Mental Health and Covid-19
Marion Carson is currently a Part-Time Chaplain working with Glasgow City Mission. We recently asked her to reflect on mental health during Covid-19 at one of our Prayer Livestream events on Sunday nights and this is what Marion shared with us.
These are difficult days. While some people sailed through lockdown, others have found it hard, and continue to do so. Some are grieving. Many are fearful – about jobs, finances, health. Anxiety, mood swings, anger, sadness, disrupted sleeping patterns, fear – these are normal reactions in tough times but they can be very distressing indeed.
The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote about his experience of mental distress:
“O the mind, mind has mountains, cliffs of fall,
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed”
For me, these words capture the roller coaster of thoughts and emotions which so many experiencing just now. There are emotional highs and lows, and our thoughts can take us to places we do not want to go. The highs might be exhilarating, but the lows, as Hopkins writes, can be like falling down a sheer cliff – straight into darkness. We lose perspective and become stuck in anxiety, fear, regret and self-condemnation. As someone said to me, “I’m really struggling. I’m thinking about things I don’t want to think about, and remembering things I don’t want to remember.”
In the same poem, Hopkins asks,
“Comforter, where, where is your comforting?”
He cannot sense God’s presence. Where is the comfort that God promised? When we are experiencing mental distress, it can be tempting to condemn ourselves as weak and even to think that God has left us. But in Romans 8:26 Paul tells us, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” When our thoughts and emotions are climbing mountains and falling down cliffs, these words bring us hope. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is praying for us and working for us in ways we cannot understand.
Later in the letter, Paul gives a blessing. If you, or someone you are caring for, are struggling just now I pray that his words will bring comfort to you.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).