My pastor’s sermon this past Sunday certainly made me think about my mental health advocacy, both advocating for myself as well as advocating against the stigma of mental illness generally.
His sermon talked about a passage in the bible where Jesus was confronted by a Canaanite woman who was shouting because her daughter was being tormented by a demon. Jesus at first did not answer her, and his disciples asked that he send her away. Yet the woman persisted and ultimately Jesus healed her daughter.
Being tormented by demons is, of course, plenty familiar to anyone who battles mental illness. Indeed, severe mental illness during the time of Jesus was likely viewed as demonic possession. And even Jesus, the one without sin, was not immediately responsive to the woman’s pleas. Yet the woman persisted.
And if the woman needed to persist with Jesus, imagine how much harder the rest of us must persist to get the attention of a society that seems too self-absorbed.
However, the point that the pastor first made was that people tend to be somewhat adverse to those who are too loud or who are too pushy. And it is true. When someone is shouting, it is not something we often want to deal with. And it is likely this same thinking that causes us to not want to be too loud ourselves, too abrasive, for fear it will push people away. Yet like the woman in the story, we must persist when it comes to our mental health.
I know this is advice I am often not good at following myself. So part of the purpose of this post is to remind me that I need to advocate for myself. I need to be loud. It isn’t about convenience and it isn’t about trying to get myself to fit into what others would like. Because there will always be people who fall away, but there are also people who will come when you shout, ready to be allies alongside you in your battle. Those are the important people, the people who you want in your life.
And it is curious that despite our aversion to people being too loud, we all plunge headlong into a rat race through a society that is too loud, too chaotic, and too self-absorbed, especially these days. And it is precisely because society is so loud that those of us advocating for an end to the stigma surrounding mental illness must also be loud. Otherwise, the stigma will silently continue, buried by a society too noisy to notice, and too many will continue to suffer because of that stigma.
And I recognize that not all my readers are religious. And I respect that. My faith works for me, but only you can answer the question of what works for you in your battle. Yet this message, this message of being loud, being persistent when necessary, has so much value in our daily life that it was too important in my mind not to share.
So thank you, as always, for reading. Be well, and if you need to be, be loud. Be heard.