December 21, 2014

The Christian and Mental Illness III: Is Mental Illness Demonic or the Result of Sin?

Is the Christian view of mental illness to categorize mental illness as the activity of demons and/or the result of sin?

This question really goes past a discussion of mental illness into questions of Biblical interpretation that have increasingly troubled Christians in the past century. The seeds for this controversy were sown as Protestant Christians expounded the doctrine of Sola Scriptura in their confessions. In order to keep Biblically authority sufficiently high to battle liberalism, words and concepts were applied to the Bible that have become more and more troublesome when the Bible interacts with secular ways of seeing the world. These claims for the sufficiency and inerrancy of the Bible inevitably come into conflict with the vocabulary and truth claims of science and medicine.

Without an interaction of scripture and tradition, or a view of Biblical authority that focuses on Jesus Christ rather than on a “total Christian worldview,” many conservative Christians have chosen to use their claims about the nature of Biblical inspiration to advocate a way of understanding the world that appears primative and superstitious to many non-Christians.

(Roman Catholics have been less troubled by this conflict, because the “Galileo experience” had an impact on the way Vatican II and the later Catholic Catechism would frame the relationship of the Bible and science. Christians interested in a statement of Biblical authority that takes the insights of modern science into account should read the current Catechism of the Catholic Church. Some Protestant communions have avoided this as well.)

The problem is simple: The Bible was written in the narrative world of ancient, prescientific cultures that often interpreted reality and events through a grid quite different from our own way of looking at the same reality. When the Bible speaks to us from its ancient setting, it does not “update” its cultural interpretations of causation for commonly observed phenomenon. Instead, it speaks in the cultural norms of the time. Those cultures tended to see most of what we call mental illness as the result of demonic influence or as a punishment for sin.

Now, Christians have been entirely free, in their own settngs and cultures, to appropriate, interpret or re-interpret these Biblical explanations. For example, the Bible credits demons and spirits with much of what we would call mental illness, and also much of what today would be called stroke, cerebral palsy, psychosis, manic depression and so forth. The Bible still presents us with stories of behavior identical to epilepsy and other conditions that are commonly understood as caused by demons and evil spirits.

Christians have a vigorous and ongoing discussion with one another on whether there is a spiritual component to what we call mental illness. Within Christianity, such a discussion happens on the premise that the scientific worldview is, to a certain extent, to be rejected in favor of the worldview of the ancient cultures in the Bible. My own experience tells me this is often not done consistently.

For example, at an “Alcoholics for Christ” meeting, I heard a recovering alcoholic admit that he was depressed. He was immediately told by a group participant that he had a “spirit of depression,” and was accordingly prayed for along the lines of exorcism. This kind of combination of psychological terminology and Biblical causation is very common among some Christian communities, but I do not believe it has Biblical endorsement. It appears to be a kind of “folk-syncretism” that allows persons to use psychological terminology and Biblical techniques of exorcism.

The Bible does present us with “mute spirits,” as explanations for a loss of speech, but I believe this is the way an ancient culture explains something that would be explained medically today. If the mute person were examined by a modern western physician, it is doubtful that exorcism would be suggested as a treatment. It is unlikely that anyone today would ask “Who sinned? This man or his parents?” when confronted with a medical problem such as blindness.

That Jesus was incarnated into this ancient world and its explanations, and ministered as an exorcist/healer in this world, is appropriate. It shouldn’t alarm any Biblical interpreter. The point of the Gospels is not Jesus’ opinion of ancient medicine or psychology. We do not expect Jesus to be giving modern explanations for conditions that we understand very differently. Jesus was a person of his time, and he viewed and responded to mental and emotional illness as a person of his time.

This is not to deny that some Christians would still emphasize the spiritual- even the demonic- component in treating mental illness. The Christian understanding of the role of the demonic in human behavior is a controversial area, primarily because scripture is not trying to communicate medical/psychological truth, but the truth of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. (I would suggest that C.S. Lewis correctly read the Biblical teaching on the demonic in his portrayal of that “world” in “The Screwtape Letters.”)

