When You Can’t Pray, Just Sit and Breathe

I'm a 15-year-old Lutheran Christian who's struggled with bipolar disorder (originally diagnosed as extreme depression), anxiety/panic disorder, and possibly schizoaffective disorder. I'm also queer, which has influenced my problems and my recovery. I've honestly heard it all at this point. After being hospitalized a few times, you get used to what other religious people who don't really understand say. "Just pray harder." "Go to church and all your troubles will go away." "It's a sin to kill yourself. You have to repent for attempting suicide." "This is just a test of faith." "It's because you're gay. Just stop promoting sinful acts and God will accept you."

I don't pretend to know why God gave me and/or let me have these illnesses, but I know that they're a chemical disorder of the brain, they're not my fault, they're not because I don't have faith or because of my sexuality, and with God's help, I can get through this.

Praying can help me go about my recovery and it can comfort my broken heart, but it will not fix my broken brain. God is giving me the strength I need to survive each day and he will accept me no matter what. If you're struggling, please take a step back.

Sometimes it feels like you're crazy or sinful or broken or lost, but really you're sick. And God is there. No matter if you're gay or straight, cis or trans. He loves you. Even if the rest of your life falls apart, and you can't tell what's real and what's not, God is there, unbroken and very real indeed. And when you can't pray, just sit and breathe. Mindfulness can be a form of prayer. Surround yourself by beauty and never stop loving. Make art. Do not desert everything to pray; make everything prayer.