Breaking Through the Shame of Mental Illness (Interview 1)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Thank you all for tuning in to our Thankful Thursday Interview series. Joining us today is one of our fellow SWAPs who will be graciously speaking on the topic assigned for this month, Breaking Through the Shame of Mental Illness. She has chosen to remain anonymous, yet has decided to give her story a name!

Today, we’re on the SWAP couch with: Beyond My Trials

SWAP: Hi Beyond My Trials! We want to thank you for joining us for our series this month.

Beyond My Trials: It is SUCH an honor and privilege to be asked to speak on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. So thank you SWAP for the invitation.

SWAP: You’re very welcome. Let’s get started. What comes to your mind when you hear the words “mental illness?”

Beyond My Trials: I can honestly relate to those words. Though I was never really officially looked at negatively for having a mental illness, I felt like it was my own personal plague inside. At least that’s how I carried it. I was treated for Depression as a teenager. So I feel a sort of sensitivity to others who may, as a young girl, or even into adulthood experience various emotions of Depression. I often felt like I had a never-ending crisis bubbling up inside of me. I come from a broken home. We laughed and joked, but the effects of substance abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse were always there. The mental illness of Depression doesn’t scare me, but it does make me aware of what I feel at all times. I wish more people were comfortable with mental illnesses, regardless of if they've experienced them or not.

SWAP: Have you ever or are you currently battling feelings of shame?

Beyond My Trials: I have had feelings of shame. I used to beat myself up, call myself names, throw tantrums, slam doors and just cry. I would have a constant feeling of guilt for the bad decisions that I was making as a teenager. I even wanted my parents to have a tighter rein on me, and when they didn't, I would give myself permission to engage in behaviors I shouldn’t have and then beat myself up for knowing better and not parenting myself. I would just feel bad, but not know why. I guess I was putting unfair responsibilities on myself. I remember feeling like, no one would even care if I were gone.  

I would fall into a slump, and would blame myself for the bad things that were happening around me. I shamed myself because of my family. Blaming them for how I was feeling about myself. We moved a lot, so I was never settled, physically or mentally. I felt worthless and guilty all the time too, because I wasn't able to make the house cohesive. I remember constantly snapping at my mom, and siblings and getting frustrated about the smallest of things. I made straight-A’s, had friends, even participated in school and church activities, but when I was alone, I was a total wreck. I remember taking Paxil to stabilize my mood, but it just made me groggy and uneasy. So I begged to be taken off of it. Nowadays, I can still feel shame creeping up if I make, in my estimation, a dumb decision or slow decision about my life. If someone around me is upset or sad, I may quickly think it must be something I said or did or didn’t say or do.  

SWAP: Have you found a way to give thanks to God for your diagnosis or is it still a struggle for you?

Beyond My Trials: Yes, I have. I used to have thoughts and dreams of dying when I was younger and I remember seeing a family member trying to take their life on several occasions. That woke me up to God’s grace, that if someone could attempt so many times, and it never come to pass, then God must be trying to tell them something. He must be trying to tell me something. I know life seemed dark, but He was my Light! I thank God and His Spirit for keeping me from acting out on my thoughts! I still battle with a bit of bitterness, but I’ve learned through your book, that bitterness is like a dog chain holding me back from the treat at the edge of the yard. It has a stronghold on me! However, I thank God that I was able to identify that stronghold. I was harboring bitterness because things weren’t as I wanted them to be.

My encounter with the Lord was deep though. I learned to stop trying to over-achieve or be someone I wasn't. I stopped trying to change people, and changed the way I thought about my triggers. I stopped trying to emulate others and tried to be who God wanted me to be. I took breaths and tried to be happy. I would read and study the word and pour it in my work. God is a healer and I believe being close to Him helped me very much be healed from my mental anguish.  

SWAP: What words or thoughts of encouragement would you like to share with someone who may be going through something similar?

Beyond My Trials: Renew your mind daily. Having Depression is scary. I often have to train my mind not to think the worst and to trust in the Lord. Get comfortable being uncomfortable and find joy in little things like jumping in a puddle or singing off-key. Give yourself permission to fail. You won’t always be right… get things right… or live right. And it’s OKAY! We serve a forgiving God and He didn’t send His Son to die for our redemption for us to keep condemning ourselves for no reason. Engaging in positive self-talk and taking very small steps helps with recovery. Also, find an outlet and a person you can trust to listen to you or you listen to them. Meditate on a scripture. I like Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” If we think it, we live it, right! We no longer have to stay in our trials; we can live beyond them!

***

SWAP: Beyond My Trials, thank you for opening up and sharing a piece of your life in this interview! We hold your testimony sacred and thank God that He has used you to be a light in the darkness for those who may still feel alone and for opening the door to Break Through the Shame of Mental Illness!


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2 comments

  1. I am truly encouraged by the this interview! I am particularly encouraged and blessed by the following statement, "Get comfortable being uncomfortable and find joy in little things like jumping in a puddle or singing off-key. Give yourself permission to fail. You won’t always be right… get things right… or live right. And it’s OKAY!". That is truly an Amen moment! There's no real reason to over stress over things that don't go right... But rather we should meditate on the good things and keep it moving. It also reminds me that it is not my job to be perfect! Loved the interview!

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    1. Hi Friend! We are so glad you graced our blog with your presence! We love when interaction takes place on this forum as well! We are equally grateful that you were encouraged by this interview. We pray that if you found yourself all through it that you are moved to make changes in your life to live...not live perfectly! We hope you continue to trust God with your every step and continue to seek His counsel! You are a blessing to us and we thank you for swapping with us today!

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