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.