I was brought up in a family where any type of problem was dealt with by pulling your socks up, having a stiff upper lip and just getting on with things. So when I began to experience really low moods the first thing I did was to try and grin and bear it. The trick of just getting on with things would surely work. Unfortunately not. My Depression got so severe that I had thoughts of ending my life. I can remember lying on the bed upstairs listening to my wife and children laughing downstairs. The sound of my children laughing is possibly the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. But all I wanted to do was to die. I couldn’t go on feeling the way I did. I cried out to Abigail that I couldn’t go on like this. She encouraged me to call the Doctor. Depression was diagnosed and a course of Anti-Depressants was prescribed. A few weeks later I was feeling much better. However I still didn’t want to open up to people. I still had this feeling that it was something that I should deal with myself and that people would think less of me.
4 years later and my depression hit an all time low. I had to do something or else I thought I was going to harm myself. Thoughts of driving the car a bridge were so strong that I had to cancel a trip and drive home straight away. I was so scared. 41 years old and I could see no way out. Was this how the rest of my life was going to be? I Booked in to see a Psychiatrist who said I was suffering with severe depression. She Prescribed 2 Anti-Depressants, one at night and one in the morning. The first few weeks were tough. I felt so nauseous, I almost stopped taking them. However, a few weeks on and I am beginning to feel so much better.
So where does Faith come into it? Over the years I have been encouraged by Christians to stop taking my medication, however I have seen first hand people taking their own lives as a result of this kind of advice. My wife, Abigail, who also suffers with a mental illness was told it was a question of faith and that if she wasn’t healed it was her faith that was weak. Suffice to say we stopped attending that church where she was told that by the lead Pastor. Now I am sure that this wasn’t an isolated incident and that all over the world fellow brothers and sisters are being told much the same thing, that if you aren’t healed then your faith is weak. According to one Pastor, of a very large church in the UK , Mental Health isn’t in the Bible so it doesn’t exist. Read that again and let it soak in.
So what do I think? Bearing in mind I am not a Pastor, and I have never been to Bible college, I do have a little experience and a small knowledge of the Bible. I believe in healing. I have seen it first hand in my son, although that is another blog entirely. Healing is a huge part of the New Testament, however from what I can see the majority of healing was used to bring people to Jesus. I believe firmly that not everyone is healed. Why? Maybe because God has a bigger purpose. Maybe, like healing, having a mental illness can also be used for good. How we handle our illness and get through it with our heads held high can give others a message that Jesus is the real deal. My faith in Jesus is as strong as the next mans, and how I walk with Jesus through my trials is a great testimony of just how awesome he is.
So what do I do? I continue to have contact with my Doctor, and I continue to take my prescribed medication. Prescribed to me by a professional who knows a lot more about my illness than anyone in the church. It makes me think about the story of the Christian man stuck on the roof of his house in a flood. His neighbour comes past in a boat and asks if he wants a lift to safety. He replies that he is ok because he has God in his life. The fire Brigade come past and ask him the same thing. His reply is that he is ok because he has God. The Coast Guard fly overhead and drop a winch down to him. He waves them away saying he is ok because he has God. Shortly after he slips of the roof and drowns. He enters Heaven and asks God why he let him die. God replies ” I sent you neighbours, firemen and the coast Guard” My point is that Doctors are there to be used. I also try to talk openly about my struggles. People in Churches struggle all over the world and remain quiet for may reasons. I want people to know about my struggles to encourage them that they are not alone. Churches don’t seem to want to talk about Mental Health and I don’t know why. But I want to try and change that. I am talking at church in a couple of weeks about David and Goliath. I am going to be open and honest about my Depression. Depression is my Goliath but I must never forget that I have Lions and Bears that God has brought me through. Depression is my Goliath and the stone in my sling is my acceptance of my illness, not being healed. I want to be real and tell people that I have many struggles, but that the Love of Jesus gives me the strength to get through them and to accept them.
I hope this has helped someone. If you are being told Mental Illness is a question of faith, then you are in the wrong church. Jesus loves you and promises eternal life. He doesn’t promise an easy life.