There’s one part of my life that not many people may know about me today. Almost a decade ago, my life went down a spiral of decadence. It all started when an obvious pattern of fits of rage, panic and sometimes even even a slight manifestation of Dementia started showing themselves. They ruined my relationships, my studies and even my ministry.
I had gone through years thinking it was nothing and even passed through the point of suppressing symptoms. I had hurt a lot of people, missed a lot of opportunities and dismissed so many clear calls from God. I knew something was wrong but I was just too ashamed to admit it. It was mostly because I was driven by a highly wrong mindset that because I was a “Christian” it was not OK to be not OK.
That was until I was brought into a final ultimatum that gave me no choice but to do one thing- visit the Psychiatrist. It was at that point that I was given the most clear explanation to what was wrong. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and was showing subtle signs of Manic Depression. On that day I felt enlightened.
Mental illness seems to be such a rarely discussed topic in church today, and I believe that needs to change.
Today, I can say that I have experienced the wholeness found through Christ and conquered my battle against my past psychological problems with a little help from a registered Psychiatrist (I can refer you to my Psych if you’d like, just let me know) and a lot of help from the Gospel.
Mental illness seems to be such a rarely discussed topic in church today, and I believe that needs to change. I have met so many leaders, pastors, and church members poorly equipped to deal with issues pertaining to Psychological disorder. This causes a problem in ministry. As people called into the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), we must be aware of these things.
I don’t think one post can really tackle all of the things I now know about mental disorder and what I have learned through my own battles against Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Here are just three thoughts to start off for now, but I’ll be writing more about this in the future.
1. The battle of the mind is a serious one, but one that can be won
I know some of you might be thinking “Oh, OCD. That’s when you can’t stop washing your hands. That’s not that bad.” It’s more than just that. It’s being unable to sleep for more than thirty minutes for weeks and not knowing why, it’s being at the brink of a panic attack while driving in traffic and blacking out, it’s ruining relationships with loved ones and becoming a crutch to those who matter most.
Mental illness is a serious battle. But through Christ, it is a battle that can be won. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
2. You can’t just “stop thinking bad thoughts”
Mental illness is more than just a habit of thinking bad thoughts. It is a demonic stronghold caused by relational dysfunction or even generational curses that need to be cut off by the blood of Christ. It’s not just “stinking thinking.” It’s also “stinking living.” Dealing with mental illness is dealing with the whole person- body, soul, mind and spirit.
Pastors and leaders need to become more educated and read more about psychological disorders and understand both the natural and supernatural roots and fruits these conditions bring. Don’t think it’s easy. I know the solution is simple (Hint: Jesus is the answer), but it’s definitely not easy. I spent over seven years battling the hypomania, delusions, insomnia, uncontrollable anxiety and unexplainable obsessions. It’s tough. It’s exhausting. It’s scary.
3. Freedom starts with awareness
My journey to freedom from the curse of mental disease started first with being aware with what I was up against and battling it head on. John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus is the light and light has to do with the truth. The truth may not always be nice. Sometimes the truth is a reality that you do have depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or obsessive compulsions. Start with the truth.
What’s the best way to know the truth? It’s not rocket science- visit a Psychologist or Psychiatrist. Don’t just Google it or self-diagnose. Seek professional help. It’s expensive I’ll be honest (I used to pay P400-700 for a few minutes a week), but it’s a necessary cost.
Jesus promises freedom. John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” There is no need to be a slave forever. If you are struggling with a mental illness right now or feel like you have one and you’re just not sure, I’d like to help you. Feel free to reach out to me and I can and will stand with you and prayer and guide you if necessary through your journey to complete healing and restoration.
I’d like to offer you this short but meaningful prayer today:
“Heavenly Father, I lift up to you my brothers and sisters who could be battling with mental illness today. Whatever that condition might be, I thank you that the cross was more than enough to bring complete healing not just to the spirit and body, but even to the mind as well. I speak wholeness and consecration in Jesus’ name. Amen.”