I'm about to say something that is probably going to bother you, but hang tight...
It has become a fad for people, most commonly millennials, to label themselves as suffering from a mental illness e.g. anxiety, depression, panic attacks, PTSD, etc. Can I just say this... if you have not been officially diagnosed by a mental health professional (i.e. a DOCTOR), you most definitely should not attribute any of those labels to yourself. I do not care how sure you are that you suffer from generalized anxiety disorder or that you are clinically depressed. If you believe you are suffering from a mental illness, please, for your wellbeing, go see a mental health professional and begin treatment, let your church family surround you in prayer and support, find a healthy hobby, stay connected to other people, take all your burdens to God as often as you feel their weight. Don't go this alone. Don't wait for things to calm down. Don't talk yourself out of it. Don't think for even one moment that you don't need help. But labeling yourself without a diagnosis only belittles those who are suffering horrific pain and increases some of the stigmas surrounding mental illness. I have had several diagnoses over the past decade concerning my mental health. Initially, I was diagnosed as having Generalized Anxiety Disorder and severe Panic Attacks. A few years later, we added Major Depressive Disorder to the list along with Insomnia. A few months following that, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was also on my diagnosis sheet. After seeing my doctor and therapist a couple of times a week for several months and changing medication after medication trying to find something to help ease the pain of these mental illnesses, we made a sobering discovery. I wasn't just depressed. I wasn't just anxious. I was Bipolar.
I. WAS. BIPOLAR.
Let me just tell you, coming to grips with that label was one of the scariest things I have been through in my life. If I accepted the label "bipolar", what would that say about me? What would that say about my faith? The story behind this journey and diagnosis is for another time, but tonight, I just want to share with you a truth God revealed through this time that altered my world and the course of my life.
Our words become worlds.
I came to know that truth in some very painful ways, but I'm a better woman for it. Proverbs 18 tells us that our words have the power of life and death in them, James 3 tells us that our words determine the course of our lives and if not carefully guarded, it can start a fire that will burn our world to ash around us.
Unfortunately, for a time in my life, I let the term "bipolar" become the focus of all my thought life and conversations with myself and a select few. It consumed me. I was speaking death over myself day and night. Because of my agreement with the enemy that I would never find balance, I would never feel free again, I would never find peace, I burned my world to the ground. I was on the brink of losing everything good in my life. The words of hopelessness I had spoken over my life had become the world in which I was living. The atmosphere inside me had become the atmosphere around me.
Whether it is because of a very real diagnosis or the trend of a generation, we make mental illness our friend. We invite it to come to hang out with us day and night. We give it much more attention than we give the God who heals. We agree with our lack, so much so that I would dare say we revel in our lack. We wear it as a badge of honor instead of embracing the truth that we were not made to be broken. We were not created to carry a design flaw. Brokenness entered the world through agreement with Satan in the Garden of Eden. Why are we still agreeing with him???
I have been diagnosed as Bipolar. It is a mental illness I live with, but it does not define who I am. You won't hear me talking all over Facebook about the anxiety it produces, posting article after article about the debilitating depression or funny memes about the insanity of a full-blown manic episode. Why is that? Because I do NOT agree with that destiny in my life. Yes, it's so important to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness, but it is SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT to introduce hurting people to a healing God! It is so much more important to inject HOPE into a hopeless diagnosis.
I agree with the destiny God himself laid out for me before time began. I agree with the HEALER who promises by his wounds I will be healed physically and spiritually. I agree with the God who created me for HOPE and FUTURE. I believe that death and sickness have no place in Heaven and I am a citizen of Heaven! I am a child of the Most High God. I don't have the time or the right to agree with the enemy that I am doomed to suffer, that I will always fear social situations, that answering the phone will always be a nightmare to me, that I will never overcome crippling depression, that I will always fear losing control during mania.
MY GOD IS BIGGER THAN THAT. Yes, He has allowed me to walk this portion of my journey, and perhaps the rest of my journey on this side of Heaven, with a diagnosis, but HE provides my stability and HE provides my hope. Instead of focusing and glorifying the pain I carry, I will focus on and glorify the One who takes my pain and bears my burdens. He can and will heal our sickness. He can and will bring strength to our weakness.
So friends, can we stop labeling ourselves "ANXIOUS PERSON" and instead take on the label God ascribes? Can we quit making our sickness more important than the Healer? Can we quit drawing attention to ourselves and our sufferings and instead draw all eyes toward Heaven to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine?
Let's put our faith to the test and start agreeing with God. I WILL NOT live a life defined by anxiety and fear. I WILL NOT live a life defined by depression. I WILL NOT live a life defined by a diagnosis. No matter how true it may be, the TRUTH is my God supplies all my needs. His resources are endless and He has and will move Heaven and earth for me.
If the things we say have life and death in them, I'm going to start speaking some life into my circumstances. If the words we say can burn our worlds to the ground or alter the path of our lives, I'm going to set my eyes right on Jesus, not my problems, and start agreeing with what He says about who I am. So, friend, are you with me?