About the Author

Sarah Mae has a past that would be her present if it weren’t for Jesus. A blogger, author, and co-author of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, she’s currently writing The Complicated Heart, a book for broken-hearted lovers of Jesus. Learn more at @thecomplicatedheart on Instagram or...

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  1. Sarah Mae,
    Praise for you speaking up!! Some people are surprised about how openly and honestly I speak about my lifelong battle with anxiety and depression ( and yes, they are like sisters often coming hand in hand). There is anxiety and depression born out of circumstances and there is definitely a physical chemical imbalance that is hereditary. I found that stressful circumstances exacerbated my medical illness so it’s a complicated and insidious illness. Plus the enemy loves to get in there and kick you when you’re down. All the more reason to seek help if you are experiencing debilitating anxiety and/or depression. I couldn’t experience joy in the throws of my deepest valleys, but I never lost faith in the Lord. I couldn’t “feel” His presence so I had to rely on factual truth from scripture that says He will never forsake us. Getting medical help (meds) and counseling has enabled me to read and retain much more from scripture which also then can combat the lies that the enemy throws at you when you are in the pit of anxiety and depression. I need to get a shirt like you have. And, yes, talk to your children. Unfortunately mine also deal with a chemical imbalance that impacts their lives. I’ve written a blog post entitled “Can Christians Truly Have Mental Illness”. There are a lot of misnomers that Christians can somehow pull themselves up by their bootstraps of prayer and having more faith in order to get over these medical illnesses. Sometimes we do our suffering sisters and brothers a disservice by making them think their suffering is their own doing, or is a failure of faith or a character flaw. I offer this so that together we can erase the stigma and talk openly about this illness that affects 1 in 4 people. Kudos Sarah Mae and so glad that the meds are, indeed, working. There’s definitely hope….joining you in sharing that message! https://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com/2018/10/can-christians-truly-have-mental.html
    Blessings and thanks,
    Bev xo

  2. Thanks be to God that we can stand with one foot in our fallen-ness and the other in our wholeness and know gratitude and peace. God’s putting-together grace is enough to effect the deep healing we need, and part of that gift is the miracle of medicine that replaces and repairs. Good for you that you’ve started planting seeds of understanding in your daughter.

    • Thank you, and it’s funny because I honestly wasn’t prepared to have a talk about it, I just spontaneously put the shirt on and, oops! She saw it, so, you know.

      By the way, I love how you say one foot in fallen-ness and the other in wholeness!

    • This is the second thing I’ve read today on anxiety & gratitude co-existing. I read a quote a little while ago from Rebekah Lyons, “Interrupt anxiety with gratitude” which acknowledges that the anxiety can still be there, but we can shift our focus a bit…..Love what you’ve said here.

  3. Amen Sarah-Mae!! Amen to it all! You are 100 percent right, we need to break the stigma. I had to go on meds before I left for Cambodia as I started having anxiety and nothing I did the walks, praying, meditating, more exercise would make it stop and I wasn’t depressed I was about to embark on a journey to work at an NGO following GODs plan…… I was the happiest most excited I could be.

    Anxiety doesn’t make sense but I’ll opebly say I needed help and meds helped me AND I didn’t let it stop me from going. Anxiety full blown is completely horrible I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. God was with me the whole way aND still is and there is nothing wrong with getting help if you need it.

    • I too am on medication for depression and looking back I battled anxiety in high school 40+ years ago. Together with counselling, when I need it, has helped tremendously. I have found opportunities to share part of my story with my clients and colleagues when appropriate, and support and encourage them to see their care provider when they struggle with their own issues with depression.

  4. Whoever said you can’t have anxiety and be grateful, well, they were just WRONG! Thank you, Sarah Mae, for sharing more of your story. As always, there is so much truth in what you write.

  5. Sarah,
    I agree wholeheartedly with you. I too have suffered from anxiety which led into depression. For years I fought with the idea of taking meds but then the Lord showed me it was ok. I did take an antidepressant for years but quit several years ago by my Dr.’s request and found I didn’t need them anymore. Our brokenness leads us to the One who makes us whole. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Yes, a kind but misguided friend told me I needed to pray more when I talked about my anxiety/panic attacks. Unfortunately I listened to her instead of running to a good counselor. I finally did that and added a stint with medication. It appears that mine is situational not chemical so learning how to think differently about my life and what I am dealing with has helped to put anxiety in perspective…..most of the time. I think my personality makes me prone to anxiety and it still rears its head on occasion and it is still hard to not panic because it is so scary and yes, mine too led to depression. There are still way too many Christians who think all we have to do is have more faith instead of seeing a doctor and competent counselor (sometimes a pastor, although well meaning, is not a competent counselor for serious anxiety and depression)to help us out of the darkness and fear. Thank you for helping to change that.

  7. “stigma that taking meds means you can’t be grateful or that you don’t trust the Lord or whatever other lies you’ve heard“

    This is certainly what I struggle with, not in the area of anxiety but in child bearing using assisted reproduction, always feeling im not trusting God.
    Since it is God who teaches our hand to war, I pray He will also make the meds work for whatever situation we find ourselves in.

