Mental Illness and Christianity

Pastors have told me that mental illness is one of the worst things for the faith. I agree with them because that is largely how I lost mine.

Engaging with the supernatural and psychosis are often indistinguishable from each other. You could argue that the supernatural mainly manifests itself on the seat of consciousness. But mental illness often produces the same experiences as the supernatural purports to. Parts of bipolar mania are indistinguishable from the comforting positive experience of God most Christians promise. The voice of God often tells people to do things one wouldn’t think of had they been behaving rationally, but that same irrational voice of God is speaking loudly when someone is psychotic.

Anxiety is basically God now showing up, LOUDLY. Christians promise an experience of God which, while in anxiety, the exact opposite is produced. People who struggle with anxiety (including myself) have a hard time letting go and letting God because when we do things are even worse because our pathology is there instead of God. For us medication works worlds better than meditation. People without mental illnesses like to criticize us for this and call us weak or reprobate which pushes us further away from the faith.

God promises to never give you more than you can handle but mental illness is often the fallout of being pushed past your limit. There is this idea in Christianity that suffering is good. But mental illness seems to transpire off this map. For one every incident of psychosis weakens you so less stress is required to produce another one. For two (at least in my experience) pastors realize that because you have a mental illness you are an existential threat to the faith and treat you accordingly (and the laity simply ignore you because you don’t possess the “life gems” like money, status, and SO, etc..). Also suffering is really only ever redeemed communally while those with mental illnesses are often isolated because of vocational/social failure, stigma, and the fact that their pathology often causes them to behave in ways that push people away.

Depression produces the exact same experience as worm theology. Some Christians say you’re worse than the worst of the worst. The problem is people who struggle with depression often do their self flagellation in the name of their illness instead of the name of God. Also some Christians believe despair is a sin which is tantamount to guilting someone for being depressed. It’s like if you got a cold and instead of trying to treat it they just told you you were damned.

People with mental illness are often single and harder to engage as they get to middle age. The church is all about engaging older people as couples and doesn’t do too good of a job including older single people (those of us with mental illnesses often are not successful in the world or church’s eyes and this keeps us single). The other facet of the suffering mental illness produces not being redemptive is that when Christians help people with mental illnesses it often doesn’t feel redemptive as the pathology often causes sufferers to act in ways that confound Christians’ models of what suffering should look like. One has to be really sacrificial and a lot of times the effort put forth feels like plowing the sea. In our “me first” culture very few people are willing to go to these lengths particularly when engagement challenges their beliefs.

Mental illness kills redemptive narratives. Part of staying Christian involves cobbling together some kind of redemptive back story to try to make things make sense in hindsight (to show God somehow being involved despite everything). Mental illness, particularly depression, causes one to chafe against seeing anything redemptive about the past because suffering from it is senseless, chaotic, and often isolating suffering and when a mind has been in this state long enough it is no longer able to play the mental gymnastics needed to polish a turd.

There’s a good reason why in the Bible mental illness was always seen as direct action of the devil or his charges. Because to this day it’s destroying faiths all around.

Agency

Those in power like to psychologize situations to give those in powerless situations the illusion of agency. For example saying a person isn’t finding a job because they have a bad attitude. This is pinning something out of their control (finding a job) on them to make it seem like they have more control over the situation than they really do. Considering modern psychology is a tool of oppressing those on the bottom this doesn’t surprise me a bit.

Cures for Depression

I cured depression! I am diligently working on my Nobel Prize acceptance speech. I actually have 3 cures:

Shame it away. Shame is powerful and sets people straight. If you shame depression away it disappears. You are a terrible person for having depression, it’s your fault you don’t have the will power to get control of your mood.

Abuse it away. When you have a chronic condition that makes you less and less useful in society, expect you taking up more space to be met with abuse, especially if you are low in society already. Abuse works wonders for depression. It is so wonderful that when you experience it you pass it on to your kids and others around you!

Guilt it away. Despair is a sin. If you don’t have access to God the best thing someone can do is guilt you about it and tell you you are a piece of excrement for being depressed. Your depression is due to your lack of character. You are obviously not right with God.

