Anxiety: The Symptoms Return

Do you ever feel like a failure for taking yourself off medications that you “don’t need anymore” only to end up right back on them?

That happened to me recently. I took myself off my anxiety medication a few months back. When the anxiety got so bad I could barely leave the house, that’s when I couldn’t lie to myself about the necessity of it anymore.

My anxiety symptoms seemed better, so I took myself off medications. Then they came back.

Return of Anxiety Symptoms:

I started blurting out random words and phrases to cut off the chatter in my head. Blasting music through earbuds to help me ignore all of the people talking to me. There are sounds that make no sense that just spill from my lips, sounds that derail the train going round and round in my brain. I hide in dark rooms crouched in corners, trying to keep the panic from finding me. It always does.

When I could no longer fake normal, that is when I realized that the dreaded anxiety medications really were necessary. Lying awake for hours, reviewing every conversation in my head for mistakes – that’s when I knew that I’m not okay. I still pretend. Three times a day is really annoying for taking medications … so I miss doses. It’s foolish, you don’t have to say it. I’m already telling myself that. Even as I’m hiding from everyone who cares for fear of being annoying, I’m pretending that the anxiety isn’t an issue.

Wait, what?

Didn’t we just have this conversation?

It never ends, you see.

We – me, myself, and I – always have this conversation. The anxiety gets unbearable, and keeps us locked inside our mind. Then we go back on the medications so we can leave the house again without panicking when someone walks by. When the medication does its job and we feel better, we stop taking it. It isn’t necessary anymore! That is the lie that we keep repeating, wishing it were true and trying desperately to believe it.

Sometimes I do believe it. Until the medication is out of my system, anyways. So for now, I’m back on anxiety medication. We will see how long it lasts this time.

Self-Harm: I Don’t Want to Recover

It isn’t fair. Everyone has an addiction, everyone has something that they use to take the pain away. Just because I wear the evidence of my (self-harm) addiction on my skin, I cannot be allowed to continue?

The doctors and nurses at the hospital say themselves that it’s “just a scratch”. The psychiatrists say it “isn’t serious”. If my cuts are “just scratches”, why does it matter if I continue to cut myself? If the problem “isn’t serious”, why am I baker acted when someone discovers the marks?

I do not encourage or support self-harm, but I DO believe that I should be allowed to express myself in the way I see fit. Please stop overreacting to a "problem" that isn't like society thinks it is.

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

Non-suicidal self-injury does exist. There are people who cut (or otherwise injure) themselves and do not have a suicidal intent. Personally, I stopped cutting over a year ago – but I still want to cut. I only stopped because my now-husband put his foot down (so to speak). Even though I want to cut, I do not want to die. I have no plan to commit suicide, no intention of committing suicide. I simply wish to express the inner turmoil consuming me on my skin.

Why is this an issue?

People are addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, the list goes on. Some people are addicted to tattoos, but their self-expression is more acceptable than mine? You can see both on our skin. Drugs and alcohol can harm you from the inside out. Shopping too much can be devastating on mental health (debt, anyone?), and having too much sex garners you a unfavorable impression with the people who know you (and maybe an STD).

All of these are common addictions. Working too much can also be an addiction, but the only people who you hear complaining are the families of these work addicts (who don’t get to see their loved one). These addictions can all take both a physical and a mental toll (tattoos probably the least so). How is cutting any different? I don’t cut deep enough to do serious damage – just enough to feel the release.

Self-Harm: Not Guaranteed Safe

Self-harm is just another form of the addiction to release that we all have. When we get stressed out or keyed up, we want to “take a load off” – we just do so differently. I’m not claiming self-injury is safe – but neither is drinking too much alcohol, or driving a car for that matter! We all know that neither of those activities is guaranteed safe, and yet they are both completely acceptable behaviors. Of course they both have restrictions – if you drink too much and act in an unacceptable way, you might get kicked out or face some kind of legal trouble (depending on what you do), and if you drive in dangerous way then you could lose your license, get in an accident, or even lose your life. What I’m saying is that we as a society need to take a second glance at the things that we label “dangerous” or consider problem behaviors.

I Advocate for the Choice to Express Myself

I do not advocate for anyone to self-harm – I DO advocate for myself to be given the choice to express myself in the non-suicidal way I see fit. When I self-harm, no one (including myself) is in any danger. Society needs to step up to the plate and STOP overreacting to ‘problems’ that aren’t actually problems.

