Flip Wilson coined the phrase, “the devil made me do it”. With mental illness this isn’t far from the truth. The only way to explain this is for you to envision a time when you started out doing something normal and easy. Quickly it becomes harder, yet you must continue. You feel the exhaustion setting in. Anxiety starts to overwhelm you. You are trapped. You become so frustrated that you loose control of your emotions, of your reasoning and logic. You’ll do anything to escape but you can’t. You are powerless to control it. You do the very things you don’t want to do to ease the discomfort. Then BAM it ends, leaving you and others to clean up the mess. The guilt and shame start to creep in. Soon you are thrown into a deep dark pit of despair.
Isn’t this what Paul was talking about in Romans 7:15-20?
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not what to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
Here is a great man whom God chose to teach others about Jesus, and he struggled with this problem over and over. I’m not saying he was mentally ill. Being mentally ill just compounds this dilemma. How was he able to continue knowing that this struggle would continue? That he would be faced with shame and unwanted circumstances?
In an article written by Pastor Pat Buckley (christianhelpfordepression.org), he says:
“Shame is the inner experience of being “not wanted.” It is feeling worthless, rejected, cast-out. Shame is believing that one is bad. Shame is believing that one is not loved because one is not lovable. Shame always carries with it the sense that there is nothing one can do to purge its burdensome and toxic presence. (Believing that) shame cannot be remedied, it must be somehow endured, absorbed, gilded, minimized or denied. Shame is so painful, so debilitating that persons develop a thousand coping strategies, conscious and unconscious, numbing and destructive, to avoid its tortures. Shame is about embarrassment, humiliation, feeling of low value and above all, powerless to get rid of the shame.”
In another great article by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. (psychcentral.com), therapist Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT states:
“Mental illness affects everything from your thoughts to your behavior to your relationships. It may sap your energy, mood and sleep. It may distort your beliefs about yourself and sink your self-esteem. It may feel like your days are regularly filled with a series of obstacles. Navigating life with a mental illness is tough enough. But many people also feel an overwhelming sense of shame.”
“People feel shame about not being what they perceive as “normal.” They may feel like they’re “broken” or “damaged” or “they’ll always be this way,” They judge themselves. They compare their internal lives to others’ external lives, which they view as successful.”
“Shame relentlessly repeats a very convincing story about how a person is not acceptable as-is; that in order to belong and to be lovable, they have to be other than how [and] who they are.”
“Shame prevents people from honestly and compassionately acknowledging their difficult situation. This makes it harder to effectively respond to your moods and patterns and realize that you do have choices.”
“Shame also can serve as a form of protection, a gatekeeper that keeps many people from dealing with painful feelings. As long as they stay locked up in shame, they can avoid facing what may feel even more deeply threatening to their sense of self and identity.”
“Shame can be painful and overwhelming. Being self-compassionate is a powerful way to explore your shame and overcome it.”
Paul goes on to say, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” …” Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” “…in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loves us.”
God forgives, we need to forgive ourselves. Holding on to shame only holds us back. Forgiveness cleanses us and sets us free. Believe in God’s promises and set yourself free! Believe in His love for you regardless of your illness. Love yourself. Surround yourself with others who will show you compassion and love. AND BELIEVE!
GO AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!