Biblical Counseling, Crazy Things Church Leaders Say & Do, Julie Anne's Personal Stories, Mental Health and the Church, Personal Stories, Spiritual Abuse, Suicide

My Personal Mental Health Story: When Christians Say Potentially Harmful Words to Someone in a Mental Health Crisis


 Mental Health, prayer, Bible, professional counseling, harmful advice


A friend found this quote and was very disturbed by it. When I saw it, I was equally disturbed…no, make that horrified, because it brought me back to a very difficult time in my life when it was said to me by well-meaning Christians:


mental illness


The reason I was horrified is that I was told this when I was in the midst of a mental health crisis. Let me tell you my personal story.

In 1990, I had a 4-month old infant and a 3-1/2-yr old daughter. I was away from my husband and living with my parents because he was in the military and was sent to Persian Gulf working in Operation Desert Shield (right before Operation Desert Storm). You see, within a 6-wk period of time, the following events occurred:

  • We were stationed in the Philippines and there was a major earthquake nearby (reports vary on the magnitude, 7.7 to 7.9).
  • My daughter, Hannah, fell off a 25-ft cliff, landing on concrete at the beach at Wallace Air Station, a remote base we were visiting, attempting to recuperate after the trauma of experiencing a major earthquake (we experienced a 6.0 aftershock while we were there). Daughter was miraculously fine.
Wallace Air Station, Depression, PTSD, earthquake, spiritual abuse,
You can see the cliff in this picture. The other side of the cliff is where my daughter and I were when she fell. On the other side of the cliff/point is a retaining wall with steep stairs. She fell after getting to the top of the first flight and slipping, about 25 feet, straight drop onto concrete. You can see the date stamp on the photo. The earthquake was on July 16, 1990.


Here are a couple of pictures I took on our way to Wallace Air Station to stay at the Voice of America R&R facility. We passed through Dagupan, close to the epicenter which saw extensive destruction. Some buildings sank into the ground by one meter.


Notice how the bottom floor has sunk. People were still living in the upper levels of these lopsided buildings, nearly 2 months later.

I believe this was in the city of Dagupan.


Aside from the earthquake event, there were also these stressors:

  • On base, local Filipinos tried to break into my home when I was alone with our children. I saw their eyes peering into my bedroom as I was nursing my baby in the middle of the night (thankfully, they were apprehended).
  • There were bomb threats on base. We were often forced to take detours. Sometimes I just wanted to get a gallon of milk or cash a check and these detours were annoying. And yes, sometimes they found bombs.
  • We lived in a constant level of threat conditions due to New People’s Army Communist Rebels (we did get hazard duty pay, however). Based on the threat condition, either we were confined to base, had curfews, and/or had strict traveling restrictions.

Yea, it was a little stressful.

The ground continued to move for months after the earthquake. Aftershocks were sometimes 6.0 or above…..yes, aftershocks. When your world is shaking around you, you have a sense of being out of control. That describes my response and the response of many who were living under these conditions at that time. So, I left the Philippines with my two children for a temporary break, to get on solid ground that wasn’t moving.

What is wrong with me?

I went “home” to my parents’ and told my close Christian friends about my emotional state. People told me to pray . . . to read my Bible more . . that perfect love casts out fear. There was a lot of spiritual advice given by those who meant to help, but actually made things worse. When I prayed and read my Bible more, nothing changed. I continued to feel the ground moving and have flashbacks even though I was now on sturdy ground with my parents in Oregon.

I sought help from Biblical counselors who talked to me about my sin. I searched my heart for any unconfessed sin and repented. The earthquakes continued. What was WRONG with me?

I did everything they told me, but the symptoms would not go away. Why was God not hearing my prayers? Did He not care for me? If He loved me, why wasn’t He protecting me from the nonstop tormenting that was in my mind?

I stayed very busy. I jammed praise music loudly all day. I focused on my children and prayer and recited verses to myself to keep my focus heavenward.

As I drove to every church meeting I could attend, I had to cross bridges. Many of the approaches to the bridges were wiped out during the earthquake in the Philippines, so now it was now very difficult to cross any bridge. I kept seeing the Philippine bridges in my mind. I pushed the accelerator to get across the bridge faster as my heart raced.

I also had to go through a tunnel to get to my familiar church. It was very difficult to go through the tunnel without panicking and thinking that the mountain might cave on me – just like I had seen the mountain and buildings destroyed in my favorite R&R in the Philippines, Baguio/Camp John Hay. (Click on this link to see the destruction. After the earthquake, I was glued to the local Philippine TV as they covered stories, deaths, rescues. Why was I alive when so many died? Survivors guilt!)

If I went to any store or building (now in the States), I scouted out all of the emergency exits first thing. I was going to be the one prepared and would get out alive by having this information.

Where was God in all of this?

