Meeting Severe Mental Illness

schizophrenia

I have a new job, and it involves visiting people with severe mental illnesses, such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Borderline Personality , and Anxiety Disorders.  Meeting these people really broke my heart.  They appeared lost in their own minds.  Trapped in a world that they have fabricated themselves, but don’t know it.  Almost like children in adult bodies who have fears and anxieties they cannot control without medication.  Some avoided eye contact and remained guarded.  Others greeted warmly and shared something about their simple lives.  They all presented a desperate need to be comforted and supported.  As I entered the homes of these simple but troubled lives, I was reminded of Jesus’s words when he  said , “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick.”  I have wanted to serve the poor and the needy, and I think that God is giving me this opportunity now.  I have been asked if I like my job, and frankly I have to say that it is not about liking it, but about trying to fulfill what Jesus taught us to do, serve the poor.  I rather feel joy in knowing that I am serving Jesus by simply visiting and helping these “poor in heart” and “meek” people.   I was almost reminded of what Mother Theresa once said “Everyone is Jesus in disguise.”   Visiting these mentally ill people, who struggle daily with their fears, anxieties, and thinking disorders, are usually the ones who others despise and avoid.  They are considered “crazy”, “odd”, and “dangerous”.  Jesus would consider them “the least of these” and also as Himself.

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About Noel

I am a person who has realized that the teachings of Jesus are centralized in the genuine care and service of others. I have evolved from fundamentalism to a moderate spiritual approach. I am a reflecting person who has grown to not fear doubt but to embrace it as a means to growth and increasing closeness to God. View all posts by Noel

11 responses to “Meeting Severe Mental Illness

  • livingvictoriously

    Noel, great post. It feels like you came to visit me and got to know me better. Congratulation on the new job. Hugs. Marie.

  • Cindy Holman

    It must be a difficult job – not everyone can work with people who have mental dysfunctions – you sound very blessed indeed 🙂 Happy 4th to you Noel!

  • lunamosity

    thank you for your mercy….and for seeing Jesus in people such as I.

  • joellamorgan

    One of my closest friends suffers from depression, odd, bipolar and minor personality disorder. I’ve known her since we were 12. Its been a hard road to travel with her. Everyday is a struggle. Its insipres me to hear about someone else reaching out to people with mental illnesses.
    I love my friend but some days I get so frustrated with everything she goes through and the situations she puts herself in because of her need for acceptance. I have to remind myself often that Jesus instructed us to serve those in need. To love them and help them. Its a hard road to walk, but its a blessed road as well.

  • sharinhislove

    Thank you for reaching out to those of us who have mental disorders. In the midst of these disorders, I have been blessed to embrace them as a personal gift from a very loving Father. He knew what He was doing when He created me. He knew that I would be magnetized to others like me, and because of my disorders I would be able to love and care for them in a deep way. Having been rejected, abandoned, criticized and many other things by even my own family, I have searched for God’s understanding and have sought a more intense relationship with Him. I could have never made it in this life without that relationship. Please continue to reach out, Noel. You are indeed a blessing, and you will also be blessed so much for the abandoning of yourself into the higher calling of God. I enjoyed reading what you, and others, have said. Blessings, Sharon @ sharinhislove.wordpress.com

  • Dave

    I’m not religious, but you’re doing a great thing by helping people with mental health problems.

  • thepunkhippyheathen

    Hi Noel

    The job you do is not an easy one – it does take a special kind of person and I applaud you for that.

    You asked me where I stand on Spirituality and now, after reading this post, I would like to ask you a question, if you don’t mind.

