Had a meeting today with two people from UPENN (one a prof) who are working to break down barriers for those with Serious mental illness (SMI). They have found that folks with SMI are quite likely to acknowledge spiritual or religious beliefs and identity. And yet, these folks say there are two serious roadblocks for finding support. First, the church does not seem particularly open to folks with SMI. Second, mental health professionals are either unsupportive or downright negative about the faith/beliefs of those with SMI.
Actually, the UPENN folks said they had more hope that the church would be open to developing policies and systems for supporting the mentally ill than they had hope in influencing the mental health professionals that paying attention to one’s faith is an essential part of their healing and rehabilitation.
One of the church’s challenges is that they need to develop strategies for the long haul. If the church is going to do well with someone with bipolar or schizophrenia, then they need to realize how best to pace the response. I think some churches are willing to throw lots of resources at the person in an effort to try to solve the problem. And if the person is not progressing as they had hoped, then the interest in helping dies off. Hence you have folks with SMI making serial connections with the churches in their area.
Any thoughts on what a helpful church strategy to help someone with SMI be a key member of the community? What kinds of help should the church offer for the long haul?
I suppose we ought to start with making it okay to admit struggles with mental illness…
293 responses to “Serious Mental Illness and faith: what to do?”
“I suppose we ought to start with making it okay to admit struggles with mental illness…”
Yes! Growing up with a schizophrenic Mother and going from church to church, I can only say “amen.” The Church either tried to a) convice her it was just sin in her life and she needed to repent; b) cast out the demons; or c) completely ignore the problems altogether.
So, what would be helpful? Good question. I would say a basic understanding of the illness would be a great place to start. Acknowledging that the person has an illness and not just a problem would be helpful. How that plays out practically, I’m not sure.
Hi, my name is Joanna and I am an Enrolled Mental Health Nurse, working in a local hospital in the psychiatry/mental health ward. I both as a Christian and a woman have a deep passion for wanting to help people in the church family who have mental illnesses. Trying to make sense for those with, and their families, of what actually is happening, what systems are in place for help and getting through detainment, surviving the stigma and so on. Any thoughts or suggestions? Would love the chance to hear from anyone who could share what they really would need from a representative from the church during the challenges of mental illnesses. Both as the diagnosed person, and as family/friends. Any input or methods, systems already in place, i would love to hear. Thankyou
My husband and I are Christians. He has had bipolar II since 1985. We got so tired of everyone (Christians) saying that mental illness is sin, bitterness, poor coping skills, anger turned inward, blah, blah, blah, that we finally wrote a book about our experience with his mental illness. He has been a pastor, a therapist in the Community Mental Health system for over ten years and now in private practice for over six years…but the thing that makes him unique is that he has also been a patient in three different psychiatric hospitals. He has received ECT, has gone right to work after out-patient ECT, has counseled people when he said he knew he was more depressed at the time than his own clients. We have hit the church head on and have been rebuffed by pastors who think they know— but they don’t. We have started a movement for Christians who have mental illness and one part of the movement is support groups. We have written and published our own material and groups here in Grand Rapids, MI, ourselves. We do a seminar all over country called,”Whispers in the Foyer…An Honest Look at the Christian and Mental Illness.” This, too, helps educate the client/patient as well as the caregivers and the PASTORS! If pastors can get an understanding of the mentally ill and help them in supportive ways instead of quoting a Bible verse and sending them home, we will be making progress. We have also been published (Kregel, 2005) when we wrote Broken Minds, Hope for Healing
When You Feel like You’re Losing it. When my husband pulls out his bottles of pills and shows them to his clients, he get instant credibility…he has made himself vulnerable and that is what we need…professionals who admit weakness and their own mental ILLNESS not their mental HEALTH. Call it what it is and be open and THEN the stigma will lift and help will come!
Hi, My name is Tammy and I have bipolar disorder.
One of the best things that the church could do is treat us like people. So many times it seems like we are just written off because we’re flaky, or people walk on eggshells around us because they’re afraid or they think we’re weird. When I was diagnosed, I experienced the loss of my spiritual family it seems and that was just as hard to get over as being diagnosed as bipolar. One of my greatest fears is that I will go permanently crazy and be institutionalized and fogotten.
The church could help by establishing an outreach program that visits the insitutionalized and lets us know that when everyone else forgets about us at least God remembers us.
And last, but not least, please do not gossip or laugh about us.
Tammy when the rest of the world has rejected you just remember that God loves you and it will be ok. Just remember to smile too as God thinks you are beautiful! 😀 (((hugs)))
I am a mental Health therapist who is a Crisitian and I believe that the church should educate themselves about Mental Illness and never discourage anyone to seek professional help that may include medication. A non-biased, compassionate, and educated stance would be most beneficial in the church.
I am responding to your request “Would love the chance to hear from anyone who could share what they really would need from a representative from the church during the challenges of mental illnesses. ”
I was a successfully functioning and contributing member of a church “life group”, a small adult bible study/support/prayer group. Then I became seriously ill with an unmanaged epidsode of bipolar disorder. When I recovered I found I was utterly abandoned by all my “Christian” “friends” where had been advised not to associate with me since I was devil possessed. They wound up afraid of me and I not longer had a group to go to. This was not some fringe wacko sect but a major “non-denominational” mega-church with huge influence in the community. Spiritually, I wandered like a lost soul long after my illness was in check.
What a serious mental illness person most needs is welcome. It may not be possible for an acute patient to participate in a group but, to the extent that an individual is functioning normally, there needs to be a hand out with a clear message, “we are so happy you are back and feeling better”. We need to be woven back into the fabric of the community, not ostrasized.
Hi, I just discovered this website; was driven by lonliness and near despair. I have been a Christian all my life, former pastor’s wife, etc. 3 of my 5 adult children suffer from mental illness; apparently genetics from my exhusband’s side. After he and I went bankrupt he was asked to resign from our church. I think he himself has mental issues-very passive aggressive and was dishonest with me abt. many things our whole marriage. When things continued to deteriorate, I filed for divorce. I’ve had lots of mixed feelings and spent many hours in prayer and seeking Christian advice about that. Anyway, I have so much trouble accepting my kids’ situation. And I also agree that there’s a big problem with how churches handle this. My 27 yr. old son, schizoaffective, is never called on by the pastor where he is a member because the pastor is not “comfortable.” If Andy had cancer or any physicial illness, I’m sure he’d be there. Also, my “regular” friends just don’t understand the devastation of mental illness. I do belong to NAMI, which has been helpful, but does not have the Christian aspect. Any advice would be helpful.
As a pastor’s wife, my heart goes out to you. You have had to deal with so many challenges. I know in the area where I live, there is one church that many with mental illness have chosen to attend, and perhaps that is the case where you live. I haven’t been to this church, but I assume that these individuals are made to feel welcome and accepted as they are. I will keep y our family in prayer, especially that you will be able to find someone who you can talk your concerns with. God bless you.
bethvoswinkel: Thank you for sharing your struggles. I too, have been a Christian since 13 yrs. of age, I am now 49. I have been “shunned” because of my mental illness, not only by my own “family/friends”, but unfortunately, by “members of the Lord’s Church”. I think it stems for the most part from (people’s) own fear & ignorance, (perhaps they think what we have might “rub off on them”. I don’t believe that is a warranted excuse however to flee from, or ignore the sick, be it mentally or physically. I have Bipolar I, PTSD, and am currently going through menopause. This horrid trio has presented me with the strongest challenge to keep my sanity, and stay alive, Praise God! He’s why I’m still determined. I am replying to you because I empathize so deeply with the sad situation your 27 yr. old son is enduring. In my opinion: “the ignorant fearfulness of the Pastor” where he attends Church, is a big hindrance to your son, because it sounds like the Pastor is concerned about “his own reputation”, and not for the spiritual strength, and confidence your son could gain from being allowed to “serve” doing the Lord’s work. Please encourage your Son for me, that the fact that the Lord is aware of his desire to “do good for the Lord”, is enough. Praise God! He knows our hearts, and that His beloved, and only begotten Son, Jesus, will one day stand before our Heavenly Father, on judgment day, as our mediator, and declare, Yes Father, “he/she” belongs to us, through my sanctified blood. My thoughts and prayers go out, to all sick, sad, and suffering (by however means) people. In Him. B-baby.
Perhaps a NAMI group for Christians – wouldn’t that be a great support gorup. 1 out of 5 people in Canada have a mental illness: surely their has to be Cristians, Cristian parents, and church leaders who are represented in these statistics.
I am having a real problem at my church. 2 weeks ago I was very depressed and suicidal. Went to a friend’s house. she called our pastor and she wound up calling the police and had me put in the hospital. No problem. I know I needed it. Called my pastor while I was in there and she said she had done all she could for me and so did my other friend. Since I got out my pastor has not called or contacted me. I’ve sent her several emails and no response. I suffer from major depression and borderling personality disorder. I self injure when I get upset. They think I use my mental illness as an excuse to be rude and uncaring. I have never tried to be rude to anyone or hurt anyone in any way because I know how sensitive I am and I try very hard not to hurt anyone else’s feelings. My other friend told me she gets tired of hearing me complain yet nothing changes in my life. I haven’t been this down for that long. I feel totally rejected by my church. I’ve prayed and ask God what he wants me to do. I got really down again today because I still haven’t heard from my pastor and my husband was mad at me and cussing me. God help me. They have tried to tell me I need more faith and all the usual things. I’m just really confused and don’t know what to do.
Teresa, sorry to hear about your situation and your suffering. Even when humans do not comfort you, the Scriptures do teach us that God remains our comforter. You cannot do anything to keep him from this role. So, do be on the look out for his small or large comforts. Sometimes we overlook them. However, it is also important to have human comforters as well. It might be quite difficult for you to do and would likely take much courage, but I might try to ask for a meeting whereby you say to your pastor (or whoever you seek out) that you understand that they likely get overwhelmed with your situation. I expect they can be afraid, unsure of what to do, frustrated, etc. You can relate to these feelings because you have them too. I expect you experience fear of your symptoms, unsure of what to do, frustrated that they remain. You might validate some of there concerns in that you recognize that while faith doesn’t mean that God will automatically cure you, faith may help you lower your level of complaints and ruminations. I would ask yourself and maybe them if they are open, “what does living faithfully in the midst of great turmoil and distress of depression look like?” It is not faith so much to remove the symptoms but faith to live with until God brings some level of relief.
May the Lord show you his comfort even when we humans fail you. Thank you for your courage to raise your voice here.
I’m sorry to hear of this too. Phil has given good advice but what about you? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you seeing a counselor? I wouldn’t worry too much about your pastor and his troubles dealing with you. You can certainly follow Phil’s suggestion which may very well help your pastor but be sure to take care of yourself in the midst of all this. Phil has showed you how much power you have in dealing with your pastor but please love and take care of yourself by attending and remaining in counseling. I certainly know what you are talking about as I have suffered from clinical depression and could not begin to even study the word, with the help of medication. I did not listen to the church rumblings of me having less faith. At first I did but eventually I just quietly went on to a doctor and got the help I needed. God is with you and loves you and desires you to be helped. Doctors and counselors can be very helpful to you along with prayer.
If you feel strong enough or when you are strong enough Phil has given a wonderful suggestion on how to deal with your pastor. Your pastor will certainly be the better for it when confronted this way. The best thing to do is show the love of God to yourself and take good care of you. My prayers are with you and for you.
Hi teresa! I apologize for my late response, just remember that even if humans let you down Jesus is always loves you and he is with you. I don’t know you but if you want someone to message about your problems let me know and I will give you my email . I will try and respond as often as I can. Just know that you’re not alone! God bless you!
Those of us who are not mentally ill, Christian or not, do not know how to deal with mental problems on a day-to-day basis. I tried to befriend a (bipolar) girl who had been friends with my schizophrenic sister before she died. We had no common meeting ground. She could not stay in one place for any length of time. She could not play cards or attend normal activities with me, such as concerts or movies. There was a problem with everything I would suggest. She was afraid of her phone, of other people, of certain buildings. One day she would be fine with me. Another day, she would be offended by some quite inoffensive comment I would make. She called us on the phone several times a day, telling us the same things, wanting our immediate attention for problems that existed only in her mind. It is almost impossible to be truly sensitive and caring about something that is only in the person’s head. That is the fight that I see very often between the seriously mentally ill and those who are better adjusted. It seems that they try to force us into their world because they are afraid of ours. We know they are lonely, yet they resist the opportunities to relate to others. I know this is not done on purpose. However, I have not yet had an experience with a caring, sensitive, thinking-of-others mentally ill inidividual. So far as I can tell, they are so deeply immersed in their distorted thoughts they have little to no energy for anything else. My sister would come home to see us. She smoked and drank tea/soft drinks the entire time she was with us. She laughed at the voices in her head or listened to music over headphones to drown them out. She wore eyepatches, threw out her glasses because they were either sending or receiving signals. Her entire life was built around the desire to get the voices out of her head. To the day she died, this was not well controlled with medication, or with kind thoughts, or through scripture, or prayer or through contact with other people. I do not say this as criticism. I cannot imagine what these people go through. I pray for them. I would like to spend time with them, but find that I do nothing to help the depression/anger these people feel. My experience is that I am expect to agree with them.
Do not give up on God, however, call on Him often. He is there for you Teresa, and you deserve a church that loves you. I pray that you will find it. You are needed, valued and loved by God. He can use you to His purpose! Find a church that embraces the “full you.” If this isn’t possible, start your own prayer/praise group with people who have issues like yours and nurture each other in the way God nurtures us. Many pastors pull away because they do not feel “trained” to handle mental illness crises. They don’t understand. As a nation, we are in our infancy regarding our understanding and dealing with mental illness!
I’m not sure how it plays out either. My pastor friend and his wife were counseling a schizophrenic member of the flock. She believed that the pastor was in love with her, and that his sermons were directed toward her. She began to stalk the family, she called their homes at all times of the day and night. They kept silent about it because of the confidentiality issue, but eventually found they were stressed beyond their abilities, and called the the church deacons. The deacons were able to have the woman temporarily committed. Once she was out, the counselors advised that she go to a different church. The woman called my pastor’s wife, asking for forgiveness, which she free gave. She then asked to come back to the church. His wife said that this was probably not the best idea at this point. The woman hung up the phone, and killed herself.
A bipolar girl in Lafayette believes that the pastor leaves messages for her alone in his sermons. She seeks out ways of talking to him and being with him. He avoids her by telling her he’s got to go out of town.
My father has been kind to my mentally ill sister for many years. He listens to her, believes she’s letting off steam. Yet, he is listening to thoughts not based in reality, and agreeing to things that aren’t there. He does not change her, he does not make her better. His willingness to talk with her just leads to numerous phone calls, more spleen venting. Often she is angry with him because he is unable to help with the specific issues (no one would be). He may very well be gathering roses in heaven; down here, he’s faced with the thorns, and every time he pulls one out another grows in its place.
I think we’re being too hard on ourselves. My experience is that the mentally ill do not necessarily respond to kind thoughts, to prayers, to offers of friendship, to medication, or to any other outside stimuli. I would love to hear from/about those who know otherwise.
My experience is that mental illness responds to the proper medications and nutritional supplements. It may take a while to get the right combination of medications. My experience is that the church needs to drop confidentiality when someone is a danger to themselves and others. Cognitive therapy and behavior therapy works well also. Prayer, support and friendship is important too. I know of many stories of recovery. But sometimes none of these things help. I don’t know why the illness would linger a long time with no improvement, but I think it is extremely important for those who suffer from mental illness to remove themselves from churches who cry ” devil possession ” and get medical help. At the same time, I myself suffered a long time from clinical depression. I believe that medication was truly God’s best for me at the time. I was so bad off that I could not read the Bible. As I got better I found that I could focus. I owe that to medication. The Lord did reveal to me that I was bitter and unforgiving. When I worked out my bitterness and forgave I improved by leaps and bounds. I have to say as well, that the devil did harass me spiritually and yes, I did cast him out from my life. One day, while looking out my window, I heard a voice say ” you should jump” clearly to me it was the devil speaking. I turned and spoke the word and name of Jesus. At that moment, I felt something heavy lift from the top of my head and out. Since that day, I have not had any struggles with depression. I praise God daily, I eat right, I etc. Yet, I can’t speak for others and what their situation might be. What I can say without question is that the church is ill-equipped to handle mental illness cases. In my view, they do more damage then good. Psychologists and Psychiatrists have more of a handle on things. It’s good if these doctors are Christian. But then again they also may not know what they are doing either. Few know how to apply the Bible realistically and with wisdom. Bible study alone does not heal mental illness. I don’t know where the church got the idea that medications were evil. Meanwhile, the church too often has no other solution for members with mental health issues. They have no support groups, no doctors they can connect with, no programs or effective help. It certainly does not help members when we write them off as being devil possessed. In fact, if a person is lacking certain vitamins, symptoms that are similiar to mental illness can occur. Of course some churches do help the mentally ill and have some helps in place but they are too few in number.
Thanks so much for your comments. I can relate to a lot of what you said and I do agree, for the most part, about the Church. Trying to fit in with folks who don’t have a clue about what depression or mental illness is about can be very painful. A hurting person tries a new church because of hearing that the church welcomes people with “problems” only to find the group support offered there is for alcoholics, drug users, etc., but not for the mentally ill or depressed. I’ve even gone to Alcoholics Victorious meetings to try to fit in somewhere, but the shouting, “We know the enemy, it is Alcohol and through God we can conquer!” really turns me off and I don’t belong there anyway. I wonder about the basis for alcoholism, –whether there is mental/ emotional illness involved. Sometimes I have thought it would be so nice to be able to “name the Enemy” and just go after avoiding that one thing, but the enemy seems to be a very nebulous thing within me, –having to do with childhood abuse, neglect, rapes, and mistreatment by the legal system, compounded by continued bad choices through life and the mental or emotional inability to just “get” what life is supposed to be about, –especially when it comes to “fitting in.” Wow. it is so complicated, but spending more time with God and just believing in His Love has helped me a lot lately. (But, would I even be able to DO THAT without taking the Lamictal? I think probably not. I don’t even want to listen to ignorant, unloving pastors and others who say that drugs are never needed and maybe are of the devil. Arghhh!) Anyway, thanks for your well-given thoughts.
Perhaps Phil will give some suggestions of options for the helper in these situations.
My thought in your first scenario is that the pastor could have (should have?) notified the authorities as it was a matter of safety. That pastor should probably get a better understanding of the laws and limitations of confidentiality. First of all though, the pastor and his wife were out of their depth trying to counsel someone who was clearly suffering with psychosis. I’ll bet that if a lawsuit were brought against them it would be an easy win. Practicing beyond their competency…, failure to inform…
Regarding the woman with bipolar disorder – what she believes (messages to her) is not true. How does lying to her help anything? (going out of town) Whatever the case, it’s lying! I have no patience for lying. He’s a wimp.
Regarding father and daughter, that’s tough. In my experience, Dad’s love causes them to want to make everything all better. That makes it harder for a Dad (or Mom, or other close relation) to step back and draw the lines of what is acceptable or unacceptable. Loving someone isn’t necessarily “nice.”
As others have said, friendship and helpfulness doesn’t mean you take responsibility for their problems. Loving someone isn’t necessarily being “nice” and helpfulness can sometimes cause pain.
We all have our limitations in our involvement in any relationship. Yet, I think people with mental illness deserve honesty and respect just as much as any other person.
Just some of my thoughts.
My reply Judy Ford: You can’t account for all mentally ill persons, and their actions/choices as singular. I accept responsibility for the choices, and actions I make. As a mentally ill Christian, I do, keep my appt’s. w/ both my Psychologist & my Psychiatrist, I do take my medications on schedule, and try to get the appropriate rest, & relaxation I need. It is just as important for mentally ill persons to take med’s, as it is for ones to take their insulin, heart med’s, chem/radiation, (you get my point), I’m sure. If the mentally ill person is in a state of instability, and they are unable to remember, then a loved one should help them, until they are on a routine schedule. None of us can help, those whom won’t help themselves. In my opinion that is doing further harm to both parties. I believe that there is always hope for the mentally ill, if they will, follow a medication regimen, and always seek to learn more about the illness itself. To be completely fair, sometimes, (as in my recent set back) something “off-kilter” can go wrong, just as my brain decided that my lithium levels were far below the therapeutic level, about two mths. ago, and even with doubling my mg. dosage, I’m additionally on an anti-psychotic called, Latuda 40 mg. It is fairly new on the market. It has finally, just within the last week, started to make a wonderful difference. For this I PRAISE God!!! I guess my point to your last paragraph, is for the most part, if people will follow their Dr.s’ orders, they most likely will improve enough to successfully relate to others who do not suffer from mental illness. I do pray that we love one another enough to, be patient with each other. Specifically if there is a genuine effort on part of the sick individual’s determination to get better.
This is how the relationship with my sister went when she was in contact. She was seriously ill.
While it is true that some people with mental illness have altered realities, they deserve their families, love and a community who encourages them. This is often hard to sustain without careful planning. To alienate them because they are difficult and aren’t based in “your reality,” is retruning to the dark ages of the treatment of the mentally ill. Structure your time with a mentally ill family member in a way that you don’t burn out. Create healthy boundries. Set aside a time that you can listen to them or participate with them for a limited time at a frequency that you can sustain. It isn’t always about us. Don’t insist that your father’s relationship with your sister be the same as yours. Create a space for your own level of desired interaction, that lets you breathe without cutting her out of you life due to something she has no control over! Treat her as you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed!
I respond to kind thoughts, to prayers, to offers of friendship, to medication, and all kinds of engaging outside stimuli but your point is well taken. How does one know if a person affected with mental illness can relate? There is a line, and that line shifts. Very difficult. I have been effectively medicated and successfully functioning for 7 years, yet I am sad to recall that I had, at one time, terrified my good friend with my craziness. As gentle and happy as I am now does not take away painful emotional imprints made on other people in the past and I have to live with that. I keep in touch with her but have no expectation that things can go back the way they were before I flipped out! I am doing well now, but when that “line” shifts again….who knows.
I agree with this 100%. I first left the “organized church”, where for 30+ years I watched as everyone sat around me, their expression hardly ever changing (i.e….the ‘we have no problems. I’m ok, you’re ok crowd. Because of course we HAVE to look good and happy — we’re CHRISTIANS!’). Now…I’m finding once again, that even in a smaller house church group, the dynamics are really just amplified because you can’t sit in a pew and hide behind a mask….and I’m once again withdrawing from ‘church’. I found it ironic that the article here seems to lean towards believing it would be harder for the secular psychology field to accept their clients’ spiritual beliefs, because I’ve found it to be diametrically opposite. Any counselor I’ve ever seen has been accepting of my beliefs. Very few Christians, especially the higher up the hierarchical ladder they sit, can truly accept (even though they SAY with their mouths that they accept it and you) real mental illness/injury. I add injury because I have heard and like to believe that complex ptsd is an injury, physical, neurochemically, brain structure, psychic and spiritual….ALL aspects of a persons being are injured. But I sit in a room full of people who have no concept, when they speak of our ‘identity’ in Christ…what it means to not HAVE a singular identity. I hear them speak ‘fear is a choice’, and quote isolated Scriptures like the Timothy passage. I hear them saying that problems are really all a matter of attitude, and if we just ‘Turn our Eyes Upon JESUS….everything else in this world, including all the suffering, will just fade away’. When they have no idea what it means to have a fear of Jesus himself preventing you from even getting near him, let alone looking at him ‘full in his wonderful face’. Eye contact is non-existent for me. I hear the church say things, repeatedly, like “Do we LOOK like the Bride of Christ”?…as they concern themselves with whether or not the unsaved world would look at them and see a happy-go-lucky smiling, warm fuzzy person….which would attract them to want to be…..just…like…them. Just what, pray-tell, does the Bride of Christ look like?? What do all these people THINK the Bride is supposed to look like?? I have a picture saved…of a bride kneeling in the mud in the rain…her dress destroyed and hands behind her back like a captive. Does the church have room for a Bride who looks like that? They have no room for me. Because I am dirty…I CAN’T ‘run the race’, because I can barely put one foot in front of the other…and that’s IF I’m even standing up. ‘Can’t we just stop dwelling on our troubles and come and just praise JESUS for all he’s done for us during the week’? Um…..no. What if I can’t? Does that mean I don’t belong? I don’t belong…..anywhere. I’ve read several times in articles, case studies, educational materials, you name it…..that one of the ‘symptoms’ of abuse survivors is that they see themselves differently than others. Newsflash! We ARE different. When you have 2 or 3 other people living in your head…you don’t have the luxury of choosing what you think, feel, or believe sometimes….even when your will is solid and your ‘intellectual’ choice is firm. We aren’t wishy washy. We aren’t ‘backslidden’. We aren’t ‘spiritually immature’.
I’m done with it all…..all ‘church’.
To poster below Robyn Bloem: God Bless you richly! I’ll be looking more into your work as you aren’t that far from me.
hi, i have written some stuff on risk management here: http://www.mindandsoul.info/Publisher/Article.aspx?id=57797. should help churches work with more ‘difficult’ people. rob
try this link: http://www.mindandsoul.info/Publisher/Article.aspx?id=57797
A quick, undeveloped thought based on experiences among friends and in my present church.
Many (most?) pastors are not equipped to handle serious mental illness. They therefore need close working relationships with local Christian counselors and medical professionals to whom they can turn for advice and to whom they can safely refer people with SMI. And they must realize their own limitations, knowing when to refer and stay out of the counselor’s way.
Also, pastors and church staff need to develop working relationships with the medical and counseling professionals of each individual member with SMI, whether Christian professionals or not, in order to know best how to help that individual. Yes, that places an additional load on all, but it also prevents giving conflicting advice and support. I’m not sure how this would play out in real life, but some interaction is necessary.
SMI professionals should also be enlisted to train church staff (paid and non-paid) to deal with SMI’s in functional ways. Perhaps a staff member could be trained to lead a support group for family members of those with SMI’s.
One final thought. Not all churches are equipped to handle individuals with SMI’s. Pastors and staff therefore need to know the churches in their community and which ones are best equipped (Spiritually gifted) to help people with an SMI. We should not be afraid to say, “I don’t think we can help you because…, but I know a church who can.” Then follow-up and make sure they have connected.
What wise counsel. Our local mental health trust (west London) has gone out of its wayto invite relationships with faith communities, and even partnered with my group of churches to set up a series of workshops on ‘faith and mental health, exploring general health and mental well-being, with how church may help or hinder resilience, and then anxiety related distress, depression, and dementias. We chose the topics as they were the ones I was finding most relevant, pastorally – and the professional people have donated their very precious, evening time to come to talk to the church group – Knowledge will work on stigma, and we’ll see what we can do not to have to rescue everyone but simply to live as a community transformed by God’s grace, in which all people are welcome. Not that’ its easy, I am very realistic about our resources – we want to be inclusive, but it is a long, graceful journey. I am so glad I don’t have to be an expert, but can learn from some who are! I get to just be a minister, which is what I am called to be.
Wonderful! This is exactly as it should be. (or anyway, sounds good)
“I don’t think we can help you because…, but I know a church who can.”
Is it always a church’s responsibility to help? When I made my original comment, I never even considered that the church would help the person w/ mental illness. I would be thrilled if they could just not hurt the person! Serioulsy.
My mom has therapists and psychologists galore. Now she just needs a place to worship without being judged.
Good thing I can worship anywhere. I don’t need to look at stained glass windows or a pulpit…or have a big cross on top of my BUILDING. The ‘church’….which is really ‘ecclesia’, meaning ‘called out ones’….it doesn’t mean a building or organization. It is an improper translation and representation of what ‘church’ is. You don’t GO to church. You don’t sit in A church. You ARE the ecclesia (called out ones…i.e. the church) Jesus worshiped in a garden, across a lake, in the desert, on a hillside, in a SINNERS home!!…..not just in the temple. In fact….how many times does Scripture record Jesus being in the temple when he was worshiping? He was elsewhere more than he was in the temple….among the people….the imperfect sheep.
And I’d rather be a sheep…..cuz Pharisees aren’t fair….ya see? And that’s exactly what the ‘church’ organization/building is practicing today, this unfair view of SMI being just one manifestation of…..modern day Phariseeism. (It’s a word today) Now…I’m gonna go worship in my kitchen while I’m preparing dinner. 😉
Yes, of course it’s a church’s responsibility to help. That’s what a church is. You might be happy with a church that just doesn’t hurt people, but said church is failing its obligations to show love.
Hebrews 10:25 tells us to never stop assembling together in church. And why does it say that? Not because it’s a place where we can worship. (We can do that anywhere.) No, it’s so that we can encourage one another.
Church is all about believers helping each other. If the mentally ill person is not being helped, then they are being hurt because they don’t receive what everyone else gets.
I dont know whether church can help the person w/ mental illness or not. But Jesus Lord and healer of all can heal the person when you go to the throne of grace on the behalf of the person.It is my personal experience.
So glad for your experience, but truly it just isn’t that simple. Comments like these, while meant for good, can cause some of the deepest wounds to those of us who do not “get” the same results.
I don’t think any wounds should be caused…Christ tells us to pray without ceasing.
We are to pray for others we may not always get an answer but we must pray on behalf of the mentally ill. I do so very frequently because I run a support group for people with depression. Why should we be wounded because we feel we see no results? I know someone was praying for me for over 15 years then it took another 10 years of my own prayers to be healed from depression. When I first prayed 15 years ago, I was wounded and hurt, I was angry at God, I was severely depressed, I could hardly stand up the depression was so heavy. I was so wounded and hurt that God had done nothing I went astray, left my faith and worst things came upon me. We must not be wounded because we do not get the same results in prayer. Be very patient. God truly loves us, let us not get wreary with prayer. God answers prayer, sometimes not the way we want and sometimes he just may not answer a certain prayer and I don’t know why that happens. Because we may get no answer does not mean we should not pray or ask for prayer for others. It feels even better to just talk to God about everything, just talk to Him. He loves us and just begin to praise him for all the good thing he does, tell him you love Him, tell Him, He is wonderful, He does such great things, tell God how much you love and care about Jesus, tell God you enjoy his word, tell God that he is a great Dad, tell Him you wish you were still in the Garden of Eden so you could talk to Him face to face or tell Him how angry you are and why. You can also ask Him what you may need to do to help yourself, ask God in the name of Jesus to give you revelation knowledge to help you.
Also my sister, I went to counseling, took medications, changed my diet and began to excercise. I needed the medications at that time or else I would not have been able to pray or read the bible. Jesus helped me with not just prayer but medication, diet excercise, scripture meditation, praise and worship. For me, I had a lot of negative thinking patterns that had to be undone it was a very long process. I was also very bitter and unforgiving towards those who I felt had hurt me in the past. I was also very prideful and had a chip on my shoulder, I was always blaming others, as far as I was concerned I was a victim, I was abused as a child, etc etc. So a lot of things in me had to be worked through. I am not saying any of my situation is in any way similiar to yours. I am not saying that mental illness in caused by bitterness or unforgiveness, I can speak for no one only myself. What I am saying is this type of recovery often takes a lot of time and a whole lot of prayer and as we know for whatever reason some prayers are never answered and some people may not be healed and only God knows why, so he is the one to seek through Christ. But I want to say that I would still love our Father even if He did not heal me. I still have some difficult areas that I struggle with but I continue to pray. I am not on meds, I am working and ministering. I really had to learn to wait on the Lord. Anyway I hope in some way I helped a little. You are a wonderfully sweet and blessed sister n Christ.
