Mental Illness/Disorders In Christian Fiction

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions Mental Illness/Disorders In Christian Fiction

This topic contains 25 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Evelyn 4 days ago.

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  • #96929

    Eden Anderson
    @eden-anderson

    @aislinn-mollisong Thanks for your thoughts! 😀

    Thanks for your perspective…it’s really helpful hearing from somebody that’s dealt with things like ADHD.

    @kari-karast Aww, sorry you’ve got a cold! That stinks. 😑 Hope you get over it soon!

    Yeah, I’m trying to work on too many stories too, right now. That’s just the the life of a writer, I guess. 😆

    Hey, that’s okay! No worries…thanks for at least trying to help!

    @seekjustice You’re a dog trainer?!! What even?! That’s so cool! 🤩

    It feels like every time I talk to you on here, I learn something new and awesome about you. Like, how do you even have time to do all the stuff that you do? 😀

    Since you know a lot about PTSD, maybe you could help me. *rubs hands gleefully while thinking of the best ways to get the most information I possibly can from you*

    As a couple of people have already said, our minds and souls are linked. But neither one is purely responsible for PTSD, in my opinion, and so neither can really fully heal it either. Of course, I believe God could heal PTSD, just as he can heal cancer and brain injuries and everything else, but the fact is that he usually doesn’t completely take it away.

    A-men. Thank you and say it louder for the people in the back, please! (And I feel like this may apply to some other things besides PTSD as well.)

    Having said that, I firmly believe that we can change. I do my best to give my characters realistic reactions to war and abuse, in some cases giving them PTSD and anxiety when it seems to fit the character. And obviously, a lot of you guys feel the same way and are trying to do the same. Anyway…does this make sense? Am I just rambling?

    That was such a positive note to end on! Thank you. 😍 Yes, you made sense and no, you weren’t rambling. 😀

    @jenwriter17 Thanks, Jenna! I may just have to check them out.

    @evelyn

    I can’t say I have read many books that portrayed mental illnesses and in a way I’m scared to even know what Christian novels have to say about it. When my family was going through a rocky time because of a sudden and extreme case of mental illness it was really painful when old friends would come and pull us aside and tell us what is happening is happening because of my parent’s lack of faith and that we need to believe better for her to heal and so on and so forth.

    I am so sorry you had to go through that! That is horrible.

    Not to make any enemies, in fact if anyone around here knows me they’ll know I hate “Christian Fiction” because it is usually so sterilized and stiff and rubs me in all the wrong places (like for starters that chunk that ends the book on the conversation. Please. Just don’t.)

    Do you mean like all christian fiction or stereotypical “christian fiction”? Because I hardly ever read books that fit in the christian fiction category either but I’ve read some and not all of them are sterilized and end in conversions. (granted A LOT of them do…) I’d love to talk with you more about Christian fiction and what your thoughts on it are. 😀

    I’m really curious by what Sarah said too…maybe we both just heard her wrong…?

    The topic of depression as a mental illness I can not speak for. Its a real thing sometimes, but even then it confuses me and sometimes I wonder if there are people that use it as excuses in certain circumstances (just like people will use the excuse of introvert to opt out of mission/community/church work because “oh I’m an introvert.)

    I don’t know. I don’t really want to make any type of blanket statement when it comes to depression because I don’t really understand it. And I wouldn’t want to accuse someone as using as depression as an excuse, although their are probably people who have done that. I do know that depression can be caused by an imbalance in your brain and is very real. (At least, that’s what I’ve heard…don’t just take my word for it though. I could be wrong.)

    You have some great thoughts, Evelyn. Thank you so much for speaking up, even though you’ve gone through really hard stuff. ❤️

     

    "But how could you live and have no story to tell?" - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    #96942

    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    I am so sorry you had to go through that! That is horrible.