There is an issue of causation that must be faced. When a human being has a particular behavior, response or feeling, are we prepared to say that the cause of that behavior, etc. is a demon spirit? Not the person before us, but a demonic spirit that inhabits or influences them? Are we prepared to say that it is not a learned pattern or something that resides within the relationship of mind and body, but that it is an intrusion of the spiritual world into that relationship, causing what would not be there otherwise?

Causation can not be swept under the rug or ignored. It is the heart of the issue of treating mental illness.

Our school once had a popular teacher who would regularly pronounce students who slept in class as demon possessed. This was funny, but if one contemplates the causation she was suggesting, it undermined much of what she, as a teacher, should want to emphasize: responsibility, thoughtful consideration of others, discipline and manners. If demons make these things impossible for that student, then we should approach classroom education quite differently.

Our subject is mental illness, and I believe we should not interpret mental illness through ancient categories. Because these ancient explanations often did not understand what they were seeing, a compassionate response is to understand and respond to the problem with the greatest degree of truth possible. This means understanding mental and emotional illness with all the truth available to science and medicine.

Mental illness is particularly complex. It is often related to the wrong and evil actions of persons as actors or as victims of the actions of others. For example, I often deal with young people whose psychological make-up is affected by parents who abuse substances, neglected or abused the child, and may have not provided basic needs and nurture. These children are often psychologically affected. They can be very “messed up.”

Should I talk to these young people about sin? Demons? I would not deny that sin and spiritual factors are part of the situation, but the problems cannot be dealt with by exorcism. Imagine that the child is a victim of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This is the result of parental sin, but the treatment is medical.

I am particularly concerned that conservative Christians have mistaken mental illnesses like manic depression as being demon possession, and put the victims of this illness through cruel and torturous journeys that could not cure them. Manic Depression is extremely responsive to medication, and if a person is told that what they are experiencing is demonic, or the result of “curses,” they will suffer needlessly. It is compassionate to treat manic depression. It is uncompassionate to identify it wrongly.

Are we prepared to reject all that psychology or psychiatry tell us about mental and emotional illness? Is it really necessary to come to conspiratorial and skeptical views towards mental and emotional illness in order to maintain Biblical authority? I do not believe that is necessary or wise. I am sad to constantly hear fundamentalist Christian radio and television preach the message that, in order to be a Bible believer, one must oppose psychology, modern education, much medicine and other kinds of knowledge. Christians have done much to contribute to a kind of hostility to knowledge that God has given for good and compassionate purposes. There is a dialogue between Christians and other worldviews, but only in extreme cases does that dialogue amount to an announcement that conspiracies and fundamentalist dogma are the answer to every question.

Christians who believe in the Gospel have been particularly attracted to responses to mental illness that magnify the power of scripture and the Spirit to change people. Prescriptions of scripture memory and filling the mind with scripture are common. Scripture memory and prayer are important parts of Christian formation and discipleship, but they are not primary treatments for mental illness. If the problem is primarily a matter of cognition or behavior, these methods may be appropriate for a Christian believer, but it would be unethical to treat complex mental and emotional problems with only prayer and scripture. This is simplistic, and seems to be more concerned with theological positions than compassionate and truthful help.

Scripture tells us that Saul was tormented by a Spirit from the Lord. David’s songs soothed him. Eventually, he was driven to try and kill David as a result of paranoid delusions credited to this spirit. Whatever was God’s purpose in these events, I believe a contemporary Saul could be described and treated with modern psychiatric and medical help. I do not believe it would be compassionate to ignore psychiatric diagnosis, and if a Christian were to diagnose a modern-day Saul with a demon, I believe that would be sincere, but unhelpful and possible dangerous.

I believe it is always appropriate to pray for all the resources of God in Christ and through the Holy Spirit to come into the life of any hurting person. But I also believe it is appropriate to see every hurting person in a way that will bring about the most reasonable opportunity to help them.

Must a person be helped my medicine and therapy to be helped? Absolutely not. A person would do well to remember that, in the cases of emotional and behavior disorders, all kinds of things have been effective for helping individuals. This is important in the ministry where I serve. We do not do any kind of “therapy.” We have a Christian community where young people can get an education and participate in worship, cocurriculars and work. It has helped thousands who were not helped by other means.

