September 21, 2021
Disclaimer: This article will talk about sensitive themes such as suicide, self-harm, clinical depression, and anxiety. We believe that these are serious mental conditions which need medical intervention and ministerial support. If you have gone through any of the painful experiences that will be mentioned below and you need help or someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by clicking this link. We are here for you.
Growing up, I witnessed mental illness presented in the media with loud, palpable symptoms I’d look at and without a doubt be able to say “Ah, that’s what it’s like to be mentally ill.” I’ve seen it in movies, books, and even songs.
But when I personally found myself with a lingering heavy feeling that I couldn’t seem to ever shake off, I could not comprehend it. It was like a devastation that never eased but just grew stronger day by day. I never understood why I couldn’t find it in myself to be genuinely happy.
I started practicing self-harm back in 2015 to cope with such feelings and continued to struggle with it for the following years. Come 2018, I got diagnosed with major depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder. By February 2019, I hit rock bottom and attempted to take my life. By December 2019, I made a second attempt and was hospitalized for two days. I was at the lowest I’ve ever been emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Little did I know back then, these were all underlying symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD), a much clearer diagnosis that I was given just recently. At the same time, some repressed memories started to resurface, memories of being molested back in kindergarten. In anger, I started to question God. This was another trauma I had to deal with, and it did not help me move forward in my healing journey.
I’ve spent hours and days reading about mental health, scouring through every book and article online trying to find an answer that could help me grasp everything and piece them together. But even after all that, I couldn’t understand why such things had to happen to me. I couldn’t comprehend why I went through that even after years of begging God to take the pain away.
But I realized that perhaps it’s time I stop trying to find the answer to the question why. When I found out that it was not about finding answers, it allowed more room for faith. Faith taught me how to hold on to the truth that there is a reason I am still here—why we are still here. God is not done with us yet. In spite of everything, this keeps me going:
“God is putting your broken pieces together; you just have to wait for the glue to dry.”
The healing process is never linear. My therapist told me that sometimes it has to hurt first before it gets better. The wound has to be uncovered and the scab removed so that it may heal freely.
It took me a long, long time before I finally reached out for help. But ironically even after I did, I was unwilling to actually accept the help. I went through a number of therapists and psychiatrists, but I kept my ears shut from what they had to say. One fear remained constant: What my diagnosis will entail for my identity.
Unstable, overly sensitive, self-destructive, untreatable, difficult to deal with, incapable of maintaining relationships and friendships, sudden fits of anger.
These were the labels and manifestations of BPD I had to face when I was first trying to come to terms with my diagnosis. Looking at this ever growing list of things that constantly try to tell me what is wrong with me, it became so much easier for my identity to be shaken. I found myself stuck in a never-ending cycle of equating my disorder to my identity—which I then used to measure my worth. It did not take long for it to get tiring.
Though difficult, this meant a daily process of learning that I am not defined by the symptoms of my mental illness or the chemical imbalance in my brain.
Science might try to dictate what is wrong about our fundamental wiring as human beings, but at the end of the day, who God calls and designed us to be triumphs over all.
Your reality does not dictate your identity.
Who you are rests on the God who created you.
To anyone who may be having a hard time coming to terms with their mental condition, I just want you to know that:
You are more than your diagnosis.
You are more than what science dictates to be an abnormality.
Your worth never diminishes even for a second.
I see you, and I commend you for still trying to fight your way through it all. Your struggle does not make you any less human. It does not make you any less deserving of love. You are still breathing, alive, and whole. Let every second be a reminder that you are worthy of the space you take up.
And if you are afraid to reach out for help, I know that seeking professional help often comes with a load of worries and uncertainties, because you simply never know what you will be told. But there is grace. God’s grace will hold you still and keep you together.
It is beyond scary, I know. It is a long and hard road to take, but healing is possible. Take it one day at a time. We’ll get there.
I believe that our healing journey starts with finding it in yourself to really want to be here, to try and keep going for another day by taking little steps towards taking care of yourself and getting better.
I began this article with my struggle, but that is not where my story ends.
I am standing here today to let you know that your story does not have to end here also.
Mental illness is no joke, and it is indeed a constant battle.
There will still be some bad days; days when we can’t find the will to get out of bed or when everything becomes too much and our faith tends to falter. But at the end of those days comes the promise that there will always be better ones coming. It is possible to wake each morning with a newfound hope and joy that comes from our Father above.
Know that for you and for us all, there is a life God prepared that is worth living and a future worth staying for.