    My mother has Borderline Personality Disorder, an anxiety disorder and she is bipolar. Until the age of 14, I lived in the same house as my mother, being verbally and mentally abused by a woman tormented by mental demons and in those days, without a diagnosis or medication. Being abused changes who you are. It makes you harden yourself, to prepare for the next onslaught of rage and hatred directed towards you. As a child I had no idea why this was happening – I thought she just hated me and that I must have done something terrible to deserve this treatment from my mother. As an adult, I of course realised that nothing was wrong with me, I realised that my mother was a sick person. She wasn’t diagnosed until her 50s’ and then began a still never ending merry-go-round of medications, locked wards, suicide attempts, self-harm etc, etc, etc. My mother has threatened my life and the lives of my children – and when she is having a psychotic episode, she is very capable of carrying out her threats. I live on the other side of the country to my mother – I have to for my mental and physical safety and that of my family. I have minimal contact with her, again, to protect myself. I don’t blame my mother for what she has done – she has an illness, it is not her fault – but I must protect myself and my family. My mother believes in Jesus and calls herself a christian. She says the only reason she hasn’t actually killed herself is that she believes she will go to pergatory (she is an ex-catholic) if she commits suicide. So instead, she carefully plans her overdoses so she just gets to go to hospital for a while and not have to participate in life. Earlier this year she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She said that she was happy about the diagnosis and told me that she “finally has a politically correct way to commit suicide.” Initially she refused any treatment, wanting to die. After her husband pleaded with her, she eventually had a mastectomy but has refused to have any follow up chemo or radiation. She wants to die. She wants to be able to die so she can be free, so she is no longer tormented by suicidal and homicidal thoughts, so she no longer sees demons and hears voices and wants to kill her own daughter!!! She wants to die without killing herself so she can go to heaven! She doesn’t want to be punished by god for killing herself so she will die slowly and painfully from untreated cancer instead, just to escape the living hell that is her life!

    Noel, you talk about Jesus and his kindness and compassion and love. My question for you is this – where is god in my mothers story? How can you see god in that? Mental illness robbed me of a childhood, of a mother, robbed my children of a loving grandmother. I see no god in my mothers life. I see no god in my childhood. All I saw was fear and terror and abuse – there was no god for me and there is no god for her. So this is a serious question and I am interested in your answer – do you see god in my story? I didn’t write this to try and get sympathy or anything or even to argue with you about god – you know I’m an atheist and I respect your right to your own beliefs. I am an adult and years of therapy have instilled in me a strong belief in myself and an ability to overcome the abuse and today I am a strong, outspoken, well adjusted person – I believe anyway 😉 So really, where is god in my story, in my mothers story? And if you see him there, why doesn’t he help her, why doesn’t he ease her pain? Why doesn’t he release her from the grip of this disgusting disease? Where is god?

    I hope you don’t mind my very looooong comment and I really am interested in your thoughts.

    Pixie 😉

  • Noel

    Pixie, first of all, thank you for sharing such a personal, delicate, profound story about your experience with your mother and mental illness. I have to also say that I have tried to explain with my blog that what I believe is not the traditional Christian faith, although I still believe in Jesus. I do not pretend to have all the answers simply by saying that I believe in God. My personal perspective about God, Jesus, Life itself has evolved significantly. I consider myself a Reflective Christian, which means I believe in the teachings of Jesus, and at the same time I am open to the teachings and thoughts of other faiths. I have learned to accept doubts and skepticism as a way to grow spiritually. God is still a mystery to me, however, so far I firmly believe in loving our neighbors as I love myself as the main teachings of Jesus, the reason for being on this earth. This is the only thing I am sure of. Everything else that Christians claim are open for discussion. But my responsibility is to reach out and serve the poor and the needy; this is how I define Heaven/God/Jesus.
    Let me try to answer your question further with a personal experience. I have a brother who has cerebral palsy. He cannot walk, use his hands, or do anything to take care of himself. He has lived all of his life wheelchair bound. It is truly depressing. He currently lives with my aging mother, who still believes that God will heal him. Really? She still believes God is going to do a miracle on my brother after almost 4 decades of being handicap? I question God for this. Did He punish my mother? Doesn’t He care enough to give my brother a break from his lifelong bound? Sometimes I am angry at God, and prefer to believe He is not real, so that I can relieve my anger. But somehow I turn back to believing He is still real. Jesus said “In this life you will have tribulation” and he was right. I have learned that the purpose of life is not to be happy, but to learn and grow; to mature. I am not saying we shouldn’t be happy, but that our priority should be to learn how to love others without expecting a selfish reward. To me, this is what it means to be spiritually mature, to be Saved, to be perfect, to be with God. Your mother is one of millions of examples of the obvious suffering in this world. I don’t know why you and she experienced so much suffering, because of her illness. I don’t know why my brother continues to be handicap. But I do know I should continue to love him, to take care of him, like Jesus would. I see God in suffering, because it is an opportunity to love and care in spite of. I hope that someday I will fully understand why. But in the mean time, all I can do is love him, love my enemies, love God. Sorry this was so long, but I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts. I know I didn’t give you the answer you wanted, I will pray/reflect more about this and write to you again. Take care.
    Your new friend, a Reflective Christian.

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