Mental Health Warning: You Might Crash—and It Is OK

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Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. . . . Then he went on alone into the wilderness. . . . He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life. . . .” Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there . . . was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. —1 Kings 19:3–6, NLT

After finishing my PhD degree, I crashed for about eight weeks.

People thought I should be elated. I had a new degree, a new job, and a new home—all within six months. But suddenly, I felt wiped out, barely functional.

Now, of necessity, I know a lot about treating anxiety and depression through prayer, cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise, diet, social support, and other remedies, but there are times when you can do all the right things, and you still might crash.

That is because your body keeps score and knows when you simply need a break. As I am learning, my crashes often occur with periods of acute stress.

After my graduation, my counselor recommended a stress detox.

Great advice, exactly what I needed! But that summer, a traditional vacation was not an option. Instead, I relied on my husband a lot. I had my parents come to visit me instead of flying to visit them. I settled for one night in a hotel on my birthday.

In addition, with my new job, we also regained our insurance, and I was able to get routine medical care again. After weathering various mental health challenges, I am learning to expect hard times. Thankfully, I also expect these hard times to lift.

Best of all, my suicidal wishes are long gone.

That is because over the years, I have grown a deep and abiding hope in Christ. I do not have to wonder what my purpose is or how everything ends.

That’s good news! Let us embrace our faith as the ultimate cure for life’s hurts—because faith in Jesus is the ultimate cure. However, let us also be honest about the pain we may face on our way to our heavenly home so that we will readily seek help when we crash.

I have crashed numerous times, yet I have repeatedly sought help, recovered, and lived to tell about it. You can too; then you can impart tangible help, and hope, to someone else.

Lindsey Gendke

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