I am here reading in hindsight for answers I could only hope for while my son was alive. He died by suicide in March 2009. He was undiagnosed but we do believe he was bi-polar….he suffered depression and mood swings. He had lost his job and his wife and step daughter. I also believe that well-intentioned Christians are the worst sources for comfort. Mental Illness is almost considered demonic possession in the eyes of the righteous. And while I have my son’s heartfelt prayer journal and handwritten prayers begging for God to help him ….I shudder when people say that prayer is the answer. Then again…perhaps it was God ‘s answer to take him to heaven. My son was a Christian since the age of seven. He was not perfect and had hardly time to have things revealed to him in his short life as I have in these past two years since he passed. I struggle with all that has been left in the wake of his death and realize that he probably did not go for help because of no insurance and also the stigma that might hinder him from being hired again. He was a nurse.
As a Christian, I have been torn by my son’s death and the question “WHY” to my Father in Heaven…who we relied on for His protection. I also think that the church has made one big mistake as judge of people who die this way….making it sound as if the victims of MH had control of their health…when it takes a sound mind to act and to think and they cannot do either. I pray for God’s mercy and goodness to overrule the poor judgment of mankind in these situations. And “seriously” ???? Any mental illness is SERIOUS.
I hope my reply will encourage you. We can never know the heart of another, but as one who has experienced suicidal periods, I can perhaps glimpse what your son might have been suffering.
I too prayed for God to help me. For me it was intense anger. I confessed, repeatedly, to both God and my family. I sorrowed and asked God to please help me stop this sin. It seemed to make no difference. My suicidal periods often included the belief that killing myself would be the right thing to do, the loving thing to do, and it was my cowardice that kept me from it. I say included because part of the mix was desire to escape the pain of a wild depression.
God answered but it was not overnight and not without pain and struggle. God’s answer for me has meant years of counseling and mood stabilizers.
God kept me alive by words and happenings at just the right time, and working in my heart enabling me to make good choices.
We can’t know why your son doesn’t have a similar story of victory. Were his choices sinful? On the surface it is easy to say sure, at least his final choice. Yet, WE do NOT know your son’s experience. NO ONE but GOD knows the degree of your son’s responsibility. And our God is righteousness, grace and mercy. He tenderly held your son in his arms, He grieved with your son’s grief as He does with yours now.
Endless questions about the degree of his guilt, or how we may have failed as parents are endless because we can’t answer them. I can’t know the degree of even my own guilt/culpability. Only God knows all the ins and outs of all the details. And you know what? It doesn’t matter! Because of His death and resurrection we can throw ourselves onto Him, let Him hold us in our sorrow and rejoice that He has assured the final answer.
As for the “well-meaning” Christians, I’m not sure they are necessarily well-meaning. (Again, only God knows for certain.) Whether well-meaning or not, their words are from the evil one.
Thank you D. Stevenson, for your thoughtful response. I am thankful for the grace of God that I have come to know since the death of my son. I appreciate the people that God has put in my path that have helped me along the way. I no longer fear for my son….I know that all is well with his soul. God bless you.
Sorry this thank you reply was meant for Susan…I’ve been struggling with this too and it just adds to my self-condemnation. I keep getting caught in the cycle “there must be something more I can do, I must be doing something wrong, why am I always stuck here – why can’t I just be more positive? why would does it feel like dying would be better? These are thoughts I have had since I was a child … I am now over 50…believe in God and what Jesus did for us…maybe I don’t have enough faith, praying the wrong way????What is it? Those are the thoughts that go on that we know are so “contrary” to the “Christian” way of thinking so we isolate with them….”why can’t you just stop feeling sorry for yourself, snap out of it? read your bible more…and all the while not trusting a soul for fear of being judged…like we could be/should be doing something different…don’t we know who we are in Christ…yes the words are there but it is not translating into any kind of inner reality for us…
Roselyne, I understand what you are saying, its like my own experience being written here on the screen, thank you for sharing the truth about how you feel, because it is so hard to express sometimes for myself, it has been a difficult walk, not trusting anyone for fear of judgement and being hurt again, i experienced rejection and judgement by people id known since i was a kid, after my dearest friend died, my symptoms escalated it only got worse after that and eventually i was pushed out of my family church, only one person stayed in contact, i was devastated, but God did reach out and came to me, spoke to my spirit, but it has been a struggle. i do have a counselor whom i speak to, and one other person, but it is so very difficult to fellowship, or build ANY new relationship…i guess what im saying is im thankful to know that i am not alone in this…
Some good comments folks. I think it might be good to define “help” here. What can the church do to help any of its parishioners? It can offer a place to be family, to be known. It can offer a place to use one’s gifts for the kingdom. It can provide wise counsel for struggles and everyday encouragement, admonition, instruction, rebuke, comfort, celebration, etc. It can provide some financial support for those in need. It can be part of the healing process, the conduit through which the Spirit flows.
This is my definition of “help.”
So how can a church help those with SMI? I agree that church based counsel can be very helpful in orienting and grounding people to reality and to truth. However, even when not well grounded, can we provide a place to be family? A place to worship despite our insanity? A place to cry out to God for healing and mercy? A place for all the things I mention above.
So, every church can offer that to anyone with SMI. Where’s the rub then? It may be:
(a) we don’t want to face the lack of progress in another’s life. Better to ignore, push away than to acknowledge something is broken despite how hard we try to fix it. We don’t like to see failure so lets not look at it. (This is also true with addiction. Don’t ask and everything is alright).
(b) we get worn out trying to bail someone out of trouble.
(c) we miss the simple truthes because we are trying to tackle all of the problems at once. In being all things to a person, we may miss simple grounding in the Word.
(d) we don’t know what to do with someone’s resistance. We may either be overly harsh and judgmental or overly soft and ignoring patterns that need rebuke.
Wow! I just found this blog and am amazed at how well I relate to almost every entry/reply!
I am a Christian and suffer from depression. I have been to Christian counselors who were friends from church first. They seemed to try to bring me to their level. That I need to use the techniques that help them and then I’ll be OK. They never dug into what was going on with me. Well, I believe I need more help than that. I think I need help from a psychiatrist/psychologist and I’ll be reading more from this blog for guidance.
But I have a practical example of how the church can help. I grew up in a small church and my family was close to another family that had an aunt with SMI. I don’t know what her actual diagnoses were, but she was a hoarder and paranoid. But she loved her two nieces that were my age. Her brother bought a house and fixed up an apartment for her in it. The family would pick her up for church services she was interested in and checked on her often. They had a garden and shared their produce with her. She always gave gifts to the girls and they knew her aunt loved them.
This is love. Yes, I know it was family too, but I could see people in the church providing low income housing for one or two people from the church. They would need checking on, interaction, rides or various other things. I know I have wanted to change people with SMI, or “figure them out”, but really we all just need love, respect and care.
A smile without a glass of water, does not help the thirsty person.
I just stumbled across your blog and I look forward to reading more.
I have found the assessment of mental health professionals being either unsupportive or negative about faith/religion to be very true. But it seems things are slowly changing. There is a growing number of mental health professionals who agree that there is something healthy about a religious pursuit (see Koenig, Plante, Larson, McCullough, George, and Pargament to name a few). Older generations of mental health professionals are more likely to follow the lead of Freud or Ellis, but younger generations are much more likely to acknowledge the potential benefits of religious faith. So there is hope.
And your post reminded me of someting Joesph Fitcher said in his review of Christians caring for the sick.
“The example of the compassionate Christ has always been held up for imitation. In the early church, and during the centuries since then, all Christians have been reminded of their obligation in love to be concerned about the welfare of others. In the [early] Christian communities, special attention was paid to those who needed help: the sick, the widowed, and the orphaned…. The gift of miraculous healing seems to have been limited to relatively few Christians…. The corporal works of mercy, however, which include the care of sick people, were incumbent on all believers in Jesus.”
Thanks Aaron for including the Fitcher quote. Along with the names above, I would also include folks such as Allen Bergin of BYU. Stan Jones’ article in the American Psychologist (in either ’94 or ’95) argues for the place of religion. However, I doubt we’ll get much place until american psychology accepts a more postmodern view of local truth. It is far to connected to modernism and the thirst for being a medical science at this point.
Thank you so much for your comments. I am a pastor who is diagnosed with Bipolar II and GAD disorder and yet function well with a spouse and congregation who supports me. We have regular mental illness seminars and a psychologist on staff and “oh my god” we are a charasmatic, non-denominational church, where I believe holds the greatest stigma and damage to those who are mentally ill. I have experienced the same as the article talks about as far as stigma in the church and not going “out into the world for help” while not giving any sane help themselves and/or needing to go to a psychiatrist who won’t even give you the time of day if you want to share how your beliefs come into play if you are mentally ill. It is like being between a rock and a hard place. Hopefully many of us can work together to overcome these obstacles.
I read Pastor Smith’s comments with great interest. I wonder if he can recommend books or resources that might help someone who is reclusive, ( partly due to the church issues he mentioned.) A new way to look at how God loves “crazy” people would be helpful. Some insights on how to live day to day when one never knows how well their mind will be working would be great.
I wish some of your requests had been addressed here…I can so relate! Especially to the part about how to live day to day when one never knows how well their mind will be working…
thank god i found you all on here. i suffer from panic attacks and also agorapbia. i am a believer and have also suffered the same things with the churches not being there for me. they have all abandoned me. my condition has worsened so bad i cant hardly leave the house. thank god for my grown children whom love me and help me. without them and the good lord i wouldnt know where id be. i thought i was alone with this until i ran into this blog..oh my god its been great reading everyones feelings..you have all helped me so much. i too am reclused and dont have a church home anymore,,but i pray endlessly,,and tune into utube sermons from good churches just to heal and feel better. yes i feel alone because nobody understands how frightening it is to be plagued with fear, phobias, and all kinds of bodily weirdness. its terrifying. at least 5 churches have turned their backs on me,,along with the members. im under medication and doctors but with no way of contact with friends or a way to worship in church because they all assume we got no faith or we got demons. their all holier than thou and had no mercy when i would beg for them to come over to pray over me. thank god i have the lord,,and my children and my meds. as far as what i do to fight thru i continually pray,,grow plants for a hobby,,and only read or watch friendly things on t.v. cause things are so frightening out there that i become too frightened hearing more bad news. the late david wilkerson has great good sermons on utube for those whom are reclusive like me. no,,its not gonna be easy for any of us people..these are the last days and satan is gonna attack us fiercely any way that he can,,but cheer up cause the lord loves us sickies and he is gonna save us soon. fight back with prayer and binding whatever plots he has toward you. i was a strong leader for christ before this illness,,i believe these attacks and illness are spiritual attacks..so fight back people. keep your faith strong,,drink your meds,,read the word,,and keep your hope on god and our lord jesus christ.
I have a family member who I beleive has a mental illness, because of an off and on drug abuse. Its been going on for about 4 years, we tried Therapist and all they did was percribe medication that made him feel worse, drugged and unable to work. As time has passed things are just getting worse. I beleive strongly on the word of God , I know he is in control I also know God sends other people who may know the solutions and can offer support. Is there anyone who has dealt with a situation like this that can tellme what the first step would be towards helping someone with a metal Illness.
As someone with an SMI plus Asperger Syndrome, I have experienced both abuse and terrific help, as defined above. Unfortunately, the help doesn’t last. We are admonished to not get tired of doing good, but somehow that doesn’t seem to apply to helping those with SMI because the problems don’t go away no matter how much help is given. Personally, I think, in an ideal church, the person with SMI, who often feels intensely isolated, needs to have a non-judgmental small group that is willing to call or get together with that person on a daily basis. Practical help is a necessity, and some people would prefer to do housework or cooking or laundry, as warranted. Many days, I wish someone would just sit and talk to me to distract me from the tormenting thoughts I deal with. I am truly suffering and am so tired of trying to get through this with insufficient resources. Despite the SMI, I’m a real person. Church people can stop being helpful when they become so caught in doing for and not just being there, getting to know who I am, what’s important to me, what I wish I could do…
A hearty amen to your last sentence.
I am so relating to many comments here…my mental illness is compounded by other health issues…one being severe chronic fatigue. I am living a reclusive life because I do not have the strength anymore to “put on the face”…and yes, when I do not “get better”…when I do not get HEALED, people get weary and move on. I carry such guilt for not even wanting to be around church people…I just don’t have the strength anymore. I know that “rock and a hard place”…and I am haunted by the last phrase, “what I wish I could do”…I always want to tell people, this is not the real me…there is so much more to me….I would be so different if I could! I appreciate Llama mama’s comments and can so relate…it feels good to read what others are saying….the things I’ve said for so long. I’m amazed by the pastor who manages in a charismatic church…I can’t handle it anymore. I am drowning in condemnation because I know God can and does heal, but I don’t get healed and that dynamic is so powerful as to beat me down to nothing…I will stop here. I just know I can’t be in church currently I’m not strong enough…but I love the Lord dearly.
My dear co-believer.
I have experienced somewhat the same. Just 2 days ago I got some hope, my fatigue has been nutrition treated and so on but the fault seems to be the otolith canal irritation. I have had it all of my life, God has saved me of dying in the complications of a cancer treatment. Since that I have been a believer, for somewhat 11 years now.
At my international christian church here in North Europe, I know there are some other mental problem cases too. But I have felt some sort of rejection, and have got very mad of comments like, “don’t worry,” well, you will be ok some day in heaven,” I have wondered if I really am so short of will power that the enemy gets to disturb me easier than others. But the people who know me have said I am brave and wonderful and strong and angel-like…
When I am my own self.
Also I have been afraid of telling about my mental health problems in the coffee time like one man did, asking for prayer. Everyone started to pray immediately.
I am also lacking my intelligent side since the medication makes me kind of a zombie sometimes. I have been afraid that the people automatically put me into the hospital, but then I realized the health care here in capital city area is trying to save all possible money, so they don’t take in just anyone. One has to be really crazy to get in, all the open sectors are closed to save money in this “scandic model system.” If I would have been in same situation 10 yrs ago, it would have been very different. This only shows how the godless way of living turns the society into something not safe, not caring of the sick, not taking care of everyone.
Also I was feeling that I’m not good because didn’t get healed… driven in the brink of my strenght to go on, seen so many great things happen, people getting delivered and healed… but I am not the only one who did not. Also, christian people can be sometimes even worse that the nonbelievers in their bad sides, because there is a fight between God’s people and the world. Also I was awaiting to see automatically sheer loving, goodness, and other real christian things I was hungry for. But only one that is Good is God.
Finally an intelligent blog about mental illness and Christianity. Everyday is a struggle, and I stumbled upon this site as I was searching for other points of view, as I so do. I have dealt with mental illness since early adolescence, and was only diagnosed in my late 20’s. Raised in a Christian home, I am both thankful and exasperated at the support I have received. It’s hard to talk about, it’s painful to see the looks on loved one’s faces when they finally accept your diagnosis. Thankfully, I am reminded of Jesus, and his unconditional acceptance of our flaws. Please don’t misunderstand, I believe mental illness to be that, an illness. My flaw is in the shame I allow it to give me. What a happy day when there is no stigma of Christians Living with Mental Illness.
My husband has Bipolar I. I just wrote an email to the “assistant pastor of pastoral care” at our church to basically tell him off. He is supposedly a professional, a LPC, says he understands Bipolar is an illness. Yet his comment to me is that my husband has a character problem. Yeah, well don’t we all. Maybe he should try living with undiagnosed, untreated Bipolar for 30 years and see what his life and family looks like. The last church pastor told me my husband’s depression was a sin and not to visit him in the hospital when he attempted suicide. IT IS AN ILLNESS PEOPLE!!!!! I think it takes a lot of character to struggle for nine months to find the right cocktail of meds (still not there) and go to endless doctor and therapy appointments. It takes a lot of character to get up every morning and try to work, even though you are groggy, nauseated, dizzy, having tremors and zoning out. He could just check out and forget the whole thing. The church needs to realize the earth isn’t flat. Come into the 21st century and recognize that everything isn’t about sin. Just love us and support us like you do the family whose Dad has cancer or diabetes. I never even got an apology, but “he hopes to see me in church”. I’ll have to pray about that one.
Sherri, thank you for sharing. I am in a similar situation. This is the most intelligent comment I’ve read in a long time. I find I have to ‘pray about’ a lot of things regarding ‘Christians’. God bless.
Thank you for the well crafted comment. You are right, we are better prepared, as a church body, to notice and point out each other’s sins. But we are less prepared to also point out the heroic efforts some people go to just to live and function. I’m sure your husband has sin patterns that frustrate you and those helping him. There is a common set with Bipolar just as there is with anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, etc. We seem to have trouble balancing choice and illness–or is it trouble recognizing both in the same person?
You might *gently* remind the pastor that sinners still receive comfort from the Lord and should receive it from his shepherds.
Do pray that the Lord keeps you from bitterness. It is a deadly disease as well. It kills the soul!
Perhaps it isn’t to pray that God keeps from bitterness so much as pray that God will give me awareness that the root is growing, again, and to keep pulling it out, no matter how many times the seed is planted and watered.
Many Churches sweep these issues under the rug because they aren’t popular which points straight to the heads of the Church ~ and I don’t mean Jesus.
1. Yes Christ heals ~ I was one of many people who was into the healing aspect of Christianity more than the Word ~ which does the healing. I believe we can have a tendency of *magical thinking* and focus too much on the healing and the sparkle of heaven instead of the laser beam of the Holy Spirit revealing our weaknesses and cleansing us. What’s so scary about any illness if we realize that most healings are gradual whether physical or emotional. If we realize HOW Christ works, maybe we can all slow down in our expectations and let Him do the work and we just give support. We do that anyway, so what’s the big deal? It’s all in the leadership.
2. Many mental/emotional problems occur through evil or negative people/events TO the person/victim. Churches, in their lack of knowledge, many times, treat the victim as the perpetrator of sin or they are believed to be the one with unrepentent deeds or unconfessed sin!
I find this to be a big (noose) loophole for the Church as well as a copout because they are not educated in dealing with these issues (why not?)yet a large percentage of the congregation suffer.
What’s worse because of this collective ostrich behavior is the lack of teaching hamstrings those Christians by their own Church! This is very sad.
3. Issues like mental illness or homosexuality are not popular issues and makes people v-v-very nervous… lol ~ yet they still exist. The Church has a habit of rubber stamping what kind of issues or *sin* is *acceptable* is this dumb or what, yet that’s what many churches teach. There is not much dialogue and I’ve been to a lot of churches sitting in the seats or pews next to or a few seats away from the depressed or bi-polars or the lesbians or gay guys who feel like fish out of water. (I have been in their prayer circles) I do belong to a Church that embraces healing to all but that is more rare than common. The best thing to do is get this stuff out onto the table and DEAL with it.
4. God bless this site! Thoughts are things! What was once a thought is now a site! What is being discussed and clarified today, tomorrow may be a group topic that builds enough momentum to create change in the virtual and real world.
5. Lotsa Hope too! With the newer/younger generations of Christians now exposed to multi-culturalism, multi-races & religions, technology, single parents and/or struggling with identity issues from depression, sexual issues, texting, materialism, drugs, diseases, cloning, etc., will have a better handle on dealing with these issues that they themselves live and deal with daily.
It’s all around us. I really believe there will be the Church where ALL will be able to come to get cleansed, nurtured, fed and able to handle being able to meet Jesus on His terms, off to the Holy Spirit bootcamp lol ~ because they’ll have the real basics ~ ongoing, continuing, consistent SUPPORT & LOVE!
The Church is strong because of our Rock. On earth it cannot be totally healthy until He finds the leaders to clean out the absesses and I believe it’s happening now and in our time. I mean, look at what we’re doing right here? How cool is this?
It’s awesome because He’s AWESOME!
I wish there would be more emphasis in the church on encouraging people with serious mental problems to cling to Christ in their time of need rather than spending a lot of time and energy assessing whether the person is a true Christian. Who are they to judge?
In the midst of severe, recurrent depression, I’ve had church leaders try to engage me in apologetic debates about the truth of the gospel, because they didn’t think I could be truly a Christian and be depressed. It was so besides the point, and so harmful.
“Who are they to judge?”
Is this attitude really that surprising? “Judge not, lest ye be judged” and “Let those w/o sin cast the first stone” are rebukes against hypocrisy, not against judgment. The scriptures make it very clear that judging others is the job description of all Christians; what did you think all of that evangelizing, teaching, rebuking, educating, etc., was all about?
“In the midst of severe, recurrent depression, I’ve had church leaders try to engage me in apologetic debates about the truth of the gospel, because they didn’t think I could be truly a Christian and be depressed. It was so besides the point, and so harmful.”
My son is autistic. I can’t tell you how many times my wife and I have heard, “You know, he wouldn’t be that way if he/you were right with Jesus.”
In short, ministers are people A: who’s Biblical worldview doesn’t accurately map onto reality; and B: who are trying to be both professionally frank and humanely helpful. The result: unintentional and needless infliction of pain and misery.
I am in a unique position regarding this issue. I am a born again Christian, a mom to three special-ed kids (two with autism, one bipolar & all three have trouble functioning in social/classroom settings because of it) and a nurse.
I was raised in a Baptist, bible-believing church for most of my life, but I must admit that I was very surprised at how the church(es) treated us when these things started happening and the kids couldn’t conform – and (the more I look for answers and help) to find out how opposed the church is to the ‘illness’ view of mental illness.
I worked in a psychiatric hospital when I was putting myself through nursing school. I’ve watched a grown bipolar woman dancing around naked, singing, urinating in the corner of the room, etc., one day, then a few weeks later going home acting as nomrally as you or I once she was back on her medication. Don’t tell me this is not an illness.
When my bipolar son is ‘himself’, he is a great kid – obedient and wonderful – yet I’ve watched the very same child fly into rages and have to be phisically restrained, only to be shaking in fear and disbelief over his own behavior once his mood shifted back. Now that he is on the right combo of meds, he no longer flies into hour-long rages or throws bricks at us and he only rarely becomes combative. Don’t tell me this is not an illness.
Would you council a juvenile diabetic to stop taking their insulin and to instead pray and ‘sin no more’? No! Their pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin and (save an act of God) they would die if they stopped taking it.
So why do you tell someone with a documented mental illness that responds to medication that they are only sinning or not praying enough? Where is the church? These families need help! If anyone needs church and God, it is us!
My husband and I are firm disciplinarians. We teach our kids right from wrong. I even cancelled our subscription to cable TV last week to shield them from the garbage and sin coming into our home. Since the church obviously doesn’t want my kids disrupting their quiet milieu, I am teaching them about God at home and beginning to homeschool them to give them a Christian education. I tell my son that his medication helps him, but that he is responsible for his behavior – he must do the rest.
I pray for my kids and us. I pray for healing, but in the meantime, what then? What should I do that I am not already doing?! Please tell me.
Thanks for that bit of insight RN…may God continue to bless you and your family.
ChristianMomRN, There is nothing more that you could possibly do. You continue to persevere and press on .I know that the Lord is definitely not condeming you. You are holding on to what is most important. Faith,hope and love. Be blessed and never let go of Christ’s love for you.
2-years-ago God offend my mind to reveal my heart. And this lead to mental illness. How am i going to overcome this difficult thing.
The only way i believe i can overcome this is to solves my problems which seems impossible.
I am a single mum in Australia and the last few years of my life have been a crazy ride. I was ‘born again’ ten years ago and eight years ago met the father of my children, didn’t marry him and was obviously judged a backslider by my church. My ex was also a lapsed catholic who was very disillusioned with ‘church’, he also had a love for smoking weed when it suited him though kept it secret from me many times. Three times I joined in his passion for a short time as I too smoked the stuff for ten years prior to my conversion.
He had apparently been taken to mental health years before I met him and been given meds for psychosis although he believes he is not unwell, he is just having spiritual experiences. He has told me about what he sees in his visions and it can be very disturbing. Doesn’t take a genius to point out that it is way out of my league though I have done my best to educate myself and sometimes I just tell him that not everything spiritual comes from God and to be careful of anything that says Jesus is evil.
He just laughs and says one day you will know the truth. I didn’t know how to cope anymore and we have since separated. His parents think I am less than christian because he needs help and love and care and I tell them that yes he loves it if I feed him and clean for him and do stuff for him though he strongly disagrees that he needs mental health help, he believes his spiritual journey is his business.
Anyway he last told me that he is going to ask God to take the christians home to heaven so he can get on with the business of making friends with snakes and spiders as he doesn’t like being estranged from them and the christians need to go so earth people can live in peace. I listened and then I just said that I wasn’t sure if God would grant his request about removing the christians so maybe he might want to work on befriending the snakes and spiders regardless of the christians presence. As I said – way over my head.
I personally need someone on this planet to help me learn how to cope and I do feel guilty with the weight of his parents critic of me as well. Let alone my own guilt for not being able to deal with it all.
I shall be keeping close to this blog and learning as much as I can as we do share children who need some form of relationship with their Dad and I do my best not to judge him or speak anything unkind about him.
I sometimes wonder myself if he is right and what he experiences is God’s way of getting his attention as only God knows what will reach him in the end and help him accept the truth about Jesus.
Maybe prayer has to be most important also. I feel compelled to thank whoever reads this for listening to my tale.
Just found your blog, and I’m enjoying it. I know this is an old post, but I recently read a book that seemed relevant. Perhaps you are familiar with it already. “Handbook of Spirituality and Worldview in Clinical Practice”, ed. by Allan Josephson MD & John Peteet MD (American Psychiatric Publishing, 2004). It covers spirituality and worldview is a broader sense, not just Christianity, but seems to lay a foundation for better recognition of it’s importance for patient care.
As you mentioned above, there is not always seem much hope that the clinical side with make moves towards valuing the reality of patient’s spirituality and faith, however this book is perhaps a sign that it could be coming.
Along-side of that, is churches supporting and caring of the mentally ill as people and as fellow brothers and sister. Part of it would be education about mental illness which will hopefully lead to more grace and understanding. Part has to be seeing the value/worth of each person as an image-bearer of God and forming relationships, prayer, fellowship. And part is the willingness on the part of pastors/leaders to refer congregants to competent professionals while staying connected with the person.
Just a positive note about churches and the unconditional love of Jesus that they pass on. My son went homeless almost a year with SMI. I managed to keep track of him, somewhat. Always it was the church missions that were feeding him, sheltering him “no questions asked.” And finally one church mission brought him to Christ. He quit drinking, taking drugs. He still has SMI, but he is alive because of the churches. There’s hope as long as you’re alive.
Also, not such a positive note … “no questions asked” is not a policy of the government-sponsored-type shelters that I found out he came across. He was not a good enough person for them at the time.
Thank you for sharing positive. It is an encouragement to know that there are Christians out there truly acting like Christians.
Thank you all very much for writing your hearts out on this blog. I am a youth and family pastor’s wife, and I have a son with autism who was also diagnosed with psychosis and anxiety disorder last year. Believe me, I have had to work through stigmas, fears, and false beliefs I’ve had through the years. I am embarrassed over my lack of understanding, but then how would I know if it weren’t for God bringing me to a crisis of belief through my son’s illness? I am taking in everything every one of you have written and prayerfully working through it all.
Just after my son was diagnosed, a woman at our church who was going through an extremely difficult time in her life told our pastor that she was afraid she was losing her mind. He told her that God wouldn’t allow that to happen because she has the Holy Spirit inside of her, and “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). This caused me to stumble because my son has a good sense of morality, has been a Christian since he was 14, and loves God very much. I’ve prayed thousands of prayers for healing for my son, and thank you to the one who said that healings were very few, but it was mercy that was given to the many through the early church. In trying to sort it all out, I ended up in a deep depression and am now on antidepressants. I also found out about NAMI – National Alliance for Mental Illness, and took their family to family class. It helped me very very much. My brother, who is a pastor, along with my husband helped me work through the real meaning of that verse from 2 Timothy 1:7, and now I know how misleading different versions of it can be.
Our church does have a special needs class for teens and young adults with disabilities, and my son loves it. However, after reading all your blogs, I feel very convicted and know that I need to take some action. Off the top of my head, these are the ideas that have come to me:
1. Take more NAMI classes & increase my understanding
2. Get to know Christian psychiatrists who have a good handle on this entire subject area of mental illness and Christianity and learn from them
2. Prepare a presentation to give to my church’s elders and pastors to educate them on mental illness and how to minister to families and individuals living with it
3. Write to seminaries and Christian colleges, encouraging them to include a required course in their ministry curriculum on ministering to individuals and families living with disabilities and mental illness, based on truth.
4. Have a booth at our church on Sanctity of Life day next January to speak out for the sanctity of life and respect for people living with mental illness, and hopefully have some testimonies. I am thankful that my son’s Sunday school teacher already has a booth to advocate for people living with disabilities)
5. Support community programs and activities for people living with mental illness; be that friend to the person with mental illness who feels so isolated and alone
6. Throw some good parties to advocate for and celebrate life as God gives it to open the hearts within my church and open a welcome mat to people in our community who live with mental illness.
I started a recovery program at our church several years ago based on a Christian 12 step program, and I know that this endeavor will be very different. Please keep me in prayer – I cannot stand by and do nothing when I see such pervasive ignorance and fear within Christ’s church that ends up causing harm rather than good.
If it’s okay, I’d like to include some of the stories on this blog, without mentioning this web site or your blog names as I develop a presentation for my church leadership and congregation. If any one objects, please speak up.
Thank you and it is my hope and earnest prayer that God blesses each and every one of us as we live with our illnesses.
I appreciate your post.
It seems that churches are reaching out to ‘special needs’ kids… as long as their problems don’t include violent behavior. In larger churches at least, our litigious society has taken it’s toll, and the churches seem to be more worried about being sued than reaching out to those who can be violent and who need church most of all.
Maybe my comments made some small difference that will benefit someone down the line.
I’d appreciate knowing what your husband & brother said about 2 Tim. 1:7…I have prayed that scripture for years and have been so hurt, discouraged and yes, at times angry. If I am a child of God (and I am) and He is a God that heals and if this is His will…why then do I not see the fruition of this scripture in my life?
Here lately my mental state is so bad I am totally beat up by the bible…all I see is my sin nature & my short comings…I know it’s because I am unstable at this time, but knowing that doesn’t change the misery I am in on a daily basis.
I am a 36 year old wife and mother of three with Bipolar 1 disorder, ADHD, and PTSD. I happen to be a Seminary wife and I live in seminary housing. I also go to a church that supports neuthetic counseling, meaning they mainly believe problems are spiritual and mental illness doesn’t exist. This has been a difficult year here where I am. I am extremely lonely. I am not sure after a year who I can approach in the church although my pastor and a counseling professor who goes to my church know about my situation. My pastor is supportive, but is very cautious of diagnosis and wisely, I believe looks at each case individually. It is interesting that througout this year at my new church, I have happen to stumble upon several conversations regarding children with ADHD and beyond, but only to find out their stance against it. This has caused me a loneliness I can’t describe because I am one of those they are talking about and I have to sit there and pretend that everything is okay when I desperately want someone in my church to trust and confide in. I did actually approach my pastor’s wife today after church and will be having lunch with her next week. I am just going to lay it all out. I have prayed about it and there has to be some godly lady in my church who will here me. She happens to have a degree in counseling so I am praying she will welcome me in as a friend without judging me. I honestly believe that loneliness kills. The pain and loneliness I have felt in the church lately is difficult to describe. And I wonder, what is God thinking of all of this? He has many children with mental illness in the church’s hiding behind a mask for fear of being judged. If only the church could see that we are to walk with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Robin, we pray for your lunch with the pastor’s wife–that it will produce much good fruit. I would hope you could be so bold as to lay out your fears of rejection of judgment and yet still be able to invite her to speak truth into your life–as she gets to know you (not impulsively). Maybe it will be better to focus on your various forms of suffering (e.g., flashbacks, distractibility, mood instability, etc.) rather than on diagnoses. These forms of suffering are real and deserve attention to know (a) how to suffer well, and (b) how to work for healing.
