May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Some people assume they are well mentally because they do not have a diagnosed mental illness, they do not use illicit drugs and they don’t take medication for depression or anxiety. And, this may be true for many people.
Recently however, life as we have known it has changed. COVID-19 has infiltrated almost every area of our lives-jobs, school, activities, caring for our loved ones, being able to grieve well, even our ideas on what our future holds. It is a different time, one that can make us fearful, lonely, anxious and mad.
For me, it is a time to retreat. If I can just read a good book, delve into my Bible, watch some mind-numbing television, pretend that my life is just fine and take seven naps a day, then I do not have to think about what is really happening in the world and inside of me. I am not one of those who assumes I am mentally well because I do have a mental illness and I do take medication for my depression. But I am certainly one of those who pretends to be mentally well.
One of the healthiest things we can all be doing right now is…talk. Not the, “how are you–I am fine” talking, not even the “we are going to get through this together” talking, but the “down in my innermost being I really don’t want to talk about it” talking. It may not even have to do with COVID and the changes in your circumstances this pandemic has brought. It just may be something that you have hidden for a long time that needs to come out so you can start healing.
Some of us have great friends and family that allow us to share ourselves, who pray with us and encourage us. Many have built a support system within their church or organization. Others of us have found a great counselor who asks some tough questions and make us think about what needs to change.
What about those of us who have no one? Well, in Montgomery County, there is always someone. There are national and state organizations. We have a mental health department that is willing to talk with you anytime, day or night. We have many pastors who are not only great listeners and pray-ers, but also know of resources and can help you connect. There are counselors in our area that truly care. And there are people who are in their own recovery process who will listen to you, not judge you and will respect you.
So, do you want to talk–really? Do you want to really talk? Let someone know. Let family or friends or the mental health department or your doctor or a pastor or a national organization or Cross Over Ministries know. They won’t have all the answers. They definitely won’t be your answer, but letting someone know is your first step in getting help. And getting help is your first step in gaining hope. And hope allows us to see life from a different perspective even if our circumstances don’t change.
I think I am going to really talk to someone this week. How about you?
Linda Liebscher is president and one of the founders of Cross Over Ministries, a Christ-centered community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities through hope, opportunity, mercy, and encouragement.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741-741
NAMI Helpline: 800-950-NAMI or email firstname.lastname@example.org
National Domestic Violence: 800-799-7233
Illinois Warmline: 866-359-7953
Mental Health America of Illinois: 312-368-9070
YouthLine: 877-968-8491 or text teen2teen to 8399863
Montgomery County Mental Health: 217-532-2001 in Hillsboro, 217-324-3430 in Litchfield, crisis line 888-324-5052
SAAD (Stand Against Addiction and Drugs): 217-630-2105, Website email@example.com
Cross Over Ministries: 217-710-5332 or 618-210-0313, website www.crossovernfp.com