It’s been a while since I wrote a blog but I sure feel a stirring inside to add to my website something that has been stated many times by Christians and Non-Christians alike. How is this information going to assist you in your mental health journey? Welllll, just wait and see!
Let’s begin with the scripture 1 Corinthians 5:12 “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” Judgement. Why do we do it? Many people say “This is just how I am, I can’t help it, it’s me, I can say whatever I want about whoever I want and if you don’t like it….?” This, to me, is a defiant answer. An answer for an excuse to behave any which how and for why? People who suffer with mental health issues have told me “Gee, what does so-and-so expect from me? I am sick!” Well, yes, you may have been diagnosed with a behavioral health issue but it does not give you the license to keep doing “whatever feels good” at the time. If you are a Christian, you believe that Christ is the Lord of your life, you read the Bible and more importantly obey the Bible, you need to stop making excuses and start living like a Christian! That said, I put myself into this category and I often fail in the very areas that I feel so passionate about. Romans 2:1 states “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.” This is pretty serious, folks. God is the ultimate judge. What this is saying is two-fold. We condemn ourselves when we judge others. Secondly, we sometimes don’t like another persons behavior because we do the exact same thing! People have said to me “Well, I just don’t like so-and-so because of such-and-such. Besides, they do this and that and I HATE this and that!” Guess what! The “this and that” that they may be acting upon just may be something you do yourself and don’t like it within yourself! That’s something to ponder.
Now, to come down a different runway, I’d like to talk about gossip. First off, who is a gossip? Here are some definitions: A backbiter, busybody, slanderer, talebearer and/or whisperers. So then, a Biblical definition of gossip would be to spread rumors or secrets, speak about someone maliciously behind their back or repeat something about someone else that you have no right to repeat. The truth is this: The more you talk about a person in a negative sense, the more negative you feel about your own life.
How Can You Avoid Gossip?
Consider these simple steps to be sure you are not involved in gossip:
Do not associate yourself with one who is a known gossip.
When someone starts to gossip — change the subject.
If you are not part of the problem or part of the solution, stay out of it.
If you have fallen into the bad habit of gossiping — ask God to change your heart.
When you have been the victim of gossip — confront the parties that spread the rumor with love and concern.
Although I know this to be true, I must be honest and admit I find myself listening to gossip and even partaking of gossip. Am I a hypocrite? Absolutely! But I, as all Christians are, continually learning, continually trying to live according to God’s word. We are all God’s Children. If we believe that Christ is our Savior and live accordingly what exactly should that life look like? Here is a clue of what it is should not look like: Galatians 5:18 states: But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
I believe this is self explanatory. No one is or will ever be able to continually behave with this fruit the Bible talks about. I try, I fail, I try, I fail again. All I know is that the more you pray to learn how to “walk in the fruit of the spirit” the less you will be labeled a hypocrite in the eyes of others and more importantly you will please God which is every Christians hope. The more you please God and praise Him for all the good He has done in your life and the lives of others, the more He showers you with tremendous blessings. And in my opinion, the bottom line to assist a person with a behavioral health problem or even without such a diagnosis happens to be the very last “fruit of the Spirit”: Self-Control. If we can learn to master Self Control we can live a much more VICTORIOUS “strifeless” LIFE!!!
Workin on my fruit,
In the days of old, there was absolutely no understanding of what we now call mental illness. If you looked down a busy residential street with houses in rows unbeknownst to most folks there would be at least one house out of ten holding a deep dark secret. Back then, in the 1800’s and early 1900’s people did not know what to do with their mentally ill relative. There was a choice to go to an “asylum” which were originally built to protect the community from tuberculosis. These “insane asylums” as they were called were described like a madhouse filled with women and men who were literally crying out for help. No medication was prescribed except ultra doses of Thorazine. Have you ever heard of the Thorazine Shuffle? I have not only heard of it, I did the dance! The feeling of being under the influence of Thorazine can only be described as a deep-seated lethargic haze where your heart and other organs are slowed down so much that it is almost impossible to speak without slurring or, again, walk. Worse than that is the dry mouth. Thorazine does a real number on your mouth. It dries it up so parched that sometimes your tongue sticks out. Here’s a piece of Mental Health Madness: People on Thorazine drank so much water that they actually died from drinking too much water! The thirst can not be quenched! A therapist told me that wonderful tidbit of information. Yes, folks, not only were these people suffering from a bad case of schizophrenia (that was like a “cover-diagnosis” for everyone), but the horrible fact that some would die of drinking too much water!