Besides, in the worst (read: unlikely) case scenario, I cut too deep and die. That’s one less burden on you, society. That’s how you refer to people like me, anyways. Is it different if I actually die? Kind of like people attending the funeral of someone they hated in life. You’ve got to keep up appearances.

Sometimes the outcry that people like me are a burden on society that should be dealt with are the reason I want to cut. People help contribute to a problem, then panic when they see the results of their contribution.

You contributed to my vices, society. Now leave me to them.

 

Disclaimer: I do not support or encourage self-harm in any form. Once you start it is hard to stop, and strangers judge you by the scars on your skin. Our society has not reached a place where they can accept behavior that is unusual but not dangerous. The purpose of this post was simply to express my frustration with society and its unwillingness to accept me as I am.

The Life Anti-Psychotic Medicines Stole From Me

Due to moving, insurance problems, and being irresponsible, I have been off my anti-psychotic medicines for over a month now. It’s amazing how much a month can change. There are things anti-psychotics stole from me that I didn’t even realize were due to meds. It was a slow transition – for about two months before I went off my medicines, I reduced myself to a half dosage. I knew I would probably run out before finding another doctor and getting everything set-up … I did not anticipate it taking this long.

Sometimes you don't realize how much you've lost until you have it back. After a month off anti-psychotic medicines, is it time to say goodbye to the life I now have back?

 

Give & Take:

I have parts of my life back, now that I’m off my medicine, that I had given up on. Unfortunately, there are also losses, things I no longer can control. Everything is give or take, it seems – so here I am after midnight, mourning the loss of the life I just got back. I can’t keep this life, you see. Without anti-psychotic medicines, I am unpredictable. I have a tendency to self-harm, and be fairly aggressive (mostly verbally). Without medicines stabilizing me, I tend to hurt those I love most. I isolate myself, and burrow into a pit that I cannot get out of.

Anti-psychotics & Weight:

The reasons that anti-psychotic medicines are a must do not soften the blow of their theft from me at all. When I’m on anti-psychotic medicines, the scale is terrifying. People tell me to diet, to exercise, to work harder to lose the weight. What they don’t understand is that I am. I’ve tried restricting calories, exercising like crazy. Avoiding carbs, not eating sweets, walking, running, lifting weights – the number on the scale only rises. In three months, though – two with a half dose and one with no medicine at all – I have lost 19 lbs. I am not exercising hardly at all. Not even walking (shame on me, I know). No dieting, either. I am eating full-carb sandwiches multiple times a week, and enjoying chocolate and candy regularly. Somehow, the number on the scale is still dropping. It’s a huge contrast – hardly any effort while NOT on anti-psychotics, and I’ve gone down a whole pant size. When I’m ON anti-psychotics, my pant size goes up just as fast as the number on the scale – despite my frantic efforts.

At this point, people are probably thinking, it’s just weight – it’s not that big of a deal. Body acceptance, and all of that. Isn’t it a big deal, though? We are shamed for being overweight in so many ways. People regularly ask me if I am pregnant (my weight tends to go to my stomach, and I am a young, married female). We see models in t.v. ads and magazines that are slim and fit – everything we want to be. More than that – I want to look in the mirror and like what I see. I want to feel attractive for my husband (he thinks I’m attractive this way, but it’s hard to believe when I hate my reflection so much). Wearing the clothes I want to, without worrying that they are unflattering would be so wonderful, too!

Anti-Psychotics Stole More Than (a low) Weight:

We are discussing a life stolen here, however – not just horrendous weight gain. I was in my late teens before starting on anti-psychotic medicines. Spending all day reading a book was extremely common for me. Anti-psychotic medicines took that away from me so slowly that I didn’t even realize why I couldn’t read anymore. I went from reading at every opportunity to being unable to focus on the words on the page – rarely reading anything. From finishing at least a book a week to being lucky to finish a book a month. To constantly checking out library books (at least five at a time!) to not even knowing who the librarian was, because I hadn’t been in such a long time.

From a reading perspective, this medicine-free month has been amazing. I’m reading books I have been wanting to read for years, but haven’t been able to focus on. I’m living in the books again, becoming the characters, living their lives – instead of finishing the book feeling unsatisfied and unimpressed.

Mourn but Accept the Loss:

Those two factors alone, weight loss and reading, crush me with the thought that I have to give them up when I go back on anti-psychotic medicines. Staying off anti-psychotic medicines isn’t an option, though. If ever I were to hurt my husband because I refused to take my medicine and lost myself to a psychotic state, I could not forgive myself.

