Meeting God in My Mental Illness

Fayth Ong
6 min readOct 3, 2021

I questioned God for His purpose. I begged him day and night to take this suffering, to take this life, away from me.

Photo by kyler trautner on Unsplash

Written last July 7, 2020

Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
And when you’re broken on the ground
You will be found.

So let the sun come streaming in
’Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
Lift your head and look around
You will be found.

If you’re a music fanatic, you’d probably sing along to the lyrics of “You Will be Found,” from the cast of Dear Evan Hansen. And if you’re like me, you’ve most likely sung it out at the top of your voice, your throat straining, with tears crying because of what life has thrown at you.

MENTAL ILLNESS.

Two words. How can these words bring such a huge stigma? People shift in their seats, staring at anything and everything except your eyes as you utter the phrase.

An illness, according to the dictionary, is a disease that affects the body and/or mind. The word, “mental”, is a word relating to the mind or brain. Thus, if you put it together, mental illness is having a disease in the mind.

Easy? Nope.

Easy is when the person in front of you nods and understands exactly what and how we are suffering, but they don’t. Easy is understanding the disorder as if you’re reading a textbook — grasping the words your mind deciphers with no hint of difficulty, but we don’t. Easy is if we’re sad or disappointed for a moment until something distracts and makes us exuberant, but we aren’t. Easy is having a common cold. But mental illness is not easy.

Lying in bed with depression is not easy.
Gasping for air with anxiety is not easy.
Checking if you locked the door hundreds of times — -with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder — whispering in your ear is not easy.
Battling the demons your mind has created with Schizophrenia is not easy.
Playing with your food and refusing to eat because you’re suffering from anorexia is not easy.
Rushing to the bathroom with your two fingers ready to go down on your throat, trying to control your bulimia, is not easy.

They say depression is the common cold in mental illnesses. But it’s not as simple as the flu.

Depression will make you lie on your own bed, your body drained from the energy it has used in defeating the black dog crushing your soul.
Depression is your entire being shutting down and refusing to open to anyone, even if the constant rings and pings from your phone remind you your friends are a text message away.
Depression is losing interest in everything you do, losing the appetite despite your favorite meal sitting coldly in front of you, losing sleep despite not thinking of anything and everything.
Depression makes you think your worth is nothing, even when the Bible tells you, you are loved, and you are a child of the One True King.
Depression makes you want to kill yourself, even when God Himself tells you He created you in such an intricate manner, making you so sure you have a purpose in this world.

You can compare depression to a common cold when seen from the commonality of physical and mental illness. But depression is not as easy to cure when compared to the flu.

In the Philippines, depression is a part of the top four mental illnesses diagnosed in the country. His companions are Schizophrenia, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD in short.

When I was in my third year of college, I studied diligently, and my hard work paid off in my projects and exams. I was active in church, serving faithfully and receiving more responsibility. I was meeting new friends, mingling and laughing with them every time we meet. But I was depressed. Every night, I would cry myself to sleep. My tears seep into my pillow as I sob silently, my hand on my mouth, wondering why I’m not enough, and why life doesn’t look as pleasurable as before. At least once a week, I’d harm myself to the point of bleeding. And more times than most, I was thinking of ending my life. I’d write my will, what songs to play at the funeral, and who was invited. I had pastoral counseling every week, but whatever my pastor or my leader, would say, I couldn’t care less. Despite the truths they were telling me, my mind still came to believe the lies it perceived. All I thought was I was worth nothing, and I don’t deserve to live. My feelings of sadness turned to numbness. The ability to feel nothing was soothing. A handful of people knew what was happening, but everyone else still regarded me as a cheerful girl who was always happy to help.

A year passed when a breakthrough came. And the secret was knowing my identity.

I know, it’s a stretch from the counseling and the therapy and the medications, but that was what happened to me. I was awakened once more, that my identity and my worth did not lie in my depression, in my mental illness. I was reminded that my worth and my identity depended on God, and what He has done for me.

Job 42:5
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;

The story of Job is always one that brings comfort to all who have mourned with their loss, and to those who have questioned God. At the time, I was one of those people. I didn’t lose any material thing, nor had I grieved for the death of a loved one. But I suffered from the loss of my happiness and purpose. I was moving day to day in a robotic manner, doing what I had to do, what I was asked to do. I questioned God for His purpose. I begged him day and night to take this suffering, to take this life, away from me.

Upon reading the verse on my 18th birthday, I had recovered from a long episode of this illness. I was grateful when I encountered it. It made me see God, and myself, in a fresh light.

I knew God was all-powerful; I was aware of the plans He has for me. But I didn’t know it. Knowing who God is sometimes takes personal experience, and although I didn’t want to experience this, it was in the long nights He showed me He was the one who stood by me when I felt everyone has abandoned me to face the demons. I have heard Him before, but now I have seen Him.

I see Him whenever He wipes my fears away along with my tears.
I see Him every time I muffle my cries and pleas to take the suffering away.
I see Him during the times I had to fake a smile and carry myself throughout the day, because that’s what I had to do.
I didn’t see Him then, but I see Him now.

And if you’re suffering from mental illness, I hope one day, you see Him too.

It took me a year to figure this out, but if you do, I pray you’ll face your demons with a new eye, knowing the One who was with you in your most victorious moments, is also with you as your mind tries to battle the monsters in your head when the night crashes.

And if you need someone to tell you this, let me be the one to say it.

God created you with life as He created you with awe and unconditional love.
God gave you a purpose when He molded you in your mother’s womb.
God gave your life meaning as He crafted the path you are to take in this life.
God loves you. Enough to send Christ to die for you.
God is more powerful than your demons. More powerful that He defeated death and rose again from Hades’ cells.

Love, keep going.
​Your life is worth living, because Christ thought you were worth dying for.

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Fayth Ong

Teacher || Writer || Traveller || Athlete || Immortalizing moments through writing