Personal Stories: Can Faith and Mental Illness Coexist?
Our friend Brandon Mullins says it can, just in time for the end of #MensMentalHealthMonth.
When I was a child, I remember my grandparents coming over to visit. My grandmother never said much. Her facial expressions never changed. It was always the same hardened look, her eyes fixed on something faraway, like she wasn’t fully present. I later learned that she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She participated in shock therapy when it was still being administered and she was taking high doses of medication, which is probably why she never had anything to say. That was the first time I learned that mental illness existed in my family.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was seventeen years old. I heard of other family members suffering from depression and anxiety. I only began to understand what that meant when I started to notice that I became extremely nervous and agitated for no reason. I slept… a lot. Sometimes, I’d sleep for sixteen hours a day, only getting up to use the bathroom. I’ve been admitted several times to mental health facilities, once because of an attempted suicide after an attempt to end my life.
It has taken my psychiatrist nearly eighteen years to find a combination of medication that finally put me on the road to recovery, and I have remained stable now for nearly a year. But one thing that I believe helped me through my darkest times was my faith. I realized just because you can’t see, hear, or feel God doesn’t mean He isn’t working in your life. My wife stood by me through the ugliest time of our marriage. Our families helped watch the kids for Abby (my wife) and they visited me in the hospital. Friends visited me while I was hospitalized and followed up with me when I got out. The countless doctors, nurses, and therapists that helped me get well had the Spirit flowing through them. Everyone in my life during that time, I finally see, was part of God’s plan to treat me and place me on the road to recovery. As for me, I now understand that God not only surrounds every part of me, He lives inside of me.