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Okay, full disclosure time. Part of my absence has been from busy work and just how crazy life can get, but part of my absence was from something else. I've been reconnecting with the religious and spiritual aspects of my life, and I was having a hard time reconciling how I could be a blogger, one that everyone could read, and talk about things important to my life. Just last year, I would've immediately left a blog if religions were mentioned, so I know there are people like that out there. What happened last night (don't worry, not a revelation, epiphany or exorcism) made me realize I needed to talk about some things.

On Monday nights I attend an on campus ministry at school, which is supposedly non-denominational. Being in Texas, things tend to be a little more conservative than I would like, but overall, I really like what I have experienced. Last night the guest preacher talked about narcissism--which I think we can all agree is very bad, but then he said something extremely alarming to me. The pastor began to talk about how the cause of depression and other mental health issues such as anxiety were rooted in narcissism and how we (as a generation) think to highly of ourselves, and how this causes mental illnesses. 
No. I'm sorry. No. Maybe it's because I know many people affected by mental illness or maybe it's because my political science research is based in attitudes towards mental illness, but I find this is an unacceptable thing to tell a collegiate audience. Studies have found the age for "trouble” with mental illness is 18-23 for girls and around 20-24 for boys. This age group was exclusively participating in the on campus ministry.
You cannot, as a person, as a leader responsible for pastor care, as an elder member of a community primarily comprised of students aged 18-24 that the reason they feel the way they do, the reason they are depressed, anxious, not eating, not sleeping, thinking of committing suicide, is because they think too highly of themselves, because they think they are too important. 

I tried to listen. I tried to keep an open mind. I eventually had to leave because I couldn't listen anymore.

Is acknowledging mental health issues and Christianity mutually exclusive? I don't believe they are. To me they are not. 

When will we get to an age when people universally realize that mental health is as important and as legitmate as physical or spiritual health? 

I don't know the answer to that question but until we get some answers, I have some things here for you, my readers:

If you are depressed, anxious, battling body image issues, whatever, please go speak to someone you trust. Go see a counselor. Suffering is not a requirement in life so don't make it yours. Things don't have to be as hard as they are. Mental illnesses are real. Mental health issues are real. They don't come from your narcissism, your sin, whatever. 

They. Are. Real. 

If you ever need anyone to talk to, please feel free to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
 


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