    Ah its fine, its all over now! 😀

    Do you mean like all christian fiction or stereotypical “christian fiction”? Because I hardly ever read books that fit in the christian fiction category either but I’ve read some and not all of them are sterilized and end in conversions. (granted A LOT of them do…) I’d love to talk with you more about Christian fiction and what your thoughts on it are.

    I was speaking of my experience in the field, but wait! *gasps* What books have you read?? Because yeah, in my experience Christian Fiction is well. Like I said earlier. 😛

    I don’t know. I don’t really want to make any type of blanket statement when it comes to depression because I don’t really understand it. And I wouldn’t want to accuse someone as using as depression as an excuse, although their are probably people who have done that. I do know that depression can be caused by an imbalance in your brain and is very real. (At least, that’s what I’ve heard…don’t just take my word for it though. I could be wrong.)

    I don’t mean to make blanket statements either! Every case is different. Yes… there are two different types of depression. There’s when say you’ve had a bad day or a bad week or watch a oppressive movie with a sad ending and feel “depressed” and then there is the kind of depression that has to do with the chemicals in your brain.

    What I meant is more when people find a sense of rightness or… what’s the word I’m looking for… a sense of comfort almost in pitying themselves and how terrible their life is or their drama being pessimistic and calling themselves depressed and in doing that blocking out people as not understanding or not being able to help… thinking that just because someone is optimistic they live in some fairyland world. At that point I have seen people wear it with pride and being super defensive about it. Does that make sense?

    Wow… I hope that doesn’t sound mean or insensitive.

    Let me try to rephrase.

    I’m not saying that you can’t feel lonely and sad even when there isn’t a imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Depression is a real thing, people. Though I’m sure I don’t have to say that. Everyone has experienced it. But there is a point that depression can turn into something one becomes proud of and I have seen rub into people’s faces as “Oh you wouldn’t understand. You’re life is perfect. My life is different. It’s a mess. Let me rant to you about it.”

    Ugh… again. I don’t want this to sound mean. *sighs* 😛

    Thanks for putting up with me and my thoughts @eden-anderson <3 <3

    #96952

    Veraza Winterknight
    @kari-karast

    @eden-anderson

    Thanks! I’m nearly over it already, which is good.

    Agreed!

    Okay. And no problem!

    *disappears in puff of smoke so as to no longer spam this thread*

    (ENFP) Even the word hopeless is not entirely devoid of hope.

    #96981

    Chelsea R.H.
    @seekjustice

    @evelyn

    Not to be picky, but, while I agree with you the fact that there are two types of depression, I wouldn’t say that one of them came from “having a bad day or week”. I went through about three-to-five months of very bad depression (I brushed up on my mental illness reading after this topic was started and I’ve realised that if I had gone to a professional I probably would have been diagnosed with depression. I was exhibiting all the symptoms for a prolonged period of time). That was caused by my dad dying, a pretty depressing event. I’m over that now (incidentally, thanks to God and my dog), but I think that’s the sort of depression you were talking about? Caused by circumstances rather than medical reasons and usually not permanent.

    Sorry, though, if I misunderstood you.

    Mahalo keia huiʻana

    #96984

    Chelsea R.H.
    @seekjustice

    @eden-anderson

    Yes, I am indeed. A few more months of study and I’ll be an “official” dog trainer. (and to be honest, I don’t really get enough time to do everything that I do. it causes a lot of stress, let me tell you :P)

    I could definitely tell you what I know, or at the very least pass on some resources for you. 🙂

    I’ve also been scouring the internet and I’ve found a variety of interesting articles on mental illness topics…

    This link has a brief explanation of seven common types of depression and links to further reading on each topic

    https://www.verywellmind.com/common-types-of-depression-1067313

    This one is mental illness from a Christian point of view. I especially like what’s said about the body and soul in this one

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/christian-reflections-on-mental-disorder/

    Here’s a link to a blog post by a lady who wrote themes of depression and suicide into her Christian novel. Its interesting even if I don’t necessarily agree with or like it all.

    http://internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.com/2016/07/writing-about-mental-illness-by.html

    This is another interesting one which is a compilation of experiences put together by the Guardian and it talks about a range of different responses by the evangelical church to those suffering from mental illnesses

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/dec/22/evangelical-christian-church-mental-illness

    And finally, here’s an article about why we need mental illness representations in general fiction (I like especially what she said about those without mental illnesses needing accurate representation, as it can be a learning tool)

    https://www.readitforward.com/essay/article/mental-health-in-fiction/

    Anyway, I hope those are useful to some of you!

