Summary: I want to start today by telling you what my success rate was for healing mental illness when I was a counsellor. Zero! I never saw one person ever get cured of a mental illness, and I am pretty sure not many others have either.
I want to start today by telling you what my success rate was for healing mental illness when I was a counsellor. Zero! I never saw one person ever get cured of a mental illness, and I am pretty sure not many others have either. These are not diseases that can be cured, they are mental and emotional patterns that lead to living in a way that strengthens the thoughts and feelings. It’s like a big feedback loop that continues to deepen the problem until it becomes debilitating.
The fact that medication can help in some people some of the time simply shows that we can treat the symptoms like taking pain killers for a broken leg. The medicine doesn’t heal the leg, and medicine does not cure mental illness. I am also not saying that people didn’t get better, but that was more because they learned strategies to live and think differently despite how they felt, not because they no longer had any bad feelings.
The truth is that we are all mentally ill. If you can show me one person that has complete contentment, inner peace, and security all the time, you’ll prove me wrong. God created us that way, but we’re not that way anymore. The major mental illnesses in our time are anxiety, depression, bipolar depression (which is just a weird combination of anxiety and depression), and schizophrenia.
We have all experienced some of these at one time or another, and many of us struggle with some of them regularly. Even schizophrenia which is basically being delusional and creating a different reality because of extreme anxiety, is something we all do sometimes when life gets overwhelming, we create mental fantasies, we’re just able to snap out of it easier.
How many of you have read the Pilgrim’s Progress? This is a classic allegory of the Christian journey.
The main character Christian, is on a journey from the city of Destruction to the Celestial City, and along the way him and all the other pilgrims come across various obstacles that can’t be avoided. One such place is the slough of Despond where pilgrims can find themselves sinking in the mire, and depending on the amount of burden they have on their back, can find it very difficult to get out.
Christian had this problem until a man named Help (the Holy Spirit) came and pulled him out. Christian asks help why has this place not been fixed so that this journey might be easier and more secure for the pilgrims. Help responds that this place cannot be mended. The point being that places like these are inevitable and no matter how mature we are, no one is immune to these places. But these places cannot be mended, only travelled through.
As you can see from this story though, it’s not by our own effort that we get through them, but by the grace and help of the Lord. These places, these mental and emotional rough spots are there to get us to seek the Lord. They aren’t necessarily tests, or punishment, but simply God’s way of trying to get us to seek Him at a deeper level, to get us desperate for Him because he so wants to take care of us and have intimacy with us.
Someone once said, “Peace is that calm of mind that is not ruffled by adversity, overclouded by a remorseful conscience, or disturbed by fear.”
I think good mental health is the absence of what the modern world has piled into our minds. You don’t see mentally ill babies or toddlers. You also don’t see mental illness in primitive tribal cultures. Mental Health is a removal of all the thoughts and feelings that keep us from being what we were born to be, as God created us. Mental illness is a product of the fall and did not exist in the beginning and will not exist at the end in Heaven. What you are left with then is contentment, security, and peace.
So it’s no surprise to me that we humans cannot cure mental illness. We were never meant to. It’s something we are given to help us find and get closer to God. Thomas Szasz was a not so well regarded Psychiatrist who basically said that no mental illness is a disease, but we want to call it that so that we can change these people who go against social norms. Here are a couple of his quotes:
If the dead talk to you, you’re a spiritualist; if God talks to you, you’re a schizophrenic.
If you talk to God, you are praying. If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.
He even believed that if we didn’t interfere with Schizophrenics, they might actually lead us to God. That may be a little extreme in some cases but nonetheless, I think he was one of the wisest psychiatrists of our time.