After the events of last week, the conversation about laws regarding access to weapons and mental health have intensified. One of the things that I’ve learned, being involved in the mental health field is that, the stigma of mental health and the issues some people have to access services, influences in having a larger number of untreated people with mental health conditions.
I wrote an article last year regarding “Faith and Mental Health”. One of the things that I’ve encountered as a Christian is that there are people who reject medical care for their mental health symptoms because they feel that it shows a lack of faith or just spiritual problems. I don’t deny that some people may be dealing with spiritual issues that cause their problems, but that doesn’t deny any mental health situations that they may be experiencing.
At the time that I’m writing this, it hasn’t been confirmed that the person who committed the horrible murders in Connecticut had mental health issues. My take on that is this, not all mental health patients are violent. At the same time I don’t think anyone in their right mind would enter a public place to kill innocent people, especially children.
I’ve heard many people saying that this incident is worse because it’s so close to the holidays. Believe it or not, the holidays can be a trigger, for some, unexpected reactions from those dealing with mental illness. The holidays are not a happy time for everyone. The stress of memories of past unpleasant prior holidays, family problems, financial issues, unemployment or something as simple as the weather changes during the winter, can be triggers to increase symptoms on someone with untreated mental illness.
From the spiritual standpoint, I believe that the enemy preys on those weaker during these times to ruin the celebration of the birth of Jesus. He knows he has been defeated and our victory celebration doesn’t sit well with him.
Revelations 12: 9-11
“And the great dragon was thrown down, the ancient serpent, the one who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole inhabited earth – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers was thrown down, the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life up to death.”
Instead of judging those around you with possible mental illness, educate yourself. There are many mental diagnoses, but the most common ones are depression and anxiety. If you or someone close to you presents these symptoms, seek help or encourage to seek help.
“Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Please take care of yourselves and each other. Blessings
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Mental Health is one controversial subject in religious circles. Emotional disturbances are not necessarily visible and therefore sometimes not viewed as real health problems and the treatment of there or lack of thereof is not always addressed appropriately.
Emotional conditions are usually viewed in religious settings as a lack of faith, a lack of prayer or lack of surrendering to God. I don’t discount that there are times were a believer’s struggle are due to those things, but as with physical healing, I wouldn’t recommend a cancer patient to stop or not engage in treatment; I wouldn’t discourage someone struggling emotionally to do the same. Matthew 4:23 (MSG) states, “People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them one and all”; which tells me that in God’s eyes they were all the same.
I think that sometimes believers fail to educate themselves in the nature of mental health conditions. A high percentage of mental health conditions are biological in nature. Just like diabetes, they are due to a chemical imbalance in the body, in this case; the brain, which is as much as an organ as the pancreas is. Just like diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer, most mental health conditions have a pre-disposition genetic component. It is true that a pre-disposition doesn’t mean that it will happen, just that the chances are higher. This has been proven with alcoholism and depression.
Can God heal people from these conditions? Absolutely, however that doesn’t mean that these struggles are not as real as physical ailments and they should be treated as such.
Some churches have a more open minded approach to these issues and have counseling programs available to their parishioners. There are many Christian programs (like Celebrate Recovery) and counselors out there that can not only understand the condition but also provide the spiritual support to the person dealing with these struggles.
In my opinion there are three major mental health conditions that are majorly misunderstood within the faith community. Those are: depression, anxiety and addictions. Absolutely keeping God first in anything in our lives is a most. At the same time if you or a loved one is struggling with emotional conditions do not be ashamed to seek professional help, or to encourage and support a loved one to seek it.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another
and pray for one another,
that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person
has great power as it is working.
First of all I want to apologize for not writing in the last few days, between Camp Nano and other distractions I have not been able to sit down long enough to concentrate. I’ve been thinking a lot about how sometimes we are affected by issues regardless if they have direct or indirect impact in our lives.
Life is never without challenges, disappointments and painful events, most of them out of our control. The way we react to those events and the way we view those events will determine our behavior and ultimately potential future outcomes.
When something unexpected affects negatively our lives its very common to feel anger, sadness, shock, resentment, disappointment, grief and many other negative feelings. Ephesians 4:26 reads “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” but I know there are wounds that are longer lasting, however once the sun comes back up, it may be time to start our baby steps back on the road of life.
We believe that we have no control over those feelings and that’s not totally true. Yes, those feelings are normal. We should not stuff them or deny them. We should talk about them and process them, the problem arises when we sulk and get stuck on them.
At some point the grieving process of an event runs its course and yes, the timing is different for everyone, but when the grief hinders you from functioning, you’ve gone too long.
That’s why I say that you can ultimately impact your future outcomes, for example…the loss of a relationship may be devastating, but it could open the door to self examination, discovery and the potential of a new, sometimes even better relationship. The loss of a loved one is devastating, but if you have faith that they are in a place of no pain and no sorrow, that will give you hope. The loss of employment or some other financial loss will not be easy to recover until you get back on your feet.
