I was quite positive on my first post about this.  That was mostly because my church is very progressive in how they view illness, especially mental illness.  I’m accepted, I do get prayed for, but like I said, that’s not it, and they also have suggestions on where to go.

However, a couple of days ago i googled “Christian Counseling” and “Christian Psychiatry”, since that’s what i’m going back to school for.  Almost every site proclaimed that psychiatry was the work of the devil.  They supported prayer based healing.  They said that the enemy could weasel into our lives to make us think we were having a problem.

Medication… that was dragged through the mud.  There were churches out there that if they found out you were taking psychiatric medication, would humiliate you until you stopped taking it.

Then I also saw some personal websites where the treatment of them forced them out of religion, even though that’s all they had known.  A lot also still proclaimed that they still had faith and would never turn their backs on Christ, because He loves them for who they are.

Those hate-filled websites just continue to keep people suffering until the day they may snap.

When I’m through with my education, I will make every effort to comfort those going through things they don’t understand.  I will stop the Christian’s vision of hate.

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Sometimes I Hide

Most of the people who know me in real life and online will probably agree that I’m an over sharer.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, and completely break down at least once a month.  I don’t attend parties sometimes because I scared of having a panic attack.

Ok, back on track… almost all of my friends and family know I have a mental illness.  Don’t worry, I won’t give anyone my life story when I first meet them.  It definitely does  take time… unless other people spread it around.  When I feel comfortable with you and consider you my friend, I will tell you.

So, why, do you ask, do I share this side of me.  Because I feel that it is better to nip things at the bud instead of having this amazing friendship with someone and them finding out when I go to the hospital, or see my medication container, or many other things.  I did hide once with a friendship and when I told them about it, they got upset bc they thought we could share everything.  I want to avoid this in the future.  So, I make sure that if you’re a good friend I will tell you bc I don’t want that situation to happen again.  If you turn your backs on me or make fun of me, you weren’t destined to be my friend, and I accept that.

Then, my diagnoses changed.  All of my friends were told that I have Bipolar 1.  The entire diagnoses is Bipolar 1 with psychotic features.  So, I suppose I understand how you are trying to cope with the psychosis part of my illness, when you never new I had been suffering with it since I was 15.  At first I told a handful of friends about the new diagnosis and that I had the most horrible social anxiety that was keeping me home even though I wanted to go out.  I was going to tell people slowly, and at my own pace.  Someone, however, told all of my friends with their bias clouding the truth.

You probably think that I shouldn’t let people know anymore. I can’t do that.  I need to make sure that the person or people I let in don’t care about what my illness is called, and that they will always be there.  I HAVE found a few, but mostly, I’m left to a small group of friends that are the most amazing people I’ve ever met.  I’m ok with that.  Quality over quantity.  It’s been a punch in my gut dealing with things, but when I started following that, I realized that I do have some wonderful friends.

And it’s not just with my friends.  It’s with the world.  I do not look like I have a mental illness, no matter how severe it actually is.  That is due to the ridiculous amount of medications I take (if you want to know, it’s 7).  Of course, a lot of people have told me that they want proof bc they didn’t believe me.  That is a horrible feeling. And it just goes to show that stigma runs rampant within the mental health community.

So, I do not hide.  If you are uncomfortable with me or what I say, you have the right to feel that way, but I probably won’t go to you for advice, and you probably will not get texts or phone calls from me.

I tried lying once to certain people bc I didn’t want to hear what they had to say about me.  Of course, the cat came out of the bag, I ended up being completely nuerotic about it and I stayed in my bed for three days.  If I had been honest with this person from the beginning, I would have known what to expect.  Another reason why hiding isn’t good for me.

Of course, there are times I have to shut up about it, like at work or with relatives I don’t really know.  I generally just stay quiet just so I won’t be judged.

So do whatever you feel is best for you.  My approach will not work for everyone, and I realize that.  Some people are surrounded by people who will become harsh and ridicule them.  Others will have people that blatantly ignore it.  My only hope is that somehow, someday, we won’t be so afraid.

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Question 

On my phone app. I’m curious about something. I hope it doesn’t offend anyone, but that I’m kinda on a slow moving roller coaster myself. And yes, I have the fastest roller coaster sitting right next to the one I’m riding. 

My question is that I’ve been reading stories written by people with depression, anxiety, and some with bipolar. A common thread that is very noticeable is that you “hear voices, or have Said things like “every time I wanted to start on getting better, the voices don’t want me to do that”. 

I want to know what they feel like?  My first diagnosis ever, and i apparently had major depression. Years later is when I got the correct diagnosis. 

So, I don’t know how they look and sound to people. Anyone out there want to clear it up for me, that would be wonderful. 