I have seen many people helped when they moved from seeing themselves as a psychiatric diagnosis and became a person operating in the categories of Christianity and Christian community. I believe that a change of perspective often has dramatic results on our human problems. I fully understand and support this, and praise God because of it.

If, however, I am confronted with mental and emotional illness, I will strongly insist that the best resources of medical and psychiatric treatment and understanding be consulted. Especially in the most complicated and painful cases, Christian compassion will mean pursuing diagnosis and treatment in a contemporary medical/psychiatric setting.

Note: If you are curious about my own views on the Bible, there is a lot on this site, but everything important is here in “A Conversation In God’s Kitchen.”

Comments

  1. Michael,

    I don’t see how you are portraying that God comes first in any of this. I understand what you’re saying about treatment, but I’ve always taken the stance that every trial (medical or no) and obstacle we face should be taken to God and pettitioned before God first and foremost. This seems to be a missing yet critical piece missing from a balanced discussion here on this issue. As to my views on treatment and as to whether or not it’s illness, I’ll point back to my comment left in your previous article.

    And a question for you… When the Bible speaks of Jesus casting out demons (and in several instances the demons spoke back to him) do you not believe that Jesus was casting out actual demons?

    Brad

  2. I don’t know what “God comes first” means in your usage. How do you put God more “first” than looking at a topic through the Gospel? I do have three more parts to this.

    I think there are two possible interpretations to those passages:

    1) They are all demons, because demonic activity was unusually intense during Jesus’ ministry. It is important to remember that the exorcism accounts are not there to tell us how to diagnose the mentally ill, but to show us who Jesus is. Remember that Jesus did many exorcisms. The ones that are detailed to us may very well be the truly demonic ones.

    But it remains true that most mental illness and many physical conditions were interpreted as demonic, just as people thought the stars were points of light in the sky. They didn’t have a way to know other wise. Therefore, I am more inclined to #2.

    2) Cultures that believe in demon possession have demon possessed behavior. Its common all over the world in those cultures and subcultures. Having people who interpret their problems as demonic speaking in demonic personalities is quite common, and any anthropologist can give you examples from all over the world and in different religions. I tend to believe that this is the case, and that Jesus and those he is dealing with accept a demonic explanation and behavior follows. This many not be true with all the accounts, but to me, it is very clear that demonic “credit” was given for all kinds of things that we would not view demonically today.

  3. Michael,

    You are walking a shaking tightrope on this one. Not that you should not walk it; but the applicability of many favorite Bible passages comes into question. Is mental illness phychological, physical, emotional, spiritual, demonic, or some unknow combination of the five? It is a combination in all cases? How do we sort these out? Do we need to sort them out? Which is our founding or fundamental outlook: physical or spiritual? Does this ever change and when and how?

    It is hard because mental illness is not like a broken arm or even cancer. It fundamentally effects how the affected interacts with the world and how the world interacts with him/her. It encounters areas we know so little about. How does the mind interact with the brain? Is the mind even separate from the brain? Are we chemical reactions molded by previous chemical interacts (called experience)? Is treatment limited to chemical? If the human spirit exists, what role does it play.

    Then you have even the more fundamental Biblical questions. Were “demons” an ancient explanation for what was not know as physical issues, like a “spirit of the gaps?” If real, was the circumstance of demonic activity in the Old Age even applicable in the New, after the resurrection and conquest of Christ? Has Satan been bound and all that is left us physical issues from the Fall? Does the Bible EVER distinguish mental illness from demonic possession (for instance, Matt 4:24 distinguishing the “lunatics” from the demon possessed). If so, how was the distinguishment made? How do we make it? Do we need to make it?

    Ideally, I would like to see the conversation on mental illness proceed much like it does in Susan Howatch’s novels; especially the last three. She walks the tighrope with you.

    Sounds like you may want the company.

  4. chrisstiles says:

    I was going to start out by laying out my own personal position, then realised that most my post would be my personal position anyway, so here goes.

    In general, I have a lot more sympathy with the Susan Howatch – as opposed to Frank Peretti – view of mental illness. I suspect that the real picture is a lot more complex, subtle and ambiguous than the picture of angels and demons wizzing in and around peoples heads. I’ve also been close to a number of people who over the years have suffered from mental illnesses – some of them when normal exceptionally fine Christians – most of whom were visibly helped by various psychiatric medicines.

