Tag Archive: Religion and Spirituality


I found this great article by Christian author Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith

Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lund addressing common very bad and hurtful advice given to Christians who suffer from mental illness.  This is not to bash Christians, who are generally well-meaning in their advice. But their arguments come from ignorance and this article refutes them very well. It also gives great spiritual resources at the end of the article:

Reblogged from the Patheos Progressive Christian Blog Post Traumatic Church Syndrome:

5 Lies Christians Tell About Mental Illness

In honor of National Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 5-11), I invited minister and social worker Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund to write this post about some of harmful lies told in Christian communities about mental illness and faith. She is the author of Blessed are the Crazy: breaking the silence about mental illness, family & church (Chalice Press), which is both a memoir of her own family’s struggle with mental illness and a resource for faith-based organizations to provide healing and comfort for those who suffer.  

Lie #1: God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.

This statement echoes across the Christian landscape. Intended to comfort the afflicted, it actually lays an ugly guilt trip on the person suffering. To say that mental illness is something that “God gave you” implies that God wants you to suffer. “Mental illness is part of God’s will, and you are supposed to be strong enough to handle it.” FALSE!

Lie #2: Daily prayer and bible reading alone cures mental illness.

According to a recent LifeWay poll, nearly half of Evangelical Christians between the ages of 18-30 believe that prayer and bible study alone can cure mental illness. This belief is in direct opposition to medical research that confirms that many types of mental illness are best treated by a combination of cognitive, behavioral and pharmaceutical treatment plans supervised by mental health professionals. To say that mental illness can be cured by spiritual practices alone discourages Christians from getting the mental healthcare they need to treat and recover from mental illness.“God cannot use scientific advances to heal the human body.” FALSE!

Lie #3: Depression is a sin, a curse, or demon possession.

It’s true that we do not yet fully understand all of the environmental and biological causes of mental illness. Yet to state that mental illness is only caused by things in the “spiritual realm” denies what we know to be true: mental illness is a brain disease. While there are certainly spiritual aspects to both the cause and the treatment of mental illness, mental illness is not simply a spiritual disease, curse or demon possession. To talk of a person’s mental illness as a result of a sin, curse, or demon possession is to further stigmatize, shame, and isolate the person. “Mental illness is the result of a sin, curse or demon possession.” FALSE!

Lie #4:If you loved Jesus more you would be happier. 

This is a Christian twist on the “just try harder” lecture. If only you just loved Jesus more. If only you just believed more. If only you just let Jesus all the way into your heart, then you would be happier. This belief denies the reality of clinical depression that is not a matter of simply trying harder. Jesus loves all people, including people who have mental illness. Loving Jesus more is something we strive for as Christians, but not because it will make us happier. “Mental illness is a result of not loving Jesus enough.” FALSE!

Lie #5: You can’t be a Christian if you have a mental illness.

This is an old one, something that saints in the church have struggled with for centuries. We think that perhaps we are not deserving of God’s love because we have a mental illness. We do not know how God could accept us or love us because we are not perfect. So we think that a person with mental illness cannot be a Christian, cannot be a leader in the church, cannot be an ordained minister. Ministers, especially, are not supposed to have mental illness. But the truth is that Christians are humans, just as sick, broken, and in need of healing and wholeness as everyone else. As a person with mental illness, being a Christian can be a way to find compassion, support and love from a community of faith.“True Christians are immune from mental illness.” FALSE!

Sarah’s recommendations for healthy, faith-based mental health resources are as follows:

NAMI Faithnet: www.nami.org/FaithNet

Pathways to Promise: www.pathways2promise.org

Mental Health Ministries: www.mentalhealthministries.net

Interfaith Network on Mental Illness: www.inmi.us

United Church of Christ Mental Health Network: www.mhn-ucc.blogspot.com

 Follow Reba Riley on Facebook and Twitter

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rebariley/2014/10/5-lies-christians-tell-about-mental-illness/#ixzz3FySQchp9

 

Reblogged from Science Daily:

 

Spirituality, religion may protect against major depression by thickening brain cortex

Date:
January 16, 2014
Source:
Columbia University, Teachers College

A thickening of the brain cortex associated with regular meditation or other spiritual or religious practice could be the reason those activities guard against depression — particularly in people who are predisposed to the disease, according to new research led by Lisa Miller, professor and director of Clinical Psychology and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University.

