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)

Lay Your Burdens Down

I’m hurting again. I’m exhausted…again. My body is in so much pain that I just want to give up. But I know I can’t. This is a daily battle. It’s a battle that rages constantly, pulling me down with it sometimes. I don’t always win. Today feels like one of those days.

Fibromyalgia. Why must it exist? Bipolar disorder…why must I suffer? I just want to be normal. What is normal though? Does it even exist?

I am not writing this in order to get you to feel sorry for me. Rather I’m writing to get my thoughts out, to express how I’m feeling. But due to brain fog I can’t find the right words to truly express how I’m feeling. I have to save this as a draft, walk away for a little while, then come back. Most of the time that works but today I’m struggling. My brain just doesn’t want to work today.

As I was writing this, Jamie Kimmett’s song “Burdens” came on. Coincidence? I think not! This is ALL GOD!

I don’t have to fight this battle alone. The Lord is with me. He wants me to lay my burdens down, to give everything to Him!

Do not be afraid of the nations there, for the Lord your God will fight for you.

Deuteronomy 3:22

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.

Psalm 34:17

A Nobody…

I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody all about Somebody who saved my soul

Casting Crowns, “Nobody”

I’ve recently come to love this song by Casting Crowns. But as I reflect upon it, I don’t feel like I’m living up to what the lyrics are saying. Am I REALLY trying to tell everybody about Christ? So many times, I focus on ME and not on others. I have plenty of family members who are not saved and desperately need Christ in their lives. Am I living out my faith? Do others see Christ in me?

Or do they see a selfish person, living in and FOR the world?

I think to myself, quite often, that I just don’t measure up. I don’t have what it takes….

How can God use ME? I’m nothing, a nobody. I don’t have the voice. I’m broken.

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

Matthew West, “Broken Things”

But it’s right there in Matthew West’s song, “Broken Things.”

God uses the broken people to bring glory to Himself. He uses the nobodies, the seemingly inept people. I know that I feel inept a lot. What can I use, what can I do to bring others to the Lord?

Moses had stage fright
And David brought a rock to a sword fight
You picked twelve outsiders nobody would’ve chosen
And You changed the world
Well, the moral of the story is
Everybody’s got a purpose

Casting Crowns, “Nobody”

I think if I could relate to anyone, it would be Moses. When God showed up in that burning bush, asking him to speak up to Pharaoh to let His people go, Moses freaked out and begged God to send someone else. He didn’t think he had what it took. But in the end, God still ended up using Moses.

I’ve always wondered if this blog is my “voice.” Is this how God is going to use me?

Is this my opportunity to reach out to others to bring them to Christ?

I don’t feel adequate. But neither did Moses.

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

Mental Health and Christianity

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

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

–Unknown

It’s hard having to deal with a mental illness. It can really become a burden sometimes.

As a bipolar sufferer I must deal with the rollercoaster of emotions quite frequently. I can be in the best mood one second and be crying the next. However, as of lately I’ve been pretty stable due to the increase of one medication and being put on a new medication. It seems like it’s a good balance. Recently, I was on the verge of a manic episode and I could feel it. So that’s why my doctor added a new medication to my “cocktail.”

I came across some quotes about mental illness that I’d like to share.

It’s called a mental illness for a reason….because it is an illness. Why can’t it be accepted like any other illness?

Unknown

There is such a stigma when it comes to mental illness. Just because you can’t see it, however, does not mean it’s not there.

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

I think C.S. Lewis hit the nail on the head with this quote. Trying to hide mental pain just makes things worse. But he’s right….it’s easier to talk about a physical ailment than it is a mental ailment.

There continues to be a high level of suspicion, distrust and even fear in the church when it comes to psychology and psychiatry.

Matthew S. Stanford

When I first got diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008, I was ashamed of telling people. I thought they would act differently around me. When someone hears that a person is bipolar they start treating that person as if they are a time bomb just waiting to go off. It’s frustrating and hurtful.

Mental disorders do not discriminate according to faith, but rather affect believers and nonbelievers alike.

Matthew S. Stanford

I’ve always believed this. Mental illness does NOT discriminate!! It can strike any one at any given time, regardless of religious beliefs.

Taking medication for any illness is simply making wise use of the abundant resources provided to us by a loving God.

Matthew S. Stanford

God created doctors for this very purpose.

For the stigma of mental illness to be broken, there must be direct, transparent speech from Christian leaders. We need more open dialogue in the church.

