This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week and today is the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding. About prayer and spirituality, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes, “Through spiritual guidance, many individuals and communities find healing and recovery.” As someone who lived in an utter darkness of mental "unwellness"for over a decade, I can attest to the power that prayer had in my healing process. For me, prayer changed everything.
Prior to healing, I had doubted prayer for a long time. And, quite honestly, I was also afraid of prayer --in great part because I felt like I did not know how to pray “the right way” since I had grown up praying only memorized prayers that were recited once a week on Sunday. That said, during my rock bottom, I volunteering at a Jewish Hospice center. There, I would read to patients from a prayer book called, “The Gentle Weapon: Prayers for Everyday and Not-so-Everyday Moments: Timeless Wisdom from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.” That little book was one of my first ‘teachers’ for how I could pray. But I still didn’t trust that my prayers were adequate, so instead of relying on myself to come up with the right words, I decided to turn to a Bible -which I had never read before in my life. I opened to the Psalms and found my hope and inspiration. The Psalms became words of truth and hope for me during a time when I had long ago lost all hope. One of the simplest yet most profound gifts that I was given while reading the Psalms, was a few moments of peace outside of my unwell brain/thoughts. My daily reading of the Psalms became sweet respite from my unwell mind. Eventually, I would read a Psalm every time I felt like using an eating disorder behavior. Little by little, by making prayer a huge priority in my days, I finally came to see and believe that I was indeed worthy of my prayers being heard and responded to. With prayer and restored faith in my savior, along with really solid nourishment, I was able to find full freedom from the internal hell of what most had told me was an incurable disease.
I also want to share that through prayer and with faith in God, I was finally able to embrace what I was always telling everyone else to believe about themselves: I AM worthy of praying for my Self. I AM worthy of other people praying for me. I AM worthy of loving myself as unconditionally as God loves me. And I AM beautiful because I am alive. Those are very humbling truths, truths that mental illness wants to steal from you. Today, I encourage you to embrace each one of those truths for yourself because YOU ARE worthy of each one of them.
NAMI’s website has several prayers and invocations that can be used and/or adapted during this week, and throughout the year. NAMI writes, “These resources can help work to replace misinformation, blame, fear and prejudice with love in order to offer hope to many who are touched by mental illness.” Here is a link to the prayers on NAMI’s site: https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/NAMI-FaithNet/Inspirational-and-Healing-Prayers/National-Day-of-Prayer-for-Mental-Illness-Recovery --- “Give us courage to face our challenges and open us today to the many ways you are already working in our midst. Help us to identify mental illness as the disease it is, that we might have courage and wisdom in the face of ignorance and stigma. Inspire us as we seek to overcome fear, acquire knowledge, and advocate for compassionate and enlightened treatment and services.”
If you need help with a mental illness, please reach out for help today. And, if you have been denied benefits for treatment, whether for your mental or physical health, or both, please contact us today for a no-cost evaluation of your case. We care and we can help.