Over the last two days, I seem to have developed a very sensitive and tempermental stomach. I couldn’t enjoy going to Metrolina Expo with my mom yesterday because my stomach was cramping and today, it was all I could do to get out of bed and go to church. This feeling isn’t all that foreign to me…my anxiety has always manifested itself in stomach cramping and other unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects. However, since I’ve been treated for the depression/anxiety, it’s mostly gone away (as evidenced by the expired bottle of generic Pepto that we just found during a particularly panicky search for help).
This recent bout with my mental issues has brought to light a shortcoming in society and, particularly, the Church (capital “C” this time) when confronted with someone battling depression or anxiety. See, depression isn’t “cool.” It’s not something that y0u can see; it’s not a broken arm, it’s not a disease, it’s not something that makes you turn yellow, or snot run, or puke. It’s not a black eye or a gash. It’s not something that requires surgery. Because it’s not any of these things, there seems to be this belief, especially in the Church, that it’s not “bad enough” to merit the same level of care/concern as physical problem. I think it stems from the Church’s tradition of ignoring mental problems and of refusing that they even exist.
“Just love Jesus more and it’ll go away!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that, or “just pray about it,” or “just turn it over to God!” like there’s some sort of magical, instant remedy in prayer. I also can’t *tell* you how many times I prayed for help and for peace. It just doesn’t happen that way. And that belief pattern has caused so much pain for Christians battling mood disorders. I used to feel like there was something horribly wrong with me because I couldn’t just “pray” the depression away…but now that I know better, it simply pisses me off to hear that kind of rhetoric.
You know the real kicker? The rest of the world is much more supportive to those suffering with mental issues. They’ve somehow managed to realize that depression/anxiety are real conditions, real problems. As a result, they don’t simply sweep under the rug those who suffer.
My church? Only one person has checked on me, and she understands because her husband has similar problems. Otherwise, I get the “I’m praying for you:)” thing, and I’m left to flounder, isolated and alone. My work friends, however, most of whom aren’t Christian, check on me constantly. And we wonder why we, as Christians, aren’t affecting the world like we should. It’s because we ignore people around us whose problems aren’t “cool” enough, or sensational enough.