I asked God to give me the courage to seek help
Mth Pauline Smith, Team Vicar at Benefice of Eglwysilan and Caerphilly, blogs about her personal experience with anxiety and depression.
I suffer from anxiety and depression. Although for many years I have ignored this, stubbornly determined to carry on regardless. I felt that as a Christian and a priest in the Church in Wales, I should not need any help, that my prayers should be enough. Besides, what would people think of a priest who had mental health issues?
Would I be criticised for not having a strong prayer life, or perhaps a weak faith? I decided to hide my struggle from others as I felt too embarrassed to speak about it openly. I quietly battled against the negative thoughts and made sure to leave the house with a smile.
Eventually things got a bit too difficult, I could no longer control the inner scream. Going outside became harder and journeys difficult. Self-esteem hit rock bottom and my self-help mechanisms no longer worked for me.
During my private prayer, I asked God to give me the courage to seek the help I needed, thankfully prayers were answered, and I made an appointment with my doctor that week. I found that the appointment was not as I had feared, and my doctor was in fact very understanding.
God sometimes answers prayer in a way we least expect. In my case it was by convincing me to seek out help, using the tools God had already provided.
My hope is that the fear and the stigma attached to mental health issues will one day become a thing of the past, and that we will become more accepting and supportive of those who struggle with mental health.