During our Sunday lesson on Mental Health and the Gospel, my husband pulled out and read a scripture that we hadn’t initially discussed together.
It was from the Book of Mormon, more specifically the book of Mormon (ha!), chapter 8, verse 16. In context, this verse refers to the scriptures being brought forth in our day, but he obviously compared it to mental health and mental illness.
16 And blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God.
For our purposes, let’s focus on a few key phrases.
“blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light”
Mental illness is often kept in the shadows. Thanks to pride, fear, and the prevalence of stigmas against the mentally ill and mental illness in general, it’s not usually something that people are open about. I like this idea that it is a blessing to bring our mental health issues to light. Once they are in the light, we can get the appropriate care and feel more confident in who we are.
“for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light”
Having a mental illness does not mean that we have to live in darkness. Often, the mental illness itself will tell us that we are alone, that no one understands us, and that we ought to feel secluded and hopeless. But we do not have to allow the mental illness to lie to us. We can make the choice to move out of darkness and into the light. Get over the idea that it takes so much courage. It just takes a step. And maybe another step. In fact, take as many steps as you need. But don’t feel like you aren’t brave enough to be in the light. Just do it and see what happens.
“and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people”
Don’t let your mental health fester in the dark. Let it shine forth. This may seem a little weird, letting a mental illness “shine forth out of darkness.” For a long time, I considered my OCD something awful, something I wished I could erase from my life somehow. I mean, I still don’t love it, obviously. It’s the worst. But it is something that has brought me amazing opportunities to help others and use my other talents and gifts in a positive way. (See: this blog, my articles on the Mighty, the lesson we gave in Church, etc.).
We can see our challenges and even our mental health as something that ought to be hidden away, ignored, and simply gotten over, or we can bring them “out of darkness” and let them “shine forth” and show us how we can move forward and help others and ourselves. The choice is ours. It always is.