Mental illness and the Baptist Chuch

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by seekingthetruth, Apr 24, 2012.

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  1. seekingthetruth

    seekingthetruth
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    How do we, as good, Bible believing Baptists, place judgment on people with mental illnesses when it is no fault of the ill person at all?

    A mental illness is no different from having MS or diabetes.

    But yet, I hear so many "good" Baptists making snide remarks about mentally ill people.

    I was born with a mental illness that I receive disability for. I worked for 35 years but when i got into my 50's my condition was so severe that i could not work anymore. A couple of people on the BB knew me when I was the most ill and know that what I am saying is true. I have been on meds for 3 years, i go to both secular psychiatrists and Christian counselors, and my life is much improved, even close to normal, but i have to work at it very hard to maintain it.

    Let me add here that my IQ is well over 140, and I scored 98 1/2 percentile on my ASVAB test when I went into the Army, so intelligence has nothing to do with it. I am not stupid, but I do have a mental illness.

    Why do "good" Baptist Believers make snide comments about people like me? Would they like it if they were sick and people made fun of them? I expect this from the world in general, but I would think that "good" Baptists would educate themselves and treat people with mental illnesses with the same respect they would anyone else.

    Thank you for listening to my rant, and now, let me know how you feel about people who are mentally ill.

    John
     
  2. Bobby Hamilton

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    I believe God tells us to judge right and wrong. Not opinions or things that the scriptures aren't clear about.

    We have a few mentally ill people in our church. If/when they do something wrong, they need to be admonished for it...correctly.

    It's not a case of "well, do we admonish the mentally ill guy"...it's a case of "what is the proper way to do so"

    Even people who are "retarded" still have a comprehension of things that are right and wrong (well, most do). I have a severaly autistic cousin, but he knows some right from wrongs.

    John...I think the key thing to your comment is how Baptists (and others) incorrectly handle your situation (whatever it might be) and disgracingly talk about you in ways they shouldn't.

    I would venture to say that you are capable from knowing right/wrong, so what hinderance does your mentall illness do to keep you from God or from doing right/wrong?

    I'd say your walk might be better than others, because you have to work so hard (as you've said) to control it. Your discipline is probably much stronger.


     
  3. seekingthetruth

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    Oh yes, I am totally capable of knowing right from wrong. The problem is that if I let my illness go untreated, I stop caring about right and wrong.

    It is a constant battle. Maybe God knew I needed more to keep me straight than most people do and that is why He allowed this? I have never thought of it that way until your comment above, but you could be right. Although I wouldnt say my walk is better than most people, it is certainly better than it was before I got diagnosed and began treatment.

    John
     
  4. seekingthetruth

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    Bobby, I have never heard of any christian making fun of a person with cancer, or strokes, or physical deformities....but even in my own church, one of the deacons said that my illness was a cop out and made up. He doesnt believe in mental illness. He said that unless a person was insane and needed to be in an institution that they could live as normal as everyone else if they chose to.

    I wish he was right, but he's not. So he makes fun of me and ridicules me. He is no longer a deacon, thank goodness.

    John
     
  5. Arbo

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    I'm reminded of a radio show that used to run on one of the regional christian AM stations. At least once a week the pastor (forgot his name) would get on the topic of prescription psychological drugs and how the vast majority of those on them didn't need to take them. They needed to repent of their sin instead.
     
  6. seekingthetruth

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    Actually I dont take any "mind altering" drug like prozac, paxil, ect. I only take lithium, which is a mineral and it replaces the minerals my brain is lacking. It doesnt change anything or make me feel any different right after I take it. It doesnt "dope" me up at all. It took several weeks before I could tell a difference when I first started taking it, but boy can I sure tell it now.

    John
     
  7. Arbo

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    Seeking- I'm glad you are able to get relief for your ailment.

    I read over my last post and realize that my support for this guy's opinion can be misread in it. For the record, I do not agree with him.
     
  8. Thousand Hills

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    Please don't take this the wrong way, as I do not know you personally (just commenting at the question posed), but we all have issues/quirks with varying degrees of severity. I've always had issues with depression, every couple of months I'll hit a low point, but always by God's grace bounce back. My wife is the opposite she has a very outgoing personality, but knowing her like I do, she is paralyzed at times by fear anxiety and insecurity, she just masks it better than others.

