Stuck in a church that doesn't understand  

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Initial Post 

Hi all,
I wanted to find out if there are many others out there who are part of a church that they don't want to leave, but that the same church doesn't provide help for people with MH problems, or that they say it's "your lack of faith" that's causing the problems?
I'm in such a situation. I grew up mainly in this certain church, with a great leadership and congregation, but when I sought help and re-assurance, they came out with the view that it was my lack of faith which was causing me grief, (they didn't say that I had 'NO' faith, just not much of it).
Suffering from Social Anxiety and Depression is bad enough without having to go to a well attended church that thinks your faith is lacking.
It is only through my faith that my illness was revealed. God was very obviously the one who explained to me my problem, and he was, and is the only person who's kept me alive and going. My faith is literally holding me up, so I have to question the view taken by my church.
Anyone else have similar experiences?
H. 16/08/2011 15:32    



Joanne Mcgrace    23/08/2011 19:16
Hi Haf,
I had a great Pastor that gave me a lot of support and understanding. Sadly, he moved away. The new Pastor was very nice, but when I told him about my Bipolar disorder he just looked embarrassed and muttered something (which I couldn't quite hear). He always used to say hello, but never once asked how I was doing. I started attending another church a few months ago. What a difference! My new Pastor has a son who has schizophrenia, and there are quite a few people in the church, which is quite small, with mental health problems. The love and acceptance is quite overwhelming. My previous Pastor has not ever been in touch to find out if I'm ok, not even on Facebook, which would be pretty easy to do.
I would suggest you try and find another church if possible- you need love and understanding- we all do xx

Haf (Guest)    23/08/2011 21:33
Many thanks Joanne!
Yeah, I've started looking for somewhere else in the area, although it does feel a bit odd leaving a church I've grown up in. However, I know that there is a church out there that will understand and be supportive.
It's good to know I'm not the only Christian who's going/gone through this.
Thanks again Joanne,

Charlee    26/08/2011 21:26
I really think that maybe you need to pray about your church, i am so blessed to be in a church that welcomes poeple with MH problems and supports us, they do not see it as a faith issue but as an illness out of our control, they are always there to pray with me and offer practical support as and when i need it, they have become my family and i could not live without that support and encouragement.
My last church was a bit less supportive in that i felt they were dissapointed that my MH problems were not better after all the prayer i have received and some spoke to me about whether there was sin in my life, i felt called to youth ministry so left my church where there was no youth to join my current church which has hundreds of youth, looking back i believe God brought me out of that church and placed me in a new church who are family
Church should be family, loving and accepting. I pray for you that you will have that experience within a church soon:)

cathy wield    27/08/2011 18:46
This is a difficult one, as leaving church where you are family is hard. Yet there are churches who are open to those with mental health problems. But no church is perfect and there is still the need to get the message across, that the brain is an organ - it has just as much 'right' to go wrong as say a kidney. (In fact isn't it a miracle that it doesn't go wrong more often.) Noone has any problem with other diseases, so why this one? Most of the time this is because church people erroneously think mental health issues are spritual. I am not saying that they are never spiritual, but for the most part, it is illness and needs treatment. Prayer is appropriate as for any prayer for healing, but Haf, this is not your fault and not due to your lack of faith. Goodness me, if it was due to our lack of faith then the whole world would have ground to a halt long ago. I pray that God will give you the wisdom and guidance you need for the next step of your journey.

Rob Waller 28/08/2011 20:18
hey all, thanks for this thread. church is one of God's gift to us, yet it seems to take a lot of working through in most cases. like a good marriage, i do believe almost anything can be overcome if a community is so minded - but sadly this is not always the case. the people who end up leaving can often be the one's who have loved most, given most and hence been most vulnerable to hurt. but we are in good company with Jesus on this one. he loved so much he gave up his power and allowed himself to be killed. like the others i pray that it will not go that far [!] but that whatever the outcome, that you would know more of God and his love for you in all things. rob

Misa Buckley 09/11/2011 14:51
I left my last church after being told my depression was a sign of sin and lack of faith. Since then, I've rather wandered off the path as far as my faith is concerned.
I've joined here today, because I want to get back. I just don't know how.

cathy wield 09/11/2011 15:35
That's a real shame that you were told that and it's not true. Depression is an illness, not a sin and if everyone who is ill is ill because of lack of faith, then we are all the same!!!
It might be worth looking on the web for alternate churches and then having words with the leader. I am very hopeful that there will be a church you can go to without such an ignorant attitude.
Please don't wander from your faith because of this, disappointing though it is. God the Father loves you so much, you are one of his lovely children, like I am too and he sent Jesus to die for us, so we are forgiven.
I am so sorry you have suffered in this way, my heart goes out to you.

