On September 10, the world celebrated World Suicide Prevention Day. Around the same time last year, the world was hit with the news of a pastor who took his own life. This year, it happened again – we lost an advocate for mental health and pastor, Jarrid Wilson.
I was extremely devastated upon hearing the news. I followed his writings. I followed his advocacy. He was like a spiritual guide to me. His journey blessed me in many ways.
How I wish to have reminded him of the words he said: That Jesus will always have the final say in our battle.
But the whole experience of mental illness is horrifying. It’s life consuming and time constraining. It’s a tiring battle against the demons in our head. Opening up about our condition to loved ones is even more painful than finding out about it through a mental health assessment.
This has become my battle since my seminary days. As someone who has been struggling with depression for six years, I’ve been sidelined many times for my condition.
Most people don’t get the struggle. They don’t buy the reality. It’s everywhere – sadly, even in church.
Some would ignore our struggle. Some would tell us to brush it off and cheer up. Some would over-spiritualise it, telling us that we’re partly possessed or that there’s a generational curse that needs to be broken. Some would tell us that depression is a choice.
Depression isn’t just spiritual, but also physical.
These are all easier said than done, even if there are testimonies of people walking out from it through those means.
By 2020, mental illness is expected to take over the world by storm as the second-leading cause of disability after heart disease. The irony is the stigma remains in the marketplace and church.
Depression isn’t a choice. Depression isn’t something that can be suppressed instantly. Depression isn’t just spiritual, but also physical. But I can choose to be optimistic about my struggle with depression.
I can choose to see the hope of glory as Jarrid did when he founded an initiative called Anthem of Hope with Juli (his wife) to help others find hope in their struggles. I can choose to help people who struggle with mental illness.
I do experience bouts of depression even after completing therapy, but the sessions have given me the tools I need to live a life of joy even in depression. In the near future, I also hope to start an initiative for church leaders, missionaries, evangelists and pastors to develop a right coping mechanism in their battle with mental illness.
Even in the midst of despair, God can use it to reveal His glory and we, too, can experience Him even more. I see how God is revealing His glory, as the Church raises the bar in its outreach towards emotionally and mentally broken individuals.
I want to see Jesus having the final say of victory and hope in our battle with mental illness, whether it’s depression, anxiety, stress disorder, OCD, PTSD, binge-eating disorder or even schizophrenia.
I want to see people waking up to hope even if there’s a dark voice suppressing their thoughts and instigating the end to their life through any means.
I won’t let the enemy have the final say. I want to make use of the experience I have to give God the glory. Glory be to God alone!
Ezra Jalin is a recent graduate of St. Paul’s Theological College Malaysia (SPTC) and currently serves in Holy Trinity Bukit Bintang (HTBB) in Kuala Lumpur. A poet and spoken word artist, he recently authored and self-published Nephesh: A Poetry Zine, a compilation of poems and discourses on the topic of mental health, faith, self-worth and identity. He is also a missionary’s kid (MK), and is passionate about youth empowerment, apologetics and mental health advocacy.
- What are your perceptions of mental illness?
- How can you show love to someone who might be struggling?
- If you’re battling with mental illness, have you reached out for help?
- Are you able to see God’s glory even in the midst of despair?