Seeking Professional Help
This year, for Mental Health Awareness Month we asked Disciples to respond creatively to this question: Where do you see God in your mental health journey? We received recorded songs, poems, essays, and other reflections from people across the denomination. This post has resources and content that will help in your journey of finding professional help. To watch our intro video about this series, watch it here.
How to Find a Therapist
Essay, Mental Health and My Faith by Robbie Peppers
My struggles with mental health issues began in college. Before then, I was completely faithful to my church and God. However, when I was going through the depression, the church hurt my faith by giving me platitudes such as “just keep praying to God” or “have faith in God” when I sought help. They did not seem to understand that since the age of twelve I had been praying and through faith in God knew He would and could answer my prayers. The church didn’t seem to understand that my mental health issues were not a result of any lack of faith in God
My prayers were answered when a secular friend introduced me to therapy. At that time, I did not understand it was the answer I had been seeking, but years later I realized God had heard and answered in His time.
I had drawn away from the church but still, my faith in God prompted me to seek a way to be in worship of Him. So, I looked to other types of religion and recognized a pattern in all the different religions I studied; They all believed in a higher power.
As I grew and matured, I also realized I very much missed having a church family. So still holding on to my faith in God and wanting a church family, I answered the call that God gave to me through prayer. An acquaintance asked me to her church revival, and I went. It was at that revival as the choir sang the Williams Brother’s song “Still Here,” that I knew God was calling me back to Jesus and the church. The song’s main lyric “through it all God kept me here” touched me; I had been following God’s plan all along. God had been with me through all the other religions, all the therapy, all the medicine that was helping me deal with depression, and He had led me through it all! Psalm 73: 23 says “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.” God had been holding me by my right hand all along.
Without learning that lesson at that time in my life, I would have not made it the rest of the way on my journey to come. Within two years of me joining the church again, realizing God had been with me all the way, the medicine I was on to help my depression stopped working. I went through 3 years of nothing but darkness. I lost my job, my home, and living in a town that I loved because I had to move in with my sister.
I did not give up. I knew God still had a plan for me, I just had to be patient while I figured it out. During my lowest points, I would sing the song that had changed my life and pray.
I believe God was with me when I called my sister to explain I could not take care of myself; He was with me when I resigned from a career that I loved; He was with me as I sold the house that I loved to move back in with my sister; He was with me as I tried medicines month after month with no success; He was with me as I went through the process of disability payments, to try to find a way to live on my own; He was with me when my new psychiatrist finally found the medicine that would work; And lastly, he was with me as I decided to start a path toward being a minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
I am thankful to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for being in my life. I am thankful for my church family who never gave up on me during the depression. However, I have learned that part of my path is to let other people and churches know how they can inadvertently hurt people who have depression issues by just giving platitudes instead of offering love, acceptance, and concrete information on how to seek professional help. This kind of outreach will help those dealing with depression not feel as though they are somehow responsible for their biological mental health conditions. My hopes and wishes are to shine a light on the patterns of useless cliches that are used when dealing with something they are uncomfortable talking about and to provide meaningful tools to churches so they may actively support their members who are living with depression. I pray God will continue to hold my hand and lead me in the way He has planned for me.
Webinar, Developing Mental Health Resources for Congregations
Additional Resources for Finding a Therapist
These websites allow you to put in zip code, insurance, etc. to find a therapist, support groups and other relevant mental health resources.