The following post is about the sensitive topic of mental illness, chronic physical illness, and the spiritual battles I have personally experienced in life. I want to share a few things about these types of battles in life, before you read my story.I believe that God created us all in His image (Genesis 1:27 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”).
Like God, (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) we are three dimensional, Mind, Body, and Spirit. Therefore we all have emotional, physical, and spiritual ups and downs. But what makes us different is how we live with these ups and downs of life. I also believe because of the fall of man, and the curse of the earth, man, and woman that there is sickness and disease in this world(Genesis 3).
Furthermore, the more man strays from God the further depraved he is, and the degeneration of man continues(Romans1:18-32). Mental and Chronic Physical illness is real, and the battle for our souls is also real. But the children of God are given a sound mind and healthy body according to the Word(2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” ).
Often I see and hear in Christian and non-Christian circles a lack of understanding and compassion for the mentally ill and chronically ill. I think for the most part it truly is ignorance and lack of education, and maybe even fear that keep us from being compassionate. When we don’t understand living with continuous pain or mental anguish we see these people as weak or lazy. Christians say things like, they must not have enough faith, or there must be sin in their life. I do believe that the Bible does talk about the weak of faith and sin causing us pain, but I also see in the Bible that not every situation were a person suffered was because of sin or a lack of faith(John 9). As you read my story below you may think I believe that through faith alone one can overcome illness. That is not the message of my post. The message of my entire blog is the same, Life is a Journey, and we also must walk the path God lays out before us. When I was going through my teen years and on into my twenties, I saw many doctors. I had many diagnosis, and most of them wrong. I heard everything from Lupus,Fibromyalgia , chronic fatigue syndrome, maniac depressive, diabetic, a rare immune disorder, and even hypochondriac, just to name a few. What I have learned in my journey is that doctors are just people trying their best to care for the sick. But, God is the great physician and designer of the human body. If we do place our trust in Him and then seek wisdom and counsel for our complete health he is faithful to provided just what we need. (John 5:1-9; Exodus 15:26)
I will never judge or presume to know why someone is suffering in mind, body, or spirit. I do not think that because someone battles a mental illness and/or chronic illness that they are out of the will of God. Only God knows the heart. My job is to love Him with my whole mind, body, and soul and to love others. Loving others means praying for them, encouraging them to be all God created them to be, and supporting them in suffering and sorrow, and rejoicing with them in victory over sin, disease, and lose. So, now as you read my post of what God has done in my life,it is a story of hope and encouragement, not note a message, just a journey.
As I shared in an earlier post
, I was raised in a Christian home. My parents were radically saved when I was a tiny baby. Therefore, I had the privilege of watching them live out their faith. So, being raised in such a home, I heard and knew about Jesus very young. In this post, I hope to share the glorious ways God has been with me all my life. I hope to start at the beginning and share about faith, hope, doubt, fear, love, healing in both my spiritual, mental, and physical life. I will admit this is not an easy post for me to write. I even tried to bargain with God to not write it. But, it is what He has given me to write. So, in obedience and to give Him all the glory He deserves I will write.
As a child I was not always healthy and I had some learning disabilities. My mom took me to many doctors appointments. I was diagnosed and treated for allergies, asthma, ear infections, bronchitis, strep, and many other illnesses as a young child. When I started school it was quickly clear that I was behind the other children. So my parents diligently worked with me and paid for summer tutors, and I attended special education classes. In today’s schools, I would probably have had labels like dyslexic, ADHD, and maybe a couple more. But, I did not actual receive these labels until I was much older. To be honest, it never bothered me that I was not as academically gifted as other children. I enjoyed life, and I enjoyed playing and having friendships. As a young child, even though I could be sickly at times, I was busy and my mom said I kept her busy. Our house always had a lot of kids in it and I enjoyed playing with them, and helping them. I enjoyed helping around the house and doing chores. I also loved to hear about and learn about Jesus. I can remember as a very little girl, kindergarten age, praying with my Sunday school teacher to have Jesus in my heart. I remember she gave me a small Bible, and I thought it was wonderful. But, it wasn’t for a couple more years that I really understood what it meant to ask Jesus to take away my sins, and what sin was. So, one night in my dad’s bedroom I prayed and truly accepted Christ’s gift of salvation and forgiveness. As I grew older I wanted to be all that God made me to be, and I wanted to live everyday for Him. But then something changed.
