To the editor:
A recent experience I had compels me to write. A friend was complaining that a church member had spoken during a service about a family member who had a diagnosis of mental illness. His position was that the person should not have discussed the issue of the mental illness of a family member in such a setting.
My feeling is that he is mistaken. As a person with a mental-illness diagnosis, I know the effects of the lack of knowledge of this increasingly common illness and the resulting stigma.
For many of us, the church is the place where we learn fundamental life lessons.
The decision to follow Christ is a calling to ongoing renewal of the mind. I have had years of therapy, involved myself in support groups, educated myself on my diagnosis, become an advocate for mental illness and — of course — take my meds every day however; my salvation and healing came through God’s grace and mercy: “For God does not give the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” Those are the words that kept me getting back up each time I fell. From 1988 to 1998, I was in mental hospitals every 12-18 months.
Praise God, I am and plan to continue being in recovery.
I have a church family, and I feel free to testify to the goodness of the Lord in my life. It is my privilege and my responsibility to share my experience, strength and hope with others.