Is It OK To Have Jesus and Therapy Too?

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By Resna Marie Brunson, MSC

Many Christians wonder why they would need to seek help from a mental health professional. God knows me completely. He understands my thoughts from afar, before I speak He knows what I will say (Psalm 139). Yet, we do not have the same hesitancy when seeking help from our primary care physician, opthamologist, dentist, or ob/gyn. It feels ok to have Jesus and our “physical” health providers too.

So why do we feel this way? I would like to suggest we do not see how our mental health greatly impacts our physical health. God is the master designer. He created our body, organs, and systems not to work independent of each other. “Now the body is not made up of one part but many…If the whole body were an eye where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?..If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” (1 Corinthians 12:14-26). We have many “call and response” systems in our body. For example: if we are frightened our autonomic nervous system is activated to initiate “flight or fight.” If we cut ourselves, we have platelets to help slow down bleeding and help with healing. Although our bodies are made to heal themselves, there are times we need additional help ( prescribed medications) for total healing. Likewise, we can use strategies to help us with our mental health: mindfulness, deep breathing, praying, journaling, however when healing is stagnant and we are not able to change our way of thinking, it is not unbiblical to seek a mental health professional.
Seeing a counseling/therapist/psychiatrist does not mean we have “given up on God.” God places us on earth with others to come alongside us not only during the highs but also during the lows of life.

We all will have years of plenty and we all will have years of famine. The Bible warns us of “trouble in this world” (John 16:13). Often Christians will grab their Bible and isolate themselves during difficult times. Yes, there are times we need to “go to the garden alone” with God. And yes, He tells us to “cast our cares/burdens/trouble/worry on Him” (1 Peter 5:7) but He also tells us “there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.” (Proverbs 15:22). He has given us permission to not only pay attention to our mental health but to reach out to those He has blessed with wisdom, empathy, and love to help us along life’s difficult journey.

It is ok to have Jesus and therapy too. Are you ready to take the next step?

Story of a Bi-polar person’s recovery in 2021

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In the fall of 2015, I had just started my sophomore year in college. On the very first day of classes, I began experiencing very odd behavior and ended up calling my brothers to come pick me up because I felt too unsafe to drive myself home. Since my change in behavior seemed to happen completely out of the blue, my family and I were in shock. We all agreed that I wasn’t acting like myself, but we were blindsided by what we were soon to learn.  By the next day, I was experiencing a manic episode of unusual talkativeness, nonsensical speech, increased activity, racing thoughts, inability to focus, and poor decision making. After visiting a few doctors, I was diagnosed with Type One Bipolar Disorder by a clinical psychiatrist. As much as we didn’t expect this diagnosis, we came to realize that it accurately explained my words and actions.

It was very overwhelming as a nineteen-year-old to hear that I was bipolar and would have to start taking medicine every day for the rest of my life. I was in complete denial because admitting what I was feeling would become my new reality.  It took just four days on my prescribed medicine before I felt more like myself again. After that, I was convinced that I didn’t need the medicine and could stop taking it. I went back to college in the spring semester believing that the worst of it was behind me. A year and a half later, I had my second manic episode and that’s when I accepted the fact that I was bipolar and needed help.

My new normal consisted of taking my daily medicine, exercising regularly, sleeping more, drinking as much water as possible, and journaling. In addition, I had therapy twice a month and it soon became a comfortable outlet for me to discuss my concerns. A friend of my mom’s recommended a therapist who was very experienced in mental health counseling. If I am being honest, I was nervous about meeting her because the thought of talking about what happened with someone, I just met scared me. I experienced some difficulty talking about my feelings because I’d rather not deal with them, especially in front of someone else.

When I met Evie for the first time, all of my worries and fears faded away. I immediately felt comfortable telling her how I was feeling because she was in no way judgmental. Evie is the kindest, most personable and trustworthy person I’ve ever met. She genuinely cares about her clients’ well-being and wants the best for them. My experience in counseling with her gave me a fresh perspective that was sometimes different from my family’s singular vantage point and made me look at my problems from all angles.

In my therapy sessions, one of the techniques Evie employed was cognitive behavioral therapy to help me manage my problems. This meant looking at my circumstances from more than one perspective, which changed the way I think and behave. When I was confused and afraid of my diagnosis, she helped me understand it. She was always very encouraging and taught me how to not let my bipolar diagnosis define who I am.  I learned to identify classic manic symptoms and the importance of following my medicine regimen each day.

Also, whenever I became overwhelmed and anxious, Evie reminded me of the bigger picture. It was never the end of the world because learning how to live with bipolar disorder is completely possible. It was an ongoing process to learn how to balance everything in my life and not be so hard on myself. As a result, all of the hard work it took to move forward paid off because I resumed college and was able to graduate. I transitioned into the real world by applying for jobs, interviewing, and eventually accepting a position related to my college major. I couldn’t have accomplished all of this without Evie, who encouraged me every step of the way. In terms of one’s mental health, I firmly believe that therapy is crucial and that’s why I highly recommend Evie to be your therapist.