The people who know me offline are (probably) aware that I’m a Christian. The people who know me quite well probably also know that I’ve struggled with the God-and-mental-health concept for a bit. People have told me that I (a) should seek spiritual healing rather than turn to medication and psychotherapy and (b) shouldn’t be depressed or anxious or otherwise troubled anyway BECAUSE JESUS and (c) don’t even get started on the whole suicide thing… sanctity of life and Ten Commandments and all that.
I must admit I’ve taken to compartmentalising when it comes to God and mental health. It’s almost too much effort to justify my use of medication in treating a mental illness to people who think spiritual healing is the way to go; sometimes it’s a minefield to even start the mental health conversation for fear of retribution for being depressed DESPITE JESUS. So I just avoid the whole issue.
A few days ago I had a sort of turning point, however. I’d had a rollercoaster ride of a week: there were a few days when I was super high (which I’m not going to call mania until I get a definitive yes or no on the whole bipolar thing) until I irritated the hell out of everyone, myself included. Then, having methodically battered quite a few relationships that are important to me, I went right down the other end of the scale and got quite suicidal for a bit.
(For those of you who got concerned reading that, I’m feeling stable right now.)
One evening I went to small group (a Bible study satellite church group where we drink a lot of tea and laugh at each other) and we had a few minutes where we just sat in silence to see if God will show us some part of his plan for our lives. And this one verse came into my head; we’d learned it once upon a time in church youth group (I must’ve been about 14).
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life, and live it to the full.”
John 10:10 (NIV)
Okay, so it’s probably not quite right when you look at the context of the rest of the passage, but it was as if God was saying to me that he wants me alive. Not just alive, but also to live life to the full. It was as if God was saying that the thief – Satan, the devil, whichever title takes your fancy – stole so much from me. He tried to steal my relationships, my health, my happiness, my laughter, my personality. He tried to steal my life. The voice that speaks so much hate into my life, that’s the thief.
And it’s not my fight any more. Goodness knows I’ve tried to fight on my own, and to be frank it didn’t end that well. I don’t have the strength to fight it – the past has proven that over and over. But I don’t need to fight on my own – God has already won the fight. He already kicked the thief in the butt for good when Jesus was resurrected two thousand years ago (I’m not enough of a theologian to even attempt to explain that properly, but there it is).
That’s it. I’m not saying everything will be okay for me from now on, because that’s not how life works. I’m not even saying because God has already won, all of those people are right and I shouldn’t be depressed BECAUSE JESUS. But God has a plan for me. God wants me alive and living to the max. And no force in the universe will be able to stop me doing that.