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Being a Christian with Mental Illness ~ STIGMA!!!

Posted Sep 29 2008 11:55pm

May be, triggering. Do not read, if you cannot handle church related issues. Please do not try because it triggered me!!

Most of you by now know that I am a Christian. Now, I don't want this to turn anyone off to Christianity because we all know there is stigma everywhere and this does not exclude the church, in fact, I think it is even more difficult to have a mental illness if you are part of a church. Also, what I am going to share is one person's opinion.

I'm part of this Christian social network which is sort of like Facebook for Christians. It has been a source of pain, anger, frustration and confusion.
My feelings have been really hurt by well meaning people who haven't got a clue or have their own issues that they project onto me.

The church like non-church people are not knowledgeable or scared of mental illness because they don't understand or misunderstand. Sometimes, when people are scared or don't understand things, they think more simply like everything is good or evil; black or white. The church tends to split anyway. The church is far from perfect and I think they also tend to do this with mental illness in general or just don't know how to handle it and avoid it. People, unfortunately avoid me or I them because I don't feel safe. They just do not know what to say and do mean well. Sometimes, I just want to yell, "I'm a human first and I'm not contageious."

Anyway, at this site, I was going to leave, but decided to stay and keep mental illness in the forefront. So, once a week, I've been posting something on my blog about mental illness and start at least one discussion. My therapist told me today that this is a part of me that he really likes...the edgy side, the one that likes to stir up the pot. My intent is as long as I feel I have the energy that I will continue to do this. However, yesterday, I became really angry and today my therapist talked about how it tapped into my anger about all the cult stuff including the brain washing. I really felt like I need to share it.

This was one of my two questions and explanation for the week, "Quick what are the first two thoughts you have when I say, mental illness? I have asked this question in another online community with interesting results. First, be honest, don't give me "the Christian" answer. I want your gut honest feelings and thoughts. (You can find out more about mental illness at my blog and in "I Am Effected By Mental Illness," group). Remember be judgement here."

I've had some really touching, real answers and some of what I expected as misinformation including this one from one of the women. What I was surprised about was how angry and how much energy I am and have spent on it. TRIGGERS!!!

This was one of the replies, "I wanted to respond, I know you asked not for the "christian" answer but I do not know how else to answer. My thoughts, personal beliefs, experience, is.... That mental illness in all shapes and forms are spirits sent by satan. I suffered from clinical depression for years, but when I surrendered it all to Jesus he set me free from that, so I know that there is a cure, it's called Jesus! But God showed me that any type of illness, whether it be physical or mental all come from one place, " The devil" and God said that he has given us power." She followed it with some Bible verses.

By the way, one of the first thoughts in my head was what does surrendering it all to Jesus look like, what do you do, what does that mean? I know what it means to me, but what do you mean? I also had the sense that she was angry and also where did the depression go. My guess is that she hid behind the "Christian, I gave it to God and he healed me."

Now, I am a confident believer in healing, so I don't want that to be misrepresented. It is just that I see Christians hide behind it too often. Even with their inability to look at abortion, adultry, divorce, homosexuality and mental illness, as real issues that Christians face. Some bitterly attack these issues and cause people not to talk about it in church because they do not want to accept reality that it exists in the church. Now, this is my opinion. What is called from us, is acceptance of the person, get to know the person, no judgement because we have all sinned and not all of these issues are sins of the person. Anyway, I could go on.

I waited until I responded to her answer with this," Thank you for sharing. I want to find out what people really think. However, I had a different type of reaction to your answer compared to others even though I expected it among the possible answers. I felt angry about what you were saying. From a very young age, I was told that I was evil, shouldn’t have been born, was the devil’s spawn and was bloodied from a beating that was to “beat the devil out of me.” I was constantly told and things were done to me that meant “I had evil spirits in me.” Well, all of that was a lie and I was being used to fulfill their evil purposes including sexual abuse. I actually was a well-behaved child, obedient, quiet and never got into any trouble.

As a child, it made me feel like I was bad, didn’t deserve to live and that I was evil. Even now, I have difficulty with these issues. I am no longer angry, but it does make me wonder with this belief system how those with medical and mental health issues feel around you. I would feel like you would be blaming me that my relationship with Jesus is not in order, but nobody’s relationship is. We are all a work in progress. Obviously, I do not share your beliefs. I think in rare cases that illnesses are related to evil spirits or Satan. In most mental illness, there are actual chemical changes that occur in the brain. Mine has much to do with my being abused.

I also know about spiritual warfare and have been involved in many prayer groups where we are trained to expect it. However, you are right, it does have to do with evil…the evil that was done to me. I am not “blaming” my childhood on my difficulties now because I am taking responsibility by taking my medication, going to psychotherapy with a Christian therapist, talking about the unspeakable, connecting with others, remaining in relationship with God and my local church who also support me in prayer and working on making changes in my thoughts and behavior."

I'm feeling better now that I've shared it here. God, I really pray she doesn't come to read my blog. I doubt it, but no it is okay. I just gave my opinion in a somewhat diplomatic way. Please do not attack the church in your comments, it will just make me want to defend or I'll agree with you and become angry.

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