When living in recovery from mental illness, questions arise, such as, “Isn’t mental illness a chronic condition? How can we think we can recover from mental illness? Breaking free from medication is not living in recovery. Sometimes some of us who struggle with mental illness need medication to calm our minds so that we can live in recovery. The definition of recovery is different for everyone; perhaps the struggle lies in having a genuine concept of recovery. Recovery may seem like a nebulous term, but speaking of my own recovery, medication got me to the point where I could focus on my faith and how that faith could help me.
I had to go through many struggles to get where I am today, but I do not regret going through them. I am living a life of joy despite my mental illness, because I know that Jesus Christ will walk me through the steps needed to live in recovery.
Collins points out that ‘the word “depression” covers a wide variety of symptoms that differ in severity, frequency, duration, and origin.’ People with mental illness are looked down upon in most church communities. People are often blamed for their symptoms and isolated into a stigma of false teachings. The Christian community must develop tolerance toward those who with mental illness instead of stereotyping them. Blaming and stereotyping make things worse for those seeking support and guidance. The causes of mental illness have many complex factors. Genetic factors play a part in the environment a person grew up in.
May complex factors have been interwoven in the family and we must consider this. Blame for mental illness causes physical problems for the person when not addressed. Saying mental illness is just a spiritual problem is terrible theology that fails to understand human nature as we are complex human beings.
Helping someone with mental illness involves good care and understanding in the Christian community. Too often, people seeking help for mental illness in the church are met with fear, because of a lack of understanding. Friends, families, and Christian communities must learn to ask the right questions to offer guidance and support.
A movement called “Mental Health First Aid” is spreading around the country. The church should be the line of support and a place where people can go to get help from a higher source.
People with mental illness need Christ just as much, maybe even more, then some. Christian communities can offer grace to help members who have a mental illness the gifts they need to live in recovery.