Greetings, fellow sojourners!
I can’t tell you how psyched I am to be blogging at PsychCentral. 🙂 It’s great to find a place to address issues of mental illness and faith among such a diverse crowd. Let me share a little bit about why I’m writing this blog.
I have a mental illness.
I believe I have suffered from bipolar disorder most of my life, though I didn’t receive an official diagnosis until 2003, when I was 24 years old. By that point, my young marriage was failing, I couldn’t hold a job, I was drinking too much, and I finally realized I wasn’t going to “grow” out of my problems. I had everything to lose, so I sought help. It took several years and several combinations of meds, but I am now a relatively stable person. I say “relatively” because I don’t have it all together, but I’m grateful that I’m not completely falling apart, either.
Too many people of faith are afraid to admit they have a problem or seek help because they are either afraid of being judged by other believers, or because they think it means they are not “spiritual enough.”
It took a lot of self-talk to make myself walk through the door of that psychologist’s office for the first time. I had spent years trying to be a better Christian, believing that’s what it all boiled down to – acting holy enough. But no matter how much I read my Bible, went to church, or talked to Jesus, I was still miserable. Then, the first time I told another Christian that I had bipolar disorder, she got visibly angry, and was not-so-subtle when she implied that the real problem was that I didn’t work hard enough at my faith. I’ve had similar stories repeated back to me time and time again, and I can’t tell you how many people have pulled me aside to quietly “confess” that they are depressed or bipolar, but keep it quiet because they don’t want to spark controversy in their church.
Christians are supposed to care for the wounded.
If people are afraid to seek help from God’s people…too afraid to even tell them they’re sick…something is very wrong with the church. Most of the time, however, most churches aren’t pushing mentally ill people away for the sake of being cruel, they’re just ignorant and/or misinformed about what mental illness is, and the kind of people people really need. That won’t change unless people are willing to be open and honest about the wars they’re fighting.
Ultimately…the brain is just an organ like every other organ in the body.
I’m diabetic, too, but nobody has ever told me the reason my pancreas is malfunctioning is because I don’t seek God enough. Organs get sick. It’s a fallen world. I consider this common sense, and general biblical knowledge. Apparently, a lot of people disagree.
There is so much to talk about, and I can’t wait to get started.
FYI, I am a non-denominational Christian. I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you want to know more, drop me a private note, but this is not going to be a platform to convert the masses, I promise.
Nice to meet ya.