My life was in survival mode and I expended much energy surviving imaginary earthquakes. As hard as I tried, I was unable to stop the direction of my thinking patterns. I truly believe that the only thing that kept me alive was recounting Hannah’s story of falling off the 25-ft cliff. I was there when she fell and knew that she was either going to be completely paralyzed or with major injuries, or she would be dead. There was no other option in my mind, knowing that she had landed on concrete and it was a straight drop. When all other advice failed, Hannah’s story was the hope I clung to – – that if God could save her, He could save me.

One night at dinner with my parents, I felt an earthquake and asked my Mom if she felt it.  She didn’t. I told her to look at the chandelier moving. She said it wasn’t moving. That’s when she said that I needed to get help – professional help.

You see, I was going on a downward spiral. I was very sleep deprived having a child who was missing her daddy and wetting her bed each night. She cried herself to sleep and wet the bed every night. I had to take care of her, plus be awakened the four times my infant was nursing each night. My parents both worked, so no one could help me get extra sleep that I desperately needed. I was physically, emotionally, spiritually exhausted.

I found a Christian psychologist to go to and went reluctantly because I thought that I should have been able to get my problems solved by prayer and Bible reading.  Wasn’t my God big enough?

When I first went, I started sharing my earthquake experience. But David started asking me questions about my childhood. I got angry at him for asking those questions. What did my childhood have to do with the earthquake?  Eventually, he realized that this redhead had a story to tell about the earthquake and since I was paying for his services, he ought to listen to me.

He listened. And listened. And when I could speak no more about the earthquake, he asked again, “so what about the earthquake was like your childhood.”  Very reluctantly, I spent time discussing my childhood.

I was in a situation in which I could not control.

Eventually, it hit me . . . and hit me hard. When I was in the earthquake, I was in a situation in which I could not control. When I was a child, from the time I was 3 until I was 19, I also lived in a home where I had no control.

In my childhood, I was living with a rage-aholic – a man who raged in anger with little-to-no provocation. Just a simple look on my face, or a chore not done could send him off into a rage. Through the years, I’ve met other professional counselors and all of them have told me that his behavior was just like that of an alcoholic, but minus the alcohol.

What the earthquake did was mimic that out-of-control feeling I had. When the ground was shaking back and forth, it mimicked my dad grabbing me by my shoulders and banging me against the wall, sometimes with my head hitting the cupboard handles and ending up with knots on my head. That shaking . . oh, that shaking . . .it was horrifying. Being smacked and kicked, tossed and shaken about as a child is something I could not stop – just like I could not stop the ground from moving in the Philippines after the earthquake.

You see, this psychologist showed me how to connect with the feelings of abandonment, the anger and pain of knowing a parent had violated my body and my personhood that I had long buried. I had forgiven my dad, I had moved on, but there was obviously, I had unfinished business.

This man heard my cries, the cries that so many adults had dismissed and ignored when I shared my story with them as a child. When my dad beat me, I refused to let him see me cry. Only when he was done would I go into the corner of my room, curl myself into a ball and cry . . . by myself.  No one heard my cries. But David did . . now, some 10-20 years later.

He validated the abuse and called it by name, telling me I was not crazy. He walked in the trenches with me as I relived that horrible abuse. I fought going back to those memories, but facing it was what I needed to do to recover. It was very difficult work and left me physically and emotionally exhausted.

Set Free

The counseling that I received occurred nearly 25 years ago. I was in counseling for probably 2 years or so. During that time, I thought that scoping out exit signs, speeding across bridges, feeling the ground moving would be my new normal for the rest of my life.  When the earthquake anniversary date came around for 2 years, I had setbacks. On the 3rd anniversary, I missed it entirely. I didn’t even think about the earthquake. I finally knew I was no longer held captive by the war within my brain. I was free and still am free, even when I hear of major earthquakes now. This is amazing, considering what I had gone through.

Pat answers don’t always work

But the quote about prayer being the answer to mental illness is not always true. Of course prayer helps, but it is not always the quick cure, and to portray it as such could be deadly for those who are in a crisis. This quote could be a death sentence for some who fear that even God has abandoned them since they can’t see/feel His healing. The logical progression is:  life is not worth living if even God has abandoned me and hasn’t helped me.

We must be careful with our words about mental illness and giving pat answers. Lives are at stake.  I thank God for mental health professionals who have the skills and tools to bring truth and hope into a hurting individual’s life. I am probably alive because of David, my therapist. Thank you, God, for using David in my life when I was at the end of my rope and about to let go.


86 thoughts on “My Personal Mental Health Story: When Christians Say Potentially Harmful Words to Someone in a Mental Health Crisis”

  1. JA, I’ll never forget that day in Dallas when the floor shook, since hundreds of girls were jumping to smack volleyballs all around us. I looked at you and my husband and asked if y’all felt the floor shake. You looked at me wide eyed and thanked me for confirming that the floor had, in fact, shaken. You told me you’d been in an earthquake. I never realized before now how badly it had affected you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That’s very interesting, BTDT. I forgot all about that. I still haven’t lost that sensitivity to the ground moving, but I don’t immediately think earthquake anymore. It’s so good to be free.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The idea of praying away PTSD is like telling someone to pray away a compound fracture. God can work miracles in both instances, but they are both medical conditions that would also benefit greatly from a skilled health professional.