    I'm thankful for our High Priest who has gone before us and knows us inside and out (Psalm 139) during good and bad times. :jesus:

    "My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels." --Psalm 22:14

    Our blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul. "The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?" Deep depression of spirit is the most grievous of all trials; all besides is as nothing. Well might the suffering Saviour cry to His God, "Be not far from me," for above all other seasons a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness. Believer, come near the cross this morning, and humbly adore the King of glory as having once been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than any one among us; and mark His fitness to become a faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Especially let those of us whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of our Father's love, enter into near and intimate communion with Jesus. Let us not give way to despair, since through this dark room the Master has passed before us. Our souls may sometimes long and faint, and thirst even to anguish, to behold the light of the Lord's countenance: at such times let us stay ourselves with the sweet fact of the sympathy of our great High Priest. Our drops of sorrow may well be forgotten in the ocean of His griefs; but how high ought our love to rise! Come in, O strong and deep love of Jesus, like the sea at the flood in spring tides, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash out all my cares, lift up my earth-bound soul, and float it right up to my Lord's feet, and there let me lie, a poor broken shell, washed up by His love, having no virtue or value; and only venturing to whisper to Him that if He will put His ear to me, He will hear within my heart faint echoes of the vast waves of His own love which have brought me where it is my delight to lie, even at His feet for ever.


    Spurgeons' Morning By Morning
     
  9. Deacon

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    The durgs you mention (Prozac, Paxil, etc.) work to correct biochemical imbalances and generally don't make a person feel or act different either. Similarly they may take weeks to change a persons depression.

    I work in a medical office and am aware of the large number of people that take these medictions.

    I think it would surprise many pastors to find out how many of their congregation take these medictions.

    Then again, many congregants might be surprised to find out that some of their pastors take the medictions too.

    Rob
     
  10. annsni

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    John, I guess it's that so many just don't understand mental illness. I know I never did and have learned a lot in the last 15 years or so. But I have to say that I'm so glad that you are doing better and I say "poop" to the deacon who thinks you're faking it. Don't listen to him. :)
     
  11. Bobby Hamilton

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    I don't believe God can give us anything we can't handle. As far as that guy and not believing in mental illness...eh...it is what it is. To a certain extent I agree (as far as prescribing a mentall illness like a common cold these days)...but I also believe in chemical imbalances that can lead to certain type behaviors. I've also read about slight frontal load pressures that can lead to hostile behaviors, etc...because of pressure on the brain.

    If there are meds that help you, then praise God there are. That's how he helps you, and you're stronger off for it.

    It's hard to praise/follow God when things are good, and easy to do it when things are rough. So in one sense, if things are always rough and that keeps you close to God, that could be a blessing. I know my time with God isn't near what I want it to be, especially when things are going well...and that's not how it should be at all.
     
  12. seekingthetruth

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    Oh no, I agree with you 100%. We all have fears or doubts or other mental traits that we have to deal with. The only difference with mine is that it is caused by an actual physical deformity in my brain. My brain doesnt naturally maintain the minerals and chemicals it needs so i have to take it orally. That's all. In other words there is a physical reason for my mental illness.

    The biggest obstacle to overcome when i started getting better, was getting used to being better. I had lived for over 50 years in absolute misery and frustration. That is a long term pattern that you don't just shed over night.

    There is no way i can put into the words the frustration i felt. I was smart and as physically able to do or be anything I wanted to be....but i just couldnt do it. I couldnt understand why everyone around me was stable in their work and in their homes, but i couldnt keep a job, a relationship or a home for longer than a few months. My Social Security report lists over 175 jobs that I had between 1976 and 2009. My family thought i was just no good and didnt want to do right, this made me feel even worse, and even more frustrated.

    I got to the point of suicide before i was finally taken to a hospital that did the proper testing and diagnosed me.

    Today, my wife and I are very happy, I have lived in the same house for almost a year (a record for me), and my friends and family are reconciling with me.

    Christians need to learn more about mental illnesses and try to understand what the ill person is going though. Yes, there are many abuses of meds, especially when it comes to children. That being said, there are also many, like me, that just cannot live a normal life without the meds.

    John
     
  13. seekingthetruth

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    Thanks for the info, i was not aware of that. It was my impression that those drugs were very severe in how they work and cause extreme behavior changes. Thank you for showing me different, and i will look them up to learn more.

    John
     
  14. agedman

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    I worked for a well known pastor that thought all mental difficulties were manifestations of sin.

    He was wrong. His children reflected the fact that he was wrong.

    It is absolutely sad how so very many are not only misinformed but in complete denial when it comes to psychological disorders.

    I was visiting with a daughter who was having to place a parent into full time care. The daughter didn't know about "sundowners disorder." Once she began to comprehend the various manifestations, she was less shackled with the guilt of the placement of the parent.

    If I had one series of courses that every educator and preacher should take, it would be on psychological manifestations and treatments.
     
  15. 12strings

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    My wife's brother has a Thyroid disorder that can really mess him up. through middle school he got pretty bad, extreem un-emotion. He would watch Seinfeld with them and say things like (with stoic face), "I know that's funny, but I can't laugh." He has been on good meds since then and is now happily married. but he will be on those thyroid meds the rest of his life, thank goodness he has good insurance.

    That said, the role of pastors and christian counselors is not to tell people to get off their meds, or to get on them, but to counsel obedience at all times. If someone feels they are making progress with their depression, for example, and can get off thier meds, We should say, That's good, go talk to your doctor. But whether they are on meds or not, we should say, "God is not pleased when you yell at your sister."
     
