People with mental illnesses have always drawn near to me. Why? I don’t really know, but I suspect that my personality and ability to communicate with just about anyone must contribute some aura all its own, thus drawing out those with mental problems. Is that a sentence or what?
My first encounter with mental illness arrived as a young man to my singles’ group. He was a handsome guy, but I soon felt something was not quite right. He was the kind of guy who needed mothering. But that wasn’t it. He needed someone to “pet” and I was it. The singles group sat together in church, so he would sit next to me and pet my hair all during service. I know what people were saying, but believe me, they knew I was not going to put up with that very long. I am NOT making fun of this young man; I am merely talking about his mental illness. After asking him to not play with my hair, we had a long talk. He said he was bi-polar, and had gotten sick while in the Marines. Mental illness hits lots of young men in stressful situations. He had not been diagnosed before his enlistment. He continued to come to our meetings, but finally decided to go back to college and get a degree. He wanted to do something useful even though he had problems.
Over the eleven years of ministry with singles, I met and am still friends with several bi-polar individuals. As long as they stay on their medication they are normal to some extent. However, most feel they are better and quit taking their meds. This cycle continues through out their lives, usually ruining their relationships, marriages, and family lives. Mental illness is not seen as a medical issue but as a legal issue. In fact, I was married to someone who was mentally ill.
Mental illness comes in many forms. One of my ex’s had several problems which no one was willing to divulge to me…even the psychiatrist told me that their sessions were private and wouldn’t even tell me what was wrong. I would be sitting with him at dinner and he would be talking to someone else at the table…even when no one was there. He changed his personality from day to day, and I never knew what would happen next. He bought a junk yard and put a third mortgage on our home…imagine that…without my permission. He was super intelligent at times and at other times he didn’t know how to take a bus across town. It is very difficult to help someone you love if no one tells you what is going on. At one point, he attempted to choke me to death. That was enough for me. He is still ill and alone, now. He needs a miracle.
One of my best friends is mentally ill. Her family has deserted her, and has left her to take care of herself. She can do that well enough when she is okay; when she isn’t, then one of her friends has to stand in for family. I pray a lot that she will be healed, and I believe that some of her illness has retreated. She is coping better with life. She hasn’t had a very happy life because of her illness. I wish she would meet someone like herself and they could take care of each other.
One of my single friends who was also bi-polar met a guy on line and married him. He knew she had problems, but wanted a child. She moved to New York, had his child, and is still there, I hope. She was a fine Christian, but when she met him she became a Muslim. I know her illness caused this reversal in her spiritual journey. I know God will watch over her and the rest of these mentally ill friends. HE has to because no one else is.
My desire and my husband’s is to find a cure for mental illness through the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. These people need advocacy. They can be cuffed and dragged off to jail at any time. They fear the embarrassment of it all. They end up in hospitals that don’t look any further when they hear “mental illness.” No matter what is wrong with them physically, they are put in the psych ward. I have seen how they treat them and it is not a pretty picture. One of my friends was taken from her home in a soiled house dress and no underwear. She was even barefoot. Sometimes the cops just leave the house open, and she doesn’t even get a change to get her ID or wallet.
I know God loves these sometimes unlovable people. I love them. Since I have no family relationship with them, I am not allowed to talk to their doctors or anyone about them. When they get to a hospital, the doctor there does the “treating” and doesn’t even call their own doctors to see what meds they have taken or which ones worked and which ones didn’t. I feel so sorry for their unfair treatment and so should all of us.
If you know someone who is fighting mental illness, be a friend. Get them the help they need. Drive them to the hospital when they start acting out of the normal. It is better than the cops showing up with cuffs. Be an advocate for them. Let people know about your friend. Help your friends find a place to socialize and have fun. Some day, these precious overlooked people will be cured. I am hoping for great miracles for the mentally ill before Christ returns. He said in the Word that we will do much more than He did while here on earth. Pray for miracles. Pray for the mentally ill.