This is a post about awareness of mental illness and how your words affect the lives of those afflicted with it. I go into this post very carefully and with much trepidation. This isn’t an easy subject and nothing to be taken lightly. This is not a post to debate the causes of mental illness. There is a massive amount of information available about mental illness, and not being a medical professional, I won’t even attempt at slogging through something so complex.
What you need to remember:
1. Mental illness is treatable. Not necessarily curable but it can be managed. It is not easy and may last a lifetime. It will take honesty, willingness and a ton of work but there is hope.
2. Mental illness needs to be diagnosed by a medical professional; not your mother, not your best friend, not your pastor and not your “Christian counselor”.
3. Mental illness needs to be treated by a medical professional. Telling a person they need only have faith and pray is dangerous and possibly fatal.
4. Mental illness does not mean there is something “wrong with you spiritually”. It is not weakness, not from lack of faith and not from demons. Please keep your commentary to yourself. No matter who you’ve known or what you’ve seen, if you have not personally had to battle mental illness then you have no idea what you are talking about.
I’ve attached a photo showing Rick Warren’s statement about his son’s recent death in comparison to a photo of a retweet by Eric Dykstra of a man believing God will take away his bipolar condition.
I greatly appreciate that Rick Warren spoke of medical treatment and my heart goes to him and his family in such a time of great loss. Sadly, as with all diseases, and even with the best of care, sometimes the illness defeats the person in the end. My aunt essentially died of mental illness, after a lifetime of treatment, and the sorrow for those who tried to help is immense.
I don’t know if Eric Dykstra personally knows the man that sent out this tweet. I don’t know if this man is currently getting help. All I know is what I saw, or rather what I didn’t see. I didn’t see anyone encouraging him to seek medical attention. I saw Pastor Dykstra retweet this, which in essence validates the belief that God will , or might, get rid of bipolar disorder to anyone watching.
Is God curing people of bipolar? I don’t know. I know bipolar is a treatable brain disorder. I also know that your words and actions, or inaction, matters to someone suffering.
Help is available. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml