Mental Illness and Your Congregation

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by StefanM, Aug 2, 2016.

  1. StefanM

    StefanM
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    I know it's been an eternity since I've posted here, but I thought I would come back with a serious discussion.

    How does your church handle mental illness within your congregation?

    I don't just mean mild depression or anxiety or people having trouble adjusting to mild trauma---not that these people aren't facing significant issues.

    I am mostly referring to those with more severe psychiatric illnesses---bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, major depressive disorder, panic disorder, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Others could be included.
     
  2. Deacon

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    "How does your church handle mental illness within your congregation?"
    Graciously

    We have a few members with autistic children
    We have quite a few with dependancy issues.
    And a few with depression.
    Every person and every situation is different.

    We have a congregation that is patient enough to give the leadership time to best workout how a person best fits within the different groups.

    Our congregation is quick to befriend newcomers; some people need special friends that can attend their special needs.

    Rob
     
    #2 Deacon, Aug 3, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016
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  3. StefanM

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    Have you ever encountered someone in church with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia?
     
  4. Iconoclast

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    Many in the churches do not understand either the nature of these dis orders or how to recognize or help the people.Unless you have been around such a person, or persons.... there is little chance even for sincere persons to help.
    Several people have had to learn how to deal with these persons with a combination of prayer,biblical principle, love, tough love, medications,and a sacrifice of time.
     
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  5. StefanM

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    You mentioned in your post that you've encountered someone with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. What approach did you take in this instance (or instances)?
     
  6. Iconoclast

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    It takes effort to learn about these diagnosis.....it takes time to offer help.
    Sometimes the person themselves struggles to understand what is happening to themselves.
    You try and provide guidance along biblical lines. Any chemical imbalance can be helped with psychotropic medications,abilify,depecote,seriquil,lithium,etc to help the person stay mid-line and be able to.pause before making choices so they do not put themselves at risk.
     
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  7. StefanM

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    You may have wondered why I asked, but I have Bipolar Disorder. I know that the medications are definitely not 100% effective, so some breakthrough episodes occur.

    I was wondering what kind of biblical guidance you might offer. I keep wishing I could see a (well-written) book called Ministry and Bipolar Disorder or something similar.
     
  8. Iconoclast

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    I would start here;
    Isa26;
    3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

    4 Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:

    This is true for all people. Shalom shalom, translates to perfect peace... the same idea is found in Phil 4;

    6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

    7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

    8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    The figure used was of a garrison of soldiers set out to surround and protect the heart


    The blessing of psalm 1 comes upon a person who can go back to anchor his soul on the revealed word of God.

    1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.


    2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.


    3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.


    4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

    True mental health comes from being word centered....bi polar moves a person to extremes, both the manic episodes or the depressed ones.

     
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  9. Internet Theologian

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    In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33

    When you have these mental disturbances, don't be troubled or perplexed, or feel that since you haven't gained 100% deliverance by believing and claiming a passage that you're not right with God, lack faith &c.

    You may want to read 'Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners' by John Bunyan. Keep in mind Paul's thorn in the flesh, and thank God that this thorn was never named (though many have speculated). Even though he had this thorn, God's grace was sufficient for both him, for you, and for all who belong to Him.

    One day we will all be totally delivered from this flesh.

    BTW, I have a late brother who was schizophrenic. It is quite difficult to deal with them socially, let alone in a church setting given all the setbacks and challenges with this mental disorder.

    Keep on keeping on brother. :)
     
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  10. StefanM

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    Thank you for sharing these verses. they are quite helpful. I've written the references down and will find a way to make them easily accessible to remind me.

    I guess my next question is this---

    If a manic episode does occur (which can include hallucinations and delusions), I know from experience that a person can make very poor decisions that end up hurting those around him or her. In my case, when I come down out of mania and the delusions go away, I'm horrified.

    I'm not sure how to approach this. It's not necessarily a matter of repentance per se, because I do repent when I come out of mania. I definitely don't try to justify what I do, even if my mental state is impaired. But how does one deal with the regret, etc.?
     
  11. StefanM

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    Thank you for the advice and the encouraging words. Although Bipolar Disorder is very, very difficult to handle, I know that schizophrenia is even more difficult. I can't even imagine what your brother must have experienced.
     
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  12. Sapper Woody

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    Brother, I am not a mental health professional, but can sympathize and empathize with your situation. I am medically retired with a diagnosis of PTSD. So please understand that what I am about to say, I say without judgment or malice.

    It seems to me, Brother, that you're mindset is wrong. Not trying to justify something is good, but feeling the need to repent because of a situation out of your control is not. Repentance implies control. Feeling the need to repent after an episode can lead to depression and anxiety. Recently I told my wife that I was going to quit apologizing to my employers for my PTSD. I told her that I didn't owe anyone an apology for having to leave the job because an episode hit me. Has it helped diminish the episodes? No. But it has helped the post-episodic depression.

    God knows our hearts. God knows our minds. God knows what we have control of and what we don't. And only God can truly judge whether or not we've crossed the line into using the disability as an excuse.

    Well meaning Christians often make things worse. "Give it to God, He'll carry your burden", as if it were easy. Or, "The closer you get to God, the easier it'll be". Well, when God carries our burden of a mental disability, it doesn't mean that He'll take it away. It means that He'll be with us through it. It means that we don't have to feel horrible about things beyond our control.

