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Archive for September, 2012

Hi, I’m Faith

“Mental illness does not exist! If you suffer from depression, then you don’t have enough faith in God or you must be sinning.”

These were the words that came from the mouth of a self-appointed, uneducated pastor of a hip relevant church on the outskirts of Winston-Salem, NC. My jaw dropped. Then I tightened my lips into a strong thin line, narrowed my eyes, and began clenching my teeth. My fury was palpable. I sent him an email expressing my anger and outright disagreement. I explained that I had been diagnosed with mental illness and that it is not a manifestation of a delusion nor does its origins stem from a lack of religious faith in God. I laid out examples of characters from the Bible that seemed to express a state of mental illness. Job, Peter, Noah, King Solomon, David, etc. 

He replied, quite disinterestedly, with “Do your research and then get back to me. Mental illness is just man’s way of excusing their rebellion against God.”

Disturbing? Yes. As it should be. Those with mental illness often face ostracism for simply being honest about their condition. For getting help. For admitting their lives are unmanageable and help is needed. It is still widely acceptable to make jokes about therapy or mental institutions. The word “crazy” gets thrown around as reason to write some off, or maybe just for giggles. I do it myself. It’s no wonder that someone suffering from depression would try to hide it. Or is it surprising that self-mutilation is on the rise.

In the case of mental illness, those who suffer from it, are doubly fucked. On the one hand, they cannot be open and honest about their struggles. On the other, those with mental illness, once found out, are then subject to harassment, or bullying, and being the butt of whispered jokes in the break room at work.

It is frustrating .Actually infuriating. As someone who lives every day with bi-polar disorder, and as someone who actively practices my faith, it is doubly frustrating and infuriating. Loneliness is a constant companion. Sometimes it seems as if my larynx has been surgically removed; cord by cord.

So, here’s a little advice: next time you find out a family member, or a friend, has some form of mental illness, recognize their illness as valid. Offer compassion and support. Speak up when people misrepresent mental illness and those suffering from mental illness. Educate yourself. Educate others around you.

For those suffering from mental illness, you are not alone. Hi, I’m Faith, and I suffer from

 

Image mental illness.

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Making Amends

This world makes me sad. Sometimes people infuriate me. The suffering of others settles deep into my bones, grieving with each step I take. I get discouraged at times because I am but one person. I cannot be there for everyone. I cannot fix everything. I desire to be. But it simply cannot be done. And if I dwell on this too long, I find myself being drowned by my tears.

There is so much suffering. Most of it is curable and preventable. Which of course makes me even more sorrowful. What makes it worse? People who confess with their mouths that they love God but are hateful in action. I’ve gotten to a certain place in my life where I can no longer tolerate superficial piety or intentional hypocrisy. It makes me sick. It angers me.

What’s worse than that? My own past, littered with superficial piety and intentional hypocrisy. For all those times in which I said “I’ll be praying for you” and instead watched more t.v. For all those moments when someone was crying and it was too awkward for me to comfort them. Especially those times when someone expressed what they believed, spiritually, and I invalidated their spiritual journey with my seemingly sage council. I am ashamed of my past bigotry. I am ashamed of my false humility. I am doubly ashamed of my overbearing pride.

I have been spending a lot of time thinking on these things. Trying to figure out just how I can rectify my past wrong doings and make everything right. Sadly, there are simply some wrongs that cannot be undone. I can only hope for forgiveness and understanding. Even so, it does not mean that I cannot try to make amends, with myself as well. 

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