    Thanks Sarah Mae.

  8. Thank you for the encouragement to share w my teenage daughter. It hadn’t occurred to me to do so. Depression runs in both sides of our family. For me anxiety has been my battle. My situation didn’t warrant meds, at least that time. The future could be different. The tools received in counseling and reaching out, seeking friendship support, asking for prayer, help me so much.

    • Sharing with your children about your own struggles (when the time is right) is really important. For me I have found the following happened 1. It showed how human I am and my need for God plus his blessings 2. It helped them understand who I really am which took pressure off me and stopped them thinking it was their fault. 3. It gave them opportunities to build skills of tolerance, acceptance, sympathy and encouragement. 4. They have been able to support friends who have similar struggles. 5. Most importantly they came more readily to me when they too began to suffer and we were able to seek professional support earlier rather than later. 6. Overtime it has become easy to talk about and helped everyone be more honest and open about all sorts if things.

      It is not an easy discussion or just a one off (follow ups are important) but it’s benefits are enormous.

  9. I forgot to include in my comment that, yes though anxiety was ruling, I definitely still had gratitude.

  10. I remember when you posted about depression and was wondering if medication was the right thing. I’m so glad that you found the help that you needed and are able to bring a light to this dark subject that so many in the Christian community gloss over. Anxiety and depression is a condition. It does not define us. It is a part of us that needs to be treated as much as an ear infection or broken leg. The sooner the stigma of mental ailments can be gotten over, the sooner people can receive and accept help and get on with the life God has given them.

    • Yes! “The sooner the stigma of mental ailments can be gotten over, the sooner people can receive and accept help and get on with the life God has given them.”

      I remember telling a friend that I could just “live like this” in the depression. She said, but maybe God is telling you that you don’t have to. WORD.

  11. This is the most honest and wonderful post I’ve seen in a long time. It IS OK to use medication to level out wacky brain chemistry. I love that you included the importance of understanding that God is with you in and through it. Thank you, thank you!

  12. After having my first babe, I struggled with severe anxiety for a year and a half to the point of full blown panic attacks. I tried praying through them, doing all the “right things” —
    Finally, a year and a half later I was tired. I knew to be a good mama and wife and take care of my heart, I needed some medicine. At this time I wasn’t even aware that postpartum anxiety was a thing. So when I went in, and they told me about PPA, along with my thyroid being extremely off (which also causes severe anxiety!!) I just felt relief, and so much grace. Medicine is a gift. Sometimes our bodies and minds need it for the healing He desires for us. Jesus freed me from so much of what I believed about anxiety and medication that day!

  13. Sarah Mae,

    This world is becoming dark & insidious. It seems harder & harder to see the true light & hear truth. It seems more & more people-good Christians even- are having psych problems. They appear normal on the outside but there is trouble inside. It is a battle they face daily. A lot of Christians feel you just need to pray more fervently, have more faith, etc. & it will go away. Not so. It takes meds & counseling to help understand the underlying problems. Like Bev said it could be a chemical imbalance. Left untreated can further damage the brain. I’ve seen it first hand with my aging dad. In winter months he would get depressed. Later on he went on to have geriatric psych. The solution? Medication. Put on the right medication he became himself again. No one should take these lightly or shame others for feeling this way or taking pills. It is very important to talk to your children about how you feel & how they might be feeling also. Some psych issues are hereditary & if left unchecked can cause a myriad of other problems. Thank you Sarah for bringing up such an important subject. Many in the Christian community don’t want to acknowledge or just brush off as having a bad day.

    Blessings 🙂

  14. Bravo! You are brave to reveal this part of you. And you will probably help lots of ladies to feel less “different” or just less “less than”. I, too, struggle with anxiety and depression. Going to counseling helped. And prayer. But meds are okay, too.

  15. God used your post today, sent to me by my wife to be exactly what I needed…along with my meds and my scriptures and my wife’s encouragement.

    I don’t know you but Thank you….

  16. I wanna shirt!
    I wanna shirt!
    THANK YOU l, Sarah Mae, for this important post.
    For your honesty and vulnerability.
    For your humor.
    For your heart.
    I know you have helped many people today with the truth of this condition.
    I hope your day is glorious!

  17. Sara Mae,
    Thank-you for so bravely opening the door on this…… There was a time when my panic attacks became so severe it felt as if I was having a heart attack, before bed almost every night. I would pray to God to please let me be there for my kids in the morning when they woke up. Each morning I was so grateful that my prayer had been answered. Although I was grateful, my panic attacks didn’t just disappear, but they did help me to further strengthen my trust in God. I agree anxiety, and depression aren’t about being ungrateful, just that we are human, and that we need God to help Guide, Comfort and Strengthen us, including seeking help when needed.
    Have a blessed day all,
    Penny

  18. Hi Sarah
    Can you come to France to speak to our church ?? Let me know your availability and what your prices are ? We would love to have you, you’re amazing !!