The study, published online by JAMA Psychiatry, involved 103 adults at either high or low risk of depression, based on family history. The subjects were asked how highly they valued religion or spirituality. Brain MRIs showed thicker cortices in subjects who placed a high importance on religion or spirituality than those who did not. The relatively thicker cortex was found in precisely the same regions of the brain that had otherwise shown thinning in people at high risk for depression.

Although more research is necessary, the results suggest that spirituality or religion may protect against major depression by thickening the brain cortex and counteracting the cortical thinning that would normally occur with major depression. The study, published on Dec. 25, 2013, is the first published investigation on the neuro-correlates of the protective effect of spirituality and religion against depression.

“The new study links this extremely large protective benefit of spirituality or religion to previous studies which identified large expanses of cortical thinning in specific regions of the brain in adult offspring of families at high risk for major depression,” Miller said.

Previous studies by Miller and the team published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (2012) showed a 90 percent decrease in major depression in adults who said they highly valued spirituality or religiosity and whose parents suffered from the disease. While regular attendance at church was not necessary, a strong personal importance placed on spirituality or religion was most protective against major depression in people who were at high familial risk

See original article here.

Ah yes I remember mania, which with me comes once in a blue moon, if even that. I don’t get true out of control mania, but what is called “hypomania”, a less severe form. Thus I can be a bit nostalgic. My last one lasted about three weeks, and towards the end I was cycling between hypomania and depression several times a day, literally laughing one moment and crying the next.I had changed insurances and ran out of my Zoloft and had not made an appointment yet with a new doctor. And yes it is counter-intuitive that this should cause mania, but later on I stumbled upon an obscure research paper online that said that yes, this can happen when going off of an antidepressant.

At any rate for a while I was on a pleasant high and I truly thought I had reached enlightenment. For the first time, all my resentments went away. I loved everyone. I even considered contacting the Dr. Phil show to tell him how well I was doing and see if he could put me in touch with some people who could help me along in my spiritual journey.

Only one thing stopped me. That still small voice that knew that is was not real. Even though I had never had this kind of high before and it had never lasted that long before either, I was well versed in the symptoms of bipolar disorder. I had studied the symptoms. I was spending the whole day in a blissed out state. I was feeling hypersexual and was also fantasizing about that for hours a day. And I needed less sleep although at the same time I exhausted beyond belief. That is part of the fibromyalgia/ chronic fatigue disease I have. And I spent a whole  night pacing back and forth saying my thoughts out loud in rapid succession comparing my (what I thought to be) brilliant insights tying together different psychological theories.

Since I was living alone no one knew about all this and I did not tell them because, once again, a part of me knew that this was wrong and that I needed help. Especially when it started turning from hypomania to depression. So finally I decided to do so and go back on my Zoloft.

The whole thing left me disillusioned . Nothing about it was real. My resentments came back and  I was on solid ground again. I hated this. I felt like I had been cheated!

But just because this “spiritual experience” was not real does not take away from the spiritual experiences I have had when I have been well. They have been much more subtle, often coming in dreams or during spiritual exercises. I don’t feel high, or invincible or that I have all the answers. But I do feel a sense of comfort from them.

Here is Deepak Chopra’s take on the matter:

This is reblogged from Oprah.com :

Ask Deepak: The Difference Between Mental Illness and Enlightenment

Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users’ questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church.

Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am very pleased that Pastor Rick Warren is helping to take the lead in getting rid of the mental health stigma within the Christian culture.  Warren, who is the best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, lost his son to suicide. He is now opening up a dialog within the Christian community about mental illness. Warren, founder of Saddleback Church will team with  the Roman Catholic Diocese of  Orange and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to host a daylong event  next month focused on helping church leaders reach parishioners who are  struggling with mental illness.

Many pastors and church counselors have zero training in mental health issues and can do a lot of damage to the faithful. My own experiences within the church has not been helpful. When I was sixteen I was told by a church counselor that I just wanted attention when I told her that I felt suicidal. Fortunately my parents were smart enough to get me to a real therapist.

The other mantra that churches often use is that taking medications means you do not have enough faith in God and that you are an “addict.” There are actually very few psychiatric medications that are addictive. Addiction is defined as taking more than prescribed due to tolerance to the medication’s effects. Sleeping pills and tranquilizers have abuse potential, but medications for depression, mania and psychosis do not. So there is no such thing as a antidepressant addiction and it is not designed to make people “high.” When people tell you that you are addicted to antidepressants ask them what the street value of Cymbalta is? The answer: Zero.