Going back to the deep dark secret that people held with tight silent lips, there were actually mentally ill relatives put away in a house. For example, a young girl we’ll call Stacy has a younger sister who suddenly goes into a manic psychotic episode. She tells Stacy that there are men outside who want to kill the family. Stacy doesn’t understand and tells her mother. Her mother (and father) come to Stacy’s sister and question her about this. Stacy’s sister is so afraid, she lies to her parents and tells them that she did not think nor say that. But things get worse with Stacy’s sister (notice she has no name, that is because she soon becomes a no-body.) She finally relents and tells her parents about the men outside. She then adds that there will soon be a national outbreak of millions of dead people walking the earth and stalking the family. At this point the parents would take the daughter to a Psychiatrist where they would be told “I’m sorry to inform you she has Paranoid Schizophrenia and her life is basically never going to be the same. You should not expect her to do anything meaningful in her life and, unfortunately, there is only one option. That is state hospitalization.” At that point the parents decide whether to take their child to a hospital with all sorts of people who have similar problems Or to take her home with medications and take care of her at home. It probably did not start out that they wanted her to live in the attic or basement, hidden from the neighbors, kept quiet from the world, but they felt it deemed necessary due to her behavior.
Well, thank God things have changed for a lot of mentally ill people as there is a belief out there through Mental Health Boards and other organizations that those of us who deal with mental illness not only can stay stable, but thrive! The new concept called “Peer Support” is training for individuals to help others who also suffer from mental illness OR Recovery Coaches who have abstained from substance abuse for at least two years. This new concept has changed hundreds of lives for the better as people are now not only shown respect but have gained employment at mental health agencies!
We have come a long way, baby!
Resilience. What a powerful word! What is Resilience? (1) the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens. (2) the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc. Resilience is similar to another favorite word of mine; Recovery.
All of us are on a journey. A life path that is chosen specifically for us. Some people seem to glide through life without any problems (don’t let ’em fool you) while others; those of us who suffer from depression or anxiety issues have a much harder time staying “resilient” when difficult times come along. I was just reading a magazine that had a two page spread about the actress Kim Basinger entitled “Kim Basinger finds new love at 61.” It wasn’t the fact that she still looks like a movie star with a toned body and timeless beauty that caught my eye. (Nor the fact that her new beau is her hairdresser.) What I noticed was…and I quote “She’s been battling agoraphobia and other anxieties in recent years, but Kim’s feeling better and has gone public again. ‘I wanted to face everything I was afraid of,’ she said. ‘Now I wake up and enjoy life.'” Hummmmm, something other people may have dismissed or glided right over. No, not I. How interesting! Kim Basinger was battling anxieties. What does that little tid bit tell me? It tells me that she chose to be resilient! She’s Back!
What about us? Well, what about me personally? I can fall right back into the pit of darkness if I allow myself to keep thinking negatively but just when it begins to swallow me up and I may feel the drowning waters begin swirling around me I must STOP! Look around. Go outside. Take a deep breath and remember; this life is not about me!!! There is an Orchestrator who rules over the earth. One who has promised me personally to keep me sane and puts me right back into the game. Am I resilient? Absolutely! Jumping back into this “thing” called life after being “pulled, stretched, pressed or bent”. It is NOT something that comes naturally. In fact, for years it was the most unnatural behavior for a person like me. But now, since I have learned to rely on someone much bigger than myself I am confident that I will Remain Resilient. Time is going very quickly. We are 35 then soon 55 and in what seems a short time we are 75! (Okay, how about 61 like Ms. Basinger!) The point is we are like a flower fading (that’s from a song I heard on the radio this morning). Fading on the outside, looking and physically feeling older, but our spirits are growing ever stronger as we feed them the only food spirits can eat. The word of God.
