According to a research study conducted in 2014, 49% of pastors report that they rarely or never speak about mental illness in sermons or large group settings in their faith communities.
If you know me at all, you probably already know that the above statement is enough to make me cry. So let’s dig on in, shall we? You see, October is Depression Education and Awareness Month. That’s right, an entire month dedicated to talking about one of the most prominent mental health conditions in our world. And what are we, the church doing about it?
Nearly half of us are avoiding it entirely.
Fun fact? I have depression. There is some debate about the type of depression I have – did you know there are types?? – and I waver between a persistent depressive disorder and recurrent major depression diagnosis. But, either way, I have it. I have mornings where getting out of bed is nearly impossible. I have nights where my mind dwells on the doom of sleeplessness. I have days where no emotion can touch me because I am numb to the world.
I take medications. I regularly see my psychiatric medication provider. I go to therapy (sometimes more than once a week).
I am a Christian. A daughter. A sister. A friend. A student. A theologian.
I am a beloved and chosen child of God. I have been named and claimed in baptism.
And I have depression.
There, it’s out there. I said it. I find regular comfort in psalms of lament, knowing that both my suffering is real and God’s love prevails. I relate to Job’s cries from the depths of his soul when he wishes he was never born and find solace in God’s nonjudgmental and never-ending love for his child.
I rejoice in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, for he weeps and feels psychological pain, just like I do, and his faith remained steadfast. He never faltered in the love he gave or received, but showed that it is normal to mourn and cry and fear, and that is not failure nor sin, but humanity.
And I take it seriously when Jesus makes us promises in the midst of our despair.
So, can we talk about it? Can we admit the fact that depression – and all mental illness – is real? That people everywhere are living in its wake and God is raising them up into leaders, proclaimers, love-givers, and beautiful people who are partnering with Jesus to live in the light of the resurrection? That there is no judgment, no condemnation, no shame in bearing the weight of any illness when we are created perfect by God?
Because I take Jesus’ words and message to heart every day. Every day that I get to climb out of bed, love on Paco, take my medications, and go to class is a miracle.
I am Katie.
I have depression.
I’m not afraid to say it.
And I am a named, claimed, chosen and beloved Child of God.
And so are you.