    Liked by 7 people

  4. Thank you for sharing this very personal story with us Julie Anne. You went through so much in such a short amount of time, and no one should have expected that you would be able to simply pray it away.

    On a similar note, I found this interesting article about how denial makes chronic pain and illness worse. The same could be said about PTSD – denying there is a problem only makes it worse. This point at the end was well said, “I’m still learning from that painful day that it’s better to live within the limits of what I can reasonably do than to pretend things are as I wish they would be.”

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I would like to come back and read the whole original blog again in the next few days and then maybe leave more comments, if I have any.

    As it is, I didn’t get enough sleep last night and am too drowsy to concentrate on super long text.

    What I will say in passing is I used to have depression. I was diagnosed with it in childhood by a psychiatrist, and I saw different psychiatrists over the years in part because we had to move a lot. I think most of the depression is banished, but I still have anxiety.

    Most Christians I’ve met in person, or whose books I’ve read, do not understand mental health problems, whether it’s depression or something else.

    A lot of them will tell you to pray it away, trust Jesus, read your Bible, etc, and none of that stuff worked for me.
    I used to lurk in forums for Christians who had problems (including depression and other stuff), and many of them gave similar testimonies, which went something like this: Christian family, preachers, and friends who would give them well-meaning but ineffective advice – such as, “just pray more” etc.

    Pause. I also have to say it doesn’t matter the topic, really.

    Whether we are talking about depression, PTSD, or what have you, most Christians will shame and blame you for hurting at all, whether you have PTSD or a paper cut. I went through that after my mother’s death. I was made to feel bad or shameful by most Christians I approached about being in mourning and told by churchy types to pray more, go volunteer at a soup kitchen, etc.

    On a closing note, that Carolyn Leaf /b> quote you have at the top?

    I have seen Leaf on TBN many times. She is some kind of Christian neuro-scientist who has her own weekly show on TBN, and every so often, she pops up as a guest on their “Behind the Scenes” show or “Praise the Lord”.

    Some of her information is interesting, but yes, she does occasionally tell her audience that depression is a choice.

    I cringe every time I hear her say that.
    While that may be true for some people with other types of depression (not long lasting or clinical depression), it’s not true for everyone with depression (or other types of problems).

    Leaf apparently thinks you’re supposed to “think your way out of ” depression (or whatever problem), just be positive, and re-train your brain by thinking sunny thoughts. It’s a very naive, hurtful bit of advice for anyone listening who may have a more serious form of depression, or some other malady, such as PTSD.

    By the way, David Barton says you can pray away the PTSD. PTSD is not biblical, he said. He later apologized for those comments, I think.
    _David Barton & Kenneth Copeland: PTSD isn’t biblical_


  6. I too immediately recognized the PTSD in this very heart-wrenching story.

    Too many Christians minimize the depth of those mental/emotional wounds by tossing out one of many well-worn platitudes (“Just give it to God!”) Saying such things is incredibly insensitive and minimizes the magnitude of others’ pain. In truth our injuries must to be exposed to the light to heal, but doing so requires reopening those wounds – a painful journey that takes time and a lot of emotional energy to process where we’ve been. An effective counselor will know how to validate those experiences so that healing can begin.

    God brings others into our lives who possess the empathy and wisdom we need – people who will hear us and give us permission to feel pain. On the other hand, those shallow Christian platitudes are akin to offering a Band-Aid to a patient with cancer. The cancer needs to be identified and treated – from within. Healing comes from validating what is true.

    The truth is that what you endured was harmful and wrong. You didn’t deserve to be treated that way by people who were supposed to take care of you. You needed to know that someone does love you and God does care about what happened to you. Your fears have a basis in your history. He was grieved by those things, and He wants to heal those wounded places in your heart so that you can be free.

    Jesus knew what He was saying when He said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” It’s also important to realize that God is not in any hurry, and some wounds take a long time to heal.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. We are told that we are not to fear, have problems, keep a smile on our face if you really love God and never ever have a mental problem. Without David you would have never done the math and found the parallel’s between your childhood and all of the events that took place while being a young wife and mother.

    A preacher a few years ago had the kiwi’s to say that a person who is saved won’t have Bipolar disorder. Seriously, Jesus does not cure all of our ails because we know him and I know that you believe in the power of prayer JA. If that were true, no one would have cancer, heart disease, MS or many other illnesses. Babies would not die before there first birthday. Praise God that he wrapped his loving arms around Hannah.

    I know that I have said unhelpful things in the past. I am guilty. God let’s us have physicians for the body, dentists, specialist for the body, why would it be different for the mind and emotions. You had events buried as many of us did while we were children. Who knows how many people could be helped much sooner, if we all only had a David.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I enjoyed the author’s article very much. She reveals that her healing came after she recognized the harmful impact her childhood had on her present challenges. I’m so thankful she is feeling better and safer.

    My only problem is that she misrepresents Dr. Leaf. (She quotes Dr Leaf in a picture image.)