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Mental Health and Religion

Yes, I know I touched on this in my last post, but I wanted to approach it specifically instead of telling you all the bad experiences I had.

I was diagnosed Bipolar 1 in 2002 (again, to refresh, I left out any talk of psychosis). I lived my life on the edge. I was more manic a few years after that when I Djed at a strip club. Yes, I was taking medicine, but I also started doing drugs which completely counter-acted the benefits of my psych meds. Slowly I got better and started to live with a couple of friends, who eventually got scared of all the med changes I was going through and how they made me violent and irritable. They told me that they didn’t want to live with me after our lease was done…. so, I went and lived with my mom.

After a few weeks there, I decided that maybe I should go to church to see what it was like… and I chose the church that I used to go to for Youth Group. It was 2009. At this time I was incredibly normal. No mood swings, no psychosis. And I was very very stable. So, I went, and was given such a warm welcome. I ended up going to the church every Sunday that I was home. And when I left, they researched a church for me to go to where I was going to live. I was definitely paranoid about that (and for the right reason), but I smiled and nodded as they handed over the information for the Church (turns out, it wasn’t a very welcoming church and had SO many members that they had to have 2 Sunday services. I felt completely lost and stopped going). Same thing happened when I lived in King of Prussia… and a few times during my stay there, I went back to my church, even though it was a half hour away. Then, finally, I moved back with my mom and went regularly again. Then… I just stopped going.

My mental illness kept getting worse. I had to be admitted to the hospital a couple of times, too. I went every once in awhile. Most of the time I couldn’t bear to get out of bed. Finally, in fall of last year, I went back to the church and stayed there. I will never doubt my decision. I go every weekend, unless I’m not going to be in town. I’m on the right meds, I like myself more, I’ve gone from crippling social anxiety to a much calmer state most of the time. I’ve also lost some friends in the battle, but I do not mourn it anymore.

I know a lot of people may be wary of religion (especially others who have serious mental illnesses), because they’ve got the thought in their heads that all the religious people want to pray for complete healing and go off their meds. It’s a horrible stereotype. People pray for healing, of course, but they pray for the doctors, they pray for the right medication to be administered. And they know that God put those people in those jobs to help others for a reason.

So don’t be afraid to try it. Obviously, if you don’t want to, that’s perfectly fine. I’ll never just tell anyone what to do.

Be brave.

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I’m Not Possessed, I Have a Mental Illness

I’ve lived with my mental illness for 21 years.  I’ve ridden the twists, turns, rise, and fall of the roller coaster.  Many meds I’ve tried do not work, but I will always find something that does, for the most part.  The entire 21 years have been filled with noises, voices, visual hallucinations, sensory hallucinations… you know psychosis.  And everything that goes with it.

Since 2012, I’ve had three instances that made my blood boil.  That year was horrible for me.  I ended up in a psych ward in September.  I had to quit my job because the hallucinations got worse every single day I worked there.  I was hospitalized two more times in the first half of the year in 2013.

But I’m not here to talk about my hospital visits.

The first time someone belittled my illness, it was one of my aunts.  She told me I was psychic and that what I heard were the recently departed souls who were desperate to talk to their relatives.

Let that sink in.

She, of course, had to do it in between hospitalizations, and then I went delusional thinking I was psychic.

The next time was a woman at my church.  She knew I suffered from a mental illness, but she believed that my problem wasn’t that, but that I had demons inside of me that needed to be exorcised.

ok… you got all that?

Luckily almost every other member of the congregation does not feel that way.  In fact, one of my friends in the church has a brother with Schizophrenia, and was absolutely appalled at that.  I wrote a letter to the woman believing I had demons inside me, letting her know that the subject matter hurt me very much, and directing her to a web page regarding my illness.   She apologized and I did keep going to that church.

Finally, another one of my aunts echoed the church woman.  She said that the demons I had dealt with were real and that I had to pray for God to take them away.  This time I was more prepared because of the past times, and wasn’t going through a mood episode or psychosis.  I politely rebuked her “assessment” and told her that yes, I was a Christian.  My church prays not to miraculously heal through prayer, but to pray so that I will get the right medical treatment.  And I told her I didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

These things could happen to anyone who has a mental illness and has a few people in his/her life that think a cure is to pray it away, or say that you have special powers (hello delusions!).  But those are the radicals.  they do not represent the norm, and that’s very important to know.

I really hope that none of this will or has happened in your life, but odds are, unfortunately, you probably have or will.  So I will sign off saying to keep your mind as healthy as you can, take medications if you’ve been prescribed them, and listen to your doctors.  This may be the only thing keeping you from being attacked by the outside world.  Oh, and if you have close friends who know all about your illness(es), contact them.  Tell them what is going on, and they will help to bring you back to your comfort zone.

xoxo

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