Shelia Walsh, a renowned author and singer, knows firsthand how difficult coping with depression and mental illness can be.
In her new book It’s Okay Not to Be Okay: Moving Forward One Day at a Time, Walsh uses her experience with mental health issues to share eight steps to help women move forward, taking things day by day.
Twenty-six years ago, the well-known speaker and Bible teacher made the decision to check herself into a psychiatric ward. When she received her diagnosis, she learned that she was suffering from clinical depression—a condition that affects more than 16.1 million American adults. No group or profession is exempt from being affected—even pastors and church leaders.
Walsh opens up to The Christian Post about her struggle coming to terms with her diagnosis. She told the outlet, “At the time, I was serving as the co-host of The 700 Club on Christian Broadcasting Network. I knew how to put on a good face and isolate myself from people. I was surrounded by people, a ministry leader, but so desperately lonely and depressed. Up until that point, I’d based so much of God’s love on me getting everything right. When you end up in a psych hospital, that platform has been pulled from beneath you.”
Walsh also grappled with the misconception that those who are churchgoers should not battle mental illness.
“So often, when people are already hurting and struggling, we shame them, we make them feel as if there’s something wrong with them,” Walsh explained.
“We tell them there’s a lack of faith or trust in God, we tell them to pull themselves together. But, it’s not a lack of faith; it’s a lack of chemicals in your brain to be able to function well.”
While mental health issues certainly present a very real issue within the church, Walsh explains how we can help. “We need to simply begin having this conversation, acknowledging that this is an issue. We need to be telling our pastors, ‘Please don’t be ashamed, please don’t give up—help is available.’”
Walsh has hope that her book will help to reverse the stigma that besieges Christians and mental health stating, “When you understand that God knows all that is true about you and loves you perfectly, your life will change.”
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