If You Pray Hard Enough, Your Mental Illness Will Go Away

I found myself on my knees, tears streaming down my face, hands clenched so tightly together that my knuckles turned white. My room was dark, and my legs were starting to ache from how long I'd been kneeling. I kept repeating the same thing, "Please take it away. Please take it away. I can't do this anymore." The darkness of my depression felt unbearable. It seemed as though gravity had taken it upon itself to work extra hard on me that night. I felt dragged down, futher and futher. I grasped for God, begging for my burdens to disappear. But they didn't.

This was not the first time that this scene had happened. Quite frequently, I found myself in the same position, doing the same thing. I kept telling myself, "If you pray hard enough, your mental illness will go away." It has been almost four years now of highs and lows, panic attacks and despair. I've gone through a dozen medication changes, two doctors, three counselors, and a lot of sleepless nights. I am often exhausted from it all, and at times it feels all too much to bear. Needless to say, my illness has not gone away.

I think that often we blindly rely on prayer to solve everything. We expect answers to come packaged up nicely, exactly the way we want them to. President Monson once said, "Heavenly Father does answer prayers in His own time and in His own way."

As I have gone through what I have, I have come to say a different prayer. Instead of asking for my mental illness to go away, I ask for the strength to face it. God gives me strength through angel friends and family to comfort and uplift me. Words of church leaders edify and encourage me. (Like a Broken Vessel by Elder Holland for example) Books and resources for mental illness sufferers educate and inspire me. Strength to face my challenges comes in so many ways that it is hard to name them all.

I am still struggling. I am still trying. I fall down lots and it sometimes takes awhile to get back up. Praying hard has not made my mental illness go away, but it has given me the strength I need to carry on.