A warm welcome to everyone who has taken the time to read my recent posts about living with a mental illness. More specifically, I have talked about being a member of the Church and living with a mental illness. This is part three of a series of posts that I am writing on this sensitive subject to help educate people, especially church members and their leaders, about the realities of mental illnesses. If you have not read the first two parts of this series, you can do so by going to part 1 and part 2. I hope that you find what I have to say to be enlightening.
Mental Illness Does Not Equate to Demon Possession
In the Bible, in the New Testament, in Mark’s gospel account is recorded the story of a man with an unclean spirit who lived in the country of the Gadarenes. In Mark 5:9 we read, “And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.” This man had many “personalities” living inside of him. Those “personalities” were actually demons that were living inside of him.
I can personally relate to Legion only by virtue of the fact that I live with 30 or more personalities. However, the major difference is that I have a mental illness known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), but my mental illness is not caused by demon possession. Albeit there are people like Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer whose mental disorders could very well be attributed to demon possession, people who suffer from mental illnesses are not necessarily possessed by demons.
I have been told by pastors and others who are not educated as far as what mental illnesses are that I am demon possessed. Sadly, there are many well-intentioned pastors who become so entrenched in doctrine that they squander the opportunity to learn about things that are important to know to help those in need. Many good hearten people live inside of a proverbial box, and have tunnel vision which doesn’t allow them to see that there are people all around them who are crying for their help. I am blessed that I am able to think differently than the average person.
Mental Illnesses are Often Misunderstood
I did not make a choice to have Dissociative Identity Disorder, but I have learned how to survive having it. To those who are reading this, I want you to know that it is extremely difficult for me to live with my mental illness from day-to-day, and constantly switching between personalities is exhausting to say the least. To be in the Church surrounded by people who really don’t understand what I am going through, and have no idea about what to say or do, is also very frustrating. Mental illness are not cured simply by members or church leaders quoting passages of scriptures. It goes deeper than that.
The Church teaches us that service to others is important, and so I hope that I am being of service to others in educating them about mental illnesses. Oftentimes it seems that those who suffer from mental illnesses get pushed aside or overlooked. It is unfortunate, but true. In order to be a true servant of God we must have a want to educate ourselves and bring ourselves up to speed on certain subjects to be of better service to others. And in serving others, we must be in tune to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and be willing to act upon those promptings.
As a member of the Church who has a mental illness, I am very often misunderstood. However, I do not rely on the arm of flesh for my spiritual growth and progression, but rather “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Psalms 121:1,2). For, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalms 23:1-3). Therefore, I choose to remain faithful and immoveable. My question is, “How about you?”
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.