I’d had enough.
I sat alone, curled up in a corner with my knees to my chest. I didn’t know how I could continue like this.
I had done everything I was supposed to do: I was praying, I was reading the Bible, I was going to church and serving in ministry. I felt like I had given God all I had and still had come up empty.
I wanted to die.
I didn’t think my request for God to take my life was too out of line. Elijah had felt the same way. After facing opposition from Queen Jezebel, he ran away, sat under a broom tree, and prayed that he might die (1 Kings 19:4). He’d had enough too.
My mental health had been deteriorating for several months at that point. What had started out as anxiety had morphed into distress, depression, agitation, and fear. Through therapy, I had made progress in several areas. I was proud of that progress, but there was still something nagging at the core of my being that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
I clutched the necklace I was wearing as I pushed myself further against the wall, hoping it would suck me in. Taking some deep breaths, I tried to calm myself from the panic rising in my chest. What if I felt this way forever? I couldn’t handle this constant state of distress. I had tried to get better and failed.
Maybe it was time to give up.
God didn’t answer my prayer to take my life that day. He didn’t answer it the next day either. Or the day after that.
Frustrated, I looked at Elijah’s story again. God didn’t answer Elijah’s request for death either. Instead, He sent an angel to encourage him to get up, eat, and head out on a journey to Mount Horeb.
It appeared dying wasn’t going to be an option. For reasons beyond my understanding, God started doing for me as He had done for Elijah.
Elijah’s biggest complaint to God when he got to Mount Horeb was that he felt like he was all alone. He saw how Jezebel had killed the other prophets of God, and he thought he was the only one left. They were coming after him now, and he felt hopeless (1 Kings 19:10).
Likewise, mental illness can feel isolating. I didn’t want people to know I was struggling because I feared they’d think I wasn’t trusting God enough for my healing. For the people who did know, I felt they couldn’t truly understand, even though some of them tried.
But as God had done for Elijah, He brought me sustenance. My therapist referred me to a partial hospitalization program where my life started to turn around. I met many great people, some of whom were Christians too. I started to realize I wasn’t alone. For the first time in a while, I felt the beginnings of hope. I was still struggling, but I finally had a glimmer of hope to hold on to, and even though I was tired, I kept pushing through.
I truly loved God with all my heart. I continued to serve Him with all I had. Yet, I was still feeling distanced from Him. I knew He was being faithful to me, but I didn’t understand why He seemed just beyond my reach.
I needed to start looking inward. I wasn’t suffering because I had displeased God in some way. I knew my illness wasn’t born out of sin. However, I started to realize that there were parts of me I wasn’t giving over to God. I didn’t want to give Him my fears, anxieties, and insecurities.
I was afraid of being vulnerable with God.
Vulnerability is not something that has ever come easy to me. But I realized that if I wanted to take my relationship with God deeper, I had to let Him deal with the deep-seated things in me that I had hid from the world. I began speaking with Him more openly, letting Him dig up issues I had buried. I started being honest with Him on a level I had never been before.
For the first time in a long time, I started seeing a future again. I started dreaming of what it could hold. Before, I didn’t dare to think about my future because I didn’t want to have one. Now, I knew my future was secure in Christ, and I was finally excited about it.
When Elijah complained to God, God didn’t answer him at first. Instead, He brought him up on the mountain. Elijah experienced a strong wind, a terrible earthquake, and a blazing fire. He didn’t hear God in any of those. It was only after those calamities had passed that Elijah heard God’s still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).
God allowed me to go through those dark times the same way He allowed Elijah to go through the wind, the earthquake, and the fire. Just like Elijah, in the midst of those troubles, it was hard to hear God. Yet, I found that if I could just push through the darkness, hope was waiting on the other side. God reminded me I was still His precious servant, His beloved daughter, and He had never left me alone.
God has never left you alone. -@TinaLynnClark: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I’m so glad you pressed through and are here today to write about God’s goodness! Mental illness calls us to quit or to persevere (and by persevere, I mean in God’s strength, not our own). Perseverance produces character, and character, hope, and hope never disappoints. Even for Christians, mental illness is just that, an illness. It’s not a character flaw. It’s not due to a lack of faith or failure to pray hard enough. It can be caused by experiences suffered or a lack of good brain chemistry or both. For me, I needed to take medicine in order to climb out of the dark pit of depression, anxiety, and despair. The medicine enabled the dark gray glasses, through which I viewed the world and myself, come off. It helped me to be able to read God’s Word and actually be able to apply it to my life. To this day, I still need to take medicine (not as much), but because my body doesn’t produce enough good serotonin, it helps me be able to do life. Medicine and counseling (the best combo) is the best therapy, at least for me. Going without is like a diabetic going with out insulin…it’s not a crutch. If you are suffering, one in four people suffer from mental illness. Please seek medical/counseling advice because there IS hope. Take it from two of us who have been there. The blessing in this curse is that I, too, have seen that God never leaves nor forsakes us and He will deepen your faith if you lean into Him and fall helplessly into His loving arms. Thanks, Tina, for writing from such a place of vulnerability. Together, let’s erase the stigma so others will find help and hope as well.
