month Tip #3: Go Outside
The third thing is to go outside. I cannot tell you all the benefits of green time, which is kind of a fancy way of saying being outside in the fresh air in the sunshine. We are not spending enough time outside. We’re indoors all the time. So get outside.
When I am super stressed or super anxious I like to go outside and go for a walk. Sometimes I don’t have the energy for that. But even just standing outside in front of my apartment taking some deep breaths, breathing in the fresh air, and letting the sun fall on my skin is such a mood booster and a great way to just kind of take that deep breath and just rest for the moment.
Go outside with your kids. Go outside by yourself. Take a hike or take a walk. Take your book with you if that’s what you’d like to do, but just find some time to get outside. It’s so good.
Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month Tip #4: Move Your Body
Number four is exercise. Get your body moving. Go for a walk or a run, do some Pilates, take a barre class, or pick up heavy things. Oh my goodness, it’s so good for you. As a woman, you need to be strength training because bone density goes down as you get older.
Plus osteoporosis, perimenopause, menopause, and all those things. Exercise is good for you inside and out. It’s going to help you be healthier and stronger and be able to do the things that you need to do in your life.
It’s also a great stress relief. When I’m having a really stressful day 10 or 15 minutes of strength training helps me feel so much better. I find that I sleep better when I have regular movement in my days.
Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month Tip #5: Hobbies
Number five, find things that are fun for you or that are relaxing for you. If you are introverted like me, I know fun is a tricky thing because fun usually involves other people, and that’s not relaxing. Find something that’s relaxing for you.
Find a few hobbies or things that you like to do for yourself and make time for them. I have gotten back into reading, journaling, and painting. I’m going to art museums by myself because my kids aren’t really into it. I take myself to see a musical or play.
It’s important to do something for yourself because you get so focused on what’s going on in your life, caring for your people, volunteering, or working that you forget that you’re a person outside of all of your other titles, roles, and responsibilities. You are a person all on your own and you need to make time for things that fill your cup and bring some joy into your life.
Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month Tip #6: Find Your People
The last thing that I want to encourage you to do is find your people. Be in community. Have that support system so that when you are having those dark days, those really low days, they can come and they can just love on you and support you.
They can pray for you. They can check in on you or they can bring you dinner. They can send Instacart groceries to your front door because you haven’t been able to go out and get groceries. They can come get your kids so that you can have a moment of peace.
They’re not going to judge you. They just want to be there for you. Let them support you, love on you, and help carry the burden with you so that you can take care of yourself and get into a better head space, heart space, and emotional space.
Final Thoughts On Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month
If you are struggling with mental health issues or just if you’re walking through hard times, all these are good. Continue to work on growing closer to God but if you need extra support, get the extra support that you need. Please know that you can reach out to me at any time.
I will pray for you and with you. There is hope and there is light. Even when you can’t see it. It is there and it is possible to get to a better place. You just have to learn how to do something to take care of yourself.
Related Heal From Your Past Podcasts
- Your Worth is NOT Based on Your Past
- Encouragement for the Woman Who Feels Broken
- Breath Prayers for When You Feel Forgotten by God
If you’re going through a hard time take Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month as a nudge to take care of yourself.
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