Transition is not something you look back at in the rearview mirror, it is, and will remain an ongoing movement during recovery.
A Chaotic Journey
We all must go through phases of mental illness. We are in psychosis. We stay in denial for sometimes many, many years. We come out of the closet with our mental health difficulty. We begin the recovery process. We feel better. We stop taking our meds innumerable times, or fall sometimes deeper into the depths of hell offering nothing but a revolving door and countless institutionalizations. We go through every cocktail mix available on the market and some work, for a time, or they don’t work at all and the vicious cycle continues. We struggle between mental illness and spiritual battles, and the difference between the two. We cling to the cross. We curse our Creator. We get better. We comply and drool. We get worst. (Not in any particular order).
The phases are custom to each one of us, but we can relate to many. We gain hope, and maybe a month later, sometimes sooner, we loose all hope in pharmacology and our recovery over this curse(s).
However, growth never happens within our comfort zone, ever! One must take the ever so slight step over the line to experience a gain in growth.
It’s been many moons since I decided that banging my head against the same wall for twenty years, that that wall is just not going to budge. I lost faith in psychiatry. Not one med, both typical and atypical, curbed my symptoms. I experienced the above phases, and many others, for 18 years till I decided to pull myself from the wall and take some risks.
Risk versus Reward. With mental illness, it is very nice and cozy to stay in our comfort zone, a kennel so to speak, a safe place, where self injury, mental anguish, emotional torture, stigma, pain, will remain somewhat distant and out of reach. However, growth never happens within our comfort zone, ever! One must take the ever so slight step over the line to experience a gain in growth. Yet, without mindfulness or self-awareness, we cannot even venture that unbeaten trail.
Awareness and a Silent Sovereignty
Awareness is a blessing; an answer to prayer, in my case, not my cries to God, those unanswered howls echoed back silence. This was an answer to prayer by advocates, family, and friends. You see, I turned my back on God for 14 years, cursing his name publicly to allow such suffering. My question to Him was, “How could You allow daily abuse for many years to a child of eight?” What the heck does such a traumatic experience teach an individual? Followed by questions to Him about decades of substance abuse (coping mechanism), PTSD, Bi-Polar I at age 15, Schizo-affective disorder at age 22, divorce on account of my illnesses, separation from my children, my reputation, identity, and self-value.
But two years ago, awareness was painted over my heavily stimulated mind settling the cognitive process to make some behavioral changes; again, all through the prayers of others.
Christ reached from the Heavens and wrapped His hand around my brutally scarred heart and mind and coated my soul with His presence.
Take these into great account: I was sober, compliant in taking my meds on a daily basis as well with my cognitive behavior therapy. I had finally completed the grieving process from my divorce, loss of my home, friends (most very close), fraternity brothers, and career after five years when an awesome, overwhelming, compelling, Divine interaction occurred while driving back from a visit with my children. Now, I’ve been on the largest amounts of the hardest illegal drugs known to man, but nothing, NOTHING, was as this immaculate feeling I experienced.
Like Paul, God Still Meets Us On the Road of Doubt & Blinds us with Love
Recall I was agnostic and damned the name of God though I processed my grief through the secular sector. During my commute back home from my visitation with my children, Christ reached from the Heavens and wrapped His hand around my brutally scarred heart and mind and coated my soul with His presence. I knew exactly Who it was that was delivering such an occurrence of Peace and Ecstasy. I was terrified, embarrassed, humbled, fearful, yet warm, safe, excited, RELIEVED, tranquil, joyful, elated, but most of all HOPEFUL. I cried out, “ABBA!” The Holy Spirit did not whisper, nudge, or mutter his message, He spoke firmly but with empathy, “I am here, release the doubt and embrace the Faith.”
As mirage’s formed on my cheeks from the large quantity of moisture that coursed from my eyes, I had to pull over the car as driving under said condition deemed perilous.
Living with a New Awareness
From that day, I have dedicated my life to Christ and through service work; where I find the most satisfying of symptom relief from any other alternative medicine method. This experience CREATED SELF-AWARENESS. At that point, I was strong and courageous enough to take a small positive step that was DIFFERENT from my “kennel” comfort zone lifestyle. I tried again the next day to do repeat what I did differently the day before. As time progressed, these steps became consistent; and I would take a little larger step here or there. Of course I retreated back to my lair upon scares and struggles, but God would hoist me back on that horse again as soon as possible. We were in this together, for the long haul – but one day at a time, sometimes moment by moment.
This is my thorn in my side God has so far refused to remove. I can sit in my room and cry about it, or get busy living. I chose/choose the later.
I began playing the piano, painting, aroma therapy, ETT therapy, meditating multiple times a day, walking, eating nutritiously (lost a total of 151 pounds so far), reading, bible studies, accountable groups and just recently finished a full year of school including both summer sessions. I no longer watch my kids from afar. I’m actively engaged, wrestling with them longer than 7 seconds before becoming winded to the point of blackout. I can actually run faster than my 8 and 11 year old now. They are absolutely amazed. I’m actively volunteering at several charities, church, and leading Living Grace Group with Mental Health Grace Alliance.
Am I cured? Unquestionably not. I still suffer the same symptoms as before. However, I have a manageable life now through Christ and His leadership. I have become extremely structured/scheduled. Though I had this revolution, I still have dark days, weeks, months, seasons. Matter of fact, at this moment, I’ve never been more paranoid/manic than before. But I pray to “reset” by the next morning and begin my day with an intense bible study and devotional time with God and stay in constant communication with Him throughout the day. I know my limits: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually - (awareness). Though I breach the outside world into society brushing shoulders with those that bully me all day long though their lips are sealed, I know when enough is enough and return to solitude for alternative medicine and/or my support group. I am also very cautious of backsliding, almost fearful. It’s a healthy fear I believe. Keeps me on my toes. Do I get tired, exhausted, overwhelmed? You betcha! This is my thorn in my side God has so far refused to remove. I can sit in my room and cry about it, or get busy living. I chose/choose the later.
Recovery & Faith in Christ Means Community
Prayer works, even when it’s not you crying out to God. I’m walking proof. One thing is for sure though; I didn’t do this on my own. Sure, much did God strengthen my will, but even Christ couldn’t carry His cross to Golgotha. He needed Simon of Cyrene to assist Him. God does not expect us to carry our cross by our own strength and efforts. This is not a pull yourself up from the bootstraps and get busy. Many picked me up from the mire and hoisted my cross upon their shoulders as I dragged my knees toward the line and eventually got in there with them.
How Mental Illness Recovery & Faith Works
Know that transitions are not a place in time. Prayer brings awareness. Awareness creates positive change(s). Choices can become repetitive. Repetition forms habits. Habits change behavior. A change in behaviors creates a new life.
God is real
He is with us whether we believe in Him or not. Though not as profound as my experience, God will speak with you and offer His encouragement. Jump on the opportunity. Drop the doubt, embrace the Faith. Healing is right around the corner.
Heath Murry ... “Fight the Stigma”