    Mahalo keia huiʻana

    #96991

    Sarah Inkdragon
    @sarah-inkdragon

    @eden-anderson @evelyn

    Finally coming back to answer. XD

    Before I dig deep into what I mean, let me ask you a question.

    When a person, especially a non-Christian person, has a mental illness, who do they think about the most?

    I’ll let you think about that for a moment and move onto analyzing. So. When I say I believe that mental illnesses, in their “base” form are excuses, I mean that. But as I said above they’re a very subjective thing and not everyone experiences them the same way. And while I don’t think things like depression in themselves is a sin, I think the things that depression and other illnesses cause is a sin. Because things like this are so subjective, I can’t nail down a simple explanation, so please prepare for a rant.

    Going back to our first question, I can 99.9% guarantee you that someone who’s depressed thinks mostly about themselves, how the world/people affects them, and how their life is terrible and how many problems they have. I’ve been there. I know. I’ve been walking the wire of depression for years, and as the person I am I’m highly self-reflective. I’ve thought for hours over my own depression and if I could legitimately call it something that’s not a sin, or if thinking certain ways is or not. I scrutinized myself because I hold myself to a standard to stand by the truth no matter what, and allowing myself to fall to depression and self-pitying thoughts was allowing me to deceive myself. Anxiety, at least in the way I’ve experienced it, is very similar as it deals with constantly watching out for a threat to you.

    Now, before I go on, I’d just like to say that I don’t think that depression or anxiety, or PTSD, etc that is a hereditary thing or a medical issue exactly relates to this. But like I said, while depression itself may not be bad, the basis of the “depressed” mindset is an excuse for most people, and that can lead to bad things. So I guess you could rephrase what I said to read that the presence of depression/etc. is not necessarily bad, but the mindset we gain from that is bad, which leads to us doing bad things.

    We’re naturally self-centered and self-obsessed, really. I’m a manipulative person who constantly analyzes situations to fit my wants and needs. Other people use emotions to get what they want, etc. It’s just a fact of life that we’re selfish people, and nothing is going to change that no matter what we try to do. The only one that can change that is God. The mindset of depression tells us that our lives are terrible, and that we need help, and that we need a goal, or that we need to gain something to be happy. The mindset of anxiety tells us that we need to be constantly distrusting of our surroundings and other people, and God. They’re excuses for what we really need–God.

    And while I agree that mental illnesses can be caused by medical things, I think the only way to cause a deep-seated depression/etc. is to truly give into the mindset. But that’s just my opinion, so like I said, don’t take that as law.

    And please, don’t take what I’m saying as a discrediting of people who struggle with mental illnesses. That’s not what it’s meant to be at all, I know what it’s like to struggle with these things and I really, really don’t mean to discredit or make their problems seem like it’s all their fault. But this is something I firmly stand by and I don’t think I’ll be shaken unless there’s a very good argument otherwise.

    Veritas Nunquam Perit. (The truth never dies.)

    #97015

    Eden Anderson
    @eden-anderson

    @evelyn Well, it might be over, but it isn’t fine. It’s never fine when people do that.

    I was speaking of my experience in the field, but wait! *gasps* What books have you read?? Because yeah, in my experience Christian Fiction is well. Like I said earlier.

    Well, TBH as soon as I wrote that line about reading some Christian Fiction that was good, my brain went, “WAIT. What? You have?”

