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    Community Voices

    Ending the Stigma One Conversation at a Time

    I shared my previous post with some church leaders, and such amazing conversations are happening. Borderline personality disorder must be talked about. In fact, all mental illnesses must be discussed within the church setting. We have to work together to end the stigma and silence surrounding mental illness! We are not outcasts. We are not untouchables. We are not less than. Our stories deserve to be heard. We are worthy of being listened to! Don’t give up on sharing your story. ❤️ #MentalHealth #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Church #EndTheStigma #BreakTheSilence

    Community Voices

    I just posted this blog post on my page and felt led to post it here, too.

    “You can’t understand me without understanding borderline personality disorder.

    I’m still wrestling with feeling like I don’t fit in and that I’m misunderstood. I don’t know anyone who can relate to me on the level I so deeply desire. I know of one other person with BPD, and they’re not even a Christian. I don’t know a single Christian with BPD. Imagine that for a second—countless individuals struggle with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and so on, but rarely are individuals diagnosed with BPD who still pursue the Lord. I crave a community that I’ll never have–one that truly understands and can relate to me. I have to mourn that. It’s like I have no one with whom I can process the intense feelings and emotions I experience. Yes, I have a counselor, but her role is to help me process my trauma. Obviously, that will help with these emotions/feelings over time, but my counselor can’t make BPD disappear. She can’t make the symptoms I battle daily disappear. She can’t relate to me and understand how much harder it is for someone with BPD to follow the Lord than for someone who doesn’t. I can’t even believe the nice things people say about me. Can you imagine how much harder it is to believe that a God I can’t see loves me and calls me His? It’s nearly impossible.

    It’s like BPD and God can’t exist simultaneously inside my head. It’s the black or white thinking. One day, I’m on fire for the Lord, and everything is fine. The next, I’m in a deep, dark pit, trying to crawl my way out and wondering if He’s real. In fact, the change can happen within seconds; it’s exhausting. I’m learning how to see the grey, though. But you can’t tell someone with BPD to “just have faith” or “just pray” or anything like that. Our brain was chemically changed due to trauma. We need real, physical evidence to believe anything. You know the saying, “Actions speak louder than words”? It’s magnified times 100 for people with BPD. We try so hard to believe peoples’ words, but it’s not enough. They must be followed by actions so that we have physical evidence that what they say is true.

    Can you imagine how alienating it is to not know one other person who fights the same battles you do? People always say we all fight battles, so we can relate in that way—it’s not the same for someone with BPD. It’s nearly impossible to relate to people who don’t know this diagnosis—who haven’t experienced the mental turmoil that comes with it. You can’t say you know how I feel or what I go through until you’ve experienced borderline personality disorder. You can’t have authority in my life until you’ve taken the time to truly hear me and my experiences. Even then, it’s still difficult because you haven’t lived it.

    You don’t second guess every single thing someone says. You don’t agonize for hours over an interaction you had with someone. You don’t experience physical pain when your emotions get so intense. You don’t panic at the slightest change in tone in the voice of someone you love. You don’t obsess over the fact someone didn’t text you back. You don’t create wild scenarios in your head about people who say they love you, hating you. You don’t have constant paranoia that people are talking bad about you. You don’t have this crushing fear that you’re not good enough and never will be. You don’t fear abandonment so much that it nearly keeps you from connecting with anyone. You don’t passively think about suicide nearly every day. You don’t have this burning fire that makes you feel you need to self-sabotage/hurt yourself. You don’t have this empty void inside of you that cannot be filled—no matter what we do or who we believe in. It’s a God-sized hole, for sure, but unless He does a miracle and heals us, we continue to fight these battles.

    You may experience one or two of those things, maybe even 3, but imagine experiencing them all every single day, 24/7. It never ends. Even our sleep is flooded with nightmares. We get no breaks. So, imagine how hard it is to function in a world where you must represent yourself well and fit into society. Imagine walking into a church where you see people chasing after the Lord wholeheartedly, but you can barely believe God exists, and how you feel about Him changes minute-by-minute—seemingly against your will. You constantly question if God is real. Why would he allow such horrible things to go through your mind if he is? Yes, satan rules the earth, but God has the power to heal, doesn’t he? I’m tired of fighting these battles. People say they make you stronger, but I’m plenty strong enough for a lifetime.

