What It’s Like To Be a Christian With Schizophrenia
The Church has made great advancements in the way we talk about mental illness and education, especially towards conditions like anxiety and depression which affect a significant portion of the population. But, there are still conditions which make many Christians uncomfortable. Widespread misunderstanding and even fear have made schizophrenia one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses in the world, and a simple Google search shows just how badly Christians understand the illness.
According to the May Clinic, schizophrenia is a group of severe brain disorders which cause people to perceive reality abnormally. It can cause hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking or behavior. People with schizophrenia may initially be able to care for themselves and function normally, but it often deteriorates as the condition progresses. It is a chronic condition, needing lifelong treatment. However, schizophrenia isn’t split personality or multiple personality disorder.
There is significant clinical data establishing schizophrenia as a real biological condition that has no cure but can be managed throughout a patient’s life. However, if you look up “Christian Schizophrenia” the results largely consist of articles about demonic possession. Without debating the believers who do or do not believe in demonic possession, it is a disservice to label innocent but ill people who need help and support as under the control of Satan or his minions.
A few years ago, in 2011, Christianity Today ran a testimony by David Weiss called “God of the Schizophrenic: Rediscovering My Faith Amid the Ravages of Mental Illness” which shows what it is really like for a Christian to be diagnosed with the disorder. He has gone through medication, counseling, electroconvulsive therapy, and none have truly helped.
Weiss wasn’t possessed, though his life has been damaged by a condition that is out of his control. But David was able to find solace in his Bible and his belief in God. His relationship with God may not have been a cure, but it was a much needed hand to help him through the trials and tribulations that only a few can truly understand.