Sunday, November 05, 2006

Church support

Misha, in the blog she wrote a couple of days ago, talked about her wish for church support for her battles with bipolar. This, once more, made me feel the great need for spiritual support for people with this disorder. When we believe in God, we need to be able to talk with others who share our faith - without the threat of being blamed for harboring Satan, having unconfessed sins (suggested to be worse than the sins of "normal" people), being separated from God. Some even believe there is no such thing as mental illness.

The symptoms of this disorder are bad enough. But to be blamed for having the illness, to be told that there's something between me and God, is almost worse than having the symptoms. To have to suffer with this stuff, AND be made to feel shame as well, is horrendously inhumane. And to have people who are supposedly following Christ, cause this shame is more hurtful to Christians than almost anything else imaginable. Christ did not teach us to be that way!! He taught us to love unconditionally. He loved the outcasts and the stigmatized of His day. THIS is how He teaches US to live as well. Christians have lost touch with what Christ taught us.

God has so much to offer us. The Bible has so much to encourage us and give us peace, even with our great struggles. Besides the medicine the doctor gives me, there is nothing like my belief in a loving God to keep me well. There is nothing like a church family to help us keep this faith alive. The church needs to find ways to HELP us with faith, instead of blaming us for not having it.

As you can probably see, I'm angry. Church people need to repent their faulty way of thinking. They need to be educated about the truth of this illness.

In a few days the Canadian Mental Health Association will be publishing an online article I wrote, The Church as Supporter. Unfortunately, it's much tamer than what I have said here (we need to be politically correct, don't we?). I will publish the link to it here when it comes out.

In the meantime, this anger is doing one good thing. It is motivating me to not waste any more time, but to get on with finishing my book, one that is designed to educate Christians about this disorder. It tells my story and how God has worked in my life. I do hope it will help build a better understanding.

Having a faith is important to our mental well-being. We need people who share our faith to give us their unconditional love, as Christ does.


Sarah said...

move to brazil immediately PLEASE.

oh we SO need more people like you.
i wish my church was more supportive, i really do.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Marja. You might have seen the comments I wrote on Misha's post. I won't go and re-write it all...but, it hurt.

I feel exactly the way you do. My parents feel that way. My priest feels that way---he has been full of compassion and understanding.

But, one person....from another church, really really hurt me.

And, in that person's eyes, they were totally in the right...and my stuff was my fault...UGH.

Anyway, thanks for your post.

Deb said...

Hi Marja
A friend led me to your site. I am a new Christian and had a major depressive episode 12 years ago. Incredibly I have been depression free for the last 9 years until this past summer.

I am trying to find a Christian registered psychologist (required for coverage under extended health) but have not success thus far. Would like to talk to you about this if you are interested but don't really know how this blog stuff works (first time here for me).

I really like and share your perspective re: mental illness and would like to speak to you.
thanks for having this site

marja said...

Sarah: Maybe your church WILL one day be more supportive. It is my hope that Christians will become more educated and learn how to be helpful.

Amateur dancer: I'm fortunate that I, personally, have not been hurt like that. But it makes me seethingly angry to hear stories like yours.

Deb: Are you in the Vancouver area? If you are, I have some suggestions for you. Please email me at

jumpinginpuddles said...

marja a few things you said made me take notice is it ok if i write a blog seperate to this but use yours as a reference?

marja said...

Jumpinginpuddles: Of course, that would be ok. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Anonymous said...

I have some relatives I'd like to mail that book to. I'd have to say, the churches stigma is the worst. As I was reading your post, I was thinking how so many Christian's attitudes make me feel & this is the best description I can know when Jesus cast the demons into the pigs & they ran off the hill? Well, I've heard Christians say pigs are disgusting because they are "demonic". In that story, that wasn't the case at all. Jesus merely used the pigs as vessels for the demons.
But that's exactly how I feel. Just as innocent as those pigs weren't to blame for their condition, neither am I. (I hope that makes sense)
You know, maybe that is why I love pigs so much & treat mine like she's a queen!

shebee said...

I completely appreciate what you wrote. A couple years back I came across a Christian book called "How Come Christians Shoot Their Wounded?" Maybe you've heard of it? Well, it is an excellent resourse, written by a Christina Psychiatrist (can't recall his name) and it covers every mood disorder under the sun. What I did read of it was excellent (must pick that one up again!) Maybe it will encourage you in your own fight against Christian stigma's of mentl illness.
Love Shebee