Friday, February 6, 2015

MENTAL ILLNESS AND THE BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN!




From an early age, I would obsess and be depressed.
OK, now that I have your attention. Sitting in church as young as the age of six,  I can remember knowing God loved me but not "feeling" it. I spent years tormented by my own brain. Periodically I would fall into a deep depression. I wasn't "sad" I was depressed. I would obsess and ruminate over negative things. I felt God was punishing me for something.  I wouldn't cry.  I was numb. My depression manifested in multiple physical aliments. In my teen years I coped by staying busy and since I still lived at home all my physically needs were taken care of.  It wasn't until I moved out on my own and was forced to function at a higher level did I start to crash and burn.

My Secret
 I had no idea what was wrong with me. I was viewed as a "worrier" or others would describe me as "serious." Once, I became friends with someone they would often tell me their first impression of me was a self centered, conceited individual. What people didn't know was I had a full time job keeping my thoughts in order while at the same time attending college and going to work. I was ALWAYS in my head. I had to keep myself from going too far down the road of panic, fear and despair.
I finally went to counseling. I found a wonderful Christian counselor who helped me understand myself and how my past experiences triggered certain behavior responses. Things improved slightly but after a while my symptoms worsened. I told no one about this. I continued to work and would attend school and church. No one knew.  I continued to feel guilt and fear. I had thought that God was displeased with me because I didn't "feel" how everyone in church looked. No one else admitted to having the thoughts I had.  
I was obsessed with ending my life
Depression, being the insidious disease that it is, turned my thoughts to finding a way to end this life long battle with my brain. I thought that if I ran into ditch and made it look like an accident then my family would be spared the stigma of a suicide. I couldn't stop thinking this way. These imagines intruded my every waking moment. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't live this way. It was TOO hard. I didn't care what people thought of me.  I wanted out! Please keep in mind that my life was going along fine, family, career etc. This made the emotional pain even worse because I was constantly being reminded how bad other people's situations were. I didn't believe I could be helped. I didn't know about "mental illness" except it was something people joked and laughed about. I didn't think people like myself got "depressed" 
 

 I was desperate and picked a psychiatrist at random.
I had no one to go to and finally out of desperation I left work one day and drove to the first psychiatrists office I could find. My gastroenterologist suggested I try an antidepressant to treat a life long condition I had been coping with. The psychiatrist explained what was going on in my brain. He explained how medication changes your brain chemistry. He told me that there were many people like myself who got relief from medication. He also told me that mental illness is often genetic. I am adopted and at the time did not know what my genetic background contained. I had to try a few different medications until I found one that worked.

 

 How I felt was new and amazing.
 I cannot convey into words the feeling I had the first time I woke up and knowing that the cloud of depression had lifted. I had never felt like that ever! I understood why people cared if they woke up in the morning. My heart breaks for those of you out there who carry this burden. I grieve for the time I have lost in my life prior to getting treatment I have prayed for years for God to show me what purpose this experience should have. I know that I am here to tell this story. Some of you didn't read this far and some of you already know the story but for others who were able to make it to this point please know that God has brought to my church a husband and wife, Steve and Robyn Bloem.

Steve is an ordained minister who is also living with mental illness and has been subjected to the stigma that some churches endorse. Please take a moment and read some of Steve Bloem's blogs. Robyn and Steve are available to bring seminars to churches all over the country.  Some of you may be fortunate enough to have grown up in churches that openly talk about mental health. I was not as fortunate. While I don't think this was purposeful I do believe that because of the stigma it was just easier to avoid the topic.
 Please check out our book at 

 http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Minds-Healing-Youre-Losing/dp/0825421187

Broken Minds includes very readable large narratives by Steve and Robyn Bloem. It has helped thousands of people who are evangelical Christians and is read world wide. Broken Minds tackles the issue of mental illness from a Biblical perspective. It has been given academic status by Kregel Publications and is being used in seminaries and bible colleges across the globe. Broken Minds can be read with Kindle and E-books. If you purchase Broken Minds from us,the proceeds will go to Heartfelt Counseling Ministries. The copy you will receive will be signed by authors,Steve and Robyn Bloem. Please go to the link below.


Whispers in the Foyer an Honest Look at the
 Christian and Mentalhttp://sbloemreflections.blogspot.com/2011/05/whispers-in-foyer-honest-look-at.html
Broken Minds. Wow! What a great book-- a book that we’ve needed for such a long time. With clarity, Biblical faithfulness and grace, Steve and Robyn Bloem lead us from their personal experience to hope for the rest of us who have experienced, or loved those who have experienced, the pain of a "broken mind." This is a book that should be mandatory reading for every leader in the church. It is one of the most (perhaps "the most") helpful books I’ve ever read on mental illness."  
(Then on a personal note)
"I really do think this is a great book and will be making it mandatory reading for my practical theology classes."