Faith and Mental Illness

Faith is funny. For different people, it means different things. Something that can make one person lose faith can make another gain it. It can decrease in somebody and increase in somebody else, all from the same incident.

One of my favorite characters to write in 9 Ways to Normal was Zebulon. He’s a Schizophrenic, but he firmly believes in God. Some people may call his belief a delusion, but even when he’s not having an episode, his faith is there. His faith conflicts with most of the other characters in some way or another.

Lyle, a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome, tries to refute everything with facts of modern science, a common way many fight faith. Lilly, Lyle’s twin, who also has Asperger’s, doesn’t pay much mind to religion. She’s neither for nor against it, but she’s fascinated by the discussion.

David, a Schizoid with a broken past, likes to think he doesn’t have any religious beliefs, though he grew up in the Catholic church. Some of the teachings have stuck with him, despite his firmest statements that he is above it all.

Jonathan, diagnosed with Chronic Depression, was raised in a Christian home where mental illness wasn’t acceptable, and he displays a very stony, and slightly hostile, attitude toward the whole subject. His Alcoholic friend Daniel is more open, but still doesn’t like to talk about it, as it makes him uncomfortable.

Flora, a Bulimic, doesn’t have an opinion on the subject, and she listens to the discussion without participating.

Joshua, who has severe Bipolar disorder, isn’t on speaking terms with God, but he desperately wants to know more, while his Savant friend Zacharias is quite firm in his own belief of God. He might not understand everything, but his simple faith hasn’t ever left him from his childhood.

My own experience with mental illness is Joshua’s Bipolar Disorder, and the twins’ Asperger’s syndrome. But, more importantly, my faith is like that of Zebulon’s. Through the highs and lows, I still believe in God.

Faith is unique to each person. In Romans 12:3 in the New Testament, Paul states that each is given a “measure of faith.” Does that mean not everybody gets the same thing? Yes and no.

Faith is the first gift that God gives to us when we come to Him. All Christians get the gift of faith. But it does not say that each measure is the same. Why is that? Well, we’re all different, and we need different levels of faith to use the gifts that God has given us.

I need a lot of faith, I think, because of my mental illness. And God has given it to me. Even when I’m suicidal, I think of God and going home to Him. I don’t know if I’ve never not believed in God in my illness (I came to faith when I was young) despite everything that’s happened to me.

Everybody’s struggles are different, but if you’re a Christian, they’re all building you up to be like Christ. God is preparing a place for you as he prepares you for that place. It’s hard to see sometimes, but it’s always there.

Even when I want to end it all, I know it won’t be the end. Sometimes I don’t care about the damage it would do here on Earth. I don’t care that I wouldn’t be able to publish my book. I don’t think right when I’m Depressed.

It’s comforting to think that God won’t let me go even if I do kill myself. No, it’s not right, but in the moment, you don’t care. That’s what a lot of people don’t get. You aren’t in your right mind. And I’m not in it a lot these days. But still, I’m here. And I still have faith.

Faith sure is funny, isn’t it?

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Smell the Color 9

“I would take ‘no’ for an answer
Just to know I heard you speak.
And I’m wondering why I’ve never
Seen the signs they claim they see.
Are the special revelations
Meant for everybody but me?
Maybe I don’t truly know you,
Or maybe I just simply believe:

I can sniff, I can see, and I can count up pretty high,
But these faculties aren’t getting me any closer to the sky.
But my heart of faith keeps pounding so I know I’m doing fine,
But sometimes finding you is just like trying to smell the color 9. Smell the color 9.

Now I’ve never felt the presence, but I know you’re always near.
And I’ve never heard the calling, but somehow you’ve led me right here.
So I’m not looking for burning bushes, or some divine graffiti to appear.
I’m just begging you for your wisdom, and I believe you’re putting some here.

I can sniff, I can see, and I can count up pretty high,
But these faculties aren’t getting me any closer to the sky.
But my heart of faith keeps pounding so I know I’m doing fine,
But sometimes finding you is just like trying to smell the color 9.

I can sniff, I can see, and I can count up pretty high,
But these faculties aren’t getting me any closer to the sky.
But my heart of faith keeps pounding so I know I’m doing fine,
But sometimes finding you is just like trying to

I can sniff, I can see, and I can count up pretty high,
But these faculties aren’t getting me any closer to the sky.
But my heart of faith keeps pounding so I know I’m doing fine,
But sometimes finding you is just like trying to smell the color 9.
sometimes finding you is just like trying to
sometimes finding you is just like trying to smell the color 9.

Smell the color 9. Nine’s not a color. And even if it were you can’t smell a color. That’s my point exactly.”

“Smell the Color 9” by Chris Rice.

Sometimes this is very true. I’ve never had any big experiences where I knew God was telling me something. To me, His voice is a quiet whisper, nudging me along. But I know the feeling of disappointment from not getting something. A good friend of mine gets dreams all the time, and I just get so mad. “Why don’t you talk to me like that?” I ask. The answer is simple. I’m not my friend. Books speak to me much more than dreams do. And I’m grateful, beyond anything that He talks to me, but I can’t help but wish it was different. But then again, if I was any different, my past or my personality, than I simply wouldn’t be me. And the same is true for you, too. 🙂