Mental Illness: Are Christians Fearful of Association?

Mental illness is a disorder of the mind, why it occurs in people no one knows for sure, and there is no real cure for most forms. There are several different categories of mental illnesses, with several disorders within each category. With these several disorders of mental illness within the various categories still further classed depending on the depth of severity of the particular form of mental illness, from mild to severe, and it is possible for these disorders to interrupt daily activities to the point that life becomes extremely difficult for the sufferer.  This past year, starting in March 2009, I personally went back into a deep and severe depression linked to my PTSD issues.

You might be asking yourself what this topic has to do with anything or on a blog of a person who is grateful to God for his sobriety or why the word Christian appears in the title. Well these are very good questions to be asking.

The answer is that the majority of people with mental illness reach for drugs and alcohol to help them cope and change the reality they see their life in whether real or imagined. This was my case for 32 years. I used drugs and alcohol to alter my reality I felt I was living in. It was not until I was, gifted, by God, with 10 years of sobriety that I found the answer to my personal question concerning depression and feeling as if I do not belong in this world. I have severe major clinical depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) stemming from the first 17 years of my life and which, amplified by my naval career, and was the major reason behind my 32 years of alcohol and drug addiction.

I recently read an article online, from a lady PhD member of the church in Canada, who wrote that 1 out of 5 members of the church has some form of mental illness and the church leadership as a whole world wide has no skills in offering help, support and aid to these members and fellow Christians.

Even clean and sober for over 19 years, I have had a tough year dealing with my PTSD issues and the depression that brings me. My only real support came from my friends in recovery from drugs and alcohol and three families from the local church here in Payson, Arizona. During this past year, I had people whom I thought were real friends, within the church, withdraw from me by pulling away their friendship, stopping emails, phone calls, or stopping by the little house God has seen fit for me to live in. One of the church leaders here in Payson, Arizona, when I asked them why they withdrew their friendship from me, stated that “the way your acting, I do not want that impression associated with the church.” These types of statements are unchristian and just reinforce a person with mental illness distrust of people in leadership or authority positions and it saddens me personally that the church seems so unaware and fearful of people with dual diagnoses such as me.

Paul says that we as Christians are to be ambassadors for God through Jesus in order to bring others into a reconciled relationship with God. How can we, in the church do this, if we do not want to be associated with people (1 in 5) that suffer from one of the many forms of mental illness or suffer from an alcohol addiction or drug addiction to survive the struggle playing war in their minds? Jesus went to all the downtrodden (viewed as less than people) reaching out to them in kindness, compassion, and love and we as Christians are suppose to follow in his footsteps. When are people in the church really going to start acting like Jesus and stop fearing people who are different then they perceive themselves to be? Payson, Arizona, has a very large portion of the total population living in the town, as do a majority of cities, towns, and suburbs of the United States, of who suffer from issues such as mine; i.e. mental illness, addictions of various kinds, etc… Is the church, as a whole, going to side set those people during their outreach evangelism to seek out only the people we think will not look bad in the church membership?

I do pray, and hope that the dark storm clouds of my own personal set back into severe depression is lifting. Therefore, I will once again feel the desire and have the energy to participate more with my life and find away to be active in reaching others, without fear of association, that suffer as I once did and still do at time.

Hugs, Guy

March 10, 2010

P.S. By the way, I am thankful that on January 28, 2010, God was kind enough to have blessed me with 20 years clean and sober.


8 thoughts on “Mental Illness: Are Christians Fearful of Association?

  1. Myths about Mental Illness

    People who have a mental illness are just “crazy. – FALSE
    Depression and other illnesses, such as anxiety disorders, do not affect children or adolescents. – FALSE
    People with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, are usually dangerous and violent. – FALSE
    Addiction is a lifestyle choice and shows a lack of willpower. People with a substance abuse problem are morally weak or “bad”. – FALSE
    Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), formerly known as “shock treatment,” is painful and barbaric. – FALSE
    People with mental illness are poor and/or less intelligent. – FALSE
    Mental illness is caused by a personal weakness. – FALSE
    Mental illness is a single, rare disorder. – FALSE
    Mental illness only happens to people with a family history. – FALSE
    Mental illness is the same as mental retardation. – FALSE
    People with a mental illness are unable to function well. – FALSE
    Depression and anxiety disorders are part of growing up. – FALSE
    Mentally ill employees tend to be second-rate workers. – FALSE
    Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) happens only after you fight in a war. That’s why it’s called shell shock. – FALSE
    Depression is all in your head. – FALSE
    Mental illness is the result of bad parenting. – FALSE
    Schizophrenia means “split personality,” and there is no way to control it. – FALSE
    Mental illness does not strike the “average person. – FALSE
    Mental illness is not a serious health problem today. – FALSE
    Most people with a mental illness are receiving treatment. – FALSE
    Mental illness is not like other “Physical” diseases. – FALSE
    Most people who are mentally ill live in mental hospitals or on the streets. – FALSE

    Fact: Don’t be too quick to judge. Someone you know suffers from a mental illness. -TRUE!

  2. Guy, this just makes me sad. I think people forget that the church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints. I feel terrible that you were made to feel like an outcast. When will people wake up?

  3. As a fellow mentally ill and alcoholic Christian friend I couldnt agree more with you GL. Keep paying for me that my depression lifts soon. Remember too that March is the month I lost both Nicole and Matthew. Recently an aquainntance from a local bar {WHEN I WAS STILL DRINKING} passed away and people cwho claimed to be her friend could not tell me what hapened to her. Her death at 49 was very sad and I finally found out why she died.I will never know why my children were taken from this world but I know they are in better hands than mine. Unfortunately mental illness usually runs in the family and mine has a history of it.

    If anyone rejects you because of either challenge you face in your life then pray for them to be enlightened so that we who have mental illness and/or alcoholism are better understood.

  4. Great post, Guy!
    In the past, we worshipped at a congregation where the elders forbid the song leaders from leading the song that had these words: …in my night of dark despair… stating that Christians were never in dark despair because of salvation.

  5. Jan you have been in my thoughts and prayers. I am deeply sorry and wish to offer my amends for not being able to reach out to you more during this past year do to my own situation. I miss you as do others and we all hope and pray for your return as soon as possible. hugs and love, Guy

  6. I miss you and your care and support. You all were a foundation of hope for me through much of last year. Hugs and love, Guy

  7. Sorry to hear about how you were treated. That was just plain sad. Unfortunately, that type of behavior is just about found everywhere. Welcome to “good ol’ boy” religion at it finest.

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