What is the opposite of Resilience? Giving up. Not bouncing back. It is a choice we all have to make at some point in our lives.
May God’s blessings be upon you today and everyday!
In lieu of the devestating news of Robin Williams apparent suicide I would like to open up a conversation that embarks the concept and the horror of the whole suicide subject. Suicide. What is it? That is something most adults understand. It is the act of killing oneself through drastic means, such as hanging, like in Mr. Williams case, or by using a gun, overdose on medications, cutting oneself in a particular vein in the wrist or stabbing or jumping off a bridge or out of a high rise building. There are many people who understand what it is like to feel suicidal. There also are many people who can not comprehend why anyone would even consider it. I would like to shed some light on how a person feels who is truly suicidal.
Imagine yourself sitting in a hole that you felt was somehow dug by your own mind. You don’t know how you got there but you know there is no escape. The hole is very deep and it is filled with darkness and no light whatsoever. You are alone. At first all you can think about is “I will never get out of this hole, ever.” The hole becomes darker until it is pitch black and you can’t see anything. You become blind to the rest of the world. The problem is you can feel yourself breathing, moving, and very much alive but you begin to wonder how you are going to remain alive while going through certain emotions that begin to reign in your mind. Taunting thoughts invade so strongly, so powerful and so very, very negative that; there you are…it feels like what hell is described to be in the Bible. A place of torture. What are you thinking at this point? “I am alone.” “I am worthless.” “I am hopeless, helpless and unable to speak.” The doom pours throughout your soul (your mind, your will and your emotions). “There is only one way out and that would be death!” So you begin to devise a plan. How can you do this without suffering too much. There are many weapons that show up all around you and your blindness is lifted just enough to see the weapons. There is a gun. A rope. A large bottle of pills. Looking further you see your car and a pipe that could be put into the car and therefore, blowing the fumes into the car you will be sitting in. Suddenly a bottle of alcohol appears. You begin to single out a personal plan. Drink the bottle of alcohol then shoot yourself with the gun.
This is your plan and you begin to drink the alcohol. Suddenly, out of nowhere a light shows another person next to you, a friend or family member and a relief floods your soul. The person is saying “I love you! Don’t do it!” “Things will get better! This too shall pass!” Hummmm…hope? You listen. It sounds good but soon the person then disappears and you go back to your plan believing those beautiful words came from someone who really didn’t care. How could they? You don’t care about yourself. There is only one way out of this hole, just one. Suicide.
On the other side of the coin, there are those who are in a psychotic state to the other extreme. The fear that the end of the world is eminent and you have a part to play with this “END” scenario. The fear is overwhelming and all signs point to this horrible feat that you are chosen to endure. It is too much for you. The responsibility is way over what you feel capable of. There is no way out in your mind except one. Suicide.
To apologize for these negative images I would not be doing justice to those of us who have thought about the act of suicide. It is not an easy subject to tackle.
There is a way out, though, and a person can live a life of “normalcy” after going through this emotional pain. Nothing stays the same forever and if the person just holds off, he or she can get out of the hole and feel good again…wanting to live and doing well. I used to feel such injustice when I was suicidal. No body wanted me dead except for myself. Why, then did I truly want myself dead? The Bible teaches that Satan came to “kill, Steal and destroy” (us) but Jesus wants to give you “an abundant life”. I have learned, over time, that following Jesus gave me a brand new life! One that shows me I do not have to go near that dark hole ever again, let alone fall into it! What a freedom to know that the trap has been removed! GOD REIGNS!!!