    Regarding the cultural aspects: A long time ago a minister from the Church of South India (the anglican church in south india) came to visit my parents – I happened to be visiting and so was present in the conversation. He related a case to my father of apparent demon possession, starting his recollection with “We had a Legion case in X village”. I have a number of problems with that entire concept – extrapolating a mini-theology out of the words of a ‘demon possessed’/’mentally ill’ person, but suffice to say it’s hard to imagine the average Episcopalian/CofE minister saying something similiar.

    OTOH, I *have* met someone who was working within the CofE as an exorcist – with a team of other qualified individuals. He told me that most of the cases he was called to deal with were purely psychological/psychiatric in nature, and in ten years he’d only had to deal with two cases which he felt were demonic in nature. You could, of course, read this in a number of ways.

    In general I don’t subscribe to the ‘spirit of the gaps’ approach laid out above. In some ways I’m a medivaelist – I think that it’s true that ‘Cultures that believe in demon possession have demon possessed behavior.’. I don’t think that it’s simply down to errors of attribution though, though some of it definitely is.

    OTOH I see no reason why there shouldn’t be an underlying and very subtle spiritual reason behind some physical illness just as there *might* be behind some mental illness. That said, in the majority of cases psychology/psychiatry *is* helpful. I think the underlying problems most christians have with mental illnesses are very close to the problems that society as a whole has with mental illnesses. Being physiologically peculiar, with cause and effect relationships that are far more mysterious, everyone tries to reduce them to concepts they already ‘understand’ – unfortunately Christians have a rather more picturesque vocabulary from which to pick from.

  5. Could it not be possible that there’s just a very complex array of factors in these cases?

    1. Medical/physical: it’s obvious, proven, and responds well to treatment: hard to argue.

    2. Psychological/learned behavior: again, well-established and easy to document, and with hard work and alertness, responsive to self-talk and self-discipline.

    3. Spiritual: it seems likely that if a person had a pre-existing weakness in their physiology and psychology, a demon would be perfectly likely to take advantage of that. However, remove the footholds–those that the person is not responsible for, and those that he is–and perhaps the demon simply doesn’t have a foothold anymore.

    I dunno. I’m no psychiatrist, psychologist, nor theologian. That just seems to make sense to me.

  6. scatrdsheep says:

    Hi Michael
    Read this article with interest. Mental illness seems to be one of those topics that the general church likes to either avoid, or regard as such a “fringe element” that it requires little attention.

    I have read some articles where Jesus’ casting out of a demon was regarded as a sort of kindly tolerance of a primitive worldview by those He was helping, but that doesn’t sit well with me, simply because it would seem to amount to patronizing behavior, which is almost dismissive of another person, and because of His character, that being that He was without sin, and was in nature, all truth. Christ treated every type of person with respect and honesty.

    Also, there are some instances in scripture where a person was healed with no reference to a demon, such as the pool at Siloam, where Christ asked the invalid whether or not he wanted to get well, and also many others like the woman with the issue of blood. Sometimes He said things like “Your sins are forgiven” or “Be it done according to your faith”. I don’t see a black and white prescriptive response, but rather Christ exercising His knowledge of each individual as He responded to them. I would gather from that that some conditions have direct demonic involvement in them and some do not. Some are the direct result of sinful choices and others are not.

    Each case requires discernment and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and a great deal of sensitivity and respect of the boundaries of each person’s soul, something I have often seen little of in so called ministry sessions. It’s as though some folks think “Right makes Might Allright” when ministering to someone whose mind and emotions are a mess.

    My own experiences in this arena have me thinking at this point, that mental illness and demonic activity are not an either/or equation but more often both things are happening. Demons are spiritual parasites or wolves, if you will, attracted to places in a person’s life where they can operate submerged just beneath the “weeds” of a a person’s issues (sins, wounds, broken patterns of living, rebellion). Like lions and wolves, they prefer an easy kill. Who is more vulnerable than a person whose defences are down, whose ability to think rationally and thus exercise choice strongly and wisely, than someone who is mentally ill, whether that illness is because of years of soul destroying sin, chemical imblalance or awful abuse?