Life got hard. It seemed I was failing at being who God wanted me to be and who my parents wanted me to be. At the age of ten, I entered puberty and the world of womanhood. (Yes, I said ten.) I began to have health problems again, and terrible mood swings, extreme paranoia, and depression. My parents saw that there was something wrong with me, and they tried to discipline me, and guide me. They often felt at their wits end with me. I just wasn’t the girl I used to be, was something my mom said to me one day. I felt like I was failing at this Christian thing. I was letting God down, I was letting my parents down. I was just not able to be the person I thought I was suppose to be. My mom realized that my health problems and my behavior problems were probably linked together. I was having difficulty sleeping, passing out, and feeling queasy often. So, my mom took me to the doctor. Tests were run. I was diagnosed with hormonal imbalance
, and the doctor told my mom to put me on birth control
. Being the wise woman my mother is, she did not take that advice. At that time, they also told my mom that I showed signs of hyperglycemia
. So, instead of giving me birth control, my parents tried to help me manage my diet. This helped with many of the symptoms, but did not heal me.
So, as I went thru those wonderful years of adolescence and into my teenage years, I struggled with trying to find myself, just like all kids that age. I continued to be paranoid and often discouraged. Life was liKe a roller coaster. One day, I would be happy and helpful and full of life, and the next I was mean, sad, and overwhelmed with life. After a few years of struggling with this up and down life, my parents had enough. I made many bad spontaneous decisions, and often did things I wished I didn’t later. My parents sat me down one evening, and asked me what they could do to help me. I asked them to send me to counseling, and they did.
At the age of sixteen, they sent me to a wonderful Christian counselor named, Laura. She did some of her own tests, and she came up with a diagnosis too. This was the first time I heard that I was dyslexic. But, not only that, she gave me a label that I did not want. She diagnosed me with Maniac Depressive disorder and hyperactive tendencies. I thought for sure she would want to start me on some sort of medication to control my mood swings and hyperness. But, instead she listened and counseled me in how to manage my diet. My mom also read a book at that time called, “Potatoes not Prozac
.” Laura, gave me a chart that I was to fill in everyday. It was large. It covered everything from mood, behavior, eating habits, sleeping habits, and everything in between. She wanted me to keep track of everything, and learn to recognize my own body and metal health. This was the beginning of the journey to becoming the woman God created me to be. I desperately prayed that I could rid myself of the depression. Sometimes the despair during those times of depression was so overwhelming I just didn’t want to live anymore. I can say truthfully, I never was suicidal, but there were times I wanted to give up on life. Just lay down and never get up. But, the highs could at times be just as scary. I often would swing up and find myself doing things and going places I knew I should not be. Only by the grace of God did I not do anything dangerous. So, as I tried to chart and follow the plan to better health, there still seemed to be a struggle going on within me.
But, it seemed I was gaining more and more control, or at least it seemed that way to me at the time. In reality what happened is I sort of hit a long high. This was around the time my parents moved to a new town. The summer before my senior year in high school. During this high I met Jeremy. Remember I said that during high phases I did and went places I knew better than to go. This was true as I went through this summer, and into the fall. I was in a new relationship with a guy I really liked, and who seemed to like me just the way I was. But, as the relationship developed and I was making choices I normally wouldn’t make, I soon came down from the high and found myself in great despair. I felt a great deal of shame and guilt for the choices I had been making during the previous months. As often happens with the emotional downhill, I became physically ill as well. I was so sick that I was home bound for three months. During this time of physical illness and mental instability, Jeremy got to see all of who I was. He was ever faithful and never deserted me. Although, he was a new Christian, his loyalty to our relationship spoke volumes of love to me. He was a picture to me of God. I knew deep in my heart even as I struggled with all of the paranoia and insecurity that God was still with me and loved me. It was during this time of illness that many people were praying for me and I knew God was listening.
