“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed way; behold, all things are become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
This verse came up when I was reading my devotions this morning, and it got me to thinking. I had been worrying about this blog last night. What would I do if I ran out of ideas? What if this blog was a bad idea? What would I do if I got better?
It’s been a long-standing question that has floated around in my subconscious: What do I do if I get better? What if I actually conquer my anxiety, depression, BPD… how do I reconcile with that? How do I learn to live without those things? Most people would be happy at the thought of ridding themselves of mental illnesses or reducing their levels of depression and anxiety, but inside, I look at it with a fearful heart. I’m scared to have to define myself without including mental disorders. I’ve lived with them for so long, I don’t know how to define myself without them. How do I help others with mental illnesses if I no longer can suffer and identify with them? Will I be able to give helpful advice that’s based in experience, or will I forget what it’s like and lose perspective?
I feel so ridiculous. I want to get better, but I don’t want to lose any part of who I am. And these disorders are a part of me. They’re literally inside of me, in my brain, and in my thoughts constantly. I find it difficult to imagine life without my illnesses. I’m the type of person who, once I get comfortable, I don’t want any change or interruption in my routine. I want things to stay the way they are. I want to stay in my safe little bubble and never come out, living my life the same way every day because it’s what’s normal. It’s regular. Steady. I can depend on my routine to have assurance of what my day is going to be like. I have control.
Control. It’s what it all comes down to. I don’t like not being in control in any aspect of my life. When something unexpected comes up, instead of rolling with the punches, I freak out and get incredibly stressed. I guess you could say I don’t navigate life’s stormy seas too well. I feel like an actor with every line memorized, all the blocking soaked into my muscle memory, and then all of a sudden, the director asks me to ad-lib. I hate ad-libbing. I can never do it. I fumble, mumble and stumble around like a marionette with loose strings. It feels unnatural, and I panic. The scenes and actions that I know are what I want to stick to because it’s all already laid out for me. I don’t have to decide. I don’t have to invent. It’s planned.
And I get angry when other people don’t stick to the script. How dare you make me uncomfortable! I don’t want things to be different! That requires change! Can’t you see I’ve settled, that I’m at peace with my circumstances now? Why should I have to change?
But God’s Word says something different. In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about the “new man.” He says that when we become saved in Christ, we become new and leave the old behind. I am guilty of clinging to the old me, the me who is struggling and drowning in her own feelings and emotions. It’s all I know now, and it’s a scary step to leave that behind and learn to live as a mentally healthy human being. I know this sounds weird, and a lot of you are probably asking yourselves why anyone would want to continue the way I’ve been when you know you can learn to be well again, or at least better than you are now. I ask myself this question every time these thoughts come up.
I think that’s why I struggle in my relationship with God. I know that when I grow closer to him, I will become more faithful, stronger, and I will trust in Him. I will have the ability to overcome worry and sadness. I will be able to let go of the old me. I need to let go if I want to make progress in overcoming my disorders. I need to realize that I can lead a healthy and fulfilling life and that my mental illness does not define me.
I have done everything I can to distract myself from growing closer to God, reading my devotions daily and thinking that that alone helps me retain my relationship with Him. Faith isn’t just reading your devotions or the Bible. Those are just acts. True faith requires a real, spiritual relationship with God, an ever-present need to grow closer to Him and abide by his Word. Reading the Word won’t get you anywhere if you don’t believe and follow it. Study it. Really take it in. Strive to understand it better. The more you learn about God, the more you learn about yourself and what a wonderful creation you are. You are His, and He loves you enough that He died on the cross for you in the form of His one and only son, Jesus Christ.
Before I can help others, I need to realize this and revisit this wonderful fact daily. I need to accept myself as a beautiful creation of God who is not just a disorder. I am not a stigma. My illness is not a stigma. It isn’t permanent. But God’s love is forever, and his healing can cure any disease or sickness, or heal any aching heart.
I hope that, if you haven’t already, you can accept Christ into your heart and be healed by his loving presence in your life. As we travel on this journey together, may we be able to love and support each other in our endeavor to conquer our mental illness and help others do the same as well.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”