Sometimes when it comes up in conversation that I write a blog on faith and mental illness, or when I share my experience with learning to manage mental illness, the subject of medication is brought up. I am not a Doctor and am not qualified to give any medical advice, I am simply here to share my thoughts, and my experiences, and to ask you to consider these theories logically for yourselves.
Certainly there are many arguments for use of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers etc, (though I have become distrusting of how many are actually valid). If we experience long-term sadness, or episodes of extreme fear, if our children’s behaviour is unsettlingly out of hand, if we find it hard to concentrate or sleep, then it seems the first response from the medical world is a prescription. Yet the Scriptures are filled with guidance on all these issues. These are all classic attacks from Inner Enemies, and God has provided the way to overcome. This doesn’t mean I am opposed to all prescriptions, far from it, I have used them as my first port of call for many years, and still would if my investigation supports it, however it is only now that I am aware of the bigger picture and hope you are also…..
While I believe it is up to each of us to decide if medication is an option for us, we must do so with prayer and wisdom. We must consider the side effects, the risks verses the benefits, especially consider the cost of long term use, decide how long we are willing to be dependant on them, and to also research alternative options. We must take our health seriously and begin to make hard but necessary changes when are bodies begin to warn us. It has become far too common practice to seek out a prescription to bypass our symptomatic struggles, and accept the easiest option, rather than taking the symptoms as warnings that something else is going on that must be addressed.
Prescriptions offered in a mind-altering context are done so without any scientific diagnosis, no blood tests, minimal follow-up and the results are not as reassuring as you or I may like to believe, just check out this link to discover the hidden evils within this drug fuelled money making system.
That being said….Pharmaceuticals have certainly come a long way in recent decades, and some amazing benefits are being discovered. My concern is simply that as a society we have come to rely on medication to help us manage a countless amount of health concerns. We have become accustomed to numbing our pain, and bandaid-ing any underlying issues. Many long-term side effects have begun to surface after extended use of many pills and potions. The consequences of pharmaceuticals are reaping havoc on our bodies, and our minds, as I will share on personal level a bit later in this post. I am not suggesting anyone ignore medical advice or to neglect to take responsible steps towards managing any issues, mental, health or otherwise. I am saying that much more evidence has come to light recently that support natural therapies, diet, and dedication to non-pharmaceutical treatments. All of which are impacting countless conditions that we have become reliant on using medication to try to control.
By hiding our symptoms beneath a mask of medication, are we trying to take our health out of God’s control and put all our faith in Medicine?
Our beautifully wonderfully made bodies are a gift we need to take responsibility for, and ultimate responsibility comes when we put our trust in God. God intends his children to be taken care of and every need supplied.
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
Here is the point to understand in regard to illnesses………
He uses our suffering to change us for the better, to help us come into close unity with the scriptures.
We need to keep an understanding of faith systems in order to make the most from every situation as God will us to. Otherwise isn’t all suffering just a waste of time, and feels like punishment instead of opportunity for miraculous transformations?
Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Throughout my life I have leaned heavily on any type of pill or potion that claimed to help my various conditions. I have self-medicated in order to tame my symptoms. I too felt unable to cope with the health issues and mental issues I have had to go through. Yet somewhere beneath my desire to avoid illness and pain, I knew I didn’t want to be ignorant to the true underlying cause.
Through my most severe episodes, after my car accident, my lawyers encouraged me into therapy. I saw a psychiatrist for my mood instability and a psychologist for my car-phobia issues. The psychiatrist was quite inept at managing my state of mind, his only course of action was to prescribe mood stabilizing medication. I took the medication to help narrow the peaks and troughs of my emotional reactions, hoping it would give me temporary support and confidence until I could work to find the deeper causes with my psychologist. Yet I felt little relief while taking the pills, at one point I even had suicidal thoughts, thoughts that had never ever crossed my mind in my depressed state before being medicated.
Along with my regular psychology sessions, I invested my time and energy on inviting God to move me towards the type of healing He could give me, towards the hidden truth inside me. I began to gain a clear understanding of myself and how to face up to and deal with my deepest issues. Issues I had no awareness of prior to therapy. I slowly reduced my medications until I came off them completely. This was in no way the EASY option. Medication offers a ‘quick fix’ yet none of the healing, while God’s healing is permanent and has all our best interests at heart, even if it is more laborious.
God showed me that He was using these situations to develop my trust in His plan, to show me His amazing might in my weakest moments, and to guide my steps towards the healing that He wanted for me. He used these situations to teach me priceless lessons about myself in each stage of the process.