A family is sitting at the dinner table talking about what had transpired that day and what a wonderful time they had at Aunt Sissy and Uncle Tommy’s all-day pool party. Little Sammy, the youngest, boasts about how fast he can swim with his red “floater” wrapped around him. “Aren’t I the fastest Momma? Aren’t I?” “Yes, Sammy, you are the fastest floater I’ve ever seen.” The rest of the family chuckles as they enjoy their roast beef and corn on the cob. But one stays silent. Raymond, the father of the family looks at his teenage daughter Ramona and says, “You are awfully quiet tonight, Ramona, didn’t you have a good time today?” “Yes…Ramona stutters..but there’s just something bothering me but I don’t want to talk about it now…not in front of Sammy and Angie.” Raymond shakes his head “Okay, we will talk after dinner.”
Later that evening Raymond remembers that his daughter was concerned about something at the dinner table so he goes upstairs to her bedroom where he hears her familiar music playing. He knocks quickly with two fingers and enters the room. Ramona jumps-startled when Raymond enters “Whatcha doing in here, sweetpea?” Ramona hides something quickly into a towel and says, “Oh nothing, Dad”. Raymond sits down in a chair filled with clothing that hasn’t been hung up yet and asks what Ramona wanted to talk about that she didn’t want her younger siblings to hear. It takes some time and coaching on his part until Ramona spills what is troubling her. “Dad, did you wonder why Dee (Ramona’s cousin) didn’t swim today or even get into her bathing suit?” “Hummmmmm,” Raymond thought a moment remembering all the young children and adolescences swimming around the pool and laying in the sun. “You’re right, Ramona, Dee didn’t swim. She was acting stand-off-ish which was also unusual. Is Dee doing okay?” “Dad, I don’t know how to tell you this, but Dee is now a cutter, and she is not the only one! ALL the girls are doing it, Dad! They use a knife or anything they can find, really, and cut their arms and sometimes their legs. Raymond sits in disbelief as his daughter begins to cry.
Is this something new? Does anyone know of someone who cuts? Are they just trying to get attention? Is it a suicide attempt? What can be done? Are really ALL the girls doing it?
Cutting is not new and it is not something that is just a girl-thing. There are also many forms of cutting and they all have one thing in common; they leave scars. I know of a man who has many cigarette burn scars up and down his right arm. He says he doesn’t do it anymore but while he was suffering in his worst depression and self-loathing. It can also come in the form of “picking” of the skin until it forms scabs and then the scabs are repeatedly reopened by picking some more. Knives, razor blades, silver nail files, a pen or pencil, a stick, the spokes from an umbrella, the corner of a sharp object, a burning device; just about ANYTHING can be used to injure oneself. If it can be used, it is used, it doesn’t really matter.
I have learned from listening to others that if a person is under serious mental distress cutting seems to relieve that emotional pain, at least for a moment. If a person is suffering with depression, anxiety or self-loathing it can be common that they cut. I’ve been told by people who cut that the initial relief feels so good it almost like doing a drug or eating a gallon of ice cream in one sitting. Therefore, we see that cutting can easily turn into an addiction. The blood is soothing and when a person self-injures it isn’t until later when the physically pain is felt. Cutting is NOT a suicide attempt, it is NOT done just for attention, and NO! Not ALL young girls are doing it!!!
One of the most clear examples of a cutter comes from the Bible. Yes, folks, there really is nothing new under the sun. In the book of Mark, Chapter 5, we have a depiction of a man who is tortured in his mind. This man lives in a cemetery and roams around the tombs day and night suffering unmercifully with mental anguish. He is feared by all and even chains can not bind him, as he can break right through. Here it is folks – in Mark chapter 5 verse 5 it states “NIGHT AND DAY AMONG THE TOMBS AND IN THE HILLS HE WOULD CRY OUT AND CUT HIMSELF WITH STONES.” Self-loathing.
What can be done about it? First and for most psychiatry will tell you to STAY CALM and DO make a big deal about it, in a calm, loving way, ask if you can put some Aloe on the arm of the person…tell them you care about them and this kind of behavior is not a good choice. In a sense, you can LOVE the person through this cutting period in their life. Screaming and yelling and freaking out will NOT help although that is usually a parent or guardians initial reaction. Asking “WHY?” or especially “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?”only leads to a shut down in communication. The person is not thinking of you or anyone else except themselves when they cut, although it could be provoked by an argument.
