Confessions of Someone who Grieved over Mental Illness

Hey everyone, I’m Angela, my passion is to break the stigma of mental health issues among fellow Christians. I’m here to help you live a life of purpose—in your relationship with God and with one another. Please subscribe to my channel so we can connect on these important issues that affect your everyday life.

Today we’re gonna talk about: Grief and Mental Illness

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness (What is Mental Illness?) or have a family member who has, you will face all kinds of emotions surrounding how this diagnosis will affect your life. You will probably be angry, confused, sad, overwhelmed, discouraged, and eventually hopeful, because there’s definitely hope for fighting mental illness.

But there’s a sneaky little emotion that caught me off guard a few years ago and it knocked me flat on my back: it was grief. At first I had no idea what was happening.

That spring, I remember staring out of the kitchen window at the all the beautiful flowers that had always made me smile, and I just didn’t care. I was paralyzed by fatigue. I felt like I had been outrunning the oncoming train of weariness for months, or maybe years and I was undone.

Lying on the couch one morning, I looked at our pendulum wall clock wondering how I was going to make it through each passing hour. It seemed impossible. So I just laid there.

I’ll admit I’m prone to overanalyzing so I ran through the usual list of culprits. I was eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. I shouldn’t be so exhausted. I didn’t have diabetes, a thyroid problem, low potassium, anemia…what could it be?

I couldn’t figure out the cause. But there was clearly a crisis, because I wasn’t functioning. Have you ever felt so drained that the thought of going through the motions of your everyday life seemed impossible? That’s where I was. I knew something had to give when I started wishing I could avoid people, and I’m the queen of being an extravert. I love people! It was all just too much. I needed to give myself a little grace and ask for help.

Michael and I had done this before as a couple, but this time, I needed to pull out all the stops for myself. I called in my family, my friends, a counselor, and spent many hours unwinding my emotions in my journal with God. I cancelled everything I could cancel and slowed down.

Throughout that process, I discovered that I was grieving. Grieving over my husband’s diagnosis with Bipolar 2 disorder and all that that meant for our marriage, our life, our children, and our dreams. At the time of the diagnosis I was just so relieved to get help and healing that I had never stopped long enough to address my deeper feelings. I was so focused on the tremendous obstacle my husband was fighting, and his own grief over the diagnosis that I had dismissed my own feelings as less than important.

I had great expectations for our life and plans that have been altered due to this illness, and I had never grieved the loss. I had never come to Jesus and said, here are my broken dreams, thy will be done. I can’t fix this; I can’t figure it out. Instead, I had bottled it up, put on a brave face, pressing on, grateful, but broken.

As I started working through my grief I realized the power of surrender. I can’t control the unpredictable nature of our lives, but I can be honest about its effects and process the grief.

I’m passionate about sharing this truth with you NOT because I have it all together, but because it’s vital to acknowledge our grief, whatever the situation. There is healing through this journey. So be gentle with yourself.

Isaiah 53:3 talks about Jesus being a “man of sorrows…acquainted with grief.” He knows our pain and He cares.

Question and Action Steps:

How have you learned to process your grief and other emotions related to mental illness? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

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