    It’s especially discouraging because Dr. Leaf’s book is about doing the very hard work of taking every thought, every repressed memory captive and analyzing it. It’s too much to share here. But if the author had actually read Dr. Leaf’s book, she wouldn’t have quoted her out of context this way or trivialized her book in this way.

    I’m sure the author didn’t intend to. I honestly believe she simply isn’t familiar with Dr. Leaf, and perhaps she just used a quote she found on the Internet.

    Anyway, Dr. Leaf’s book is incredible. She has a huge heart for people who are hurting.


  9. Hi Tiffany, welcome! 🙂

    Thanks for your comment. I’m the author.

    Did you by any chance go to Dr. Leaf’s Facebook page? She has the same quote on a different picture and it is posted there with no context. That is why my friend and I were alarmed to see such a phrase and written by someone with the title of Dr. (I haven’t looked up her bio.)

    Think about this, what Dr. Leaf has done (or whomever runs her Facebook page) has carelessly put a quote and has allowed the public to share it to their Facebook friends. Quite a lot of people had already shared it when I read it earlier. So they will be seeing a quote out of context that is not an appropriate statement to make.

    Also, my friend left a comment on FB alerting her about the dangers of the quote. Her comment is still there and so is the quote. So, they have been alerted, but have decided not to take it down or provide more context. That is why I have spoken out – because read as is, it could be dangerous.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. This is the issue I have with so many christians I have encountered – especially the ‘christian counsellor’ who was part of my spiritual abuse! His approach is that all you have to do is say the magic words and everything is fixed. The trouble is, when that didn’t work for me, this man then wrote horrible emails to me telling me how evil I was 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for sharing your story. I can only imagine the trauma just from Hannah’s fall, let alone the earthquakes and all the rest. So glad for your healing. Thank goodness for someone you could receive good counsel from ~ too bad so many in the Body of Christ are not as helpful or trustworthy. Personally for me anniversaries of traumatic events were a looming milestone that I was so fearful to face and that fear kind of took me by surprise. The years have helped, but every now and then I can still feel that anxiety from a coming anniversary. We were never meant to go through these things alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. JA, Thank you for being brave enough to share your experience. You may have reached someone out there who has never considered therapy as a way to help relieve emotional suffering. Emotional and mental suffering are not caused by lack of faith or weakness. Nouthetic counseling is not sufficient to treat issues like PTSD, major depression, OCD, etc. I have suffered from Major Depressive Disorder since I was a young teen. I also have a MA in counseling psychology. I thank God for effective medication and a wise therapist. Even in this day and time there is still so much ignorance concerning mental illness.
    I have been asked by well meaning people if schizophrenia was caused by demon possession, clinical depression by bitterness, or anxiety by not trusting God. Talk about adding guilt to the deep suffering! Fortunately there are more people who are coming forward about their need for counseling which helps take the stigma away. We still have a way to go, but thank you, thank you, thank you for using your blog to inform others.
    JA, you are a well respected and strong woman. You have shown your readers that even the strongest of people go through times when they need clinical support. If you get grief from any reader, tell them to trust God if they get a bursted appendix! Who needs a surgeon??? 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I’ve been living in survival mode my whole life. I left the church precisely because Christians in general don’t seem to understand how mental illness works. JA, I’m glad you were able to find help. I keep hoping I’ll find mine.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Dash, I hope with all my heart that you get to a place of healing, peace, and rest. Shoot, It brings tears to my eyes thinking about your story and the stranglehold from the abuse you incurred. I get angry and sad at the same time!


  15. livingliminal – Thanks for putting “christian counselor” in quotes. Because this person neither acted like a Christian nor a counselor.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. For those of you searching for counselors, please don’t feel like you need to settle on the first person you talk to. Meeting with a counselor is very personal and it involves a good level of trust. If you have any doubts or something doesn’t feel quite right about the person you’re talking to, please find someone else!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thanks, Julie Anne. I am so glad you have addressed this. Dr Caroline Leaf has spoken locally several times. A friend gave me her book. I expressed my discomfort at some aspects of her teaching, especially if it is targeted to those who have suffered trauma, e.g. victims of abuse. My friend’s response was that they should “snap” out of it like she did when she was depressed! The sad thing is that speakers like Dr Leaf are well-respected and well-received for their expertise as professionals in the mental health field, and while I have no objections about her overall approach about the mind and Biblical principles, I do have concerns about glib statements that can do more harm that good.


  18. A.T., welcome! I appreciate your comment. I really know nothing about Dr. Leaf.

    What you have discussed is why I have so many problems with Biblical Counseling/Nouthetic stuff. It’s fine for spiritual or normal relational issues that everybody faces, but once you cross the line into more complicated cases, such as dissociative disorders, dealing with abuse/trauma, it is out of their league and they can do harm.