“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” (Psalm 119:67)
I also had a physical condition a couple of years ago that resulted in numerous hospital visits, and many weeks spent bed ridden. Of course the first suggestion was strong medication, which I willingly took for many months, until surgery could resolve the symptoms more permanently. Yet the underlying issue was not discovered in a Doctors surgery or a hospital. The medication and the surgery only managed the symptoms, yet just like with my mental health, I felt the urge to discover what caused the issue in the first place.
Sadly many medical doctors seem to have issue sharing information with natural therapists, both trying to deny the value of the other, and we are the ones who get caught in the middle, unsure of who we can trust. After much research and dedication to my illness both inside and outside the Doctors office, I began to discover some answers. With the help of a Naturopath and Nutritionist I began to understand that taking antibiotics for sinus infections and a dependence on the convenience of junk food since my teen years, both led to an imbalance of my digestive bacteria, this threw my hormonal balance out of whack and I became seriously unwell. Since then I have refused antibiotics, using amazing colloidal silver to keep infections at bay, and changed my diet to a much healthier organic one. For a period of time I detoxed and used supplements to repopulate the lost natural enzymes and re-boot my immune system. Not only have my symptoms ceased almost entirely and my health improved dramatically, but also I received understanding on a new level about how my choices and my actions affect my life.
I guess my point here is this…. You are responsible for your own health, and cannot rely on one Dr or Specialist or Guru to take that responsibility, for they are not the ones who must live with the consequences.
We have been placed on this planet for a temporary period of time. Given a lifetime of issues purposed to draw out our hidden curses and develop character in the process. If we simply mask the inner enemies and smother our understanding in ignorance, we fail to receive the abundant blessings and miraculous transformations that God intended for our GOOD! All the things God has placed at our disposal to help us through this life are to be used in moderation, with wisdom and prayer, while God’s love and faithfulness can be indulged upon to the full extent that we can muster.
This journey of self-awareness and self-discovery, which I have been on for many years, has seen many breakthroughs, each one adding a small piece to the puzzle that is me. One of the more perplexing areas of me, is my powerful emotional surges.
Emotional control has been at the forefront of my motivation since my mid 20’s. Prior to that I was extremely emotionally manipulative and reactive, I had no idea how destructive uncontrolled emotions could be. However, this journey has taught me that emotions are fickle and can’t be trusted to influence all my actions and decisions.
Have you ever wondered why so many members of your family or any particular family suffer patterns of uncontrollable emotional surges? I saw these surges often in my family and in myself. By faith I came to suspect that an emotional generational curse has become an inheritance. Desperate to overcome and break curses since I can remember, I knew if I didn’t break them, then I would pass them onto my children, which was and is completely unacceptable to me. The curse needed to reveal some specifics for me to fully understand what was being passed along. During a recent session of NET (Neuro-emotional technique) I received the confirmation I was looking for, along with some details to help identify and address this long term issue.
One of the main problems that arises from this curse is an emotional domino effect. Powerful feelings don’t only affect the person experiencing them but attempt to knock over each person who comes into contact with them. Making it especially hard to validate themselves and their feelings without everyone else feeling the same way. I call this Emotional Co-dependence. It is the inability to be alone in your own feelings.
After some wonderful counsel, I began to consider the concept of staying on our own emotional ground, so that as we grow and become self-aware we can learn not to feel guilty about a decision we have made on our own, even if our loved ones or peers don’t approve. We need to validate our own reasons and not allow the perspective or guilt trips of others to move us from the stable stance we choose to take. We also need to stay calm when a family member is irrational and emotionally out of control. Try to stay positive even when someone is being negative. And most difficult of all, to stay sure of ourselves even when being challenged to be different, without getting defensive.
This is not easy by any means. It takes a lot of self-awareness and self-control to undo the automatic responses that have been woven into your nervous system for as long as you can remember. The keys are persistence and patience. I may not always succeed in staying on my own emotional ground, however I am aiming for quality over quantity at this stage. I may feel alienated for a little while, I may seem aloof and uncaring to those I used to jump into the emotional boat with. Yet I have seen evidence that if I stick to this strategy, and wait patiently for the initial emotions to pass, we can connect with others in much healthier, independent ways.
I realise that undoing strongholds with such deep roots will not happen overnight, and I try to give myself grace when I slip back into old habits. I feel rejuvenated by these new understandings, and grateful to God for His strength to help me when I am weak, and His mercy when I fall. I pray this curse will not be so difficult for my children to overcome now that God is helping me undermine some of its power. Amen!