    Unless you take the time to learn about this disorder, people with BPD will continue to feel so isolated and alienated. We are different than the regular population—that’s a fact. There are numbers. There is evidence. We don’t have the same innate skill set that most of the population has. We have to learn things in our adult life that most adults learned as children—if we choose to get healthy. It’s an uphill climb that most people will never understand, and they’re honestly lucky. I would never wish this disorder on anyone, and I pray that God does a miracle and heals me. I long to know what it’s like to have a “healthy” brain—one that doesn’t fight these minute-by-minute thoughts. One that can handle conflict well. One that doesn’t dwell on the most minor things others don’t even consider. One that experiences emotions within a “normal” range and for a “normal” amount of time. Maybe a better word is reasonable instead of normal. I know there isn’t really a “normal,” but I think you get the point.

    I also want to point out that I work hard not to let borderline personality disorder define me. Additionally, I am doing well in life right now. I have a job that I love with everything in me and amazing friends. I am living independently and am doing just fine with that. Ultimately, my goal with this post is to educate and bring awareness to a disorder that is often hidden and show how there are Christians with this disorder who are fighting to be heard. And this is just BPD–I can only imagine the stigma and silence that comes with other, more uncommon mental health disorders such as DID or schizophrenia. If no one speaks up on these issues and the reality behind these mental illnesses, change will not occur.

    I don’t know what the next step is for me. I don’t know what to do besides continuing to pray that God will bring healing and understanding. I don’t know how to feel more comfortable in the church setting. I don’t know how to help others understand me and my struggles. All I know is that it’s a fact that I have borderline personality disorder, and only God can heal me of it. I can put in the work to bring about healing, which I am, but I don’t foresee ever being totally free from all this unless God heals me. Until He does, I will continue to voice my experiences with BPD and pray people will listen.”

    #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Trauma #Church #Christianity #MentalHealth

    22 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    spiritual abuse x gaslighting | or am I making this up?

    I was in church when someone said stuff that was really triggering and I screamed the f word at her. I proceeded to call her a rich spoilt brat who leeches off her parents 🙃

    The reason I was triggered was bc in knowing that I'm unemployed & not drawing an income, she asked me to cut my expenditure by finding things I can do without - & when I mentioned my highest mandatory cost being therapy, she said "you know my stand on therapy .." which in a prior conversation years ago - she saw it then as something which does not produce lasting behavioural change as a man-made tool, the only way to produce lasting change is when God's Word changes you. She even cited herself by saying that in a down period, she prayed & cried with loved ones instead of seeking therapy. This was a few years back, I just came to realise the goalpost has since shifted.

    ANYWAY. Woman tatts on this to my cell grp leaders who in turn tell this to my cell grps pastor.

    We met the pastor - me, my two cell group leaders, & the person I called names at. It started as like a words thing for what I called her -- I'm not sure if it has entirely warped itself to spiritual abuse?

    For other reference also: www.crossway.org/articles/10-things-you-should-know-about-ch...

    This ^ article was very helpful, in particular points #7 & #9 . For disclosure, pastor took me out of my cell group as "punishment".

    "9. Churches must take great care against abuses of discipline.

    Church discipline can become abusive in a number of ways: leaving the decision in the hands of one or a few instead of the whole congregation; relying on regulated processes instead of individual pastoral care; being characterized by a fundamentalistic mindset that’s uncomfortable with the tensions which are inevitable in a fallen world and insisting that every problem gets tied up with a nice bow; or possessing an unbalanced and unbiblical concept of authority."

    I explained, in our meeting, the tension between where I am, where I am required to be, and where I have come. I was told by one of my cell grp leaders (with the other in agreement), that there are no percentages in this - either I am sorry (100%), or I am not (0%) Would it be fair to say that requiring me to be fully sorry .. is a clash of "insisting that every problem gets tied up with a nice bow", per the article states? Church talks about not being perfect, but moving in the right direction. I do think, in this conflict, I am moving in the direction that the Bible calls for and God desires. I think requiring me to be fully sorry immediately .. is a clash of "insisting that every problem gets tied up with a nice bow" - ??!?

    I call out on the spiritual abuse & I get -

    "I would like to hold on to a biblical definition of repentance, rather than have individuals decide what it should look like and be unnecessarily distressed by various definitions."

