The Realities of Living with a Mental Illness

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Contemplating Life

Hello everyone! This is the second part of a series of articles that I will be writing about the sensitive subject of living with the realities of having a mental illness. As I mentioned in part one of this series, there are many diverse types of mental illnesses which include bi polar, schizophrenia, clinical depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder), and autism. It is my hope and prayer that the information that I will be sharing will help educate church members and their leaders (regardless of faith, denomination, or affiliation) about how they can recognize a person with a mental illness, and some of the things that they can do to help that person cope with his or her struggle.

Life is a Reality, Not an Illusion

Man on dock contemplating balance

I am a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was baptized almost four years ago, on 26 March 2011. When I first met the missionaries and began taking the gospel discussions, I was living in a group home and dealing with many personal issues. I somehow had the preconceived idea that if I got baptized and became a member of the Church, I would be really spiritual, and all the issues that I was dealing with at the time would simply disappear.

I was under the delusion that once a person gets baptized all of his or her pre-existing problems  and conditions (including mental illness) no longer exist. After all, the scriptures clearly teach us, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). To a certain extent my life has been changed for the better, but the reality is that I still struggle with the same mental illness that I began dealing with at 5 years of age known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). I live my life dealing with 30 or more different personalities which is a major challenge, but one of the major things having been baptized has taught me is that life is REAL, not an illusion. After many years, I am finally able to come to terms with the pointed question posed by Justin Alcala, a remarkable author, poet and freelance writer, “Which is the true nightmare, the horrific dream that you have in your sleep or the dissatisfied reality that awaits you when you awake?”

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Jesus Christ - The Good Shepherd

I believe that there are many sincere Christian people who live under the same delusion that I once did. They live the elusive dream of a life that will be paved with smooth roads to travel and a plethora of sweet-smelling roses to line the pathways now that they have been saved or baptized.

I am not insinuating that life is all doom and gloom. It definitely is not. I understand the power of the Atonement and all that Christ did for us at Calvary. I further understand that because of His infinite Atonement, if we are faithful, obedient, and endure to the end, one day we will return to our Heavenly Father and indeed all things will be made new. For now, while here in mortality, some of us have physical challenges and abnormalities which we must learn to cope with. However, we need not be alone in our struggles. The Savior beckons to us:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

What I am trying to get people to understand is that struggles in life – such as mental illnesses – are real and can even affect the life of even the most faithful Christian. Accepting Christ and being baptized is not a cure-all, but it does help to make the journey through life easier to endure. I know this to be true as I came from a life of sexual abuse and hard-core drug addiction. I still struggle with nightmares of the daily sexual abuse at a young age by my father who is a Baptist minister. As for the drug addiction, I have been clean and sober since 25 October 2007.

I used to put my faith in a powdered substance, but now I put my faith and trust in the Lord. I have a strong testimony that I know it was the Lord who delivered me from drug addiction and the deviant lifestyle that accompanied it. I realize that in this life I may never be delivered from my mental illness, but if I am faithful, the Lord will make a way for me to cope with it. Like the Apostle Paul, the Lord has promised me that His grace is enough.

Hebrews 11:1 reminds me, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I am living my life walking by faith and doing the best that I can to be faithful and immovable. It is a very painful and devastating process, but I have faith that the Lord will give me the necessary strength and endurance to run the race of life to the end. I may feel like an outcast at times, but I am often reminded that during His earthly ministry, the Savior’s focus was on those who were sick and in need of a physician (the outcasts), not those who were whole. Although, that is not to say that He does not care for each of us as individuals, for He does. ” Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).

Karlyn Kay Stebbins
August 19,2014
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.

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