    Sadly, there is little support/effective ministry in church circles for those who are suffering from mental illness. Somehow those who are mentally ill are seen as a different kind of human being than the rest of us with more so called normal problems. Thus, the mentally ill person is isolated from support and healing fellowship when he or she most needs it! It is fair to also acknowledge that to a person grounded in reality, a mentally ill person’s speech and mannerisms can be very frightening and uncomfortable to be around and some mentally ill folks are a danger to others and themselves. No pollyanna christianity will serve well here. But the percentage of folks who could be ministered to and even restored in a church setting is far greater than the percentage being helped at this point. This is something that could be changed with education and training. Thanks for letting me post my thoughs. Blessings
    Scatrdsheep

  7. Steven Barrett says:

    Sunday mornings happen to be one of the worst times for anybody with a mental illness, if for no other reason than the fact we’re expected to blend in without any problems, pretend all is well, and of course, to make sure no utterings of bad news leave our mouths.

    When it comes to church, and I volunteer for one and the rest of my life is in one way or another going to be spent in God’s pastures and/or grape presses, there is no other place where the banal trivialities of small-talk seems to be de rigeur as the many “fellowship halls” in parishes and congregations across the land. God help the person who has a real problem that needs urgent attention or knows of someone else who does and tries to garner sufficient time to discuss the matter. I’m not saying everyone is too busy or callous to attend to their brother’s or sister’s continued beef with the local shrink; but for God’s sake, when a person loses a job, has a loved one battling a manic phase of bipolar depression and is turning the house upside down, it won’t hurt any church for its members to pay more attention to those among us who just happen to have brains that need more attention paid to than others.

    We might talk slower, if for nothing else than to make sure our thoughts come out cogently. We might be figidity, but so are others, but aren’t treated as lepers because any mental defect they have might not have come to the surface (yet.)

    Some of us are very interested and keep up with the news of the day and would love to strike up a conversation involving religion and current trends in society. But once the “word’s out” about our condition(s), all of a sudden people who might otherwise take you seriously or show any interest at all, just bypass you or nod condescendingly (even IF they don’t have half the knowledge on a given topic than you, but have the gall to behave as if they did only because they’re not being treated (yet).

    There millions of us out there, and within our respective church doors. But we haven’t been given the recognition we deserve as equals, (yet.)

    It’s not just race that makes the hours of 8 to noon on any given Sunday in America the most segregated hours of the week.

  8. I would like to tell my mental illness story and the causation of the cure.

    First, I was an atheist most of my life and a flat out sinner in every ways possible. I was subjected to secular treatment for mental illness diagnosed as a Bi-polar disorder, given pills that reduced my God-given emotions to bland nothingness, so the ups and downs would not distress me, unduly.

    Psychiatric treatment was with a doctor and a counselor who listened in empathy, but included no instruction in the right way to live, to feel and respond to feelings and thoughts that frightened and confounded me. Nor was any information given to help me be at peace within a frustrating and confusing world.

    Suicide, drugs, sex, and failed relationships were the norm in my life. However, at the age of fifty, I left jail after a hit and run accident, and because several Christians had been there for me, I decided to take a closer look at this God they considered so highly.

    April 1989, I began to read the bible, put aside my drug use, and over the next several years let go of a painful relationship. Through it all, I discovered a God of love, gained instruction in the right way to live, discovered through Jesus that it was okay to experience my emotions, but that there was a better way to respond to them than acting out (in a sinful manner).

    Because of a suicide attempt with the Lithium, that only through the grace of God I survived, I gave up the medications and learned to manage my emotions, just as others have done when they made the decision to live a responsible life without the mind numbing drugs psychiatrists prescribe for bi-polar disorders, and schizophrenia (John Nash, the Nobel Prize winner is another example).

    I was a registered professional nurse when I quit atheism in favor of Christianity, and I gave up my mental illness in favor of a life without sin, or as near as I get daily. Thank God for forgiveness.

    I traded my RN for a license as a mental health counselor, and gave that up in favor of biblical counseling. I now have a full time ministry in my home where I teach people to depend on God for ALL their needs, mental, emotional, and physical, and the understanding comes over time.