My wife found this blog and I am grateful I had enough presence of mind to click on the link she left on the desktop of the computer. Phil, thank you and may God bless you!
Thank you all. I am seeing a psychologist on monday. I have spoken to a dear friend who is taking medication and still not sure whether I should take medication. Pretending to be OK takes a toll on people. I am honestly tired.
I thank the Lord for all of you. I ask in the mighty name of Jesus for patience and mercy for ourselves, our families whom have suffered with us, and the church.
We can’t get anywhere unless Christians understand that mental illness, serious or not, is an ILLNESS. (The Bible clearly differentiates between mental illness and demon possession.) We pray for cancer. We should pray for mental illness. We get professional care for cancer. We should get professional care of mental illness. Too many Christians think you can get rid of mental illness through Bible study.
(Before you read further, I want you to know that what I write is honest questioning, not trying to be ornery. I say this because not knowing another person, plus the limitations of the written word without vocal inflection and body language make it easy to misunderstand.)
Grace, you write: “The Bible clearly differentiates between mental illness and demon possession.”
It does? How? Where? I’ve not seen any mental illness specifically mentioned. I’ve thought that if mental illness is different from demon possession then it must be that it falls under “various diseases.”
And…., how is mental illness defined? Does a person seeing a counselor because of an adjustment disorder have a mental illness? Is illness simply the opposite of health?
It seems that illness is linked to physiology. On the lesser end of the spectrum, perhaps the common cold compares to single incident depression?
When we break a bone and need medical care we don’t say we are ill. Perhaps medical care for a bone break can be compared to mental health care for grief or marriage difficulties or “adjustment disorders?”
Perhaps the real problem is that we Christians don’t truly acknowledge “Sinner such as I, holding hands together under the Grace and Mercy of God and bathed in His blood.”
Instead, we point fingers. We try to isolate the “sin” part of the equation. Yet, even if we could distinguish the parts of the equation that make up the person, should it change how we treat the person? Let he that is without sin cast the first stone.
Must a person qualify before we offer them a cup of cold water?
Luke 7: 36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
We so easily live as Pharisees. Living like Jesus, who touched lepers and let the scorned wet his feet with their tears is much harder for us to do.
I know I would rather hold my nose and walk past the garbage pile of sin where I used to live. Yet God calls me to clamber up the hill and pull others free into Him. Oh, for my heart to be His.
I guess I’ve wandered from the original questions. Where is mental illness specified in the Scripture, and how is mental illness defined?
I too wish you would reply to the question of where does the Bible ‘clearly’ differentiate between mental illness and demon possession. I have struggled with that question for quite some time and if you have an inside track on it I would love to learn from you.
I was born into a very abusive home, my father was seriously mentally ill and untreated. He rape me and my older sister, tortured all the children mentally, emtionally , sometimes left us hungry and he beat our mother who was a very sweet christian girl profoundly for l3 years until she finally left when he promised to kill us all and he usually follow through on threats.
I started experiences serious mental problems as early as age five acting out in extreme violence at school. I suffered a great deal of scorn growing up in the late 50’s and 60’s as there was not much beleive or counseling efforts for black people.
Finally at age l3 when I beat a teacher for no apparent reason profoundly with a chair, my mother was told to take me to a treatment center, however, due to her religious believes she failed to keep me in treatment and my disease got way out of control . She was a sweet mother but she kept me sheltered and while I was scorn at school, I had no friends at even sunday school. I was not allow to go anywhere without one of my older siblings so when I was l9 yrs old I was so lonely and afraid. I sat in the basement talked to myself and pretended to have friends. I one day called a number and a young man answer , he seem so friendly and I made a mistake telling him how lonely and sad I was, he offer to come to take me out to meet some friends my age. I told him I had to ask my mom even though I was almost 20 yrs old I was treated as a child. At first my mom was about to say NO I could not go with the young man but he was a real con man who put on a fine show for my mom’s benefit and she allowed me to go, needless to say this young man attacked me and threw me on a hard concrete bench at a Recreation center about l5 blocks from my home. I never told my mother, but I had a very bad breakdown behind it and I was made to raise that child and she lives with me today. My mind was totally damaged from first childhood trauma and then to be rape and have the child to raise. I never used drugs or acohol but I did not go back to church as a young lady. I had in addition, another rape by a mental health counselor and an attempted rape by a police offer who beat me bad but i fought and ran. To get to the relation of how badly I’ve been treated within the Baptist Church in Washington DC, I was always treated differently by kids in Sunday School and referred to as different, not right but I was extremely intelligent and had some natural gifts. The only friends I had were relatives but when my sister when off to college and I was left home I had no one to be with or talk to at all.
In l993 I joined a Baptist Church in DC and the original pastor had just died and the new pastor was just coming in. At that time he was a very understanding and kind person and taught the discipleship classes. However, due to some other great trials in my life I had a heart attack and could no longer come to church for a while. When I got better I start attending another church for a couple of years but not baptist there. In Bible study one night the Minister ask us to write one thing we were thankful for in our life that the LORd help us through. I put on the card I was grateful to the Lord that he brought me through much pain and abuse and thought I suffer great mental illness I had even overcome the spirit of great violence. At that time he didn’t know who wrote it, but before he even met me another young lady had been taking me home from church relugarly and we talked about things. She confined in me that her son was depressed and was taking zoloft and another drug I had taken before so I just said , I told her I had taken it for a while in my life. She tells the minister and he says in the group some people say they are bi-polar but that are demons and most of these people are just PIty Seekers. He kept saying negative things so I returned to the church I was Baptist in and I didn’t realize a lot of the Deacons and officials had left due to the fact the Church had changed over to a Full Baptist Church, which is similar to a pentacostal/Baptist and the same Pastor was there. I had a terrible argument two days before with my sister and I was not only very depressed but my blood pressure was outragiously high but I went to the Bible study anyway. When the class was over, ever one was leaving but my head was busting and I was thinking hard on some terrible things my sister said to me. The pastor and his wife approaches, the wife ask was I sick I said yes but I will get up soon and then he says very Nasty, “You;re going to leave now” who are you are you a member, I said you Baptized me about 7 years ago . He said well what’s your name I then said my first name and he says no one here knows you and you must leave now because we are leaving so I got up but my head was hurting bad so when I got outside I sat on the side of the wall. Then he jumps out the car and said you’re not sitting here “get in the car now. So the wife starts to ask what was wrong being in a very confused stated and with an extreme high blood pressure I randomly start saying things that had devstated my life such as the severe child abuse, etc but I said this statement I went through a lot put I always prayed and never got hooked on drugs or alcohol and I was still able to raise my kids well and they both did well in school and college.
Since 2005 when this incident occurred he has mention things like just because you never did drugs or alochol and you had just lost your mind..I don’t know just Crazy! In addition, he has told people I am not grateful to God for being able to raise my children well. Just becasue I didn’t say the word praise in my statement put I prayed to God does not mean I don’t thank he for all the many things he has done for me. He has lied to the head of my missionary group but she has began to see I am a good person and I love
God. He told one of the Elders who teaches the Adult Sunday school and she looks at me one Sunday and Says there are some people you can just tell are evil and they really don’t belong here but we are not going to tell them to leave! I just can’t understand why the pastor continues to go on and on about a five minute conversation I had i his car almost five years ago. Everything I tell someone if he learns of it, he says I am just a liar. Like I just say when I was young I used to talk with a poplur Gospel Radio Announcer and he’d pray with me, he cut that setence off with people try to know people who are publicly known. What he never knew thought is I worked across the Street from that Radio Station and not only knew that him put the entire staff. I told a deacon that my oldest daughter had cancer at the same time when my youngest child was attend Dillard University and was caught in Karina put due to steadfast prayer God heal my daughter and brought my child back safely to me! This deacon not knowing how much the pastor hated me mention my blessings in one year and my name. The next week I hear this statement some people try to get a good testimony and tell lie after lie and claim they God a Blessing in it all when it never happen! He has repeatedly looked my way saying some people are liars, they don’t truly praise God and yes some people may be fooled by them because they speak softly and do nice things but they are as nice as they seem. This pastor is a true devil and I finally realized he was this year. His mother I learn this year worked for 35 years with my oldest sister at a hospital but now my sister is the social worker at the same nursing home his father happens to be a resident in. Of course his mom, does not know me and had no idea my sister had a sister in her son’s church. However, my sister and I look very much a like although she is slightly smaller than me but he knows my full name too. This Devil showed his true evilness when his own mother says, oh Look Michael there’s Ms. Cooke she’s the social worker her and she is a beautiful young lady and we are bless to have her here working with your Daddy. My sister says the mother runs up to hug and kiss her and instructs my pastor and his son Eric to give her a big hug because she is a sweetheart. The grandson runs up and hugs and kisses my sister but this hateful devil turns and walks completely out of the room and not even says hello! He hated her simply becasue she looked just like me even though it had not been told to him as yet. Then my sister says the next week his Mom comes and in rushes up to her kisses and hugs her and says”I don’t care what anyone says about you …I know you are so very sweet and a good person! Is my pastor insane himself to be judging other people by another person. He should not even be judgment of me nor gossip about me and telling liars.
I love the Lord and I am enjoy the work in my missionary group and I refused to allow his hatred of a my being mentally ill run me away from God’s House not his House!
I can’t figure out why he goes on and on over something that was said 5 years ago.
You have been through a lot. Can you try a more supportive Church? Or perhaps go over the Pastor’s head, or to some of the local pastors (meet with more than one at the time) to let them know what is going on with the Pastor. You don’t need to be put down but supported.
This life can be hard. But this life is temporary, even though the mean time can be hard. I suffer from problems and not very happy with life. Its a good thing this is not all there is!
Take care. And think about finding another church if this church doesn’t help enough.
i agree leave… you can do better. good on you for sharing with us. congratulations on your girls.
thank God the gospel is a “whosoever”. you are loved and accepted by us here on this blog and God. what a great church we have here, the echurch.
just great. thanks
We all love you deeply Cheryl, this blog is born out of love. We really can say God always has people in place who represent him even if a paricular church has poblems. Church is much more than a building .
I am a Christian woman who grew up in church (pastor’s kid). I have always loved Jesus and been connected to a church. I have also struggled with mental health problems since childhood. My diagnoses are: PTSD, Bipolar II, OCD.
I have enjoyed reading this site and a couple others as well where people are discussing the need for Christians/churches to recognize mental illness as a true illness and to provide a safe place for us believers who are not always of perfectly sound mind.
Does anyone know, though, of a group-support-type website for Christians with mental illness? When I talk with mentally healthy believers, like in small groups, about my relationship and walk with God, I’m not sure that they understand me or I them. Because of that, I’m kind of tormented by the question: Is following God really that much harder for me, or am I just copping out? One day, I think, yes, it’s really harder for me. The next day, I think, no, I’m just copping out. For example, the Christians I know have daily devotions on a regular basis. They get great benefit from them, as I do when I can make myself stick with them. But I never can for very long at a time. My internal life is so chaotic that I can never seem to stick to a regular, daily schedule. I never do things (go to bed, eat, and so on) at the same time, so I inevitably miss a few days of time with God (which I usually enjoy when I show up), so I give up for a few days, then I start back up, have a few good days, and then drop off again. Also, I have had a drinking problem, quit, but drink occasionally now. Even though I’m not drinking too often or too much, I feel guilty all the time, and that makes me not want to talk to God. I go back and forth on that issue too: Is moderate drinking a sin for me if I have abused alcohol before? Then I think of that scripture that says a person with a divided heart is unstable in all his ways. No doubt! So I feel more guilty. Not only can I not get my act together, and I drink though I probably shouldn’t, I’m also unstable in all my ways! Can anyone say “accuser”? Yes. So, then I think, right, those are just lies and I need to get my thinking in line with God’s to get the upper hand on the accuser. But how can I get my mind conformed if I can’t manage regular time in the word and prayer? I try again. Fail. Argh! My Christian friends’ faces kind of glaze over when I ask for prayer for this horrible cycle I’ve been stuck in…my whole life.
Any support websites you can recommend for Christians with mental illness, who might be able to relate to what’s going on with me?
I don’t have any great websites to recommend–maybe readers do. I have seen what you say about the glazed look that others get as you ask for prayer. I think it comes as a result of an inability to comprehend lifelong problems. Most people see troubles as something to move beyond. And so those with chronic conditions (cancers, pain, mental health conditions) often get marginalized because their situation clearly shows some things cannot be overcome in the way we’d like to imagine they can be. So, one tends to move away from this form of suffering and the easiest way to do so is to imagine that the person is just not willing to get better. Sad, but true.
I was molested and shamed in my character in my early teens and this caused an arrest in my emotional development. I struggled with abusive behavior most of my life. I finally had the courage to enter into some deep emotional pain to break the abuse cycle. I hope to become a facilitator and help other men with similar stories. May those who read this be patient with themselves and those they love to realize the depth of compassion and empathy it takes to allow someone who has a similar background to receive the healing they so desire.
For those interested in getting help please review the website and personal testimony below:
I was having difficulties with intimacy and communication in my marriage and with my children. Life Skill’s of San Diego provided a safe environment, in a powerful group setting; where I was able overcome the fear, frustration and despair of negative behavioral traits that I had struggled with my entire life. Finally there is a process through which I can mature past them. I am experiencing a deeper level of intimacy and communication, never experienced before. I am looking to the future with hope and not despair, a life full of satisfying relationships and meaningful service to God.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow”
Douglas W. Root
i know exactly what you mean, go through same thing (guilt thing etc), trying to figure out how mental illness and living the christian life go together, seems like you can only progress if you dont suffer from what we do 😦 lol
I found your blog when searching for ‘mental illness and depression’ in Google. My family and I are going through a mental illness/depression situation with one of my parents, and bookmarking you as a resource is aa good relief for me.
I’m happy that many of you dind’t gave up Christiani because people from your church don’t know about mental problems.
I have a bipolar and ADHD children and myself depression.
I heard enought about demon possesions etc…
but I know in what I have believe.
HE gave me the strength I need. He gave me too, a nice friend who listening me when I need it.
My kids have been in a naturopath treatment for Bipolar (daughter) , ADHD (son) with sucess.
She no longer has “voices” problems and is not agressive anymore. She is taking vitamins, aminoacids, omega 3 and others..
My son has improved too, the teachers are not complaining anymore : ) He still are taking his aminoacids , omega 3 etc..
I din’t have my blood tests yet, because it is expensive. But I’m taking omega3, special teas , vitamin D and B complex com some great sucess too.
I know that not everybody believes in natual treatment but it works. I know some churchs don’t believe in natural “recover” too.
I’m Baptist and I ‘m praying that many mental problem could be cured in a “natural” way.
If you want more details plase contact-me.
PS: sorry the English, I’m imigrant in Canada.
I have witnessed that if a person with a serious mental illness will submit themselves to a Church that teaches the Word of God, has faith for healing, and makes a deeper connection and commitment to God, the mental illness lessens. Overall, our churches seem to have lost faith in the fact that no illness is more powerful than the power of God. With the right yielding instruments or ministers, plus a willingness to be ministered to, God God can heal any mental or physical illness.
I used to believe that thought. Applying it to my life eventually led to hopelessness and suicidal feelings.
Like Martin Luther before “The just shall live by faith” encounter, I labored under the law. I found that I could not submit enough, have faith enough, commit, yield and be willing enough. At least, I must not be doing so, as my [*mental illness] did not go away.
Yes, I used to believe that thought. In consequence I was vulnerable and I was spiritually abused. The consequent of that abuse is severe lack of trust in those who take positions of spiritual authority.
God is clearing the toxins from my lungs. [from the atmosphere of legalistic law so prevalent in “bible-believing churches”] He is breathing His life and increasingly clearing my vision to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.
However, the wound from the abuse is still painful. I enter “the church” with suspicion. Alarm is quickly triggered. I wonder…, can a creature who was repeatedly beaten ever heal and trust again?
* mental illness – the generic definition of
DS, healing is a very loaded term. Without knowing the particulars of the healing you seek, let me make a general comment or two. Is a client healed if they still have intrusive memories? Maybe so if they are able to continue to function or if they do not give in to hiding in the closet as they once did. Is a drug addict healed if they are free from abusing drugs but still crave them?
Healing comes in all shapes and sizes and while some are healed completely, most in this life are not. God is faithful and sustains us but often doesn’t remove the reminders of our pilgrimages to glory. Are you being healed? Yes, day by day.
DS, well put…reading the above entry only brings condemnation and shame upon me! I “believed” that way for 25 years…the healing I hoped for never came (in fact, my situation has worsened)—this would lead to feeling rejected and abandoned by God…it was horrible! Then I’d be led into infinite self-examination—there must be sin in my life, I wasn’t “exercising” enough faith…etc. etc.
Mental illness is hideous!!! I wish it did not exist…I wish I did not have to live with it, but it is my reality for now.
I grapple to know that Jesus is WITH me THROUGH this…when He doesn’t deliver me FROM it.
Telling someone that they have not been healed because they have or have not done something, or because they don’t have enough faith, is a condemnation of that person. Satan does that work well enough without our help.
When Jesus healed people, all they had to do was ask. And some didn’t even have to ask. If you have enough faith to ask, then you have enough faith to be healed. Period.
But God does not always heal mental illness, just as he does not always heal physical illness. We know from the Bible that Paul himself (thorn in the flesh; he prayed, but God would not remove it), Trophimus, and Timothy were not healed. Would you tell Paul that he and his friends were not healed because he had done something wrong, wasn’t thinking the right thoughts, or didn’t have enough faith? I don’t think so.
Further, think of all the great (and not-so-great) Christians who have DIED; in other words, were not healed.
Jesus initiated the kingdom of God on earth, but it is not yet fully here. Until it is, we will get sick and sometimes not be healed.
Be kind and loving to those of us who believe and follow Jesus yet are still sick. You may be one of us some day.
I rarely return to comment on my older posts but this one keeps hanging around–since 2007. I think it reflects the tremendous pain in the church of those who struggle with mental illness. Sadly, it isn’t safe to reveal that fact.
Dean is right that there are often (note often isn’t always) benefits to being faithful and submissive to God. These benefits may help lessen the pain, even presence of any illness. Certainly God heals bodies, brains, minds. And if one is in a safe, stress free environment (which one could hope the Church would be), research suggests the patient will experience significantly less symptoms of mental illness. People with psychotic disorders tend to have fewer episodes when in a safe environment.
However, I am well aware of the damage that has been done by those who think they defend God’s healing power when they either (a) tell people they WILL be healed if they perform for God (e.g., have enough faith), or (b) that one should NOT seek help (treatment, escape from abuse, meds, etc.) because God will be glorified by the problem or that it would be a lack of faith to wait. So, Christian, your comments are spot on!
Our son, 24, has just had his 3rd psychotic episode in less than 3 years. The first time he was admitted to a psych hospital for 2 weeks, diagnosis bipolar with acute psychosis. Took Zyprexa and functioned OK. Gradually weaned down, but then felt so good took himself off the meds. Crashed again 2 yrs. later… we “treated” him in house with constant supervision, meds and counseling. Got back on track with life for the most part… BUT, he claimed 2 months ago that God “healed” him from mental illness and along with all of his charismatic friends who told him he didn’t need medication, he once again stopped all meds. Two days ago we got a call, he was in ER and then transported to a mental institution… it’s extremely painful and agonizing to watch a loved one, especially your child no matter how old they are, to go through this! We are christians and have deep faith, but it has been so very disheartening to
have those of his church and his friends encourage him to claim healing, stop taking the medications and thus risk his very life!! I agree with much of the previous posts… until you have walked in the “world of mental illness” you cannot understand. We believe God can heal, but sometimes He doesn’t choose to and uses doctors, counseling and medication to function in our lives on this earth. My prayer is our son will “embrace” his thorn, will surrender to this “suffering” he is called to walk in with Christ and be a witness and example to others bringing glory to God in his weakness…as our God is strong. Thank you for this website and blog! Blessings.
What a wonderful reminder. The thorn is a gift from God. (2Cor.12:7)
Yet, we feel guilty for having the thorn, thinking it punishment. Instead, it is God who gives us the thorn, and all His gifts are good.
But, how can something that hurts be good? In so many ways. For one, it keeps us (and others) clear that we are weak. All power is God’s. Our thorn is as black velvet to accentuate the excellency of His Glory. Ultimately, I think that we will discover that this is the greatest good.
that we have opportunity to glorify him even in weakness. Or perhaps…, even more because of our weakness?
I am so grateful for this website. As I read through your testimonies, my prayers are with you all in your struggles. D. Stevenson, you comments about the thorn being a gift from God has helped me today. I’ve faced a lot of trauma right through life, alcoholic scary home, taken into a religious cult when I was 9, two marriages, a son (now 29) with schitzo-affective disorder, etc etc… I suffer from complex post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders etc. Praise the Lord, He saved me when I was 37, I am now 56. God is good! Hallelujah! I, too, have struggled in churches because people just don’t understand, and how can they really, because they haven’t experienced it, and that’s OK. But we can feel so alone, and defective or something, because we seem so different to other chrisitians. Praise be to God, He became flesh and dwelt amongst us, He partook of our flesh, He does understand; He is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He has special care for the brokenhearted, the “weak” in the eyes of the world. We have to keep relying on Him alone and His strength. It is a blessing in disguise, a gift, as you said! It sure doesn’t feel like it, does it?! But thank you all, I care for you all, and my prayers are for you all. The LORD will deliver us! Nothing can separate us from His love! God bless you all–KEEP GOING! This is the very BEST site, because it is REAL!
rvm & D Stevenson,
Hello there….wow…it was amazing to read these emails…
I am not a doctor but from my own ,family and friends experience..this is what the Lord guided me to beleive..
I think there are 2 kinds of mental disorders
1. biological—in which there is a disorder in the brain–with a wide spectrum of disorders not just the well know..a psyical condition of the brain that requires meds just like any illness-diabetes, heart problems
2. psudo -in which people have a certain fear,condition brought on by different situations–which is not a true mental disorder because it can be healed by prayers…
I think because we are in a fallen world..and this world is under the dominion of the prince of this world–satan..the mind is the one organ that he can use and manipulate to the max….i have suffered from deppresion and other stuff for so many years…- refused to heed my mom’s words to pray—once the Lord placed it on my heart to pray about it…the depression has dissapeard but satan constantly battles our minds–and we always have to be aware of the foreign toughts that get rejected into our minds almost constantly–we must be vigilant about it..
I beleive every single family has issues with mental illness and/or psudo mental illness…but most people live in denial and dont take the time to assess their mental situation…i also feel that in both of these cases…when we feel the oncoming of these thoughts we need to pray immediatly and cryout for help..i also feel that even those who suffer from the real mental illness who actually have to take meds cause they have a serious condition they are still greatly being attacked and manipulated by satan to make their situation worse..
Another thing i dont understand why people would not take mental illness as a serious illness–the mind is one of the most important organs of the body–if all the rest of the body parts & organs fall to illness why should not the mind..and even with every physical illness that i have experienced , satan came to attack my faith in the Lord by attacking my mind to turn against the Lord…
Mental illnessi just another illness that is taking center stage now adays and we need to be more understanding , loving and caring to everyone who suffers from it..i pray that the Lord would help scinetist to come up with better working meds…
Somewhere in the midst of these posts someone posted about this site:
I’ve not explored it enough to give my personal opinion. However, during my brief visit I saw that it appears to be a helpful support source.
I’m so greatful that the Lord led me to this site. I have suffered with clinical depression, OCD and Anxiety disorder for a number of years. I am also afraid to answer the phone or see who’s ringing our door bell. I can’t handle large crowds. I am a Born Again Christian and my wife and I attend church when I feel I can go. My meds are up to 30 pills per day to function. Yes, It also takes great effort to get up in the morning. I finally had to quit my job to stay home. I have over the years experienced comments and broken relationships from church people that believed my illness is largely due to my relationship with Christ not being right. I have been told to repent to get rid of this problem. I love God with all my heart and completely trust him. I trust as he says in his word, he will never give me more than I can handle. The Church is very ill equiped to deal with any mental issue that causes uncomfort to the body of Christ. Sometimes all I want is someone to listen, not preach. Soemtimes I go just to spend the whole service looking at the cross on the wall and thanking the lord for the fact that I could actually come. I asked my wife the other day if she would help to write a book about this terrible way of life. We need to all get together to awaken the church, to let them know we are here and just as forgiven and loved by God as they are. I was recently asked from my pastor after going through a 7 steps to freedom in Christ, if I knew who I was. I thought he was asking if I new who I was in Christ which I preceded to answer. He said no, who was I personally. I couldn’t answer. With so many meds I just don’t know and havn’t know for may years. By the saving grace of God we will ALL get through this if we do it together. God Bless you All!! I’ve just started setting up my blog to deal with all this. When it’s done, I would see it as a privilege if you would all come to visit. I’ll let you know when it’s up and running.
This is a very good website. I want to testify that God does heal. My daughter was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder four years ago. She was constantly having to be readmitted from the hospital. Medicines only helped, they did not control the symptoms.But as you know, pastors do not know what to do with mental disorders. They pass it off as being a “spiritual problem.” My pastor is well meaning and kind, and he visited my daughter in the hospital several times. He even suggested that I send her away for awhile to a Christian home for wayward girls.I absolutely refused. I love my kid,(a young adult)and I will do anything and everything for her. Counseling seemed to help some at first, but she got worse.
She even had blackouts, not knowing who she was!
Then the flu symptoms came. I was told that it was a virus, but it was kidney stones!! There was one stuck in a tube to the kidney. It was surgically removed. When she woke up from surgery, the symptoms were gone!!! She is now in college and doing well. Her mind is clear and I give all the glory to God. Love your family. Be there for them no matter what. I was alone through all of this. God was there for me too.
This is fascinating! I wonder if something related to the kidney stone was causing what they diagnosed schizoaffective disorder. Perhaps something in the treatment acted as “medicine.” Or…, (multiple theories) Whatever the case, it is as you say. To God be all the glory. We on earth are sometimes given the privilege to participate, but He is the healer.
This was a very good post, and a great discussion to go along with it. I have struggled with severe depression all of my life. I grew up with a mentally ill, drug addict father. Several other members of my family have mental illnesses as well.
I think that the comment about the “thorn” was spot on. I often wonder if God allows us to experience certain things so that we can be more responsive to others with the same problems.
I guess the phrase “cross to bear” would be more appropriate (and a tad ironic) for what I am describing. I know that my struggle has tested my faith and resolve in the most serious way. I’m glad I hung on.
It’s nice to see people having intelligent discussions about these matters.
Have you explored codependancy? Sounds to me there’s alot of childhood issues involved.
I work in a Christian parachurch ministry among people who suffer from mental illness, addiction and poverty. I’m still coming to terms with my own personal encounter with a schizo-affective disorder over 30 years ago. Not much has changed since my attempts then to find fellow Christians and others who were willing to hear me and learn from my experience. The illness sometimes works against it, but it’s important to find people who will listen and join in the battle to help others. God does heal , whether rapidly or through the long haul; sometimes he even uses doctors. Praise Jesus!
It is an outrage they way churches respond to people with mental illness. I think we must stop being gentle with Pastors and others who are so full of their own shame that they are unable to show the compassion of Christ to those who are suffering. Its bad enough that the world stigmatizes those with mental illness. We find no comfort in church where there should be an outpouring of love, understanding, compassion and constant prayer vigils for the mentally ill. Its funny that the word stigma relates to the great suffering and crucifixion of our Lord. The mentally ill suffer at the hands of the church and the world.
I suffered from clinical depression and had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I would not accept my churches flippant assumption that it was a demon. After treatment as well as the renewing of my mind with scriptures I have recovered going on 7 years. I don’t think the church as a whole is spiritually mature enough to be able to discern demons . Some of my illness was from unforgiveness and bitterness but I can not and would never assume the exact causes of anyone’s mental state. First and formost we must be loving,be kind and pray for one another,I do so very often as I run a group for people in recovery from mental illness. It is not faith based but many of the people in the group and those I have met have been able to hear my testimony and listen to the Gospel. Its a sad day when those of us who suffer so greatly are shunned out by churches, but quess what Jesus shall never leave us or forsake us, he is our eternal friend and when we cast our cares upon Him he will comfort us. I am an advocate for those who suffer from mental illness. I have spoken at hospitals, churches and even the police department. My testimony of how christ gives me comfort is a very important part of my speech. I shall go on speaking as I do to anyone who will listen. I am presently working on a book that will relate my negative experiences with churches. If we love the church I believe we must show a tough love,Jesus would not tolerate such stigma in the church so then why should we. There is not a thing to fear. Christ did not die on the cross so that church members could put the mentally ill into bondage by shunning instead of praying. We serve a mighty loving God and Savior,
Christ came to set captives free. So many of our Pastors are bound by their own shame and inability to pray, love and care for the wounded sheep who suffer from mental illness. Our pastors are bound we can be bold enough to help free them by speaking out. I love you all and I have suffered greatly from this illness, I know what it is like and will continue to speak on your behalf. Above all else we know for a surety that Christ loves us unspeakably for he died for us also. You are in my prayers…
I am a Christian therapist- LMFT, Psy.D. I agree that it is very important to make it acceptable to acknowledge mental illness in the church, and I think the general public needs more education about mental illness. I write Christian therapy articles for Examiner.com., and wrote one article very relevant to this topic about respecting those with mental illness at http://www.examiner.com/x-44482-LA-Christian-Therapy-Examiner~y2010m5d4-Understanding-mental-illness-and-the-process-of-change. I also have a website http://www.losangeleschristiantherapy.com with links to all Christian therapists, support groups, and books. Christianity and psychology together can be extremely powerful and relieve a lot of problems, but there is a lot of misunderstanding about both. People need easy access to information so they will not rely on rumor and speculation, which perpetuate stigma and inaccurate assumptions. If people gain more understanding of what mental illness is, what psychology is, and how it coincides with Biblical principles, I expect that the stigma would lessen.
I have suffered terribly with debilitating MI for about 7 years.
I almost begged my Pastor to allow me to take ADs. To at least try something. He and my husband told me it was just the enemy. Maybe so. My Pastors wife folded her arms and said she didnt believe I had a MI. Ive worked hard to hide it.
I will say that I dont think it the churchs place to treat schizophrenics anymore than it is the churchs place to treat cancer or diabetes, however the church does have a responsibility to pray,love and show compassion. Proclaim the truth. Bind up the wounds of the broken hearted.
Sometimes MI can be a form of punishment or chastisement from God
•Job wanted to die and begged God to take his life.
•Saul was vexed by Mental Illness and tried to ward it off with soothing music instead of repentance.
•David had times of severe mental suffering, day and night Gods heavy hand was upon him.