    Let me go stare at my bookshelf for awhile and see if I can actually find something. 😜

    Is Narnia considered “Christian”? Because those are awesome books, but I’m sure you have read them. Um…I think Wayne Thomas Batson is a christian author. I thought his The Door Within books were kind of preachy and stiff, but I did really like The Dark Sea Annuals, they were pretty cool and not nearly as bad as The Door Within. (don’t tell anybody I said that because I’m pretty sure there are people on here that really like The Door Within. 🙃)

    Okay, never mind. I don’t read Christian fiction…I know nothing. Sorry for misleading you into believing that I actually knew of some great christian books.

    *crawls under bed*

    Nope, it doesn’t sound mean or insensitive and I think I understand what your saying. Although I would agree with @seekjustice that there is more than two types of depression. (Not to gang up on you or anything…)

    Hey, you have good things to say! I’m happy to hear your thoughts! 😀

    @seekjustice

    Yes, I am indeed. A few more months of study and I’ll be an “official” dog trainer. (and to be honest, I don’t really get enough time to do everything that I do. it causes a lot of stress, let me tell you :P)

    That’s so cool! Go you. 😍 I’m sorry to hear that your stressed, though. That stinks. 😫

    I could definitely tell you what I know, or at the very least pass on some resources for you.

    I’ll be keeping this in mind. 😉

    Ohmygoodness, thank you!! This is amazing! I will definitely be looking into these articles! *hands you pizza* And a big hedgehug, too!!

    @sarah-inkdragon Okay, yeah, I understand where you are coming from. It makes sense, I just don’t know how much I agree with you. 🙃

    I agree that quite often depression and anxiety and things like that are directly tied to sin. It’s true that a lot of our problems are caused by us looking inward instead of upward, to God. I’d be  the first to admit that we humans are incredibly selfish, and if we truly lived the way God designed for us to, a lot of problems we have wouldn’t exist.

    But as for mental illnesses, I don’t know. Think of somebody whose been through something really traumatic, their body will go into protective mode, doing everything and anything it can to save itself. And out of that may come all sorts of things, PTSD, anxiety, depression…and I would say, in that case, these things are caused not by sin, but because our body is desperately trying to cope with something it was never designed to deal with in the first place.

    I think a lot of mental disorders are caused by some sort of trauma. Probably a lot of mental disorders start when people are little kids and they don’t have the mental or emotional capabilities to process what they went through. Think of a child who was sexually abused, their gonna bear scars from that for the rest of their lives, and yeah, even if they are trusting Jesus and doing their absolute best to heal and process, they still may have to struggle with mental illness for the rest of their lives. And in saying that I’m not trying to diminish God’s power or grace at all. In even the worst possible situations, God is not handicap. He can, and will, heal and restore.

    We live in a fallen world, and we’ll never fully conquer our sin until we reach heaven. We’ll rise from sin and fall back again, but by God’s grace, we are over comers.

    Hope this made some sense, I feel like I was really rambling and didn’t tie my thoughts together very well, but *shrugs* oh well.

    What are your thoughts, @evelyn on @sarah-inkdragon‘s response to our questioning? 🙂

     

    "But how could you live and have no story to tell?" - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    #97022

    Sarah Inkdragon
    @sarah-inkdragon

    @eden-anderson

    Haha, I wrote this late at night so I totally spaced out exterior causes for some reason. *facepalm*

    So yes, I agree with you that when a mental illness is caused by something exterior to the person themselves, I think it’s probably less of our human nature popping in and more of our fight or flight instincts kicking in(Or…. whatever you want to call it. That was just the easiest example that came to mind. XD). However, I’d argue that things like PTSD and trauma are different than depression this aspect because they deal mostly with legitimate, real fears that were caused by real events, which is where I’d also say they differ from anxiety which(don’t quote me on this, pure my opinion) in my experience, deals more with fear about possibilities rather than things that have already happened. And due to that, I think the PTSD and trauam/etc. are probably more on the survival aspect of mental illnesses, rather than on the “self” side like depression/etc.