    Will we feel bad because we let people down? Sure. It's only natural (unless you're also a psychopath). But there's a fine line between being sorry something happened, and being sorry that you did something. Be sorry that you couldn't take your kids somewhere, but don't be sorry that you chose not to take your kids somewhere during an episode.

    On the lighter side, it's kind of like the comedian said, "I'm sorry and 'I apologize' mean the same thing often; with the notable exception of being at a funeral". Be sorry things do or do not happen. Do not feel the need to apologize.

    It's a fine line, and confusing to explain over text. I hope my meaning has been conveyed.
     
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  13. StefanM

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    Your post made perfect sense. Part of my issue is that I don't exactly how much is within my control or not. I don't want to use my illness as an excuse, but I also recognize it's a major mitigating factor if I am actually unable to control my actions/thoughts/beliefs.

    Also, I wonder about the moral culpability of choosing to act on the basis of a delusional belief. I would never act that way apart from the delusion, but, in the midst of the delusion, the action makes perfect sense and seems like the right thing to do (or at least an acceptable option).
     
  14. Sapper Woody

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    I understand your feeling perfectly.

    About 3-4 months after I got out of the Army, I was working in a factory. I began to go into a severe PTSD episode where I couldn't tell what was real (I thought some co-workers were Taliban). My intellect knew that something wasn't right, but my mind kept feeding me false information. I began hyperventilating and lost focus of the world around me. A co-worker (fortunately for him, an amateur boxer) came up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder. Startled, I spun around, wrapped his arm in an elbow lock, and punched him right in the stomach.

    As soon as I did, my mind snapped back to reality. I felt horrible. Luckily, he was able to shake off the blow after a few seconds. I apologized profusely. I felt horrible.

    Looking back, I realize that I was just acting according to training. It was not within my power to stop myself from doing what I did. I can only move forward. Since that episode, I've warned people that I work with that if I go into an episode to not touch me, but to yell my name to get my attention. (My wife sometimes has to call me by my military rank and name).

    My point is, there are going to be times when we don't control our actions, or we act upon beliefs that are not real. Personally, I don't think that God will judge us for those times. Man probably will, but (saying it doesn't make it easy) we have to get past man's opinion and live our lives.

    Part of the disability's ability to disable us is the fear of how we will act. Sometimes that fear is rational, and sometimes it isn't. But it's a major part of our lives, and we either have to learn to live with it or learn to live without what it stops us from doing.
     
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  15. StefanM

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    Either God will not judge, or he will forgive when I ask him. I'm not sure I could ever stop asking for forgiveness in these circumstances.

    The fear that I have is that I know how much this has affected my family, and I am on extremely thin ice. If I have another episode and repeat history, I'm probably out of the picture. I've been told as much. And if that happens, I don't know how I would avoid suicide---which I do not want. I just know how I get when I am very depressed.
     
  16. Iconoclast

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    "StefanM,

    StefanM.....yes....keep in mind that each of us struggles with one thing or another. Your challenges are heightened and go beyond the regular spectrum on both ends.
    Another factor is...for the most part...those who are in this state tend to be, or have a high level of intelligence, so this could could amplify your emotional reaction even more.....


    Yes....this is exactly what I am speaking about
    Most all the men are offering you helpful ideas here as we all struggle to some extent.
    You are responsible to God to control what you can.
    Sometimes what you do is a result of this condition, and other times it is just remaining sin and corruption which you need to mortify.
    God knows exactly which is which and has promised never to leave or forsake any who have fled for refuge by a God given faith.

    130 Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.

    2 Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.

    3 If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

    4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

    5 I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

    6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.


    psalm139;

    Psalm 139King James Version (KJV)
    139 O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.


    2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.


    3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.


    4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.


    5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

    6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

    7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

    8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

    9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;


    10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.


    11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

    12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

    13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

    14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

    15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

    16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

    17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

    18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
     
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  17. Pook

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    Oh wow .... I wondered if I would ever get to share this!

    When I was in the Army, I always went to the protestant chapel on base. There were two soldiers there who had suffered horrible head trauma and a young lady there, the daughter of a soldier, who was badly autistic. We learned so much from them!

    We spent time with them and supported the families and there were programs and stuff on base for them. We loved them! So many folks just pitched in to help in any way we could.

    I'm not sure if this is what was meant by the OP but that's what we did.
     
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  18. StefanM

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    It wasn't exactly what I had in mind (technically those things aren't mental illnesses, but they are debilitating), but I think it's appropriate. Much of the care overlaps, and a ministry might address both mental illnesses and developmental disorders and traumatic brain injuries.
     
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  19. AVL1984

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    We had some members in a church we attended that were bi-polar. At times, they were hard to deal with, but that was usually when they had stopped taking their medications and or counseling. My wife and I tried to help with one young man, but he was having serious swings, so serious that they frightened my wife. We were always kind to him, but firm at times, and he knew that we were his friends, even when his mood swings were in play. We finally helped get him back into counseling and on his medication. The last time we saw him, he was doing quite well, was working for himself part time and had his full time job back in order.
    Bi-polar disease is not something I would wish on anyone, nor is it something that I would suggest that people try to handle without training. Schizophrenia is something I've only had to help deal with once, and I wouldn't want to do that again, either. It is a hard thing to deal with without having the proper training and mindset.
     
  20. StefanM

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    From my personal experience with bipolar disorder, I can second this sentiment.
     

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