I began to slowly realize that God wanted me to be healthy, and whole. I started asking him to help me believe that I was. My physical body began to heal, and I was able to go back to school and work. I graduated from high school, and Jeremy and I got engaged. Instead of allowing my body to come to a point of complete healing, I jumped back into life with both feet. I started my first full time job the day after graduation as a habilitation instructor, I continued to work part time as a closing manager at McDonald’s, and I also worked a part time respite job caring for special needs children. Jeremy and I made plans and got married in December of the same year we graduated from high school. Life was exciting and full, and then the depression and despair hit again. It hit so hard that I again became physically ill, I could no longer work or even manage life. Jeremy would leave for his full time job, and his full load of college classes. I would either remain in bed, or hide in our walk-in closet all day. I am sure this is not what he thought married life was suppose to be like. He would return at night and I would still be in bed or in the closet. Life had hit me hard, and I couldn’t deal with it anymore.
During all these seasons of life, ever since I asked Jesus into my heart, and made the decision to follow him, I never forgot deep down who I was and who He was. As I went of to doctors and a counselor this time, I no longer could see things for what they really were. I had to rely on Jeremy and my parents to tell me that I needed help. I did NOT realize how lost and in despair I was. I went to the doctor and they suggest medication. So, on Prozac I went. I also went to see a counselor, she wanted to help me manage my ADHD. But, I knew deep in my heart that my physical and mental problems were something I needed God to heal. The truth was I had seen people healed before, and I guess I wanted God to just do an immediate healing. It didn’t work that way though. No, God had a different way of working in my life to show me his power and healing. It was a daily reliance on Him.
Over the years, I had many pastors and elders lay hands on me and pray for healing. Each and every time, I knew God heard those prayers and was answering them. No it wasn’t that radical I am completely healed instantly kind of healing. I do believe and have seen such healing, but this wasn’t the kind of healing God had for me. No, instead, He had a plan to use me just the way he made me, and to teach me how to daily rely on Him.
So, back to the story. After a little over a year of being on medication, Jeremy and I both could see I was ready to step away from the medication and truly rely on God daily. We had already made a commitment to God to number our children, and we didn’t want to harm any children that He might bless us with. So, against doctor’s advice I went off the medication. I started a new season of life. In this season, I began each day praying that God would remind me that I have a sound mind, and to give me opportunities to be a blessing to others and to bring glory to Him. Was I healed. NO. The hormone imbalance was still there, the dyslexia was still there, the ADHD was still there. But, instead of seeing these as curses I started to see them as blessings. God could use me just the way He made me.
So, life moved forward and it was good and blessed. Yes, I had bad days like everyone else, but I seemed to have found a balance, and I knew if I lost touch with reality again my husband and family would be there to bring me back.
Jeremy and I went off to college, and then God blessed us with our first child. My mental and physical health were the best they had ever been. We had another baby, and the weight I gained with those first two pregnancy stayed on and helped me to be even more physically healthy. During those years of college and babies, it wasn’t always easy, as most of you can imagine. But, God was with us and my mental health was sound and balanced. Then as my life switched from wife, school, job, and mom to full time stay at home wife and mom, the overwhelmed feelings came to attack again. Irrational fear and paranoia became my constant companion. I tried to pretend life was good and go on. We had a house full of children for me to care for, and most of the time I felt like I was completely failing them and my husband. But, I told no one. I became pregnant with Brenden and, I totally lost my mind. Seriously, I was so paranoid and crazy that I even at times thought about getting in my car and driving away from my life. I was aware that I was losing my mind, and after having Brenden I agreed to go back on medication for a while. I have chosen to tell all, so that those who need medication for any kind of illness can know that God works in many ways to bring healing and health to His children. I will admit when I am mentally unstable I think, I do not need the medication, and I don’t want to take it. But, I have learned to trust my husband and my parents, and if they tell me I need help, even when my own mind is telling me I am fine, I trust them. So, for a very short time, I went on anxiety medication. Jeremy and I began to work on my anxieties together and I was able to again go back to relying on God daily.
