Mental Health, Healing and Spirituality

Isaiah 42

Mental health issues are not rare, strange or due to a weak will.

With the constantly growing knowledge of how our brains – and genes – work,  “we” finally have proof that mental illness is just as normal and part of our physical biology as any accepted bodily illness.  Depression is just as normal as diabetes.  ADHD is just as normal as a broken bone.  While each illness is different, they all have a physical reality and are not made up.

Just as we see a doctor, specialist or take on a new health regimen to work through a physical illness, getting support or making changes for a mental illness is also a must.  In both circumstances, the “cure” is as unique as the individual.

Note:  Just because someone has a degree and certification, doesn’t mean they are “good” at what they do, are truly called to it, or are the right fit for you.  Don’t give up on a therapy because the first provider doesn’t work for you, but also, get recommendations before seeing someone.

Here are a few services that could work:

“Traditional” Talk Therapy:  Always a good go-to, especially when you are starting out on your healing journey.  Having a person who specializes in your issues will bring you a lot of insight into what you are facing.  I highly suggest finding someone who is certified in and good at EMDR, as this speeds up the process.  If you have a child who is having issues, there are many therapists who specialize with children, but also look into occupational therapy options which can access issues that a therapist can’t.

Journaling:  Write.  This is the cheapest, easiest option of them all.  Plus, you never have to share your writing with anyone.    However, just writing isn’t enough.  To constructively write to heal takes direction, effort, compassion and observation.  There are tons of books on the subject, as well as blogs.   When I journal, I often write as if in conversation with God, and somehow it makes a huge difference.

Pastoral Care/Spiritual Direction:  Pastors, chaplains and spiritual directors are a wonderful resource.  If you are early in your healing process, they can help you discern what steps you can take.  Please note, however, that they are not certified as “traditional” therapists and have limitations in that area.  Yet, from a spiritual perspective, they are an amazing resource to help you explore your faith questions as you heal.  Additionally, spiritual direction/pastoral care is wonderful for on-going maintenance and check-ins when more intense interventions are no longer needed.

Energy/Spirit Healers:  This is an area I have little knowledge about, but know it can work – as it has for me.  The scientific premise is that the memory of our traumas are recorded in our bodies, as our brains are actually a system of nerves that extend throughout.  These scientific “discoveries” are in-line with traditional Christian laying on of hands and prayer bringing comfort/healing to others, even at great distances.  If there is an area where you are stuck and other therapies are not working, give this a try.  If you are near the Twin Cities, check out Nancy Lindgren.

Animal/Nature Therapy:  Interacting with God’s creation is a source of healing for many.  Interacting with animals and getting out in nature are scientifically proven as beneficial to our mental and spiritual health.  Jan Dunlap’s new book, Saved by Gracie is a wonderful introduction of how animals can make a huge impact on our mental health and connection with God.  Personally, just being by or on the water immediately lifts my spirits and clears my mind (a smaller, calm lake preferable).  Anytime I can combine writing with being by a lake provides maximum healing power.  My sister loves to run, finding the experience outside amazing.

Friends:  Never underestimate the power of a healthy friendship.  Friends who are loving, supportive and honest can provide the support and truth you need to move forward.  The healing process can take years, and often has set-backs.  Friends can help you keep the momentum going.

Prayer:  Pray always, pray often.  Prayer is essential to healing as keeping the communication with God going is important.  God loves you, created you, is supporting you, and knows what you are going through.  In the depths it can be hard to connect with God’s Love, but as long as you can feel a glimmer of light, hold onto it with all your strength.

Prayers on your healing journey.  May you trust God to show you the way.

Related sites/posts:
Long list of integrative health training/resources in MN, and leads for elsewhere
Writing as a Way of Healing – a book review
Writing to Make Sense of the World
Writingto Heal
Heal by Writing about Your Trauma
Writing and Healing
Writing for Healing

May is Mental Health month.  Read my May 2014 posts if you are interested in learning more about the connection between mental health and spirituality.  Each contains some relevant links.  Also, click on an particular category or tag of interest.
Mental Health is a Spiritual Issues – post 1
Mental Health, Sensory Processing Disorder and Spirituality – post 2
Mental Health, Anxiety, Depression and Spirituality – post 3
Mental Health, Toxic Shame, and Spirituality – post 4
Mental Health, the Church, and Spirituality – post 5
Mental Health, Secrets, and Spirituality – post 6
Mental Health, Caregiver and Spirituality – post 7

About SFriant

I live to walk with others on their journeys - because everyone needs to know that they are loved, that they matter, and that they are doing amazing things. I'm a lot like our two kids: obsessed with learning, and constantly creating.
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