Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mental Illness

I read an article a few weeks ago about Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback church, and how his son committed suicide last year.  I remember how, same as now, I cried when I heard of it.  I know what it's like to be a Christian and yet still struggle with mental illness.  It is the ugly thing that is buried deep inside many of us, but we are too afraid to tell others, for fear of being judged.  How many times over the years have I been told to cheer up?  Just pray about it!  You don't have enough faith.  Etc., etc., etc. 

I struggled with depression and anxiety for about 35 years off and on.  There would be years that I would be doing relatively well, and yet I'd have a nervous breakdown and have to quit my job or school.  After college, I was so depressed I literally laid around reading books and watching TV.  At a teaching job I had, I forgot everything so I put everything on sticky notes but then I would forget to look at the sticky notes due to anxiety!

I have been told that I shouldn't see secular (non-Christian) counselors.  I shouldn't use antidepressants.  I shouldn't be a part of secular therapy groups.  However, I have benefited from secular groups, and use meds that have helped me regain my life. 

Why is there such a stigma about mental illness?  Isn't it a disease, like cancer or diabetes?  And as a  disease, need medication and treatment from the medical field?  And like a disease, have both genetic and environmental causes?  Why have we been tortured by so-called Christians over the years who have no clue what they are talking about and do not have the love of Jesus in them? 

I know I'm not perfect, I know I have problems.  Everybody does.  We spend too much time and energy judging (I know I do), but do we use the same energy to love our neighbor as ourselves?  I know I don't.  Some people are just so hard to love!  But I so felt for Rick's son, for he needed help. He did get help in various ways over the years, but it just wasn't enough.  I can't imagine the pain parents go through.  All that mine did, all that the Warrens did, sometimes it's just not enough.  I assume it's like having a child with a disability or a disease.  They can't fix it.  All they can do is hope.

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