There are plenty of well-meaning Christians who give disastrous advice. One of the most hurtful things is when they say that depression is a sin. One of the hallmarks of depression is guilt. So all they are doing is piling on more guilt and depression on that person!

And the big one: Suicide. I believe with all my heart that we need to have compassion towards those who have attempted or succeeded at suicide. It isn’t up to us to judge someone’s heart. Most of them do not intend to hurt others and in fact often believe that they are a burden and that everyone else would be better off without them. I cannot even begin to explain to others the thoughts that have gone on in my mind when I attempted suicide. A minor argument that I could have easily resolved by my apologizing became a reason to punish myself.  I can emphatically say that I was out of my mind at the time, because I would not have done that in my normal frame of mind. And there was also nothing else going on in my life to trigger my depression.

While I am sad about the tragedy of Rick Warren’s son’s death, I hope that this will help shed light on traditional Christian attitudes towards mental illness and inspire pastors and counselors to learn more about how to help those who suffer from devastating mental illnesses.

To find out more about what Rick Warren is doing read here.

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Today, as we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., let us remember that struggle is common to all, even though we are not always fighting the same fight. Whether you fight for justice in the outer world or fight for peace in the inner world, the words of those who have traveled a similar path of suffering can inspire us to never give up. So I share with you some quotes from the great man himself:

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/martin_luther_king_jr.html#bJZ8YODRHLiMc7RA.99

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I want to share with you all an excerpt from A Course in Miracles, which is a form of do-it-yourself spiritual psychotherapy that changes our perceptions of the world.

New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto o...

New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church; added by those for whom prayer or miracles were granted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lesson 195:

Love is the way I walk in gratitude 

Gratitude is a lesson hard to learn for those who look upon the world amiss. The most that they can do is see themselves as better off than others. And they try to be content because another seems to suffer more than they. How pitiful and deprecating are such thoughts! For who has cause for thanks while others have less cause? And who could suffer less because he sees another suffer more? Your gratitude is due to Him alone Who made all cause of sorrow disappear throughout the world.

It is insane to offer thanks because of suffering. But it is equally insane to fail in gratitude to One Who offers you the certain means whereby all pain is healed, and suffering replaced with laughter and with happiness. Nor could the even partly sane refuse to take the steps which He directs, and follow in the way He sets before them, to escape a prison that they thought contained no door to the deliverance they now perceive.

Your brother is your “enemy” because you see in him the rival for your peace; a plunderer who takes his joy from you, and leaves you nothing but a black despair so bitter and relentless that there is no hope remaining. Now is vengeance all there is to wish for. Now can you but try to bring him down to lie in death with you, as useless as yourself; as little left within his grasping fingers as in yours.

You do not offer God your gratitude because your brother is more slave than you, nor could you sanely be enraged if he seems freer. Love makes no comparisons. And gratitude can only be sincere if it be joined to love. We offer thanks to God our Father that in us all things will find their freedom. It will never be that some are loosed while others still are bound. For who can bargain in the name of love?

Therefore give thanks, but in sincerity. And let your gratitude make room for all who will escape with you; the sick, the weak, the needy and afraid, and those who mourn a seeming loss or feel apparent pain, who suffer cold or hunger, or who walk the way of hatred and the path of death. All these go with you. Let us not compare ourselves with them, for thus we split them off from our awareness of the unity we share with them, as they must share with us.

We thank our Father for one thing alone; that we are separate from no living thing, and therefore one with Him. And we rejoice that no exceptions ever can be made which would reduce our wholeness, nor impair or change our function to complete the One Who is Himself completion. We give thanks for every living thing, for otherwise we offer thanks for nothing, and we fail to recognize the gifts of God to us.

Then let our brothers lean their tired heads against our shoulders as they rest a while. We offer thanks for them. For if we can direct them to the peace that we would find, the way is opening at last to us. An ancient door is swinging free again; a long forgotten Word re-echoes in our memory, and gathers clarity as we are willing once again to hear.

Walk, then, in gratitude the way of love. For hatred is forgotten when we lay comparisons aside. What more remains as obstacles to peace? The fear of God is now undone at last, and we forgive without comparing. Thus we cannot choose to overlook some things, and yet retain some other things still locked away as “sins.” When your forgiveness is complete you will have total gratitude, for you will see that everything has earned the right to love by being loving, even as your Self.