Even if I did not ever become violent off-meds, I cannot stand myself untreated. My thoughts are much harsher, and so are my words. I am much more impulsive, much more likely to spit out words that invisibly wound.

Hating Myself – Choosing The Lesser of Two Evils:

Maybe it all comes down to why I hate myself, then – off-medicine, I hate myself because I am a despicable human being. My thoughts are not anything like the person I want to be. I hate how I treat people, especially the people I claim to love. On-medicine, I am fat. I hate my body for being unattractive, and I hate that I cannot do the things I love to do anymore.

Anti-psychotic medicines stole my passion for reading from me. They stole my size-0 jeans, and my slim body. I hate them for the things they stole from me, the life they stole from me. With anti-psychotic medicines, I am almost unrecognizable as the same person I was before treatment.

Despite the losses, though, anti-psychotic medicines gave me the person I wanted to be. That person didn’t look the way I wanted her to look, she didn’t do the things I wanted her to do – but she was kind. She didn’t think harsh thoughts about everyone and everything. She didn’t try to wound everyone with her words when she was wounded.

 

Anti-psychotic medicines stole my life from me.

Meanwhile, they helped me become the person I always wanted to be.

Helping Someone Who Doesn’t Want Help

Attempting to help someone when your help is unwanted is a fine line to walk. On one hand, they likely prefer to be left alone, and any rebuff is bound to sting. On the other hand, they may be in desperate need of help, and refusing to accept it.

Sometimes when someone we love is not threatening anyone or attempting to commit suicide, mental health professionals ignore pleas for assistance. These are a few ways you can help a non-suicidal, non-threatening person in your life.

There aren’t really any set rules to follow for how to help someone who doesn’t want help. The only rule that nearly everyone goes by is to get immediate assistance for the person if someone is in danger. That could be from potential suicide, or because the person is threatening someone else.

If someone is in danger, get help. Just because the threat doesn’t seem serious or just because this has happened before does not reduce or eliminate the need for assistance. Help Guide has a great article on suicide prevention.

The kind of potentially necessary help we will be focusing on is when someone is in a non-threatening, non-suicidal psychotic or otherwise deranged state and cannot help themselves. Helping may be necessary in these circumstances so the person can get off of the streets, or even move out of their parent’s/relative’s/friend’s/whoever’s house. Even if such assistance is not needed for living arrangements, it can better the quality of the ill person’s life.

Here are some ways you can help:
  • Be encouraging. Do not force the person into treatment.

From personal experience with someone very close to me (as well as how I have been treated myself when psychotic) forcing someone into treatment only causes resentment. In such a situation, you could be doing more harm than good – the person might even cut you off from information and out of their lives. Instead, let the person know you are there for them. A listening ear (that doesn’t blabber to everyone else) is really beneficial. The more the person learns you are trustworthy, the more likely they are to respect your opinion and even get help if you suggest it gently. You cannot rush someone’s trust. It has to be earned, and treated carefully. This will probably not happen overnight. It will take time.

  • Don’t nag.

If the person has stopped taking their medicine or is rejecting treatment, nagging will probably not fix the situation. Not nagging, however, does not mean that the person can stop their medicine without consequence. If the person is living under your roof, lay down rules and enforce them. For instance, tell the person (gently but firmly) that if they do not take their medicine, then they will have to find somewhere else to live. You can even help them find another place to live, so you don’t feel guilty about putting them out.

Another option …

A counselor once told me that she would not treat me if I was not taking my medicine. While I disagree with the helpfulness of that approach from a counselor, it does seem like it could be potentially helpful from a friend or non-professional. Of course, it would not be treat but rather hang out with or something along those lines. I do not recommend refusing to talk to the person, because that can make them feel isolated and alone. That is not the goal. You can still talk on the phone, or online, but maybe avoid going places and doing things together. You want the person to know you are serious about their health and wellness.

One More Thing:
  • Don’t take any rebuffs personally.

I mentioned earlier that any rebuff is bound to sting – and it probably will. A lot. Just remember that the person is not his/herself at the moment. Of course, if this is typical behavior for him or her with or without medicine, don’t feel obligated to stick around. You are not obligated to be anyone’s friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, ect. The exception to this would of course be relatives, but you are still not required to be in that person’s life. Please don’t simply ditch the person without warning, though – and please don’t wait until they are going through a really bad time to walk out. That’s kicking while they’re down. Use your best judgement, and don’t let a bad relationship (of any kind) drag you down too. Hopefully the aforementioned people are few and far between, though, and that portion of paragraph was unnecessary.

