Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Have you gone mental (XVI)

I mentioned in a recent blog that I wrote that I use a spiritual and psychological approach to deal with my depression-anxiety. I've mainly addressed the psychological to this point.

I am a Christian. I put my faith in Jesus Christ when I was about 16 years old. The spiritual approach has advantages and disadvanges. The advantages surround the resource of prayer, the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, and the "godly counsel" available to me from spiritual leaders and peers I find in what I call my faith family.

The disadvantages surround the internal shame of being a Christian and still having a mental disorder. For some reason there is a strong sense of shame that is perpetrated by particular churches and denominations and individuals who believe that if my faith was strong enough, mental health problems could not overcome me. Others feel that Satan or my literal "demons" have been allowed to enter my life through my failure to follow Christ as I should; and this is responsible for my depression-anxiety disorder.

While I personally think this is garbage, it rages on. It is almost like there is an unidentified and relentless sect among those of the Christian faith who perpetrate this "shame game" and use it to control others or to allow themselves to feel superior to those who have a mental illness. The truth is that Christians and "non-Christians" both can use this as a method of personal dominance over other people. In other words, one does not need to be Christian to be a jerk or one who fancies oneself as superior to others.

Many of us have heard such things such as "why can't you just get it together", "Just think of good things.", "Snap out of it.", "You are just doing this to get attention.", "Why are you putting yourself through this?", or more damning... "What are you getting out of this that keeps you depressed or anxious?"

As a Christian I pray, write positive affirmations that I study relentlessly, I meditate, I go on prayer walks, I gather regularly with my faith community, I ask God every day to heal me. So far this has not happened. I believe this is not because I lack faith. This disorder is part of a bio-psycho-social-spiritual battle I fight daily. The disorder is due to a number of elements that converge, that we may call it "the perfect storm".

It follows that if the disorder is bio-psycho-social-spiritual in origin; healing must address each of these elements. It seems that none of these alone will resolve your issues; although they are important.

However, the most vital thing I wish to communicate is, do not give up your spiritual practice (whatever it may be) on your road to health. It will help to ground you and prepare you for the ongoing struggle... you may even find healing as this strand of "the spiritual" flows through your bio-psycho-social process.

God bless you.

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