About the Author

Alia Joy is an author who believes the darkness is illuminated when we grasp each other's hand and walk into the night together. She writes poignantly about her life with bipolar disorder as well as grief, faith, marriage, poverty, race, embodiment, and keeping fluent in the language of hope in...

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  1. Alia Joy,
    Or like when you go to a new doctors office and you have to check off the box for mental illness, because you have it. Or you have to check off anxiety and depression because you suffer from those and then you get to list all the medications you are on. And then the nurse mispronounces the one medicine and asks what that is for. “OCD,” you answer and give her the correct pronunciation. Yes, the stigma, unfortunately is still there – even in the health care community, certainly with in the Christian community. If you just read more scripture, prayed more, had deeper faith and trust then you wouldn’t have this anxiety. Someone tells you to please pour them a bowl of cereal and the request sounds like they’ve asked you to climb Mt. Everest. I get it. I’ve been there. I am there. Having mental illness is no different than having a heart that doesn’t work right, or an immune system that doesn’t function well, or kidneys that don’t do their job. In our case, we lack needed chemistry in our brains and have neurological transmitters that don’t work or fire the same way everybody else’s does. But, yet you are told taking medicine is a crutch. I don’t hear anyone telling the diabetic that insulin is a crutch?? Experiencing real, clinical depression is not the same as having the blues. Unless you’ve lived it, you simply can’t explain it. It’s like being in hell in your mind. Thank you Alia for being brave enough to come forward so that others of us can come forward and say “See me, I am more than my mental illness.” I am a wife, a mom, a friend, a beautifully compassionate person, and daughter of the King. I am loved and I am not alone. Thank you for your words that will breathe life and comfort into those who are suffering in silence. God bless you. Reaching for the Xanax with you….
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Indeed you are all of those beautiful things, Bev. Your posts are always so encouraging to me. I appreciate how you share your heart. Praying for you and all of our sisters here who struggle with these things. My struggles are different, but we all have them. In this life …

    • @Bev
      Thanks for your contribution and beautiful response…

      I found incourage in my dark days in 2012 and I always look forward to reading your comments then and now…YOU are an inspiration…God bless you real good…Sending you hugs…xxx

    • Bev,
      Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life that is so hard to share. I recently found in courage and you are the reason why I came back the second time.
      I needed someone to tell me that I would survive losing both of my siblings in less than a year and you were there!
      You encourage us all. Praying for you and sending hugs your way.

      • Donna,

        Losing both siblings in less than a year wow! That is hard. Praying for you & your family. I pray God will send peace & contentment to your soul! You are loved here at In Courage!

        Blessings 🙂

    • My favorite thing about writing for this community? How you care for each other here. I’ll be honest, I’m pretty weary and worn out right now. Struggling with health issues on top of my normal mental health issues and I’m very tired. But I love being able to come here and see how you share and care for each other in the comments and I love that you are always among the first to share your story to encourage others. You are a gift to this space and we’re so glad to have you, Bev. Truly grateful for your faithful presence here in the comments, offering hope and grace and prayers.

    • Amen to that. I too suffer from anxiety and when it hits it hits me hard and I frantically go looking for my medication. I don’t like and I try to remain calm but sometimes that just makes it worse because you cannot stop thinking about it. It is no fun.

  2. Having grown up in a home surrounded by mental illness (yes, surrounded), the memory of that hopelessness and secrecy is still fresh all these years later. Thank you for your willingness to go first in this conversation. It’s true in all the dark rooms, that once someone cracks the door, a tiny sliver of light comes in and everyone feels a bit braver.

    • Yes! There’s a line in my book about leaving a crack in the door. This speaks to me. Let’s be brave together.

  3. When you greet others and they tell you they are “doing fine” you never know what is hidden behind the smile. Pray for all those who are “doing fine”

  4. I’ve been there. It’s okay. You are among friends who understand. You are welcomed. You are loved. You are and will be prayed for. God loves you, you are worthy of His love and being loved. There is hope. Do not give up. Do not give in to the thoughts that harm and shame you. You are God’s masterpiece, fearfully and wonderfully made, yes, even with all the darkness going on. Just keep hanging on and when it seems like you can’t do it one minute longer and you can’t find God anywhere, hang on tighter. He’s there and there is help and there are people who get it and will accept you.

    • Well said Bobbi. I am in agreement with your comments. We are all greatly loved and worthy of His love. The divine exchange that took place at the cross is for all and is truly amazing indeed. I continually speak the words of life over myself all day and am finding a wonderful new love, truth and strength in my spirit. God is good and I am expecting His good to manifest this day in my life in any way He chooses.