    Is this spiritual abuse + gaslighting?!?!

    #CheckInWithMe #MentalHealth #Anxiety #Church

    3 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    So I did a "terribly bad" thing .. 🙃

    Basically, I called someone in church a rich spoilt brat who leeches off her parents' money to study for flex, not a job or skills 🙃

    Which is a whole thing in itself lol. I mean I don't have a thing against furthering your education, but she has undergrad (accounting), Masters (linguistics), JD Law. All fully-funded by parents, all different fields 🙃 I think her studying life is more than her working life - I think it's ok and natural to wanna further your studies as you work, to grow in your field.

    So she was extremely upset and told on this to my cell group leaders .. 🙃 She was also the one who told me to cut down my expenditure, on therapy - "you know my stand on therapy ..." (which in prior incident is, that it's manmade human wisdom & only God heals 🙃😌🤔) - so anyway my cell grp leaders want us to meet, they'll facilitate the meeting.

    I also know whats the Christian answer to say, & I think it's super easy to Christianise this crap. But like, it will legit just be a band aid? For illustration, it's like when kindergarten kids are at the playground & push each other. & then they only shake hands cos they don't want to stand in the corner ... not that they see why it's wrong.

    I don't feel I should do it if I don't feel it - I'm torn between acknowledging my own space and pushing it forward just cos they want me to 🙃

    As in, the way I see it is, if there is a blue bottle on a table, and if you tell me to say that the bottle is red. I cannot, will not be able to - it's a blue bottle! I cannot see it as red, not that I don't want to. But if you wanted me to say it's red, then I say - but I don't believe [will not be able to believe] what I say, bc I cannot see it.

    I think she's rich, factually. & retracting it or apologising for it is a band-aid I won't be able to mean, in light of factual realities.

    Apologise or no? I can't mean it and I view it as a band-aid tbvh, but I guess that's what people are expecting 🤷‍♀️ But you also know what I mean by band-aid apologies right???? Apart from me being a rotten potato 🥔🙃, what would you do if you were me?

    #CheckInWithMe #Church #Selfesteem #Employment #MentalHealth

    34 people are talking about this
    Jeanetta Bryant

    How Churches Can Support Families of Children With Disabilities

    We were the “lucky” ones. When our daughter was diagnosed with a laundry list of acronyms and labels, we had the support of a mature and thriving disabilities ministry. We found programs that were tailor-made for our child and allowed us the opportunity as a family to attend church regularly. As a matter of fact, I believe God used her diagnosis to bring us back to him. With a volunteer that showed up every Sunday to be our daughter’s “buddy,” we suddenly felt accountable and were determined to show up regularly. Showing up regularly is what ultimately led me to be baptized again as an adult and for us to create a nonprofit that helps parents, pastors, and teachers find the resources to help children with disabilities be their best. I am steadfast in believing that the church is a huge factor in helping children and families that are impacted by disabilities reach their full potential, and I have listed just a few of those reasons. Community Isolation is a real thing. So many families feel they can no longer attend church, ball games, recitals, plays, festivals, or other community events because they have a child that may act out, elope, cause a distraction, or possibly harm themselves. It is true that this role as the parent of a child with a disability can be isolating at times, which is even more reason for a church to create a program of support for these families to have time with the community where they can interact, and their child can be cared for. The beauty of social settings allows us to understand that we are not alone and there are others who are on this journey too. It also creates an atmosphere where our kids (who may be lacking social skills) can learn healthy engagement behaviors. Child Friendships We often find ourselves seeking other families that understand. The church is uniquely positioned to bring families together and create friendship opportunities for children who may struggle to engage in traditional friendships. Many of our kids may not converse or play as we did when we were children, but there are benefits to them participating in “parallel play” and simply sharing space with someone else. These moments allow for growth with the other child and in the knowledge of God. Respite for Parents One of the most common practices for families with children who have a disability is to either alternate who stays home with the child while the other attends church, or for them both to skip it entirely. This is devastating. Parents need the ability to focus on themselves, take a break from being the constant caregiver, and replenish their mental and physical capacity. When a church offers a ministry that cares for the child, the parent can relax. They can practice “self-care,” even if it is only for an hour or so on Sunday. If parents can take time together, it can impact the dynamic in the home, create stronger marriages and ultimately help them be a better caregiver to their child. Love and Encouragement Who doesn’t need love and encouragement? It is a daily struggle to manage medical care, therapy options, educational support, along with the emotional toll of worry for their future. Even the best parents will confess that they can keep focused on the positive and still have hard days. When a church family comes together, the love and encouragement are a tangible product. There is safety to say your worries out loud and to have others come to your aid. Knowing someone is praying for you and that they care has a power all its own. The church may not understand or fully appreciate your daily tasks, but they can sympathize and show you they care. On hard days, that is a lifeline! Deeper Relationship With God Ultimately, the real “lifeline” is a relationship with God. The one that does understand, that does care and fully loves you. The church can provide some of the benefits of knowing God, but the reality is that once you have the time, and capability of knowing your child is cared for, then you can focus on learning about God, deepen your relationship, and start understanding a new perspective. You have a purpose, you matter, and you were created with intention — so was your child. Find the time, find a church that can support you, or encourage your church to build a program. You are worth it. Your family is worth it, and you have the potential to help others in ways you can’t imagine. I say all of this to you because these are ways, we personally benefited from a strong Access Ministry program. After countless conversations with other parents – I have found these truths are found in their lives too. I wish you the peace and joy that can be found in a church program and a better relationship with God.