Today we learn to think of gratitude in place of anger, malice and revenge. We have been given everything. If we refuse to recognize it, we are not entitled therefore to our bitterness, and to a self-perception which regards us in a place of merciless pursuit, where we are badgered ceaselessly, and pushed about without a thought or care for us or for our future. Gratitude becomes the single thought we substitute for these insane perceptions. God has cared for us, and calls us Son. Can there be more than this?

Our gratitude will pave the way to Him, and shorten our learning time by more than you could ever dream of. Gratitude goes hand in hand with love, and where one is the other must be found. For gratitude is but an aspect of the Love which is the Source of all creation. God gives thanks to you, His Son, for being what you are; His Own completion and the Source of love, along with Him. Your gratitude to Him is one with His to you. For love can walk no road except the way of gratitude, and thus we go who walk the way to God.

Learn more about A Course in Miracles.

Happy Thanksgiving 😉

 

Today I will accept the truth about myself. I will arise in glory, and allow the light in me to shine upon the world throughout the day. A Course in Miracles

 

The truth about ourselves is that even though we may experience darkness in the form of depression, that does not mean that we are darkness. Our Sacred Self. or Higher Self, is the part of ourselves that is made in the image of God. It cannot be corrupted, only repressed and concealed. Even in the darkest times remember who you are, even if you can’t feel it. Eventually you will come back to your Divine Essence.

 

Brilliant Future Subliminal Video

Brilliant Future Subliminal Video (Photo credit: JoreJj Z. Elprehzleinn)

 

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English: Fall Foliage Photography

English: Fall Foliage Photography (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found this wonderful article on Tiny Buddha, one of my favorite inspirational websites. I think it speaks to anyone who has dealt with disappointment and depression. But many times when we lose something we don’t see that we have gained something else:

When Things Fall Apart: Breakdowns Can Create Breakthroughs

By Melissa Dinwiddie

“Breakdowns can create breakthroughs. Things fall apart so things can fall together.” ~Unknown

“I’m sorry,” the email said, “but our phone call left me feeling uncomfortable, and we’ve decided to work with someone else.”

I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. Even though I saw it coming. Even though I’d brought it on myself.

It was February 2010, and I didn’t have the money to pay my mortgage. My savings were gone, burned through in a misguided attempt to breathe life back into my ailing business by “throwing money at the problem.” Read more..

 

cosmic soap bubbles (God takes a bath)

cosmic soap bubbles (God takes a bath) (Photo credit: woodleywonderworks)

One very good way to deal with bipolar disorder and depression is to begin the day reading something inspirational. It always helps to see how others cope with these illnesses in a positive way. When I use the word “positive” I certainly don’t mean being “Miss Mary Sunshine” all the time. Rather I take that word as meaning that we move through our challenges in the best way that we are able and it helps to have others to guide us along the way.  It is a little amusing to me though that my ego (meaning Edging God Out) tries to make it into a competition, and I have to fight the urge to compare myself to others. My thoughts go like this. “Why can’t I be more enlightened like her? Why can’t I handle my illness as well as she does?”  Then I have to remind myself that I am not in that person’s skin and besides it is the journey that matters, not the destination.

With that in mind I have a few articles to share from some very wise people. First off is an article talking about how we need to honor our emotions by Bobbi Emel from The Bounce Blog, Getting On With Life Despite Devastating Emotions.

Therese J Borchard, an author and contributor to several websites gives an amusing look at how to forgive ourselves for our (continuing) mistakes.

Alex Blackwell at The Bridgemaker, has quotes of 15 Faithful People Who Inspire Us.

Have a good day! 😉

 

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Photograph of California Poppies, scientifical...

Photograph of California Poppies, scientifically referred to as a Eschscholzia californica, that was captured using the digital macro mode, in the neighborhood called Capitol Hill, Denver, Colorado USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I want to share with my readers a post I wrote a while back.  It is really important to recognize when we are depressed that there are good things in the world.  I have to admit that I haven’t always followed my own advice though. So reposting this is also a reminder to me to appreciate the good in my life. It is very hard at times when I have to deal with both bipolar disorder plus fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.  However the good is still out there, whether I see it or not. And nowhere is it most evident than in nature. Appreciating nature can be very healing.

Here is the article:

The Art of Appreciation

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.

Henry Ward Beecher

Being happy does not always depend on getting what we want, but appreciating what we have. Do this exercise in appreciation: read more here