To the Friend With Mental Illness That I Judged

mental illness

Dear Friend,

This isn’t easy for me to write. I suppose it’s never easy to admit your fault, to face the failures of yourself, or to see clearly where you have been so obviously incorrect in your assumptions. But I felt I owed you this confession. You deserve my apology and my admittance of grievous error.

You see, I have been that person you hate. I have been that friend who loves you, but silently watches you and wonders why you make it so hard. I’m that Christian you roll your eyes at who unknowingly judges you for not being able to just get over your illness already. Please don’t stop reading here. Please let me try and explain.

I had experienced depression in the past. I had faced suicidal thoughts, to the point of a failed hanging attempt. I had abused alcohol to numb the pain, and I had been on a number of antidepressants over the years. I had heard doctors use words like “bipolar” to diagnose me, and I had sat by myself, totally empty, wishing I was dead rather than having to face the way I felt. I had seen generations of my family suffer with [sic] alcoholism, mental hospitals, and suicide. I had been there, and I had felt like the Lord brought me through it. I had felt victorious in His ability to break those generational chains and to heal me. I walked in it, and when I saw you suffering I wondered why you couldn’t do the same. I didn’t want to judge you, but I suppose if I’m being honest that is exactly what I was doing. I was comparing your walk to my walk, and inadvertently I was placing myself above you, as if I had obtained some spiritual revelation you had yet to see! I’d pray for you, but I’d also shake my head in frustration, like I had obtained a cure that was just waiting for you to grasp also.

Again, please don’t stop here. My story wasn’t over.

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Sure, I woke sometimes with the blues. I’d feel that melancholy sadness try and overtake me. I’d pray the armor of God, I’d cover myself with His truth in His Word, and I would feel like an overcomer. Nothing wrong with that, not really. Except when I would project that on you. I truly didn’t mean to do it, but I think when I couldn’t understand your struggle and empathize any longer with your fight I was forgetting where I had come from, who had delivered me, and who held us all in His love. God didn’t love me or favor me more, but in my thought-life, I acted that way when I couldn’t be sympathetic and recognize your battle. I’m sorry.

I know by this point you probably see me as a pious, judgmental hypocrite. That’s understandable. Despite my unintentional actions my heart still longed to love like Jesus, so I found myself praying for humility. I asked the Lord to give me a mantle of humility so I wouldn’t think better of myself than I ought to, but instead would see with His eyes and truth. I fell asleep with the joy of Jesus in my heart, but awoke at 1 a.m. with a spirit of fear. My mind spun wildly out of control as anxiety came upon me. I found myself worrying about multiple issues in my life, and since I had to work that day I didn’t want my sleep interrupted by the things I could not control. I prayed, I battled with spiritual warfare, but still I tossed and turned. Still, I worried and was overcome by anxiety. I knew the thoughts weren’t of the Lord and they weren’t true, but I couldn’t stop them.

When I finally got out of bed for work I was weary. This wasn’t the first time I had struggled with anxiety and insomnia. But it was the first time I looked at it with humility. The Lord had shown me before how He drew me closer to Him through these struggles, but this day He reminded me how weak and human I was. I thought of your struggles and how I had sometimes wondered why you couldn’t just accept God’s healing of your mental illness. I was crushed by my realization of my judgmental attitude towards you. I was no better, and you no worse. We were all loved so deeply by Jesus. We were all weak, human, and susceptible to the torment and illness of this world. I was no more free. Jesus died for us all, He loved us all, and we all struggled in our own ways. Just like no sin was greater than another, so too was no illness easier healed. Just because I didn’t take Lexapro anymore, that meant nothing. I still took something for allergies and acid reflux.

I think sometimes in our humanness we can’t help but compare ourselves to others, judge their walk, and try and hide our own sin by focusing on someone else’s. I’m just being honest. I didn’t want to be that way, but I know sometimes I was. I have judged you, but I am so regretful of that. I have overcome nothing. Anything that has improved in my mental and physical health is only through Jesus, and His healing and timing are different for each of His children. I still face my own demons every day, and by forgetting that I allow the devil to disillusion me. I’m grateful to Jesus for opening my eyes to my own failings.

I hope you can forgive me. You are beautiful inside and out, highly favored by our Lord, and fulfilling His purposes on this earth. Just recently He has used your sufferings to change my heart. You touch lives daily with your strength, given by the Lord, and He cherishes you. So do I.


Your Friend Always

Brie Gowen
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Brie Gowen is a 30-something (sliding ever closer to 40-something) wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, chasing after the toddler or playing princess with her four-year-old, she enjoys cooking, reading and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie is also a huge lover of Jesus. She finds immense joy in the peace a relationship with her Savior provides, and she might just tell you about it sometime. She’d love for you to check out her blog at BrieGowen.com.