Milk and Honey Magazine's article about self-harm, anxiety, and depression in the Christian world. Review anxiety, self-harm, and depression Bible verse and Christian resources!

Hope For Mental Health Pt. I

Katie Derango

"You’re not good enough. You’re too much. You’re hard to be around. You’re trying to get attention. You bring me down. You don’t love Jesus enough. If you have depression, you are not a Christian."

Unfortunately, these phrases are commonplace not just in the world, but in the heart of the modern day church. The place that’s supposed to be a haven of safety, for some, becomes a breeding ground of insecurity.

Anxiety and depression are taboo topics, yet they’re as prevalent as ever amongst our world. As one who’s struggles with both, I can attest that they are real even when you’re a Christian. If you have or are currently struggling with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction or suicidal thoughts... this is for you.

I was 17 years old when I started experiencing depression. I was in a relationship that was abusive, as well as going through a dark time with my family. To cope, I found myself self-harming. The pain I felt on the inside was so strong, it began to show up on the outside. It was a 5-year battle trying to find self worth that just left me in more pain and more hopeless than ever before. It was years of destructive behavior, self-hatred, guilt, condemnation and shame. My mind was telling me lies, and I believed them whole-heartedly.

The enemy saw where I was and attacked relentlessly. I was trying to fight back in my own strength, which led me into a deeper depression every time I failed. I couldn’t do it on my own, but I didn’t know that yet. I grew up going to church, hearing truth, but my mind would not let me even entertain those truths for a second. The thing is, our minds lie to us ALL of the time. My mind told me I was too far from God, too broken, too hopeless, unworthy, undeserving, unloveable, and that my sin was too great. In my mind, it was worse, and I thought Jesus could never love me because I knew the truth and I still did what I did (extra helping of shame right there). I didn’t think He could ever forgive me, and I knew I didn’t deserve His forgiveness and love anyway.

For years, I ran away from and fought God, pleading with Him to let me go, until one day, after years of God continuously running after me, I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I had nothing left to give. I was too weak to fight and had no hope. If it weren’t for God's grace, I would not be here today.

God has graciously given me people in my life who spoke truth over me, fought for me, prayed for me and believed that somewhere deep inside the person God created me to be was there. The truth I was hearing made it’s way into my heart. I knew that in order to live and heal, I had to surrender to Jesus, His way, and walk in HIS strength, not in my own. I gave Him my life and it changed everything.

I wasn’t automatically healed from my depression, but I've seen His love, His mercy, His grace and forgiveness. It didn’t matter what I had done, it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him. 

Looking back at every year and month that went by, feeling so alone, when it hurt to breathe, crying on the bathroom floor... God saw and was there, even when I didn’t feel it, making all broken things new. He is our hope and help, there is no hopelessness in Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 10:23)

Milk and Honey Magazine's article about self-harm, anxiety, and depression in the Christian world. Review anxiety, self-harm, and depression Bible verse and Christian resources!

There was and is nothing you or I can do that will make Jesus change His mind about us. We cannot out-sin the cross. The cross is greater, He is greater. Run to Him, accept God's grace, and rest in Him. Jesus laid down His life for you and me.  

In September of this year, after 3 1/2 years, I fell back into the trap of self-harm. I once again felt hopeless, unworthy, unlovable and like a failure. All thanks to Jesus, I had victory over self-harm, and yet I did it again. I was angry, I didn’t understand why I fell into it again, and I said to myself: “see its just who I am," which are lies straight from the enemy. NO, that’s who I was, until Jesus made me new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

After I fell my counselor said to me: "Katie, each scar has someone’s name on it that you went to instead of God." Woah, conviction fell over me and in an instant, I knew exactly how I got back to that place. We fail, and I fail, every day, but I serve a God who never does. He doesn’t expect perfection from us. He doesn’t see our mistakes, our struggle, or our sin. He sees and knows His completed work. He is so merciful, forgiving and loving. When you mess up, don’t stay there and live in it (Lamentations 3:22-23 and Isaiah 12:2). His mercies are new every morning, and they are all around us. His love heals every wound.

On this side of Heaven, we are going to struggle, and that doesn’t mean we are not Christians. Having a mental illness does not mean you don’t trust God enough or that you don’t love Him enough. It doesn’t make you unworthy or unlovable. Your identity is found in Jesus alone and in Who He says you are, not who your mind tells you you are. You are not your depression, your anxiety, your addiction, your eating disorder, your self harm, your suicidal thoughts... You were made in the image of God and are a child of the King. Nothing can separate you from Him. (Romans 8:38-39)

He can break those chains, so lay it at the foot of the cross and surrender it ALL to Him. Pray: "God, how can I use my pain to glorify You? Help me to believe and act in the truth that You are enough to break chains, not in my ability, but Yours. Not my will, God, but Yours." Give your life to Him, give your yes to Him. Seek first His kingdom, His will, and His purpose. (Galatians 2:20) 

Choose Jesus, choose life.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Milk and Honey Magazine's article about self-harm, anxiety, and depression in the Christian world. Review anxiety, self-harm, and depression Bible verse and Christian resources!

Katie Derango (right) is pictured with Milk & Honey Magazine founder Paige Weslaski (left). Katie lives in Racine, Wisconsin and works as a chocolate maker for her family's business, Derangos Pizza. Katie has a heart for serving women, children, and the body of Christ!