  19. Kathi, that’s great advice. Personally I’m not going to talk to just anyone about this stuff, ain’t happening. I’m also not talking about it with a pastor, joining a accountability group at church ( for amateurs to diagnose & evaluate me ) or trusting the average ” Christian counselor “. Sometimes your best option is a well trained secular professional. I hate to say it but most Christians in the field of mental health are made incompetent by their faith. “Jesus covers it all and solves all problems”.
    When that doesn’t work, ” you have issues with bitterness or have not forgiven” those that victimized you. The couple whose baby girl was sexually assault at Sovergn Grace were told that too. This makes me so angry I could explode.

    Recently someone in the group I attend recounted being told by her pastor that it’s her responsibility to discover what God was trying to teach her through what happened. ( I didn’t know her story at that time . ) She then blew me away when she said, ” do you think he really believes that God has to have us beat, raped and sodomized so we can discover what he is trying to teach us ? Like I’m a special Ed Christian and need to be brutalized to draw near to God or something. This is just BS. Where do these guys come up with this nonsense”.

    Right there I understood how these well meaning idiots ( most of whom never went to seminary and are just Bible school grads that are just winging it) create such a huge stumbling block for these folks seeking help, by presenting God in such a twisted way.

    We need to pray everyday for those that have been subject to this vile false teaching.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. A related problem, for me, is that most fellow Christians who do show some empathy quietly expect me to process and heal too quickly.

    I’ve dealt with PTSD from childhood sexual abuse, neglect, and physical abuse, as well as a twenty-year emotionally and spiritually abusive marriage. I have had better support that most, IMO. But no matter how supportive someone may be initially, I always feel like there’s an unspoken expectation that once I’ve said my piece, moved away from abuse, experienced a little bit of healing, etc. … I should be okay now.

    I actually have found that much more of a barrier to relationship and healing than initial unsupportiveness. I can’t say it’s only a Christian phenomenon, but I think it’s far more damaging when Jesus is plastered over the top than when a secular friend just blows you off.


  21. livingliminal,
    I do hope that you were not paying this “counselor” to abuse you!! Even if he thought you were actually evil, there is no way that his behavior was helping you to get out from it. I find his behavior evil.


  22. Ann,
    There’s that word again in what you said that another asked: I have been asked by well meaning people if schizophrenia was caused by demon possession, clinical depression by bitterness, or anxiety by not trusting God.

    Bittnerness: I so wish that word was stricken from the English language. It simply does not pertain to most of the people who it is used on to make them/me feel like you/I have sinned. I feel freed from the cause of what they consider bitterness. I didn’t have a mental health issue, but was well on my way and my counselor wasn’t sure why I didn’t have one.

    Are we really living in the middle ages and no one (meaning Christians) understands medical and mental health issues. Chemical imbalances are a big issue for many people. I find many with a doctorate in some form of Bible knowledge are worse than those who are the pew sitters that read their Bible everyday and spend time praying.

    Ann, I am so glad that you got the help that you needed and helping others find the same.


  23. “A related problem, for me, is that most fellow Christians who do show some empathy quietly expect me to process and heal too quickly.”

    This has been my experience as well. I’ve never had anyone tell me to pray more, read my Bible more, or just trust God. Rather, after the initial drama has passed, they go back to business as usual and expect me to as well.

    Like you said, people who were initially supportive expect me to “get on with it” now. I wish it were that easy. The attitude leaves me feeling even more isolated and alone than the original trauma. Thank goodness there are people online who understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. No payment, Brenda R – he was supposed to be mediating in the abusive situation I was experiencing in my church. But it turned out he’d been working behind the scenes, creating the situation in the first place! :/


  25. Are things like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and clinical depression caused by demons? My own strictly lay and inexpert opinion is that these conditions are organic in nature and require the services of an M.D. who specializes in psychiatric medicine. Can demons take advantage of psychiatric illnesses? I suppose so, but we need to be extremely careful here. Jesus made it quite clear that if we cast out a demon without attending to the underlying condition giving the demon access in the first place, the demon will return with seven others more evil than itself.

    Much greater harm is done by those who claim to represent Jesus but only heap on heavy burdens of expectation, shame and blame. I don’t know how one would know for sure, but I dare say that the teachings of the likes of Bill Gothard, John Piper, John MacArthur, and (we can now add) Matt “Narcissistic Zero” Chandler, have inflicted much more spiritual and emotional trauma, and resulting mental illness, on their followers and, especially, on their followers’ wives and children, than has resulted from DIRECT demonic activity. I emphasize the word DIRECT because I think it entirely likely that these men have been used to propagate and firmly establish demonic strongholds of destructive doctrine, attitudes and practices.


  26. There’s a thread I was reading at another blog some while ago where someone said they think religion (not Jesus, but religion) makes people relationally challenged. I agree. I think this is one manifestation of that. The “Jesus Fix” people assume because Jesus then fixed and it doesn’t work that way. But since they think it does, when that fails it’s your fault. Then they do this that Gary said,

    Much greater harm is done by those who claim to represent Jesus but only heap on heavy burdens of expectation, shame and blame.

    and magnify the problem exponentially.

