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Thank You, Wil Wheaton and Everson Griffen

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Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

If you know me very well at all you know that I am a crazed “Big Bang Theory” follower. I’ve watched every episode of the series’ twelve seasons. One of the show’s clever hooks is the ongoing cameos by Wil Wheaton, who plays himself on the show. Wil became a famous actor at a young age, when he stared in the wildly popular and critically acclaimed movie “Stand By Me.” As an adult he was Wesley Crusher in the Star Trek series.

Yes, this is a devotion about Wil Wheaton, but not why you might think. I am talking about Wil because he bravely opened up about his struggle with chronic depression and anxiety. Wil Wheaton shared the following words with the Ohio conference of the National Alliance on Mental Health:

My name is Wil Wheaton, and I have Chronic Depression. It took me over thirty years to be able to say those ten words, and I suffered for most of them as a result. I suffered because though we in America have done a lot to help people who live with mental illness, we have not done nearly enough to make it okay for our fellow travelers on the wonky brain express to reach out and accept that help.

Wil Wheaton is so impressive because he struggles with the problems of celebrity every day. Further, he has the financial means to protect his privacy. Yet, amidst the continual struggle with depression and anxiety, he continues to put himself out there in order to provide support for others struggling with similar challenges, and to help the rest of our society know how to respond to people working through these issues. 

Along with being a “Big Bang Theory” fan, I am also a huge Minnesota Vikings fan. For the past few weeks, the Vikings great defensive lineman Everson Griffen has been inactive, not for a physical injury, but to address mental health issues. In a sport where machoism is the norm, and where showing no pain is the rule, Griffen is to be applauded for addressing this issue in his life and for being willing to acknowledge his challenges publicly.

Today, pray for those struggling with mental illness. Just about every one of us knows someone struggling with mental illness. Yet, we often fail to share our concerns openly. Most of us talk about our ailments, almost to the point of obsession. Yet, we keep mental health issues to ourselves. Pray that our society opens up and shares these issues freely with others without fear of judgment. Finally, continue to pray for new ways of providing healing for those who suffer. The first step in healing is something we can all do, and that is to listen, learn from, and embrace those who struggle with mental illness. If Wil Wheaton and Everson Griffen are willing to put themselves out there for us, the least we can do is listen to them, and learn from their stories.