Mental Health and Spirituality: An Interview

Whether you feel that your mental health is in check or if you often struggle with it, it’s a reality of life. Every single person you know has thoughts about mental health. However, it’s true that some people admittedly have fewer thoughts about it, or may not even be able to recognize that they’re thinking about mental health. We’re taught from a young age that expressing our thoughts and feelings is taboo and that we should “push through” mental hardships.

Since this is the case, it’s honestly no surprise that as a society we don’t talk about mental health that often. But I want to change that. Luckily, I’m not the only one that feels that way! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing interviews with other millennials that want to talk about this important topic. As I mentioned last week, it’s incredibly important to learn from each other. This week we’ll be hearing from Jessica about mental health, worrying, anxiety, and spirituality.

Jessica has a bachelors degree in intercultural studies, with minors in children’s ministry and social work. She has a full time job working as a Mentoring Coordinator for a non-profit Christian ministry in Indianapolis. She is also working towards her pastoral license. I met Jessica in Illinois while we were bridesmaids for a mutual friend, and let me just say, Jessica is awesome. She is unbelievably kind and fun to be around. The difficulties she’s been through have made her into a stronger person who strives to be the best she can be. With that said, let’s see what she has to say on this topic:

Have you ever struggled with mental health?

For me it’s hard to admit that I ever struggled with a mental health issue. I have come to realize that it really isn’t a bad thing. I have experience with both depression and anxiety, but I didn’t realize either of these were mental health issues. It was just another thing everyone deals with. My anxiety has gotten really bad since my mother passed away. I worry about EVERYTHING. I replay and plan out situations in my head and talk myself out of doing things in fear of what outcome could come true.

My tendency to replay situations depends on if I’m stressed and anxious. It’s not good because it causes me to worry more and have more fear. I worry what others think about me, worry about the problems that other people face, and I worry about myself. When I share these feelings I think some people may look at me differently, but I don’t ever think it’s negatively. I think it’s in a way of understanding who I am and what I have been through.

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Do your mental health struggles ever affect your actions at work?

I do think at times that my work is affected by the mental health struggles that I deal with. I work with families in tough situations and in a cycle of poverty. Sometimes I take on their situations which causes me anxiety. I think I also have anxiety at work because of my struggle and desire to be needed, and I fear that if I don’t do a good job or mess up my boss won’t trust me or continue to give me responsibilities. I think my depression pops up here and there especially when a student I’m working with talks about a loss of a parent. My depression and anxiety tend to take over in those situations.

Do you feel like you can share these struggles with others? Why or why not?

I tend not to share my struggles because I don’t want sympathy or for others to view me differently. My close friends and coworkers know about these struggles though. I think as a pastor you’re supposed to be strong you aren’t supposed to have weakness, but I think sharing about it at times shows that no one is perfect. Sometimes life throws things at us, such as uncontrollable situations. But in those situations you could choose to just accept it and be down and weary and angry, or find hope and light in those times and not let them define you.

What resources do you use to cope with these feelings, if any?

I talk to my close friends and I practice self-care by doing things I love and enjoy (i.e., working out and running). My core support system is God and with that I have friends that surround me and lift me up. I also have a book that has helped a lot as well. It’s Called Calm My Anxious Heart. Spending time listening to podcasts, reading the bible, praying, and writing in my journal is helpful as well.

I have realized that even though I have dealt with this worry, fear, and anxiety, that the Lord is bigger than those things. I just need to give Him control of those situations and I shouldn’t worry about things because God already knows what’s going to happen and it’s all part of his plan.

MAKAYLA

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21 thoughts on “Mental Health and Spirituality: An Interview

  1. This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing. It’s really important to talk about these issues so people can learn ways to overcome them and not let themselves be defined by them.

    1. I totally agree! I love your point about not being defined by mental health problems. I think that some people can really be held back if they aren’t cautious and intentional about dealing with them.

  2. I am a children’s director at a local church. I would like to address the idea the pastors should be strong. Pastors should be loving, grace filled, and peacemakers. They should be emotionally intelligent and able to lend that emotional intelligence to every situation. It’s easy to hold it all to you, especially when you know how much work it is to perform this emotional labor. You don’t want to put your burdens on others. Jessica and I share a journey with anxiety, that makes this much more difficult.

    Christ calls us into community. We are meant to share each other’s burden. Pastors are here to teach us to share that burden, to bring us into equitable relationships with each other. That means that pastors have to share too. It’s hard. Congregations don’t always understand it. But it’s necessary, and acts as a teaching moment for them.

    Peace and strength my friend. We can learn this together!

    1. I love that! I think you’re right about sharing each other’s burdens. It’s one of the covenants we make when we’re baptized. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  3. This something we all struggle with at one time or another. I know I had a scare with my parents at the beginning of the year and almost lost them. It definitely shook me through and through. I’m one that is sensitive and where my heart on my sleeve. However, knowing this about myself, over the years I’ve learned a lot of amazing ways to check in with myself, express my emotions, and cope in healthy ways. Eating right, getting adequate rest, and regular exercise is basic start for anyone. Personally I enjoy drawing, creative writing, blogging, talking with friends and family, my yoga and meditation.

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