    • How beautiful Bobbi and so true. Sometimes when you’re just about to give up because you’re not “normal” like other people here come Alia and someone like you to help us hold down another minute. Especially when you know it’s in your family as my mom committed suicide when I was 19, you try to hold down with everything so you don’t end up like that. God I wish Jesus would just heal us all so we don’t have to go through the ridicule we do. God bless and keep you

      • Oh Cherlyn, that’s so difficult. I’m so sorry for your loss. We live moment by moment sometimes, it’s true. We’re not alone in it. It’s in our families, yes, but it doesn’t need to have the last word. We’re grafted into a larger family, a body, a beloved community of those who Jesus loves and who cling to and abide in him minute by minute. I wish for healing and it’s yet to come in the ways I’d hoped, but sometimes healing looks like a comment that says, me too, friend, me too. You’re not alone.

  5. Alia, your writing is beautiful and your vulnerability is both beautiful and brave. What we often don’t realize is EVERYONE is fighting a battle some different than others. Lord give us grace to love and care for one another.

    • Thank you for your post Alia, appreciate your honesty 🙂
      Thank you also for your post Denise. I agree everyone is fighting a battle some different than others but we all are fighting the battle that satan so generously provides.

    • So true. If we could all be more compassionate, more kind, more grace filled, we would be able to hold all of those hidden and secret battles, and walk into the light together.

  6. As someone who has experienced depression at multiple times in my life and has friends with these same problems, I believe that this issue is something we need to be more aware of and sensitive to in our churches and homes. Thank you for being brave and sharing this message.

    • Thank you, Lindsey. That’s my hope, that church would be a place for the hurting to feel safe and that we’d be able to be met with grace.

  7. What a gift God has given you to be able to share so beautifully! I know you encourage so many with your words! Praying for you today!

  8. Thanks for beautifully sharing this Joy…I can totally relate…

    Went off anti-depressant in January and had a few triggers recently and I have had to take a break and shut down from time to time to keep going. Recently broke down and cried for the 3rd time in a row last week and my partner couldn’t understand nor handle it as he later voiced out and I couldn’t explain either as the tears just kept rolling and I kept screaming “I’m tired of everything…I am tired of life…I am tired…” amidst the sobbing…

    This weekend I had to go away and shut myself in to quiet the voices in my head and gain some strength to face this week…In the part of the world I live…the stigma is more real than can be imagined and lack of acceptance that mental illness is an illness rather than a diabolical problem and limited available resources for help and treatment are part of the additional struggle for someone living with depression in Nigeria.

    I lend my voice to your writing Joy to say YOU are not alone…It’s ok. We are gonna be ok. We are all finding our way. Really, we all are and we will find it…One second at a time…

    Lots of love…xxx

    • Ada, you are a daughter of the most High God. You are loved, treasured and valued!!! What a privilege God has given us to know Him and His great love for us.

    • I am heartbroken for the additional barriers you are facing to get the help you need. I will be hoping for wisdom and strength as you move forward, Ada. God is near to the broken hearted, the tired, the I can’t do this anymore. But I also hope you’d be able to get the help you need if the help you need really is an antidepressant. There might be stigma there, but there is no shame with God. He sees and cares for you. Grace and peace to you tonight.

  9. I have recently become more aware that prayer requests in small groups, large churches or from the pulpit seem to surround items that can – hopefully, probably- be fixed. Pipe up with “I just don’t know where I fit in” or “I’m struggling to connect” or “I can’t seem to get victory over my thoughts” and you will quickly be in a position to be able to hear a pin drop in whatever room you find yourself. Often we don’t know what to do or say when the dilemma starts to get beyond items that can be x-rayed, operated on, or removed. I have heard a loved one say they wish so badly they could have a surgery to fix what ails them; they would wait in line for any procedure that could cut out the negative thoughts, emotions and anxiety in their life and replace it with positive. So…..let’s not be afraid to share our real struggles. Those are the ones that especially need to be heard because those that carry them often suffer in silence. And then amazingly, in the bold sharing, there’s a good chance that we will quietly hear another voice sitting beside us say, “Really? Me too….”

    • So true. We want tidy answers and quick fixes. We want the solutions and the steps. Sitting in that tension, sitting in the dark, sitting with the questions? That’s harder. That takes faith.

  10. Dear Friends,
    Thank you for all your honesty. I too am experiecing more debilitating anxiety these days and wish we could share a hug.
    May Jesus surround you with beautiful and compassionate loving friends.
    Blessings , Magge

  11. I see you. I feel your pain too. I have a daughter who is 38. She was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at 15 and life has been a series of struggles for her. She has alienated her sisters and has no real friends and struggles to keep a job or a relationship very long. It’s heartbreaking for me as her Mom. I just want someone to befriend her that “gets it” and stays. I pray for her healing frequently. I fight my own battles with how I must have failed as her mom and try to “fix” the broken lonely woman she is.
    Yes I see you, and I pray you have someone nearby that embraces you just as you are Alia. I Pray for those who are willing to be there for you too because it’s extreme effort to love & befriend BPD’s.

