(This blog is a personal blog and my experience. This blog is not a debate. Comments are welcome but hatred is not. All comments must be approved before posting. For those who are going through the same thing, please feel free to share your stories.)

Sitting in the dark, blinds drawn. Every noise outside penetrating through the windows. Every screech. Every howl. Trying to run away but you are stuck. You can’t escape it. Your trapped in the dark. Lonely. Scared. Trembling. Every move you make to try to get out you find yourself going deeper in. Until you realize, you will never escape.

As you walk around in the world, those thoughts fill your mind. A mind you are trapped in. A mind that constantly tells you are not good enough. A mind that tells you that you are alone. A mind that tells you that you are insignificant. A world you walk around in clouded with secrecy and of despair.

This is my life, and this is my battle. It’s my battle every day in my mind. It’s my battle every day telling me I am on my own. This is my clinical depression and anxiety battle I face every day. But…

I am a warrior. I am a champion. I will not let my illness define who I am. This battle that I face daily affects not only who I am on the inside, but it affects every aspect of my life. It’s not just an emotional battle. It’s a physical battle. It’s getting up in the morning and facing the day head on. It’s trying to find one good thing in the day to keep me moving forward. It’s focusing on me sometimes and closing everyone else out. It’s my battle.

I decided to take the lid off this wrapper today in honor of National Mental Health Awareness Month. As someone who suffers with a mental illness, I can tell you first-hand what it has been like for me every day. Too often in our society we want to brush mental health under the rug and pretend that it does not exist.

Now my biggest problem with mental illness is the way the church has viewed it in the past. Most churches believed mental illness was because people were not close enough to God. They told them to study more or to pray more. That’s a load of hogwash. As a student of the Bible who holds two seminary degrees, I can tell you that it is.

There were many characters in the Bible who suffered from depression. Just look at King David. Here you have this man who is larger than life but look at his writings. “For my iniquities have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear.” Psalm 38:4 (CSB) David was burdened by what he had done. Overwhelmed with guilt. Later he writes: “Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11 (CSB) Even in his deep despair David cried out to God and promised to praise Him. In other Psalms he writes of his loneliness and fear. All of this points to a man who was depressed.

Let’s not forget the pinnacle of depression in the Bible. Job. Poor Job. Lost his family, home, and then struck by a horrible disease. The man suffered. While he remained faithful, his story reeks of pain and despair. “Why was I not stillborn; why didn’t I die as I came from the womb?” Job 3:11 (CSB) The poor man wished he had never been born. I don’t know anyone who is depressed that didn’t wish that a time or two. Job 10:11 gives the man no peace. “I am disgusted with my life. I will give vent to my complaint and speak in the bitterness of my soul.” OUCH. Disgusted with his life.

Depression and other mental illnesses are not new. They have been around since Adam and Eve. We all go through things. We all must deal with things. Just because we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ does not mean we are not going to suffer from depression. So, if you are out there, and you believe that a good Christian would not suffer. I’m here to tell you, you are dead wrong.

Mental illness exists in every aspect of our life. Whether you have anyone close to you that you know has this disease, I can assure you that you are close to someone. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), 19.1 percent of Americans suffer from some form of mental illness. That is 1 in 5 people. Take my family. I have two siblings each of them married. There are two children in my extended family and my parents. Out of those 10 people, two of us should have a mental illness. For the rest of my family’s privacy, I won’t disclose whether we even meet or exceed that statistic.

I say all this to tell you a couple of things. First, if you are suffering from a mental illness, you are not alone in this battle. There are many of us out here. Do not go it alone. Second, there is hope. With the right treatment plan from your health care providers, you too can be a warrior. You too can be a champion. Reach out to your doctors, they will be more than happy to help get your started on the right path. And if you are afraid to talk to your doctor, reach out to NAMI at 1(800)950-NAMI. I guarantee you that they will have someone on the other end of that phone more than willing to help you.

So, by now, you are probably wondering what all of this has to do with weight loss. Go ahead and say it. I took a long way to get around the bush. But mental illness has everything to do with weight loss.

First, your mental health affects your behaviors. How many times have you emotionally ate? I did Sunday. I did like you would not believe. Our emotions often dictate what we do. Now, imagine if you are clinically depressed. That depression magnifies that emotion by about a million times. So then, not only do you eat one slice of cake, you eat the whole cake. Now flip that, if you are feeling like a million bucks, you are going to want to continue that euphoric state and you will eat a Cobb Salad instead. So, a healthy mental state brings a healthy way of eating.

So now you are 300+ pounds because you ate all your emotions. That emotional state is at the rock bottom. The depression is up. The anxiety is up. That feeling of worthlessness is prevalant in your thoughts. However, you know there is something you need to do about it. Do you feel confident? Nope. Do you feel like you are going to succeed? Nope. I put off going into Weight Watchers because of my emotional state. I felt it was hopeless. I felt I was destined to be that way. But, thankfully, something in me clicked. I have this mysterious magic number that makes me say to hell with it – I don’t want to die. And I walk in.

The problem is that if you don’t heal the mind, you are not going to succeed on your weight loss journey. That is why this time, I have sought treatment for my mental health. I have sought counseling and medication management. I need that so that I can succeed. Along the way I have had ups and downs. I am learning to control my emotions with other things besides food. Am I perfect? Nope. But I am a work in progress. I will get there. I will accomplish my goal of being healthier. This time I am going to be healthier in body, mind, and spirit.

(Again, if you believe you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, please reach out to a health care provider. If you feel you cannot do that, please reach out to NAMI at 1(800)-950-NAMI. If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out to the National Suicide Hotline at 1(800)273-8255. There are people waiting to help. Please don’t feel you are alone. You are not. There are people ready to help.)

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