Supporting good mental health – Rachel

Rachel thank you for coming to talk it’s
really good of you. We’ve talked a lot about your challenges with mental health
and the way in which this relates to your faith, can you tell us something
about how you became a Christian? I sort of grew up in a Christian household and we went to church and Sunday school. And somewhere sort of in around the age of
about 10, I probably started to think about my faith for myself and spend more
time in sort of into my early teens spend more time actually looking at the
Bible myself and making sense of it and so I guess that’s probably when it
became my own belief. And during or after that time you had some real struggles with your mental health can you tell me a bit about that? I guess sort of going
through school the kind of usual anxieties of school life were sort of
rocking me quite a lot. When I was sort like 17, I started to kind of fall
into the grips of an eating disorder and I think kind of retrospectively for me,
there was so much going on inside me that I didn’t understand and I
didn’t know how to articulate it but in a kind of subconscious way that was me
sort of communicating to the world that there was something going on I didn’t
understand that you need help with. I had a voice in my head that was telling me to do a lot of destructive things to myself and my physical health, my weight
was just dropping and dropping. And I started having sort of nightmares
and flashbacks to some childhood trauma and that I didn’t understand but I kind
of I figured that it was probably something that I just needed to share. So generally your peers in church were helpful,
they were understanding. Were there any people who didn’t understand or who responded in an unhelpful kind of way? Yeah, I think there were definitely some people and some things that were said that really weren’t helpful. So being told that I needed to believe certain things, that I needed to pray more, that I needed to have more faith, that I needed to forgive. – Lots of things you needed to do.
– Yeah. Just kind of built up a pile of me feeling more inadequate and feeling less welcome in a church. And certainly less able to talk about what I was experiencing because my problems were dismissed. Or how I saw it as if I was a better Christian I wouldn’t be feeling the way I was. – You wouldn’t be feeling like that, so it is your fault.
– Yeah so it was my fault, so then it built up on this guilt. But actually you found your faith quite helpful didn’t you in getting through all of this can you say a bit more about how your faith helped? I guess what was
real and what was not real had become so warped in my head.
What reality was and what it wasn’t I was just so confused about but
I knew that there were truths that I could hold onto and I
knew those truths were that I was God’s child and that’s
how he saw me and that what happened in the world couldn’t change that
and I had that relationship with God and so I knew that that was the case
I didn’t believe it a lot of the time but I sort of kind of clung onto that
through a lot of my ups and downs and that was a foundation on which I
was able to build a recovery. The world is such a messy place and we are messy
people but the story of the Bible is Jesus coming in among that mess
and loving us despite. Thank you for all you’ve shared, you’ve been very
honest and open about your experiences. If there were one thing you could say to
the church, that would help the church to respond better to others in a situation
like yours what would you say to them? I would just say listen and value people
where they are. Telling someone what to do or believe is nine times out of ten not really helpful. Yeah it’s just a case of getting alongside
people and believing their stories. And asking them how they can help.

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