•Nebuchadnezzar, (Daniel 4) was struck with mental illness as a time of chastisement for his pride, he was so out of it he ate grass, quit bathing and let his fingernails grow out like birds talons, when he came to he worshipped with a whole new perspective on God.
•Deut. 28:27-29,34 mentions “madness” as a divine chastisement
I think that there are way too many pills being pushed today. Particularly to *Christians* who need to stop and consider if these struggles are not the hand of God trying to save us and teach us. Nothing withdraws pride like a good mental breakdown. God knows how to extract those self efforts and insert compassion and absolute utter dependence on Him alone.
Perhaps depression is not a time to take pills and reflect on ourselves and our childhood like the pop psychologist would have us believe. Maybe God is trying to cause us to cry out to Him, to learn compassion for others who suffer. To share in the fellowship of His sufferings. Suffering can be such an effective tool in Gods hand if we allow it.
Hard to say sometimes if it is God teaching us or a real medical issue from our fallen state. Something to consider though…..
When we talk about clinical depression, I don’t think it’s safe to say it is not a time to take pills. I suffered from depression for over 10 years. Clinical Depression can make a person a danger to themselves and others. We have to be careful what we say. Since the church is often so ill equipped to minister to people with SMI how can we then speak about compassion for others who suffer, when we so often find lack of compassion in the churches that dodge the problem of mental illness. Yes ,the Lord teaches us and strenghtens us through suffering but will we say that God strikes us with mental illness so we may suffer and learn something? I can say that much of my own depression came from dwelling on a troubled and hurtful past, as well as unforgiveness. I can say that in therapy too many precious years are spent going over problems until they are practically memorized. I can say that the world is quick to give a pill for every mental ailment. I can say that psychology and Christ are not such a good combination but can be effective if one remembers who they are in Christ. I can say that until the church gets up to speed with mercy and forgiveness for all, one would have to seek worldly counseling. I can say that in order for Churches to become more compassionate we have to let them know where we stand and how we feel. I completely agree that we really have to bite the bullet and take a very close look at what the word of God says about mental illness. I can quote John:8:36 which says”Whom the Son sets free is free indeed….” and if we are in bondage, or ill, or hungry or thirsty etc we should seek the Lord with diligence. It is God who created the brain. I have had a lot of successthrough prayer. I’m speaking of consistant prayer,daily on the same topic for at least an hour. As a last thought-medication is often very, very necessary, it has helped me greatly and I know for a fact that it was God’s best for me at the time. Medication cleared my mind so that I could focus on His word. I ‘m no longer taking medication and most of my negative thout patternings were transformed by the word of God and healing increased with true repentance. I think it is cruel and inhumane for a Pastor or anyone else to deny someone the right to take medication that can help them and use Jesus as a reason why they should continue to suffer with SMI .
So then, if I get medical treatment for an issue (mental/medical however you see it) it disables seeing my humanity, my pride, and fall in utter dependence and humility before God?
So then, if my issue is medical, God isn’t also teaching me something even then?
Medication (antidepressants) “can be such an effective tool in Gods hand if we allow it.”
I asked God to save me from the flood. A man in a boat came by and told me to get in. I said, “No. God is going to save me.” A man called down to me from a helicopter, “Grab hold of the rope I will let down to you.” and I said “No. God is going to save me.” I drowned and when I got to heaven I asked God why He didn’t save me. He said to me. — I sent a boat to you. I sent a helicopter to you. Why didn’t you accept my provision for you? —
I am mentally ill, and I’d like to share my Blog and what has helped me to deal with my illness, Mindset100.blogspot.com. Jeremiah 29:11 He has a plan even for the mentally ill. All things happen for the good of those Who love God. It’s all about God not about us. It’s all about being like Christ, we were created by Him for Him.
Phil — just saw there were “recent comments” on this post and read through the thread.
I’d say you hit on a huge topic with this post — maybe there’s a book here?
Minister Marlene. I think you are right. The churches are ill equipped to deal with mental illness.
They tend to blame the victims. As for prayer, I respect the fact that you think it helped you, but I have to be honest and say [I don’t believe it]. To each his own though. Good luck.
[edited by wisecounsel]
Oh my! Oh my! are we saying that praying to Jehovah God who created this universe and our brains is a waste of time and can not help anyone? Without faith all things will be impossible to you. I give you this guarantee, pray to the Lord about your situation, take the challenge and I know He will reveal Himself to you and help you. Yes, the churches are ill equipped but is God, though Christ ill-equipped. Is Mental Illness too difficult for God to heal? Thirty days of consistant prayer can move mountains. Our God is not a God who desires that we suffer. His plan for us in Jeremiah 29 is that we have hope and a future.
Minister Marlene, I am not putting you down , I am only saying that i don’t buy it. We each have our own opinions and if it helps you…Fine.
May the Lord richly bless you and your family.
Thank You very much but thirty days of constant prayer would be very boring just to get a little high
or a shot of seratonin
This is such a sensitive subject with me. My children have summed up my mental illness of severe depression to that of the sin of attention seeking and manipulation. I’ve found this humiliating and have chosen to present only the positive to them, whether that’s right or wrong. If you were to meet me and know me, I would appear normal. I don’t talk to myself or shout or do anything unusual. By presenting only the positive points about myself, at least it has brought them closer to me and some day I hope they’ll be mature enough to understand that people don’t try to commit suicide to get attention or manipulate others. I’ve found through them that it is not safe to reveal my illness to Christians. By believing God came to set the captive free, one can only ask, are diabetics free? are those with M.S. free? We are spiritually free for now until He appears and heals us physically. Everyone has something they are not set free from. But some day we shall. In the meantime, I want to be accepted, loved and respected. Is that too little to ask of a congregation?
Sojourner, thanks for your comments. It is not too much to ask (your last question). I think it is also good to ask what does love and faithfulness to each other look (the congregation to you and you to them). They have their brokenness, you have yours. What faithfulness do you need to display to them (maybe a call to them before you do something that could hurt yourself, validation of their feelings about not knowing what to do). And they too need to answer this same question. What does faithfulness and love look like back to you.
Blessings on you.
Hi, I’m Beth and I thought I just left a comment, but am not sure it went through. (sometimes a clutz at computer stuff). I am and have been a Christian for all my life. I was married to a pastor and tried to raise our 5 children in the faith. In the past 10 yrs. things have been constantly falling apart. I divorced Rich a couple of years ago. He lied to me pretty much our whole life about finances; after we filed for bankruptcy, we were kicked out of our church. He is very passive aggressive and pretty much apathetic as far as the kids and I go. We tried counseling; he kept on deceiving me so after much prayer and Christian counsel, I finally filed for divorce. Anyway, I guess mental illness ran in his family; now I have 3 of my 5 kids struggling with mental illness. It is heartbreaking. My 27 yr. old is schizo-affective; this has been going on since he was 13; I have twins who are 22. Nathan was born with a developmental disability, which I learned to accept; but since he was 13 he also has extreme anxiety and has had been hospitalized several times for delusional thinking. In the past few months, his twin sister, who was a successful college student, musician and strong Christian had a complete breakdown. She is now living at home with me, doesn’t sleep and doesn’t seem to have a dr. who wants to work with her. I feel overwhelmed, depressed, etc. It is probably harder because I don’t have a spouse to share this with and I often feel church people and pastors just don’t want to deal with it. Even other friends don’t even ask about Andy. It’s like he’s just dead. I am so lonely. I keep hanging on to the Lord, but I need some support. Just reading some of these comments have made me feel more connected. God bless all of you in your struggle with this huge problem.
Wow, you have a lot to deal with. Even with the hopelessness that sometimes come when you exhaust the natural treatments of psychology, I encourage you to hang on the hope that God’s power can restore any physical or mental illness. As a whole, the Church has lost its belief in the restorative power of God, yet New Testament experience speaks otherwise.
I wrote this for a dear friend who had been struggling with depression for most of her life.
The heavy burden of self reflection
Threatens to swallow everything dear
Shadows me in every direction
Blankets me with unrelenting fear.
May I remember a softer time
Of lightness and cotton spirit
Of laughter and energy sublime
A song where joy is its lyric.
What is this enemy that slithers past?
I react as if its unexpected
I feel alarmed, afraid, and then aghast.
I’m brought full circle, again dejected.
Yet the arm of tragedy is not nearby
Nor loss, nor pain, nor death has touched me
Just the dark-colored glasses that stains the sky
And my soul paralyzed, never free.
Yet outwardly, I can not curse those I touch
For that would be more than I could bear
So I hide its face in anger’s clutch
So it is temper’s pang that I choose to share.
So, the world would have me wash This away with pills and potions
To be acceptable, kind, lovable, and productive.
Yet It has been my friend as long as I have known emotion
My Friend. Its dependability is seductive.
But can I exist in two worlds, so that I may exist at all?
Or shall I continue to fight my Friend?
I’d rather please the One that has saved me from the Fall.
Knowing in Him, eventually Darkness will end.
Oh, how cliche of me to place my hope in the Higher One
Yet in my shoes, stands trembling me.
With my self-imposed prison and comfort in isolation
I know that ache, I yearn to be free.
So the fight goes on and eventually I’ll see resolution.
The Arms of hope gently caress and hold me.
I will one day see my soul’s evolution.
And the Hope of hopes I will eventually see.
*I think it’s important for every single human being to recognize that we all have mental illness in the sense that our minds are not the Healthy that we will know when we are perfected in Christ when we are called Home. Every person has struggled with the effects of an unhealthy mind, whether for a brief moment in time when a negative thought is birthed or whether for an entire lifetime when the mind attempts to cripple the very soul. If we see ourselves in the same boat, that is when humility and kindness can enter and fear and judgment can evaporate.
When one enters into a relationship with our Father through the glorious sacrifice of Christ, one should take on the cloak of Christ and be His hands and feet to help others, thus helping ourselves. The sanctimonious irony of loving others as our Father loves us, is that we benefit as well as others. So, we should love those that society may deem as “unlovable”; we should diligently seek after and comfort the “uncomfortable”; we should give until it hurts and know that we are essentially loving Jesus. Jesus said, “Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done unto Me.”(Matt 25:40). Any person who suffers, is the “least” of these. So, at one point or another in our lives, we all are in the category of the “least”. So, when we love others we love ourselves as well. Loving someone with a SMI is not easy, but loving someone the way God calls us to love, is not easy. Love is an extraordinary act. Love took Jesus to the cross.
The mind is an extraordinary glimpse into the magnificence of its Creator. In fact, the human body is truly miraculous. However, our bodies are subject to disease, illness and devastation as a result of the Fall yet our Father promised He would never leave us or forsake us and that He is with us..always and until the end of time as we know it. Could a lifetime of struggling with a severe mental illness pale in comparison to an eternity of Perfection with our Sweet Lord and Savior? Could the actual suffering make our dependence on Him greater, thus increasing our reward in Him? I don’t know what the answer is to why people have to suffer like this, but I do know God is all-knowing and all-powerful and could use this type of suffering for His greatest good work in that person.
I am so amazed by how God is infusing the minds of researchers, scientists, physicians and counselors with the knowledge of how to help those who are suffering from mental illness. My greatest hope would be that many pastors, ministers, priests or any clergy would also seek His wisdom on this subject as well and provide a safe haven for those wonderful individuals to whom God has given this gift of mental illness so that His glory would be revealed in them.
May God bless this wonderful internet site and may it help those who feel forgotten by society and by God. Please know, when you feel the weakest, He is the strongest. Your vulnerability allows us to see God more clearly and beautifully in all its complexities and magnificence. And please, don’t ever give up on life because life is one of His greatest gifts and He loves you beyond comprehension. When you hurt, he does too, more than we will ever realize.
Thank you so much for sharing your poem and thoughts on these problems. Many of your viewpoints are similar to my own. It was an affirming blessing to read your words.
I googled “Christianity and Mental Illness” and stumbled on this site. I also have a story. Married 33 years to a man diagnosed recently w/Bi-polar. 3 Restraining orders, countless separations and 1 divorce and remarriage. I hurt and have deep sorrow for the lack of assistance and loving support from our brethren. I agree it is an illness like any other, diabetes, cancer, the only difference is the location in the body. I believe that slowly the churches are starting to open up to the mentally ill, just like they have to the disabled.
I still have hope that the Love of our Lord Jesus Christ will include loving the mentally ill. My husband and I love the Lord and have a Theology Degree and were ministers with a well known denomination, yet due to my husband’s illness and lack of treatment we had to discontinue in ministry.
I am hoping to be part of the change occuring regarding this branch of God’s Body.
I have had bi-polar disorder for two years. I have been mostly forgot about by churches because of it.
My wife and I wrote a book called Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like Losing It. It deals with everything that has been posted on this web site.
Just put in a google search, bloem+broken minds
I am glad I found this website. I think perhaps the church isn’t as aware of mental illness as it could be, in part, because it isn’t something you can explain away. If you say cancer or diabetes people know they need to care for them but when you say mental illness it seems most people think that the mentally ill can pull it together if they want to. It isn’t recognized as a “real” illness. There seems to be this fear type of thing, an “I don’t know what to do with that” kind of thinking and we step back from not knowing what to say or do in regard to that person or their family.
Perhaps a good approach is to be open enough to ask in what ways we might help them. There is an excellent book in regard to this that is called “Souls in the Hands of a Tender God” by Craig Rennebohm who is the chaplain for NAMI’s FaithNet who addresses the ways churches can help the mentally ill. For the most part the book addresses adults with mental illness and talks about how to learn to listen and be with them.
My own experience with children and church is just that mental illness is not easily identified in kids and so it is often attributed to poor behavior as in adults at times. Often we tend to mainstream children when that is not always a good idea for the highly stressed child. A little sensitivity and knowledge in that arena helps. However, someone has to bring it to the attention of leadership in the church that these families need and want help but sometimes are reluctant to even say “mental illness” for the stigma attached to it.
Maybe it would be helpful to have some meeting to address special needs but include mental illnesses when they meet and brain storm with as much information as they can gather. Most counties have some form of mental illness advisory board and that may be a source of help as well as the NAMI FaithNet website.
So much of our depression and anxiety is caused by sin, yet we look to Drs to treat/numb it with drugs. Too bad we dont allow it to change us, make us cry out and mold us into His image.
I think we need a more nuanced view of the problem and the response. If by sin you mean sins done to us, the fall, etc. as well as the sins we commit, then I don’t disagree with you. But, it is also clear that despair and worry are not always sinful. They are not always rebuked when expressed in the bible, especially the Psalms. Further, I do believe we can allow our sufferings to mold and shape us AND still use medications to help us along. Would you withhold Tylenol when someone has a stress headache from their perfectionism? No, you would willingly give it and later when the headache is gone talk to them about their struggles. Certainly, you would not want to try to mold someone during a panic attack. So, meds have their value. It is true that some only want to medicate and not do any other work. But, let’s be wary of lumping all meds into a “numbing” purpose.
The comments of Kay are the ones I have heard so much.I’ve paid dearly for listening to people.I have MDD & OCD.I wish I could tell my story.
Hi I’m a 21 year old and i’mnot very well myself, whie i was reading this it hit me that none of you wrote or stressed about Jesus actually healing someone with mental illness, I’m a young woman and all i can think of is suicide because it’s humiliating and I hate talking to anybody I just isolate myself because i feel like because of what i am/ becaming people won’t like me or if i say something innapropriate, until i read that comment by Doddapaneni Sarojani it cheered me up because whilst some of you agree that alot of mentally ill people dont want to hear about healing well I do! because quite frankly I don’t want to live with this its humiliating and I hate it I dont want to understand it and learn about it, when jesus healed the crazy man in the cave who used to cut himself well jesus didnt sit him down to learn about the illness he healed him! and healing for me is hope, considering i was suicidle before this so thank you Doddapaneni Sarojani, and i dont want to offend anybody by saying that mental illness is something to be ashamed of but the more you guys accept it as normal well youll just learn to live with it which i dont agree with at all, it is humiliating and not normal its insanity and thats fact! God called me to be an evangelist and has warned me through dreams that i was going to be ill he obviously wanted me to pray over it to stop it from happening but i didnt meaning in fact God didnt want me to get mental, Im holding on to the promise that god will heal me and if he doesnt heck will i live like a mental person.
I am so frustrated with the church. I have severe depression, anxiety, disassociation. I just feel so unwelcome in the one place I should feel safe and truly need to be- God’s house. I desperately need spiritual food and fellowship. I know I act off due to my SMIs and others can see that I act odd. Frankly, I feel more at home with drunks and “sinners going to Hell”. They are more accepting and they know they also have issues so they tend not to dissect me. I hate that I feel this way though. I love God and Jesus. I am so tired of being re-saved, judged, condemned, rebuked, ignored, and rejected. This type of behavior perpetuates the illnesses. I don’t even know any more if Jesus accepts me due to my SMIs. I don’t know anymore if there is a place in his kingdom for me. I don’t know anymore if I can be loved, needed, and wanted anymore. I don’t know if I can be of any benefit to God on this Earth. I don’t know if my SMIs disqualify me from God’s gifting (meaning I have a spiritual gift to use for God), favor, help, understanding, and/or forgiveness. I don’t know if I wear God out with my weariness and groaning and cries for help. I don’t know if the promises within the bible apply to me any more due to my SMIs. I don’t know what the point is to prayer anymore. I pray to be healed. I pray to be understood/accepted. I pray to be loved. I pray for Christian friends. I try to love others only to get rejected and hurt. Nothing changes. Nothing gets better. It is almost like evil has more breadth and power in my life than God does. I just wish ppl would TALK about SMIs without it killing my soul. I feel myself shutting down spiritually, intellectually, and socially yet again because I am so isolated and lonely and in need of comfort and confused about how a person with SMIs fits in to the church world. Words really do have the power to give life or death. All I can pray anymore is: God I believe but help my unbelief. Please take me home soon. Yes, I know we will be healed when we go home to the Father. However, I have to somehow make it until that happens and I cannot fake it anymore.
Thanks for your honest and gut wrenching reply. As you can see from the other posts, you are definitely not alone–even though it feels that way. Remember, the failure to be loved and cared for by humans does not mean God fails to accept, love, and/or use you. Your SMIs do NOT disqualify you from serving the Lord with your gifts. Keep using them. SMI is not powerful enough to block God’s saving power…despite what humans may do or not do.
Never have I read something online that I related with so much.
You took the words right out of my mouth.
I pray everyday to meet nonjudgemental sinners, misfits, and the lonely.
I don’t know where they all are but they must be out there hiding too.
I have found Christians really aren’t into being like Christ at all.
It’s almost like a club of people, acting certain ways, talking about certain things, but they simply borrowed the “Christian” name and stuck it in the title of their club.
It really should be called the Baptist Club, Methodist Club and so on and so forth.
It would be a lot less misleading!
They could pay their dues for membership (10%) and run the club according to their personal wishes and beliefs.
just watch christian tv and dont bother going church!
Christian TV can be even worse. It’s full of “name it and claim it” people, who teach that even physical illness is caused by a lack of faith.
It has been a while since I have read this blog but I am glad I came back for a look. I have just read every one of the 98 comments. I was angered, encouraged, offended and touched by the stories and responses. Obviously the church has often failed those in trouble and pain. Our attitude (because of a lack of understanding of the problem and our obligations) has often been to treat SMI just as that, an illness, something contagious, certainly to be avoided in any way. When the church gave up the care of souls to the ‘psycho/social’ community years ago, we gave away one of our functions as the body of Christ and must now relearn how to deal with this very real problem that has affected mankind because of the fall.
As a Biblical counselor I struggle greatly with two things: (a) giving and sustaining hope and love (b) discerning when a problem is behavioral (spiritual?) or physical (material) in its source. The struggle in issue (a) concerns my own human sinfulness and selfishness. I know true loving counsel takes time and energy that I would rather use on me. Only the grace of God working through the Holy Spirit gives the love to deal with another’s difficulty. The second (b) struggle comes from the chicken or egg nature of sin. It is internal and external. We do it and it’s done to us. When we do it or it is done to us, we are both subject to and object of its effects. Untangling this web and helping people see what they have internal responsibility for and what they must deal with as circumstance is not often easy. [Complicating that is the fact that our behavior actually causes changes in our brain chemistry that can mask spiritual issues. Ask any drug addict.]
My point is that your anger toward the church is not misdirected. We are guilty. However, some of us are trying to deal with the problem and draw the church to the task. We are to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” The body of Christ has not wept enough so we have missed much rejoicing.
Two quick questions –
1. Is it either/or? That is, either spiritual or physical? Why can’t it be both?
If two separate categories,
2. Why do you need to discern whether the problem is behavioral/spiritual or physical/material?
The answer to your question is not quick. I am a dualist. I believe we have a spiritual (mind) side and a physical (fleshly) side. They are interactive. The flesh affects the spirit and the spirit the flesh. If I hit my thumb with a hammer, my spirit cries out. If I indulge in “stinking thinking” my brain chemistry is affected, since this is the organ by which the spirit interacts with the world.
When you come in for counseling, and you are physically ill: gallbladder, blow to the head, a cold… I need to know this. It affects you spiritually. We work with a physician. We may be able to cure your gallbladder, clear up the poisons that is introducing into your system and straighten out your problem. If I do not deal with the physical, it will continue to affect the spiritual.
Likewise, let us say you were abused as a child and are stuck there, unable to process what happened and caught in spirals of depression; that affects you physically (your brain). [That is why drugs can help you feel better. I am not anti drug, just cautious in their use.] In this case we will try to help you process what happened, move through the course of forgiveness, reconciliation, repentance, judicial action, whatever it takes until we arrive at a Biblically sound resolution. We will help you come around not just to see that God had purpose in what happen , because we may not ever see the answer to that. Central to what we will work on is helping you reach a position where you again trust the God that would allow things like this to happen to you and others.
This is a very simplistic answer to a complicated question that sits at the core of our understanding of what we do as counselors. I hope this helps.
Thank you for your honesty. I know I do not even know if my “issues” are biological or a result of sin or circumstance. We are just as confused as you are. I suspect maybe they are all the above. I know I have sought out many scriptures: he came to bind up the broken hearted, cast your anxieties upon him for he cares for you, happy is the man whose trust in the Lord, and etc. I know I have went through many “deliverance” sessions and I would go through a 100 more if it were effective just so I can get some permanent relief. I know I live in constant fear of being in sin and I almost feel like I must make up sins to repent of so I can feel better or I constantly think I must be spiritually defective some how. I get so frustrated with feeling the way I do and knowing these scriptures and wondering why they appear to not “connect” to my heart, mind, and emotions as I still have the SMIs. It makes me doubt my salvation or think that somehow my life is immune to the power of God. Jesus also said, be gentle with the weak, to treat others as you would want to be treated, bear one another’s burdens, pray for one another, true religion is to minister to the widows, orphans, and the sick- I don’t know if that means in mind, body, and soul (rather thank just the body0, and to not judge others. Ppl just need to stop trying to play God in the lives of others and stop trying to immediately ” solve the problem”. Most ppl with SMIs also have to deal with other issues such as poverty, homelessness, fragmented relationships, physical illnesses, and so on. We have enough burdens. We already feel condemned by our own thinking and feeling and yet, ppl in churches add to our burdens and the condemnation we already feel by blaming us for our burdens. I think that most ppl in churches judge ppl with SMIs as they have a hard time marrying the fact that some ppl have trials they do not understand and the fact that this does not mesh with the teaching/ideology most westernized churches teach about God. They want someone/something to blame for the state of Adamic sin (suffering) that effects others and to”fix” ppl with SMIs so they can feel more comfortable with them and to remove the thought that maybe this could happen to someone they love (or them) and rather than to admit they can’t fix them or wonder why God doesn’t, they want to place blame on the person with SMIs. We don’t condemn someone for wearing glasses or someone with diabetes or an infertile couple. We don’t tell them that their condition is due to their own sin, irresponsibilities on their part, spiritual failure on their part, a lack of faith, demons, lack of enough prayer on their part, lack of trust in God, and etc. We tend to accept the body has limitations as a result of living in a fallen world. We don’t condemn for seeking medical attention or taking medicine. iWhy can that not apply to the mind? Fallen sin effects everyone on some level. While I believe in healing on different levels, we are not in Heaven yet. We are not going to live in a perfect world yet. When you are in a dark place emotionally, you can’t see any light that most people would see if they weren’t so overwhelmed and discouraged. Sometimes we just need ppl to shine some light into the darkness by reminding us of our hope in God,reminding us that this trial will not last for forever, helping us to feel human/acceptable by connecting with us, praying with us, just simply being present with us so we don’t feel so alone (we aren’t wanting to hear a bunch of spiritual band aid phrases or magical words that will solve everything- they don’t exist), sometimes we need it a couple of times a week, sometimes just a note/email/phone call showing that someone cares means a great deal to us, and sometimes some supportive practical care helps (such as, someone making a meal for us, someone taking us to an appointment, doing a hobby with us to give us a healthy distraction, involving someone with an SMI in some kind of ministry within a body so we can feel like we are giving to the body, and etc). Love is long suffering. I also think ppl get frustrated as these issues don’t go away after a little time. We need ppl that will love us and care about us for as long as we are around. Apathy and indifference are soul killers. Jesus never intended us to solve everyone’s problems or meet people’s needs on a macro-level. Just within our communities on a microlevel- the people we know. Counseling is practical as well. I can’t find one Christian based counselor that will take medicaid. So I am forced to go to a secular one that cannot deal with the spiritual issues that I need help with. Pastors won’t meet with me as they aren’t comfortable dealing with someone with SMIs or they have so many other obligations that they do not have the time to meet with me on a regular basis.
If you want good Biblical counsel without charge, find someone form this website near you. http://www.nanc.org/Directory.aspx These men have been screened, trained, tested, mentored and certified in Biblical counseling.
I wish I could say more directly to you, but I am constrained by Proverbs 18.13. May God direct you in your search for peace.
Hi Lou, For some reason there wasn’t a reply option to your response on the conversation I began with you. Therefore I am communicating to you via this other post.
We will help you come around not just to see that God had purpose in what happen , because we may not ever see the answer to that. Central to what we will work on is helping you reach a position where you again trust the God that would allow things like this to happen to you and others.
So you would say that if a person is in the spirals of depression (that may be related to being abused as a child) it shows they are not trusting God? That is, if a person has full assurance of God’s goodness no matter what circumstances He allowed to occur in their lives, they will not have that depression?
How do you explain the depressions of someone who has been given the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder? How do you as a biblical counselor handle that counselee?
lonelywarrior, thank you so much for your comments. I hear your heart, your pain, I can so relate…this second post was so well written. You have so much to offer. I encourage you to push on and to allow the Lord to use you. You are well spoken…look for opportunities to educate people. I know it’s hard, but if we don’t do it, who will?
I read your first post to my husband and as I did I just wept as I have been where you are…wondering what is real about my faith, am I really a child of God, (mind you, this happened when my mental illness got much worse this last year…i.e. I literally was not in my “right mind”….thankfully, I am doing better now), I often wonder where I fit in….what do I have to offer…I so often don’t trust myself in many situations because of my rapid mood swings, I, too, wonder if I can be used…I appreciated Phil’s response to you…it also helped me. Just know that by posting on this site you have touched another life (mine)…we are not alone. We must trust in our Father God…His ways are much higher than ours. Thanks, again.
“So you would say that if a person is in the spirals of depression (that may be related to being abused as a child) it shows they are not trusting God? That is, if a person has full assurance of God’s goodness no matter what circumstances He allowed to occur in their lives, they will not have that depression? “
I am not saying this at all. I don’t know your story. That is why I can’t comment directly. Let me suggest, it is possible that you may never be fully relieved from your depression no matter your assurance of God’s goodness. God nay have a purpose in allowing the depression to continue, which we will never know. Look at the healing of the blind man in Jn 9. Our God is far more complex than we can begin to imagine. Many great Christian men have suffered with depression and served God in spite of it. If finding a way out of your depression becomes the focus of your life, you probably will not find a way out.
The first thing to which God calls us is trusting Him no matter the circumstances. Read the little book of Habakkuk. In the beginning Habakkuk is complaining about God’s lack of help. Then God explains to Habakkuk that He is going to deal with the problem but not like Habakkuk thinks He should. Then Habakkuk pleads for God to remember His mercy. In chapter 3:16f Habakkuk surrenders his trust to God, which is what God desires from all of us.
Now does this mean that we should just be Christian martyrs and endure our depression? Of course not! As C.S. Lewis said, ‘pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a sleeping world.’ Find a counselor who can help you identify a God pleasing response to your circumstances. Seek friends that will help support you in the midst of your suffering. Work on developing a life of service to Christ and His body, the church. And on…
In answer to the bipolar question: “Bipolar” is the current fad of mental health. I have had three counselees in this last year who were medically diagnosed as Bipolar. None were bipolar. Where they all depressed? Yes. Had they chosen to overreact to circumstances in their lives? Yes. Were they all young and immature? Yes. Does this cover all the bases? No.
There are probably biologically caused cases of “bipolar disorder”. However, the fact that someone responds to Lithium or an antidepressant does not mean the problem is physical. We are more complex beings than that. The medical community would like to think there will eventually be a pill for everything. This is the outcome of a worldview centered in materialism. It also relieves the counselor and counselee of the tedious, difficult, time consuming work of exposing heart issues and the outward expression of those issues.
Lonlywarrior, you are in my thoughts and prayers and I will ask my counseling staff to pray for you too. How might we best pray for you?
Sorry Lou, it wasn’t Lonely Warrior who wrote that. It was me, D. Stevenson.
My questions aren’t needing personal counsel, but to ask you what you mean. Instead of a knee-jerk reaction to your NANC thoughts, I am attempting to “hear” what you are saying. In your words I hear a lot of dichotomous/black and white/binary thinking. I hear you say things that if followed to their logical end is hurtful, harmful and I believe biblically erroneous. (thus the harmful)
Do NANC counselors only counsel those who call themselves Christians? Or, if they counsel non-Christians is the primary focus to make them Christian so you can then counsel them?
What I hear in the NANC stance is an inability to offer a cup of cold water to someone in need. What I hear doesn’t offer GRACE to sinners. What I hear doesn’t look the same as the way Jesus interacted with people.
What I hear wouldn’t say what Phil said to “lonelywarrior” That is, —
Thanks for your honest and gut wrenching reply. As you can see from the other posts, you are definitely not alone–even though it feels that way. Remember, the failure to be loved and cared for by humans does not mean God fails to accept, love, and/or use you. Your SMIs do NOT disqualify you from serving the Lord with your gifts. Keep using them. SMI is not powerful enough to block God’s saving power…despite what humans may do or not do. *****
Phils words are ones that soothe my soul. They are the type that lead me to the comfort and encouragement found in Hebrews 4. I can run into the throne room without fear. There is no judgment there, but Grace and Mercy.
Thank you for clarifying where the questions came from. Let me start from the bottom of your comment and work up.
I would not bother with this blog, if I did not have respect for Bro Phil and his counsel. That does not mean I agree with him on every point. I appreciate Phil’s response to “lonlywarrior”. Our first efforts in any counseling situation are to establish comfort, hope and encouragement and to fully hear the person’s story without judgment. I would have no problem using the very words which you quote from Bro. Phil and have often expressed similar thoughts. In my 69 years of living and thirty years of counseling I have experienced too much of God’s mercy not to gratefully and generously extend it to someone with whom I sit, even if they did not know the Lord.
