I knew that even if I didn’t say a word, they understood me.
It was the first time I sat in a room with other women who also battled depression, anxiety, and/or trauma. There were a dozen of us sitting in a circle. We were all so different – different ethnicities, ages, backgrounds, and histories, but one thing unified us together: we all struggled with mental health.
It’s been over a year since I’ve last went to the support group. But the handful of times I’ve been there have been an unspeakable, comforting experience. I never thought I could experience such a safe space with strangers. It was our burdens that brought us together; and through this time, I truly came to know what “carrying each other’s burdens” meant.
What is a support group?
When we go through hardship, we often turn to our close friends and family for support. However, it sometimes feels even more isolating because they either can’t relate or are more concerned about giving advice. On the other hand, a support group provides individuals going through the same issues with comfort and encouragement. More than giving solutions, a support group exists to help individuals feel like they’re not alone in their struggle.
Each group may look different in some ways, but there is a consistent theme throughout them all: participants are to listen with respect and keep things confidential. Much of what is shared is from self-disclosure of courageous individuals speaking about their experiences. A session can range from going over learning material or simply sharing about how the week went.
In my support group, participants were welcome to share if they wished. Others sat and listened. We went over a book that broke down the stigma in the Christian community. We often discussed our own frustrations, misconceptions, and thoughts surrounding our mental health. It was such a relief to hear similar perspectives. I felt understood.
How do I know if I need one?
The world of mental health is often isolating and misunderstood. The reason why my therapist recommended that I find one is because I was slowly losing my mind – I felt that nobody understood what I was going through.
Do you feel alone in your struggle with depression? With anxiety? Are you frustrated that nobody seems to get it, or you’re receiving advice that you never asked for? Are you starting to feel bitter and angry at everyone around you?
Do you lack a community where there’s a safe space to share without judgment? Some may already have small groups that uplift them, which is wonderful. But support groups exist for those who still feel isolated in their circles.
God meant for us to be in community. There is a community out there for you who understands.
You’re Not Alone – Help is Available
I often felt even more isolated in KCM and the church because mental health is not addressed enough. I felt that people didn’t know how to properly respond to my pain. I felt judged for not “having enough faith” or failing to trust in God.
When I went to the women’s mental wellness group at a local church, I felt comforted simply sitting there. Some days, I shared nothing. Other days, I opened up about how hard it’s been each day. And in the midst of whatever was shared, there was no judgment or condemnation – only empathy.
To the reader who is fighting an invisible battle, you are not alone. There is help available for you.
For those who need help in finding a local support group, feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I can help you find one in your area.
For all the women in KCM, you’re in luck. Starting in January, Women’s Ministry will be launching a Women’s Support Group for those struggling in mental health. Please partake in the pre-launch questionnaire that will be released this Thursday. Any further questions can be sent to my email.