We recently chatted with our friend Bryce Fox to discuss his story of hope surrounding anxiety, fear, depression and suicide. We pray this conversation about mental health brings helpful advice and hope into your life.
by: Bryce Fox
Hey Socality family,
My name is Bryce W. Fox, and it’s my honor to share just a bit about what the Lord has done in my life with you all during this Holiday season.
Just a little bit about me,
I was born in California, grew up in Portland, Oregon, and am currently living in Castle Rock, Colorado. I am passionate about Jesus, the church, music, fashion, writing, photography, and creating in general. Currently, I work as an Assistant Manager for PacSun and I am starting a clothing company as well. I also am an ENFP (can I get an amen?).
1. What do you think is the biggest misconception about mental health?
The biggest misconception people have about mental health is that negative mental health can be avoided and/or changed immediately. Health, as described in the dictionary, is the “state of being free of illness or injury”.
As someone who has dealt with depression, anxiety, and self harm in the past, and still has bouts with depression, anxiety and ADHD, I've heard a lot of different things from people. Phrases like, “Oh, well I’m sorry you’re feeling that way. I’ll pray for you, God is bigger than that.”, or “Well, I think you should just stop feeling that way, because it’s a choice.” tend to be most aggravating.
I once saw a meme about depression, and while a little off, the overall message is true. It said something like “you wouldn’t tell a cancer patient to stop having cancer, it’s the same with depression”. While the intention behind the words “don’t be depressed” can be the greatest in the world, it often cuts deep, and tries to tell the person struggling that there is something wrong with them.
I’ve been there, and it’s not a fun experience.
Also, while I fully believe there is a God that loves me desperately, and does not rejoice through my times of suffering, telling me that God is bigger than my problems kind of comes across as a slap-to-the-face, as if I’d forgot or something, and I know that this occurrence is similar with friends that have struggled with negative mental health.
2. Who or what helped you the most during tough seasons?
When I was going through struggles with self-harm and depression, the thing that helped me the most was music. Music was the thing that Jesus used to call to my soul, and pull me out of some of the darkest spaces my mind and heart have ever been.
I remember there were times in high school, I’d come home alone after the bus dropped me off. I would throw on loud music, and just being in the space that music provided me would dull my urge to cut myself. And now I know that was only Jesus reaching out to me, and showing me there was an alternative, a different option, that I wasn’t captive to my feelings, or the emotions I didn’t know how to process. And my love for music then developed into a love for writing music, which has brought about one of my favorite things to do in life: writing prose & poetry.
God is so good, and the people that have responded to my writing, from very brutally honest and vulnerable times in my life, have made everything I’ve gone through worth it. The fact that I’m able to use my brokenness, to wittiness the good, and faithful character of God to those around me, has been such a blessing.
Looking back, it's so important to have someone that will simply listen. Someone who won’t necessarily just quote scripture at you, or tell you cliches about God, or try to fix your issue, or tell you that you need to simply just stop feeling or behaving a certain way. Someone who will love you despite the fact you can’t see the joy in life some days, and will simply remind you of the beauty in this life. We all need that person!
3. What would you say to someone going through something similar to you during the holiday season?
During the holidays, we’re all looking for something. Maybe it’s the new iPhone, the Apple Watch, a significant other, a new car or job, the newest game console, that new pair of raw denim, or that new Kayne sneaker. Winter is a time where people are more inclined to be generous, but also just as inclined to be greedy and selfish. My point is that we need to remember that there’s a reason we exist, and it’s not for the material things in this life. Sure, the new sneakers, or new iPhone would be cool, but if we don’t have people around us to celebrate with, or an identity that is solidified in Christ, rather than the new raw denim we just spent probably too much on, than the whole season comes off as void, empty, and lonely.
I’ve been there.
I let the whole holiday season of 2013 pass me bye completely, because I was caught up in my own mind, and extremely depressed to focus on anyone or anything other than my situation.
I wasn’t focused on Jesus, and the reality and gravity of this one day we’ve chosen as the day to remember his birth. I wasn’t focused on giving back and enjoying the company of my friends and family.
So I encourage you to make a conscious effort to not just “get through the holidays”, but instead to soak them up for all they’re worth, be selfless, practice radical generosity, really dig into the Bible and celebrate Jesus coming to Earth as Emmanuel: God with us. To those of who who are blessed enough to have loving family and friends, I encourage you to be in community with them, and look for opportunities to bring those less fortunate into healthy, safe and positive spaces, especially during the holidays.
4. What are 5 things that help maintain mental health.
- rest / a sabbath: I take one every week, time to shut off the tech, wind down, get into scriptures, sleep in, go for a walk or a photoshoot, get coffee with a friend, listen to a new record, or write for hours on end. As a people who are working what seems like 90% of the time, this is so important because it allows us to take time to recharge, and re-energize during our busy lives, especially throughout this holiday season.
- exercise: whatever it is. Being active is super important to mental health. I find that when I have tough days, sometimes it’s the effect of being inactive. Rest and non-work related activity are equally important to staying balanced.
- passions: having something that you’re passionate about and enjoy doing and do often is very important. It gives you something to look forward to, and something to live for.
- friends and family: I know that I wouldn’t have progressed or been healed as much as I have from my past without supportive family and friends that I know are there whenever I need to talk to them. Community is everything.
- right relationship with God: One of the most interestingly true things I’ve ever read about depression, is that it is sometimes our bodies own symptom as a result of continued sin, or wrongdoing. When I was sleeping with an ex a few years back, I was in a hole, a depression I didn’t think I could get out of. I felt that way as a result of the wrong I knew I was committing in my own life. I knew that if I didn’t change the behavior, I would continue to feel guilty, and that guilt would feed my depression. Repenting from those behaviors and situations and allowing God to restore you is key to mental health. My home pastor, John Mark Comer, gave me some advice, "look at yourself, in your state of depression, and ask: “Is there sin in my life I’ve not laid down before the Father? Are there things I’m not surrendering to his authorship and lordship?"
5. Any closing thoughts?
I have found that the more things I submit to Jesus and the more things I give over to His control, while being proactive in following Him, the less anxious or depressed I am, the more confident I can be, the more I know that the things of this world are only temporary, and that my identity is secure, held by the arms of our good Father.