YouGov (an international, full service online market research agency) recently released the results of a survey asking, “How much discrimination do you think the following groups suffer in Britain today?” The results put the mentally ill at the top spot for discrimination:
The mentally ill are more widely seen as discriminated against than gypsies and travellers (62%), transsexuals (62%), immigrants (58%), Muslims (57%) or disabled people (57%).
It is a sad truth that discrimination exists against people with mental illness, whether it is as mild as anxiety disorder or as severe as schizophrenia. This kind of discrimination against mental illness tends to be sinister. Your friends may treat you differently and hide things from you because “you can’t handle the truth right now.” Or maybe you don’t get a job that you are more than qualified for because the employer doesn’t understand how to work with people with depression.
If you have a mental illness, then you’re confronted with a choice. You can either hide it or tell people about it.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:7 (NIV)
The Bible uses the light as a metaphor for honesty because you can see and examine something in the light, but when it’s in the darkness, no one can really understand what’s going on. This scripture says that if we live a life of honesty, we will make friends and find freedom.
When I was diagnosed with anxiety, I chose to be open with everyone I came across. What I found was that a lot of people around me were struggling with similar challenges or knew somebody close to them with similar challenges. That was really helpful, because I ended up finding a lot of perspective and support. While going to counseling, I realized that the more open I was with my friends about what I was learning in counseling, the stronger my friendships became. I believe that friendship is one of the strongest remedies for mental illness because of that experience.
True to Yourself
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
John 3:19–20 (NIV)
The Bible takes a clear stance on why people aren’t honest about themselves. It isn’t because of discrimination; it’s because of evil deeds. Disorders like anxiety, depression, or bipolar may be the root of the problem, but everyone feels anxious or depressed from time to time. The problem is the sin we choose when we feel those emotions.
So I encourage you, if you struggle in your mental health, not to let fear of discrimination keep you from living in the light. God is on the side of the light and will use your mental health to guide you to the life you were made for despite your challenges.
Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.
Micah 7:8 (NIV)