25 Years Of Living With Mental Illness

Some quotes on mental health and the church

The very church that preaches Christ’s unconditional love and compassion, in some instances, hurts its most needy members. 

Marja Bergen

The church ought to be a safe place for caring for those with all forms of illnesses: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual

Pastor Curtis Lowe,

“It’s really rooted in superstition and a misunderstanding of what mental illness is,”

Amy Simpson

Despite all the advances in treatment, despite all the ways in which our culture has become more enlightened and compassionate, somehow mental illness remains in a category of its own, regarded as some sort of peculiar affliction that is best dealt with by toughing it out, straightening up, putting one’s will into play and hiding any evidence of possible symptoms.

Kathy Hurt

THE LACK OF ATTENTION TO THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE BOTH BY THE CHURCH AND SECULAR SOCIETY HAS LEFT THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS STIGMATIZED.

Gladys Mwiti

Things Never to Say to Someone Suffering from Mental Illness

  • Oh snap out of it already
  • Cheer up
  • Smile, you’ll feel better
  • Get over it

Or my personal “fave”

  • Your faith is weak, just pray it away

If only it were that simple.

I have suffered from bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety since I was 17.

21 years. It’s been 21 years. Actually, I started having panic attacks when I was 13 so yeah, around 25 years.

So for a quarter of a century I have been dealing with mental illness. I never looked at it like that before.

25 years.

Yes, I’m A Christian and Bipolar

Yes, it is possible to be a Christian, to have the love of the Lord in you and still struggle with a mental illness. The two CAN coexist! Because guess what? Mental illness? Yeah, it doesn’t discriminate. It can strike anyone at any given time. It’s a chemical imbalance.

Its Not a Lack of Faith Issue

I have suffered from depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder for many years.  I was told by someone once that my faith was not strong enough and that’s why I was suffering. I’ll never forget that.

But it’s not a faith issue. What if what I had was physical? Diabetes, or cancer? We don’t question those illnesses so why is mental illness any different? According to Ed Stetzer,

We can talk about diabetes and Aunt Mable’s lumbago in church—those are seen as medical conditions, but mental illness–that’s somehow seen as a lack of faith.

Mental illness is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It shouldn’t be treated any differently from a physical illness.

I will never understand why every organ in your body gets support and sympathy when it is ill, except for your brain.

Unknown

I have actually been told that mental illness is “all in your head.” Ummm….well yes…..it is! Where else would it be? My kidney?

Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden; it is easier to say, “my tooth is aching” than to say “my heart is broken.”

C.S. Lewis

25 years, y’all. 25 years!

Do I Really Have What It Takes?

I struggled with whether or not I should even post this. It’s pretty depressing. But here goes…..

I’m doubting my ability to write this book. I have no confidence in my writing. I know nothing about writing a book. Nothing at all. All I have are different pages open in Word with a bunch of mumbo jumbo. Nothing that is worth anything.

I’ve been reading books on writing a book and while there are great tips, I just can’t make it materialize into anything. It’s so frustrating. I have compiled a bunch of research on my topic.

I get so distracted….I can’t focus…arrrghh. I’m so frustrated with myself. I’ve tried the whole setting a timer and writing without stopping.

I’ve got nothing.

I don’t know what else to do anymore. I thought I was a writer.

And yes, I’m having a pity party. I know I am. I just…ughhh…I don’t like this feeling.

I thought I had given these negative thoughts to the Lord but I must be holding onto a small thread somewhere without realizing it.

I’m going about all this the wrong way.

I need prayers, y’all. I need to get out of this funk. I need to stop wallowing in self pity.

Research and Anxiety and Mental Health, Oh My!

I’m loaded down with tons and tons of notes and print outs and books related to my project. And yet I don’t feel like I am anywhere near ready to start the actual writing.

Sure, I’ve got some things written out and some things typed up but it’s frustrating because I can’t seem to tie it together.

As I told you, I’m having to delve into my past which I’m not really sure I want to but it has to be done. I know this.

Prayers would be appreciated as I continue to venture into the unknown world that is writing a book. (Yes, I’m saying book now, LOL)

(I remember now how much I hated researching in school, LOL)

Leave the Scar

I have not lived a life that boasts of anything. I don’t take pride in what I bring. But I’ll build an altar with the rubble You’ve found me in. And every stone will sing of what You can redeem…

Point of Grace

That quote above are lyrics from a song called, “Heal the Wound” by Point of Grace. I absolutely LOVE this song and I encourage you to take a listen to it.

I am not the person I once was. I found Christ when I was 19. It was 17 years ago back in March. But before I found Christ I was a miserable wreck of a person. I was depressed, angry all the time, a jerk to my family. Oh I grew up in church….sang all the songs, memorized the verses. My head was full of the knowledge of God but my heart was bitter. I was only in church because my mom made me go, if I’m being honest.

I hated my life. I wanted nothing more than to just stop living. If I stopped living the mental pain would, of course, stop. I was a cutter back then. But thank GOD I didn’t die back then because I’d definitely be in hell, where the pain would go on for eternity.

God saved me from myself. He grabbed a hold of my bitter, angry heart and turned it around.