    • I’m so sorry, I can hear the ache in your mama heart for your girl. This is so hard. I have several friends with close relative who have BPD and it’s been so devastating from every angle because of the things you’ve mentioned. And then, what’s left? Loneliness and isolation and grief over broken relationships. But you haven’t failed her. I wish there were easier answers and healing that looked the way you want it. I don’t understand all these things but I am holding you in my prayers tonight.

  12. I do not have a mental illness but I have witnessed family members and friends that have gone through or are going through what you describe. We are such visual creatures that when we see a cast on a broken leg we know what the problem is. We see a wheel chair and know what the problem is. But we cannot see the disconnects in the brain and foolishly think it’s ( the illness) all in someone’s mind. That is correct but not as in imagined problems but truly something is wired incorrectly it’s hard to connect with someone that sees the world completely different from ourselves BUT try we must. No one should fight these battles alone because that is where our enemy, Satan, wants us so he can destroy us. So my heart, my prayers, go out to you and others in your situation. Keep us honest and willing to reach beyond our comfort to see others with a heart like the heart of Christ, one of kindness and acceptance. God bless you for speaking out loud enough for us to hear

    • Thanks for your willingness to listen and learn and see what isn’t always visible.

  13. This is so beautiful in the most real, vulnerable, “oh my gosh there are tears in my eyes because you just wrote out what’s in my heart” kind of way. Thank you for reminding us all that we are not alone and that we are going to be okay. I am praying for more community for us all where we can be ourselves- all of ourselves- and love each other as He does.

  14. (((Hug))) Beautiful, courageous words. — Sweet Father God, I pray these words search out the ones who need to know they’re not alone. One by one, as if to the ark, I pray you’ll bring them here to this table set so beautifully with honesty and vulnerability. Please offer hope and a newfound layer of healing to the many sweet hearts who’ll come and read and relate. The ones who respond, and the ones who don’t. Father, may your grace overflow into these hurting hearts, and may they leave this place with peace and promise and hope. And most of all…community in their suffering. In your precious name I pray, Amen. — xoxo ♥ ♥ ♥

  15. Alia,
    No illness should define the person. Thank-you for sharing your words that so beautifully remind us of that.
    Have a blessed day all,
    Penny

  16. “No one would say knee surgery just requires more faith, or that a tonsillectomy requires longer quiet times and more gratitude. But if she opens her mouth, she risks being told another way she’s failed at fixing herself.”

    THIS. THIS. THIS.

  17. Alia, what a deeply powerful post. And your writing (amazing!) draws me in…I felt like I was with you through every step, wanting to reach out and hug you and thank you at the same time. So many suffer in silence and it’s a relief to know that no, we are not alone, and we’re going to be ok. Blessings to you!

  18. Alia Joy….
    I love so much your gift from God to write and express yourself in such a vulnerable way to minister to so many. I’m also thankful for this platform to be able to share. Religion has just about destroyed all of us, but as all of us know, it’s our relationship with Him that is our lifeline. I’m learning at 70 that I am not in control. Some days it’s one second at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time. I’m praying that we all can continue to draw closer to Him, to receive his mercy and grace and breath of life for each day. May we all be strong in Him and the power of His might (whatever that looks like at any given moment) for each of us.

    • I love that! Yes, moment by moment. He is faithful. He is good. He is near. We are not alone. I am not in control but I can trust the one who is.