Gemma (Guest) 18/12/2011 15:52
As a Christian who suffers from Fibromyalgia with depression being a big factor I have to say that I feel so misunderstood by church people. I have tried lots of churches and opened up to people in positions of leadership as a cry for help but they have hurt me so much by misunderstanding me!I struggle with church even though I know there is no such thing as a perfect one. My upbringing makes me very critical of how church is done. I think I want what I see in certain churches but can't cope with it when I get it.I'm so complex,I just don't know where to go anymore.

EMMA 27/06/2012 20:36
Like Misa, I left the church due to stigma and attitudes to mental health that were a time of just developing bipolar so vulnerable and feeling forsaken by God. Spent 8 pretty angry years before The Lord drew me back to himself and even then I couldn't bring myself to walk into a church until I moved back to the town of my youth and then the church of my youth. My friends (housegroup leaders) laugh now as they recount my ,as they call it, AA introduction " Hello I'm Emma. I have bipolar disorder if you have a problem with that and don't want me in your group, that's fine but tell me now" Needless to say they thought me a bit odd! I thought they were too!
4years on I have experienced people who lack understanding and have less than helpful attitudes.. conversely those who do understand or want to understand etc.
I think sometimes we who suffer can make the biggest difference in changing attitudes and challenging stigma.. one person at a time, in our more stable/well periods. I like to think that anyway.. to see it as being prayerful,taking a pebble and dropping it into the pond and the ripples spread..

Pippa 19/12/2012 19:32
Interesting reading this thread. I am struggling to find any support at all at church. I lost all my previous friends when I left my abusive xh and have experienced severe depression and anxiety since and am totally socially isolated. I have really tried to mention a few things, I shared a little of how anxiety affects me at the housegroup I had attended a few months (but still didn't really know anyone well) and afterwards the housegroup leader came up to me and said he felt God was saying to me that I could put my anxiety down now.
I was a bit shocked by that, believe me if I could just put it down I would! Since then I have done an emotional coping skills course and am having CBT with psychological services and am much better than I was, but I now feel totally unable to share any of my mental health problems at my housegroup because if I were to mention anxiety, the housegroup leader might just be thinking that I obviously haven't done as God said and put the anxiety down.
Where does one go with this?

H. 19/12/2012 19:52
It is difficult for people who have not had MH issues before to understand what it's like. I don't know whether a little 'awareness' chat of the MH condition and the medical evidence behind it would enlighten people any?

cathy wield 09/01/2013 12:05
May I suggest that you get hold of a copy of my book - A Thorn In My Mind; mental health, stigma and the church and hand it to your housegroup leader or leader of your church and get them to agree to read it!! (Read it yourself first). It is written to address just the kind of issue you are all talking about and explains the various common mental disorders and has a section at the end on what you (they) can do to help. It is also autobiographical and tells of my story of severe depression and recovery. The book is available in kindle or printed form from Amazon and some Christian bookshops. Get back to me if you find difficulty getting hold of it!

Lillie Rose 29/05/2013 18:16
Athorn in my Mind has been one of the best books Ive read to help me deal with mh and acceptance together with faith. I thank you so much for sharing your story and really do recommend this as an easy must read to those looking for more help. When I say easy read I mean when your mind is full, you struggle to concentrate and words are just a blur this book is soooooo readible whereas many others i have put down as I simply cannoy take in what the author saying. God Bless you thank you .

cathy wield 30/05/2013 23:46
Thankyou Lillie Rose for your lovely encouragement. I realise looking at my entry in January, I wasn't very gracious in my suggestion to read the book.......I am glad that it has helped you and I do hope & pray it will help others and maybe convince some of the more skeptical people that mh should not be stigmatised! -
Rob Waller, 07/03/2014
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