Pulling out my black suit from the closet for a funeral, I realized how long it had been since I had worn something so formal. The suit feels awkward, like it doesn’t fit anymore.
COVID-19 has brought us all to death’s door. Suddenly, we are asking those big life questions. Who am I? Why am I here? Does God exist? Does He care for me?
In response, mental health has become the new fad. Everyone is talking about life’s meaning and this naturally transitions into health and specifically mental health. COVID softened mental illness stigma so that people are starting to open up about their struggles.
Welcome to my world — welcome to my world. My name is Danei Edelen. I am president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Brown County affiliate. For more than a decade, I have been writing about managing my mental health. After watching a friend be hospitalized due to mania again, I coined the phrase, “mental health warrior.” Today, I was standing by a mental health warrior who dealt with the sudden death of a loved one.
Any traumatic experience such as injury, mental illness, terminal illness, COVID, or the death of a loved one causes you to question your purpose and meaning in life on this planet.
Each morning you are confronted with choices. Will you be assaulted by the day’s calamities on your phone, or will you find a better way to begin your day?
Mental health warrior creed
Over the last decade I have created a mental health warrior creed to combat the stigma related to mental health. What is a creed? According to Google, a creed is: “A set of beliefs or aims which guide someone’s actions.” Soldiers in the armed services adopt a soldier’s creed. This helps them psychological endure combat. As a mental health warrior, my faith in God gives me meaning and purpose in life.
Today let’s focus on my first mental health warrior creed:
1. I am created in God’s image.
“So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27. I find my identity in Christ Jesus versus viewing myself through the lens of mental illness stigma. According to the Bible, I am hard-wired for a meaningful relationship with the God of the universe. As my father used to say, “The Bible is a book about relationships.” God wants an intimate relationship with each and everyone of us. People are looking for life in the universe, yet the Bible articulates God’s profound love for us quite clearly.
The reality is that each and every one of us must learn to overcome the negative self-talk so reinforced by our culture. In future columns, we will explore more of my mental health warrior creed as well as the acceptance process. The fact that my black suit feels constricting today echoes the constriction of mental illness stigma in my life. Welcome to the acceptance process. Welcome to true freedom. If you are silently suffering, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]
Danei Edelen is president of the NAMI Brown County Ohio affiliate and a spokesperson for His Will Homes. She has 20 years of marketing experience working for technology companies like NCR, Oracle and Amdocs. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Malone University and a market research certificate from Northern Kentucky University. You can contact her at [email protected] or 513-436-0010.