For the people who do not typically treat you badly, when they rebuff your attempts to help them, it’s not meant to be personal. Lashing out in such a way is often regretted afterwards. This is when they need you most – and sometimes being a good friend is the best you can do. It might not seem like much, but it means the world to the person suffering.

 

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional of any kind. This article is not meant to be taken as medical advice. If yourself or someone you know is in danger, please see immediate assistance. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-8255

Available 24 hours, everyday.

Working & Mental Illness

If you have a mental illness, then you have likely already experienced what I’m going to talk about. If you’re reading All Behind A Smile because someone you know has a mental illness, then maybe you’ve heard about it from them, or have seen it in their lives. Mental illnesses affect every area of our lives, especially jobs. Working is already difficult – getting ready and arriving on time, getting your work done, dealing with difficult co-workers – nobody needs one more thing dragging them down.

Unfortunately, we weren’t given a choice to have a mental illness or not. We didn’t get to choose a ‘normal’ life or a ‘sick’ one. This is simply the hand we were dealt. Have you ever considered how much more effort it takes for someone with a mental illness to keep a job? Keep in mind that symptoms vary by illness and also by how severe the illness is. Due to those reasons, I will be speaking primarily of general struggles of working and having a mental illness.

Working is hard on nearly everybody, but it's even harder when you are dealing with a mental illness on top of it. These are some of the struggles of someone with a mental illness in the workplace.Working & Mental Illness:

With a typical 9-5 Mon.-Fri. job, someone with a treated mental illness would have to get time off regularly. Why? Well, if you are on medicine, you have to see a psychiatrist at regular intervals. Since psychiatrists typically work normal hours, appointments tend to fall smack dab in the middle of the time you should be at work. It’s scary going up to most bosses and asking for time off. It’s even scarier when you have to get time off once a month. (It would be more frequent if your meds weren’t under control yet or you have counseling.)

Skipping appointments isn’t an option, or your psychiatrist will stop refilling your prescription. When your boss starts asking questions, you might have to prove that you are actually going to the doctor and not lying about it. So are you going to tell your boss about your illness? They aren’t allowed to discriminate, that’s true, but I tend to be a bit cynical. Too many appointments, too much time off – even if you are a good employee, your boss will likely start looking for a reason to let you go. (If you have an awesome boss who does not have an issue with you missing time to go to appointments, that’s great! That doesn’t seem to be too common, though.)

Even with the rare, accepting boss, co-workers notice. There might be snide comments, or jealous remarks. (They probably think you are missing work for something fun.) If most of your co-workers are awesome, there is still usually at least one who doesn’t seem to take a hint or want to leave you alone.

Acting Normal:

While at work, especially if dealing with customers, it is important to seem normal. We wouldn’t want to give the company a bad name, now would we? Note that some companies are much more likely to hire an individual with certain mental illnesses. These are not the companies to which I am referring. We also don’t want to be known amongst co-workers as the “weird” one or any other inconsiderate term that might be cooked up for us. Trying to seem normal the entire workday is exhausting! Just like most everyone else, though, your day doesn’t end with work. The house (or apartment) still has to be cleaned, you still have to eat, and shower, and there are many more chores to do.

The stress of everything keeps piling up. Unless you are super organized (and energetic) there is always work to be done. Mental illnesses or not, this can get to anyone. Some other people with mental illnesses I’ve known consider being baker acted a sort of ‘vacation’, because the hospital is a whole other (crappy) world. They don’t have to drive to work, or act normal all day, or be responsible.

When being baker acted is a vacation, we need to take a good hard look at our workplaces and how employees are treated. We need to look at how we treat our co-workers, and take a moment to consider that they probably have problems in their lives too. Working is hard. We don’t have to make it harder on each other.

Nicole

What is it Like to Have a Mental Illness?

A diagnosis can be many different things, because there are so many different mental illnesses. While no two illnesses are identical, several illness share symptoms with each other – which makes a doctor’s job much more difficult.

Since there are many different illnesses out there, I obviously cannot tell you what it is like to have all of them. So this post will focus on what it is like for me to have a mental illness.