I’m still bipolar. That will never go away. I’m on medication for life.

Yes, God could heal me from being bipolar. I do believe that. But I also believe He allows it to remain to remind me of where I was and how much I don’t want to become that person again.

It is my “thorn in the flesh.”

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12: 8-10

The Church and Mental Illness

I was saddened to hear about the death of Jarrid Wilson..if you don’t know who he was, he was the associate pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in California. Sadly, he took his own life on Monday. He was 30.

Wilson and his wife founded “Anthem of Hope”, a program meant to help people who suffered from depression and mental illness.

I sit here in complete disbelief. But I realize that mental illness does NOT discriminate. It can strike anyone at any given time. Christian or not. Pastor or parishioner.

It’s time that the church step up and help deal with this mental illness crisis. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 43.8 million people experience mental illness in a given year. That’s 1 in 5 adults.

I believe that the reason the church doesn’t reach out is because they just don’t know how to handle it. But it’s time to change that. It’s time to start having meaningful discussions about the seriousness of mental illness.

There is a stigma surrounding mental health. It’s time to erase that stigma. Mental illness is REAL folks. Let’s stop pretending it doesn’t exist.

Its Not a Lack of Faith Issue

I have suffered from depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder for many years.  I was told by someone once that my faith was not strong enough and that’s why I was suffering. I’ll never forget that.

But it’s not a faith issue. What if what I had was physical? Diabetes, or cancer? We don’t question those illnesses so why is mental illness any different? According to Ed Stetzer,

We can talk about diabetes and Aunt Mable’s lumbago in church—those are seen as medical conditions, but mental illness–that’s somehow seen as a lack of faith.

Mental illness is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It shouldn’t be treated any differently from a physical illness.

My Thorn in the Flesh

Can God heal mental illness? Absolutely! He can do anything! For me, personally, I find my mental illness to be my “thorn in the flesh.” I have actually grown closer to the Lord these past several years. And I believe the verse that says, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Cor 12:9)


Warning Signs

  • extreme mood swings
  • talking about being burden to others
  • increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • talking about being hopeless
  • talking about having no reason to live
  • talking about being trapped and in unbearable pain

What Can You Do?

  • Ask–Talk to them.
  • Be There
  • Listen without judgement
  • Help them connect–create a network of resources and individuals for support
  • Follow up–continue to have contact with them

 

If you or someone you know is severely depressed and suicidal please contact

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

Yes, I’m a Christian and I’m Bipolar…

I touched on this topic a little over a year ago but decided to add to it in case a new follower needs to read it.

Yes, it is possible to be a Christian, to have the love of the Lord in you and still struggle with a mental illness. The two CAN coexist! Because guess what? Mental illness? It doesn’t discriminate. It can strike anyone at any given time. It’s a chemical imbalance.

It’s taken some time to get this blog post out because as soon as I sit down at my computer to start writing, I start losing focus. I become agitated because I can’t get my thoughts out the way I want them to.  Oh, I have many many thoughts racing through my head but they won’t come out on screen. It’s a bunch of jumbled thoughts, not making sense.

So what do I do in times like these? I wish I could say I always turn to the Lord to help me (and I do most of the time) but every once in a while I sit and have a pity party. “Why me? Why do I have to be like this? Why can’t I just be normal?” I cry and cry.

I realize having a pity party is definitely not the best way to handle it but try telling me that when I’m having an episode. It doesn’t work. I eventually find my way out of the pity party and then turn to the Lord. (I know, I know…..I should have turned to God first….and believe me…I try! But sometimes Satan is stronger than me and pulls me down.)

So why can’t I just turn to the Lord the second I feel myself slipping? I wish I had an answer for you. I don’t know. I honestly have no idea.

I’m getting better at turning to the Lord in these times. I haven’t had a bad episode in quite some time. The Lord is slowly working in me and I’m becoming stronger.

The other day I was doing my devotions and came across Psalm 27. The first verse is one of my favorites:

1. The Lord is my light and my salvation–so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?

The Lord is ALWAYS with me even when I’m not with Him! He’s there for me when I’m suffering. He’s there when life is good! He’s my light! He’s my salvation!

The last verse has become a favorite of mine too.

14. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

If you’re suffering…if you feel lost and confused…turn to Jesus. He will never fail you.

 

Repost: Thorn in my flesh

**This is an old post from 2017 but I feel the need to share it again.**

My Thorn In the Flesh

…..Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinithians 12:7-10

Some days are just a huge struggle. Seriously, the struggle is real just trying to get out of bed. My mind races with incomplete thoughts, I’m constantly restless and I just have no energy to function. Welcome to a day in the life of someone with bipolar disorder and ADHD and other health problems.

Is this the result of some unconfessed sin in my life? No, I don’t believe so. Could God heal me completely? Absolutely? But do I think He will? No, I don’t think so. This is my “thorn in the flesh.” God is using my mental illness and other physical illnesses to draw me closer to Him. He’s trying to tell me that His grace is sufficient. And it is!

Unfortunately, there are people out there who believe mental illnesses are the result of a lack of faith or some unconfessed sin. I do not hold this stance.

