Rachel and Leah are probably the two women that I feel the most connected to in my journey with mental illness.
In The Bible we read about Jacob who fell in love with Rachel. He worked 7 years for her father to be able to marry her. When those 7 years were up, Jacob was given Leah rather than Rachel. He worked an additional 7 years to be able to have Rachel.
Now this wonderful love story isn’t why I feel connected to the two sisters. What I feel connected to is their jealousy toward each other. Leah was jealous and felt that Rachel was more loved. The Lord blessed her with sons. Leah felt that the more she bore sons for Jacob, the more he would love her. Even though Rachel was said to be very beautiful and loved by Jacob, she was jealous of Leah because Leah was having children and she was not.
I thought it was interesting that the two sisters felt that if they could bear jacob children, he would love them more.
Rachel and Leah helped me to see the jealousy in my own self. Due to my anxiety and depression, I often felt jealous of other people. I was jealous of people who were able to walk around with confidence. I was jealous of young women who were beautiful and successful. I was jealous of people who were able to do things without being afraid. I was jealous of people who were better than me.
Honestly, I was jealous because they were everything I wanted to be, but had a hard time being because of mental illness. I always felt ashamed of myself and could only see my imperfections. I couldn’t see what was right or good about me.
I thought that if I had more of something, I could overcome my mental illness and be accepted. For example, I would work on being more social so that people wouldn’t see me as stuck up or isolated. I would work on being better in the sports that I did so that people wouldn’t think that just sat in bed all day and cried. Plus, sports is how I earned respect. I would work on being more presentable or “beautiful” by pushing myself pass the limits to lose weight and what not so that people wouldn’t label me as someone who looked like something was wrong with them.
Trying to gain more of something stressed me out and overwhelmed me so much because I never felt like it was enough. I always ended up disappointed because I kept looking at others and thought that they were better than me. I was competing against people who weren’t aware they were in a competition in the first place which led to more disappointment. I never felt acceptable.
When I sat in my institute of religion class and it was about Rachel and Leah, the lesson hit me really hard. I came to the realization that I was so much like them! What was I supposed to do? How was I going to change that?
In my bedroom hangs a huge mirror. I wrote my name in the middle of that mirror in permanent marker. Like a brainstorming web, I wrote down things that I honestly love, things I suffer from, things I don’t like, things that make me who I am, and what not. The point of doing this was so that I wouldn’t look at my reflection in the mirror and point out of every flaw there was. The point was to look at what I wrote down and learn to love myself for who I am.
By doing this, I am more content and experience less anxiety and depression. I’m learning to love myself and discover the parts of me I never knew about.