How the church and spirituality helped in my recovery

When mental illness and recovery are mentioned together, phrases like “early diagnosis”, “medication”, “therapy” and “self-care” dominate the discussions; however, I believe the importance of spirituality in recovery is often overlooked.

Seventeen years have passed since my suicide attempt and schizophrenia diagnosis. Next to medication, faith has been the most stabilizing factor in my recovery.

After becoming ill, the church was the first place I turned for healing and support. God carried me during the darkest times of my life; but His footprints were not the only ones in the sand. Along with my co-workers and family, several people from my church community walked along side us. I was visited in hospital. Pastors counselled and encouraged me. Elders laid hands on me, anointed me with oil and prayed for my healing. Most importantly, they accepted me regardless of my mental illness.

Reading the Bible transformed my life by encouraging me daily and it taught me about my identity in Christ.

I have peace knowing that:

  • Even though I was not planned by my parents, I am not an accident and living by chance. I’m a child of God and I was knit together in my mother’s womb.
  • Life is sacred and I awe at creation, the beauty of nature, and my family!
  • Work is something I do for God and it no longer defines me as it did in my past..
  • God has a plan for my life and I have hope for the future, both in this life and the next.
  • Though mental illness still plagues my life; anxiety and worry are distant memories and I can’t remember the last time I was fearful.
  • Christianity is not about being “good enough” or anything we can “do”; but it’s about a relationship with Jesus Christ, accepting the undeserved gift of the cross and obediently following Him.

Spirituality is often excluded from mental health therapy regiments. Though my symptoms persist, faith has allowed me to rebuild my life on a solid and static foundation.

During the most painful moment of my life, when my love for family was in conflict with my mental illness and my seeking death to end my pain and fear, God reached down and rescued me. I am thankful God cared enough to pursue me until I began to pursue Him.

 

Blog post by Shaan Hagglund, Board Secretary.