    The problem with really nailing down causes for them, in my opinion, is because they’re so intertwined. I could have PTSD and get depression from having PTSD, or get anxiety. What matters though is if I develop a depressed mindset, or if I let my fear of what has happened to me overcome my trust in God. I’m not saying that people can’t struggle with mental illnesses, far from it. But what matters is whether we deal with the illness in a good way or a bad way. Trauma and the effects of said trauma come from things we often cannot control, and it’s perfectly normal if that effects us. We’re human, after all. But my point is is that while things like that can effect us, what matters is how we respond to those effects. Being traumatized over an event isn’t a mental illness–it’s a natural response. Letting yourself waste away from depression or abusing alcohol from that trauma, however, is a mental illness and a sin.

    I hope that makes sense. And like I said, this is purely my opinion, but it’s based off of my own thinking, my pastor’s opinion, and several friends of mine who also struggle from this stuff’s opinion.

    Veritas Nunquam Perit. (The truth never dies.)

    #97039

    EricaWordsmith
    @ericawordsmith

      @eden-anderson

      It has been way too long… And too much time passed between this post and my response…

      But that’s college…

      Yes I am!! I’m at a Christian college that is just wonderful, and I am studying music. 🙂

      Thank you, dear!! I am too full to eat it… donuts don’t make you feel very good… But I always love a good pizza…

      I would have something to say… but at this point, I don’t have the mental energy to think through it… Sorry… 🙁

      Tek an ohta! Tek an cala!

      #97072

      Taylor Clogston
      @taylorclogston

      Great stuff here, guys. Really interesting thread.

      Christians don’t like confronting mental illness. It’s a scary concept (and don’t get me started on frontal lobe damage…). We don’t really know how our spirits, minds, and the physicality of our brains are fully connected, and I think because of that, Christians tend to err on the side of personal responsibility when it comes to mental illness.

      The head pastor of my church said a few months ago that the progression of mental health science has made it a lot harder to evangelize to people, because what would have fifty years ago been considered a sin issue is today considered something that drugs, not God, can cure.

      Many Christians share this view, or one like it, that mental illness isn’t real and is purely a heart issue. For example, anxiety is seen as a failure to fully rely on God, and depression as wallowing in ungodly thoughts and laziness.

      I was recently diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I was put on medication which helps tremendously with the anxiety (which, in my case, expresses through physical fidgeting and restlessness, not through mental panic or fear) but not terribly much the depression. According to my Christian counselor, I am acting and living about as well as I should, and my issue is likely a combination of chronic stress and hereditary lower threshold for that stress.

      Many Christians would say I am suffering primarily from a heart condition. Apparently, one which “drugs” can in large part address.

      My response has two parts. Firstly, I think telling someone they’re sinning because depression gets in the away of church responsibility, etc. is like telling a person with a broken leg that they’re lazy because their injury gets in the way of going on a hike.

      But secondly, a person who has a broken leg has a responsibility to do their part and go to the doctor and get a cast and get appropriate rest (and then also to go to physical therapy or whatever afterward). Just as it might be impossible for a person with a broken leg to walk to the doctor (please bear with my extended metaphor), it can be difficult or practically impossible for a person suffering from depression to seek out that help on their own.

      At the end of the day, I wonder if Christian opposition to the idea of mental illness is more a matter of laziness (just throw a “God heals everything” sticker on it) or of an attachment to free will (God wouldn’t let us lose control of our love for what is good).

      "For some reason Nobuo had thought of novelists as pompous and degenerate." -Shiokari Pass

      #97075

      Evelyn
      @evelyn

      @seekjustice

      Caused by circumstances rather than medical reasons and usually not permanent.

      Yes, that is what I meant. Though you are so much better at wording it than I am. 😛

      Thanks for clarifying!

      @eden-anderson Haha, I’ve done that before. XD

      I haven’t read The Door Within books so I wouldn’t know… (I’ll make sure not to tell anyone, don’t worry. 😉 )

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