I have spent all of my adult like trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Why are social interactions so hard? Why is it so hard for me to make decisions? I’m easily overstimulated, it is hard for me to be large crowds without panicking, if I go out to restaurant I need to be able to see the exit, if my house is not spotless I am no longer functional and the list really goes on, like girl why can’t you chill? I have questioned myself so many times, do I love chaos? I annoy myself, do you know how chaotic you have to be to annoy yourself? What do I have against living in peace? I now know there are various situations that have impacted my life and along the way my brain chemistry has been disturbed. The saints have said it’s the devil attacking your mind and that may be true. However, I view mental illness like physical illness. If I have diabetes; I need insulin. If your blood pressure is high then you obviously need to take blood pressure medicine, if I have a tooth ache I am rushing to the dentist because it’s the worst pain in the world. I have been living with OCD and contrary to the general consensus; you need medication for that. It is what it is and until I am healed it is best for you and me that I take that medication every morning.
I was 26 years old when I finally took a leap and decided to go to therapy because things were getting out of hand. I got to a point where I could not go to work because how my mind was racing and that stress was making me physically ill. I was experiencing what I know now manic behavior that would last from hours to days. There were days where I stay in my room in the dark because I couldn’t get my mind under control. I have to keep a clean house because that is the only aspect of my life I have control over. There were numerous occasions I asked my Grandfather to check if my door is locked when I know I locked but did I really? If I shared the irrational things I have done to resolve an issue that was only going on in my head, I would be ashamed. I knew I had to get some understanding of what I was dealing with because my radical irrationality was effecting my family. It was effecting how I was parenting, my daily life was consumed with my thoughts. I was miserable every day for most of my 20’s and I really wondered what I did to deserve this? It got to the point where I was failing in all aspects of my life because I did not have the mental nor the emotional strength to show up in spaces where I was needed. My son was tainted because of what I was dealing with and many of my responsibilities fell on my parents for a period of time. I have lost jobs, financial opportunities, networking opportunities, and probably other opportunities I am not aware of.
I have been going to therapy off and on for the past 6 years and it has helped me grow tremendously. My efforts has helped me grow spiritually and that’s how I know God is in my decision to seek professional help. Commonly, it is the other way around but it didn’t work that way for me. God allowed me to get in touch with a Psychologist that just so happen to be a Black woman. My conversations with her were groundbreaking and thought provoking because she did not look at me as a person making excuses but she saw intentions as a cry for help. One, she helped me understand the root of my current mental state by allowing me to share my story with her. In effort to be transparent, an event occurred when I was 18 that changed my outlook on life forever. Soon after I had my son and soon after that I was living with one traumatic event after another. Mistakes, I don’t do well with making mistakes and growing up if I made a mistake in my little world it seemed like all hell broke loose. Shaniqua is smart, she is wise, and usually is very careful in decision making. Not intentionally but anytime I made a mistake as a child my family and other caregivers would be genuinely shocked. I would hear “I thought you knew better”, “That’s not really like you, “I expected more out of you”, and several other statements that made me feel like I do not have room to mess up, EVER. Afterwhile, to avoid making a mistake I overthink and over process every single thing in my life. I learned this is one of the ways mental illness is developed. For years and years I have been working on different coping strategies and some things worked for a while but soon I ended up the constant cycle of manic episodes and that has only gotten worse as I got older. Two, my therapist helped me be content in my current state by letting me know the decisions I have made in my life were “painful but wise”. I now understand why I went through some of the things I went through. The decisions I have made resulted into the success I am now and I am positive my journey even though it is not over will help many people.
Growing up in the Pentecostal church I have been afforded the opportunity to experience God in a way that is unique to people in the world. I have seen miracles before my very eyes, I have seen the dead rise, I have experienced firsthand God’s healing power, I know what it is like to be so break hearted and to feel God’s presence comfort you, I know how powerful it is to receive guidance from the Lord. However, I also prayed for things and it didn’t happen, I watched giants in the church die and I didn’t understand why God didn’t heal them, I have had heinous events happen in my life that I didn’t think could happen to me because I thought I was protected, and I now know what is feels like to deal with mental challenges and as much as I have prayed for deliverance it hasn’t happened…..yet. When it happens God will get the glory not my therapist. Three, my therapist suggested medication and I was very hesitant because I didn’t want to appear “crazy” but it seemed like a cop out because I am supposed to believe God can heal me. I finally started taking medication to help with my intrusive thoughts and rituals and it has been the best thing since dresses with pockets. I don’t think I have EVER truly been myself until now. Because my mind has calmed itself I now am able to be me without any distraction as in I actually am able to connect with people and they can experience my personality. I am more confident because I don’t have my thoughts getting in the way. I have always been confident but this confidence feels different. It feels different because I know exactly who I am, what I like or don’t like, what I believe, and what I refuse to entertain. Before, my brain was all convoluted so I could not always trust myself but with a clear head I can confirm some things I have always knew about myself. My goal is to enjoy life with this much liberty and clarity without medication and because my God loves me and can do anything, it is totally possible.
We need to talk more about mental health and how it effects our community in disparaging rates, especially in the Black church. We can’t get so caught up spiritually that we ignore real illnesses. Go to God and ask for discernment in this area. This call to action should not be for just church leaders but for any saint that is gifted in prayer. Mental health should be treated like physical illnesses. Because I have been working on my personal mental health I can see certain traits in others. I am unable to diagnose but I can certainly tell if a person might just be bi-polar and it’s not a demonic spirit that is making them behave the way they behave. It could be both but after you pray for that person and observe their behavior, it should not be so off putting to offer resources for mental health when it is applicable. Schizophrenia is real, people out here wilding and they are very bi-polar, PTSD occurs in adults and children, Narcissism is a mental illness many leaders in our churches have, OCD is effecting many people in the church and without help there are many ministries that will not be birthed, many of my peers are really depressed. I know for a fact prayer works and the devil is busy attacking all of us because if he can get your mind then he can manipulate your choices. I’m just saying seek God for healing but also go to www.betterhelp.com.