Life began to take on a routine, which with all people, can bring peace. So, I found peace in creating order in our home. I began to have people enter my life that suffered from similar issues as myself, and I was able to be an encouragement to them. I found as I encouraged others, it also continued to keep me focused on God’s work in my life. But something scary happened after I had baby Bekah. I began having massive migraines. (Migraines are common with hormonal imbalance, so I have had them since age ten.) I became paranoid again, but I didn’t tell anyone how sick I am. (You can read the rest of this story in this post
.) Finally, I can’t keep it to myself and I ask the woman of my church to pray for me. As they prayed I felt the Lord begin to do His mighty work in me again. This time the balance doesn’t happen as it did in the past. Instead, after three years of health issues, I become pregnant again, and during this pregnancy I am physically great, but mentally unstable. So much so, that Jeremy and I consider doing something to prevent anymore pregnancies. But, God had other plans and as I begin to rely on Him again, He shows Himself ever faithful. Life moves forward, and when I seek God and rely on Him daily I not only stay healthy, but I also am given opportunities again to minster to others who struggle with similar illnesses.
So, now I move forward to today. God has continued to be faithful to me even when I have become angry with Him, stopped relying on Him, and even when I tried to do things on my own. He has never left me, but there have been times when I have turned from Him. As we moved back to Michigan this past year, I became angry at God and in my anger I turned from His path for me. As I did that, I again became depressed and discouraged. I knew what the problem was and I knew I needed to confess my sin and turn back to God. This was not a one time pray and be done thing. I had to continuously release my selfish attitude and ask him to forgive me. He was of course faithful to forgive. I slowly have begun trusting in Him again. But as I went into this new pregnancy I was not fully relying on God, and I have had a great deal of paranoia and anxiety that is not of God. I knew I was not in a sound mental state, but I was struggling to get there.
That is when our new church was having a healing service. Mostly out of curiosity, but also wanting to pray for others, our family went to the service. With no plans to ask for prayer for myself, I went into the service ready to be in God’s presence and pray for others. But, then it happened. Another woman went up front and asked for prayer for Bi-polar disorder. The pastor asked is there anyone else who is suffering with a similar illness. I was determined not to get out of my seat. But, I am not sure if it was God, Jeremy, or Tyler, but someone pushed me out of my seat. So the pastors laid their hands on me and prayed that God would bring healing. As they prayed my heart broke, and I knew it was time to return to full reliance on God again. I would like to tell you that I feel mentally and physically sound. But, the truth is I feel pregnant, and that sometimes involves sickness. What I can say is that I know who is LORD of my life, mind, body, and spirit. Do I think God can take my hormone imbalance away? Yes. Do I think God can keep me mentally stable? Yes. Do I think God can do whatever he pleases? Absolutely. But, you see the same hormone imbalance that causes me so much metal and physical illness at times, is the same hormone imbalance that makes me extremely fertile and able to carry my babies to a safe delivery. The same dyslexia that makes reading and writing sometimes a challenge, allows me to see life in a different way than most people. The same hyperactive mind that can cause me to be distracted at times, also allows me to handle being the mother of 12 children. You see if God takes away what man may think is a curse, then I actually lose a great deal of blessings. This doesn’t even touch the fact that by learning to live day to day dependent on God allows me to grow in my faith and increases my witness of His Glory.
I praise and thank God for making me just the way He did.