Mental illness is usually discussed in hushed tones, if it is discussed at all. I'm tired of living in darkness and confusion where most people have no idea what I'm going through. They think that I'm attention seeking, or making it up. Mental illness is real, though, and someone else's lack of belief in our suffering does not make our problems any less real. This post is to help people without a mental illness have a little more clarity on what having a mental illness is actually like.Living with a Mental Illness:

For me, socializing is absolutely exhausting. I need time alone regularly (usually daily) or I have a breakdown because I can’t cope with the stress of trying to be normal anymore. I can’t go out in public without seeing and hearing people pointing and laughing at me. Voices call my name and talk to me, and I often respond without realizing they aren’t actual people. I fixate on certain people, and try to communicate with them without telling them what I want to say – for instance, playing or singing a certain song around them so they can realize without me telling them that I am sad.

It’s long nights where I sit up in bed for hours to protect my husband and myself from the people I see in the room. Cuddling with my teddy bear because I’m scared to death and don’t want to bother my husband for the fifth time that night. Sleeping all night with the light on, because when we turn it off the people come back and I have to be on guard. Being ill for me, means seeing messages in the time on the clock. Seeing portals appear on the back of the mirror when we turn it around so it can’t communicate with the clock. It’s struggling not to hurt myself because I want to make it stop, struggling not to hurt the people I love when the need to hurt someone or something is overwhelming.

More Symptoms:

Having a mental illness means staying in a public area longer than necessary to make sure the strangers walking to their cars are safe from the man on the sidewalk with a knife. It means being a freak to people who don’t understand. Losing friends because I’m not always in control. Becoming a different person when the psychosis is really bad, and no longer recognizing my own name. Existing in my own world (The Border) and not knowing what is happening in reality. Losing the will to live, and not taking care of myself. Being incoherent and unable to explain what is going on. Sometimes being so happy that I feel like I’m floating and talking so quickly that no one can understand.

There is so much to having a mental illness. No, this is not all of the symptoms I experience, but my aim was not to detail every problem; rather, my aim was to shed a little light on the darkness. There is still so much darkness – but now, maybe a little less.

 

Nicole

5 Challenges Associated with Mental Illness

As you may or may not know, having a mental illness – especially a severe one – comes at a high cost. It can cost you relationships, jobs, sometimes even your life. Having a mental illness is not easy. It’s a difficult path that we are forced by our own minds to take. That’s why I’m writing about the challenges you may not even realize exist for people with mental illnesses.

Like every illness, mental illness makes life more difficult. It's not easy to live as an outcast or freak, but those aren't the reasons listed. These are five challenges that people with mental illnesses suffer that healthy people don't have to worry about.

Being ‘Open & Honest’:
  • There is usually a point in someone diagnosed with a mental illness’ life when they need to explain their situation. It may be in order to explain strange behavior. It may be simply for the sake of being open and honest. Or maybe it’s to keep a job, due to absences or other problems. Explaining that you have a mental illness is scary. You don’t know how that person will react. Will they laugh at you? Maybe walk away? What if they tell someone else what you told them? There are so many questions and doubts that attack when you decide to tell someone what is going on. That relationship or job may be lost.
Challenges with Day to Day Life:
  • Acting normal may not sound challenging, but when you hear voices or see things that aren’t there, it’s definitely a struggle. I fought my own mind all the way through school so I wouldn’t be a labeled a freak. Friends were kept in the dark about the fact that I took medicines, and I had to hide or explain away any strange behaviors. I had very few friends because the more people there were, the more people I had to hide my illness from. It’s not just a problem with school, either. Think about your job, and all of the people you work with. Think about your neighbors. Consider the people you see every day. Could you hide strange behavior from all of those people? I became reclusive because the struggle was too much for me.
Added Responsibility:
  • Going to the doctor without anyone knowing is difficult, especially if you have a social life or work. Yes, you can tell your boss you have to go to the doctor, but how many times can you take off work to go to the doctor without explaining why? I had some challenges getting time off work, and I was most definitely not wanting to explain why I had to go to the doctor once a month. Depending on the severity of your illness and/or the effectiveness of your medicines, you may have to go to the doctor more or less often than once a month. After taking time off to go to the doctor, your boss may not want you to take time off for other things, either. Even though I was only working part time, we would work around 30 hours a week, and sometimes only got one day off. We worked irregular hours, and might get called in on short notice. People were in and out, working one day, quitting the next. It was hard to get any time off, especially regularly.
Even More Responsibility:
  • Taking medicines is a section on its own, because there’s so much involved. You have to have insurance to cover the medicines, because they are usually very expensive. You have to be able to get to the doctor regularly (and be able to pay for it), because they won’t keep refilling prescriptions without you seeing them. Then you have to remember to take pills as prescribed (or get a shot – eek!) and suffer from the side effects of them. Most of them make you gain weight, or make you sleepy. Some of them cause headaches, or dizziness. You don’t know what a medicine will do to you until you start taking it – and when you get awful side effects, you may not be able to get in to see the doctor right away in order to change it. Oh, and we can’t forget – there are people who find out that you take medicines, and tell you that they are unnecessary. They tell you to use natural remedies, or to pray until God heals you. While I believe prayer works, I also believe that sometimes, God says, “no”. Remember Paul and the thorn in his side – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. Don’t risk your health because of the words of someone who has no idea what they are talking about.
Fitting In:
  • Did I mention socializing is exhausting? Being very careful about everything you say or do while you are with someone who doesn’t know about your illness really takes a lot of energy. I avoid social contact with people who don’t know about my illness as much as I can, but I still have to go places. I can’t hide all of the time. I’m very blessed that my small social circle knows about my illness and still accepts me for who I am.

