Saturday was the first time I stood face-to-face with real people and talked about the real struggle of mental illness. I didn’t just focus on the pain, but rather how to abide in Christ in the midst of it. I haven’t always been so open, though. In fact, I swore I would never do such a thing.
I remember sitting on the cold floor, hidden away in a tiny room in our apartment in Istanbul. Feeling the isolation of living abroad, I reached out to a therapist in Oklahoma by way of message and told her I thought I might have PTSD. That alone was out of character for me. I explained my symptoms and she confirmed my guess was correct. It would later be diagnosed by a string of doctors, but her initial thought of yes, PTSD was present, was crushing to me. I was in denial and angry. I was embarrassed and so full of sorrow.
I was ashamed.
I FaceTimed my closest friend and can remember a few tears escaping as I did my best to choke them back. All I can remember from confiding in her, was “PTSD” coming out of my mouth...out loud.
But here’s the deal. When we hide, it’s not only damaging to ourselves, but satan delights in the secrecy. Darkness encloses the problem, creating a dungeon of gloom that holds us captive from the help and hope that is available. Our minds tell us to hide, convincing us there is no hope. That is a lie. When we escape the torturous, dark stronghold of the enemy and decide to hide in the light-filled stronghold, who is our Lord, healing begins to take place and hope infuses us with joy, perseverance, and even purpose.
As I stood in front of those women on Saturday, God, the Lifter of my head, reminded me that “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed” (Psalm 34:5).
Pray that God would help you stop hiding. Find a trusted friend to confide in. Talk to a pastor. Call a therapist. There are people who will listen. Coming out of the darkness has been absolutely rewarding, and I can tell you that as I stood and spoke to those women, the passion, purpose, and joy I felt as the words “PTSD” were spoken out loud was nothing short of a miracle.....a miracle you can experience too.