In The Loop: Breaking Through the Shame of Mental Illness

Thursday, April 30, 2015

"Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." (2 Corinthians 1:4)


So many people may never admit having a mental illness because of the shame they feel and the stigma that our society and our church has put on it. Society sees mental illness as the wide-eyed weirdo rocking and sitting in a corner or a psychopathic killer. The church sees it as someone who has been cursed by God and shouldn't be touched. Mental illness looks like all of us…the CEO, the hairdresser, the daycare worker, the high school prom queen, the mom of three. The shame is real too...

It's sad that some churches talk openly about cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and other health conditions, yet won't touch the hem of mental illness, in order to help reduce shame.

Research professor, Brene Brown, defined shame as "the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging." We already know through scripture, that nothing and no one can separate us from the love of God, not tribulation or distress (Romans 8:35)! So, because shame is a deterrent to our healing, it must be broken through!

Some sufferers of mental illness still find themselves the victim of the "Don't Touch, Don’t Talk" syndrome, where family members refuse to talk to them, church members gossip about them, and society treats them like second-class citizens. And then you wonder why people are filled with shame, afraid to talk about their feelings, their struggles, even their successes for fear that others will push them back into their suffering.

We need the comfort of God to get us through.

For the month of May, we will be Breaking Through the Shame of Mental Illness because we realize that our silence does more harm than good. We will be sharing the stories of four SWAPs who have agreed to share their life experiences with the shame that came from living with a mental illness. Beginning Thursday, May 7, 2015, they may share the shame, which sprang from critical and unknowledgeable clergy, the unworthiness placed on self, the impatience of family and friends, unmerciful church members, or the lack of community resources.

We are not to ostracize, criminalize, or demonize those with mental illnesses, yet according to the Word, we are to “comfort them which are in any trouble:

The trouble is the anguish of Depression, the uncertainty of Bi-Polar Disorder, the unrest of Anxiety, the fear in PTSD, the lure of Co-dependence...don’t you think they could use a little comfort!?

We want to clarify that we are not saying that just praying, or just receiving these messages, will help someone TOTALLY break through their illness, but we do believe that constant encouragement, the heart of a church that wants to educate themselves and love on their brothers and sisters in Christ, and having a steady trust in the Lord will help so many Break Through the Shame that comes with mental illness.

This is our outlet to open the door for more open discussions and to create a space for God to teach resilience, coping skills, and new ways to monitor and regulate symptoms and get through recovery.

If you or someone you know is living with a mental illness, we want you to know that this is an open space to talk, pray, find resources, and cope! We hope that you would join us, starting Thursday, May 7, 2015, so that we can all grow together in the Lord! ☺

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