 

Maybe understanding what challenges someone with a mental illness goes through will help those without an illness be more understanding. Well, this girl can dream.

Reducing Stress: Don’t Be Insulting

Illnesses of all kinds bring stress upon the person who suffers them, including mental illness. Although those stresses are not as easily (if at all) preventable, other stresses can be prevented or reduced. Not being insulting is one way to easily reduce stress; for both the person who would be doing the insulting, and for the person being insulted. For the former, stress is reduced by not being insulting simply because there is little to no concern about an angry confrontation about whatever was said or done. The cause of reduction of stress for the latter is much more obvious; they simply aren’t riled up. (Which is not to say they won’t be riled up about something else – but this particular upset is avoidable.)

As you likely know, nearly everyone has a sensitive topic. It may be about an addiction, a family member, or an illness – the possibilities are endless. Although the topic of mental illness probably isn’t sensitive for everyone who has or knows someone suffering from it, there are still some things to avoid. Avoiding certain phrases or behaviors may keep you from insulting someone, and help you keep a friend. Also, it’s often the polite thing to do.

If you're not careful with your words, you might be insulting someone without even realizing it. Be careful with your words - saying certain things is just plain rude, even if you don't think you know anyone with a mental illness. Think before you speak. What Not to Say (so you’re not insulting someone with a mental illness):

 

  • Retarded (this includes the hand signal)
    • I think this one is common sense – using this word as a slur against someone you think is acting stupid is insulting to the people who actually are mentally retarded and those who love them. Remember, those who suffer mental retardation cannot help it.

 

  • Calling someone (including yourself) mentally ill when you or they are not actually such: I.E. I’m [she/he’s] so bipolar! 
    • Referring to yourself (or others) as mentally ill without cause is belittling someone that actually has the illness. They are actually suffering and you are practically making fun of their suffering. Not cool.
After You Are Told (don’t):
  • Freak out (upon learning about their illness) 
    • Okay, breathe. I know you just learned something scary – but freaking out is just going to make that person feel awful about themselves and question ever having told you. Try to stay calm and if you have to leave, do so nicely (but please not immediately after they tell you – this is a burden for them and it takes a lot to let anyone in).

 

  • Accuse person of being attention seeking (when it’s not true)
    • Ouch. It is really insulting when someone uses this accusation to dismiss you. Yes, there are attention seeking people out there. However, being diagnosed as mentally ill does NOT equate to being attention seeking. A person can be mentally ill and attention seeking, but most of the people with a mental illness that I’ve met do not fit that criteria. Please give the person a chance. Don’t dismiss them so quickly.

 

  • Put them down for how they feel
    • Please don’t tell the person that so and so has it worse, or tell them about the starving children in other parts of the world. They most likely already know. They don’t need any help feeling badly – they already do, and may not be able to help themselves. Instead of insulting them, maybe try being uplifting – or excuse yourself if you can’t control your tongue.

 

Hopefully you were already avoiding saying such things, but if not, now is a good time to start – have an awesome day!

 

Mental Illness versus Demons

Considering my stance that having a mental illness does not mean the sufferer is possessed by demons, I thought providing some support for my belief would be helpful.