Ed. Stetzer

The church must stop being afraid of tackling the subject of mental illness. It exists. Simple as that.

If we immediately dismiss the possibility of mental illness and automatically assume spiritual deficiency, our actions amount to spiritual abuse.

Ed Stetzer

Whether a person suffers from bipolar disorder, OCD, anxiety, depression etc…the church must come together and help fight the end of the stigma surrounding the church.

I have so many more quotes that I could share but I think I’ve shared enough. Maybe I’ll do another “quotes” entry in the near future.

I Don’t Feel Like Writing….

…but I’m going to anyway!

It’s been a long time! I haven’t been on here much throughout this whole quarantined life we have going on. (How are you all doing, by the way? Staying safe I hope!)

I can’t believe I haven’t been taking advantage of all this free time to write!

But the problem is this: I just haven’t felt like writing lately! I’m not in a bad place mentally, in fact I’m doing so much better. I just go through ruts where writing just doesn’t sound appealing.

But tonight I’m going to force myself to write and see what comes of it.

For as long as I can remember, writing has always been there for me. I could sit down and pop out poem after poem in a matter of minutes. Then it stopped. I stopped. And I let the years waste away when I could have been writing.

I came across this quote that I have since printed out and taped above my desk:

If you want to write, you can.

Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent.

Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me?

You are a human being with a unique story to tell.

You have every right.

—Richard Rhodes

I think, no I KNOW, that fear is keeping me from writing. So that is what I need to get past. I need to get past the fear that I’m not worth it. Past the fear that cripples me. Past the fear that I’m not good enough.

Remember a couple of years ago when I told you all that I was going to write a book? Yeah, I definitely let that fall by the wayside. I let fear win. I let my problems get in the way.

You know, I can’t go any further until I tell you that “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson (LOVE HER!) literally JUST started playing and I had to laugh. What a perfect song to be playing when I’m talking about my fear of writing.

Just take a look at the lyrics!

I’ll spread my wings, and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes till I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway
Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won’t forget all the ones that I love
I’ll take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway

Coincidence? I don’t think so! 🙂

What is it that is holding you up in life? What is that one thing you know you’re meant to be doing but are letting fear take the reigns…

I’ve let fear of not being good enough take the reigns for far too long.

I’ve always been told to “write what you know” but I always respond with “I don’t know what I know!”

And it’s time I start figuring out “what I know!” No more “I don’t know”

Coronavirus: Don’t Let the Fear Take Over

It’s crazy how quick this coronavirus has spread and the panic it has created. I went to Walmart the other day to grab some hand sanitizer and the shelves were EMPTY! (Ironically, the soap was still there.)

Toilet paper is being hoarded. Sanitizer and even alcohol swabs are disappearing off the shelf! (My mom is diabetic and had asked me to pick up some alcohol swabs for her and there were none!)

I get it, you guys. I get the scare. No one wants to get sick. But please…calm down! I saw a news report (and if you follow me on Facebook you may have seen it) about parents picking their kids up from school and wiping down their backpack, their clothes. I even saw a parent SPRAYING HIS KID WITH DISINFECTANT! (At this point I was laughing so hard)

Listen, I’m not trying to downplay this pandemic that the virus is now being called. I’m not rebuking those who are taking this seriously! I’m taking it seriously myself. As a chronic illness sufferer, I have to be careful myself! I’m taking precautions. I’m washing my hands. I’m trying (with difficulty, LOL) not to touch my face. I’m using hand sanitizer at work after dealing with a customer at the register.

We just shouldn’t be panicking about it. Panicking just causes stress and stress can actually lower your immune system, making you susceptible to illnesses.

As Christians, we are not called to live in fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self discipline.”

We aren’t called to have an anxious heart either.

Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

 

Present Troubles

I’ve been struggling lately.

My health, my finances, etc.

But I came across several verses in 2 Corinthians 4 that reminded me that our present troubles will not last very long.  In verses 8-9 we read:

We are pressed on every side by troubles but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down but we are not destroyed.

Then further down in verses 16-18 we are told,

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone but the things we cannot see will last forever.

It’s so easy to feel sorry for ourselves, to have pity parties when things get rough. But God’s Word tells us that one day all our troubles will be gone. We will be forever in His presence where everything is perfect.

Also, in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul reminds us that God’s grace is all we need.

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.

Can God take away my health struggles? Absolutely! Will He? I don’t know. But what I do know is this: His grace is all I need.

His grace is all YOU need.