    Sometimes you just need to sit and cry with people and let them talk and you listen without an agenda to fix them and let them heal on their own time table.


  27. BIT said:

    Sometimes you just need to sit and cry with people and let them talk and you listen without an agenda to fix them and let them heal on their own time table.

    I have come to realize this is the best option most of the time. Let them know you are praying and there for them. I know I have had times when having someone to cry with would have been a great relief.



  28. Update on Dr. Caroline Leaf. My friend who expressed her concern for the wording of that phrase had her comment removed and she is blocked from the Facebook page. I’m having issues with this and will try to engage Dr. Leaf via Twitter.


  29. Julie Anne, I can so relate to this. Though my story has different details, my emotional abuse growing up still haunts me to this day. I, and my siblings grew up with a mother who constantly told us she wished we hadn’t been born, we were stupid, worthless and evil. She constantly berated our efforts and spanked us at the slightest provocation. She told us she wanted to die BECAUSE of us. My father was a firefighter with a moving business on the side, so he wasn’t around much.

    I wet the bed until I was 13, had a crossed eye until I was around 12 and wore very thick glasses as I was very myopic. I could not play sports because of lack of depth perception.

    Even now, I still fight almost constant anxiety and fear for the future. I fight daily the inner voice that tells me I cannot do anything right or that I am worthless. I went to a counselor some years ago, tried anti-depressants and nothing helped a whole lot, so I have learned to live with it.

    And yes, I have tried all the pet cures in the pop christian culture and no, that hasn’t worked either.

    So, I can really relate to a lot of what you have said. Why do we as Christians think that we live in a TV drama and all of our problems can be cured in an hour? Why do we think that we can throw out a platitude and all will be well?


  30. Echoing what others have said:

    Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 ESV)


    Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15 ESV)

    Simply listening to somebody, entering into their life experience, and feeling what they are feeling, will minister more healing than all the prescriptive and proscriptive “Biblical” counseling in the world. Or so I believe. Even Job’s comforters got off to a good start. They simply sat with Job, maybe even entered into his pain. It is only when they began to diagnose that they got in trouble.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. I don’t know of a reputable psychiatrist or clinical psychologist who doesn’t believe that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are organic. Clinical depression can be caused by biochemical problems or by life events but if it goes on too long it causes changes in the brain so wither way treatment is needed. Prayer helps but is not an antidote. There isn’t any ‘antidote’ or cure for psychosis, just medication and management.

    Even using that word in the context of mental illnesses that are treatable is wrong. An antidote is something which quickly counters a toxin such as snake venom from a snakebite. You can see it working before your eyes.

    Treatment for mental illness requires time and collaborative work between a patient and therapist, not the administration of an antidote.

    No one knows what PTSD or clinical depression feels like until they have it, how involuntary both are and how helpless either one makes you feel. If people could snap out of them or pray their way out of them they would.

    Too many Christians don’t understand mental illness and too many refuse to be educated. Some will though and I think this is an important article, Julie Anne. I hope people will link to it and read it. Thank you so much for writing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. @LivingLiminal:

    This is the issue I have with so many christians I have encountered – especially the ‘christian counsellor’ who was part of my spiritual abuse! His approach is that all you have to do is say the magic words and everything is fixed.

    In the Late Seventies/Early Eighties on Christianese AM Radio, there used to be a half-hour show called “Counseling With A Purpose” that used that exact same formula. No matter what the call-in’s problem, the solution at the end of the show was always the counselor leading them to “PrayTheSinnersPrayerAndAcceptJeesusChristAsYourPersonalLOORDandSavior” (all one word) and having that fix EVERYTHING as the call-in was BornAgain (also all one word). In retrospect, it HAD to be scripted and staged using shills, but was presented as actual phone-in counseling.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Thank you, Julie Anne, for sharing such a painful and personal story, so that other people can be helped by it. And thanks for continuing to advocate for *real* counseling and mental health resources.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Marsha Miller, You hit the nail on the head! No one knows what PTSD, depression, OCD, psychosis etc. feels like unless you have been there. I also agree that some mental illness isn’t cured, but the symptoms can be managed. As I get older, I have learned to keep my mouth shut and listen when another person is suffering. Usually they don’t need my advise, just a listening ear and a source of support.
    ****If you or someone you know shows signs of suicidal behavior, that is the time intervention is necessary!!! Do not self-isolate! There is always another option. There is treatment out there and you or your loved one can be helped. I know. I have been there. Keep giving life a chance!****

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I don’t know if anyone saw my post up the page, but I’ve seen many episodes of Caroline Leaf’s on TBN. She has her own weekly show on TBN.

    I think she means well, but some of her advice to the audience in regards to depression and other mental health problems can come off as being rather victim-blaming.

    She seems to think a person can think their way out of depression.

    I had clinical depression for many years and did think my way out of it so to speak, but not in the manner Leaf teaches.

    Leaf supports a “think happy sunny” thoughts type philosophy, but thinking happy, sunny thoughts is not what got me out of depression, which I had been diagnosed with as a child and it went on into my adulthood.

