Hello Friends!! Happy Tuesday!!
Guys, today is a treat!! I met Jacque a few months ago when she messaged me about SSP. Her drive and purpose is so inspiring to me! I absolutely love what she is doing on her blog and in her life. She isn’t afraid to speak truth and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. I learned so much from this interview and I hope you do as well!!
+ For those who aren’t familiar with you , please introduce yourself.
Hi, my name is Jacque Anderson, and I am a recent graduate from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a degree in English (Writing). I discovered my passion for the genre Creative Nonfiction my sophomore year of college. I decided then that I wanted to write to share about my own experiences and tell people’s stories to educate and inspire others. I’m most passionate about using my writing to share about the Catholic faith and mental health.
+ When did your relationship with Christ first take root in your life? What encouraged you in striving for a deeper relationship with God?
I was raised Catholic, but I didn’t have a personal encounter with the Lord until I was a sophomore in high school. When I was 14, I attended my first Steubenville Youth Conference and had an incredibly powerful experience with the Eucharist during Adoration. I knew in that moment that God loved me and wanted to be in a personal relationship with me. I eventually fell out of my deep relationship with God during my later years of high school. It wasn’t until my senior year of college after consecrating myself to Jesus through Mary that I developed a deep relationship with Christ again. When you consecrate yourself to Mary, she helps you keep your Baptismal vows and brings you to closer to her Son everyday. By learning to imitate and rely on the Blessed Mother, my relationship with Christ has deepened tremendously.
+ As a Christian and follower of Christ, how do you intentionally choose to live the joy of Christ in your daily life?
Every day, I try to start my day by praying a Rosary. This always helps me start my day on the right foot, intentionally reflecting on the life of Jesus and Mary, which naturally leads me to be much more peaceful and joyful in my day and keep my priorities straight. This Rosary helps me continually strive to imitate Christ and live out the virtues. I also recently read this great book Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, in which it talks about how everything that happens is willed or allowed by God. Knowing that God is working in everything, even the trials and hardships in my life, helps me to remain joyful no matter what life throws at me.
+ This August, you will begin a new little chapter as you begin doing mission work. How did you find your passion for the missions and decide to do something??
Being a missionary is not something I ever imagined I would do. It was most definitely a calling from the Lord, and He spoke to me in various ways. This past Spring, I watched the movie Paul, Apostle of Christ. At the end of the film after Paul is killed, we see Paul in heaven and a figure that we are supposed to assume is Jesus running to Paul. In that moment, I felt the Lord speak to me: this is the moment you are living for. I’m not on this Earth to find a job, make money and be financially comfortable, which is what my goal has always been. (I have extreme anxiety about money). I’m on this Earth to use the gifts and heart that the Lord has given me to bring other souls to heaven and get there myself. I knew then that the Lord was calling me to do something nontraditional. Through friends, I found the ministry in Chicago I will be working with and felt deeply in my heart that the Lord was calling me there, even though it scared me and made me uncomfortable. But I know the Lord is taking me out of my comfort zone to grow and strengthen my faith in His Divine Providence.
+ The New Evangelization is such a beautiful and multifaceted part of our faith. How do you go about spreading the gospel in all you do, even in small things?
I share a lot about my faith on social media and on my blog. But, most importantly, I strive to share the faith by praying regularly and allowing the Lord to grow within me so that I can be the woman He created me to be: patient, kind, loving, compassionate, merciful, and so on. I try to treat others with love and kindness, even those who hurt me, and show them the face of Christ, even if they aren’t believers.
+ One of your greatest passions is Mental Health. Please share a bit of how you became interested in this topic and how it has impacted you personally.
I’ve struggled with generalized anxiety disorder and clinical depression since I was very young. I never knew what I was struggling with because of the lack of awareness and education about mental health in my life. When I was 13, my cousin who had bipolar disorder committed suicide, and that event changed my life forever. My depression and anxiety worsened and continued to intensify until I became suicidal in college and almost ended my own life. I believe that if my parents and myself had been more educated about mental illness and there wasn’t such a stigma around taking medication and going to therapy, I wouldn’t have become so sick and maybe my cousin’s life would have ended differently. There is still such a stigma surrounding mental illness, especially in the Christian community, and I hope to shed light on that and give hope to others by sharing my experiences.
+ A lot of times, Mental Health concerns are stigmatized and kept out of the public eye. And this is very sad. Why do you think it is important to address Mental Health and how?
It is extremely important because the rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide are rising. People are still misinformed about mental illness and don’t understand that sometimes eating healthy, exercising, or taking bubble baths isn’t enough to treat them. Therapy and medication are often needed, but there is a stigma surrounding these treatments. I try to spread awareness by speaking out about my own experiences on social media and my blog. I think that hearing other’s personals testimonies is really powerful because if you have a mental illness, you can see a real person who is also struggling and know you aren’t alone. Also, it is very difficult to understand mental illness if you have never had one, so hearing a person’s testimony or reading a well-written piece about someone’s experience can be extremely eye opening.
+ What can we do, as family members, friends, and loved ones, to help those we love who deal with depression and anxiety?
I think the best thing you can do is educate yourself on the particular mental illness that he or she struggles with and be open to listening to learn how that particular person experiences the illness and how it affects him or her. Ask them what you can do to be there for them during a rough time. Often, the person will just want someone to sit with them and listen so they know that they aren’t alone. Check up reguarly on your friends who have a mental illness, especially if they go MIA. Don’t be afraid to encourage them to seek professional help if they need it and are not already doing so.
+ Let’s talk about Christ as Healer. Through your experiences with Mental Health, how has Christ’s healing power been made manifest to you?
I think a misconception that Christians often have about mental illness is that if you pray enough, you can “cure” your mental illness, especially depression and anxiety. But clinical depression and anxiety are an illness that can’t simply be “prayed away,” unless the Lord decides to miraculously heal me, which He hasn’t. This doesn’t mean that the Lord hasn’t been there for me, and I know that he led me to the right doctors and therapists who could help me manage and control my illnesses so that I could thrive in my life. He has carried me through it all; although it was hard to see in the thick of the storm, looking back, I can see that the Lord protected me and is now using me to spread awareness and help those who are struggling.
+ You are also very passionate about writing. How can a person’s story, shared at any level, have an impact? How do you hope to use your writing to share about people’s different experiences and lives??
We as humans seek connection, and we often feel so isolated and alone in our lives, especially when we are struggling in some way. When we share our stories, we allow others to enter into our lives and relate and connect with us, sometimes on a deep level, but also see new perspectives in an intimate way. Our stories can inspire others as well. Reading other people’s stories about mental illness helped keep me alive at times because I felt less alone. It gave me hope to read the stories of people who had found success in recovery when I hadn’t yet. I also love reading stories told by people who have different experiences for me or have a different background because it allows me to enter into their world and widen my perspective. I think when we when enter into another person’s story, it allows us to feel a deeper empathy and compassion for others, something I think is severely lacking in our world. There is so much we can learn from stepping out of our bubble and reading about others’ lives.I hope to share people’s stories to raise awareness about certain topics, especially mental illness, to inspire, educate, and give hope to others.
+ Do you have any resources that you have found helpful??
To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) has resources and a great blog! I also have resources on my own website under “Get Involved.”
I hope you all have a beautiful day!! See you on Saturday!