Now going back to Mark 5 in the Bible. Who is it that helps this man? After all those years of living in the cemetery suffering unmercifully cutting himself with stones, all of mankind being afraid of him, tortured day and night, literally living in a place of hell while on the earth; who helps this man? Who has the ability to help this man? Is there a “nationally known psychiatrist” waiting patiently to give this man a prescription of a Benzodiazepine such as Ativan? Let’s see, at this point Thorazine – the old staple anti-psychotic would be a good choice….the man would slow down, for sure, drooling and doing the well-known “Thorazine Shuffle” (not a dance I recommend neither within a cemetery NOR a psych ward)) This may calm the symptoms, but there is NO CURE. NO CURE FOR MENTAL ILLNESS, folks.
So what happens in this chapter of Mark that takes away this man’s anguish? Who is qualified in every way? The one and only Jesus Christ shows up and heals the man. And afterwards? Jesus says to the man “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Oh! I love that part! “Go….tell…” That is where I am at, folks. I want to GO and TELL the WORLD what JESUS can DO for THE MENTALLY ILL.
There is something going on in this country that really lights a fire in my spirit. Tragic! In Las Vegas, the gambling capital of America, there are more homeless people than anywhere else. They are almost all mentally ill. There is but one local psychiatric hospital called Rawson-Neal. It has 190 beds and a revolving door that spins so fast, the patients do not have a chance of becoming stable. Instead of the goal of medication management and learning tools for recovery, the goal at the hospital is to “move you on to another city, another state, ANYWHERE, but NO WHERE! It is called “greyhound bus therapy” or just plain “bus therapy.” The hospital pays the tab and there are lists upon lists of people and how much their bus fair was according to where they went. Many folks that worked at Rawson-Neal have left due to the guilt they were experiencing as they were told to explain to a patient that they would be much better off in California where there was a shelter waiting for them and they would be taken care of mentally. Once they are dropped off in California (can you imagine being dropped off in a place where you know no one nor does anyone want to know you?) they walk off that bus and search for the shelter they were promised. If the person is lucky they will find a shelter but are usually told it is full and they must go somewhere else. That is when the person realize they are were lied to because the shelter was not told that they were coming. The person has no where to go but to sleep outside somewhere praying for help.
There are over 100,000 people who are homeless in Las Vegas…living among the shadows where the bright lights and glitter don’t shine on them. Many of them are in full blown states of psychosis but obviously, many are deeply depressed, hence, the suicide rate in Las Vegas is the highest in the country!
The director of one of the three Emergency Rooms stated that tragically they have had to truly SHUT DOWN the three local ER’s all at once due to an overpopulation of mentally ill people. The ER’s were full. He said they they are allowed to stay one week in the ER and are medicated but when they leave, there is no where to go for help. Obviously, the people who need medical attention from a physical ailment can be shut out of the ER’s and possibly die if they are that sick because of this overpopulation.
Maybe some of you say this type of treatment is okay because who would want these folks around anyway…and it all boils down to the tax payers money unto which state they are bussed to.
Let me just say that this illness is just that, just an illness! Treatable! Not a group of “losers” but a group of talented, warm and loving people who are put into a position that they can’t get out of. What if everyone who had heart disease were given this treatment? Protestors? Of course! This mentally ill bus therapy is something that people don’t usually discuss, it is easier to turn the other way and pretend it’s not happening. Something needs to be done about it but no one seems to know what to do about it!!! I don’t know what the answer is either but I am praying for God to show me an answer.
If you want to learn more about this problem google “Dan Rather Presents: ONE WAY TICKET TO NOWHERE America’s Mental Health Crisis” and see for yourselves. I have only watched it four times and thank God with all my heart that this didn’t happen to me in Denver.
Happy Memorial Day and God Bless You!