What has happened in your experience that you see NANC counselors “without the capacity to “offer a cup of cold water to someone in need”? Is that true or just a feeling expressed hyperbolically? If you have had a bad experience and are judging us from that experience, I am sorry for your experience. Please, don’t paint the rest of us with that brush. If you are hearing my few words filtered through of that experience, I understand. But my words have been few in trying to address a huge subject.
You said, “What I hear doesn’t offer GRACE to sinners. What I hear doesn’t look the same as the way Jesus interacted with people.” What grace would you offer sinners other than the cross of Christ? How much more love can you express than words that turn them from self to Christ? I have no grace personally to give them that has not been given to me in Christ. I believe that Bro Phil would agree to that. I have no words of wisdom to give that I have not received form God’s word. Is His word not sufficient or not?
Do we counsel unbelievers? All the time. Is one of our primary goals to lead them to Christ? Why would you not have that goal? If I could give someone a magic pill that would solve their problems and allowed them to go through life blissfully happy without Christ, the scripture teaches that their blood would be on my hands. If the Holy Spirit indwells believers in a special way that He does not indwell unbelievers, why would I not want is power working to help my counselee? Your questions intimate that it might be just fine with God to leave Christ out of the counseling room. Am I reading you wrong?
Is my thinking “dichotomous/black and white/binary thinking”? In some areas it is. God is absolute. The need for Christ is absolute. The scriptures are sufficient. I could probably come up with some others, but you get the point. Do I see grey areas? Yes, often between my ears and covering my eyes. I do not know everything. I cannot say to my counselees, “I know how you feel because I don’t.” I can’t say, “What is God teaching you in this?” and expect them to have an answer. What an awful question, but one that I admit I occasionally wonder at. I may have some understanding of why this eighteen year old boy hung himself, but I will never understand God’s purpose in allowing it. I can only grieve with, comfort and encourage his parents toward Christ who is the answer.
Please tell me what comments I have made “that if followed to their logical end is hurtful, harmful and I believe biblically erroneous. (thus the harmful)”
Respectfully, Your servant in Christ, Lou.
This blog is really flushing out this topic. I have been following for quite some time. I would agree with all Lou’s suggestions for lonely warrior. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I’m an ordained minister, a few years later, I was told they had made a mistake. I had depression only. I was abused as a child. I love God. Yet, it took time for me to work out my salvation. I learned to forgive any I thought wronged me. I basically did all Lou mentioned.
I think Bipolar Disorder is a physical desease sometimes. We should remember that regret, sorrow, unforgiveness, bitterness all these things can progress into a desease. I believe some mental illnesses progress for these emotions. If Bipolar Illness is given as a diagnosis, one needs and should get medical help, while doing all Lou has mentioned.
I did all of the above and was in counseling for over 10 years. Forgiveness is what healed me of depression. Forgiveness and compassion for my abusers.
What did Jesus say on the cross? He said forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.
I can’t judge anyones situation. But God, through Christ remains with us always and is the comforter. God knows our struggles and He judges our situations on an individual basis. Progress and healing in Christ takes time. Who can judge another mans time table of progress and healing?
Lou is right. There are lessons learned in our struggles. God may or may not remove them as we would like. As for me, my struggles have led me to write a book. My struggles with stress, anxiety and depression have led me to speak at hospitals, shelters, and counseling centers-sharing both losses and victories with mental illness.
I thank God for being able to share the comfort of Christ, as part of my speech.
I can say that God has not deserted the mentally ill.
I no longer suffer from depression. One day my doctor said he felt I was being over medicated and did not need medication. He weaned me from them. I had made so many improvements. I was writing about my illness and getting published. I was forcing myself to get out of bed. I became a member of NAMI-National Alliance on Mental Illness. I trained and ran a support group, for those suffeing from mental illness, through NAMI.
I left NAMI. I found that worldly counseling conflicts with the teachings of Christ.
Always best for a Christian to seek Godly Christian Counselors or at least doctors who can recognize your faith. Such doctors are few and far between.
The trick would be to seek Christian psychologists etc. in conjuntion with Godly counseling, making sure, both are in agreement with God’s word.
The book I’m working on, about my own struggles and victories with mental illness-will be offered at no cost.
I’m presently working on my M.A. in Christian Counseling. As to lonely warrior-I hope he will visit —nanc.org/directory—and find a good Christian counselor, and get medical help if need be.
I hope I’ve been helpful to someone.
Thank you, Marlene. May you continue to be a blessing to God in your work.
I do agree with D. Stevenson, the first step couldn’t be to discern whether an illness was spiritual or physical. The first step would be to provide immediate help and compassion. Mental illness should be treated by a doctor. Medication is important, because it can get the mind stabalized. There is more to this than just, see a Christian counselor. We can’t condemn people, our place is to get them immediate help.
One small caveat, medication is sometimes necessary to stabilize a counselee and get them functional, so they can work on their problems. However, it is probably used too quickly and too often. That I why we work in consultation with a Christian PA in our congregation. We also have access to a Christian psychiatrist, if necessary.
Lou, so good to hear from you. I have to also add as you have said doctors do give out meds too freely. When I was in counseling I learned to not complain too much about syptoms because every single time I did-the doctor wanted to suggest a new medication. That is why I suggested and agree with you-Christian Psychiatrist, Christian Counselors and Christian Psychologist have to work together making sure all they do lines up with God’s word. Some forget that the worlds counseling runs on $$$. If they lose a patient they lose part of their earnings. That worldly system of
counseling is not for the Christian. We can’t have one foot in the world and the other in Christ. If we do, we shall never be healed. Lou, I so agree with you. A worldly doctor will give a pill at the bat of an eye. One has to be ready to forgo the pills and grab hold of faith in Christ. A team of Christian counselors and Doctors can help the patient wean from pills as able. I hope I have been helpful. Glad you answered Lou. I went to the nanc website hoping I could drop you a line. To God be the glory-here you are.
Also Lou and everyone. I sought the Lord with all my might about my depression. I extended prayer time and sripture study. I began to examine my life as Apostle Paul teaches. I asked the Lord why I was depressed. I kept asking the Lord and praying on this one question for a few weeks. Do you know what the Lord said to me? He said I had spent most of my life concerned only with my own problems. He said I was self-absorbed, as if no one else had gone through what I had experienced. My thought were always focused on myself.
I had to repent of that. I repented by volunteering. I volunteered at the soup kitchen, I volunteered at the Salvation Army, I voulnteered at the Library-teaching arts and crafts. I kept it up. I began to feel a whole lot better. From my experience running support groups, most depressed people are self-absorbed. Worried only about their own struggles.
They, of course would get angry at such a statement. Yet, even the worlds counselors will say if you help others you feel fufillment.
I was out of a job but you would never know it. I busied myself helping others. Slowly but surely, I was enjoying myself. Depression often stems from ingratitude then baloons into an illness.
For example, when my son’s dad died two years ago, instead of grieving-me, my volunteers and my 15 year old son cooked and served Christmas dinner for a local shelter. We had no time to focus on self, we were too busy enjoying cooking and serving the meal. We had a wonderful time. Our hearts were merry, we enjoyed the company of others. They enjoyed us. I hope this example adds something.
The discussion about meds being over-prescribed and something to avoid disturbs me a bit. Medication is not bad or ungodly. Taking medication does not show a lack of faith or that you are missing out on some better “spiritual” healing. All healing is from God, no matter the means.
For over 20 years, I suffered horrifically from obsessive compulsive disorder. I prayed, read the Bible and other good books, went to Christian and secular counseling, sought deliverance and healing from many people, forgave and sought forgiveness, and on and on. Nothing. No relief.
I also tried anti-depressants and got no relief from them. But, one day, a new psychiatrist prescribed Naltrexone, and the obsessive compulsive behavior withered away. That medication, which was sent — I believe — by God himself, healed me. It gave me my life back. I am scarred, literally and figuratively, from the years of OCD, but I don’t suffer from it anymore. Words really can’t describe what a huge, powerful, glorious change the medication brought about it my life.
If you’re following this discussion and wondering whether it’s OK to take medication for mental illness, put your mind at rest. God does not look down his nose at medication. He uses it all the time to heal and relieve many, many diseases.
Healed by meds, thank you for stopping by and thanks for your comments. True enough, God does not look down on meds. The fact is medications can be overprescribed and/or overhyped and STILL be absolutely essential for those in need. Just because meds are overprescribed (not just psychoactive drugs) doesn’t mean that the person in front of you isn’t in need. I see all sort of clients falling for this fallacy: Because others overuse meds I shouldn’t use them. The one does not follow the other.
And even in your story (thanks for sharing) you point to the fact that meds are not the cureall. You still carry the scars and you are likely still desirous of healing and God is still at work in your life, doing his will, right?
Yes, Phil, I agree that medication has not been the end-all-be-all for me.
To continue healing and to grow spiritually, I need more than just medication. I need things like Bible study, prayer, connecting with fellow Christians, listening and obeying, and so on.
I’ll add that I’ve tried, and currently take, a number of medications. Some haven’t seemed helpful, some have been moderately helpful, and some (like the one for OCD) have made a night/day difference in my life.
You said what I was going to say. Only better. 🙂
Medication, as I mentioned was needed for me for a time. Medication helped me become stabalized. I would say every case is different. We can’t be against medication. I thank God for it. It served it’s purpose for me. That doesn’t say someone else should follow my lead. Every case is different. I would never suggest that someone suffering from mental illness stay away from meds. How could I? Each case is different. I suffered from clinical depression. The more complex illnesses like Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia are tough do deal with. Certainly medication would have it’s place. God does not look down on medication. I don’t think anyone on this blog is against medication when needed. Unless I missed a post. I hope my comment has helped.
Hmm…, I think my Amen fell in the wrong place. It is meant to be under HealedbyMeds first post of the two here.
Happy you got healed and everything is peachy for you now. Don’t forget how many years you were in the struggle though and don’t forget that while you played an active role in your healing, God is the one that gave you the resources for it to come to pass.
I am leery of anyone that takes a one size fits all trite approach to mental illness and spirituality. Ifs, should haves, could haves, must dos, why didn’t you, and lack of _________ in God are MORE burdens placed upon someone that is already barely able to keep moving forward. That doesn’t bring anyone hope, that makes me feel even MORE depressed, more condemned, and feeling more despair, as once again, I don’t cut the mustard. Thus, I will never stop feeling this pain. As if my healing totally rests upon my efforts and my efforts alone. Sure, I have responsibilities and choices to make. But, I cannot do it on my own. Sometimes I swear my fellow Christians seem like they are used car salesmen giving a pitch or some new age self help guru. I find it interesting that Jesus never scolded the people he healed and/or forgave of their sins. He could have. He knows everything about us- the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, He was present with them in the moment and he felt COMPASSION and FORGIVENESS for them and he met their need- period. He didn’t just point out their lack, he met the lack within them, whether mental or spiritual or physical. He related to them, not AT THEM. Do you really think that everyone he healed or forgave was innocent in regard to not playing SOME part in their sickness or sin? The pharisees are the ones that demanded explanations and to why, public acknowledgement of guilt/shame, and shoved their self righteous fists in the face of those that were already hurting because they decided that these ppl were lacking something that they had. That is the difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus. Religion demands- at the expense of others and Jesus GIVES -himself. There is a big difference between the two.
However, If it weren’t for medicines for anxiety and depression, I would be dead by my own hands already. If you really feel that way, don’t wear glasses when your eyes fail you. Don’t wear hearing aids when your ears fail you. If you find out you have cancer, don’t seek medical treatment for it. If you are a diabetic, don’t take insulin. If you can’t get an erection, don’t take Viagra to please your spouse. Don’t brush your teeth, trust God to preserve your teeth. Yes, God heals but until he does, I am going to use medical wisdom. The woman with the issue of blood spent all she had seeking medical treatment. Jesus did not tell her, “Hey, you should have just trusted me rather than to spend all your money. You are fool lacking spiritual wisdom. You deserve to remain sick”. No, he healed her- period. If you are going to hold others to the whole ‘trust God and don’t rely on medical wisdom/treatment’ then it needs to apply to every single aspect of YOUR health (mental and physical) as well. Don’t put laws/rules/expectations on someone when you don’t even follow your own condemnation/advice/dictates. Luke was a doctor. I don’t read in any place within the bible where God told him to stop practicing medicine. The bible gives practical wisdom pertaining to health and the body. Are you going to say that God is confused or contradicts himself? Maybe he also uses knowledge to heal as well as to heal ppl supernaturally. He is so intelligent, all knowing, supreme, and full of love for his children. I think that he understand that we as humans will try about anything to stop feeling pain when we feel it. He knows that we are unique individuals that have went through unique experiences and we also have unique DNA.
And if I don’t have enough faith and trust in God to get healed, why can’t your faith and trust in God stand in the gap for me? Jesus couldn’t heal some ppl not because of a lack in faith within the person he was ministering to but, rather, it was due to a lack of faith in the whole group that was present. I know ppl mean well. They want a reason as to why or someone to blame. That isn’t their judgement to make.
There is something about you that I just don’t trust. Something about your words and your attitude don’t settle well with me. I am sorry. I am just being honest. You strike me as someone that would see someone standing in doo doo, rub someone’s nose in the doo doo, and exalt yourself for being the one to wipe the doo doo off of their nose. You are still my brother in the Lord and I will just agree to disagree with you in love.
Hi Lonely warrior,
I was many years in the struggle and all honor and glory is due to God for that. This shall not ever be forgotten. The greastest problem I see is that the church ,as a whole is not addressing the issues of mental illness. I could not afford a Christian counselor. I had no help from church leaders or church members. I felt rejected. I felt that God did not love me. I felt that the church had rejected me. I did not know where to turn for a time. Until one day I met a woman from NAMI-National Alliance on Mental Illness. She was a Christian and diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. She had developed a ministry in her church for those diagnosed with mental illness. I could hardly believe it. I was overjoyed. God had not forgotten. To me, it was like finding a needle in a haystack. She was pulling the churches and community together to deal with solutions to help.
There are churches and christian organizations that are trying. But there are not many that I know of and none in my neighborhood. There are few places and groups found on line. That would take doing a web search. There are some referrals on this site, I think. The church and church members rather shun the mentally ill than help. The most help I got in church was to be called demon possesed.
I had to learn to depend on God. There are a number of things that God directed me to do. I changed my diet. Starting eating more fuits and vegetables. I drink 8-10 classes of water daily. I exercise 3x a week. I take suppliments like B complex and Multi vitimins.
I joined a free cognitive therapy group called Recovery Inc. The skills they taught helped me realise that I could change some of my thought patterns and behaviors. Once I realized this, I began to put more effort into applying the scriptures to my life. Meaning I focused on praising God. My problem was depression. Cognitive therapy taught me just what the Bible teaches. Cognitive therapy teaches techniques to refocus the mind. I chose to refocus my mind on praising God for all he had done in my life.
I also used journal therapy for prayer journaling. I would write lists of 100 things I was greatful to God for. This excercise led me to the praise psalms of David. To help myself refocus my thought pattern. I began to write out, in long hand, praise psalms from the Bible. Like psalm 45, psalm,47,psalm48,psalm 119. I personalized the psalms as I wrote them out. I did this for an hour a day. Writing out each psalms in the first person,in long hand. Soon I found that the word of God was flowing out of my spirit. I did this for one year and I continue doing this daily today.
Praise raises faith and heals.
I used to have problems with negative and depressing thoughts. I realized that if I went on lamenting about the past, I would never heal.
I began to recites psalm 23 , in my head everywhere I went. If I was on a bus, or walking, or at home. I would repeat one verse from psalm 23.
You see, I was forcing my mind to focus on scripture. After a while my thoughts began to change.
I quess the world would call this meditation. And cognitve therapist would say I was replacing a negative thought with a positive thought.
Writing out the praise psalms of David is what truly healed my thinking. The Lord led me to do all the things I mentioned above. Writing has a way of really forcing the mind to focus. When I write out praises to God, I hear it in my head, I see it on paper and I’m reading it.
Anxiety, stress, depression have all left me. But as you see, there were a combination of things God directed me to do.
I sought the Lord about what I could do for myself as well understanding how selfish my thinking had been.
None of this was easy. As I said the church is basically not able or does not want to handle the issue of mental illness. Though as I mentioned there are a few (very few) exceptions. God has everyones answer. Afterall he created the brain.
This is my form of worship as well. I also sing a melody to the psalm, or recite it out loud.
Thank you for all the specifics you shared. I am going to keep it as “homework” ideas for my counselees.
Hello D. Stevenson,
I’m very glad what I shared was helpful. So very glad!
By the way, healing will come to ALL that believe upon Jesus when we are taken from this temporary home to our final home with God. I have the faith to believe that. What a glorious day that will be! No more sickness, no more pain, no more tears. To be able to know joy unhindered, unfettered, and for an eternity. Maybe those with SMIs will appreciate that more than and with a deeper ability to experience that others who never had to carry that cross.
Dear brother, lonlywarrior,
I hear your desire to be honest. I hear your pain and your anger at your mistreatment by the church. However, your pain and anger have caused you to build a straw man in your mind, which represents neither my service nor the words I wrote.
On the wall of my office hangs a sign. “All healing is found in relationship.” I teach counseling. I emphasize the necessity of relationship in my teaching; both a relationship with Christ and the counselee. Each of us in our counseling center invests time, energy and often our own money in our counselees. We work for free. Have you ever had a counselor come home with you and work and pray with you and your family on his own time? We do.
It is strange that you use the woman with an issue of blood to defend your use of medicine. She spent all of her money on medicine… without results. It was Christ who healed her. But that point aside, nothing I wrote advocates that we stop practicing medicine or using drugs. I love Luke, I specifically said we work with a PA and a Christian psychiatrist. I never instruct or suggest that anyone stop taking their meds. I am simply more cautious in their use than other counselors may be.
Permit me one small adjustment to your doctrine. The cross that we take up daily is not our particular mode of suffering [an angry wife, a limp, blindness, or SMI], it is the crucifixion of self and the resurrection to life in Christ.
If my writing does not convey my love for the brethren and compassion for the children of God in their suffering, please forgive me. One counselee told me once, “I used to think you were such a ‘stuffed shirt’ until I came to know you in counseling.” I wish you could get to know me and I you.
Your servant in Christ,
The church has to do something. The church can’t even pray for the mentally ill. What are they to do, left to fend for themselves. We are supposed to be able to stand together and pray for each other, no matter the affliction. The mentaly ill are left, most times, to fend for themselves. I was left to fend for myself for a while until I went on focused search and prayed to find someone in Christ and finally I did. Yet the church, as a whole fails to help the mentally ill. But we can’t focus on what the church is not doing, we have to focus on what Christ has already done on the cross. Each person affected with this illness will be forced to rely only on God. I began asking God-Lord what can I do, where do I turn, what is wrong, how can I get help. Keep it up, pray daily until you get an answer. I prayed for weeks before I got an answer. All here would agree that God answers prayer. Keep on this one prayer a few minutes a day, for at least 30 days. God will answer. God answers prayers, throug Christ.
Meds are not meant to be a lifestyle. They are meant to deal with a symptom until, one can get enough faith to be healed by God.
Dean, I can’t agree. In this life, they may be a lifestyle, just as a use of a prosthetic is a lifestyle. Sure, God can regrow limbs but he rarely does. The prosthetic (medication or artificial limb) doesn’t treat spiritual problems. Sure, they can be mis-used but that doesn’t make them bad. Also, the apostle Paul is told “No” about his faithful request. So, the amount of faith is not necessarily going to fix the biology behind the disease state.
Paul is one example. Will we depend on meds only because Paul was left with his affliction? Why give up on faith because Paul was left with his affliction. Again, I’m not against medication when needed, for as long as it is needed. Yet, where will a line be drawn? And how? I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe Dean can suggest something. We’re all hopefully in learning mode here.
Marlene, good points. I guess my question is it possible to be open to healing and still taking meds? I think so. Or, another example, Joni E. Tada. Does she still have faith in being healed from her neck injury? I don’t think she prays that way (based on hearing her speak) but probably would still desire healing nonetheless. It doesn’t mean she’s less faithful, right? So, as you say, where’s the line? Probably rather individual.
I am reminded of an essay by Jeffrey H. Boyd in the Trinity Journal (vol. 24 NS: 2, Fall 2003) on the topic of healing (“A Biblical Theology of Healing”). He writes of his wife’s chronic illness, “Although I will be warning the reader about the dangers of healing prayer, I personally have had a very positive experience of such prayer. [here he mentions his first wife’s chronic and debilitating illnesses]. She and I went every week to a healing service at our church. The clergy would lay hands on us and pray, while Pat and I cried uncontrollably. She was never healed. There was no evidence that healing prayer had any positive effect in terms of miraculous cures. But every week this intimate prayer gave us enough spiritual strength to endure another week. Thus my own experience was that healing prayer was like manna for Pat and me.”
Faith may not cure us but enables us to stay close to our Father–who does not promise healing in this life but only in the life to come.
Thank you Phil, I understand what your saying. Faith keeps us closer to the Lord and the truth is we may not get healed. And if we don’t, will we still love God, through Christ? I still say God answers prayer, yet the answer may not be seen, maybe we won’t understand God’s answer in this life. And you ended with that statement of healing in the life to come. This is so important . So many who have called themselves faith healers have died from cancer or heart desease. I believe in healing through Christ and yes, sometimes we don’t get healed. As you said, faith can draw us closer to God our Father.
We should show the love of Christ and compassion to others no matter their affliction. I pray as a church, that we could just start with these basics without trying to figure out whether we think a person has a demon. I was told, at one point I had a demon. It’s a very damaging thing to say to someone with SMI. My first thought was, God does not love me. I stuggled with that and almost lost my faith. We have to stop doing that. We have to show love, concern and compassion. Every church should visit this blog.
I am mentally ill, and I’d like to share my Blog and what has helped me to deal with my illness, Mindset100.blogspot.com. Jeremiah 29:11 He has a plan even for the mentally ill. All things happen for the good of those Who love God. It’s all about God not about us. It’s all about being like Christ, we were created by Him for Him.
I would like to address the word “healed.” What is it we are being healed from? Perhaps we in this conversation are talking about different things.
Cognition affects the chemistry and chemistry affects the cognition. What came first? I don’t think we can know that, – BUT – it probably makes a difference in the way medication is helpful.
My theory is:
When it begins with the cognition (be it thoughts, behaviors, spiritual life)
> Medication may be helpful to restore clarity of thought and give the person strength to deal with their issues (like a cast on a broken leg) – but is needed only until healthy cognition, exercise, healthy spiritual life, etc. is solidified. The person can then be weaned off of the medication.
When it begins with the chemistry –
> Medication is probably needed life-long – just as insulin is needed for someone whose pancreas quit on them.
> Can counseling (and resulting life changes) help that person? Certainly! I recommend it! As I said previously, it goes both ways. The chemical also affects cognition. Imagine the person who has lived for years with a whacked out chemical system. (Obviously I am being simplistic in my illustration) It is as if they are looking through colored (we’ll say blue) glasses. It has affected their perception. Their cognition developed on that skewed perception. The medication helps bring the person back into balance. It enables them to think. It doesn’t correct the faulty thoughts that developed. It doesn’t make the person make good choices. It brings no one into a relationship with God.
I agree with those here who think people are being over-diagnosed and over-medicated. However, just because that is true for some does not mean it is true for all. True, some people who take medication don’t truly need it.
Others, it benefits for a time. It relieves the “pain” so that the person heals quicker.
Others, it is as braces on weak legs, giving strength to run the race.
When we chastise someone for taking painkillers in order to endure a painful condition we heap faulty guilt on them and are ultimately harming them. (Did you know that pain impedes healing?)
When we chastise someone for using psychotropic medication for depression or anxiety or other things we are possibly harming them by heaping feelings of guilt that might keep them from a helpful resource.
When we paint with a broad brush against medication for mental health we are sinning against a person who needs it. Yes, sinning against. For example, it is already hard for a person with Schizophrenia, or Bipolar Illness to keep taking their medication. We make it even harder when we are generically against medication, especially if it is a person who loves God and wants to do what’s right. That person can end up feeling intense guilt and shame when they hear spiritual leaders speak against medical intervention or all “secular” counseling. Our judgment of that person can drive them into their own sin. Sin of NOT taking medication that they need** or going to counseling, because their only choice is secular. (Note: A secular counselor can sometimes be better than some who hang out their shingles as “Christian.” There are a lot of rotten counselors out there and they aren’t only among the secular.)
** I know someone with Schizophrenia who does well on medication. Unfortunately, she doesn’t do well without it, and like many people with Schizophrenia she stopped taking it. While she was in an non-medicated state, she killed someone. (It was not purposeful, but WAS related to being off her meds) I don’t know the case, but IF someone encouraged her to go off her meds or discouraged her from taking them, I think they are partly responsible for that death.
I know someone with a mood disorder who is easily agitated and angered when she doesn’t take her medication. Perhaps she stops taking it (or doesn’t take it in the first place) because she thinks taking it means she isn’t trusting or being obedient to God. I think the people who told her such things, whether it was firsthand or third-hand, are partly responsible when she screams hatred against her children or slaps them across the face.
No one, who has written since I entered this conversation, is against meds properly used – especially me. No counselee under my care or the care of any NANC counselor I know is “chastised” for using meds, not being “healed”, or having faith. Some people may need meds for the reminder of their life. Your Schizophrenic example is probably one. This is not sin, or shame or a lack of faith,
I agree with everything you wrote in your last entry.
Let me suggest one addition to your argument (in the discursive meaning). As you point out, there is an obvious link between brain chemistry and thinking. Chemistry effects thinking: thinking affects chemistry. Is it not possible that initiating proper thinking (even the work of the Holy Spirit) might affect that “wacked out chemistry” so that there is “healing” [suggest subtitling – “iterative proper thinking” since no one “continuously thinks properly”]? No guarantee!
At one point you mentioned your “knee-jerk reaction to your NANC thoughts”. Later you express what you believe is the NANC position but really is not. Who is feeding you misinformation on where we stand and what we do. Have you read Ed Welch, David Powlison, Bob Kelleman, Paul Tripp, Elsa Fitzpatrick, Stephen Viars to name a few. If you believe Jesus Christ is your savior. We have much more in common than we have differences. Let’s build there. How does Christ affect your approach to counseling?
Your servant in Christ,
No one, who has written since I entered this conversation, is against meds properly used – especially me.
ME: In this area, your words have been mixed.
LOU: No counselee under my care or the care of any NANC counselor I know is “chastised” for using meds, not being “healed”, or having faith.
ME: Any of that can be subtle. I am 99.9% certain it exists. Some of us are more sensitively wired than others. For those of us who are, even the subtle can hit like a heavy hammer.
LOU: Some people may need meds for the reminder of their life. Your Schizophrenic example is probably one. This is not sin, or shame or a lack of faith,
ME: See, now this is one of those subtle ones. You say “THIS” is not sin, shame, lack of faith. This implies that sometimes it IS sin, shame, lack of faith. I’ve also heard you say things that indicate that you somehow think it is your responsibility to determine if, whether, or what.
LOU: I agree with everything you wrote in your last entry.
Let me suggest one addition to your argument (in the discursive meaning). As you point out, there is an obvious link between brain chemistry and thinking. Chemistry effects thinking: thinking affects chemistry. Is it not possible that initiating proper thinking (even the work of the Holy Spirit) might affect that “wacked out chemistry” so that there is “healing” [suggest subtitling – “iterative proper thinking” since no one “continuously thinks properly”]? No guarantee!
ME: Certainly! I had to refrain from my natural impulse to extend my thoughts even more than I did. This would be one of those extensions. Although, it isn’t an extension as much as additional explanation of “cognition affects chemistry.”
LOU: At one point you mentioned your “knee-jerk reaction to your NANC thoughts”. Later you express what you believe is the NANC position but really is not. Who is feeding you misinformation on where we stand and what we do.
ME: Misinformation? Are you sure? A few years back I asked myself if perhaps I was being unfair in my charges about NANC. I decided that perhaps I should go directly to the source and see what the site itself says. Here is the definition of nouthetic counseling straight from the NANC site. (BTW, I am going to be unable to keep up this discourse even at this moderate level. I need to spend my time on some other things!)
=====The word nouthetic comes from the Greek word nouqesia (nouthesia). It is a compound word meaning literally “to place into the mind.” It is usually translated “admonish” but that is a most inadequate translation. The problem is there is no English word equivalent to nouthesia so Adams thought it best to simply transliterate it into English and coin his own word so he could be sure it was defined correctly. In the word Adams finds three aspects:
1. The counselee has problems resulting from sin that must be resolved God’s way.
2. These problems must be resolved by verbal confrontation using the Scriptures.
3. The resolution must be done out of love for the counselee to help him love God and enjoy Him in his life.
Nouthetic counseling is counseling that uses Scripture to confront people about their sin with the goal of helping to restore them to usefulness (Gal. 6:1). Confrontation out of concern leading to change. It is of necessity directive and best done by those who have a thorough-going grasp of the Scriptures—Greek, Hebrew, and Systematic Theology====
ME: There are a number of things in between the lines, or logical conclusions, of these words that I stand against. — No. I am not going to spend time delineating them. I don’t have time!
One thing I think curious is that Nouthetic Counselors make such a big deal about “the Scripture is sufficient” yet base their counseling model upon the questionable hermeneutics of a single individual.
LOU: Have you read Ed Welch,
ME: Yes, a variety. Books and blogs – (at CCEF and Society of Christian Psychology) I like “When people are big and God is small.” I don’t think “Blame it on the Brain” should be sold without the caveat that it is horribly outdated. It is not relevant to current psychological thinking. I think that type of things makes it impossible for “Biblical Counseling” to have a voice in the marketplace.
As I understand it, Biblical Counseling emphasizes that counseling is done through the church. There are many people in this world that wouldn’t be seen dead in a church! I personally want the opportunity to also reach them.
LOU: David Powlison,
ME: Some of his articles. The chapter he wrote in the 4-views book. None of his books yet.
LOU: Bob Kelleman,
ME: Yes, plus personal correspondence.
LOU: Paul Tripp,
ME: Not yet, although I have one in my library to read.
LOU: Elsa Fitzpatrick,
ME: The same as my answer for Paul Tripp.
LOU: Stephen Viars
ME: Please note that of your 6 names, only 3 are listed as with NANC: Powlison, Fitzpatrick and Viars.
I have probably also read a number of other names you might mention. For example, I read the text on Biblical Counseling edited by John MacArthur that was used at the Master’s College when they first switched to the biblical counseling model. I remember that the two chapters by Wayne Mack were terribly triggering for me. — I need to skip the lengthy explanation of what that means for me. I’ll just say it’s not good and there is none of God’s grace and mercy involved.
I also read Competent to Counsel back in the late 70’s. If I had to answer your question with one name of “who is feeding you these things” I would say that it began with Adams book. Since the book is still being referenced and sometimes used as a text in biblical counseling courses, I have to assume that the thoughts in that book are still intricately woven into the NANC position.
Regarding Jay Adams himself – I’ve never met the man. However, from the (admittedly) little I’ve read, he comes across as arrogant. I read the history on the NANC site and while it seems the writer is praising him for defending “biblical truth,” the picture I see is an arrogant and divisive man.
LOU: If you believe Jesus Christ is your savior. We have much more in common than we have differences.
