Here’s a wonderful guest post from Rachel Lane. In it she talks about keeping on, even when your mental health is wobbling. (Rachel is the author of a great wee book on depression, aimed at teenagers – and to be published soon. Rachel, please keep us posted!)
I don’t know about you, but some mornings I don’t feel much like getting out of bed at the moment.
Sometimes just the prospect of facing another day in lockdown seems overwhelming. Today looks exactly the same as yesterday. Yesterday looked the same as the day before. And the tomorrows seem to stretch out ahead of me, with no prospect of a change let alone anend in sight. Wouldn’t it just be so much easier to say ‘NO’ to this day…to roll over and pull my duvet over my head and let life happen somewhere else?
Or perhaps it’s the anxiety that is overwhelming you right now. It’s been said that we get anxious about things we can’t control, and if ever there was a situation in which most of us feel powerless it’s this one. Maybe we can control whether we ‘do our bit’ by obeying government guidance and staying home. But we have no control over the mounting death tolls, or the struggling economy, or when any of the restrictions that have changed our lives might be lifted. None of us know how long this is going to go on, and that alone is profoundly stressful.
If you are struggling with your mental health at the moment, know that you are not alone. This is a hard time for a lot of people. Even many of those who have been ‘managing’ their depression or anxiety well for many years are having to face new battles here, or revisit old ones. Many of the things that helped us have been stripped away. Maybe it’s the predictable structure of a school or work day. The focus of exams to work towards. The relaxation of time with good friends – before it was only through a screen. We’re all feeling that sense of loss…and all needing to find new ways through.
Here are just three small encouragements I want to hold out to my fellow strugglers today.
This too shall pass
Remember that this is a temporary situation. I can’t give you an end date; no one can. Only God has that information. But we know there will be one. This may feel like our ‘new normal’, but it won’t last forever. Not even close.
‘And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.’ (1 Peter 5:10, ESV)
Keep your focus short term
Jesus said it best. ‘Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ (Matthew 6:25-34)
This was the first verse that came to my mind when the social restrictions were announced. I knew that in this truth lay my only hope of getting through this lockdown period, with all the fear and worry and boredom and isolation it threatened to bring.
We don’t know what tomorrow or next week or next month will bring. God has only given us this one day to deal with. And he teaches his people today the same lesson he taught the Israelites who collected their daily manna in the wilderness. He gives us the strength we need for today. When tomorrow arrives, he will give us what we need then too.
One day at a time.
This day counts
One of the things that makes me feel depressed is when life seems to lack purpose. For some of us that’s what living through this pandemic can feel like. Perhaps your exams have been cancelled. Things that you were working towards or looking forward to have been postponed or scrapped. This time just feels so…pointless.
This is one of the biggest lies depression often tells us – but it is a lie. If you are a Christian, God has a plan for your life and it isn’t on hold because of the coronavirus.
‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ (Ephesians 2:10)
Those good works look different for all of us, and will vary during different seasons of our lives. If you are having a hard time at the moment, maybe those good works today will be things like getting out of bed and having a shower. Perhaps spending a bit of time outside enjoying the sunshine. Making someone a cup of tea. Simply choosing to say ‘yes’ to today after all.
This time and how we use it does matter. But not necessarily in the way social media might tell us. Maybe some people are using the time to learn a foreign language, sculpt their bodies in front of youtube workouts or organise street parties via Zoom. Well, that’s great. But it’s not what matters most. What matters far more than what you achieve during this time is where you will learn to look for help.
‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.’ (Psalm 121:1-2)
Learn to look to God for help today and it will not have been wasted.