My psychologist recently explained to me a statistic regarding the relationships of a person in therapy. He said that when long-term relationships have found common ground through either a dysfunctional childhood, or shared a major disruption or trauma in their home life, then many members of the group may develop issues well into adulthood. Ranging from nervous/mood disorders to depression, addiction, psychosis, violence, crime, and so forth. He explained what happens when one of the members of this group goes into therapy and begins to make healthy changes to their self-awareness, their self-control and their lifestyle, helping to manage many of these types of issues to cause less and less dysfunction in their lives.
“It is almost always extremely difficult for that person in therapy to maintain close relationships with those from their past, especially those who still have issues.”
He explained that, in a subconscious way, friends and family find it uncomfortable to be around the person who has changed. They have become unfamiliar, which is unsettling. He said “Often certain ‘set-ups’ are created to attempt to bring out the old habits of the changed person, thus trying to make the person recognizable once again.”
In my understanding of inner angels and enemies, it seems obvious that these ‘subconscious set-ups’ are the work of inner enemies. Inner enemies are always at the forefront of relational disputes, as they attempt to destroy the connections which God originally designed. Inner enemies don’t want to encourage us to change and become stable functioning adults. They have their own agenda, to cause dysfunction.
The types of set-ups my psychologist was talking about, are commonly forceful disputes over both trivial and serious matters, usually in an attempt to challenge the opinion, behaviour or perspective of the other person.
I believe his statements go both ways….
Someone who has been on a journey of self-discovery long enough, will usually have developed a variety of new boundaries of what they believe is acceptable behaviour. With the aid of their inner angels, they may have changed their own behaviour according to these boundaries. This can cause them to struggle immensely when spending time with anyone who behaves in ways they have worked hard to avoid in themselves.
My Mother used to say, “You are who you hang with”. From experience I know this to be true. When I hung around people who did a lot of drugs and slept around, my internal moral compass changed and I found myself desensitised to behaviours that I had once found unacceptable. Growing up around yelling, name calling and nastiness created a common fall back reaction in disputes of all kinds.
I woke up one day discovering that I found my own behaviour completely unacceptable.
As time has gone on I have removed myself, or God has removed these types of people from my life. I am blessed to now be surrounded by people who understand boundaries and treat each other with emotional decency and respect. They also treat themselves with self-worth, and a healthy self-accountability for their own flaws.
As I explained before, this means it is very difficult to spend any length of time with people who still behave in ways I have distanced myself from. I do not accept uncontrollable anger, sexual immorality, violence and abuse as healthy influences in my life. I find it equally difficult to be around those who blame others for their actions, as a way of avoiding their own accountability.
The thing that is most difficult regarding family and friends, and the statistic my psychologist explained, is the deep affection and connection you share. You see all the good in them and remember the good times, and you want desperately to share many more happy times with them.
Unfortunately sometimes, no matter how much you focus on the good in people, there comes a time when you must open your eyes to the whole picture and accept that their destructive issues may never improve. Then a hard decision must be made. Sharing history, blood and love doesn’t always mean you must automatically share your time, your trust and your life.
We must continue to pray for those who we may not be able to have close relationships with. I believe wholeheartedly in a God who can restore and completely alter a person’s heart, attitude, behaviour and lifestyle, but it takes time and a joint effort. I pray for all of us to embody the respect, and love that God intended us to have for each other, so we can show those inner enemies what relationships under God look like. Amen!
I have come across many people who hide from themselves, they resist the pursuit of finding themselves, and miss out on growing into the happiest possible version of themselves.
Have you learned how to be happy and accept who you are, and ignore the opinions of those who set out to change or criticise you? Have you stopped the force of influence from people who you do not aspire to be like?
Are you authentically true to yourself?
Does your life and character reflect who YOU really want to be?
There are some important steps to pursuing the authentic, untainted version of you! Steps towards learning how to become the You, that YOU really want to be.
I have found these steps to be the foundation of what I have gained during over 6years of honest therapy, with a few different psychologists.
Sometimes, often even, a stigma can follow an announcement of seeing a psychologist. Those who have not had therapy, or not understood the need for it, may vastly misjudge those of us who go regularly, and wonder what is ‘wrong’ with us. Some may avoid therapy even if they think they need it, because this stigma covers them with shame. Sure, the most extreme cases of ‘crazy’ are treated in therapy, and so are a variety of mild to severe mental illnesses, mood disorders and psychological conditions. However I don’t feel you have to have a severe problem to benefit from regular therapy. In fact I think everyone would benefit from seeing a good therapist, even just once in a while.
I have found that a good therapist is a sounding board, a place to express your own thoughts, feelings, desires and concerns about who you are and how your life is going. It is place to escape the onslaught of voices from those who have taught us their own rules of good & bad, right & wrong, should & should not. It can become a place where you get to investigate and choose which rules YOU agree with, which ones you want to alter, and which to delete entirely.