ME: I agree. I suspect we agree 100% on the core doctrines. Our differences probably lay in how we “flesh out” those doctrines, our implementation and approach, and our cultural comfort zones.
LOU: Let’s build there. How does Christ affect your approach to counseling?
ME: Whew! That’s a biggie. 🙂 While it would be a helpful exercise for me to compose a thorough answer to this question…, as I said previously, I just don’t have the time!
Please note: I am still in school and I have been and am still chewing on this and variants of this question. One part of my answer is that as a Christian, (even if counseling in a secular facility,) there is no way I cannot do Christian counseling. I cannot separate who I am into secular or Christian. I am not Christian first and foremost. I am Christian, period. The more in tune I am with the Holy Spirit and clean so as to not impede His work through me, the more thoroughly I will be doing Christian counseling. More accurately, the more clearly I will be showing Christ to the person in front of me. I don’t know the way into the heart and mind of a person. Only God knows how to woo that person and only God can change the heart. My part is to submit myself to the leading of the Holy Spirit for how He wants to use me to participate in that process. That might mean that I don’t even voice Scripture to that person. (Although with my bible training and love of the Word, I love it when I can!)
By the way…, responding with “I didn’t say that” isn’t helpful. Bold-faced liars do that all the time. Sociopaths use it to pull people back into trusting. Not that I’m suggesting you are a sociopath by any means. – But again, who knows? Sociopaths are really, really good at deceiving. — Seriously, I don’t suspect you as a Sociopath. Anyway…, more helpful than “I didn’t say that” would be something like, “I’ll try to explain what I meant.”
Hi D. Stevenson and Lou. I left some info below that should be very helpful in understanding SMI and how the church is dealing with it. Their books have been very helpful to my recovery.
The following website, put together by Martin and Deidre Bobgan has been very helpful to my recovery. Mr. Bobcan holds four degrees including a doctorate in educational psychology. Find them @–psychoheresy-aware.org
Their purpose: Exposing psychoheresy and it’s increasing stronghold on the church.
Here is a partial list of some of the free ebooks on the site:
PsychoHeresy: The Psychological Seduction of Christianity
Competant to Minister: The Biblical Care of Souls
Christ Centered Ministry versus Problem-Centered Counseling
12 Steps to Destruction: Codependency Recovery Heresies
Theophostic Counseling: Divine Revelation? Or Psychheresy
Person to Person Ministry: Soul Care in the Body of Christ
Most Christian counselors of course will say, that counseling should be done in a church. Of course it should! But the church is so ineffective in dealing with SMI, that people can’t get help. While the Church stumbles where will those who need help go? The church needs to repent of their treatment of SMI Christians. Those in the church, who truly want to help and understand SMI issues could start on blogs like this.
Marlene said: Most Christian counselors of course will say, that counseling should be done in a church. Of course it should!
I definitely disagree.
(see my comment “some people wouldn’t be caught dead in a church)
I also disagree with what all is being lumped into the category of “Severe Mental Illness.
To me, Severe is SEVERE. I think classing a moderate depression into the category of Severe (or even possibly “illness”) minimizes the pain, and the person, who suffers from hallucinations or the intense swings of Bipolar depression and mania, or dissociation and other fall-out from trauma.
I heard someone say that God had let them experience depression (for 6 weeks!) so they could understand what it is like for people who are depressed. What an insult!! to those who have struggled for years with suicidal feelings that just keep coming and coming no matter how much faith and obedience to Christ that they have.
I also have a problem with the term “mental illness.” I think a better description for the majority of what is called mental illness is “poor mental health” — I think that both groups can profit from counseling AND that it is unethical for a person not trained in Severe mental illness to do psychotherapy with that person. By that, I don’t mean that someone with a SMI doesn’t have other things going on. We all do. I DO mean the aspects that are ILLNESS.
The statement “the Scripture is sufficient” really bugs me. It is used as the proof text for many of their premises. But then, when pushed they say, oh no – we don’t say that. Yes, you do!
I also don’t think everyone is gifted for counseling. I think many Pastors whose gift is preaching are trying to add counseling to their load. We each only have 24 hours. Preach the word! Find the ones in your church whom God have gifted with counseling. (This includes spiritual counsel.)
I also think that there are many issues of living that never count as “mental illness” but certainly can benefit from the counsel of another. If that counsel comes from friends or family, great! If the person doesn’t have family or friends, then counseling from a Christian who knows the Word, is living the truth and has been gifted in counseling is the next best choice. However, a caveat to this is that there are rotten counselors both in and out of the church. Additionally there are wolves in the church. Just because a person calls themselves a Christian and is able to walk the walk and talk the talk doesn’t mean they ARE a Christian. The best option may be a secular counselor.
And as far as the church rejecting people, it is not limited to those with Severe Mental illness and mental health struggles. What I think we are calling The church has HISTORICALLY rejected people that don’t fit our idea of proper appearance or behavior. — They are divorced, they are an unmarried mother and have never been married, they have aids, they struggle with homosexuality, they gamble and go to movies, they send their children to public school, they wear immodest clothing, they listen to wild music, their teenagers are rebellious, they have a different accent, they are from a different ethnic group, and on and on and on. We the church, are frequently set up so that certain people groups don’t feel any open arms or open heart reaching to them, such as the physically handicapped, the mentally handicapped, the single, the chronically ill.
Some people wouldn’t be caught in a Church? I’m one of them. I have a small home church. What I meant about counseling being done in church was that I know of a church that actually has a counseling office, with Psychlogists on staff. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to lump everyone into SMI. There are different stages. The term poor mental health may be better. Yes, it is unethical for a pastor to do psychotherapy, it is also illegal. You can’t give that kind of therapy without a License.
I agree, counseling is a calling, If pastors would let go of the power struggles, maybe others could be released into their giftings. HISTORICALLY the church has rejected all of the above. I blog about it all the time. And it’s an abomination. I blog about it at–ministermarlene.blogspot.com—–The church is busy running out to convict the world of sin, yet, it is us who need to be convicted. The church is busy trying to unify the world for Christ, yet we can’t even unify ourselves.
I came from a church where the pastor was convicted of embezzlement. I was in a church group as a teen, where the pastor was convicted of child molestation. There are some very grave sins going on in our churches.
Yes, there are rotten counselors in and out of church. MY BEST BEST-at the time, after being a member of a church, whose leader was a thief-WAS A SECULAR COUNSELOR.
My additional advice for anyone suffering from mental illnes is to make sure they connect with NAMI or other such programs- I suppose I will have to confess that I do not trust the Church (as we know it) to care for souls.
A lot of Christian think that once they recieve Christ, they now have license to point out everyone elses sins. They then go into denial, hence very few can get real help in the church. I myself, learned to keep the fact that I was taking
meds a secret. I was assisting in the book store and writing the Newsletter.
So yes, I see why some wouldn’t be caught dead there. When I was doing the running a support group for NAMI, I had not one church to refer anyone to. Not one that I felt would be welcoming to them, now that is an awful shame.
I share my testimony, refer people to websites, suggest prayers and programs to watch, and scriptures. When I was a speaker for NAMI I was able to share my testimony, as part of my speech about recovery. But I had not one church to refer anyone to. I wouldn’t dare risk their well being and mental health by referring them to a church. Well! That’s my story. I blog about the church, spiritual abuse, domestic violence in the church, wolves in sheeps clothing , pastors molesting children etc.
Thank you for this site. It helped a lot, as I have been having that feeling of the rock and hard place (ironic about the rock part, huh?). I am shunned at church, but when dealing with counselors they cannot believe that I can be MI and still have a spiritual side. I will never understand how the medical establishment cannot connect the dots and treat mind, body and spirit. Perhaps they can’t. Perhaps they have to be seperate. The doctor for the body, the Bible for the spirit, and the shrink for the mind. I want to share that I have struggeled with MI since I was 9. I grew up in the kind of home that makes dramatic books and movies–between the abuse and the entire family suffering from insanity and addictions; so many have experienced the same, I don’t need to give you the exhausting details. At that time I developed insomnia, irrational fears, depression and hallucinations. I went in and out of it and at 13, found a therapist and paid for it with babysitting money. Of course, it wasn’t enough to keep going. I got brave and asked my mom for help, but she refused on the grounds that she was tired of dealing with the drama from my other sibs’ issues and I had better never speak of it again. I did not get help again til many years later. But it has always been off and on due to money. I would just like to say 2 things–to the people who don’t believe in MI, I say pppppllllltttthhhhhttt. Do you think we ask for this? Do you think we enjoy this, that this is how we want to live each day? Do you really believe we are making it up, or are not measuring up to some standard? I love Jesus EVERY bit as much as you do, and I believe He loves me whether I am outside faking it for all of you, or at home being scared of numbers, as one tiny example. You have no idea what it feels like to KNOW the thoughts are irrational, and yet be unable to make them stop.PLEASE, just leave us alone if you can’t love us anyway. You are why we get worse instead of better, why we drop out of studies and church etc. which we all know isolation aggravates the problem. For the rest of us, a word of encouragement I hope! God loves us every bit as much as the lepers, dopers, prostitutes, divorcees and all the other outcasts. He did come to heal us, and I do believe He came to heal us in our MI’s. However, it may not be in everyone else’s timeline. I am better than I was even not too long ago. I was still suicidal as recently as last year. The reason I hang on is because I love God so much that I don’t want to make Him sad by taking my life when it is His in the first place. I stopped taking medicine around that same time, and it has been soooooo hard without it ( I stopped due to cost and side effects), but so far I am hanging in there. And I know you all can too,with or without meds since you love Jesus and He loves you. I will use the cliche “If I can, anyone can,” not to shame you, but to encourage you. Hang in there. You are worth it, to yourself and to God. He can use you even in your worst days–look, you did it for ME! Your openly sharing gave me courage to publicly share for the first time, YOU gave me courage! The Lord uses our weaknesses to show His strength. Please don’t listen to the church people’s blabbing. Satan can use them too to make you worse. Don’t give up or give in. You are not possessed or a slacker. Those are the lies from Satan. If we have a weakness he uses it to make his kill, he will make you doubt that you are lovable and that you cannot be saved. As a Christian you are saved, and even if you or I are never completely healed on this earth, as long as we allow Him to make progress with us, that is all we can do. Don’t compare yourself to others, just mark your progress with Him. Promise me, all of you, never, never, never, never, never give up, as Churchill said ( suffered from depression). Keep looking for support, even if it means a thousand churches, or a thousand people. Do read Psalms and every verse on love in the Bible. Don’t give up on trying to live a life pleasing to God, not others and don’t give up hope. Never ever lose hope. Jesus came to heal the sick, and that means us too. He came for the marginalized, the outcasts, not the Pharisees. Just be careful not to reverse-judge, like I did. It is easy to sit at home and be angry at the Pharisees. I say get back out there and let them just see. See that we can be used by and for the Lord also. Hang in there, even though I don’t know you I admire all of you for your strength. Also, I’d like to recommend some good songs–JJ Heller struggles with anxiety etc. and wrote His Hands and What Love Really Means. Those help me so much, as does Amy Grant’s song Better Than a Hallelujiah. One last thing that helped me, I didn’t say cured, I said helps me is praising Him no matter what. It is not easy to find something to praise God about when you are in the pit or on a manic frenzy, but honestly, praise music does wonders for my sorry spirit. I pray I have shared hope, courage and comfort, because that is what I want to do more than anything, since that is what being human is about. God bless you all richly. p.s. in my earlier statement, please do not think I am against meds. I stated why I don’t take them in that sentence.
Hello to All of you and thanks for your comments and information. It is so helpful to read about what others are going through. I am still trying, after decades and decades, to understand what happened to me. I guess I would like to know if my brain was damaged from birth, or the head injury at age 11, or was my brian changed by all the stress of my family life, molestation by a neighbor, incest, depressed parents, bipolar brother, being gang-raped and beaten at a young age and then having my folks dislike me and blame me for stuff that happened to me and to them. Then, I spent years in a Girl’s Institution that was VERY scary for me. And, of course, all that (and more) was compounded by the confusion of not being accepted by others that I tried to be friends with. (Except the guys, of course, —I was such an easy target. I suppose it was obvious that I was “damaged goods” and would believe any lie that I thought might get me some affection, —and PROTECTION.)
So, I have muddled through this rather long life and usually figured out how to cover up and do “the Look-Good.” But, not being myself, –not being able to tell the truth, has cost a lot. Of course, I was stupid about it for a long time, and didn’t let people get to know me much before testing the waters. But when I accepted Christ as Savior a long time ago I thought church would be a safe place to be myself. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch! I kept thinking I just had not found a real Christian group yet, and I looked, and looked, and joined a Christian Cult (When the leader died they expected him to be raised after 3 days. Whoooo, boy!) Then, I took my two little kids to a Christian commune, where they both got molested, –One by the guy in charge. And to show I’m not quite right, I guess, I am still wanting for God to arrange that somebody from there would apologize to me for their sin and stupidity. Sometimes, I just don’t know how to believe in God. That commune was kind of the closest I came to a family.
I know I have such a ways to go, if I live that long. I am in counseling, AGAIN, for about the 15th time, with a Christian guy who has experienced severe grief in his own life. And I found an odd, old Psychiatrist, who listened when I told him how EXTREMELY sensitive to meds I am. (I have tried just about all of them, for depression and anxiety, and then I have to find something to keep me from ramping up and not sleeping. YES, I have asked many docs over and over again if I could be bi-polar and the answer has always been no.)
Anyway, this guy has put me one an interesting dose: smash us two 10 mg. Prozac and add to a quart of some acid-based liquid, such as apple juice , and take ONE TEASPOON per day. I wonder if he is conning me and if I tell him it has helped he will just write me off. Well, it did seem to help me from sliding down into the Black Hole, but after 6 weeks or so I could feel the bad stuff coming on, so I added some L-Tryptophan, 500 mg., broken in 2 or 3 pieces and took one piece every day or so. It kept me from going under, I think. I’ve been feeling more and more that the Self I’ve kept hidden for all these decades is trying to escape to the open and I’m saying some things that are making other people uncomfortable, like, “Excuse me, I’ve been at this job for 10 years and you are not giving me the same raise everyone else got?” (They’ve tolerated my slight oddness all this time, I think, because I come when needed.) Now, I just want to get on—-get on with whatever! God just couldn’t have put me here to suffer and question and hide. I don’t even have the “Look Good” anymore ’cause I’m too dang old! Ha! Serves me right. I depended on that way too long. Now, I just want to be real. I just want to really know that God cares, –that it’s not too late for me to be ME, whatever that is. Hey, I’ve never said so much in one place in my life, except in counseling, so I hope somebody just can say, “Hey, I heard ya,” or “Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking and even if there is no answer this side of Heaven you will end up with a good Relationship with the Best Man in the whole universe.” One really good days, I believe and perceive that to be the Truth, but on bad days, and there are too many, I am so tired that I just want to be done. Sounds like there are a lot of you out there that feel that way. I wish I could just bust out with a smile and show up at Salvation Army dining room and say, “Here I am, all ready to help! I got an MI, but I promise not to let it spill over here.” Well, that just ain’t happening. So, do I need another med to make me calm enough, (or zoned enough) to volunteer or try to get involved in church? I don’t even want to go there right now. Thanks for listening….
Lost ( and trying to find )Lady.
I hear you. I had a breakdown in my last year of university back in 1978 and have been on and off medications ever since. I took myself off cymbalta last month, with my doctors awareness and agreement, and have since received a great healing. While I agree that meds are often necessary, they often only mask symptoms and can act to prevent us from dealing with underlying issues, whether physical, psychological or spiritual. But my truly deep healing came through the ministry of a Family Foundations Ancient Paths seminar which I took last weekend near Collingwood, Ontario. I’ve also struggled for many years to understand what happened to me and whether the Christian church contributed to my problems or aided in my healing. The seminars really do help sort some of these things out, explaining that negative consequences always result from our disobedience toward God. See Jeremiah ch 6, verses 13-16. I’ve concluded it was a bit of both. I felt as though the church had led me up a slippery hill to Jesus and left me three feet short, deserting me for a time when I went to the Psych hospital. I was free to sing hymns in the hospital hallways and received some teaching on Holy Spirit in the 80s. I went from valley to mountaintop to valley to mountaintop to valley to mountaintop to valley …etc. I spent a total of seven and a half months in hospital followed by a year and a half in ‘Rehab’ all the time attending church as I was able. I went for training and got work as a layman looking after seniors and am currently working with marginalised men in Toronto. It bothers me that we are still not given sufficient time to tell our stories in our Christian communities but it’s important to keep asking and take whatever opportunities for talking or helping come up. Ancient Paths seminars worked, for me, because there’s a powerful combination of teaching and small group ministry done by trained, compassionate, spiritually prepared and empowered individuals in a two or three day retreat setting. Also in Toronto this week I attended portions of a 24 hour soaking worship session which God had orchestrated for just the right time for me. Church is strange. Preaching can be sound and encouraging but the next day it seems the application of what we hear is optional or in fact completely forgotten. My struggle has been particularly concerned with music and praise. I was always into math and physics. The Bible places importance on the person but the church makes man’s creation more important than he is. Look at how singers, even choirs, are not often really allowed to lead worship. Everything is ruled by the musical instruments, yes even when the instrumentalist is at work. Vocalists, indeed all Christians, must reclaim their duty to speak in their churches and to sing their own songs. James said that any who are merry should be allowed to sing praises to God and that those who are sick should call for elders to come and pray for their health. When we are not allowed to testify to God’s grace even when we are well, frustration must result. Call your leaders to account. It’s not a matter of rights but rather the health of the whole community for when one suffers all suffer. We have seen too often how this truth has consequences through the evil acts of disturbed individuals in various parts of the earth. Take courage; be bold; don’t wait to be asked or invited to do what you know God wants you to do, whatever that might be as long as its in line with the highest purposes revealed in the Scriptures. Most importantly ask God yourself for your healing and get someone you trust to agree with you in prayer. God is good and faithful and WILL give you the desire of your heart as you delight in Him, whether you’re passing through trials or joys. Seek the ancient paths; seek the Lord’s blessing and don’t give up until you get it. Perseverance does build character. Hallelujah !
Here’s a link to the group which runs the Ancient Paths Seminars.
Churches do very badly at this. I have written about my own experience here:
Christian churches, depression and mental illness – my story.
Gosh… it’s all about faith. If you don’t have faith you don’t get healed. If you’re not healed it’s your faith so you end up seeking outside help. Stop leaning on your own understanding & seek Jesus the healer & believe or handle your own self. Jesus is the healer & that settles it. Build that faith…
Gladys, I feel you’re being a touch too simplistic!
God heals those who He sovereignly and compassionately desires to heal, sometimes as a result of faith, according to the NT record. Faith does not always produce healing, prayer is not a magic formula. Faith leads to belief, which leads to salvation, then we as Christians are responsible to one another to carry each others burdens and pray for one another. You cannot be a lone Christian. Lazarus still could not unwrap himself.
Gladys, I do hear and obey daily the voice of Jesus who says, ‘ Come to me all you who labour and are heavily laden’. He is my Rock and Fortress.
It’s very true. We can go the over direction by being too simplistic. Yes, we are healed by faith. This faith is a process. In the meantime, we need the support and restorative help of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes, we need faith. Yet, at times medication is needed before we can even focus on scriptures.
Jesus had to put out those who did not have faith, before he could raise lazarus. When we suffer from mental illness, sometimes we have to put certain christians out, out from our lives, if they insist the mentally ill just need faith, or if they insist the mentally ill are possessed of demons.
We have to put them out of our lives and see a doctor, to get the proper care.
Faith did heal me from clinical depression but it was a process. Mental illness is a desease of the mind, as well as of the body. Thought patterns need regeneration and washing with the word of God. Yet the physical systems of mental illness can block this from happening.
The church, as a whole, has a long way to go, before they can discern what goes wrong in the spirit when mental illness occurs. In the meantime, churches should stick with the basic tenants of Christ. Which is, to love one another, restore each other, and not dish out flippant advice .
How many churches have mental heath ministries? How many churches are in prayer on the issue of mental illness, and how to address it. The scripture teaches us that God’s people perish from lack of knowledge.
Churches as a whole lack knowledge on how to minister to the mentally ill. Yet, when those afflicted by it, go to seek medical help, we shout, they need faith.
Yet churches rarely have faith-based programs in place, to minister and support members with mental illness.
I regret that I have only gone to one church to speak on the topic of mental illness, and the churches ungodly attitude towards those who suffer.
I have come a conclusion, from reading blogs like this and writing on my own blog-Churches and ministry leaders need to read this blog and others like it. Churches and ministry leaders need to hear from those who have issues with the way churches reject the mentally ill.
They need us to give testimony. We need to let the churches know all that has been expressed on this blog.
Even if you just send letters as Paul the Apostle did. Or invite them to this blog.
Yes, we do perish from lack of knowledge and we should restore each other.
Churches who shun or mistreat the mentally ill are in sin. You can restore them by giving testimony, by letting your voices be heard. However way you can. There is nothing to be afraid of. If they refuse to hear then they have recieved judgement. If they heed, then they have been restored.
We think that the churches would be the ones to minister to the mentally ill. But I believe it is the other way around.
We who have experienced the ignorance and shunning from some churches, have a testimony for them-that testimony may restore them to righteousness.
Amen, Marlene. I’ve already begun to do many of the things you’re saying. It is still difficult to get a hearing for mental health issues in our churches. My pastor did give me eight minutes one Sunday last year. But what can one say in such a short time. As an evangelist, I’m appalled at the lack of time given in many churches for those with any kind of testimony. It seems that only the Pentecostals (sometimes) do any justice to the need for Christians to bear testimony to their own fellowship. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Maybe He is leading us to bring a message of power for the healing of His people.
I have had psychotic depression on and off for 17 years. I believe in God and believe in Jesus (from 9 or so years ago) but i am stuck. When people talk about love what do they mean? I have been prayed for and told what to do – i.e. forgive, stop sleeping during the day and do housework which i find difficult to focus on. I don’t fit in at church. I think that some people are tired of my situation – I am tired. I have stopped going to church. Where is God in this?
My ‘symptoms’ have been hearing demonic type voices from time to time which have kept me awake, delusions, anxiety, loss of interest and motivation to do most things apart from sleep and eat.
I have sought help numerous times. I know that something in my past has triggered this, but i have been told to move on.
I’ve heard the mantra from some churches that say move on. That sounds nice in theory. But before I could move on, I had to admit that something in my past was unresolved. Then I had to face the past, identifying what went wrong. I don’t think we can magically move on. The past has to be dealt with in terms of what Christ promises for our future. There was a lot wrong in my past. Such as abuse, domestic violence, low-self esteem. Thats my situation and I don’t know nor can I judge your.
I just want to share the fact that telling someone to move on is just not a good answer. How can they move on. What is the step by step method of moving on. How to we apply scriptures and how and why will the word of God help us move on.
What the church should do is stop telling folk to move on, what they need to do is walk along side and help. The church says move on, yet they have no programs in place to help those with mental illness. They have no mental health ministries.they don’t bother to read or consult with anyone in the mental health field.
What the church should do is ‘get a move on’ with taking concrete, Christlike steps to help the mentally ill heal.
I refused to let church folk advise me to move on. I sought counseling and began to work through issues from the past.
I worked them through with time, prayer and scripture study. I think the only think to watch for in counseling is being careful not to ruminate on the past too long. But nevertheless, how can we be sure of anothers healing time table.
I used to think God had deserted me. I wondered where Christ was in my suffering. Christ is always with us in suffering, God never has not left us.
The ones who have done who have deserted the mentally ill is the church, not Christ himself.
I almost lost my faith because of Church treatment, until I realized, I depend and worship God, through Christ-not a church building or church pastor or church members.
I had to’ come out from among them’. I had to come out from churches that shunned the mentally ill. I got myself into counseling and continued to study the word of God, continued to worship, pray and sunday. I have service in my own house every morning and on Sundays.
I sought God as if my life depended on it. I stayed in counseling, praying all the while. It took a few years but God began to teach me and show me scripture in his word that helped me contend with a painful past.
God loves you, Christ is with you and will carry you.
I would say find a good counselor and work out your past with them. Not neglecting scripture study and prayer.
The church says forget the past but what exactly are we forgetting. We have to be clear, on that which we need to forget. Counseling helps with this.
Lots of folks are against counseling. I have my issues with it. But the church offers nothing else for the mentally ill.
So while the church hopefully, gets their act together, I used the helps that God has provided in the world. Medication and counseling stabilized me enough to look at the past and seek God’s answer for it.
God is in our suffering, even if it doesn’t seem that way.
I did find a church with a mental health ministry and there are Christian leaders who have a lot of support info on the web. The web is a good place to search for ministries for the mentally ill. There are some good links in this section to exlore. There are online support groups as well.
Our Lord Jesus tells us to seek and we shall find. God through Christ, has not left you. He has put people in place to help. I hope you would seek them out, praying for the Lord’s direction as you go.
NAMI Faithnet is one and there are many others. Plus take a look at the links in this blog. There is a pastor who has a support group, and has written a book. I pray I have helped you Rachel, in some way. Our Lord loves you, God loves you, you are His child.
Thanks Marlene, I appreciate you posting. I have been wondering/thinking it is too late. I do still believe in Jesus and God – but it has seemed like there is no way forward. I have felt far from God and numb. The voices have not been so prevalent. I have thought that perhaps I have had a demon. When I went to church recently I suddenly felt very tired and as if something was being pulled down over my head and then I heard a voice saying’ ‘she’s a liar’ at the woman who was speaking. That and the thought that it could be demonic has rather put me off going. I do not think that many people have discernment of whats really happening.
I did make a promise before God not to look back – with two other Christians – but I don’t think I can keep it. It seemed good at the time and one of them felt that God was saying to draw a line from which to move forward from.
I have been so open to other Christians speaking into my life but now I am thinking that they really don’t know although they may mean well.
Your posts are very moving. I can relate to your story very much because I’ve experienced the same things when trying to get help from other Christians with my long list of mental health problems.
Most Christians mean well and are loving but don’t understand how difficult it is to make progress (grow spiritually, get healed, move on, whatever you want to call it) when you have mental illness. And, yes, some Christians don’t even believe mental illness is a real illness; they think it’s lack of faith, or lack of gumption, or lack of prayer, or lack of forgiveness, or lack of whatever.
A few times, I’ve also heard voices, saying exactly the kinds of things that you describe. I eventually came to believe that, while those voices were indeed the Evil One, he was just trying to trick me, to make me *think* I was possessed or was losing my mind. But, in reality, I was just lonely, depressed, and desperate.
I understand what you mean, and maybe how you’re feeling, when you say, “What is love?” I won’t try to answer your question because I have a feeling that you need God to answer it. What about asking your question directly to God? 🙂
Some of the things that have helped over the years are psychiatric medication, exercise, therapy, and laughter. Also, I’ve learned that some therapists are a good fit for me, and some are not. So, don’t waste time seeing a therapist who you don’t feel is helping you.
Finally, here a few thoughts about God that have been helpful to me. Maybe they’ll be helpful to you.
* God does understand mental illness, even though most Christians don’t. He knows what it’s like to be tortured by painful thoughts and feelings, as well as what it’s like to be numb, unable to feel, think, or move.
* God’s tender-hearted love and compassion for us is endless and inexhaustible. He is head over heels in love with us, and he can’t help himself. * God never gets impatient or frustrated with us. He has all the time in the world. 🙂 And it is never, ever too late to receive more of his love.
* God does not judge us by how much “progress” we make, in any area of our lives. He doesn’t hold us up to some moral or spiritual ruler or set of laws. Jesus said that he didn’t come to judge but to save and heal. When Jesus died on the cross, he forgave all of our sins. Since our sins are already forgiven, we don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed before God about anything.
* What matters to God is not so much how near or far we are from him but what direction we’re facing. He wants us to be turned toward him.
* If we believe in God even just a little bit, then we have enough faith to ask him for what we need. And he will answer, though it may take a long time and may not be the answer we expect.
* The best prayer we can ever pray is “Help!”
Your fellow mental health illness sufferer
I take a different stance. Christians who shun and misunderstand the mentally ill. Do not mean well. Any Christian with real compassion will get a book and read about mental illness. What I see in the church is self-absorbtion and lack of interest in the problems of our brothers and sisters, in Christ. If and when someone really loves and cares for others, they will do all they have to do, to understand and help.
If it means getting out our comfort zone, we do all we can for another. I say it’s time to stop letting Christians off the hook. Let’s call a spade a spade. We do an injustice when we make excuses for Christians who fail to do that which Christ calls us to do. Which is to love all people, to show compassion, to get interested, to pray, to seek, seek the Lord on ways to help those in dire affliction.
The church is very busy asking the Lord God for things, and finance, and new homes, and release from debt, and whatever else self desires.
We drink milk and have not gone on to eat the meat of the Gospel. Instead of prayers being sent up t God for guidance on how to help the mentally ill. Prayers are sent up for personal needs.
Of course, this does not apply to all Christians but as you know, it applies to many.
All I’m saying is, let us not let our brothers and sisters off the hook, by saying they mean well in regards to the mentally ill.
We need to tell truth. For it is the truth, that sets us free.
As Christians, sometimes we practice a false love that does not allow others to repent or change.
Hi Christian with mental illnes,
I would like to add that your best prayer is one of my favorites. Simply “Help’ Lord Jesus ‘Help’. Your advice is very valuable. We need not feel shame for Christ took that away at the cross. One must never to feel shame for having a mental illness. God loves all of us more than we could ever understand. All people are precious to him. He is our Father.
Sorry for the typos.
Sometimes I find the old hymns helpful, especially those written by fellow sufferers, like this one by the Scottish minister Horatius Bonar (1808-1899)
Like him I can truly sing,
‘I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down, thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting-place, and He has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one, Stoop down and drink and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life-giving stream.
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light.
Look unto Me; thy morn shall rise and all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that Light of Life I’ll walk till traveling days are done.’
Even re-reading this helps me, and when I sing it I find it helps others in their understanding or in their own healing. The reference to Matthew 11:28 is powerful, no instant-packaged-healing just the long-term abiding, loving presence of Our Lord.
You can hear a good version of it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmn-CPF-PHY&feature=related
Some pastors do know how to lead distressed souls into the rest that Jesus offers. They refuse to minister to people in their churches on the assumption that everyone can find peace with God just by believing in Jesus and by deciding to follow Him. Pastoral care is not just a service for those in crisis but is rather than an ongoing walk alongside each member. Crisis prevention takes priority over intervention. Some pastors have learned how to teach their people to care for one another.
Those that still insist on being control freaks will surely meet the wrath of God. Their judgement is not far off.
I have been wanting to start some kind of ministry for Christian who struggle with mental illness but I am at a loss on how to do something like that. I have shared with my church that I struggle with depression and have gotten some rather interesting responses. I think it is interesting that we are open to going into the local work release jail with a Bible study but the idea of helping people like me produces a reaction of “We’re not doctors.” I tried to explain that it would be in conjunction with other treatment. I had originally proposed a lay counseling ministry. I’m starting to think that I might try another support group. I sometimes think that my neighborhood doesn’t need another support group but I am not familiar with very many that combines the Christian faith with struggling with mental illness. I might ask around though about this.
Hold onto the promises of God
Openly sharing your struggles, dreams and hopes
Practicing new behaviors and thinking styles
Empathizing with and helping others
I have some good info in an article I wrote entitled ‘Mental Illness and the Church: What the Church Must do’.
