Question:

Hello brother,

I have written you on other occasions about dilemmas that I was facing. At that point, I was very new to discipleship.I had questions about a lot of things. I may have been overbearing on myself but I didn't understand God's expectations. I still don't on many subjects, but I do know that I'm not supposed to know everything and I never will. Paul says to live up to what you've obtained and even what you don't know God will make clear to you. I'm working on that so not to place such a heavy burden on myself that I end up slumped into depression. Which honestly the one thing that depresses me the most is knowing that I'm doing something that isn't pleasing God.

The trump in this situation is I have the condition known as schizophrenia. Sometimes I'm just over thinking things and placing Pharisee like tasks on myself. I'd even think to myself: could I say to someone else in good conscience that God would require that of them and I can't say yes. When it comes to me, Itell myselfwhateveryou do is going to be wrong, and I feel hopeless and depressed. When I try hard my mind always tells me you're not trying your hardest, or no matter what you do you're going to fail.Even when I achieve a goal I say tomyself you could've done better. Or you're not giving God your all and I'm depressed again trying to figure out what to do that will please him.

I believe it reflects off on my brothers and sisters sometimes. I'm too busy thinking is this or that pleasing God that I'm not showing them any love or attention.

And even deeper than that one of my strongest convictions is that it's my fault I'm schizophrenic. I drank alcohol for all my life, literally. My father started giving me beer and stronger drinks before I was walking very well. I was introduced to marijuana in middle school. I didn't began heavily using marijuana until I graduated from high school. I haven't smoked marijuana in about 6 years now. I haven't drank alcohol inover twoyears. I also know that even though I was influenced young that I have a conscience and knew that my living was indecent. I was also thinking at times that it was OK to live that way, but, as I said, down in side I had and still have a conscience.

To give you some background I received the good news two years ago. I changed my mind and was immersed immediately. I've been being discipled ever since. I haven't experienced this type of love in any way shape or form in my life. I come from a strong religious and loving family, though I'm not sure of most of my family's doctrinal beliefs. I grew up in that religiousenvironment and thought thatI was OK because of that.

I'm in college now and was converted through a campus ministry.The group that I assemble with has its situations, but there is no race or ethnic boundary. Cultural bounds are being broken. I attend a historically black college but the group I assemble with was once a predominantly white congregation. There are international bounds being broken. We have brothers of Hispanic descent and all different backgrounds. From conservative to those in rehabilitation to those from broken homes to those who grew up in poor and deprived neighborhoods and also those who have been blessed with an abundance. They didn't know me from anyone in the world but have taken me, a stranger but now a brother, into their hearts. If I have a need they do what they can to help me without pacifying me and allowing me to disobey God in not working and taking care of my responsibilities. This is a testament to who Jesus Christ is and what he is capable of if we allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us.

After typing that out and reading I feel like the most loved individual on the planet and I am shame to even continue writing about my problems. Everyone has problems but not everyone has Jesus Christ and his body of loving believers to back them. My situation is that though I have schizophrenia. God has made provisions to where I can cope with it to where people can't even tell.

I don't even know how this relates to the situation but please bear with me. I was classified as gifted about the age of 7. I took the IQ test and it was above normal. I fell off into a lifestyle that didn't glorify God nor did it reflect the level of proposed intelligence that he had given. I flunked out of college and I didn't seek God but my own desires. Now I'm back in college. I have a A.S. degree under my belt. I'm doing research in something related to my field and I work as a tutor for two departments on my campus. My GPA is well above what's needed.

I've been learning how to evangelize and teach, not just trained but I've been given opportunities to do it. (Honestly the more I write and the more I hear my thought aloud the more ashamed I feel.) I have the opportunity to be a leader in our campus ministry and on my campus. I started writing this to complain about how my brothers and sisters don't understand that I'm dealing with schizophrenia and though I can cope, it's still tough. I still have the symptoms though I'm able to function and now without medication, but these are blessings and I'm looking at them as burdens. The more I write the more foolish I see that my pretense was. Even if they don't understand, they do love me. God didn't heal me so that I can go out and glorify myself but it's for him. I should be happy that he's putting me in a position to where, even though my brothers and sisters don't understand, I can serve them by getting stronger so that they don't have to be burdened with it. In my head it wouldn't hurt them to know I'm struggling, and they'd think I'm making excuses, but If I'm having those problems and I can bear them: I should be happy that God has made it where I don't have to burden my brothers with knowing that I'm struggling so much.

Honestly, just writing this made me feel ten times better. If you have some wise counsel for me please reply. If you don't mind, can I continue writing as a means of therapy and release -- not all the time but when I get overwhelmed? Please forgive me if I'm wrong, but I don't readily trust our mental health system in being that they trust heavy sedation methods through medicine to treat problems that could be otherwise handled.

Thanks for being an open heart. Jesus Christ is Lord. I pray he blesses with the desires of your heart.


Answer:

I have two friends during my life who struggle with schizophrenia. One is so embarrassed by his condition that he left simply because people found out about it and he didn't want anyone to know. I consider that a shame because it doesn't make a difference to me or the others here. It is just a part of who he is. Knowing what he is dealing with just helped us understand the odd behaviors he had once in a while.

Schizophrenia is a disorder that can make the sufferer have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary. They have a hard time thinking clearly. Their emotional response might not be appropriate for a situation and can have a hard time relating to people in a social setting. The strength of the symptoms comes and goes, usually gradually. This causes one of the difficulties with the disorder. The person will become convinced that he is getting better, stop all medication, and do fine for a while. But eventually he starts to slip back. With one friend, by the time people realized it was getting bad again, he would refuse to take his medication because he was convinced it was a poison. Eventually he would get so bad that he would be committed and the needed medication was forced into him and then he would recover and the cycle would start over again. Fortunately, not every schizophrenic is that bad off.

It is good that you've stopped using drugs and alcohol. These are known to make schizophrenia worse. It is possible that you were born prone to the problem and your early exposure to drugs and alcohol triggered the problem or made it worse sooner. But what you have is what you must deal with. Wondering if your past was different isn't a productive use of your time.

I know you would rather keep the problem to yourself, but for everyone's sake -- including your own -- it is much better for the people around you to know what you are dealing with. First, it will keep people from asking things from you beyond what you are able to handle. Second, you need people around you aware of the early warning signs that the disorder is starting to get worse again so that you can get treatment before it gets bad. Since it happens to you gradually, you won't always notice until it gets extreme. Probably most important is that you need one or two people who you can trust. If they tell you that your are getting bad, you have to have full trust to follow their instruction. You might even need to have a standing order that they can put you in treatment. I know that sounds bad, but when you have a disorder that warps your view of reality, you need some stable anchors in your life.

Another thing I would like you to do is start getting periodic check ups. I know you don't like the medication and it is hard to trust the psychologists, but your particular disorder is one should be treated when it flares up. Having someone keeping a periodic track of your mental "pulse" will also help you stay stable. Think of it as being no different than someone who battles cancer. They know flare-ups are possible, so they get regular check-ups even though they hate the thoughts of having to have treatments if something is found.

Having a check-up soon would be a good idea anyway. Feelings of being overwhelmed is one of the early warning signs of a flare-up. It might be nothing, but it is better to have someone check.

I'm really glad you are doing so well and that you are able to reach out to others. Do what you can with the time you have. Yes, there are going to be times when you doubt yourself. There are going to be times when your disorder is going to put you out of commission for a while. Just be ready to work around it and make the most of your good times.

You are always welcome to write. You are right, writing out your blessings can change your outlook.