By: Sam Garvin.
Today is World Mental Health Day and I would like to share with you my mental health journey. It’s coming up to the weekend of the anniversary of my hospitalization. I won’t lie, saying I am not nervous about it. My psychotic breakdown was a year ago and it wrecked me. When I went back to my counselor, she said this changed everything. I was heartbroken and scared. Through the suggestion of my psychiatrist I changed therapists. Just like that I questioned everything, but not God. My soul knew all too well. But I question everything about myself. I cursed the day I was born and the doubts screamed louder than ever. I was not okay. Many times I would fall to my knees crying out to God. I never had a special moment like some people talk about; just pain. I had a friend mention Job to me, but I told her I am not blameless like him. Even through the chaos, God placed people in my life to remind me who I am in Christ and who kept pointing me back to Him. I am forever grateful of them.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12.
I’ve prided myself for years saying my faith has kept me strong without professional help. (Which I do believe my faith is a huge factor in.) I encountered Christ around the same time my Mom started drinking alcohol again in my early teens. I’ve overcome many things in my past because of Jesus. I know I feared mental illness because of my dad’s history with it. He told me stories of his as a kid that were pretty scary. No child should carry that kind of information. But I guess that is the weight of being raised in a dysfunctional home.
It wasn’t until I had Liberty that all that strength I thought I had fell apart. Postpartum depression was no joke. Just like I don’t want this to be a part of my story, I didn’t want postpartum depression to be. I deflected it by pouring all my energy into taking care of Liberty. I felt guilty that here I was, with my answered prayer, and I just didn’t feel right. Whatever it might have been, I’m learning to let go of the “whys” and just be. I am grateful to have the happiest little girl today, and that what I felt inside didn’t affect her.
I did seek therapy during that time for two years on and off, but it took some time for me to trust my therapist. I have serious trust issues. But once I did, we started to unravel more and more layers of feelings that were hidden deep below the corners of my heart. Major depression and general anxiety was my label at the time. I was told I will have depression forever. Deep in my heart, I knew God could heal it, if and when he decides to. But I never looked at therapy and medicine as a source of healing either. My counselor suggested I see a psychiatrist but I was too scared to. I was tired of unpacking the layers while trying to be a wife and a mother. (Note: I do believe God can heal but sometimes the fact we live in a fallen world means healing won’t happen until we are heaven. While believing for healing, I will thank God for therapy and medicine.)
When I was in Israel, my heart was set ablaze as if my depression was lifted off of me. That experience was real as much as the tears shed on that land for healing. Even if this was just a glimpse, I felt the love of the Lord in such a tangible way. Israel has a special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to bring my family one day.
For a year now, I’ve wrestled with the fear of having another breakdown, overanalyzing every thought and sensation. I believe my recovery in itself is a miracle because Matt (my husband) was told that I might not come back. Matt was told people like me don’t take their medicine, but I do. My label in itself is a bit confusing to me because I like answers. My psychiatrist keeps telling me to stop doing research, but I guess that is my OCD. When I went to the hospital they said schizoaffective and when I left they labeled me as major depression with psychosis features. As of today my psychiatrist says OCD, PTSD, and under the umbrella of bipolar. I miss the days of a simple “you have major depression with anxiety.” I laugh at the fact that I take medicines that probably cover all mental illnesses. I hope one day I can go without medicine, but if not, then I’ll be staying on this road of healing. The most important thing is the safety of Liberty and Matt.
I hope this encourages you somehow. No matter what you are struggling with or facing. Trust in Jesus. Jesus loves you. For those of you battling mental health issues, still trust in Jesus. In his Word. He Still Loves you, I promise. I know we are all going through hardships during this season. Keep the faith even if it is just one day at a time.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.