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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Crossing Church: God's Chosen Exorcists or Abusers of those who are struggling with Mentall Illness?

Oops they did it again! It looks like those Crossing Church leaders (pastors) are up to their old antics again of being hurtful and disposing of a person without a care. Here is the condensed version: a young lady applies to the CrossingCollege and during this time experiences a psychotic break which was later diagnosed as major depressive w psychotic features. She came in for her interview for the college and was told she did not have the Holy Spirit and was possessed by a demon. Yeah. Then later while she was hospitalized for this condition, her mother called the Crossing Church to explain what had happened. They told HER MOTHER "Your daughter made a pact with the devil."
Crossing, I do know you love high drama, and love to see a demon under every bush, but You Were Wrong! I'm sure you saw some scary things. I'm sure it was worrisome behavior. But just because you don't understand it that doesn't make it a demon. If someone is acting strangely or in a way that frightens you then get them professional help; don't call them possessed and abandon them. Get some education on mental illness and start showing some compassion.
As always, you owe another apology.
I'm happy to introduce a special guest blogger for this post. This is the woman who was told she was possessed by "pastors" at The Crossing Church. She's amazingly brave and has some awesome wisdom to share as a person who went through hell and back and survived.

~ As our churches continue to reach out to the community on a larger scale, what with “Mega Churches” popping up all over, our congregations are being filled with many who suffer from a mental illness.

Like mainstream society, Mental Illness is also a bit taboo in our places of worship. There is much to be learned and understood of mental illnesses like Bipolar and Schizophrenia, even in mainstream society, let alone the Church.

When I, myself, became acutely ill with psychosis and went to my church (The Crossing Church) with concerns for my safety because I was a prophet, I was met with the common fear and conclusions that accompany the stigma of Mental Illness still today. I was told that I was possessed and must have made a “deal with the devil”, that I “did not know the Holy Spirit.” These things being farthest from the truth devastated me.

In the wake of Pastor Rick Warrens son’s death, reportedly suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder and/or Bipolar Disorder, now more than ever is the time to finally open our communications about this neglected, hurting part of our community. If we take anything away from the loss of life due to Mental Illness- let it be that it is in fact a potential lethal illness in our communities.

That, when the problem lies inside the mind prayer and positive thinking, which form in and are used in the mind, simply makes these methods insufficient to complete recovery and quality of life.

First, I will introduce you to two particularly mysterious illness, bipolar disorder, and Schizophrenia.

Bipolar Disorder displays varying symptoms of severe depression, to paranoid mania. Loss of inhibitions, recklessness, spending sprees, and promiscuity also accompany the disease. Biological changes in the brain are the source of these actions.
The DSM criteria describes severe mood swings and even psychosis (Loss of touch with reality) in severe cases.

Psychosis is a condition where one has lost touch with reality. Delusions, hallucinations and paranoia are the main symptoms of Psychosis. To be “psychotic”, does not mean that the person will be violent. In fact research shows most people suffering psychosis are not violent at all, and if they do harm, they harm themselves.  Psychosis is the main hallmark of Schizophrenia.

In Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia, delusions can often involve religion. A person may believe they are a prophet, Jesus Christ or other religious figure, or that they are on a special mission from God. A person may feel attacked by demons, and followed by the government.

Being devout Christians, we often do feel at times, that we have a particular purpose in life to accomplish for Him. The difference between that and the “missions” accompanying psychosis is that in psychosis none of what the person is putting together is true or makes sense and may attribute significant meaning to innocuous events.

If you happen to interact with someone who is ill with psychosis, either from Bipolar Disorder or from Schizophrenia, you may notice a number of things.

They may have difficulty forming a sentence or looking at you in the eye. They may rhyme their words, loose track and stop mid-sentence, or make up completely new words. Their eyes may wander and they may appear “jumpy”. They may be very withdrawn and quiet, inappropriately responding to social ques. They may even express some of their fears to you. It is at that point, you have two options.

Option A. Respond to your discomfort by avoiding the situation and excusing yourself from the situation.
The sufferer will then have one more missed opportunity to alerting those involved to their depreciating mental state. They will have to suffer with a nightmare of delusions and hallucinations that much longer.

Option B. You may try to ask the sufferer if they are OK. Try to engage them in conversation. Based on that conversation, you can than utilize that “emergency contact number” on volunteer and tithe forms, and alert someone involved in the sufferer’s life that they seem out of sorts. Under other circumstances it may seem odd, but if an individual comes to you claiming someone is trying to kill them, or that they have special powers from God, it is most certainly appropriate to show concern.

It is however, rarely done because of the stigma and fear associated with Psychotic illnesses.
Hollywood does little to educate society. In many blockbuster action or horror hits, the villain is labeled “a psychotic killer.” Many studies show, as noted previously, people with psychosis or “psychotic” are very unlikely to become violent. Serial killers are typically diagnosed with Psychopathy, or Sociopathic. Some are stories about demon possessed individuals, and mirroring schizophrenic symptoms (aside from the theatrical paranormal activity, levitating etc...), hearing voices and hallucinating.

The way that diabetes and the wrong amount of insulin make an individual sick, so dopamine does in people with Schizophrenia. It is a medical, biological illness that creates mainly, severe thought disturbances.

In addition to intermittent or chronic episodes of psychosis, Schizophrenics also suffer from:
·         Apathy
·         Flat Affect
·         Decreased motivation
·         Desire less

This is just to name a few. This is not a problem with morale or discipline, but a medical illness that is more feared and harder to adjust to than a cancer diagnosis, in many cases.

When Society begins to see Bipolar, Schizophrenia and psychotic illnesses for what they are, then will proper research, and results begin.  Just as Alzheimer’s so devastates the mind in the elderly, so Schizophrenia does in ones prime of life. Awareness, compassion and medical treatment are necessary.

Let’s uplift and edify our congregations by educating ourselves about mental illness and going beyond the stereotypes to connect with someone suffering today. It may save a life. ~

I'm honored to have this courageous young woman be on my blog.  Wishing her future health, happiness and joy.