Love this! Thank you Bev for your vulnerability and encouraging Tina! Mental illness is no joke. It is real. I’m not quite sure why, in a world when anything can go wrong with any part of one’s body (and it is accepted as such), it is so difficult to believe that something can go wrong with the brain and mind too. Satan can attack anywhere and anything. All parts of the body are broken and cursed by the Fall…that includes the brain and mind. I think attacking our minds is satan’s preferred method. Prayers for you as you battle mental illness!
Sheila Young says
I’m in the dark place again right now and your words are encouraging. I too have to take meds and just hoping they will begin to work soon.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Meds can take at least 6 weeks to get to a therapeutic level and sometimes levels need to be adjusted. I am praying you will begin to get relief soon! Praying for perseverance. .
Tina Clark says
Thank you, Bev, for your encouraging reply and for sharing your story! I’m glad we can be a part of continuing the conversation about mental health in the church. Keep persevering through God’s strength!
Ann Woleben says
Thank you for having the courage to share your struggle. Your words came at just the right time in my life. God is good. This morning He spoke to me through you.
Tina, I too suffer from anxiety and fear and have been feeling especially anxious and fearful the past few months. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your story gives hope. God bless you friend. ❤️
Michele Morin says
Even in this.
God is present even in the darkness, and I’m so grateful that you found grace to look for him, to take help, and to move forward tiny step by tiny step into the light. The church needs more stories like yours to reassure all the hopeless hearts that even this hopelessness is no match for the God who waits on the other side.
Teresa Halabi says
Thank you so much for sharing. This truly resonates with me and my current situation. It also showed me it’s time to seek counseling. Because of your experience, I can go forward with hope for improvement. God bless you:)
Tina Clark says
Teresa, I’m glad to hear you’re going to seek counseling! God’s got you, and I’ll be praying for you on your journey ahead.
In Beautiful Chaos says
Have you heard the song “Not Dead Yet” by Ledger? It’s a song written about battling anxiety and continuing to fight as long as we’re still breathing, and it’s one of my “fight” songs. Thank you for sharing your story, it really encouraged me.
In Beautiful Chaos
Ana C Harshaw says
Tina Lynn Clark~God morning from Redwoods Northern California…Thank you for courageously sharing your ‘Journey through mental health issues’. My husband has Asperger Syndrome and is on med’s going through therapy…I will share you’re knowing your future is secure in Christ…the beginning of life & eternal long journey. God Bless you for sharing~to Christ be the Glory. Sincerely, Mrs. ana (Christia-senior). Wed.6:56am Oct. 23, 2019, AD~In the Year of our Lord.
Thank you so much for sharing your story Tina! Anxiety and fear are real even without mental illness to compound them. I too struggle with these and depression and worthiness. But I know God has me here for a reason. Sometimes I just wish He would send me a text to tell me directly what He wants me to do! I also struggle with being vulnerable with God. I have this unwarranted fear that if I do, some huge calamity will befall me to test my faith. It probably comes from my history of so much loss and pain. I don’t want to go back. But I know moving forward in a new struggle will only strengthen me and draw me closer to Jesus. I know this in my head, but it is so hard to tell my heart! And push past the fear to the hope and light waiting on the other side. To push through to Jesus…and with Jesus, for that matter. Because even when it doesn’t feel like it, He is always right there with us in the struggle. Prayers for you as you continue to live out your story and push through to hope in Jesus!
yes that still small voice.. amazingly that is a huge part of the Jewish peoples faith too still today & taught early in life so when that darkness comes people turn to hear that still small voice. it never fades or leaves …
I was thankful to hear your story and how you kept pushing and figuring out what it was until you found to fully surrender to God.
keep encouraging other women who need to hear how great he is and that he does hear…our healing has already been paid for on the cross.
Thank you for sharing this, Tina! I needed to read it today. And maybe tomorrow. And the next day… 🙂
Thank you for opening up is so good to know that you’re not alone, that there are people who get it and been there too. God bless you!
Beth Williams says
God bless you for continuing the conversation. This is one that the church needs to hear over & over again. We need to realize that mental illness is no fault of our own. It is not a lack of anything spiritual. Like Bev said it could simply be a chemical imbalance in the body. Other times it can be something from the past that we “stuff” down. Our own brain’s wiring can get messed up. Any way you need to seek help either with medications, counseling or both. I strongly believe in counseling either psychology or psychiatry. There are times when talking with a trusted listener is the ticket to relief. I have a small glimpse into what some are going through. My dad had geriatric psych & was hospitalized twice. Hard thing to live through let alone watch a loved one deal with it. Like you I cried to God to just take his life. If this is how he was going to be then I didn’t want any part of it. Turns out God healed him with medication & gave me back my dad for 1 year. Then I believe a stroke rewired his brain & he ended up dying in the hospital. I am so thankful God kept you alive & allowed you to share your story here with us. More stories need to be told. This world, especially Christians, need to know & understand what you are going through. Praising God for the continued talk on this very important subject.