Feel what you need to feel, process what you need to process, but then it’s time to get up and move on. Trust that God will make everything right and that he’s in control. That there’s no evil that will not be avenged and no good deed unrewarded.
Faith will get you through
I recently encountered a situation were I was in a group and someone without provocation ( I promise) came and was very rude and disrespectful to me. My reaction:nothing! The people in the group where I was congratulated me for my reaction, stating that I had done the right thing, that the person’s attitude had been uncalled for and that I had taken the high road. So if I did the right thing, how did it not feel good?
I said nothing, I did nothing. Inside there was a volcano of all the things I wanted to say and do, but nothing came out. There was a voice inside of me telling me how much of a wimp I was that I had not put this person in their place and tell them A, B, and C. How much I didn’t know how to react to situation like this. Sounds familiar? Yes, it’s called Satan! But at the time I was to angry to realize it.
I went home and I was pacing still reviewing scenarios in my head of what I should have said and done and all of the sudden I stopped. I remembered something I’ve told many people who can’t let go of a situation: Why are you carrying this person with you? Are you willing to have them move in with you?
Did you know that’s what happen when you hold on to a resentment? Yes, the person moves in with you and sleeps with you and eats with you and watches television right there by your side. I decided that I didn’t like this person enough to have them move in, plus I had made steak for dinner and it was very good and juicy and I only had one and didn’t want to share.
I moved on to why is this bothering me so much. I made reference to my own series in offenses. Why did this offended me and what was God trying to teach me?
The answer to the first one is pride. I was very uncomfortable by the fact that this was done in front of people and that I held restraint. Instead of being proud of myself for doing what I was supposed to do, my pride was hurt by the fact that I didn’t get even.
What was God trying to teach me through this situation? I meditated on this quite a bit. I think my lessons here were, definitely treat others as you like to be treated. I don’t think I’m rude to other people, but it always important to be watchful of how we do things. The other lesson is to keep your emotions in check and not allow them to lead you, which I didn’t and I did. The situation where we all were was a very tense one. This other person could have been reacting to the stress of our surroundings. In a way, I did the same thing by getting angry even though I didn’t show it. Last but not least, that taking control of the flesh is not always fun, it’s painful but worth it.
At the beginning of each year we decide that we’re going to do everything new, those resolutions usually last until the second week of January because routine sets in and life goes back to normal. Part of why we tend not to come through with our resolutions it’s because we set unrealistic goals.
So, does that mean not making New Year’s resolutions? Not necessarily… These were my lessons from 2010.
- Look at the root of the problem- Sometimes we are addressing the symptoms and not the real issue. When you don’t resolve the actual issue, your chances of success decline significantly because the behavior will either return or transform. The most common issues are food and finances, but this applies to anything as well. People enter into diets or financial plans to resolve debt, but within months they return to their bad habits, that’s an example of treating the symptoms and not the issue. Why do you eat or spend or drink or whatever the issue is? Is it loneliness, self esteem, boredom, lack of skills. Once you identify what’s really causing the problem, even though it may take a little longer to see results in the changes, you may experience more permanent changes and more satisfying results. (Matthew 13:20-22)
- Identify the reasons for the change- Are you making these changes for you or for someone else? Sometimes we have the tendency to join a wagon because our peer jumped in it, but are those things that you’re pursuing beneficial to you. Look if your goal will have a physical, emotional, spiritual or even financial benefit for you. This may be extreme, but for example, I have a friend who is anorexic and the last thing I would want for her is to go on a diet with me. (Romans 12:2)
- Find out what works for you- We are not truly created equal, we are as different as the stars in the sky. Find something that works for you in the accomplishment of your goal.
- Divide your big goal into small steps. I think the principle of one day at a time and small changes very well applies here. I get it! In the microwave mentality world that we live in, we want immediate results, but are those the ones that really last? Whatever you’re trying to change in your life didn’t happen over night and it will not go away over night. You will feel like a failure when you don’t get the results you want or when the results are not lasting. However if you start with smaller goals and celebrate those smalls victories, then once a goal is achieve you can up the bar to another one higher. By the end of the year you will be able to look back and see not only that you have accomplished more than you honestly expected ( Ecclesiastes 3:1-17;7:17)
- Seek help- if you have tried to achieve this goal before and the things you’ve tried has not work, there’s no shame on seeking help. Having someone to guide you through the process, encourage you and celebrate with you your success may be the formula to finally conquer that obstacle that you’re trying to overcome. (Deuteronomy 1:12-13)
So start working on your game plan and much success in 2011!!
Internet is back up, Halleluiah! As promised, upon my return I was going to add another one of my short stories for your delight. Please go to e-reads page and click on “Loud Silence” or simply click on the link below and enjoy this dramatic story of a woman who had it all and basically snapped.
Feedback is always welcome and thanks for your patience while I was away.