    Community Voices

    Hurt by the church
    #Church hurt

    I was physically assaulted in my own church. Bruises from the “hit” but when I responded with name calling,” emotional response”, I was called before the board ( all men) and was called divisive and that the person who actually hurt me was not a threat. I was made to apologize to people for offending them and for months, no one has made any contact with me. My husband is still going to that church and it’s now causing marital problems. He has actually told me to get out.
    I’m at a loss. I feel like I have nothing left. I cling to Jesus because He’s all I have.

    11 people are talking about this
    Olivia Tocci

    The Christian Church Needs to Do More to Support Mental Health

    As you may know, Ariana Grande donated millions of dollars to partner with BetterHelp (an online counseling service) as a way to provide a month of free therapy for anyone who needs it. Therapy has been a topic of discussion within my family for years now. My 8-year-old son is autistic and ADHD, and my 10-yea-old daughter struggles with anxiety. Luckily they qualify for our states free health insurance, so they are both in therapy! But my husband and I don’t qualify due to our income. However, as we all know, making too much money to qualify for free healthcare does not necessarily mean you make enough to afford therapy. Therapy is extremely expensive. I get it, and I am in no way disrespecting the level of education or knowledge that is required to provide these types of services. What I have a problem with is health insurance not doing a better job at supporting mental health in the same ways they do physical and medical health needs. The risks of not receiving proper mental health support, can be just as devastating as neglecting to receive medical treatment when needed. In the past few years my husband and I have gone through a lot – personal, family, and even within our marriage. Our need for therapy has left us anxious and frustrated due to our inability to afford it. However, recently we decided to have my husband do therapy through BetterHelp because it is an affordable option and allows you the flexibility to engage with a therapist through messaging or video chats. Due to his unhealed childhood trauma, it made the most sense for us to make space in our budget for him to have therapy over me – at least for right now. But if I’m being honest, neglecting my own needs has been my entire life story. I’m tired. I’m drained. When do I get that type of help and support? So when I found out that Ariana was giving away a free month of therapy, I quickly jumped on it! (to receive this go to www.betterhelp.com/ariana). If you’ve done BetterHelp before then you know that even after you stop doing it, you continue to receive journaling prompts based on your past engagement with a therapist. And in one month of therapy you absolutely can receive helpful tools to guide you through future issues surrounding the problems you discussed. I think we should all be able to agree this is an incredible thing she is doing. I think it’s incredible because no one else is doing it… including the church. And maybe you’re thinking “or we could just have free health care,” haha. Well. That’s an entirely different conversation. All I’ll say on that is I do believe the health care system is messed up and needs reform. But I also believe the church was created to step in when society and the world is just that — messed up. I truly believe that the church is losing people and will continue to, as it goes down the path of performance over people. Why do I bring that up? Because both my husband and I grew up in the church, so we know first hand. When I found out that someone was using their platform as a way to support people who need this kind of help, I thought to myself “why is the church not using their platform to support people who need this kind of help?” In some ways what Ariana is doing for people who are suffering mentally and emotionally, is more than what the church historically has done, and we need to be talking about it. I’ll start off by saying that this is not an accusation against all churches, but just my thoughts based on personal experiences and what I know about churches overall through growing up within Christian culture. I am 35 years old and have been attending church since I was born. One thing I have noticed is that the church is constantly asking people to step into roles that require them to invest in others, without them being invested in themselves. This leads to burn out and certainly never produces healthy leadership. For example: In the past my husband has been a worship leader who invested many years and hours into it, but yet he never had anyone offer to invest in him on a deep level. Asking people to pour out so much of themselves and their time, without offering them a way to be filled back up, is toxic. Churches will passionately ask people to volunteer, or will scramble to fill