  19. Thank you so much for this post. The one place, church, you feel you should be safe is the one place that you dare not say nothing. Pastors preach we don’t know Jesus if your on Prozac or some other medication. They say you have a demon and need deliverance or how can you say you trust and have faith in Jesus and be at home all prozaced out. Sermons are done that depression is a spiritual problem, but not one sermon is done telling people with heart disease or diabetes or anything else that their disease is demonic or due to a lack of faith. As a new Christian many years ago when I first heard a minister preach on it I went home and stopped my medicine because I wanted Jesus to love me and I wanted people to know I love Jesus. But I ended up having to go back on the meds. Then my son was murdered in 2005 and I had a nervous breakdown and not only did I have major depressive disorder but now I had to deal with the terrible effects of PTSD. I too have been in a store with a cart of groceries and had to leave the basket in the aisle and run to my car. Still I can’t ask anyone in my church to pray for me because it would turn into a deliverance service to get the demon out of me. I have prayed and prayed for healing and although the doses have decreased I still need to take them. I’ve recently left another church because of the pastor’s continued remarks about people who have depression not knowing Jesus and having no faith or trust. Even when I contacted him I was told that I need to believe in the miracles of God. He would refer to people who had been healed from it at our church. If he only knew half of them were back on their meds but didn’t say anything. I asked him to at least follow his comments with a statement about not stopping your meds unless God and a doctor say to. He wouldn’t do it. My only prayer is that no one who is new to the faith and hears one of his sermons will stop their meds. And he doesn’t know that every time we hear of someone who received a miracle of being healed by God, I go home and wonder what am I doing wrong. I’m happy for the person who received the healing but feel like God is disappointed at me. As someone who was badly abused as a child, I still at 64, deal with hurt and pain of rejection and not being good enough. I thought the church was a hospital for sick people. I guess it’s not for people like us. God bless you.

    • Oh, sweetie, you need to find a new church! I cannot believe, although I know it’s true, that so many churches look down on this affliction. We have a lady in my church who has been struggling with depression and we all pray for her! It is NOT your lack of faith! Our Heavenly Father created you to be the person you are – mental illness and all – and HE loves you!! He sent His son to die for you! So you just go to your Heavenly Father and pour it all out to Him and let HIM tell you how you should fee! The church is supposed to be for the sick, but in our broken world, some are not. Keep looking until you find one that takes sick people in with love! Keep the Faith, sister!

    • Cherlyn, oh dear one. That is abuse. That is not of God. I hope you’re able to find a church that ministers to you. The church can be that and so much more. I have great hope for the church and I’ll never give up on it which is why I get so fired up about stuff like this, but I also have an inbox full of hundreds of emails over the 6 years I’ve been writing about mental illness from people who’ve been wounded and feel all alone in the world because they can’t admit their struggles with mental illness or that they need therapy or meds because their churches are so hostile to it. It’s a whole other injury to show up broken and end up shattered. Cherlyn, you have been through so much. It’s devastating. It is. You don’t have to pretend with God. You don’t have to be fine. You have permission to be kind to yourself because Jesus is. He is kind and compassionate and he sees nothing but his image when he looks at you. He is with you, even when you feel like you’re not enough. Even when you really aren’t enough. That is the beauty of the gospel. Like Patty said, Jesus died for you. Not for the perfect, fixed, healed you. For you, just as you are. I hope you find a place that truly ministers to your soul and doesn’t lay heavy burdens on people that God never intended.

    • Luckily, I am fluent in typo. You’re brave, Pam. You’re brave for writing it down and you’re not alone. Typo or not, I’m glad you felt free to do it.

  20. Being an anxiety sufferer myself, and having family with various mental illnesses including depression and OCD, I am familiar with these and so thankful you’re speaking out on this. I encourage you, and all who suffer from these illnesses, to do some research on Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It’s an autoimmune condition, and more and more studies are linking this condition with mental illness. It most definitely may not apply in every case, but it’s worth checking into.

    • Yes, there’s often overlap for people. It’s helpful to work with a good therapist and doctor to try to get the best diagnosis and the best treatment.

  21. This was so touching it made me cry today. I realize im not alone. I know God is always with me but somedays i feel do alone. When people look at me they say i look great. Thats just on the outside. Inside im a total mess. I have fibromyalgia the invisible illness. On a good day i can barely get out of bed. Bad days forget it. So many people dont understand a chronic illness. There is no cure.

    • Oh yes. I get this. The invisible ones are hard. The chronic ones are hard. The cyclical nature of good days and bad days is something I’m very familiar with. I write a lot about this in my book because it’s something many people don’t understand. How hard it is to hope when you feel all alone and the cycles of good and bad keep coming and you know you’ll most likely carry this burden for the rest of your life. Yes, no cure. Only enduring. I get this. I’m sorry, Valerie, this is hard. It is. But yes, you’re not alone. I’m glad these words met you today.

  22. You have beautifully expressed a place where many live or have lived, Alia; thank you!

    Even the word ‘illness’ tends to be isolating, as people either want to fix it, give recommendations about it, pray for it, or avoid it altogether in hopes they don’t catch it!
    And when people who care about us can’t ‘do’ something to help, they sometimes turn away, feeling that they’ve failed … sometimes blaming us because we’ve failed Them by not ‘getting better’.