Empathy Article

Empathy is on the decline. This may not be as bad as it sounds

When we feel empathy, we typically give power to another person or institution. We identify with — and internalize — their point of view. In extreme cases, this can lead to the kind of loss of self we associate with Stockholm Syndrome, where a hostage over-identifies with his or her captor. Empathy makes us vulnerable to subordinating ourselves to others, especially to those in power.

Of course the lack of empathy hurts those without power the most because when you do have power those under you are forced to empathize with you or be crushed.

Ways Things Are Better Now Than They Used to Be

In our hyper negative isolated existence it is difficult to step out of our current situation and see how, in some ways, things have really gotten a lot better.

Abuse is a lot less hidden. Obviously all the sexual and other abuse reaching the news cycle makes the world seem like a worse place but for the victims it is a good thing. The fact that abusers are called out much sooner also means abusers will think twice about taking advantage of victims. Bill Cosby was a serial rapist and it didn’t come out for decades. If someone were to do that today victims would be much more likely to come out.

You can correspond with your doctor between appointments. When I had eye problems in the early 2ks I so badly wanted to correspond with my doctors but back then you couldn’t email your doctors because the security wasn’t up to snuff to handle medical information. Now with patient portals that has been solved and my dad goes back and forth with his doctor all the time. Of course this does make a doctor’s job harder now than it used to be.

There are better special education options in schools. A lot of people were understandably angry when Betsy DeVoss wanted to cut special ed programs but just the fact that they were an expense Republicans thought worth cutting shows how far we have come. When I was in high school in the 90’s they didn’t have much. Now they have a lot of help for people of various functioning levels at the elementary level and supports for those in high school who have various challenges.

Going out has become a lot more convenient. In the car GPS and traffic overlays will reroute you when congestion gets too bad. Maps with reviews will lead you to better quality non chain restaurants. Cell phones make it so there are a lot less missed connections and people can make plans to meet at a specific place and notify the group if plans change at the last minute. So much of Seinfeld revolved around missed connections. If they would have had today’s technology a lot of that would have been eliminated (but it would have been less funny).

Entertainment options are much better. It’s easier than ever to discover good bands with streaming, websites, and YouTube. Video is much clearer (high resolution) than it was even up to the 90’s. Cable TV is more expensive but you also get more (the ability to watch live and on demand TV on your computer and your mobile device). Netflix and the like provide a large library of shows to binge on.

On Abortion: Christians don’t want to pay for things

Christians are rightfully horrified of the fact that there are hardly any Downs people in Iceland because most of them get winnowed out via pre natal tests and aborted. However Iceland is more socialist than the U.S. with cradle to the grave social services. People with disabilities exact a great drain on society.

The Christian way is to just make everyone have as many kids as possible and then let the ones with disabilities rot on the vine when they get older. If Christians actually had to pay for the social services for all the children that get birthed then their pro life stance would be more costly. They want the best of both worlds and with their people in power that’s exactly what they’re getting.

Hope Comes From Crumbs

If there isn’t a trail of crumbs I can surmise there is no bread. Been looking for a job since September with nothing positive since October. I’m supposed to believe that if I keep at it something good will happen but I don’t believe it. Not because my mind is in a “unhealthy” depressive state but I just see no evidence to believe otherwise, my job coach is a good guy but we are using indeed which is just shooting resumes in a black hole. Hope and conjecture are not diametrically opposed to each other. A little conjecture has to leak into hope in order for it to be self sustaining and vice versa. Even people who hope in vain for all kinds of crazy happy outcomes get the placebo response form said hope.

People who claim the future is going to be so bright if you just keep your head down and then none of this brightness shines in the present moment are just stringing you along. What else would people stringing you on tell you? That would never tell you to be hopeless because hopelessness is empowering because that indicates that something in your environment is going to have to change in order to restore hope. The only thing that really begets hope is empowerment because that allows you to counter whatever self serving action others are going to put you through.

Self Love

From: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook

For years mental health professionals taught people that they could be psychologically healthy without social support, that “unless you love yourself, no one else will love you”. Women were told that they didn’t need men, and vice versa. People without any relationships were believed to be as healthy as those who had many. These ideas contradict the fundamental biology of human species: we are social mammals and could never have survived without deeply interconnected and interdependent human contact. The truth is, you cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity to love cannot be built in isolation.

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