I have always had an “all or nothing” mindset.
A couple of my friends claim that I simplify things so much that I think like a man… no offense (I think). I just don’t believe in over-complicating things unless I’m not in my right mind (like if I’m having an anxiety attack or I’m depressed). No gray areas or colors of the rainbow…. just black or white. That gets me in a lot of trouble with most people.
I think I can attribute this to a couple of things. For one, I was raised that way; thinking outside of the box was an absolute no-no for reasons I won’t go into for right now. Additionally, I grew up a Christian and I still am but now with a deeper understanding of things. I say that because Christianity is a one way kind of religion and the other way (or any other way) is not an option, well it is since we have free will but… I’m hoping you know what I mean by that. Anyway, I’ve grown to like that because it gives me (and hopefully others who subscribe to it) a sense of purpose & direction, and for someone who is directionally challenged at times its nice to have some guidance and a reminder of which way I need to be going when I go off track. Also, I believe it is my belief in God and the hope that He has great things for me that keeps me alive today.
I said THAT to open up a conversation about how hard it seems to be (or how hard it actually is, depending on who you are) to be a Christian (or part of any religion, possibly) with one or more mental illnesses.
I will use myself as an example as I often like to do apparently, and please bare with me because I’ve actually never had the courage to talk about this until now. I’ve battled depression and various addictions since the age of 13 (not formally diagnosed until 2009) and I had NEVER felt comfortable directly expressing those things in the church until this past Tuesday. I’m 27 now. Honestly, I just got to the point where I was tired of hiding who I am and what I deal with and there is freedom and breakthrough in telling the truth. I find that to be true for me personally and it is a truth in Christianity that a lot Christians seem to have forgotten about (Did I just say that?). Before Tuesday, any time I attempted to share the fact that I struggled with mental illness and addiction it was met with condemnation (I.E. the belief I wasn’t praying enough or living right, giving God my all) and sometimes even silence. Which, for the record, are two of the WRONGEST ways to respond to someone with a mental illness… in case you didn’t know.
I’ve never understood why some churches (I won’t say all because I can’t say that) just do not address mental health and addiction like it’s not something that the majority of the nation is struggling with, or like it’s something that even people who believe in God struggle with as if they are above all of that. I’d love to combat all of these things with biblical figures who struggled with depression, suicide, and brokenness but in consideration of how long this blog would get if someone wants to know they can ask.
Anyway, if churches are supposed to be a hospital for the broken (thanks Jefferson Bethke) then why wouldn’t the mentally broken be able to go there for healing? Why aren’t people allowed to be real and talk about how they actually feel?
When people are struggling with the spirits of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, suicidal thoughts, and the like I believe the church is one the first places people should be able to go. I know that a lot people don’t believe this and that is TOTALLY fine because I respect everyone’s beliefs in every way. We all have the free will to believe what we want to. But what do you guys think about mental illness in relation to religion? Let’s talk about it, get to the bottom of it, and remove some stigma in the process.
7 thoughts on “All Or Nothing #mentalhealth #MHblogs”
Hi there – Interesting topic. Being a therapist and having worked with people with schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety, you name it… I just have to say that I don’t understand why some people will say that a mental illness is a sign of the devil or something to that effect. Makes no sense to me at all. Of course, not everyone says that, but when it happens, I just shut it out.
Excellent point which I forgot to mention. As a Christian, I actually don’t believe that mental illness is a sign of the devil. That would mean that mental illness is evil, demonic, can’t be helped, etc. That would also mean that people who have mental illnesses can’t believe in God. Opinions like that add to the stigmatization of mental illness. Maybe it’s a natural answer for people who don’t understand where it comes from. I don’t say that to justify those opinions, just throwing out a possible cause of that. To me there is a clear distinction between something demonic and a mental illness. Mental illness isn’t something that should be punished, condemned, or cast out. Something from the devil should be.
I know that in my church mental illness is seen as illness. So you can actually receive a sacramental blessing for healing or be prayed over for the grace and strength to endure your struggle.
I also know that the progress of reason psychology in regard to depression has opened up a wider and broader scale of mercy and forgiveness for things that were in the old days considered sinful.
Always as with anything unless the individual is open to empathy and prayerful understanding there will be opinions tainted by ones own perceptions. Again..Thanks for sharing, youre always spot on.
“I know that in my church mental illness is seen as illness. So you can actually receive a sacramental blessing for healing or be prayed over for the grace and strength to endure your struggle.”
That’s absolutely how it should be in every church. That’s awesome! Thank you for sharing and for your support 🙂
Here is a link to a book review I think you may find interesting. Admittedly, I know the person who wrote it and part of our story is woven through the book. Even still, I think it is just a good book on the subject of mental illness and the church’s mission in regards to it. There is a link in the review if you want to find the book on Amazon.
You are not the only one who sees and is perplexed by this phenomenon. It’s a good subject to address!
Interesting review; I think there are many churches who should respond to the call of mental illness being addressed in the congregation.
What stuck out to me was, “Worse yet, churches often stigmatize mental illness. They make it a spiritual rather than a medical issue.They keep quiet about it. This is particularly true in terms of addressing it from the pulpit.” Which is amazing considering how a lot of churches might stress that we are living in spiritual warfare, so if that is true then why the heck aren’t pastors/deacons/church leaders who (Lord willing) have the authority to combat what they deem to be bad spirits more actively in that regard?
In this article: http://www.burbankleader.com/the818now/tn-blr-me-in-theory-does-belief-in-the-divine-protect-against-depression-20130711,0,1936630.story
a lot of religious leaders seem to be saying that all you have to do is attend church regularly and you’re good to go. It’s amazing how it’s trivialized.
it just doesn’t make sense to me… Anyway, excellent review and thank you so much for sharing! 🙂
Interesting article. I think I see it as a both/and issue, not an either/or. Faith and involvement in a spiritual community are definitely beneficial (inasmuch as we can quantify such things), but mental/brain health issues/diseases can and do exist at the same time.
One thing I appreciated about the book Troubled Minds is the idea of incorporating the two, acknowledging that care for mental issues can and should be accompanied by care for one’s spiritual issues. (Only one of the interviewees in the article alluded to that, which is a shame, in my opinion.)
It’s an illness (some call it mental illness, some call it brain illness), but it’s not like cancer or even a bad case of the flu or a broken leg, where everyone lines up to take dinner or mow the lawn or drive the kids around so the sick person doesn’t need too. That’s too bad. Hopefully in time that can begin to change. I guess that’s where we come in … 😉
Have a good evening.