Lately, I’ve started practicing thanking God for my mental illness.
I know, it sounds weird.
“Hey, God, thanks for the crippling anxiety. Really loving not being able to catch my breath today!”
“God, I’m honestly so thankful for the times that my brain existed solely as a calculator to count each and every calorie that entered and exited my body. Thanks for making my brain able to do that!”
“Seriously, God. Panicking whenever I get in too close of a proximity to a boy–what a blessing.”
Lol, that is NOT how my prayers go. Nope. Not at all.
This is what it’s more like:
“God, this hurts. A lot. But thank you giving me these experiences and this platform. Mental illness is crippling and some days I really feel like I’m not going to get through it, but I see you here and I know that you are here with me. This darkness is my proof that you are good and that you aren’t leaving me. If this is what it takes for me to know that, it is well.”
We all have our own darkness. I don’t know what yours is, but mine is a few psychiatric diagnoses and a few traumatic experiences and all the symptoms of both of those. It’s heavy and I’d honestly rather just throw all the things away, but they were given to me so that I can know who God is in my life.
He fought for me. Hardcore fought for me, time and time and time again. Dude was putting on his armor multiple times a day when I was in middle school and high school thanks to self-harm and anorexia. He still puts on that armor daily to help me fight my crazy anxiety and trauma reactions.
If mental illness has taught me anything, it is that God is here for me and he’s not giving up on me.
If he was going to give up on me, he would’ve done it a looooong time ago. Probably when I was in seventh grade, if we’re being honest. But not only has he stayed with me, he’s fought for me.
So, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for the mental illness that has shown me Jesus and taught me more of his character and who he is as a savior and redeemer and friend.
Don’t get me wrong. I would so so love it if Jesus took away every ounce of anxiety and depression in my body. But that probably won’t happen. And I’m okay with that. As great as it would be to live a life where I didn’t have to take medication each morning so I can function each day, that isn’t the life I’m called to. This mental illness is the thorn in my side (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) that I will choose to rejoice in and be thankful for. Because these are the things that introduced me to Jesus and force me to lean on him constantly. They drive me straight to the cross, and there’s no place I’d rather be.
So, God, thanks for the darkness. Thank you for showing me that you fought for me time and time again, and that you’ll keep doing so until I’m safe in your arms in heaven one day. I see my anxiety, and I think of you. I see my depression, and I am reminded of who you am as Father. I see my eating disorder, and I remember your providence. I see my trauma, and I know that you were with me then. Because of these things, I know you. That is more than enough for me. That is healing, right there.