Therapy is demonic, taking antidepressants is a sin, seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist is being anti-Christ, and those suffering from mental health are just failures. These are the statements and thoughts for many believers when it comes to mental health issues and treatment.
We all have had setbacks in life and these setbacks usually leave us emotionally drained, this being a fact that non can argue against. It doesn’t matter who you are setbacks have a tendency of stripping you of all the life you thought you had and for the Christian it is no exception. Actually the Christian has been warned that suffering will be part of their life until Jesus Christ returns. Lord knows we need more openness in our congregations because (and this is a fact) 50% of adults will develop depression, PTSD, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, or some other mental illness in their lifetime.
Elijah a prophet of God clearly illustrates how God deals with us when we are emotionally drained. Elijah was a man (human being) just like us as stated in James 5:17. This means he was at risk of the same troubles, temptations and moods that we all go through every single day. If you read from the bible book of 1 Kings 19:1-5,10 you will discover that Elijah was afraid, he ran through the desert without a plan, he left his servant alone, he even wished he could die just imagine that, he was emotionally exhausted. Here are four signs that Elijah was drained emotionally:
He started backing away from relationships. Notice that he left his servant who he had a relationship for years, and he leaves everything and everyone he knew. Feelings of numbness or detachment are a strong sign that your stress is impacting your mental health, HelpGuide says. Genuine emotional exhaustion, or burnout, goes way beyond having a bad day or two. If you’re feeling emotionally numb, or disconnected from what’s around you, that’s a sign that you’re experiencing some pretty major distress.
His work seemed pointless.
This is evident in verse 10 when he makes this statement “ I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down alters, and killed everyone of your prophets. I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me too.” Elijah here is saying, look God why am I wasting my time, they will not hear me cause I have done this before and nothing is working now I should even die cause of doing your work!? Emotional exhaustion can put a heavy damper on your motivation, Dr. Offner says. If you’re feeling an absence of enthusiasm for your job, relationship(s), or projects you used to be excited about, then burnout might be sapping your energy reserves.
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He felt isolated and attacked. Elijah says he was the only one left among the prophets of God but reading through we discover that about 100 other prophets were alive. Like many of us he was having a pity party and wasn’t thinking rationally. If you find that you’re avoiding work, friends, or your partner, and are isolating yourself more overall, it might be a sign that stress is affecting your relationships and mental health.
He compared himself to others and felt bad about himself. The people have done this and that and I don’t see myself convincing them let me just die he said. “The key signs of emotional exhaustion are feeling stuck, helpless, and hopeless,” Dr. Offner says.
Juli Fraga writing for Healthline wrote that burned out people might feel like “they have nothing left to give,” and may have a sense of dread about work and relationships. Emotional exhaustion can leave you feeling like your best efforts aren’t holding up under the demands of your situation, so you may feel discouraged and ineffective as a result.
These signs are just a few of the signs that one is having emotional exhaustion. Jesus is the hope for each and every one of our needs. He’s the miracle worker who, “healed every disease and every sickness.” And when Jesus healed the leper, the demon possessed, the broken-hearted, he never blamed them for their condition. Jesus is not a religious leader who will condemn us if we seek help, Jesus is the high priest who understands our weaknesses.
Now let’s consider 3 ways God refills our emotional tank as presented in the life of Elijah and how therapists use these methods in their practice.
God makes you rest your body. 1 kings 19:5-7 is our focus. We find Elijah falling asleep and an angel appears and tells him to eat. After eating he goes back to sleep and the angel wakes him up for round two of the meal, and Elijah had strength to travel forty days and forty nights. Rick Warren said “ sometimes God will make you rest because you are too dull to do it yourself.” God is a practical therapist. Look at the first line treatment He gives, eat, sleep, eat again. Food, rest, and relaxation are essentials to recovery for many mental health conditions and this is the reason God says it is so useless for us to work from early morning until late at night when He gives rest to us (Psalm 127:2).
Rest isn’t about being lazy or avoiding work. It’s necessary for our health and for being at our best when we are working. Rest has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Vacation in particular has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, and increase lifespan.
Take care of your body, exercise, take a break from work, school, social media, or friends if need be.
God encourages you to release your frustration. 1 Peter 5:7 says “ Give all your worries and cares to God for He cares about you.” This is plain encouragement of Catharsis. Revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing says Rick Warren. A catharsis is an emotional release. According to psychoanalytic theory, this emotional release is linked to a need to relieve unconscious conflicts. For example, experiencing stress over a work-related situation may cause feelings of frustration and tension. Rather than vent these feelings inappropriately, the individual may instead release these feelings in another way, such as through physical activity or another stress-relieving activity such as listening to music, creating or viewing art or even just talking to someone.
Therapists encourage people to vent emotions in appropriate ways and just for your knowledge, the book of Psalms is a book of catharsis.
Lastly God tell us to remember and refocus. Verses 11-13 of 1 kings brings a dramatic entrance of God which was for the purpose of reminding Elijah who God was. When we remember the good in our life and refocus our attention to those things, we jump into a wagon of happiness. The basis of emotional burnout is wanting to control everything, wanting to be God. We need to let go in order to get ahead. Right now we are at a pinnacle time in politics, the climate and business worth with everything being down and not focused. By outlining your priorities you eliminate the noise and focus on the opportunity ahead of you. We drop the rocks and gather the strength to now carry others to help one another get to where we all want to be.
As Brandon Peach wrote,
“Most churches probably have the very best intentions when dealing with issues of mental illness. Like the rest of society, however, the Church may misinterpret these clinical conditions and respond to them in ways that exacerbate them—and as a result, demoralize those suffering. Christ, the Great Physician, came to heal the sick. As His body, it’s time the Church leads society in helping to do the same..”