Aren't you tired of hearing that you or someone you love is demon possessed simply because they have a mental illness? Let me give you some back-up, both through Scripture and common knowledge, about why mental illness is NOT demon possession.** NOTE **

While I only included the relevant parts of these verses, I highly recommend reading the background of the section for context.

Here are some traits of demon possession:

(as based in Scripture)
  • Cannot exist in the same body as the Holy Spirit
    • Mark 9:25 & Matthew 17:18
      • the disciples were not able to cast the demon out, but Jesus could.
    • James 4:7
    • 2 Corinthians 6:14
  • Not treatable except by prayer/casting out
    • Mark 9:29
  • (Might) Have strength beyond the normal human scope
    • Mark 5:3-4
  • Cannot act normal
    • Mark 5:5
    • Mark 5:15
    • Luke 8:27

 

Here are some traits of mental illness:

(based on Scripture, some scientific knowledge, and also personal experience both with myself and others I know/have known who suffer with a mental illness)
  • Are able to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior
    • Ephesians 1:13
    • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
    • 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Treatable by medicine and therapy
  • God sometimes allows Christians to suffer
    • 2 Corinthians 12:7-8
  • People with less severe forms can act like they’re not ill (seem normal).
  • There are those suffering with a mental illness that become highly religious or obsessed with the Bible
  • King Nebuchadnezzar suffered possible mental illness symptoms and says, “at that time my sanity returned to me …” (v.36)
    • Daniel 4:33-36
    • Speaks of sanity returning in v.34 as well.
  • For “wickedness” and abandoning God, the Bible says various curses and punishments that will befall the person (or people), including “madness” and “mental confusion” (v.28)
    • Deuteronomy 28:28
    • If this “madness” could happen to non-Christians it can happen to us because sin is in the world.
  • David pretended to be crazy
    • 1 Samuel 21:12-15

 

A little more on demons (or lack thereof) …

Seizures:

It is also noteworthy that seizures are easily explained (for the most part) scientifically today – most people do not connect seizures and possession by demons at all. If you read Scriptures, though, there are cases in which seizures were caused by demonic possession:

  • Mark 9:20
  • Matthew 17:15

If not all (or even most) cases of epilepsy or other seizures are caused by demons, why would we think that all (or most) cases of mental illness are caused by demons?

Cutting:

Furthermore, this post would not be complete without mention of cutting. Yes, cutting has been associated with possession by demons:

  • Mark 5:5

 

The Bible also specifically addresses cutting as something to avoid:

    • Leviticus 19:28
    • Deuteronomy 14:1-2

 

Cutting being addressed so specifically is important, because someone who is demon possessed would not be able to follow such a command. The demon within the person would be making the decisions. Would a demon even read the Bible? For the most part, demons wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Frequently when Jesus interacted with demons, we see them asking Him not to torment them:

  • Matthew 8:29

 

Hopefully this (very long) post has addressed any questions or doubts you might have had previously. While I’m sure this is by no means an exhaustive list of differences between mental illness and possession by demons (or a listing of all possible Scripture references), maybe having it out ‘there’ will clear up some confusion.

 

Nicole

 

What Is Mental Illness?

Talking about mental illness is great (we need more awareness) but talking will do nothing if the people hearing don’t know what mental illness is. Thus, a simple breakdown of the problem people are talking about.

Does someone you know have a mental illness? Maybe you've been meaning to learn more about what that actually means, but haven't gotten around to it? Well, now's your chance to read a simple but informative breakdown of what that term you've been hearing so much lately actually means.

To avoid confusion, let me define what I will be talking about when discussing mental illness. As defined by NAMI (“Mental Health,” n.d.). :

“A mental illness is a condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.”

Even though symptoms differ between people and different illnesses, here are some common symptoms (“Mental Illness,” n.d.). :

In Adults, Young Adults and Adolescents:
  • Confused thinking
  • Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Strange thoughts (delusions)
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Substance abuse

(You can find symptoms as related to other age groups on their website.)

Even though yourself or someone you know may be displaying some of these symptoms, that doesn’t automatically mean you or that person has a mental illness. Only a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist can make that diagnosis. If seeing a counselor, they can refer patients to one or the other.

Hope to see you here again soon!

Resources

Mental Health Conditions. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2016, from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions

Mental Illness and the Family: Recognizing Warning Signs and How to Cope. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2016, from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/recognizing-warning-signs