Author: Rebekah Hill
Rebekah is a friend of Rising and a has been one of my friends for 17 year. I’m honored to share her story of hope and encouragement with you! – Sarah DeLotelle
Mental Health- a taboo subject that somehow continues to maintain its stigma despite growing awareness. We often hear about mental illness in the following way: a story of massive pain and grief sprinkled with disappointment, shame and bitterness. I hope to bring a little more hope and light with my story. Three years ago, I checked into a woman’s rehab facility in Chicago, because I wasn’t safe on my own. I was in a dark place and could not see a way out. Years of isolation and shame led me to my breaking point. I walked into rehab with as many mental health disorders as the rest of my “crazy” roommates. Today I’m a free woman. The struggle is still real, and I’ve worked very hard, but I am not the same. Here are some things I’ve learned:
1. Speak up. If you have mental illness, speak up. Maintain safe boundaries and relationships, but silence will kill you. If you don’t have mental illness, speak up. Be willing to ask your friends and family questions. Be willing to sacrifice your own comfort for the good of our loved ones. If we maintain silence, we maintain stigma.
2. Diagnosis does not equal identity. Depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, addiction, PTSD, self-harm, eating disorder and borderline personality disorder were, at one point, attached to my name. I wore them like a cozy blanket far too long, and I believed too many lies about myself. Those lies were paralyzing. Here’s the truth: I am more than a diagnosis.
3. Be aggressive. If you fracture your leg and your bone is poking out of your skin, you’ll seek treatment. Right? Please tell me you’d seek treatment. You’d endure the pain having your bone set, immobilization, wearing a cast, then you’d deal with muscle weakness and physical therapy. If you want your leg to function normally again, if you want circulation in your toes, you’ll be aggressive in your recovery. Mental health is no different. Be aggressive in seeking treatment. Pay the money for counseling; spend time taking care of yourself. Face your fear head on. Make your pain worth something.
4. Fix your gaze on hope. Find your source of hope and don’t let go. My hope is in Jesus. I could waste my life talking about this guy who is more steadfast, more faithful, more loving, and more graceful than anyone I’ve known. Never give up. Never lose sight of why your life is important. Stay in the race. Stay engaged.
5. Build a support network. We need each other. I journeyed alone for several years. True healing came when I invited other people into the process. Isolation and the false belief that I was alone kept me in darkness.
Here’s the thing: We have an enemy. He has a clear mission to destroy us, and he will do whatever it takes. Mental illness works for him, for so many reasons. However, we have a Champion, who is not afraid of mental illness. He’s not intimidated by the fact that we experience depression, anxiety or anything else. The enemy says, “you’re alone. You’re worthless. You’ll always feel this way. Nobody understands.” Jesus says, “I love you. I know what you’re feeling. I have life for you. I died for your freedom.” If you struggle, or if you know someone who does, keep fighting the good fight. It’s worth it.