A good therapist will not tell you what they think you should or should not do, but will empower you to eliminate those toxic, unhealthy influences and rules you are not benefited by. Those you have adopted through exposure during your lives, which do not improve your sense of fulfillment and self-acceptance.
Have you spent time digging through your beliefs, choices, actions and habits and figured out what makes you tick? I recommend we question everything we were ever taught and test it against what we have learned in our own experiences. What was true for our parents and teachers may not be true for us. What we teach our children is based on our own perceptions and may not be true for them as they grow into their true selves.
Once you have figured out which rules you want to keep and apply, establishing some boundaries will protect your belief system. Developing your own boundaries in a healthy productive way, gives strength and stability to your choices. Good therapists will help with this. The instability from past attempts at boundaries, I have found, resulted because they were actually walls put up reactively, out of anger and resentment etc. These unhealthy walls will probably crumble at the first sign of challenge, or cause even more of the bitterness and anger that first created them.
A healthy proactive boundary will bring a sense of peace, it does not need to be pushed onto anyone else, but when challenged can be gently, or firmly, reinforced exactly where you have comfortably placed it. It gives assurance of the ‘You’ who you want to be, because when challenged, you won’t allow someone you did not permit to influence your beliefs and your sense of the authentic YOU!
I read a post recently by a fabulous writer who I have found in the blogosphere. Author Jodi Ambrose was talking about her recent birthday and reflected on her youth by listing her traits at 20 years old. You can read her excellent blog post here. I enjoyed Jodi’s blog so much that we began exchanging comments. One thing we have both found to be a true blessing, along with spiritual faith, is self-awareness. It is one of the most important things we need to achieve growth and inner peace in this life, and something I write about often.
After our little ‘comment swap’ I began to think about those who may not have as much self-awareness as others. It got me thinking about those people who haven’t changed much over the years, and are still stuck in the same old patterns they have always been.
I read a little something recently, it said:
“If you are the same person, with the same perspective you had a decade ago; then you have just wasted ten years of your life!”
Before I gained some Godly self-awareness, I thought I was self-aware. I thought I was a ‘good person’. I prided myself on having good intentions and wisdom. My heart was in the right place (or so I thought), I knew the difference between right and wrong (or so I thought), and I was a good friend and family member (or so I thought).
Back then I had no regrets, I had no lingering, self-conscious guilt, because I always had a very good explanation for my actions. It was usually something like, “I meant well”, “I felt ….”, “I’m only human”, or “I had no choice” (because of what someone else did first).
I had little or no remorse for my own actions, (unless of course I got hurt in the fallout). I never set out to hurt anyone, and if I did hurt someone else, I found a way to believe I was right, and that made it ok with me. I saw no reason to change, I was onto it (or so I thought). I used my excuses, and understanding to stay in my own spiraling cycle.
When I became aware of how God saw things, it smacked me in the face and it hurt!
I was SELFISH! I saw things from my way and didn’t consider that perhaps there was a better way. Sure I was always rushing to help people, I was thoughtful and did kind deeds all the time. I tried to find ways to show my affection for others so that they would know how much I thought of them. But I didn’t realise that I was really only doing it to be seen as a good person, not because I was actually a good person. I couldn’t admit the truth to myself so I figured all the trials of life were not lessons I had to learn, just tests to see if I was strong enough and if I could keep my faith through them.
Life will do it’s best to help us become aware of ourselves, and if we stop avoiding it we will be amazed by the realisation. And while it is a challenge to work hard and break the cycles you have been stuck in your whole life, it is definately worth it.
In a recent therapy session we were discussing the downfalls of having no self-awareness. My therapist put it this way “If you don’t regret your actions that affected yourself or others in a negative way, then you avoid the reasoning to need to repair the situation, and refuse to take a realistic look at yourself and make necessary changes.” In other words, these people can’t apologise without explaining why they aren’t really to blame, and they don’t see the need to alter the way they handle things.
He also said that “People who excuse their own actions and don’t own up to the pain they caused another, will continue to hurt others and will usually end up very lonely, they will also wonder why”.
How sad is that! Out of a lack of self-awareness we can damage our relationships so badly, and some will never find the inner peace of growth, or a new perspective and the truth about themselves. It may leave them without a clue as to why they feel isolated from others. We can easily blame everyone else yet we refuse to accept blame ourselves, it would simply be more productive if we swallowed our pride and took a good look in the mirror. That is the only area of our lives that we can bring about a true transformation.
The serenity prayer is one commonly found in households all over the world. It aims to tackle this self-awareness problem. We need the courage to face ourselves head on, to see the truth about ourselves and make the adjustments necessary to bring about a change in our lives, one we will never regret.
“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”