I learned a few lessons about mental health from people who have very few resources during the pandemic and have to find other ways to cope:
1) People are eager to learn. I’ve been privileged to travel around the world for my In Motion Counseling workshops. During the pandemic I have met with over 40 different nations and cities to teach on Zoom. In some cities, it is very difficult to attend these kinds of meetings, whether in person or virtually. Despite challenges, people come to learn and to share. Many arrive early and stayed late. Most took notes and asked great questions. A very important feature of mental health challenges is to learn as much as you can about your issue. Read books. Listen to podcasts. Ask questions. Read more books and articles. Knowledge is indeed power.
2) They come bearing gifts. I have never received so many gifts as when I travel to other countries. Coffee mugs. Baskets of fruit, candies, cheeses, and meats. Books about their city. Candy bars and cards. Giving gifts indicate a grateful heart. When we learn or receive from others, the natural response is to give back. The leaders in Central America sent me a certificate and two pounds of coffee! (this is quite expensive) Check out this article about the power of giving back and mental health.
When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him . – Matthew 8:14-15
3) They are well-connected to each other and their friends. Not only did the disciples show up communally, they brought their friends and family. Families were intact and people relied on each other. I sensed that this was not just a “church thing” but a life habit of theirs’. Building community while facing mental health challenges is a powerful healing aspect of our recovery.
4) They worship powerfully. Maybe it’s just the different cultures, but many disciples around the world worship powerfully. Drums, guitars, cymbals, loud voices, and hands lifted up in praise. I’ve been inspired. Lifting our hands, hearts, and voices to God during our challenges demonstrates a reliance and trust in the One who cares about us.
Acknowledging our challenges while worshiping changes our hearts and minds and is a powerful witness to others on the care and compassion of our God.
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness . – Psalm 41:1-3
As we finish our series on depression, allow me to summarize the route to getting better:
1) Recognize and own the problem. Spend less time on blaming yourself and others and more time on owning and solving your problem. It is energy well spent!
2) Create a social network around you for support. Find friends who care and can help– ask them to listen and thank them for doing so. Find someone you can help in the same way.
3) Educate and advocate for yourself. Read and listen to the experts. Knowledge is power and you will find yourself getting better as you learn.
4) Develop and execute a self-help plan with short- and long-term goals. Come up with your values, morals, and motivations to create plans. Some plans are shorter (hourly, daily, weekly) and some are lifetime goals. Keep them in front of you as you travel this journey.