Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mental Illness

Anorexia and bulimia are two mental illnesses associated with body image. In my case the disease was obsessive-compulsive disorder. A person with OCD cannot stop thinking about something or performing some action. Sometimes my thoughts were about body image, and sometimes they were about other issues.

Normal thought involves the movement of chemicals between brain neurons. In OCD, the movement  is interrupted, so the person thinks the same thoughts again and again. When my OCD was uncontrolled, I would analyze a question for an hour, stuck in a mental loop. When it struck me that this was illogical, another part of my brain said, "But I should be analyzing this. It's the moral thing to do." So it was not as simple as telling myself to move on.

Everyone analyzes things. Many people are concerned about their weight. But mental illness -- whether OCD, an eating disorder, or another illness like schizophrenia --  takes a normal way of thinking and turns up the volume, so to speak, far past a healthy level.

Mental illnesses are physical diseases. We should treat victims the same way we treat other ill people. We would never say to a cancer patient, "Just control your thinking and you'll get well." Or worse, "If you trusted God, you wouldn't be sick."

When my OCD was at its worst, it was like being wrapped in chains, trapped inside the prison of my own thoughts. God used the care of my family and the expertise of a psychiatrist to free me. We should follow Jesus and extend compassion to victims of mental illness. Then, as Matthew 25 records, one day Jesus will say, "I was sick and in prison, and you visited me."


  1. Thank you for writing this. For many years I would not take medication for my depression because I felt that if I just trusted God to heal me, He would. A very wise friend told me that maybe God put my wonderful doctor in my life to use his medicine to help the healing. I started praying for guidance instead of healing and finally felt at peace with going on medication. God used my doctors and my friends/family too.

  2. You are so brave. Thank you for being open and genuine and especially for this blog!