At the bottom of the article I list about three sources for training material to start a Christian mental health support group. One my sourses comes from a pastor who commented on this blog. The article has a rather long url.
Here it is http://www.relijournal.com/christianity/mental-illness-and-the-church-what-the-church-must-do
I hope it is of help to you. I’ve been praying on this issue and will continue. May the Lord Jesus give you strength as you go as well as good success.
In the article I just shared, I do comment briefly, in my commenting area about demonic possesions. Now there’s a big difference between possesion and demonic oppression. Mental illness, of which I have suffered is an opression of the mind in terms of our Christian faith.
As far as possesion or demons I don’t think the church is any position to discern the two. What we must do is return to the basics, showing all who suffer any disease, the love of Christ.
This can began with mental health support groups as part of church ministry. Some churches have taken up that mantle. Too many have not. I’m praying for you as you go.
Were to start, well I have read all the posts and I hate to read, I am replying as a person who lives with my wife who is has MI. It has broke my hart to see what MI has done to our marriage and your four children, I agree with those that at least in my experiences say it is both mental and spiritual, based on what I have seen when my wife was on med’s the difference that came over her was nothing short of a MIRACLE but did not last, my wife went off here med’s after three month of normalcy back to being paranoid and delusional. If I had to make a choice between med’s and God I would chose God every time that being sad the med’s made a big difference but it’s only a substitute for what God it able to do through his Holy Spirit!. I have gone on thousands or walks over the years praying and talking to God about this situation and God has been faithful to show me things in my life and about my wife’s life that have to change for the strengthening of our marriage and the testimony that will come out of this when all is said and done , I told my wife when she came out of the hospital that God would use us to minister to others concerning there marriages. The church has been pooooooor!! at best in dealing with our situation there answer to for me to get involved with a small group I have been saved for 30 years that is not the answer that is for sure because it does not address my wife’s MI issues, I have a brother-in-law who is a pastor and has not seen his sister in over a year this has pissed me off, a pastor friend told me he probably feel’s inadequate in his faith and to pray for him and so I do. I believe each of us has to deal with is the Word true or not and to what degree when Jesus said on the cross it is FINISHED!! I believe there is nothing more that has to be and can be done that the cross did not accomplish there is nothing above the name of Jesus!! no situation, no circumstance I believe faith with common sense goes along way.
Hi Dan, I hear you. I’ve been a believer for over 30 years too and have been married for 27 years. But the difference between us is that I am the one that is mentally ill. I’ve been MI for over 29 years and just for starters I can say I don’t regret a single day of my illness, if you can call it an illness. Because it has brought me very close to God and God has used it in my life and marrage and my son to help guide me into His presence and to be more like Him. I needed a wife without MI and she needed a husband with MI to help each other grow and be like Christ. All things Happen for the good of those who love God. So what does that say, sometimes we need strong or soft situations to move us so we will do what God is calling us to do. We are human. God does not make mistakes, we do. God has a plan for you and your wife and it’s not up to the church or pastors to to make that plan happen. No one can stop God from doing His will. The thing is that it is in His time not ours. MI can be very a very emotional thing, but remember we are not to be led by our emotions but by the Spirit of the living God. I lead my home and I am also the leader and lead singer of a Christian band. God has done a miracle in my life, we just have to remember its’s all about Him and nothing about us. We are His servants and we were put on this earth to do His will only. We must always keep our eyes on Jesus and He will lead us to the proper people and channels to get us to where He wants us to be. We must be very very patient, because it is part or the healing process and part of the wonderfull plan God has for you and your family. God Bless. Carlos.
Thank you Carlos, this will be a great testimony when it is done and we move into the next season of our lives. We will be married for 28 years if God will’s this August it is my heart that we have a happily ever after It will take a miracle, and God is the only one in that business, which is just as well there for no man will get any glory but him alone!
Thank you for your reply, I pray for that miracle and that God my grant you the strength to continue loving your wife the way you do, for it’s the core thing, as you probably know, that woman need to help them grow as we love them unconditionally no matter what. Ephesians 5:25-33 . Carlos. Blessings to you.
Carlos, thank you so much for your prayers and your encouragement!!
It is my pleasure and duty as a brother in Christ. But one thing I forgot to mention is that God created doctors, Luke was a doctor and God also created medicine and sometimes we need to take them to remain stable. But we should never stop taking them on our own even if we are feeling better. This illness like anything unperfect gets better with God in our life. God Bless. Carlos.
Jeremiah 29:11 God has a plan for us, to prosper us, to give us a hope and a future and not to bring us harm. And this for His believers. It’s all about Him, we were made by Him and for Him. Everything is in His time and not ours. God wants to create Godly character in us and that takes work. Taking our meds and following our doctors orders. God created doctors, Luke was a doctor. As we follow Jesus and imitate Him, He will guide us and put people in our paths to help us and help us get stable so we can focus better on our Lord and do His will. Many Christian advisors are needed to make sure what we think and do are from sound doctrine and not delusions created from our illness. Jesus Has a plan for all His believers and it does not exclude the mentally ill. I use to think because I was mentally ill God could not use me. But I was wrong. I use to think I was the dispised thing of the world becaue I was mentally ill. But again, I was wrong. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. Brothers think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things– and the things that are not– to nullify the things are. So that no one may boast before Him. Guided and grounded in the word of God , we can be used greatly by God. In His time and in His way.
I am grateful to all who have shared in this several-year-long blog. I am a Christian who is currently studying to be a counselor. I have so many questions, thoughts, and concerns about how to deal with MI. My mother suffered so much with various forms of MI and I also am prone to depression. Sometimes I believe it’s a matter of bad thought patterns; sometimes I believe it’s a matter of scarred psyche; sometimes physical health (poor diet, lack of exercise/sunshine) that affects the mind. But ALWAYS I know that God loves each person where he or she is. Everyone deserves my non-judgmental compassion. I don’t have the answers, but I will look to God as I begin to meet with those who are suffering. He will give strength, wisdom, love, and direction as I submit to Him. Thank you, again, for opening up in this blog.
Minster Marlene and to others… I have been diagnoised with adhd,bipolar,and asperburgers and conduct disorder… I am a christian and god has been revealing to me that i have a lot of negitive thinking and doubt and self doubt and im depressed as well but my living situation is tough i live with my fiancee in one room all day long where we have out tv, computer, bed, bible, closet bathroom, work out machine,ect… we only get out to go to church every sunday and to the grocery store twice a month and when i need to go to counsoling we have no jobs or money and no car we are living here by the grace of god and the neighboorhood we living in his bad so we cant just walk around. What im trying to get at my pastor and a whole bunch of other people have told me that by me staying in this one room 24/7 it is affecting me by having too much idel time to think and i am always thinking and I have so many thoughts that go through my head all throughout the day that i would just prefer to sleep so i do. Its got to the point that i dont even know what god wants from me anymore i have so much doubt and i know what the scripture says and i keep praying and im a complainer and i just keep going around in circles like the Men in the dessert in the bible i think it was keep wondering and wondering. I dont know what to do and I dont know where to start and everytime i read my bible i cry and feel condemned with guilt and i feel like i let my heavenly father down but when i know the truth that im havent and that god doesnt condemn us he convicts us. I feel like im being attacked and i have a lot of fear as well. I have a lot of strongholds in my mind that need to be tore down.
What have the pastor and others who said you need to get out, suggested? Are there ways they can help you do this? If they have given you ideas of how you can do this, have you tried them?
What have the pastor and others suggested? Are there ways they can help you do this? If they have given you ideas of how you can do this, have you tried them?
They just suggested that i need to get out of the house well I tryed to go to the library but got scared and went back in side my house. They suggested to go to bible study and when bible study came i asked my grandpa to take me but he didnt have any money.
God’s child please tell me what state you are, in so I can do a search for resources to help you. God never leaves or forsakes his people. The Lord is with you! I’ll check back here…hopefully we’ll find counseling and someone to do a home visit. I only need your state. Perhaps I can connect you with someone to contact…
Done! Information sent. I’d like to know how it turned out with you God’s child. Did you make that appointment? It’s been a while.
I am a Christian who has struggled all his life with mental illness. But not my own….My mother was diagnosed with Paranoid Schitzophrenia. But not until after my father died of alcoholism. I began having to care for mom at the age of 13. The trauma of loosing dad a year earlier was just too much for her. The public school began figuring things out and I was placed into foster care and my mom was institutionalised, diagnosed, and placed under the care of a local counseling center. It was in foster care that I met Christ through loving foster parents. After graduating from college I would drive 6 hrs every 3 months to spend several days with mom. It became evident that her paranoid episodes were worsening. By this time I knew we had to do something. I was married and wanted to have a healthy and normal family environment for my kids but had to care for mom. I set up a network of 4 long term providers through DSHS and the county mental health care systems. for the last 14 years I have networked with these people to provide mom with the best care possible. Mom died two weeks ago of a sudden heart attack in her sleep. (rarely does anyone ever die of symptoms associated with Schitzophrenia). She was 71 now I am botherd by the fact that I just feel like I could have done more. I am looking for what the bible says about the mentally ill. I just don’t see much there. I am feeling so empty. I actually got closer to mom because of all the effort put forth to care for her. One provider described her as “Fascinating” I had never thought of mom that way. He said she was simply a remarkable person. I just miss her and am wondering what God says about her eternal state.? I guess in my own way I’m still trying to “take care” of mom.
Joe, I am so sorry to hear that your mother has passed and that you are struggling with the issue of her eternal state. I, too, was tormented by this very question about my son, who was a Christian, and died by his own hands…after dealing with depression, ADD, and severe mood swings. It is a painful place to be when you are tormented by the Enemy who would like to increase your pain with these concerns. After all, we serve a merciful Father who loves us unconditionally….even more than you love your mother and I my son. I believe anyone who is mentally ill cannot possibly be held accountable for their state of mind and the behavior it brings on. It is a disease like any other disease. No one thinks badly of those who have cancer or heart disease….they even sympathize and are compassionate towards those who have an “acceptable condition.” Take heart my friend…God does not judge us unmercifully if we are sick of mind and cannot make the choice between heaven or hell…God or the devil. He is a just and loving God and HI sgrace is sufficient for ALL…especially those who are weak……I hope that this helps…..Again, my sympathies for you and I pray you will have the peace that passes all understanding.
Dale, I just wanted to say with all my heart that God loves your son. He will be with God in Heaven as God is merciful, forgiving, loving and kind! Your son will never forget you because i’m sure you were such a wonderful father to him. I’m sure that God is crying with you daily because of the amount of pain you go through! Much love and hugs x
Joe, you did the best you could for your mum! I’m sure she would be proud of you. She would of been honoured to have a son like you because you would of made her happy. God is forgiving, kind, loving and merciful. He has more love in him and understands us more then we can ever imagine. As your mother was suffering he probably enfolded his arms of love around her!
I live In Douglasville Georgia.
Okay, God’s child. I ‘ve got the info and will get back to you.
Ok thank you Look forward to hearing from you If you would like you can inbox me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Godschild123 here is some good information for you. NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness has an office in your town. NAMI offers several free support groups in Douglasville Georgia. They are a very large help organization, and can connect you with other free services.Let them know your situation. You can reach NAMI in Douglasville at (770)942-8926. Ask for Rose Eddington. NAMI is a very nice organization and I ran one of their groups. Just tell them what you need and hopefully attend the free support group.
My diagnosis is bipolar 2 with major depression. I also have personality disorder issues, am a rape and incest survivor and have multiple addictions. I am however fairly high functioning, even though i am not on any medication, as i have tried everything and nothing works and have been a Christian for 23 years, but have given up on ever receiving any kind of support from the church. I have tried. My relationship with the Lord is better than it has ever been, but the church is clueless and is actually a hindrance to my recovery. But still i am part of the Body of Christ. So where do i go from here? Any suggestions? Thanks. steve
I would just say stay away from Christians who say you dont have enough faith.I had a heart problem followed by punishing tinnitis which caused me much anxiety. I take a tranquilizer that helps some.Its an everyday battle.An old friend and former pot and cocaine abuser would hammer me saying I did not have enough faith for it to go away and by his stripes you are healed.Just talking to him made me feel worse.Luckily I only hear from him once a year when he wants to borrow a waterski.
Been there, experienced that. It just is what it is, no compassion and of course not understanding scripture and what that verse is referring to. I like you, try to stay away from Christians like that, but if i’m cornered, and have no other choice, i usually unload on them with both barrels. People like that hurt other people and i won’t put up with it. As hard as it is, I’m tough enough to handle it, because God has healed me of so much, but others aren’t.
I have depression, GAD, and OCD. I can often spot the other folks with mental illness, because people avoid talking with them. I often go an talk with them because I know they are likely lonely.
Stop trying to solve the huge problems people have and just be friendly. Ask how our week is going, invite us for coffee or dinner.
Yes, we have issues and you may not be able to take our suffering away. But like Christ you can enter into lives and in doing so treat us as children of God.
I suppose people might have other reasons for avoidance. One possibility is the thought that it is “catching” Reason argues against that of course, but people (not excluding myself) aren’t always operating reasonably. Another possible reason for avoidance is that people tend to be afraid of anything they don’t understand. And another, perhaps the deepest reason, is that it challenges our presuppositions. A relationship with a person with mental illness can cause an existential crisis for the “normal” person. After all, “That could be me. What does it say about who I am? What does it say about God, about life, about suffering?” Observing our suffering can cause a crisis of faith for others. It is natural to want to avoid the discomfort of those questions and so it is natural to want to avoid that which prompts those questions. I see those as other possibilities for what might be going on in the person who doesn’t want to come near a person with mental illness.
“And if the person is not progressing as they had hoped, then the interest in helping dies off.” Amen to that and to many of the comments above. I agree with church-based support groups. But not handled like AA and other support organizations have been in the past–given meeting space but no interaction with church staff and/or members. Such practices segregate those with SMI.and their families from the church body and all the love and resources there.
Hi, I am new to this sight as i was searching for some help and answers tonight. In the last 6-7 months there was a change in me and I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I am 21 years old and it turns out the diagnoses was wrong but it was close. What i really have is schizoid personality disorder that i got from my dad as he has the same exact thing and along with it i developed what is called mild cognitive impairment which affects my overall mental functioning including memory, comprehension, reading, problem solving etc. Before all this I was a bright and intelligent young college student and now i can barely add and divide without difficulty. It is hard because I know who i used to be and i was never like this so i can obviously see a difference. I had to stop school and I am not currently on any medication, I was before for the schizophrenia that i never had but it made me feel like i was dying. By the grace of God im looking into natural cures and remedies if any. Since half my family has the same issue they don’t really see whats going on with me or are in denial so i am kinda going at this alone and trying to find answers with the exception of a friend. I don’t like to be around people or socialize so all my previous friends have no idea what is happening to me as I have not told them and don’t plan to tell them either.
I was just wondering if anyone out there has any advice or has gone through a similar situation or knows of anyone with the same condition or possibly someone who has been healed of it. It really stinks because I feel like i have no purpose in life now. When i find sites like this it is encouraging because i know i’m not alone in the struggle with a mental illness even though i have yet to find someone with both the SPD going on along with the cognitive impairment.
It is so ridiculous how someone can be completely fine one minute and wake up the next to find their mind completely altered. Someone has to do something about this.
God bless you all and thanks for taking the time to read all this.
I’m sorry to hear of your problems. You say other people in your family has the same problem. Do any of them take meds for it? I would think since they have the same thing they would be understanding. I suffer from major depression and borderline personality disorder and I self injure. I just lost my mom last month and it’s just me and my brother now and he is always putting me down and thinks I can’t do anything because of my MI. I have a good church I go to and have some good friends there. I pray and ask God to help me and He does. I think the best thing I can do for my self is to reach out and help others. That takes my mind off of myself and gives me a sence of purpose. I don’t understand why so many people suffer from MI but I want to use it to help other people. I will pray for you. I know its hard when other people don’t understand you. None of my friends understand my SI. I hope and pray you find the help you need. Love, Teresa
Thanks for sharing your story, Crystal. It must be very hard to accept and cope with the change in yourself. My heart goes out to you. But it sounds like you are being pro-active in seeking information and help. That’s good! Never give up. God is always working on your behalf, even when you don’t see it, and he *will* help you.
I do not have schizoid personality disorder. I have a cluster of other mental health disorders. God has brought healing to me, over a long period of time, in many different ways: prayer, medication, time and experience, loving relationships. I still struggle, very badly sometimes, so God is not finished healing me yet.
In my early 20s, as the mental health disorders began to manifest themselves, I was prescribed various medications. Most of the meds didn’t help. Some even made me worse. But, after several years, I found a psychiatrist who made a more accurate diagnosis of my disorders, and he prescribed medications that have brought huge improvements in all but one of the disorders.
Interestingly, I found that psychiatrist a few months after receiving several sessions of healing prayer. For a while, I thought that God — for whatever reason — had not healed me in answer to that prayer. Now, I see that he did heal me, just not as soon as I expected, and not in the way I expected.
Please keep an open mind about medication. Maybe pray and ask God about seeing a psychiatrist. I don’t actually like my psychiatrist that much, as a person, but he’s been God’s agent of healing to me.
1 Corinthians 1:27, But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. luke was a doctor and God used him. God also uses medication to help us or cure us. I am also mentally ill and have been for over 30 years and I don’t regret a single day of my illness, because it has brought me closer to God and after all it’s all about Him, we were made by Him for Him. We need to take our medication and love God, He will guide you into all truths and the purpose for your life. You see He has a plan for you just like you are. We just have to follow Him, have Godly advisors around us, but most important, love Jesus no matter what. He truly does Have a plan for your life ! Carlos.
Hi. I currently reside with my cousin who has MS and her mother who is Narcissistic. My cousins mother is impossible to deal with. She is very manipulative, she is very selfish,she lies, she talks about everyone in such a negative manner, she prays scripture in a way to pray against you as if t to make a negative impact in your life. She cries and becomes irate when you confront her behaviors. She will not let go of her past and blames everyone and everything except for herself. She talks crazy and twists scripture to make it fit her warp way of thinking. She is very jealous and at times extremely arrogant and competitive. She can not be trusted at all and she claims God told her she is our Pastors wife. Yes, we all are Christians. When we go to church she praises to be seen by our Pastor because she says he likes her praise. My question is this …where do you as a family member who suffers with dealing with the mental issues of someone go for support in the church ? This woman is hateful and says and does things you would not believe. She has done so for many years. I have tried and tried to get along with her and the cycle repeats itself. It’s her screwed up way or no way. I want nothing to do with her. At this time we are not speaking. I have not even said Good Morning. Having a relationship with her is a real challenge in my love walk. She just lied to my cousins daughter while she was in town on Thanksgiving break , saying that I had stolen money from her mother. I have never stolen. She does not know that my cousin told me she said this to her daughter and I did not confront her,her cousins mother, because she would only call her while she is away at school and disrupt her learning. She even lies to other Christians who attend our church about me, I know this because after she talks to people they treat me differently, and she plays the victim of mistreatment when we are at church to receive sympathy of some sort from others. I have not told anyone about her condition. She is a great at PRETENDING to be sweet ,misunderstood ,and rejected. I do not wish to hurt her in talking about her, but meanwhile by reputation is being destroyed and peace in my salvation is being disrupted. I am keeping my mind on the Lord as best I can but frustration and anger are constantly gnawing at me. I have considered moving but I refuse to even leave her daughter with her. She does gross things to her like rub her breasts and when she needs to be showered she baths her private area in an unnatural way and makes her feel uncomfortable ( this what my cousin who is 36 yrs old by the way told me which is why she asked me to be her caretaker). She has even stuck her tongue in her daughters mouth.
I am becoming wearied with her. Any suggestions or wise advice would be greatly appreciated. I sure do need prayers of support as well. Anyone?
If I were in that situation Nikki, I would have to leave and report this women to the authorities. I would call CPS (child protective services) because this woman is a child molester who needs her children taken away from her. If I had no-where to go to live, I would go to a shelter then report her from there, or wherever I am. I would not stand by while children were being sexually abused. If you are her caretaker, you have a responsibility to her and that child. Don’t approach the church for help, move into action by getting counseling and reporting this women to Child Protective Services, so they can start an open case, and hopefully remove the children from the home. If you continue to say nothing your just as guilty as the abuser. This was meant for informational purposes , seek the advice of a qualified counselor or social worker before you act. But act you must. God can not come down from heaven to address this, he put us all here to occupy and act until he comes. You have my prayers for your strength.
Thank you to Phil Monroe for starting this discussion. And thanks to all who have shared. I am glad I found this. It is comforting to be in such good company. I truly believe satan’s greatest scheme is tricking an individual into thinking he/she is the only one experiencing a particular hardship and depression is the sharpest tool in his box. My journey manifested when my dad committed suicide back in the 70’s. He had been depressed for as long as I can remember. An extremely isolating event for a high school junior. And the disease jumped into the next generation like a toxic flea……. I have functioned as an adult with my depression. I just retired at the age of 48 from a big-city fire department. I have developed into a successful nature photographer. Triathlon and Mt. Biking are my hobbies. Supportive family. I believe in Jesus as my Savior. Yet depression continues to dog me. I am going through a rough patch right now complicated by a total knee replacement. Medication has been on my plate for quite a while and it is time for change – I personally will try anything and everything ever pharmaceutically produced by the pros in order to lessen these symptoms. I just will. And I will continue to pray……..Life is too short to be mired in this my friends. OF COURSE I have made mistakes in my life that have contributed to my depression. I am a sinner. But to me, I am the only one who has made these errors……….Isolation. I don’t ever feel particularly ‘cleansed’ after repenting……. Ironically, I wouldn’t be the likable artist/athlete I am without this malady!!! The ultimate irony! Somebody explain this to me! I am going to keep truckin’, trying EVERYTHING under the sun to lessen the darkness of these clouds. At the same time, I am going to maintain my individuality. I believe there is great danger in allowing too many people to get into your head. If something doesn’t sound right to you, trust your instincts. I’d like to leave all sufferers with this thought……If God has allowed this into your life, maybe it isn’t such a big deal in the big scheme of things. Maybe WE are making it a BIG DEAL – thereby putting increased, undue pressure on OURSELVES. Good luck. Love to all.
Good. Well put and informative. I am better because I have been on a mood stabilizer (Lamictal). Apparently this helps with depression also. And apparently it helps with anxiety, even for people not diagnosed with bi-polar disease. But the depression and questions and sorrow about my childhood and my own mistakes still creep in. I am so trying to believe God all the time and trying to be free enough to let go of fear and begin to love others more and to trust appropriately. Thanks so much for this site and to Kevin for his comments.
Very good point! Sometimes we assign more stigma to ourselves than either the world or the church ever could. There are many gospel songs that can help us get our focus back on Him. “He knows just how much we can bear” and “Praise is what I do”. Whatever we’re going through, whether good times or bad, happy or sad, praising Him is a decision. Rejoice always! Especially when it’s not easy.
Hang tough Lost Lady. The YOU that IS right now is OK.
I just came across this again. It’s an older book – Growing Strong In The Seasons Of Life by Charles Swindoll. It’s a devotional and on page 45 the topic is Depression. Hope this helps somebody……….
I just stumbled across this site in doing some research on post traumatic stress disorder. I suffered from this for about a year after a string of life interrupting events. I am a Christian and when I began to suffer from ptsd I could not understand why God wouldn’t heal me. He promised me through his word and confirmation in my spirit that He would, but what was he waiting for? Now, on the other side of ptsd, I see and understand why He waited. Let me just say He created fertile ground for growth. God didn’t cause my illness but He certainly used it to His (and my) advantage. My relationship with Lord grew by leaps and bounds. I am not saying God does this to everybody, this was just my situation. What I am saying is this, God knows exactly where you are and what you are suffering from. DO NOT let the enemy lie to you by telling you that you’re alone in this thing and God doesn’t care. I am living breathing proof that God does hear and heal. And that he cares more than you could ever imagine. I am writing a book on how God brought me through hell and just like in Isaiah 43:1-2 when I passed through the water, He was with me, and the water didn’t overflow me. When I walked through the fire, I was not burned, and the smell of smoke was not even on my clothes. God kept me through my wife leaving me, my brother going to prison for life, My second wife passing away after 5 years. The business that failed, and eventual bankruptcy. I am only 42, all of this has happened in the last 8 years. Let me tell you if God can heal me through all that, hang on, God has got something for you. Get a bulldog grip on God and do not give up or let go. I promise you, it will pay off.
Thank you Carl for your encouragement. In my own darkest times I couldn’t find His light. At all. My darkest period included the deaths of my father, brother, and husband over a few months time. I was very close to all 3 and they suffered grueling, painful deaths. My husband’s death was a nightmare – cancer pain that was untouched by pain meds as his digestive system was so compromised….he couldn’t metabolize the meds. We tried everything and doctors told me to pray that his life would end quickly as they were helpless to stop the pain which was ever increasing. He lived for 7 more weeks – every hour worse than the one before. I prayed so much for him and nothing happened. When he died…….my faith in God died also. I entered a very dark place which lasted almost a year. But I hung in there and did not give up looking for the Lord. You advice to “get a bulldog grip on God and do not give up or let go” is profoundly true.
We all carry around 2 states of mind: 1) faith 2) doubt
Which one grows bigger and devours the other one? ?
*The one you feed.
I found by experience that:
choosing the DARK………….there is barely any air to breathe.
choosing the LIGHT brings warmth and comfort and hope and joy.
What thinking person would choose the dark?!
No matter how alone you feel ……..no matter how dark it is………….keep looking for Jesus and you WILL find him.
I am a Christian (am trying to be ??) with schizophrenia (on medication), and I find it very difficult to go to church, to be around other Christians because I have evil thoughts that I find very difficult to control, so I feel very guilty. I also have social phobia so that is another reason why it is so difficult to mix with other people. I find it very difficult to pray as the evil thoughts from the devil completely surround me, as it were and I find it hard to concentrate and I have to contend with “the voices”. I also have great difficulty reading the Bible as I feel totally condemned when I do. The devil is always attacking me and I, most of the time, give in to the temptation, (in thought, mainly). The pastor at the church I go to has said that I am cherished and loved. This makes me feel even more guilty as I find it very hard to get close to people. I am totally self-absorbed. God has made it plain to me that I must go to church. I belong to a local GROW group – (a 12-step Recovery program for people with mental health issues), but it looks like that might be ending as there is not enough people. I find it very hard to concentrate in church, I don’t know how to “worship” because my mind is always “busy”, I dread the thought of having to mix with the other members of the congregation after the service where people have a cuppa together and just chat. I feel totally alien and a fraud because of the evil thoughts. There are a couple of other people in the congregation who also have a mental illness but they have “got their act together” as it were, which makes me feel pressured that I am not at their level yet. Does anyone have any suggestions ?
Thanks for your comment Muffy. Your challenge of feeling like a fraud, guilty, or alien is not unlike many in the church. There are many who feel similarly to you but of course, they don’t advertise it so it is hard to find comfort in the fact that others may suffer as you do. I have sometimes wondered if the following analogy might help. You may have heard that people who lose a limb in an amputation sometimes experience phantom pains. Their brain tells them that their fingers hurt–even though their arm is no longer there. Part of their challenge is to remember that while they really do experience pain, they need to keep in perspective that their brain isn’t always telling them the truth. So, is there a similarity for you? Your brain is telling you that you are guilty and different while others tell you that you are loved and family. It requires that you continually to translate your feelings through another grid.
My prayers are for you to be sustained and find love within the church body.
Thank you Phil for your interesting reply. I will ponder on it at leisure. Thank you for praying for me alsol
hi…i would really love it if someone could contact me at my email address…email@example.com. my father in law is a devout christian, a high functioning schizophrenic, but is easily preyed upon by fellow religious community members (not just his church) to give money. he loves to be charitable, and i don’t think a few hundred a month is a problem. but he gave away $500k in less than 2 yrs to foundations i can’t even find evidence they exist…just cashed checks everywhere. he also has a hard time with boundaries, and says inappropriate things to children at a bible study he runs at a military base. his psychiatrist is very concerned, but the last thing we want to do is take away his social world. he’s 76 and starting to experience dementia…he cannot drive or carry a checkbook anymore, he gives away his cash and eats at a soup kitchen (he is not in need), and when i called (with his blessing) some of his friends to ask how he was doing in group settings, they told me they wouldn’t talk to me because i didn’t go to their church. i love my dad and want him to have all the religious freedom and acceptance he wants…but he is mentally ill, has no skepticism anymore, and is being taken advantage of. friends have often offered rides to church events and then leave him behind. i don’t know what to do…his doctor says it’s time to move him in with us, but we live too far away to drive him to his social calendar events every day. i could really use some advice. thanks, god bless. annie.
I have been captivated by the openness and honesty portrayed in this blog, and thank all who have shared their stories over the years. I would like to ask: When is science/the medical field and the spiritual/the Church going to get their acts together and recognize that both are a part of understanding mental illness? Let’s get back to the basic premise of this strain in this blog!
When my wife was in major depression, she doubted her salvation, and no one could use any theological persuasion or logic to disprove it to her. Years later she went manic where she felt she had direct communications with God, her three Medical Doctors at the Hospital were the Father, Son, & Holy Ghost, and all the nurses were angels. To her, her concerns were real and valid. These two experiences happened in the same facility, on the same floor, on the same wing of a hospital; the environment was the same. In her manic state you could not reason with her either, and she knew her theology was the only correct one. What is interested in both occasions is while she manifested a deep illness, medically, she spiritualized her experience. Both the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual areas of her life were under attack.
In both cases the spiritual aspects of her illness could not be addressed until medicine stabilized her. When manic she had no conscience when performing excessive, almost unethical behaviors. I knew she was getting “better” when she began to experience guilt and shame for her manic actions. The Church looks at guilt and shame negatively; I look at it as a healing agent!
If someone puts a gun to your head, you beg for “mercy”. My wife, and many of you who have shared your stories have had the gun of mental illness at/in your head, and you have cried out for “mercy”. I hear it in your writings/your stories. I propose those with mental illness understand “God’s mercy” and what the “mercy seat in the Presence of God” is better than we who are healthy!
I’ve been taught as a Christian, that “grace” is “God’s ‘unmerited’ favor”; people facing mental illness have to rely on “unmerited favor” when depressed, hopeless, and their lives being in an emotional maelstrom. They too understand “grace” in a deeper understanding than those who are supposedly emotionally stable.
Those facing mental illness have so much to offer, to give to the Church if we just “listen” to them: their cries when they can’t praise, their hurts and pains while we all smile, their dreams when all their hopes are dashed, and their stories when no one wants to listen to them. We need their fellowship as much as they need ours. The “Church” is made up of both of us; so Church, get over the stigma and open up as this blog cite has!
I question psychiatrist whose prescriptions can make my wife a legalized drug addict, or a psychotherapist who gives bad advice belittling my wife as a person or minimizing her faith in the Lord, or a pastor who is clueless about mental health telling my wife she is demon possessed or that her sin is bringing all this own as judgment, but do you know what? My wife needs a psychiatrist for medications, a psychotherapist for advice and understanding, and a pastor for spiritual needs! Again we all need each other!
The answer lies in medicine and religion, physical and spiritual, working together for an answer. Rather than both sides playing the “Blame Game”, it needs to start with tolerance, then understanding, then knowledge, then acknowledgement, and finally recognition that they need each other.