    Some Christians with depression might benefit from taking medications or seeing a psychologist, but are often discouraged from doing so by other Christians.


  36. “Leaf supports a “think happy sunny” thoughts type philosophy,”

    Isn’t that just a form of avoidance and denial? Couldn’t following this advice result in stuff getting repressed and suppressed, with the result that the underlying issues become increasingly difficult to deal with over time? Again, I have no expertise in these things, but . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  37. HUG said,

    PrayTheSinnersPrayerAndAcceptJeesusChristAsYourPersonalLOORDandSavior” (all one word) and having that fix EVERYTHING as the call-in was BornAgain (also all one word). In retrospect, it HAD to be scripted and staged using shills, but was presented as actual phone-in counseling.

    Yes, that is the standard Christian response by most Christians to every and any life problem, whether it’s financial problems, you’re going through a divorce, you have cancer, whatever.

    There was a young lady at another blog who said she was feeling depressed (she was later diagnosed by another doctor with either depression or PTSD) who said she started seeing a Christian psychologist to get treatment for this.

    She said the Christian psy. listened to her talk about her problems for a while but she went to a chalk board and drew two cliffs with a gap, and drew a cross the filled in the gap. (The psy. was explaining the Gospel to this young lady using the chalk board.)

    The young lady told the psy., “No, I am already a believer in Jesus. But even though I believe in Jesus, I still am having problems with X, Y, Z, and feeling depressed all the time.”

    The lady said on her next visit to this same Christian psy, that the psy listened to her go on about her problems some more, went over to the chalk board again, and once more drew the two cliffs, the cross, told her about the Gospel.

    The lady said it was at that point she decided to never see that psy (or ones like her) ever again.

    There really are some Christians who have this incorrect idea that if only a hurting person would really and truly accept Jesus, or really grasp the Gospel, all their problems would vanish in the breeze. It’s so naive, ill informed, and ridiculous.
    I’ve run into these kinds of Christians myself before, in real life and on the internet.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Gary W

    Daisy said,
    “Leaf supports a “think happy sunny” thoughts type philosophy,”

    Gary replied,
    Isn’t that just a form of avoidance and denial? Couldn’t following this advice result in stuff getting repressed and suppressed, with the result that the underlying issues become increasingly difficult to deal with over time? Again, I have no expertise in these things, but . . .

    Yes, yes, yes. And yes.

    I was discussing this at the “Cry for Justice” blog a couple of months ago. After my mother died, and the emotional abuse from my sister increased, I tried turning to my family, and some Christians at local churches where I live now, for emotional support.

    Sad to say, and I was shocked and dismayed to discover, most of my Christian family, and the church people, believe in repressing your pain and feelings.

    I am one of those people who heals and copes by talking to someone about my pain. My mother used to be that person, but she passed.
    When I’ve gone to other family and church people, they have shamed me about opening up, or they have been critical. I get the message repeatedly from the Christians around me that it’s wrong and shameful to have pain, or to talk about it.

    I am frequently told by these people that my mourning for my mother was a form of self pity, and that I should clam up about it, not dwell on it, and go volunteer at soup kitchens. That if I can just see that other people have life far worse than me (like homeless guys at soup kitchens for instance), that will cheer me up (at least I think that’s their logic).

    But I just finished re-reading a book by a duo of Christian psychologists or psychiatrists (the only ones I’ve seen who get it), who said that sort of thinking is wrong.
    The Bible does not, the psychiatrists who wrote the book say, tell Christians to ignore their pain, deny it, and repress it or paper it over with sunny thoughts. Rather, the authors say, you need to find a supportive (ideally Christian from their view) person or group who will let you open up and share and talk about your feelings and won’t shame, blame, or judge you for any of it.

    Do you know how hard it is to find supportive, non-judgmental Christians who will be there for you and just listen? It’s very, very hard. Other than online groups like this one, I’ve not found any yet.
    But yeah, covering your internal pain over with sunny, happy thoughts is not healthy and is a form of repression and denial, and, IIRC, the book says repressing your pain can make it last longer.


  39. Look up Dr. Caroline Leaf on the net and you will find no peer review articles about her so-called research. She has her PhD. from the University of South Africa-Peoria in Speech Pathology. The courses she took in no way relate to her self made title of Cognitive Neuroscientist. You can find clips of her on Kenneth Copeland’s show which connects her theories to the Word-Faith movement. People like her can be very unsafe for people suffering from psychiatric problems. I doubt she either studied or had internships related to mental health unless it pertained to speech problems.
    She may talk a good game, but her methods and theories are not scientifically sound. Stay away.


  40. @Ann:

    Look up Dr. Caroline Leaf on the net and you will find no peer review articles about her so-called research. She has her PhD. from the University of South Africa-Peoria in Speech Pathology. The courses she took in no way relate to her self made title of Cognitive Neuroscientist.

    So this isn’t much different than an Honorary Doctorate from Reverend Apostle Joe Soap.


  41. Gary W –

    “Are things like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and clinical depression caused by demons?”

