Cue music, “Let’s give them something to talk about”… I have the song running through my head, and now I bet you do too! But what I want to talk about is not a fun, new relationship, as lovely as that sounds. I want to talk about mental health and while not the easiest subject, I love that we are talking about it. History and present-day pandemic statistics show that mental health issues are at an all time high. Many are suffering in silence and embarrassed to speak about their health challenges. When unchecked and not treated, mental health problems can worsen and possibly limit a person’s ability to live a fruitful life. Relationships suffer, performance at work declines, and self-esteem plummets. The downward spiral can be endless.
My Personal Experience
Mental health hit my family hard a few years back. My then husband started down a dark path of depression and anxiety. What I did not know at the beginning of this journey, which in and of itself is a gift from God, is just how long and difficult this path would prove to be. We sought support and treatment through medication, therapy, Church and lots, and lots of praying. Sadly, with every treatment center and change in medication, things seemed to worsen. We could not figure out the root of the problem which meant that we could not “fix” it. I watched a once seemingly strong, capable man crumble and could do nothing to stop it from happening.
Then, just when we thought we had hit the bottom, it felt as though the floor got pulled out from under us again. His mental health struggles led him back to addictive behaviors that we had thought were long ago addressed. And as truth came to light, as it loves to do, it became apparent that many of these behaviors never actually went away, they were just hidden from the light of day. Not seeing the truth is never a good strategy, as perfectly put in Matthew 15:14, “…if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” And into a pit we did fall!
Unfortunately, my story does not have the fairy tale ending. My ex-husband did not get miraculously better and piece our family back to the picture we once had. The root of the issue is still an unknown, or at least the details are for me, but what we do know is that there was childhood trauma. It was ignored and unaddressed for so long. This trauma was allowed to fester and grow until it could not be contained for another second, and then, BOOM, the devastation and breaking of a family began.
It is not an uncommon story, but it is a sad one. Our marriage ended and, in many ways, a year and a half later, I am still picking up the pieces and working towards healing and forgiveness. But for both me and my ex-husband, the end of our marriage is where I believe our true spiritual healing began. As my friend Father Dan said, “you need to get out of the way and let God do God’s work. You cannot save him.” Those words and the harsh reality ultimately saved us both.
So, Let's Talk About It.
In looking back on our journey, the talking is what helped me heal. Once I was able to put aside my guilt and shame for being in a broken marriage, for not seeing the signs of the breakage that was coming toward me like a head on collision, for not being able to “fix” it…. I could let God in to do God’s work. I sought comfort in loving friends, in daily mass, in the Bible, and I started living in the world again. I am still working daily in deciphering between my voice and God’s truth, but what I know is that when I hold on to the pain and try and go it alone, His voice becomes harder and harder to hear.
Jesus was sent into the world to save us and only in Him can we truly be saved. John 15:6-7 is a great reminder of this message:
“If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.”
Dear Lord, help me to be brave enough to share my struggles with mental health. Teach me to have a greater reliance on YOU and trust your voice to guide me through my hurt and fears. Amen.
About the Author
Kathleen is the Resident Managing Director for Aon in the Carolinas. She has over 20 years experience in risk management and insurance brokerage. She resides in Charlotte , NC with her two children. Kathleen has been involved in numerous charitable organizations for the betterment of society, with faith at the core of her drive and work. She was a founding board member of The Lilabean Foundation(LBF) to raise awareness and spread the message and hope of what new research can do to find more effective and less harmful therapies for pediatric brain cancer. She served as Secretary for LBF for 7 years. Katheleen is passionate about helping those who suffer and knows in her heart, that true healing is possible with God. She is honored to be serving on the board of Healed and Restored.