    Some come to counseling already on psychiatric meds that the commercials advertise as THE answer, and doctors tell many people they will be on them the rest of their life. You see, it’s cheaper for the system and insurance companies than on-going therapy for several years.

    Paul was sent to Tarsus where he remained for a while before being sent into ministry. I waited several years, learning and growing in the Lord before God sent me into ministry. It’s all about waiting on the Lord and leaning not to your own understanding but every word of God.

    Psychiatrist give medications and quick therapy because it’s simple and easy, not because it has long lasting effects. God is not an easy answer, and his answers can take time, when we take the time to learn and understand from the Word.

    MODERATOR NOTE: By allowing this post I am in no way endorsing any view that a Christian should not take meds or see a psychiatrist. God uses both.

  9. bbaranowski says:

    I am a born again believer and filled with the Holy Spirit. I have been saved since 1987. I believe in the inspired word of God. In 1992, I became mentally ill. I had psychosis and delusions. I was still a born again believer. I tried medications but threw them away because “Jesus was enough” for me. Each time I threw away my meds, I became ill again. Prayer did not work although my relationship with Christ was strong. In 2002 a psychiatrist prescribed a regimen of medications that worked perfectly well for me. I had the realization that I would take medication for the rest of my life. My life was restored through the medications and I went back to school to become a psychiatric nurse after having 5 diagnosis myself. The Lord allowed me to suffer. He did not miraculously heal me. He used a psychiatrist and medications. My life is restored and I work now to help others with mental illness. I prayed for 10 years to be healed. I asked if it was a spiritual battle or demons for the Lord to deliver me. After 10 years of prayer, the Lord healed me through a psychiatrist and medications. I have no delusions and no psychosis. I was extremely mentally ill and now am in a place to help others. I agree with this website. Dealing with mental illness involves the spiritual, emotional, mental, psychological aspects of the whole person. The Bible is the inerrant word of God but it was written to a different society, one not as developed as ours is. Even though I take medications, Jesus is still enough for me. He used things in this world, this period of time & developmentin life to heal me. We must move forward and keep the Bible as our guide. I do not believe I was demon possessed or being influenced by a spirit when mentally ill. I take medication and the demon, so to speak, has fled. How do you answer that? Stop hurting people by saying they are demon possessed or being ruled by some spirit. Maybe they just have a mental illness which can be helped by medication. I am tired of the christian community doing harm in these situations when they do not know the truth about mental illness. I would say the christian community needs an education. Thanks for letting me post my comments. In Christ, Brenda Baranowski, Psychiatric Nurse

  10. I was thrilled to find some discussion on a topic of great interest to me. I’ve been born again 25 years, and recently came to realize that my husband is bipolar. We recognized the depression, and thought of it as demonic oppression, because that’s what we were taught. He tried for years to “be” or at least “act” delivered with little success.

    Out of necessity, I’ve had to move on to Plan B, that is: get information, so at least I know what I’m up against. I’ve borrowed many a book from the library on Bipolar Disorder. I came to realize that it is an illness that can be diagnosed, just like many other illnesses.

    I know that God heals. I’ve been miraculously healed myself. I also know that our “faith” can make us whole. I also know of many folks that were standing in “faith” waiting for God to do something miraculous, and lost a loved one because they didn’t allow the doctors to do what they were trained to do. Meanwhile, God was simply waiting to be asked whether to fight or let Him do the fighting for us, as in the O.T. There are many ways to reach the desired end, healing, but we need to find out what God wants in the moment and trust the still small voice He’s given us, His sheep, that know His voice. His answer may be different every time. He doesn’t seem to be too big into formulas.

    Cheryl, wife and mother of five

  11. I find it amazing that this is the site I was lead to as I am on my own spiritual journey dealing with a mental illness. I have been talking with therapist for years that I need to add a spiritual aspect to my recovery and those I work with agree. Yet there is nothing to really help.

    I went to a church after being athiest for years. I accepeted Christ May 4, 2005. I was trucking along pretty good but then I kept hearing I was demon possessed. It really turned me off. I was working with someone who wanted to be a “Christian Councler” as was told by that person they couldn’t be around depressed people. I was in more trouble than we knew. My brain was shutting down my body from grief of a shooting I experienced a few months prior. I was also told by a “Christian” at the time of the shooting “Good ridiance” because the shooter and victim of the shooting was my abusive ex (the father of my daughter). That was almost 5 years ago.

