Biblical justice (For Someone with a Mental Illness)

By Day 3, I know God is fighting for me. For someone with a mental illness, treatment is justice. I tell the doctors that I never knew a brain could feel like this. So clear, easily untangling the irrational thoughts that float into my head.

You need to go to the hospital.

The words cause a stir of panic. I can’t do this, but I’m running out of time. Somewhere in the back of my mind I can hear my friend’s voice. How you handle this will determine if you’ve learned from the mistakes of your upbringing.

I look up at the counselor. It’s a rarity for me to make eye contact with anyone. I’ve never understood why.

You’re declining fast. I can’t force you to get help but I can encourage you.

I decide to go.

The ER feels like a memory. They draw blood and take vitals. My legs won’t stop moving. They kick back and forth while the nurses feed me and tell me how sweet I am. My voice sounds childlike.

It takes two hours from the point of entering the ER to admission into inpatient care. Unheard of, the ER nurse says. Someone upstairs must be looking out for you.

God is, I think. God is providing. 

Inpatient care is no joke. They take away my belongings and fit me in donated clothes. I didn’t bring anything with me. I want to leave within minutes of arriving. I don’t want this. I never wanted to hurt myself. I’m just not well. I don’t know why.

This is the hardest choice I’ve ever made. The doctors and nurses are kind and compassionate. We are all trying to find out what is wrong with me. Because I am the most positive person I know but my thoughts speak darkness over my life. Even as I walk around the ward, my heart is abounding in hope by the Holy Spirit as I trust in God. I know nothing happens without His permission. Something about this screams justice, that God is outpouring His light to take out the darkness that has overwhelmed my life for the last few years. I’m just not sure why it feels this way.

The diagnosis is not a surprise. By the end of Day 1, we know I am on the spectrum. I am sick. I have a new(ish) disability. The friends and family I call are not surprised. They are happy for me. They say my behavior makes sense now. The disconnect between my emotions and thoughts make more sense.

I am fighting for my health in a way that I never have before. Cerebral palsy has nothing on my new diagnosis. It is the end of Day 2 when I start to feel different. My brain feels different. It doesn’t hurt anymore. It feels less cluttered. One little pill has started to change the way my body thinks.

I start talking to the other patients, asking them questions about their lives. I find out quickly where all my experience working with people with disabilities comes to good use. I give the other patients advice on navigating services. I’m teased lovingly for offering help when I’m here to get better.

I can’t help it, I think. No matter where I am, I will always be an advocate.

By Day 3, I know God is fighting for me. For someone with a mental illness, treatment is justice. I tell the doctors that I never knew a brain could feel like this. So clear, easily untangling the irrational thoughts that float into my head. I cry grateful tears. My brain is not typical but it is becoming well at a miraculous speed. This, I am not surprised at. God has always been quick to heal me when I have agreed to surrender.

I get to leave the hospital early. The follow-up appointment has already been made and my brain feels amazing. It is not until I am home the following day that it hits me what God has accomplished in a matter of days.

It is when I realize that I can feel the carpet under my bare feet that tears come rolling down my cheeks. The only words that come out in prayer are Thank you.

I never knew that because of an undiagnosed mental illness, I have never truly felt the ground under my feet. I have not been fully connected mind, body, spirit. As I experience the joy of feeling every fiber of my bedroom carpet, I know God has proclaimed justice over my life. I feel His victory. He won.

We accept the love we think we deserve

I’ve been to counseling quite a few times over the last twelve years. I’ve seen five different counselors, each time dealing with the tangled threads of my past and often, my present.

I personally think everyone should go to counseling at some point. Do some heavy lifting with a third party.

It’s taken 4 counselors and 12 years to finally get through to my heart on something I think we all struggle with at some point in our lives.

We accept the love we think we deserve. – Stephen Chbosky

I can’t remember the first time this question was asked of me but I certainly remember the last.

My favorite counselor was a seasoned pastor named Henry*. He was blunt and authentic without being prideful, weathered the storm of his own adversities and had been married to his wife for well over 40 years.

I liked him. He laughed at all my jokes. I laughed at all of his. It’s no secret I have trust issues with pastors. (Watching three pastors fall from their positions due to sin and pride in a row, in three different churches, would make anyone a little freaked out.) But I liked him. I trusted him.

We talked a lot about relationships. Romantic. Platonic. Commitment. I think he wanted me to stop being so terrified of two things: marriage and community.

He was the last one to ask me the same question I had heard a few times.

“If someone was to walk into your life right now, what would they think about the way you value yourself by observing the relationships you allow to exist in your life?”

He wasn’t a fan of the state of my community. Neither was I.

It wasn’t that he or I thought I wasn’t cared for or even loved. My community provided necessary, practical things when I had nowhere else to turn. For that, I will always be grateful.

I just wasn’t needed back.

They didn’t need my help. I got one-word answers when I asked them how they were doing. I wasn’t needed when I offered to throw out the trash or wash dishes after community dinners. I couldn’t even tell you what was going on in most of their lives during those two years.

But they always went that second mile for me. Like big time. They knew how to serve better than most people I had ever met. And I will always love and cherish them for that.

I just wasn’t needed back.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

It’s a lot harder to hurt yourself or run away if you truly believe your existence is necessary. He said.

I eventually ran away. Henry had taught me that by advocating so heavily for the love I craved, I was demonstrating that I didn’t truly believe I was worth loving.

I needed to learn to love myself.

It still took another year before I finally believed that I was worthy of a love jealous as a consuming fire. It took multiple mistakes and repeated apologies for me to be able to look inward and acknowledge that I was worthy of receiving a love far more precious than what I was continuing to accept.

It was when I walked away from a relationship with a guy that was just using me. It was when I ended a four-year friendship with two people I love very much because they were never going to need me back. It was when I stopped searching social media profiles of all the men who broke my heart.

I knew something had changed. Something in me had been made new.

I was going to be okay. I am okay.

*Names have been changed