Never, Never, Never Give Up!
Being Spiritual Gives Me Strength
It was over 27 years ago while living in Hollywood that I was diagnosed with Meth Amphetamine psychosis, strapped to a bed and locked in a psychiatric unit. It was the beginning of a saga of close to 13 mental health hospitalizations. I have put on at least 30 different kinds of medications and thrown into endless therapy sessions. It was only a bandaid.
Through the years I have had many diagnoses–from bipolar to bipolar with psychotic features to schizoaffective and ultimately paranoid schizophrenia. I firmly hold on to the fact that there is nothing wrong with me and that I am on a spiritual journey. The Native Americans believe this and so do Christians. There is a spiritual dimension to this journey.
I want to be sensitive to those who may not be comfortable with spirituality or belief in a higher power, but to me, my faith has been instrumental to my recovery and sense of peace and well-being. There have been some great times and some great trials on this adventure and I am proof positive that people can recover from mental health challenges and go on to lead productive and meaningful lives. That doesn’t mean that I am free of problems and don’t have very trying days–because I do.
On a separate note, I don’t believe modern psychiatry and psychology have all the answers. I don’t believe that it is all about dopamine and brain chemistry. There is much we don’t know. We are not alone. There are special people who come into our lives for a season or two who transform our lives for the better and encourage us to fight and move forward. People with mental health challenges are resilient and special people with unique qualities and strengths. We know pain and loss. There are many myths and misinformation surrounding those diagnosed with mental health challenges. The notion that we are violent and dangerous is inaccurate. On the contrary, we are often reserved and gentle.
Some of the symptoms I have had to face are ideas of reference, which sometimes make me feel as though music or the TV is referring to me. I have felt paranoia and believed that evil people were out to get me. Rude and crude thoughts pepper my mind and, perhaps most significantly, I had a single voice try to oppress and instill fear in me.
Make no mistake, we are in a battle and the foe is powerful.
The voice that penetrates our minds is not benign. It seeks to undermine our joy and sense of well-being. It wants to isolate us and separate us from the protection of the pack. It uses its power to oppress and demoralize us. We simply can’t sit back and be attacked. We must go on the offensive against the demons of schizophrenia. Without adversity, prowess shrivels. The other side of crisis is opportunity. These challenges help us to grow and strengthen ourselves. Along the way we are granted grace and wisdom.
Currently, I hold a position at a hospital working with people with substance abuse issues and mental health challenges. If I can overcome my trials and lead a productive life, so can you. Not to put anyone off, but my spiritual life has been a large part of my recovery. Sometimes, you have to just let go and trust in your higher power.
The battle often belongs to God. We can do little without Him. We seek victory one day at a time. This path is not for the weak or timid. It requires all of our effort. We must stand up against the voice. The battle takes place in the mind. Don’t run from problems, embrace them.
Some may think it is weak, but sometimes all we can do is pray. Prayer opens doors and gives us courage and a relationship with our higher power. Remember, God loves us dearly. He knows every hair on your head. He allows us to go through trials and never gives us more than we can handle. I encourage you to never give in to what the voices say. They are liars. We don’t negotiate with terrorists. Never, never give up.