Through the years of battling mental illness I have often wrestled with God about the use of “secular” treatments for mental illness. When I was younger and undiagnosed, my faith was the only tool I had to help me manage a “Beast” I had no name for. As I grew older in addition to my faith I developed unhealthy habits to help manage “The Beast.” When I was finally diagnosed in my mid 20’s it was confusing. The doctor was telling me “The Beast” has a name and there is treatment.
I was in a world of confusion and denial. As a doctor, I have come to understand that this is a common struggle. I had all these questions for God. Is this “Beast” really an illness? Do I really need medicine? Can I trust my doctors? Are you saying I’m crazy? The counselor is teaching me mindfulness, doesn’t that come from Buddhism, is that really ok? The counselor told me to stop reading my Bible, how can I trust her? I have always managed this “Beast” with prayer and God, is me using something else really ok?
In my world of confusion and trying to find answers I would search the internet. You can find every view on the matter on the internet. I would talk to friends and sometimes they would say things like, “you don’t need medicine, you need to pray more.” Then I would hear a comment about someone else suffering from there own “Beast” and Christians would say that it wasn’t a mental illness it was Satan, just call on Jesus name and claim victory. OH no, is my “Beast” really satan? Jesus, Jesus, Jesus I call on your name, I claim your victory, what nothing happened, did I say it wrong? I listened to sermon after sermon and no one every told me if medication and mental health treatment was what I needed for my “Beast.” They would describes elements of my “Beast” and it was always in spiritual terms. I started to think Maybe I am just not a “good” enough Christian to overcome my “Beast?”
So to anyone out there that has a “Beast” of there own, I am hear to tell you that your “Beast” most likely has multiple components. When someone has a stomach ache what do they do? Some people take some Tylenol or pray about the pain but if it doesn’t go away they go to the doctor. The doctor is trained to check whether the stomach ache is something that needs to be watched or whether it needs some medicine or maybe it even needs some surgery. So to everyone that has a “Beast;” God wants you to seek him, he wants you to pray but he absolutely wants you to talk with your doctor and seek professional counseling.
Mental illness has treatment and these treatments are a gift from God. At the same time medicine is not God. It will not save your soul. It will not give you peace and a future only God can give you. So cry out to Jesus because he is your savor but Jesus wants to bless you with modern medicine to ease your suffering and live a more abundant life in him.