Why is there such a stigma regarding mental illness in the church? Why are people so afraid of it? Tell me, is having a mental illness any different from suffering from a physical illness?

When a person is suffering from diabetes, people have no problem with that person seeing a doctor and being treated for that particular problem. But when a person is diagnosed with a mental illness, there must be unconfessed sin. Either that or the person’s faith is not strong enough.

I had someone tell me that once. When they heard that I was bipolar they actually looked me in the eye and said that my faith wasn’t strong enough. Basically, I needed to “pray it away.”

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES DO NOT DISCRIMINATE! It CAN and DOES happen to people every single day. People who are strong in their faith. People who are weak in their faith. People who don’t HAVE faith. It does not matter!

I know for a fact that Jesus loves me unconditionally. Meaning, he loves me despite my flaws, despite my health issues. He loves me.

Do I believe that I could wake up tomorrow completely healed from all my health ailments? Absolutely! But I also believe God uses these things to draw people closer to Him. And that is what He is doing with me.

My health problems are my “thorn in the flesh.” I have come to terms with that. God is using my health issues for good. I may not know what that is right now but I have accepted the fact that I’m going to have these health issues the rest of my life. And I grow closer to God every single day. 🙂

 

Fibro Fog

If you or a loved one suffers from fibromyalgia then you are aware of one of the more debilitating symptoms: the dreaded fibro fog. According to MedicineNet.com, fibro fog is:

 A type of cognitive dysfunction reported by many people with fibromyalgia. Also sometimes referred to as brain fog, its symptoms include difficulty with concentration, memory deficits, and confusion.

It can be very frustrating and I know for me it leads to depression.  For me, I will have moments where I will be talking and will completely forget what I was trying to say. I will stop mid sentence therefore making me look and feel pretty dumb.  My memory is terrible and I have the absolute worst time concentrating.  (Since I also have ADHD, the concentration problem can be worse at times)

I often have trouble recalling certain words when talking or even writing. Simple words for every day things. Words I never used to have trouble remembering.

(Funnily enough, I’m having trouble right now trying to get this blog post written.)

The combination of my struggles with the fibro fog and the insecurities it brings really puts a damper on things. I want to be positive, want to have confidence but the struggle is so very real.

I googled some verses on insecurity and came across several that have been very comforting:

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart     I Samuel 16:7

I struggle with my looks quite a bit and reading this verse really helps me to put things into perspective.

Some more verses I came across

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.    Philippians 4:6-9

These verses give me comfort because I know that by placing my trust in Him I can overcome any struggle I run into. I need not worry because He is right there beside me as I go through my insecurities and doubts.

Fibro fog may not be curable but with God’s help I can get through the frustrations it brings. And when I struggle with finding the right word, God is still right there beside me helping me to get through the difficulties.

Denied

I checked the Social Security website yesterday to check on the status of my disability case and it said a medical decision had been made. However, it didn’t tell me whether it was approved or denied. I guess that’s what will be in the letter they send me. I decided to call my lawyer today and he looked into it and I found out that I was denied.

My lawyer said once they get the paperwork in to see WHY I was denied they will work on possibly starting the appeal.

I am so beyond frustrated. The tears came immediately and I just sat down, head in my hands, confused and angry.

I know you all have been praying for me so I just wanted to update y’all.

*sigh*

 

Strong Enough

I hate being bipolar. I hate having ADHD. I struggle constantly with rambling thoughts, racing through my mind. I’m restless, constantly. I can’t focus on a given task for longer than a few minutes. I get distracted and will start several tasks, not finishing them because I get bored and move on to something else. Having fibromyalgia doesn’t help either. I live in a constant state of restlessness, chronic fatigue and pain, and irritability.

Honestly? I’m exhausted. It’s exhausting living like this.

But I know without a doubt that my God is with me through all of this. He is with me in the pain, in the irritability. He is with me through all my rambling thoughts. He is with me as I struggle to pray because I can’t focus long enough. He knows the words I am trying to say.

It’s been almost 3 weeks since my disability hearing. I haven’t heard anything yet. I know it can take a while so I just have to learn to be patient, which let’s face it, is NOT a strong suit of mine. But God is with me.

God is with me even now as I struggle to write this, as I force myself, with great difficulty, to get this blog post finished. The words just won’t come.

God is with me in the good days and the bad ones.

God is with me wherever I go.

Some verses that comfort me when I’m feeling this way:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

 

I took a break from writing this and turned on some music and the song “Strong Enough” by Matthew West came on. I find it fitting. 🙂

Strong Enough

Matthew West

You must
You must think I’m strong
To give me what I’m going through
Well, forgive me
Forgive me if I’m wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own
I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
For the both of us
Yeah
Well, maybe
Maybe that’s the point
To reach the point of giving up
‘Cause when I’m finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that’s when I start looking up
And reaching out
I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
‘Cause I’m broken
Down to nothing
But I’m still holding on to the one thing
You are God and
You are strong when
I am weak
I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don’t have to be
I don’t have to be strong enough
Strong enough
I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don’t have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
Oh, yeah
I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
Strong enough