    Even if I sat in a place surrounded by those I loved, who loved me, I often burned with shame because I wasn’t ‘healed’.
    Every time I made the terrifying choice to ask for prayer in my home group or to stand for prayer in church or walk up to the front altar with others for prayer, the reason I did was because THIS time might be the one time that got an answer.
    So many times, I imagined people thought ‘Isn’t she healed, yet? Again?’ but I was looking to touch and be touched by Jesus in the only way that would make a difference.
    I used the mental tricks, the scriptural reminders, and I buried myself in ‘oh ye of little faith’ and ‘must believe that he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him’ and ‘pray for them and they will be healed’ and ‘believe that you shall be healed’ until I was saturated and overwhelmed with spiritual failure and guilt, which only made me more hopeless.
    I longed for peace. I longed for freedom. I longed to have the weights removed from my shoulders and my mind…
    God knew, therapists and psych wards and medications could help to level me out at times, help me understand some of what I experienced, help me sort out feelings, but they certainly couldn’t heal my mind and soul!

    Despite the stigma or the fear, there is more inclusion and acceptance today than ever, as people like you are open and willing to share their experiences. There is much less old-school ‘pray it out of you’ mindset.
    I can laugh now, but when I was locked on a psych ward and my Mom came to visit me, she took me into a private area and tried to pray the demons out of me. I just prayed along with her, that if there were any demons, God would set me free from them and deliver me!! (Part of that was my inability to say ‘no!’, because then that would have made her all the more earnest and determined that I needed to have demons cast out!) Lol

    My hope and prayer for all who wade these waters is that our minds and bodies and souls would be surrounded by God’s acceptance and reassurance. That our deepest inner ‘parts’ would be able to accept his love in the place we are in at the moment.
    No guilt. No shame. No condemnation.
    Whether we are healed in this life or in the next, we are his.
    ❤️

  23. beautiful and brave post and comments. This community is a wonderful picture of God’s love and grace for each of us.

  24. Also when you are facing a divorce after 38 years of marriage and don’t say anything to others at church or bible study because you feel their judgement even though you weren’t the one wanting the divorce. Life is quite a challenge

    • Oh Jennifer, I am experiencing this now – high school sweethearts and 32 years later he plans on moving out next week. I’m terrified and feel so alone. I struggle with days when I feel I can do it (with God’s strength) to days like today where I am filled with anxiety and really, really struggling. How are you doing? Where are you in this process? Prayers for you….

    • Oh Jennifer, I am experiencing this now – high school sweethearts and 32 years later he plans on moving out next week. I’m terrified and feel so alone. I struggle with days when I feel I can do it (with God’s strength) to days like today where I am filled with anxiety and really, really struggling. How are you doing? Where are you in this process? Prayers for you….

      • I’m actually in a great spot right now although it’s one of those things that I read the writing on the wall. He’d “threatened” the separation 5 times in the past 7 years. It was only this January that it went a step further. I have a fabulous church with powerful sermons and have full support from my daughters (all who are grown). I don’t feel the anxiety that many do, probably largely because I feel like I was on my own for many years leading up to this. He stopped coming home after work most nights until after I’d gone to bed since before my youngest graduated from high school in 2010. I actually thought that this past December he’d make a change when he saw the depth of my faith life. He did, since in January, he moved on the separation. It’s all been at my expense and my moving out of our home which has been monumental. I’m getting through it and you will also. You have been on my mind ever since I read your reply. Our sermon tonight was great and if you get a chance, you would benefit from listening to it. It’s online at elevationchurch.org and the sermon title is Trapped in Nazareth. Stay strong, I’ll be praying for you!

        • Thank you for your reply, Jennifer. It helps so much to talk to someone who literally has been there. My husband and I were best friends and did everything together – he even stated it that way in pictures of us he’d post…until this January when I noticed a subtle change I thought was his typical job stress and he came home one Thursday in February and said he was done. A completely different person than the one I feel I have been married to all these years….an angry, scary person with no respect for our years together (comes home late, never tells me where he is, no communication, secretive…) He has shut off family (including our 2 grown girls) because while they love him, they won’t support this decision as it was never our belief or how we raised them to view marriage. He will not talk to any of his Christian friends and just wants to push forward. I’ve never been on my own and am terrified but trying to take those thoughts captive and remember that’s God has promised good to me and knows my needs and will not abandon me. We are working on a separation agreement now …it’s just heartbreaking – I never thought I’d be here at this stage in our lives. No one understands this or where it came from. I’m so thankful for my church and my Christian friends (and those like you that don’t even know me but are there to offer wisdom and comfort). I will check out that sermon and so appreciate your commenting back. Some days I feel I can do this and then the very next day (or hour) I feel completely overwhelmed with fear – it’s a horrible roller coaster that is utterly exhausting. Blessings to you, Jennifer ….

