Do you sometimes wish you could travel back in time and have a conversation with your younger self? I wonder if I would have listened to my own advice? Ha! I wish however, that someone had told me that Depression and Anxiety, were not the huge, terrible bullies I believed them to be. I wish someone had told me, that I had the power and the ability to shut them up.
When I was battling with depression during my teens, mental health issues weren’t such a well researched and talked about topic. Today, it is a much more socially accepted and common condition. It’s so common these days that we almost seem to accept it as a normal way of life. In the UK alone, approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue, like depression and anxiety, each year (according to http://www.mind.org.uk).
To me, it felt like Depression and Anxiety always had the upper hand. “They” were happening to me, and there wasn’t much I could do, but let them run amok and beat me down. My only option was to numb their blows through medicating. In all honesty, the medication itself, did very little for my general wellbeing.
Filtering my life through the lenses of mental health issues, made me come into agreement with the lies of the enemy. I owned my condition, like it was an integral part of my identity. It became “my depression,” as I discussed the symptoms with friends and family. Continually, allowing the lies to grow deep, deep roots into my heart.
The truth was that I had the power to silence those bullies. I didn’t have to agree with the doctors, or the statistics, or even the symptoms I was experiencing. I had three powerful weapons, that contained the potential to grow Joy from the inside out; I had my mind, heart and mouth. I had a Faith Engine!
*Please note, I am not recommending that you stop going to the doctor or stop taking your medicines. But you are not limited to natural, earthly remedies. I would like to simply remind you about who you are and what is available to you. You are a child of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. You have his DNA. You have access to supernatural help!
In His letter to the Philippians, Paul has literally written the chapter on Mental Health. I have taken Philippians 4 from the Amplified Classic Edition, to draw out some tools for improving our general mental health:
Verse 4: “Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!”
Our natural minds seem to be programmed to go in a negative direction. That’s why we have to be intentional in thinking in the opposite direction.
Taking time to think about God, about his heart for you and everything he has made possible for you (freedom, prosperity, health and wholeness), will prepare the soil of your heart for a harvest of joy.
What are your favourite promises from the Word? Write them down. Keep them close. Get them out regularly and say them out loud! Think about them on purpose. Each truth is like a tiny seed, it may seem insignificant from the outset, but in time it will produce a harvest of peace and joy!
Verse 5: “Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].”
Do something considerate for someone in your home or neighbourhood. According to the Mental Health Foundation pocket guide called “Doing good does you good”, it reduces stress and improves your mood, self-esteem and happiness. It could even make you live longer! Doing good to others also helps you keep a healthy perspective on what is important in life.
Anxiety and depression can sometimes make you feel powerless. Stepping out to build someone up, encouraging them, blessing them, will give you a little taste of what you’re capable of. You have the power to change someone’s day.
Verse 6: “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.”
Schedule some time to daily speak to God. When I approach him with a heart of thanksgiving, for all he has done in my life, it creates an atmosphere of confident expectation.
Creating a habit of thanksgiving, is a powerful tool that will break you out of the cycle of anxiety and depression. You can think yourself into a different atmosphere, by thinking about everything that you are thankful for.
Praying is not an obligation, but an extreme position of privilege. I can be specific with my prayers and petitions. God listens to me! Wow! He wants to be there for me and help me. And he wants the same for you. Have you made your requests known to him? God already knows our needs, but he longs to have a conversation with us. He loves to partner with us, as he shows us the way out of the pit.
Verse 7: And God’s peace shall be yours, that [tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Wow! Who wouldn’t want that? To be at peace, knowing that no matter what you are up against, you can be at rest. That is the result of going to God with every fear and worry we have.
How many times do we run to Google when we’re worried? Or to our friend? Or to the doctor, the bank, the expert. I’m not saying it’s wrong to use any of these resources, but have you had a chat with God at all? Was He your first point of call?
What is there to worry about, when the God of all Creation is carrying your burden? When he is perfecting that which concerns you? When he is working all things together for your good?
Verse 8: “For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].”
Do you ever think about what you’re thinking about? If you had to take stock of all the things you were pondering today, would it past this checklist? True? Worthing of reverence? Honorable? Pure? Lovely? Gracious? Excellent? Worthy of Praise?
Did you know that what you are thinking about can actually have a physical effect on your brain? There are some really interesting research and science that back this up. Read a book or listen to a podcast by Dr Caroline Leaf, you will discover some great truths on this topic.
You can think purposefully and intentionally, rather than by default. Our default thought patterns will only take us further into the pit of despair. But we have the ability to change direction at any given time.
Verse 9: “Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.”
Untroubled, undisturbed well-being? Yes, please! Where do I sign up? Do you have some great people that you can model your way of living on? I can not encourage you enough, to seek out people who are living in that supernatural peace. Go find them! Ask God to give you some great mentors. And practice what they model. Use also the model given here by Paul.
Can I encourage you, to pick up the tools that Heaven has provided for you and put them to use. You see supernatural power backing you up and leading you to breakthrough? You do not have to put up with the torment.
When you start to put some of these principles in place, you will see a great improvement in your mental health, I guarantee it. I have seen it operate in my own heart. When we plant seeds of truth in our hearts, we reap a harvest of joy and peace. You can grow Peace! You can grow Joy!
You don’t have to do it all at once, start with one thing. One small positive habit, and work it into your daily routine. Then find another. Before you know it, you will look back in awe and wonder why you are so happy.
Today, I hear the Father saying: “Joyful Child! I dance with joy over you. I sing with delight when I think about the wonderful masterpiece I have created in you. Everything you need for life and godliness, is already in you. Keep planting seeds of joy and peace. The harvest is coming! Do not give up. Freedom is your birth right. Peace is your inheritance. Joy is who you are, in the very core of your being. When you come to me, I will be your answer, I will meet all your needs. Your joy will be full. Make some time. Let’s talk.” ❤