|Gooseberry Falls, MN, frozen solid.|
Here is a clinical definition of Seasonal Affective Disorder from The Mayo Clinic. (You can read more about SAD by clicking HERE)
DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications.
My doctor is aware of my struggles, and he's very understanding. I'm also blessed with a literary agent who understands and encourages me. My family also helps tremendously.
One place I wish understood more about mental illness in all its forms though is the Church. "You just need to pray more." "You need to read your Bible more and claim its promises." "You need to examine your life for sin and repent." "You don't need a doctor, you need a pastor's counsel." These are all things I've heard said in church, or written by pastors, or blogged about by Christians.
I know I need to pray more. I know I need to read my Bible more and claim its promises. I know I need to examine my life and repent of my sin. For my spiritual health, first and foremost. But telling me that I need to be more spiritual to conquer mental illness is the same as telling someone who is blind that if they just prayed more, they'd be able to see, or someone who has cancer would be cured if they just repented of their sins.
Sigh. I don't know how many of these people have suffered from mental illness or had a close family member who has suffered from mental illness. I do know this kind of thinking has hurt many people, causing them to leave the church and seek out a place where they are understood and cared for.
There are a few things I wish believers would understand about mental illness.
1. Just because it isn't physical doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.
2. Just because you can't operate on it doesn't mean it isn't a sickness.
3. Mental illness isn't a character flaw or a spiritual failing.
4. Taking medication for an illness, mental or otherwise, isn't a sin.
5. People with mental illnesses aren't loved less by God.
Mental illness is a scary thing for most people. They don't know what to say, what to do, how to act. Everyone's experience is different, but it's always all right to ask how someone is doing and give them a word of encouragement.
|Gooseberry Falls, MN|
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