  25. Alia Joy, thank you so much for being so honest. Nothing should define who a person is or what they suffer from. I am a very shy person who doesn’t like to be around people I don’t know and it is very hard for me to speak in front of a crowd. I have friends here at work but none of them really talk to me or when I was in the hospital 3 times none of them came to see me. They didn’t even call to check on me. They all do get together after work and they don’t include me. This makes me feel so alone all the time. Then when I’m at home, I feel even more alone. My husband drinks, so when he comes home he gets a beer. I even eat alone. My life has been this was for 34 years with my husband. But at work, it’s just been these last 5 years. I keep praying that God will help me not feel so alone. But I am still having trouble hearing God’s voice.

    • Gina, I am putting you on my prayer list! Hang in and follow Jesus with your whole heart and life. I’m so sorry!!!

    • Oh Gina, I hear the loneliness in this. I am so sorry you feel left out and alone. Hearing God’s voice is difficult. Are you in a church or able to meet with other believers at all? I’m always hesitant to ask this because I know there can be a lot of trauma involved in church experiences for people who are shy or introverted or struggling with other things so I am treading carefully but sometimes those can be places for connection and we can learn to hear God’s word best in community. I know church can be deeply flawed but I still believe it’s vital for our health if we’re able to join in to a loving local church.

  26. I really appreciated this writing!!! It also applies to when you know you don’t have a mental illness or depression but a physical illness that isn’t seen that affects the digestive system and internal organs and you look OK on the outside. And you have a dr nutritionalist because you’ve gotten no help from the medical field but are getting help from the nutritionalist. When you don’t know what to say or how to say it as people don’t understand but have the answers. Because they say you need to go to the medical dr, you are depressed, you are lazy, you need to learn responsibility…. When what is happening is the physical issues along with Lyme’s gives extreme chronic fatigue and pain. It’s not an easy life to suffer so much but need to not talk about it much or know who and what to say. I will pray for you!!! I’m so sorry you need to go through this!!! Hang in and keep serving Jesus!!! ME4Jesus

    • Yes chronic and invisible illnesses carry much the same stigmas and people don’t get it. I hear you.

  27. Thank you for sharing this. I’m past the point of hoping someone/anyone will realize that I just need someone someone to understand. That I can’t just be happy or get over it, or deal. Each day, I struggle to breathe, carefully clawing my way through step. I’ve been told that “it’s to much effort to be my friend” and I’m “way to needy”, so I don’t share or ask for anything from anyone. I just want everything to end.

    • Hey Tracy, I know you may not be really saying you want everything to end and that those words can mean so many things, but I also don’t want to take those words lightly. As someone who has struggled very intensely with suicidal thoughts at times, and have needed medications and therapy, and not just prayer, to help manage those seasons of debilitating depression and bipolar, I want to make sure you are being heard and that you know you are not alone and there is help available. I’m going to leave this number here 1-800-273-8255. It’s a suicide and crisis hotline and it’s confidential and free. Sometimes we really do just need someone to listen, and they can point you to resources for care if you should need medications and other help to navigate those feelings. There’s no shame in asking for help. Please, always ask for help.

      That said, I am so sorry you feel past hope of anyone understanding. I will say, I understand that. I have been told to be happy or get over or deal. I have been told to repent or pray more or choose joy. I have felt too needy, too raw, too invisible or too exposed. There are so many of us who understand that place but have gotten really good at pretending we’re fine. We’re expected to pretend we’re fine. I’m sorry you’ve been hurt by friendships and your needs have been too much. Your needs are never too much for Jesus. He desires our whole broken messed up needy selves and we don’t have to do a thing for him to love us beyond measure. When all else fails, when our friends are not enough, when the world goes dark, Jesus is a friend to us. The one true and unfailing friend to us. I pray for you today, Tracy, that you would know the unfathomable love and friendship of Jesus who will never think you’re too needy for him. In fact, he desires it. He loves you with an unfailing love. Grace and peace to you, Tracy.

  28. Thank you for sharing this. I struggle with accepting the nature of this reality, that I am someone who has anxiety and depression and that medicine is a reality. I have felt confusion and even anger at times as to why God would make me this way knowing it would be such a struggle, but I cannot rely on my own understanding and have to choose to trust him and be thankful for women like you who share their story. Blessings xox

    • Christie I struggle with this quite a bit. I have experienced some life altering situations in my life I believe has caused me to be this way. But I am also grateful because it has brought me closer to God and shown me that He is the only one that can help me with this. He is my Source in all things. I will praise Him at all times. Thank you for sharing your struggle this really encourages me to know that I am not the only one who goes through this.

