Before I begin, let me offer full disclosure: I have suffered from depression and anxiety on and off for more than five years. Granted, my illness falls fairly low on the spectrum, but the fact that I’ve left a couple jobs because of the overwhelming experiences of anxiety shows you that this has caused a serious and ongoing struggle in my life.
For me, there has been no life experience more isolating and terrifying than the severe, debilitating moments of a panic attack.
I have been fortunate enough in my journey to be comforted and supported by loved ones–my wife, family, friends, counselors–in the midst of despair, many of whom were also members of the faith community to which I belonged.
But I am at the same time painfully aware that many who have walked the same journey through depression and other mental and emotional ailments have not experienced the same level of grace within their congregation.
While most haven’t been outright rejected, a common experience for many of us with mental illnesses is to feel marginalized, judged–or, worst of all, avoided–as if our ailments fall low on the priority list of concerns, they are a result of a lack of faith or selfish ignorance of the obvious blessings in our lives, or they create too much uncertainty, discomfort or risk to address. (more…)