Category Archives: Out of My Element

Out of My Element – Silver Linings

I remember riding a bus to an orchestra competition when I used the word [retarded] to refer to my stand partner as stupid. The bus driver, while driving, whipped around in her seat and yelled at me about using the word. Apparently she had a mentally disabled son and did not approve of the use in a negative way. That always stuck with me.

And when I really began thinking about it, I realized why she was so upset. The people born with these disabilities did not ask to be this way; they are not stupid. And I was being incredibly disrespectful.

Now, there’s a similar story regarding “gay.”

I had a guy friend who happened to be gay. I used to say everything was gay; it was ridiculous! And one day during Spanish class I said that something was gay and he looked me in the eye—nearly in tears—and told me that it made him hate himself every time I said it. . .

So what do people with mental health issues think about the word crazy? I’m sure it’s the same as retarded or gay. It’s making light of something that may be uncomfortable, but needs to be dealt with carefully and respectfully.

I think there needs to be a lot more discussion—as there has been recently—about mental health. I think talking about things is where the uncomfortable becomes comfortable, or at least better understood.

Talking about depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD, suicide, and other issues in this category will help people speak out or at least get the help they need. When something is a stigma or the punch line of a joke, we tend to sweep it under the rug or turn a blind eye because it’s easier not to deal with it. We tend not to be cautious in the right sense, like knowing what sets people off, being willing to ask the hard questions, being supportive without allowing the person to do whatever he or she wants or not take medication. . .

I don’t have a clue how to fix this broken system in which we live. I have no idea how to deal with the more severe mental health patients. I just don’t know. But I do know that if we continue having these conversations, we have more books and movies about mental health, and we let go of our fears little by little, maybe we can see the silver lining and put this stigma to rest.

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Out of My Element – About Your Heart

I wholly and absolutely believe that God can and does heal people, but that doesn’t mean He necessarily will. He is able to use us all right where we are, as we are. He does all the time. And who are we to say that someone with bipolar disorder, or a mentally disabled person, or a deaf person isn’t perfect and whole in God’s eyes? Faith isn’t about abilities, or mental or physical strength; it’s about your heart. . .

I’m not saying that praying for healing is inherently wrong—because it definitely isn’t—but when your actions ostracize a group of people from the Body, it becomes a problem. Some mental and physical health issues are life-long and there are no cures. Period.

When we pray for healing that we know is very unlikely to occur, we are digging a hole of hopelessness for people with these issues. “Why isn’t God making my anxiety go away?” The answer that often comes to mind is, “I must not have enough faith. I must be doing something wrong. God is punishing me.”

If we prayed for God to use these issues, maybe people could flip their whole situation. Maybe they could find hope and strength in God by knowing that they are able to do exactly what He’s asking even in their imperfection. Maybe they would be able to reach out to others with the same conditions, showing them that there is in fact hope in this dark and lonely place. Maybe, just maybe, God is more powerful than any mental or physical health issue anyways.

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Out of My Element

But to the point, going into my third year as a blogger, I think I’d like to do something a little different: support mental health through my writing. Why exactly would I want to do this? Well, I have Social Anxiety Disorder. I don’t really tell people outright, but it is something I’ve written about before and do struggle with. So, here’s my pledge to write about mental health throughout this next year. . .

By allowing God to use what I consider an impairment, I feel empowered. Instead of feeling like a failure because I asked someone else to pray again, I can turn to God and ask Him to give me the strength and courage to do it next time. When I feel anxious, I can stop what I’m doing and pray for peace and I find it in Him.

I’ve come a long way, but I know others need to find this peace. I’m writing for myself, but I also want to give other people hope for something better. I have friends that struggle with bipolar and anxiety among other things, so I’m writing for them too. I’m writing for anyone and everyone that struggles with a mental health issue. And I hope you’ll join me in supporting them.

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