Breaking the Mental Illness Stigma

1 out of 4 in America are afflicted. There are many ways the brain can fail. We know and fear medical conditions like stroke, infections and cancer, all of which can affect the brain. When it comes to depression, schizophrenia or anxiety disorders, we think of these “problems” in a different way.

The science of medicine shows us that mental illnesses are biologic processes originating in a failing brain. It is not a result of failed character, poor choices or lack of faith. They are proven to be genetic and stress related illnesses, to which all are vulnerable.

With a medical explanation, we can understand that the panic or compulsion we experience and are ashamed of, the mood swings we can’t predict, or the voices we know are not “real”; all can be symptoms of a brain function not fully completed, an error in genetic coding, a stress that the brain couldn’t process, part of a body and world that are imperfect.

If it is only a bodily organ that is imperfect, that causes the confusion, and mistaken choices, it may be that I am not a “bad” person. I am not my illness. I am just an imperfect person, one who tries to do good, please God, and grow closer to Him. If my moods and experience are keeping me from feeling the “joy of the Lord,” or if my behaviors and impulsive actions are part of an illness and not a sign that I am worse than others, then I can have hope.

This is the hope that I am broken like everyone else is broken, and I can have fellowship and connection to the body of believers, all who are broken like me.

The isolation of depression, anxiety, mood swings, and hallucinations can all be a part of illness that can be treated, and redeemed, so that I don’t have to be alone, so God and His glory can be for me too.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 
Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)

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