      Thank you

  29. Feelings and emotions are deceptive, I am in no way judging because I know how a lot of these things feel. It has taken me a long time to realize how much our minds are a part of our soul, and been able to overcome a lot by realizing the attacks of the enemy and resisting them. Fearing other people’s criticism, failing Jesus or even fearing the adversary, isn’t helping us to have that sound mind He promised. Take the medicine, pray for it to be sanctified with no side effects, I’ll agree with that. Take that time to rest in Him, you need it. We may have reports and diagnoses we don’t like, but we can choose the Isaiah 53 report to believe. Actually, it is His mind that is sound, why we have to renew ours, and have the mind of Christ. No wonder many of us as believers feel like we are losing it, but we aren’t. Praying for you all, your hearts to be refreshed in Christ. Let’s voice His love.

  30. This is beautiful and helpful! I am highly sensitive and anxious, prone to depression at times. I have had Christian friends say my emotions were “too much”. Sometimes I feel misunderstood and alone. I firmly believe that those of us who struggle in this way also have so much to give, and we do! We are empathetic, we anticipate the needs of others, we are the listening ear. At our best, we are the Face of Jesus for others and they say so. All this comes at a cost, but this should never be the case among the body of Christ. You should never feel a need to hide in church. We need to fix this!

    For today, I see you. You are not alone. It’s going to be okay. You belong to God, Amen. Amen. Amen.

    • Yes, before I was touched with all of this, I was much harder, much more judgmental, much more closed off. But then I broke. My mind broke and with it, I became heartbroken. That heartbrokenness opened me up to empathy and compassion and grace in ways nothing else even came close to. So yes, it costs. It is a great cost. And yet, there is hope and glory and grace for this place too. I know it well. Thankful for your tenderness, Kerry.

  31. As I scrolled through all the comments above I stand amazed that by you going first, you opened the door for vulnerability in this space. I’m sure we all know someone or perhaps ourselves who live your story daily. Thank you so much for these beautifully written words.

  32. Thank you for sharing your experience – you see I am on of the silent ones because I am the strong one. All my life I was told I am the strong one. I am there for others but I have no one here for me. God has given me a glimpse of hope today .

    • You’ve been strong because you were told you have to be, you thought you needed to be. But there is so much strength in surrender. So much strength in weakness. We don’t talk about it, because it’s uncomfortable and messy, but it’s true. God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. This is hope for us all.

  33. Thank you so much for sharing this. I find myself being this person so many times. I see everyone else so well put together and I am a mess. I feel like I just can’t get things right. I sometimes feel so overwhelmed with life. What keeps me sane is prayer and reading His word. Thank you so much for sharing I was not aware that so many women experience this. I seem to always think its always me. Everyone is always so much better off than me. Thank you.

    • Nope. I’m right there with you. Yvonne, I have files full of hundreds of emails from women who feel just like this. Alone and wondering if they’re the only one. You’re not. You’re not alone.

  34. Alia, I love you so. I wish you didn’t live on the literal other side of the country from me so we could sit together over coffee. Thank you for your vulnerability. (And my little yellow bottle says Buspar on it.)

    • Seriously. I think teleporting should definitely be a thing. I’d love to sit and have a coffee with you, friend.

  35. Alia Joy,
    Thanks so much for the beautifully written words. Your sharing has given so many a chance to open up and share in a safe place where we care, we pray, and we lift each other up. My first job out of high school was in a mental health clinic. It’s heart breaking to hear that many decades later, the stigma is still there. To all who have said “I am there” and the ones who are still silent, you show your courage, love, and overcoming stresses by showing up to life every day. To that I say CONGRATULATIONS and GOD BLESS.

  36. Thanks for this post. Sounds a lot like my life, I suffer with chronic pain (not fibro but result of spinal stenosis in neck and condition that leaves my muscles on edge in my neck) I am walking so I praise God daily but sometimes the pain from the neck to my toes and brain fog is so bad that I cycle back into depression. Trying to keep a smile on your face is physically and emotionally exhausting sometimes. I have been told to “suck it up, at least you don’t have cancer” The Stephens Ministry leader told me no one wants to know my troubles, if they ask, say I am fine and move on. If I need to complain I can get a Stephens care minister to listen. Basically, she has already caused one lady with a major chronic nerve issue to leave and she recommends I find a different church. Now I worship if I have the energy after Sunday School 2 year old teaching or I go home and listen to Christian music, if I stay for worship, I leave immediately without talking to anyone lest I inconvenience someone.
    Ladies, thanks for listening. I will keep you all in my prayers.