    I still to this day question the bibical teachings I have received. I question the way I was taught to read and interpert the Bible. I asked my therapist just yesterday “why is it they have Bibical teachings like ‘Celebrate Recovery”, “Higher power for AA/NA with studies” but there is absoutely nothing for those with mental illness when the illness causes spiritiual conflicts and how to combat that without hearing it is demons?”

    I would love to see more on this topic from a Bibical stand point of how even the mentally ill are children of God. How God did not give us mental illness as a curse for being a sinner or a bad child! How even in the worst episodes of our illness God is right there loving us, holding us, supporting us, and receiving us when even our churches turn their backs on us. I have stopped going to church, bible study and small groups because people could not get past my mental illness which I refuse to hide. I chose not to hide it because when I do it is worse. What is the scripture. Do things in the light. I am an open book. I should not be treated as if I am going to have a demon leap out of me and into your life when I have a disorder that medications treat just as it would diabieties. If diabieties and cancer are not demons then why is mental illness so questioned and debated as to if it is demon possission or not? Are they not basically the same thing and both treated by medications?

    • Victoria says:

      Hi Deb

      I too had the same questions as you. I found this great book, I don’t know if you have ever heard of it, but it has shed a lot of light on the relationship between you, God, and mental illness. The book is called, Darkness is my Only Companion, by Kathryn Greene-McCreight. Not only does it help you understand, but when you give it to your loved ones to read, they too begin to understand it, even if it’s just a little. You may have your own opinion after you read it, but I wanted to help extend a resource that you might be able to use. I will pray for you.

  12. I am so thankful to have come across this post at this time on my journey with manic depression. I am in my early 40’s and depression hit me out of no where. It got so bad that I developed anorexia and starting losing my hair. The sad thing is that some actually accused me of wanting attention! A few that did not understand what I was going through but new my character were very concerned as tho I tried to hide it the best I could because I was so ashamed. I actually wanted to take my life but the only thing that stopped me was the worry of hurting others and leaving them with guilt that would have absolutely nothing to do with them. I prayed for weeks to die of natural causes because, I felt like a worthless example of a christian. But he did not take me and everyday felt like punishment. I thought I hid it from my teenagers because, I always faked everything was perfect around them and made everything great. But my son starting making comments about my weight and that he had heard me crying several times at nights. Which I did put a towel over my mouth to cry but, a few times I caught myself sobbing in my sleep. I ran to the nearest head doctor the next day and they put me on medication. I went through several but I was determined to find someway to end this torture of watching my loved ones worry and feel sorry for me. I have met many christian and non christian struggling with depression. My family, friends and boss are amazed at the journey back. I talk about it now and am not so embarrassed. It has humbled me much. Many thought I was perfect and could never have such an ailment. I work in human resources and have 372 employees. I feel like my test has become my testimony and my boss has sent me many because he does not understand depression. When I talk to them they start weeping because, I truly know the storm they are in and walk with them. I am not sure why this came into my life because, I am still on the journey. But I can say I have met many new people, found what I believe is my purpose and my test is becoming a testimony. It is changing me in so many ways. My burning bush made me stop, drop and roll myself right to my knees and the only place I had to look was up. I am staying very humble and discerning to learning. I am glad to see the different posts on this subject. I hope everyone continues to share. thank you

  13. Here I am agin. I am baffled by some of the comments. But alas I can laugh. I can cite each of them word for word from memory. How can I? Is it a gift? It is simply that I made most of the arguments my self. My favorite is the Bi-Polar who stoped taking his meds when he found God. Then he changed career fields three times. UM ya done that-did that-hope I don’t do that. So will any of those wordy people up there take this challenge. Brake your arm and let God mend it. I’ll make it easy. Next time you have a screaming migrane….don’t take asprin. I remember a question asked once: Where would we be right now if not for the 800 years of the Dark Age. There is a teather from then to now. Thats the devil you need to fear. Once more Mike, in what appears to be a dead gone language; Logic. You did it again.