in the gaps if the drummer cancels last minute for a Sunday morning service, but won’t put in that same diligence when someone reaches out needing someone to talk to. So when we talk about mental illness and the church, we can start right there. If this is how a church treats their leaders and volunteers, that’s an indicator they aren’t going to have the appropriate support for people with deeper needs. At a previous church I attended, I reached out to a woman who I had a connection to in several different aspects. She was older than me, and I looked up to her spiritually. My husband and I were having some challenges within our marriage and I wanted to know if she could provide us with any support. She then referred me to someone else in our church who she said had provided marriage counseling before. When I reached out to that woman, she literally just referred me to several therapy centers that she knew of in the area. I was confused… isn’t this a church? Why should my husband and I seek outside counseling when we attend a church filled with leaders? This is not to put down those two women, but just to prove the point that there was nothing set up within the church to support people in that way. I’m sure there are churches out there doing a better job than this, but I know that my own experience sadly isn’t the only one out there. Nowadays we have people within churches becoming life coaches and certified in things like spiritual direction, and some of them are charging for their services! And I’m OK with the fact that the church pays pastors and other full time positions within the church, but when the church is basically paying someone’s mortgage, then you know that we have strayed far from the mission of Jesus. This is not what the church is supposed to be. Jesus said to make disciples, not money. Ariana is famous and therefore has the money to do something like that, yes. But the church is also “famous” and has money constantly coming in as well. My husband and I should not be asked to tithe, but then be expected to pay for counseling outside the church. I said what I said. And don’t even get me started on all the mega churches that could literally be sponsoring handfuls of people to get the mental health services they need — because some people really do need professional help. Therefore I do not think that all matters can or should be dealt with by someone within the church. But when they can’t, is the church ready and equipped to support that individual financially in some capacity if they need? So all in all, what I’m saying is I think there are two very specific ways that the church can do better: Model actual discipleship, and then also find ways to financially give back to mental health services as a way to support people within the community. I don’t know what goes on in every church, and I imagine there are many out there handling all of this in a more Christ-like way. But all I know is that when I heard about what Ariana was doing, I was immediately frustrated. Why is a pop singer feeling led to do something so bold that the church has yet to consider? If you are a pastor or a church leader reading this, I am going to encourage you to honestly ask yourself if you think your church is doing all they can for the people in your community who are battling mental illness or just emotional stress of any kind. These are things to consider when famous people donate 5 million dollars into a crisis that the church is time and time again unequipped to handle. People are hurting, and churches need to do better.

    Community Voices

    Urges to go back to church

    So back in high school in my last couple years I started going to youth group and eventually church on sunday's too I really enjoyed it, felt welcome and felt good. I liked making friends there but after a while I found it hard to consider myself Christian with all the bs in the world and then went down different paths and strayed very far from it. I haven't been to a church in like 5 years and I miss that kind of friendship and community so much. Lately I've been thinking about it and I want to back to a church if i found one near me that seems nice enough but I also feel really weird about going to church again and don't know if I'd actually want to be there or if I'm only going because I want some kind of support group and not care about the religion side of it. Past few months my depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts have only gotten worse and worse, often when i went to church i spoke up about it to people and i want to believe it helped but i can't believe that it's actually true. But i still feel so desperate for anything to help. Does anyone have experiences with going away from church and going back or following different beliefs that are complete opposites to going back to church?

    #Church #Anxiety #Depression #SuicidalThoughts #Christian #Religion #beliefs

    31 people are talking about this
    Community Voices
    Community Voices