  16. seekingthetruth

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    I see it like any other illness that needs attention. Diabetics need insulin to function properly, I need lithium.

    And you are correct. My mental illness in no way makes me any less responsible for anything i have done or will do.

    Being bi-polar does not excuse anything I have done in my past, but it does explain it. Now that I know what the problem is I am even more responsible for what I do. With the treatment, counseling, and support i get from my wife, my son, my pastor, and most of all from God, there is no legitimate reason for me to return to the miserable disobedient life i had before my diagnosis.

    If you cut your arm and don't treat the wound, and you get gangrene and die, whose fault is that? Same with mental illness. If I fail to treat the illness I will return to a that old life, or maybe even die.....and it would be nobodies fault but mine.

    Oh yes, I may be mentally ill, but i am a firm believer in personal responsibility.

    I learned it the hard way.

    John
     
  17. menageriekeeper

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    Good for you for getting treated and continuing to take the meds. Even better for you that you take responsibility for your life before you found out what was wrong with your body.

    That second thing combined with vast ignorance about mental illness is why you face the junk you do. You aren't just paying for your mistakes, but for the stereotypes that our culture (as both Baptists and Americans) have formed about mental illness.

    There are many like yourself that use their illness to excuse their bad behavior. My mother was one of these, is one these and my father enables her. She didn't seek treatment for herself (we had her committed more than once because she would refuse the meds and become violent) until a concerted effort by her siblings, re-enforced by my brother and my refusal to allow the grandchildren anywhere around her until she was treated. Even then, she couldn't be trusted to take the meds and it was a crap shoot as to what we would find when we visited. (my brother finally cut all contact with them) (it took significantly more than lithium to "normalize" her)

    So she gets little sympathy. And because of her actions (and that of other like her) you get little sympathy. It's not fair, but it is what it is.

    Again, let me congratulate you on seeking treatment, taking the meds and not pretending that nothing is wrong. Your life and that of your family will be much improved.

    I wish, just once, I could have heard my mother say "I'm sorry for the stuff I did. I was ill, but I wish I could change things". I wish even more that my brother could hear my mother say that. But it won't happen in this lifetime. She has alzheimer's now and what few clear moments she has, she still blames my brother for the rift in our family. :(
     
  18. seekingthetruth

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    This thread was very hard for me to start, and it took several snide comments on here about mental illness for me to do it.

    I am not looking for sympathy or making excuses. I am simply trying to reach out to you folks and maybe raise some awareness about mental illnesses.

    Too many people pass judgment without knowing the facts. And as someone else said earlier, you would be surprised as to how many people around us, even in our church take psych meds.

    When I was growing up, my parents knew i had problems coping with life, but they were in denial about it. When I was a child a mental illness meant you were insane and locked up somewhere, and nobody, but nobody sought treatment for fear of judgment by the community.

    Today, i find that many more people are aware of the effects of mental illness and the treatments available. But, I also find that alot of our church members are very dogmatic about it, and refuse to even educate themselves about it, because they have already decided that it is just an excuse for failing.

    I quit bible college back in 1985 because I just couldn't do it. The academics of Bible College were easy for me, but the grind was too much. Now I know that my inability to make it through was due to my illness. On here, on the BB, i was called a 'seminary dropout'. Which is true, but I would like to see the person that posted it make it through BC with my illness.

    Anyway, i hope this thread provokes some of you to learn more about mental illness, and I hope it helps some of you to be more sensitive towards people that are sick. Like I said, i dont think anyone here would make fun of or ridicule anyone who had cancer, diabetes or strokes, but they do make fun of mental illness.

    Why?

    And dont think that I am so sensitive that i cant be made fun of. Believe me, there are plenty of legitimate things to make fun of or ridicule me for without bringing up an illness that i was born with, and didnt ask for.

    There is no excuse for a Christian, especially a Baptist (yes i hold us to a higher standard) to be so uneducated and so insensitive.

    Thank you for the opportunity to get this off of my chest

    John
     
  19. DiamondLady

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    John, there are many, many who suffer from mental illness. They're not the problem. Like many other things in this world, the problem is the response of Christians to the person. They will have to stand before God one day and answer for their lack of lovingkindness to their fellow Christians and the world.

    To me, you are not mentally ill, you have a disease that requires you to take a pill each day to control your disease the same as someone who has an inactive thryoid or someone who needs medication to control their blood pressure. If we Christians would stop treating folk like lepers I think we'd see amazing things begin to happen.

    Don't worry about the scathing opinions of many of the folk here. Consider the source, keep your eye on the Father, and keep traveling down life's road. God just gave you something that makes you special and unique!
     
  20. jaigner

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    I hope you've allowed yourself to seek good professional mental health counseling and seen a medical doctor about your condition. You don't have to sit around in pain.
     
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