I would like to throw out the question: Is it possible for medicine and religion to acknowledge one another as allies, not diverse enemies? The Church has been known for starting hospitals all around the world; are they willing to start mental hospitals that somehow combine the secular “recovery” process with the Church’s view on “healing”? Are they compatible? How? Through what vehicles?
I am a pastor’s wife. We have a gal who attends our church who is schizophrenic and has alot of issues she is dealing with. She is a very sweet lady and my heart goes out to her. She has no family or friends to support her or help her. she is struggling to make ends meet on her McDonalds income …working only about 12 hours a week. She lives alone in her own apartment. I applaud her for trying to hold down a job and living on her own. I feel like we as a church and as a pastor and wife need to be doing more to help her …but the task seems OVERWHELMING!! It seems like she almost needs a caretaker. She calls us very often….needing advice, prayer….hearing voices, etc. She needs food/ money. I just don’t know how to adequately help her! We have prayed with her, counseled her, etc. I feel that to adequately help her we need to be overly involved in her life on a daily basis and just not sure I want to make that commitment. Wondering how far to go? How do other pastor’s and wives deal with people like this in their congregation? I want to show her the love of Jesus. I feel like if the church people are not there for her…she has no one at all! Help!
At least you care. I was attending a church for a few years where the leaders practiced “laying on of hands.” Those being prayed for usually fell to the floor and lay there “in the healing river” of God. I think some people were helped, but one lady with real mental problems was prayed for two or three times weekly for years with no noticeable changes. I asked the Pastor about it and he told me, “She’s just a Paranoid Schizophrenic.” I was so stunned I couldn’t think of what to say. My gut reaction was that if that woman was not going to be helped, or changed by the Lord, then what hope did I have for my problems? My husband and I quit going there not long after and I don’t look for answers in churches anymore, —comfort sometimes, but not answers relating to mental illness. It would be wonderful if you could find a way to teach others to love and care for people who are “different” so most of the church could share the burden of those who need constant encouragement. But your church would be rare indeed if people didn’t become impatient with the one they try to help when there is no obvious progress. Schizophrenia is especially difficult to deal with. Wish I had more answers. There is a lot of information out there about possible causes of some mental illnesses and some suggested treatments, but getting a scattered mind to respond is so hard. But we all need to be reminded that our Creator loves us unconditionally if we accept him as Savior,— reminded over and over and over again that healing will come when we are in His presence at last. And that Love will be perfect and all the tears and losses and rejections and confusion will be finished forever. If you convey that Hope and try to overlook the childishness and imaginary fears of the afflicted person, and teach others to help show Christ’s love to her, then won’t you have done your best? What else can any of us do?
Wow, it’s really heartbreaking to hear all these stories. I was recently diagnosed with Pure O which is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder. This didn’t affect me horribly (the first time at 19)until I got a second relapse when I was about 26 and am now 30. To me it’s funny how people write this off as emotional problems, but what’s even worse is that I use to not believe in mental illness. Of course until I got one and it has been like pure hell a lot of the times and luckily I have people that love me and support me immensly while I try to get this under control. But I manage and by some miracle have a great job and unconditional love. I pray for all those in similar or worse situations. People are so ignorant. Luckily I’m getting treatment from a wonderful Dr. who actually use to be a catholic priest(more on the liberal side) and still practices. If you are struggling with your faith please read albert nolan’s jesus today or jesus before christianity. This gives some very intellectual views of chrisitanity as they should be looked at and takes the essence of Jesus’s message which was hope and love, not taking the bible literally which a lot of uneducated people do and can cause a lot of harm to people such as the mentally ill. Now I would like to say that all catholics feel the same but there are some extremists who of course think differently but they should not be payed attention to. For those of you who know people that struggle with schizophrenia I think an excellent role model would be lionel alridge. This is a prime example of how this sickness can take someone who had won a superbowl ring and leave him homeless. With trust in God and listening to doctors and friends he gained full remission and became an avid speaker for that cause. God Bless all of you and fuerza!! which in spanish tranlates to have strength! Remember you are not alone and the best thing to give to those who do suffer is love and compassion. God Bless.
I am stunned by the responses I see here. My name is Kathleen and I have complex ptsd and depression. I was diagnosed recently this year, but I always felt that something was different about me. A lot of things happened over the last 3-5 years that my mind and body has collapsed. I can relate so much to this post.
I consider myself a Christian with broken faith. The last year and 1/2 showed me a lot of what people have been saying. I told someone that I left my old church because I didnt feel things were the same anymore… never wrote back ever since. Female pastor would write back and forth to me( when I was slowly not going anymore) and when I mentioned I had ptsd, she’d say” come on, Fight this defeat it!” It made me realize the lack of understanding and/or the comprehension that people have towards mental disorders. Nobody of the church has ever since really spoken to me or written to me. I knew I was pushing ppl away but I kind of knew that it wasnt on purpose: they didnt understand. I was going to a Christian Center but lately, my mind has wandered off so much that I forget and nobody writes to me.
It would be really helpful if there were real resources or groups for those who deal with these kinds of illnesses and disorders. Instead of just having a psychologist and pastors who pray for healing, why not have outlets for support? I know that pastors in general have a very strong belief in Jesus’ healing and the ideologies behind sickness but prayer and Bible doesn’t just cut it for me. I do believe in the power of healing but my perception of the world and faith changed once I found out about my disorder.
Kathleen, thanks for stopping by. I hope by the number of responses here you sense a “community” of others who get what you are experiencing. Let me just say this, sometimes we learn that prayer and the bible are for our benefits in very different ways than we once imagined. Sadly, many want to use both as a medicine chest…take 2 and call me in the morning. In fact, they are opportunities to connect to God. We lament, we cry out, we ask, we listen, we wait, we rest…all in communion with God. And this communion can happen in sickness and health. I grieve over the ways that so many receive the msg that God will heal you now. He may…but he will be with you even as we await the ultimate healing.
Yes, I understand where you are coming from and I feel so much like you do about the Church and the need for special ministry to those of us who suffer from mental/ emotional handicaps. But, remember, for your own sake, Jesus Christ is our Saviour and our Shepherd and it is to Him we need to follow and cling to. Pray always that He will make Himself very real to you and that He would teach you how to follow Him closely, even if you have to do it all alone. Jesus will come and find any lost sheep that cries for Him and wants to follow Him. He will carry you home. (If you can, read “A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm” by Phillip Keller, and trust in God, not in men. He does make all things work together for good. You will see.)
I very much agree. We all have to focus on our vertical relationship with the Lord. While we are still on this earth, waiting to be healed from all mental and physical disabilities in heaven, we will never find a “perfect” church or “perfect ” Christians. But we must not let that affect our relationship with the Lord. Mental illness (I have a son with schizophrenia and daughter with bipolar) is devastating and very difficult to deal with. We won’t understand until we’re in heaven why God has allowed this. Just remember how much our Shepherd loves you. And the book on Psalm 23 is excellent!!
I just came across this site and just wanted to share something that happened to me from my perspective of having had a mental illness and now being an ex-Christian. Basically I clung on to Christianity for about 10 years and was born again, but had bouts of psychosis and took an antipsychotic and for some time an antedepressant too. From the beginning, there was always the suggestion that the illness was linked to the demonic and I was encouraged to engage in ‘spiritual warfare’ by commanding the enemy to leave, rebuking Satan in Jesus’ Name, and quoting scriptures out loud. I was prayed over by different people and I prayed endlessly for a breakthrough, pouring out my thoughts and emotions and also journalling to God who I kept looking to for a release. Basically I got worn out and the last time it happened I went to a couple who were supposedly very experienced in deliverance ministry. They said that their opinion there was definitely an element of the demonic (I had memory problems and saw hissing snakes at times). By this time my anxiety levels were at fever pitch, when they then told me that they couldn’t see me for another week or two and referred me to some teaching tapes to listen to. Unless you’ve experienced the intense stress and fear that a situation like that brings, knowing that you are ‘alone with demons’ who start up at any time and there doesn’t seem to be an respite and the only persons who seem to have the expertise to be able to help you are fobbing you for another period of time, I don’t think that anyone would understand the complete sense of hopelessness that comes about.
In the end, after lots of soul searching and also internet searching and some counsel from someone in my family who was not a Christian, I simply let go and concluded that this belief that it was demonic hadn’t got me anywhere and neither had turning to God for 11 years got me anywhere. From there it was a fast transition to exploring the notion of an imaginary God and agnosticism and atheism.
I am now not sure exactly what I believe, but I’m not at church and I no longer feel guilty about not giving a cut of my disability benefits to them. I’m not totally sure about whether there’s a higher power of some kind. It seems to be that there are so many different views amongst Christians about almost everything (given the number of denominations and offshoots) and there really isn’t any clear teaching on mental illness coming from the bible apart from references to demons. If Jesus really is/was the Son of God then why didn’t he give people a better insight into mental illness (or even illness generally) so that there is more understanding? Just think of the numbers of people who could have been helped over the years – they could have been told to wash their hands after or before all sorts of things (like childbirth or
toileting) and that could have had a big effect for the good, nevermind
, saying that some people are going to need medicines for certain illnesses. Thinking about it, a lot of suffering could have been alleviated by some teaching on health being available. But no, instead we have lots of people turning themselves inside out waiting for their healing, when so often it doesn’t come.
I posted the above comment, and wanted to add the comment that the trouble with waiting for a healing is that if it doesn’t come then people start asking why and since God is never at fault, it often comes down to it being implied that its the person’s fault or that somehow its for their own good that the illness is persisting. Needless to say I think there’s problems with either one of these conclusions because they can lead to others blaming or lacking compassion for the person already suffering.
I just wanted to say that I know of an excellent resource for people suffering from schizophrenia and their families. It is an 125 page book called “Strength for His People – A Ministry for Families of the Mentally Ill” by Dr Steven Waterhouse. Pastor Waterhouse has a brother who suffers from schizophrenia and he discusses the fact that schizophrenia is primarily a disorder of the brain. He also looks at the spiritual component and attitudes associated with the disease. Hope this may help someone.
I am writing this because I have had some experiences similar to the ones you described in your post. What I discovered through my personal experiences may give you some insight, or perhaps just an idea you had not thought of before. Whatever you do, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Before you entirely give up on Jesus being able to help you, try going to the following website, http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com/. They have a number of free courses that address problems like the ones you described in your post. I am enrolled in a course right now called “The Cross Centered Mind,” which deals with mental health issues from a Christ-centered non-religious perspective. Let me clarify what I mean by those terms: Christ-centered – a relationship with and dependence upon Christ and his sacrifice alone to solve our problems. Non-religious – religious practices, laws, and legalism do not offer salvation from our sins, which is what we all need. Only Jesus offers the way to forgiveness, salvation, and real freedom. If you really were “born again,” you can’t “un-born” yourself, anymore than a baby can crawl back into the womb. If you were not “born again,” maybe you only thought you were in which case I can see why “turning to God for 11 years” might not have gotten you anywhere. As I said, I had very similar experiences to the ones you described. My life is not perfect, and never will be while I live here on Earth, but Jesus is in my life now, and he wasn’t there before.
Robert – I have just had your reply posted to my inbox. I’m not sure where to begin. I had given up on God, on Jesus, and had read atheist sites and from then on I began to think about how my upbringing had effected me and I believe been instrumental in causing my mental illness. So I have been investigating sites and literature on abuse and neglect and have recognised that this happened to me – in particular emotional/psychological abuse and emotional neglect. I have found some of the information I’ve learned about this very helpful and have realised that actually I was traumatised through events in my past and that’s why i had symptoms of mental illness. I have managed to wean myself off more of an antipsychotic but still am on a low dose because it has to be done very gradually, otherwise I get rebound psychosis. I also posted on an ex-christian forum to see if I could connect with other people who had walked away from God. But just very recently I began to question again whether I had been wrong to walk away and to ask whether I could go back?? I really struggle over some scriptures on this issue which seem really final but anyway I’ve been talking to some Christians online about returning to God.
The thing is that tonight I went to a Christian friend’s home and I don’t know whether it was stress, but I noticed that I had become harsher somehow compared with her and her family and somehow things were different. I noticed this time that whereas before I had been at her home and sensed what I had previously put down to the presence of God, this time I didn’t have the same sense around me.
I really am not sure what to think.
I have found myself praying to God, but also am aware that my behaviour is to be frank, lacking in integrity/honesty. At the same time though I’m not feeling so drugged and I’m not having symptoms of psychosis (except maybe a couple of times which passed when I just waited for it to go).
So basically, I’m not sure if I can get over the scriptures that seem very bleak. I’m not sure if all this means that God has left me. Sometimes I still am not sure what I believe totally.
I want to believe that God is here, that He loves me, is helping me and will accept me back and that everything will be ok. However, as a Christian before I kind of left my ability to reason at the door, so now I’ve become aware of many arguments against Christianity I now have lots of questions.
I’m hoping that you might be able to write back sometime. I will look up the site you mentioned.
Thanks for replying to my post.
I was very glad to see your reply posted on the site. I spent the better part of my life running away from God, sort of a combination of the prodigal son and a less respectable version of Jonah, and I can tell you that while I am no expert on the subject, I have never heard of an ex-Christian. Judas lived for over three years right alongside Jesus and he never had a clue who Jesus really was. Judas was never a follower of Jesus, but today I suppose he would be called an ex-Christian.
What I think I hear you saying is that you want to go back. Whatever you came out of may not have been what you needed. I am still looking for a church to go to because of all the denominational nonsense you spoke of in your original post. In the past that was an excuse for me to avoid church, and I still have those issues, but I need to find a church to go to so I can mature as I should.
I think I know of the “really final” sounding scriptures you are referring to – I studied all those, thinking it was probably too late, or I had drawn the last straw with God. I can tell you that God is fully aware of all our frailties and weaknesses, much more so than we are, and he is compassionate toward us, much more than we are toward ourselves. He understands why we do the things we do, even when we do not. He is always waiting with open arms to forgive us when we fall.
Please let me know how things go for you. As I said, I could relate personally to many of the things you said, and it sounds like we also had somewhat similar backgrounds as well.
I know from experience that there is a way, even when we think there is none. Matthew 19:26.
Here are some websites I found helpful when I was feeling low and full of questions.
I am careful to stay out of the business of others unless I have good reason to do so. However, in your December 6, 2012 post you said, “I’m hoping that you might be able to write back sometime.” I did that, but that was the last I heard from you. All I wanted to tell you is that I have kept you in my prayers. That is really all I wanted to say, except perhaps one more thing. I am just an ordinary human being – a sinful man by nature, saved by God’s grace. But I know that you are on God’s mind, because if you were not, He would not have put you on my mind, and I would not have kept you in my prayers.
I’m sorry I didn’t write back before. I did try setting the captives free and started the course called The Cross with them, but then I ran into a man I used to know through church. He told me that he and his wife weren’t believers anymore and went on to talk about all reasons why in his view Christianity didn’t work. By the time I left him, the spark of belief that had possibly reforming was quashed and I couldn’t focus on the course. Since then I have been overwhelmed with a big issue in my life – that of transitioning from a sickness benefit back to work after 20 years of being out of work. I do some voluntary work, but am at a huge disadvantage in the job market and I have no safety net – my mum said that I couldn’t live with her and my stepfather and there’s noone else. The government has just made huge benefit cuts which mean that you have to either be totally unwell or work full-time hours, there’s no inbetween, and a slide into poverty is looming. So I’ve been haunting a suicide forum and made friends with a person who is in a similar situation to me, but he is now imminently about to take his own life.
Thanks for caring to write and pray, but I realise that you aren’t able to intervene and the people I am connected with here near home aren’t willing to. On top of that I have to downsize my flat, because of government cuts to rent for social housing, as I have a spare bedroom now my son is at uni, but there are few one bed flats that are available. I’m running out of time and options. Someone said something to me about God only being available by faith through grace … but that seems to mean stepping out onto nothing and waiting for probability to come into play – and being in my mid-forties, with health issues means the balance of probabilties is against me.
Thank you for letting me know how things are going. Sometimes I pray when I should mind my own business, and sometimes I mind my own business when I should pray. It sounds like your friend and his wife have found something better than what they had. I hope you do too. Best wishes.
Okay all, I have a dilemma. I am searching for answers to how I should minister to a lady who has been coming to our small church for about 6 months. Her ex-husband tells me she has been diagnosed as Bi-Polar. She has adversly affected many in the church because of her outspokenness and confrontational demeanor. She is in her 80’s and may have some dementia also. She was merely being a little disruptive in evening service and mid-week study, but now has found her voice in the Sunday morning service. I have tried to counsel with her, love her, explain to her, but it only works for a short period – a week maybe- and then she is back at it. Won’t wear her hearing aids so she has trouble hearing. She has no family or means of support here except us. I have spoken with our church leadership and they are to the point that we should ask her not to come back. But then where will she go? I am really struggling with this. I do care about her. I don’t think she is demon possessed, but she is definately affecting the peacefulness of the body of believers. Just looking for suggestions.
Tough one. — Is there someone who could ‘attach’ themselves to her when she is at church? Someone to help her “hear” and know when it is okay to talk, explain things to her. Much like you would do with a child who doesn’t understand and has a hard time sitting still and staying quiet. It could be a woman similar in age to her, or a younger woman. Perhaps you have some mature teens/young adults (male or female) who could minister to her in this way. — I don’t have a clue if my ideas are feasible. Call it “brain-storming” 🙂
Yes, it sounds like a difficult situation there. I knew two women who were that way. One of them would say all negative things possible to annoy us. Both women had incomes from the government’s help and had their own places. I am a 58 year old female who has been diagnosed as having bipolar disorders. I became Christian when I was 20 when I was in good health and started to suffer severe mental illness when I was 23. It was very difficult and is still difficult, I would say unbearable to experience this illness especially when it happened while we are walking with God or He is supposed to be watching over us but my mother has severe mental illness. I just didn’t expect it to happen to me. I feel I have no control over my symptoms. When my life circumstances are less stressful, I feel less irritated. I currently take Lamictal and Xanax and have a very nice therapist who came from Christian background but is now not believing the way Christians believe. God sent her to me, that is what I know for sure. I do understand the pains of mental illness, wish I never knew and could have a less painful experience as a believer . I recently read in one of the articles on “Does God protect Christians from all harm?” What helps me is what one of the authors’ reply: God may not protect us “from” certain harm but He protects us “through” it. It is a very difficult and painful journey but He supplies for our needs if we hold on tight to Him and believe His promises in the Bible. I haven’t attended any church for a long time. I don’t fit in well in churches, not their fault. They have their reasons why they don’t know how to deal with people with severe mental illness, and I have my reasons for not feeling comfortable sitting with them in their churches. It has been working out fine with me and with them. But for those who suffer this illness and not sure whether it is a good idea to seek God for His comfort and help, my advice is yes but people in churches may not know the right things to say. I believe God can reach you through individual believer who understands you if you reach out to Him.
Here’s another ‘sob’ story. I (and those with serious mental illnesses SMI) need not just the love of God but His love in Christ through others; true friends. I am empathic to the person above who wanted to know how to deal with a disruptive SMI person during a corporate christian gathering & would suggest not moving them to the back of the bus. Be as Jesus would and role model Christ in any setting (yes a corporate meeting – move the agenda aside) for the agenda of love, their disruption allows you to show Jesus. As for me, my 1st panic attack occurred at age 6 (1966); diagnosed with acute OCD, major depressive disorder and panic attack/anxiety disorders finally in 1983. 53 now, lost, no friends, not sure why God put me on earth if just to suffer; St Augustine would tell me to glorify God … I don’t see how when I can barely take care of myself & make it through a day. What do I have to offer others??? Start the day with a handful of pills & end with a handful. My Dr. finally agreed with me after 3 yrs. (30 aggregate with treatment) my disorders are refractory. Ready to give up; no friends, wife thinks I don’t try hard enough (mind over matter, exercise, etc…), she’s help further the isolation. Others say I’m not healed becasue of ‘willful disobedience’, ‘not enough faith’, etc… Know I have plenty to be thankful for and am called to give thanks in all things (I Thess.). Traveled the world working in high tech. 20 yrs. & know there’s much to be grateful for but (saw others around the world trying to do to make it through 1 day). No hopes, desires or and dreams in life. If anything, my 2 children would not suffer as I (1 already on meds. since 14 & about to graduate high school). All this to say please be a true friend to someome suffering from a SMI if they come across your path. Don’t try & “fix them” – do as Jesus commanded. Love them so the world will know you’re His disciple (John 13). Me, I’d love for the daily mental & physical suffering to just end. I was molested at 10 by a friend who had been “taught” stuff by 13 yr. old boys who schooled a group of 8 – 10 yr old boys & girls in the neighborhood in sex. Went and asked my mom casually after reading Romans if God could forgive homosexual’s (lived in southern bible belt small city in 1970). Answer, “No” and have lived with the eventuality of death and hell since 1970 even though I now know her words weren’t true. Why? Ask a person with an acute anxiety/panic attack disorder; I ask God to heal & somehow override the feelings but to no avail. If someone can suggest a good support group for SMI Christian’s and how to contact, I would be most thankful.
I hope you didn’t see my response as encouragement to send to the woman to the back of the bus. When I say have someone come alongside the woman, I mean in the sense of drawing her in as a family member. Tucking your arm together with hers and loving her. Her disruptions possibly have different motivators, need to interact with others yet lacking social skills, such as knowledge of the best way or time. I think she may be disrupting b/c she is trying to get attention. Attention is something she NEEDS, yet she doesn’t know how to get it.
Specifically to you anon, I am so sorry for the struggle that life has been for you. I’m not surprised you feel discouraged. You must be exhausted! Chronic pain (physical or emotional) is exhausting! Additionally, it sounds like you have quite a few “Job’s counselors” in your life. I’m sure that adds to the weight of exhaustion and discouragement. I think your idea is good to find a group of Christians who can empathize with and support you in your struggle, rather than drag you down. I wish I could give you an answer on who, where or how.
About something different that you said, here’s a question for you to think about. *What does it mean to glorify God in all you do?* In First Corinthians 10:31 I read, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I got to thinking about the words “whatever” and “all.” Some of my “all” are getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, and clipping my toenails. How do I brush my teeth to the glory of God?
*How do I glorify God in ALL I do?*
The kind of advice or Bible teaching similar to the one below helped me a lot 35 years ago (I am now 58) in coping with my psychosomatic symptoms of fatiuge and dizziness as the result of my severe mental illness and my struggle of loss of meanings for my existence.
Spiritually Exhausted: Eat and Sleep
September 3, 2012
Rest like you mean it
1 Kings 19:3-9. Elijah asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
This is spiritual exhaustion. We’ve all been there. In this story we find comfort because we can relate to Elijah. (Obviously, if you truly want to take your life you must seek professional help.)
Well how did Elijah come out of this funk? What can we learn from him and his lack of spiritual energy? Did he read a book? Go to a Bible study? Attend a missions conference?
D. None of the above
Check out the next few verses.
“And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat…And he arose and ate and drank…”
I truly believe that many times we try to over spiritualize the answers to our spiritual exhaustion. I would even go so far to say that the answer to your problem probably isn’t to read your Bible and pray even more (notice how God doesn’t really speak to Elijah he just let’s him pass out). It could very well be that your spiritual exhaustion is a result of your physical exhaustion.
My first piece of advice to you in this series is this:
Before you do anything else, drop what you’re doing, go eat your absolute favorite food to the glory of God, then go home and sleep for as long as you can.
If you can’t sleep, don’t get up and do yard work, check your email or go exercise. Just turn on Netflix and let yourself be entertained until you do fall asleep (or just take some ZzzQuill).
Simply eat, sleep and repeat. I believe it’s the first step to regaining strength.
BTW, take this blessed break EVEN if you’re in the middle of a really busy season (just like Elijah was in his life).
In this situation, this is not laziness. God is sending his angel to Elijah as and act of mercy. Food and rest are gifts of God’s grace. It is his will that we enjoy them.
They can give us a surprising sense of newness and refreshment. They help us re-realize the goodness of our Father God.
The Bible says that Elijah “went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.” God takes Elijah from emptiness to endurance! He is revitalized, renewed and refocused and he didn’t even attend an all night prayer rally. All he needed was a full stomach and an unplugged alarm clock.
What do you think about this first step to spiritual refreshment? Has there been a time in your life where food and rest was all you needed to get out of a tough week or season?
Wonderful! So true, so true.
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http://youtu.be/m_twbHLanwQ please check out my testimony on how Christ has helped me with my mental disorder.
Please look at my testimony on how Jesus Christ has helped me with my mental Illness.http://youtu.be/TnuXNQ0zZGQ
My blog on how Jesus Christ has helped me with my mental Illness.http://mindset1000.blogspot.com/
Reblogged this on Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD and commented:
I interesting post and comments, on a topic I feel quite strongly about. Stigma and ignorance about mental health are throughout society, including Christianity and something I want to learn far more about, in my persuit of the Truth.
Let’s take the superstition and over-spiritualization out of mental illness. In order, here are the leading causes of mental illness…
Brain defects or injury
Poor nutrition and toxins
Trauma, loss, neglect
Poor relational skills
Hanging out with a strong support group is healthy but it doesn’t cure medical conditions. Belief systems that increase friendship, gratitude, joy and compassion is healthy but they do not cure medical conditions. A large portion of the most mentally ill states are also some of the most religious. Here’s evidence…
% of Mentally Ill: % Religious:
Maryland 16.7% 36.7%
Pennsylvania 17.7% 39.5%
North Dakota 18.0% 41.6%
Florida 18.1% 37.6%
Illinois 18.1% 38.0%
South Dakota 18.1% 45.6%
New Jersey 18.3% 34.7%
Virginia 18.5% 41.1%
Alaska 18.8% 31.3%
South Carolina 18.9% 51.9%
Mississippi 19.5% 58.4%
Louisiana 19.7% 53.3%
Alabama 20.3% 55.7%
Maine 20.9% 24.4%
Arkansas 21.3% 52.3%
Tennessee 21.5% 50.3%
Nevada 21.6% 31.4%
Oklahoma 21.6% 47.6%
Wyoming 21.8% 32.8%
Indiana 22.0% 42.7%
West Virginia 22.0% 41.9%
Idaho 22.5% 46.1%
Utah 24.1% 56.0%
Rhode Island 24.2% 29.9%
People with mental illness are more likely to see God as an angry God and have a hard time understanding his love…it is crucial that the church wake up and deal with this issue..instead of calling it a lack of faith….rather to understand that a person with anxiety disorder and bi-polar struggle with guilt…it is wired in them not a choice..so when they repent they struggle with forgiving themselves and seeing themselves as forgiven…it goes to the saying..even if you dont feel….feel ……forgiven you have to know that God is not a liar…if you truly repent…you are forgiven…
“People with mental illness are more likely to see God as an angry God and have a hard time understanding his love…”
This is an interesting thought, and one I’ve not heard before. Assuming this is true, I wonder why it would be this way. Is it truly hard-wired within them, more than in any other person, to struggle with guilt or have difficulty seeing God as loving? Perhaps consumed with guilt (false or not), and seeing God as an angry God somehow tips the scale towards mental illness.
No, mental illness is a medical condition, brought on by either genetic factors, physical or sexual abuse, especially in childhood which alters brain chemistry through the release of toxic stress hormones as well as lack of proper nurturing as a small child. I suffer from all of these, and the last one is especially crucial when it comes to seeing God in a negative light. I wasn’t exposed to any love and nurturing from either my mother or my father, so how am i supposed to see God any other way? Actually i do now. I no longer doubt God’s love for me and am not consumed with anger towards him any more, But i still struggle with the whole concept of love, whether with God or people. I do agree with you however in the sense that being consumed with guilt and anger with God will keep you in bondage and one must choose at some point to begin to see things differently. I did that through much prayer and therapy. It is possible to change, but it takes a lot of hard work and being surrounded by loving
and patient people.
Hardwired may not be the right word, but if you mean that it’s built-in to the disorder, then I’d say that’s definitely possible. Anxiety makes you doubt, making it hard to have faith. Depression makes you feel hopeless, making it hard to have hope. Schizophrenia can lead you to having problems knowing what’s real, making it hard to deal with someone you can’t see or hear. Obstinant Defiant Disorder can make it really hard to submit yourself to God.
Sure, that’s not every psychological disorder, but it’s some pretty big ones. And I don’t know which ones I might have left out. But clearly some disorders can by their very nature make it harder to have faith in God.
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I know I am years late to this conversation, but I have some things to contribute.
I have serious mental illness. I have been in treatment for 30 yrs, meds, therapy, hospitalizations. I lost my marriage due to it. It affects every aspect of my life every day.
I have been in churches where people with mental illness have been told that if they would only do “fill in the blank” that they would be healed, and if/when “fill in the blank” doesn’t work….then they are told they are stubborn and refuse help so nothing more can be done for them.
Fair enough, Church is not a psych therapy center, and indeed in many cases there is little that people can do other than pray AND support the family.
I know no one could fix me, and that if I was behaving inappropriately it was not proper to allow me to be disruptive to the proper functioning of the church. But I was saddened by the lack of support my family got. My family would have benefitted from the same support other families do when a member is seriously ill.
Most of the time I was functional and could meet the day to day living tasks, but when I was having an episode and was hospitalized, the church did not check in on my spouse, no one took the kids for an outing or brought over a meal. My family was just as hurting, stressed and in need as any family dealing with serious illness and the temporary loss of a parent, but it was as if my mental illness was my fault, and therefor it was ok to leave my family to deal with it alone.
Sometimes I am and was beyond non professional help, but my family could have used the love and support a church family can provide.
People give various excuses why they don’t reach out to the one with mental illness. No doubt excuses are even flimsier why they don’t support the others in the family.
Great suggestion here. Perhaps people don’t make the connection that this is no different than anytime a family member has someone ill in the family.
God loves everyone of us, Mentally ill or not. And what we as people should really do to help the Mentally ill, is first of all EDUCATE YOURSELF about Mentall Illness and keep an open mind, and if we treat them as we would want to be treated, I don’t think we should have to worry about people with Mental Illness feeeling left out or lonely because of the stigma that goes along with Mental Illness. KNOWLEDGE is POWER. And educating yourself about Mental illness is the first thing we should all do. Stigma is a big part of it. God is the only one who can judge anyone. Let’s help each other as God would want us to.
Yes, but knowledge by itself does not give empowerment. We as ‘The Church’ must develop a theology of mental health which helps all of us to understand how God and His Word speaks into our brokenness. Let’s give each other space to tell our stories. That in itself is part of the healing process, comforting with the comfort provided by our Lord.
Well said. Thank you. It’s so hard for a person of faith who also has a mental/ emotional illness to work out just how to navigate life. With no help from the Church, and often condemnation, years of confusion make it all worse. I believe that The Body of Christ needs to learn how to really THINK.
Please respond at your convenience.
Lost Lady, I just read your comment today. As a believer who has studied science and worked with people, I’ve seen the drift away from thinking to feeling in the church as well as the surrounding culture. It is difficult to find resources, whether people, or even books which help us to think through our struggles realistically and theologically. Our Bible colleges and Seminaries do not provide courses which help Christians to reflect upon and process our traumatic experiences. Nancy Pearcey is one writer who has helped me, as I read “Total Truth”. She also wrote, “Love Thy Body”, which is also highly recommended, though I’ve not yet read it myself.