  19. Ladies never feel ashamed you have depression. Always remember you are special and Loved by King of this world. Let no judge You. Hold your heads up high. Because you are still her God has you hear for a reason. When many a person let’s their Depression get to them make them ill. You are si brave. You have story to tell. That can help thoes who are battling with it. That do not know the Lord. Through your stories and what you been through and are going through. You could be a big help to them. Plus God could use you to lead them to get Saved. If not saved. So go Ladies hold your heads up high. Remember you are special xxx Tell your story

  20. Thank you ladies at (in)courage for addressing mental health I AM NOT ALONE!!!! Being in the mental health field, I tell people considering medication that it turns the volume down on the symptoms that play at such a loud debilitating volume. Turning down that plume allows us to deal with life and address root issues. I have to take my own advice to turn down the volume of my own symptoms of anxiety, depression, and bipolar. Instead of hurting my counseling, battling my own mental illness increases my empathy for others. Many blessings to everyone who gets out of bed each day, puts one foot in front of the other, and does life.

  21. Amen! I’ll raise my teacup to that! Brains are physical too and are so complex… I have brain (neurological) Lyme but for years doctors told me there was nothing wrong. All in my head. Will go away on its own. The first dr told me I was depressed and implied strongly I wasn’t grateful enough, that I had nothing to be depressed about and how his godly wife had a list of several thousand things she was grateful for. I was so shocked I couldn’t even respond. Unbeknownst to him, I also had my own gratitude journal (which I did not tell him). How is it that if we struggle, we can’t be grateful? Complete ridiculousness.

  22. Sarah, I’m weepy with the truth of your words and the evidence through these comments that we need your voice for such a time as this. Gosh, your daughter is lucky to have you…and so are we. I’ve battled anxiety (whose coin has also flipped to the depression side). For me, therapy with a really great counselor was what God led me to and healed me through, but I am deeply grateful for this reminder that sometimes medicine is the way God fulfills His promise of redemption in our lives. All is grace. Love you.

  23. I have had severe mental illness since I was quite young and on medication from age 12 (52 years ago). It was all a big secret. I was a believer in Jesus but when in the Children psych hospital a pastor told me the only reason I was in this situation was because I did not pray enough. I felt if that is what God requires and I am still in this mess, I threw God out the window. I did not come back to faith for 30 years. Then a pastor at my church told me because of my problems I was possessed by the devil and needed to be exorcised.
    I am now at a church that champions mental health and the church. I feel I can be me, even when my meds are unbalanced. We have to get rid of the stigma in society. I have been a secret from or embarrassment to those around me most of my life. But God accepts me just the way I am and He will never leave me or forsake me. God gets those feet on the floor every morning to start another day with Him.

  24. Thank you. I have been with God’s help providing counseling as a social worker 29 years an KNOW the stigma the relief that there are options to feeling dark with God and medications. God’s blessings on your courage and to God be the glory amen

  25. If we were not meant to take medicine when it’s needed, God wouldn’t have made the chemicals available and given people the wisdom to make these medicines. It’s not a lack of faith to ask for help. God doesn’t expect us to struggle through life alone.

  26. I love what you shared and how you shared it. How you spoke with your daughter in such an open, frank, vulnerable and loving way. I and my family have struggled with the same things; depression & anxiety off & on through the years. And it isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Yes, we’d rather do without it…but better to be honest…find what helps you…PLUS the WORD, prayer, etc…and Praise The Lord…even Jesus Himself was a many of many sorrows and acquainted with grief. That’s the scripture that came to me as I read your message. Sometimes I wonder if we who struggle with these things…if deliverance is something that would help. I follow Derek Prince and have learned some very biblical things about deliverance. He himself testified before he passed away years ago…that he struggled with depression all of his life. Even though God used him to deliver others from it…through prayer, etc…Derek Prince tells the story of how one day in his 80’s…yes 80’s…he was lying in bed…and felt a tingly warm sensation come up from his feet out of the top of his head and he explains is as having been delivered from the spirit of depression and fear. Anyway…just some thoughts that came to me as I read what you’ve written. Thank you so much for sharing. God Bless You! 🙂

  27. I never realized how many people suffer with anxiety and its depression. Part of the human condition and am so glad for the medicine and counseling help especially. My son had an emotional breakdown, it was awful to watch him struggle. I myself was heartsick about it, and I still wrestle with emotional battles, of feeling isolated from loving kindness, and thoughtfulness in my expectations of others, including and especially from family members, who haven’t got a clue. The world is spinning so fast, and no one seems to be able to make or take the time for sincere loving today. That quality time that is satisfying and fulfilling. So how do I fill that emptiness? Will the lords love fill those empty places all the time, and cover the sadness? There is no perfect life here, no perfect family, no perfect friend, but His love is perfect, and embracing it is one way to feel truly loved
    He once told me that I could have have as much of Him as I wanted, whenever I wanted. It really us up to me to Ask.
    If I truly believe, I have the assurance to receive.

  28. I suffer from anxiety and depression and have always been open about discussing my mental health. My hope that in doing so, without shame or embarrassment, I might reach someone’s ears who needs help dealing with their own issues. I’ll never forget when I finally called a psychiatrist office to get help for myself–the receptionist said “We know this was probably a hard call for you to make…so we can see you today or tomorrow.” I considered that one of my “God winks”. Thank you for a very empowering article.