The best policy is honesty. It’s who I am as a person and an artist. I’m going to bare my soul here, but I’m sharing both the ugly and the end result. I’ve walked in some dark times that I did not choose. When people think about mental illness some of the statements I often hear is
“You will get over it.
You will snap out of it.
It’s just a phase.
There’s nothing wrong with you.”
When people believe you have a mental illness they tend to think,
It’s your fault.
You’re not trusting God.
You’re possessed with evil spirits.
You should stop taking your medication and trust God.
Your faith is weak.
You need some alcohol to feel better.
You will never be able to handle a decent job or have a decent wife and family.
You will be poor and alone.
You are an outcast, (Poor you).”
As far as what I have experienced I can tell you that
all these predictions and beliefs were proven to all be lies.
Here is a story to verify it.
Around grade 6 I became overwhelmed with school. All the changes in my body, mind, and social structure was pushing my brain to the limit of what I knew how to handle. Even so I kept quiet about what I felt. At age 14, just about to be a freshman in high school I went to a familiar church camp with my family one weekend, a weekend that I would never forget and that would change the course of my life. We were trying to sleep, but I became restless, feeling like angels and demons were at war over me. My mind began to collapse so I began to sing worship hymns and asked my Dad and Uncle to join me to ease my struggle. Earlier that day it sounded like spirits were talking through the radio I was playing. It was terrifying! Through the night we sang very loud and woke up some of the other campers. They did not understand and got upset for waking them. The next day I ate breakfast in the cafeteria. I began to shake with anxiety for no reason. I had so much energy that I got up and began to run around the campground and then back to our cabin. It felt like there was toxic waste in my brain that needed to be burnt off and released. I began to get sick in the cabin and I spun on the floor vomiting. A pastor came and began to try to cast a demon out of me! He tried to convince me I was possessed, but yet I was a Christian and I did not invite any demon in. My Dad politely told him to leave and said “I don’t think my son is possessed”. The next day for the first time I told my parent’s that I want help. Please take me to where I can get help”! They explained what would happen if I went, how long I would have to stay, and how it would change my life forever. I said” I don’t care I need to go." Then I self-admitted myself.
They interviewed me at a mental health institute in Iowa that everyone knows as the nut house. They did not believe me at first, but later found the problem. I knew I would be forever stigmatized in my small town and community, but at this stage I still didn’t care, my goal was to become well, and much later I achieved that goal. I stayed in this institution for 8 months mixed in with juvenile teenagers who had broken the law. There were about 10 of us on that floor. It was like a small community inside a castle, complete with a school, cafeteria, dentistry, and outside field to play sports. And yes it actually looked like a castle! It started operation in 1902.It was believed to be haunted because of what went on there. I never saw any ghosts during my stay. When it rained or was stormy we walked in some underground tunnels to get to other buildings. I got lost more than once down there! Thing’s did start to become better. They gave me medication to help me with what they thought was depression. They later gave me a different med to help me with my anxiety. I was diagnosed with Borderline/paranoid schizophrenia. Just what I wanted to hear!!One more thing that would add to what people thought of me. This made sense because my illness was so hard to detect. I realized I had never been clinically depressed, just sad at times. The worst advice is to stop takings medication and believe God will take it away. That advice might work but, It could also cause serious problems. I know this because I stopped taking it and found myself in the hospital more than once. Some memories I had at this nut house or whatever you want to call it were as follows. A friend inviting me to touch exposed ends of an electrical cord he had cut and stripped down after he plugged it in. Don’t worry no one was hurt. There was not enough electric currency to do any damage. There was a school talent show with classmates performing songs by New kids on the block, and White snake complete with instruments. Some really played and some just faked it. We had a lot of laughs together! It felt good to release all that nervous energy! I listened to a lot of stories of the hard times that the other patients went through. I realized just how blessed I really was (even though I was a patient recovering also). We all become good friends. After I did my time (so to say), and the institution was confident to release me, I went back to public school participated in some sports, joined choir, creative writing, speech class, and all the important curriculum I needed to graduate high school. I become more confident, but at times I still became paranoid, and anxious. Because of this I was not able to have a full time job.
In my early 30’s I got married, settled down in Canada and started having kids. I started working overnight at a retirement home. One night at work in 2010 the paranoia completely stopped and it never returned even to this day. I give all the credit to God. I knew he really did care and he had the perfect timing for my healing. At about age 40 I began to repent of things I did on Facebook. I know it sounds a bit elementary, but that year God took away all my anxiety too. I traveled back to my hometown with my wife and my kid’s .We drove through town where the mental institution was that I admitted myself into when I was 14. I was thinking about what I had been through and all the lies I had been fed. That I would always be mentally ill, that I would not have a decent wife and family. (They are a good looking bunch by the way lol!)None of my children showed any signs of mental illness. (That was a huge lift off my shoulders!) I moved to a big city that my Dad said I would not do well in, but I made a way to do well. I went to college. I became a teacher and worship leader. I also preached one Sunday when the pastor was away and I became good with everything that I helped out with in the church. I again give all the credit and Glory to God for it. As we were driving through this town and thinking these things something caught my eye. I could not believe what I was seeing. It was a sign from God.(A literal sign!) I leaned over in my seat to see a vertical hanging rectangle shaped sign that said victory! It was for a workout center named Victory gym. It made me smile as I thought about how I could have lost my life and mind, but instead death had been swallowed up in victory and I was standing on a mountain top I thought I would never reach.
Mental illness is not evil. It is not any one’s fault. It does not mean you are demon possessed. Christians cannot be possessed. Medication was made by God through doctors to help you. You can be healed and survive it. Your life does not end with it. Most misunderstand it. Some misdiagnose it. God answers prayer on his time table and plan, not yours. God does not always heal everything right away. He wants your to grow and is working for your good. Not everyone has good advice or understands what you are going through. Don’t expect them to they are human.
An important proverb my Uncle said to me during a down moment was that I am a King’s kid. I carried this thought into adulthood knowing that I do not need to be discouraged with what this life gives us. I am treasured and loved above the angels. You are treasured and loved above the angles! No matter your situation God has appointed you to do and become something good and great. Greater than you think, you were made by him and for him 2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.