One in Four

One in four people will have a mental disorder at some point in their lives. Does this number surprise you? It doesn’t surprise me. As a psychology major, the prevalence of mental disorders is well known to me – I just never thought I would end up being the one in four.

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In the fall of 2015 I started noticing that my PMS was becoming abnormal. As the months went on, I almost physically couldn’t stand being around people – especially the people I was closest to – because I would get so irritated or angry. It wouldn’t have bothered me if I could go an entire day or more without talking to someone. I would lay in bed for hours watching TV. It would take everything in me to convince myself to get up. To interact. I didn’t really care to eat. I was so ashamed of the way I felt that even when I wasn’t PMSing I still didn’t want to be around people. I still wanted isolation. Finally, in May of 2016 I went to see my doctor. I told her what was going on, and she said that my symptoms sounded like Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (or PMDD).

I started on an antidepressant. This didn’t bother me. Because of my study of psychology I knew how beneficial medication could be when needed. By the time the next month rolled around, my symptoms were much less extreme. As time went on, I was able to better manage my emotions and my reactions. I could be around my loved ones without wishing for a way out. I was starting to feel normal again.

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Not many people knew I was taking medication. There is a belief that is common in the church that if you are a Christian, then you shouldn’t need things like antidepressants. In all honesty, I digress.
We live in a world full of sin, death, and disease and depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, conversion disorder, and panic disorder still exist whether you are a believer or not.

Because of this stigma around medication, I chose to stop taking my antidepressants too soon, in all honesty. I felt that if people knew they would look down on me because I should have had it together. I should have been able to overcome my problem without a pill. I study mental health and behavior, I know what happens in the brain and how therapy/medication can help, and yet I still felt this way. Something is wrong here. Because I chose to medicate and my symptoms calmed down to a manageable point, I was able to think more clearly. I was able to calm myself down enough to pray and to seek Him. I believe that God has equipped many men and women in the field of counseling. Therapy is a wonderful thing. Medication can be, too, when necessary. Seeking help doesn’t make you any less of a believer. 

As an believer, as an individual, you have the right to make the choice of how you choose to seek help if you need it. My decision was one that I thought about, one that I prayed about, one that I had peace about. If you found yourself in the same situation as I found myself in, your choice could have been different. You could have chose to seek counseling. Or to not to seek outside help. Or to seek help some other way. And that is perfectly okay. But don’t let someone make you think that because you are a Christian, you aren’t allowed to have mental health issues –  that would be like saying you aren’t allowed to have diabetes. I fully believe that through the power of Christ in us we can overcome the obstacles in our life – but just like we go to a doctor when we are sick, we are allowed to reach out when we are struggling mentally.

I am a Christian and I was on antidepressants. I’m okay with that. I’m grateful for it. When I struggle now, when symptoms start to creep back in, I can handle it because the time that I spent on medication allowed me to learn how to control what was happening, which I couldn’t do beforehand. Think. Research. Pray. Make the decision that you need to.

Photo Credit: Misael Nevarez

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Health{ier} Living

I turn twenty in 72 days (what?! how is that possible?!) Since I started college nearly two years ago (again, what?!), I’ve grown up quite a bit. I work, I pay bills, I’m planning my wedding (again, I strongly emphasize WHAT?!), I make my own choices. I’m an adult and I have to make my own choices now. I have to be responsible with my money, my time, my life.

Now, this post is not about how I’m aiming to become a size x or how I want to only eat x amount of calories a day. This post is about making choices and how I’ve decided to aim for a healthier lifestyle all around.

First off, I joined a gym. Me. Yeah, I’m surprised too. But I figured I’m more motivated to use something if it’s taking money out of my bank account every month. So I’ve started going to the gym. I hop on the elliptical and watch Netflix for 30-45 minutes. It’s not so bad. I’ve also started watching what I’m eating. Notice I didn’t say calorie counting or eliminating carbs or whatever. Those things are fine, I’ve just decided to be more conscious about what I eat, choosing almonds over chips, water over soda.

Aside from the changes in my physical lifestyle, I’ve changed other aspects of my life, too. I’ve started watching what thoughts I let enter my head. I have a problem with blaming myself for things that aren’t my fault, with anger, with depression. So, when I have thoughts that are critical or negative or hurtful towards myself or others I stop them in their tracks; I choose to think differently. It was a difficult thing to do at first, I mean, I thought, how do I stop myself from thinking? But it starts with paying attention to what you think about and when something raises a red flag, don’t entertain it. Put an end to it then and there.

Additionally, a change I’ve made is starting and ending my day well. I start with a healthy breakfast – if I wake up in time to make one (I’m still struggling with waking up on time… 🙂 ) and I read my Bible. I will sacrifice doing my hair and makeup as long as I have time to read my Bible; if I don’t start my day in Scripture, it shows. I listen to worship on the way to work and I’m always looking for new songs so that they aren’t just becoming routine, but I can genuinely worship. I end my day, even if I don’t get home until midnight, with reading my Bible. I also journal at night. There’s a pretty famous quote by Flannery O’Connor that says, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I have to say.” It is so true. If I’m dealing with a particularly stressful issue, I write about it, and I can vent and be honest and a lot of times that’s where God reveals something to me or just brings me comfort. Sometimes I just write about my day, even if it was just an ordinary day; it gives me time to reflect.

So I haven’t set outrageous goals. I just want to be a healthier me. God didn’t create us to live miserable lives that are weighed down by an unhealthy physical or mental state. When you’re healthy physically, you feel better. When you’re healthy mentally, you feel better. The two go hand-in-hand. Since I’m nearly twenty and am adulting, with the freedom to make my own decisions, I’m doing my best to live at least a little bit of a healthier lifestyle.

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Photo Credit: Autumn Goodman