Messages from the Unity movement are always mood boosters; they make me feel uplifted and inspired. However, I have struggled with depression off and on since I was a teenager, and when I’m in the middle of a depressive episode, I don’t always feel that “the light of God surrounds me” or “the love of God enfolds me.”

When I first found Unity and learned about the principle that we create our reality by the thoughts we think, it was easy for me to assume I must be causing my depression and only I could solve it. But as I attended a Unity church off and on for the past 15 years, participated in workshops, read spiritual content, and listened to New Thought podcasters and YouTubers, here are five things I learned that have helped me manage my mental health.

1. God is everywhere present—even in the midst of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

The first Unity principle reminds us that God is absolute Good, everywhere present. Throughout the years, I have learned that God is in mental illness. And for me, my spirituality has meant more when I am able to find God in the midst of depression.

Mental illness can be an important part of a spiritual journey. Learning to see God in my depression has created more space around it.

2. Whatever I resist persists.

In the past, I have been so angry with myself when I’ve been depressed, and I tried everything to make myself feel better. If I didn’t succeed, I would get even angrier. I had to learn that sometimes you need to allow yourself to feel depressed. Sometimes I would come out of a depressive episode quicker if I just accepted the way I was feeling, did some journaling, and let myself enjoy eating ice cream while listening to The Smiths.

Severe depression is not that simple. Sometimes it can cause you to barely function; it may cause you to stay in bed for days or not be able to eat or shower. If you are experiencing this level of mental illness, you will likely need the help of a therapist, psychiatrist, medication, or even hospitalization. But every situation is unique, and sometimes, the best way out is through.

3. My mental illness does not define me.

Mental illness is a condition that is caused by many factors: genetics, brain chemistry, and environment, to name a few. I have learned that it does not define who I am; it is simply one aspect of my life. It has no impact on my intelligence, my abilities, or what I have to offer the world. I don’t think anything less of people who are suffering from the flu or people who have cancer, so why should I think less of myself?

4. Mental illness is not always forever.

When I’m depressed, it’s easy to think I will always be depressed, but that is not the case. While I have dealt with depression for more than 20 years, it ebbs and flows, and it never lasts forever.

Some people are on medication for the rest of their lives. Some people can eventually release them. You may find a medication you initially take stops working after two or three years. And every one of those scenarios is okay.

5. I now have a mental health toolbox.

For years, I absolutely refused to try antidepressants. I’m not sure if it was a matter of pride—believing I should be able to fix myself on my own—but eventually when I gave in and started taking Wellbutrin in 2014, I found it to be immensely helpful, and I often wondered why I hadn’t been taking medication all along.

As I became more involved in Unity, I started to develop a daily prayer and meditation practice, and I started to immerse myself in inspirational and spiritual content like books from Eckhart Tolle or Wayne Dyer, Ed.D., Daily Word®, Unity Magazine®, and spiritual blogs and videos on YouTube. But the most important thing I learned is how to assemble a mental health toolbox—one that includes medication and therapy but also prayer, meditation, and reading spiritual content.

Mental illness can be an important part of a spiritual journey. Learning to see God in my depression has created more space around it.

An effective mental health toolbox is going to look different for everyone. My toolbox also includes exercising, journaling, volunteering, singing, playing guitar, adult coloring books, and crocheting, but effective tools for others may include cooking or baking, joining a fitness class or sports team, developing better sleep habits, creating a routine, hiking, or painting.

6. I am not alone.

The most important thing I have learned is that I am not alone, and this is also true for you. You are not alone. Worldwide, there are approximately 280 million people who deal with depression, 301.39 million people who deal with anxiety, 224 million adults who deal with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and about 480 million people will deal with PTSD at some point in their lives.

If you are also struggling with mental illness, it’s important to have loved ones—friends, family, and/or members of your spiritual community—who you can lean on for support. If you are struggling with your mental health, remember to be patient and kind to yourself, and never give up on finding what works for you.

Also remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Seek treatment from medical professionals like psychiatrists and therapists. There are also helpful resources like the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

About the Author

Sara Crawford is a digital content specialist at Unity World Headquarters. She is also a playwright and the author of Time After Time as well as The Muse Chronicles trilogy. For more information, please see

Sara Crawford


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