I want to thank everyone who will take the time to read my comments about a subject that appears to be “taboo” in many religious circles, in particular in churches. The subject that I will be discussing is mental illness – its cause and how it affects not only the person with the mental illness, but their families as well.
It is important to note that there are many diverse types of mental illnesses – bi polar, schizophrenia, clinical depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, and autism to name but a few. The DSM 5 Diagnosis book has a more exhaustive list. I suffer from the mental illness known as Dissociative Identity Disorder. In addition, some of the personalities which are exhibited fall under the class of Borderline Personality Disorder, which makes my struggle even more difficult and challenging.
I am a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was baptized almost four years ago, and at that time I was living in a group home. Since then, I have managed to have a place of my own and have done the best that I can. I was originally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, but a most recent diagnosis reveals that I am capable of having 30 different personalities. Constantly switching between the many different personalities causes me to have severe migraine headaches, and at times, I even black out.
The Cause and Affects of Dissociative Identity Disorder on My Life
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is caused from being extremely abused. My father, who is a Baptist minister, sexually abused me at a young age. I could go into details, but I choose not to do so. Suffice it to say that when a victim is sexually abused, the after effects last a lifetime.
I find that it is even extremely hard for me to attend Church on a regular basis because my alter personalities do not want me to go. When I do attend Church, I am still not able to bring myself to attend Relief Society. The only meeting that seems to keep me calm is Sunday school. Perhaps part of the reason that I feel so uncomfortable is because of the innate fear of rejection by others who would not even try to understand my story or mental condition. I perceive that they would view me as being totally different or even as an outcast.
Now is the Time to Address This Important Issue
We talk of physical illnesses all the time and many members ask for and receive Priesthood blessings for their ailments, but the subject of mental illnesses seems to be dismissed. I believe that now is the time to discuss this sensitive subject as there are no doubt many other members of the Church who suffer from some sort of mental illness and feel trapped and alone, as there seems to be no one that they can turn to. As a result, they go through the motions, just as I have done, of pretending to be alright, when in reality, they are not alright.
Those of us who suffer from mental illnesses need to be understood and not feel as though we are somehow isolated from the mainstream membership population. Our healing is just as important as anyone who has a physical illness. therefore, the subject of mental illness needs to be discussed more openly in the Church with the understanding that being physically and mentally fit is a large part of being spiritually fit. It also needs to be understood that a mental illness not only directly affects the victim, but the victim’s family and loved ones as well.
I can’t help but wonder how many members hide their mental illness and secretly take medications for depression and such, or visit a Psychiatrist or Therapist on a regular basis. I want to let these precious individuals know that they are not alone under any circumstance.
The prophet Jeremiah asked the pointed question, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8:22). Our illness may make us to appear to be different to others, but I know that through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a balm is Gilead to make the wounded whole.
Karlyn Kay Stebbins
Founder of The Conqueror Foundation
Karlyn Kay Stebbins’ Biography:
Karlyn Kay Stebbins is a guest writer for Morsels Of Bread. She is an addictions counselor and works in a drug rehabilitation center. She has a double major in Sociology and Psychology, and a minor in Communications. She is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been baptized on 26 March 2011. Her hobbies are reading and writing. She also enjoys spending time with her son and his friends. She is also the Founder of The Conqueror Foundation and has a blog called “Reflection Pays” where she shares her insights.