    • I’m not familiar with this ministry but it doesn’t seem like a very healthy place for you if they’re saying things like that. Do you feel a need to stay there? God never asked us to keep a smile on our faces when we’re in pain. That’s called lying and I’m fairly certain, he was against that. If you read the Psalms, you’ll see just how honest we can be with God in our pain. I’m worried you’re in a place that is going to continue to hurt you.

  37. I’m so grateful for this post. I also have bipolar disorder and take medication. I have endured many hard things, but mental illness is by far the hardest. I never knew I could experience such extreme highs and lows. I didn’t know that in my worst moments I would doubt my salvation and God’s love for me. I have to have the Word in my life, because I am not able to count on my own thoughts or emotions. The stigma that surrounds mental illness in the church is heartbreaking and soul-crushing, and it’s the deepest prayer of my heart that the Lord will bring about more compassion and understanding. Though I attend a great church, I still struggle with feeling safe in community. Most often I don’t, but am pursuing counseling to hopefully be able to live authentically with my identity rooted in Christ. So, I’m grateful for these words and for someone willing to be honest in their struggle. Thank you!

    • Yes, it is hard. I can relate to all of the things you said. It’s my hope that by continuing to push into these stereotypes and stigmas, people will either learn compassion for others or have some more for themselves if they’re struggling with shame and silence. It is hard not to feel safe in community. I agree. Thanks for sharing a little of your story with me, Natalie.

  38. Alia,

    You are a brave woman. You are an artist. Your art is your words and this blog has been your canvas. I applaud you for being courageous and sharing your heart in vulnerable ways.

  39. Alia,

    Thank you so much for coming forward. The Christian community puts a stigma on psych issues. The mind is a part of the body just like the liver, heart, etc. Sometimes it doesn’t function properly. I know. I saw both my parents have dementia/psych issues. There was nothing spiritually wrong with them. I am saddened that the church puts a stigma on psych issues. Life down here is hard & sometimes you just lose it. I wish more Christians would take off the masks & be real. Open up & tell us what is wrong. No you don’t need more faith or pray harder. That is pharisaical thinking. They always thought someone had sinned if they had any defect in their body. Wrong! God loves us all unconditionally! I do also!! Praying for everyone going through any psych issues!

    Blessings 🙂

  40. This. Is. Me. I wish it was easy, unfortunately it is not. I’ve been on antidepressants for almost 15 years and due to an adverse reaction to one, I probably will be for the rest of my life. It’s hard to explain to people.

    • I lift my friend Gail here to you father.
      Help her to know she is never on her own. That you know every thought and feeling she has every moment of everyday. Pls God draw ppl around her to comfort support and just simply love her. In your name may she be built up and have a testimony of how you have worked in and through the tough stuff in her journey. Give her peace and joy which comes truly only from you. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases His mercies never come to an end” Lamentations 3v22. Bless u dear one xx

  41. Alia your words describe my household so well. Thank you for sharing so openly. I just recently checked out Depression and Other Magic Tricks at my library (poetry) because sometimes I just need to read a fellow friend’s journey through it to remember I am not alone. xoxoxo You bless me so much.

  42. If anyone reads this could you pls pray for me. I am trust God with every ounce of my being, but am in a v long and tumultuous storm. God knows what I need. Thank u sisters in Christ x

  43. Rarely have I felt so known in one single article… thank you for your transparency, honesty and tender ministry through words. You will never know just how many women needed to read this! Truly God is using you in mighty and far reaching ways to be a light and to share hope. Wow… I’m just so glad a friend shared this with me!

  44. so beautiful, pertinent, and real. Thank you for sharing your heart. And for bringing to light the fact mental illness can and does impact all.

  45. Thank you for your courage and openness in sharing your heart, Alia Joy. I have gone through breast cancer, and mourned 2 unexpected family deaths within the past 3 years. Since I now cannot have any hormone replacement, and must also suppress hormones, it can make feelings and emotions difficult to deal with. Sometimes the happy and sad seem to cancel each other out, and I just don’t feel anything. But, I came across this text when I was going through cancer treatments/surgeries. “As they go through the Valley of Baca (weeping)….They go from strength to strength.” Ps. 84:6,7 ‘Strength to strength.’ It implies consistent, timely, steady strength. I picture it like stepping stones across a river. Sometimes I see the gaps, but the next stone (dose of strength) is in place for the next step. I have claimed this as a promise, and although I’ve had (and sometimes still do) extremes – panic, anger, acceptance, feeling brave, falling apart – way, way down deep, I know I will be ok, and God will get me to the next dose of ‘strength.’ And how He will provide that help and strength, whether through medication, people, a miracle, counseling, or by some other means – I have to trust that to Him. God is using you Alia Joy, and so many others that have posted here, to be His hands and feet and voice in a hurting world. Thank you. Courage.