    Gary, I’ve often wondered if the demon possessions that are talked about in the Bible were mental illnesses or emotional issues.


  42. Wow, JA, I’m glad David helped you so much. It’s nice to hear stories when a psychologist actually helps in a situation, rather than just shoving pills in your face and ignoring the true pain. (Many do just prescribe a pill, and don’t dig down to the root problem of what’s caused your problems. I’ve seen it first hand.)

    Sadly, I don’t know how I could ever trust a psychologist (or psychiatrist) ever again after what me and my mother went through with my dad. One after the other just coddled my abusive, drunkard father, and ignored our cries for help. Everything was automatically our fault, and he was a poor little victim with a disease called alcoholism (and my mom supposedly drove him to drink, and, well, I wasn’t respectful enough, so of course it’s my fault too he felt he had to drink and abuse us even more than he did before). He’d even pull the same thing he would when meeting with pastors for family counseling–he’d always make sure he got in the first lone appointment to poison the counselor’s opinion ahead of time. It didn’t surprise me that it worked with the pastors, but it really shocked me that the same tactic worked with the professional psychologists. I thought they were trained for this stuff? He was the only one who’s voice was truly heard. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, since my dad was paying the bill. I’d call it a fluke if it weren’t for the fact that we’ve seen multiple shrinks for family counseling. Then Al-Anon ended up being the icing on the it’s-all-our-fault cake. Because then we had a disease called codependency, for which there was no cure but going to Al-Anon meetings for the rest of our lives, even though I know my mom to be the least codependent person in the world. She never put up with my dad’s BS, which is why he hated her so much (and still does to this day, long after being divorced). (We would’ve escaped if my my mom didn’t have multiple sclerosis and could still work. She was just too sick.)

    One psychiatrist diagnosed my dad with bipolar, and then gave him medication to take, which he naturally mixed with alcohol. The guy never checked up with us to make sure he wasn’t doing that. You know those weirdo shooter guys you see on TV from time to time who end up shooting schools or military bases? You know, the ones who all have one thing in common–those powerful medications for depression? My dad was on those, and he got even scarier when he started taking those. He’d go into even more violent rages. And nobody ever asked me or my mother how he was actually doing on these medications. And again, he’d mix with alcohol. Did it ever occur to these psychologists that my dad *gave himself* bi-polar disease with years of heavy drinking (and alcohol is a depressant), as well as never dealing with his bitterness toward his parents for abuse that went on during his childhood (which he eventually shifted and took out toward my mother–he always blames others for the sins he commits, whether its mommy, daddy, or the now ex-wife). Not to mention the various sins he’s regularly practiced, such as pornography, adultery, possible drug use, and some sins I won’t mention here because they would offend your senses. (Think of any addicting and even perverse sin–if you could think it up, then he’s probably addicted to it. He just has an addictive personality.) God knows the guilt for those addicting sins must be eating him alive, as he claims to be a Christian. But rather than have him deal with all those sins and root causes that may have caused the bi-polar, they gave him pills that made him even scarier to be around and allowed him to get away with blaming my mother for everything that’s wrong with him.

    So, yeah, sorry for the long rant. I wish I could trust again. Just as a note, the psychologists we saw for family counseling were all Christian, though the psychiatrist prescribing the drugs that made him so scary was not. I don’t know whether if it’s just Christian psychologists who are wacky or if the secular ones are too. I’m pretty sure the secular ones who were overseeing his detox were coddling him, but since my mother and I never got to share our side of the story with them, it’s hard to tell. But the point is, it’s hard for me to trust again. They enabled my father’s abuse toward me and my mother, and I’ve had to deal with my own depression and struggles to forgive all on my own. I already know there’s no point in seeing a pastor. With that, I wholeheartedly agree. I mostly don’t have depression anymore, but a lot of my depression was caused by living with an abusive person, and then by trying not to go homeless when he abandoned me. That would depress anyone, and yet thus far the only solution offered to me by psychology is to take a pill. A pill doesn’t change the situation you’re living in. You just end up stressing out your liver for nothing. Now that I’m out of the situation, I feel a lot better. Forgiving from a distance is easier than face-to-face with someone who is still in the process of hurting you. I had to learn to take bitter thoughts captive, and to pray for my dad’s repentance rather than continue to stew in anger (which is what he does, and I don’t want to be like him). I’ve learned to stop being so scared and depressed whenever things look bleak, because I can look back on my life and see a pattern of God arranging my financial care. I never did go homeless after all. I still have some bad days from time to time, but I think they’re largely caused by hormone fluctuations, and I have to just tell myself to ride it out. Though I sometimes feel down just because of what a mess the church is. It makes me doubt God. And yet I can’t walk away either. There’s nothing else better out there anyway. Seriously, is there any other religion out there where God would deign to take on human form and die for us? Hard to walk away from that, even if the church has largely gone haywire.

    But again, I’m glad to hear a positive story. It gives me hope that there are professionals out there who actually care and who do their jobs well. Wish I could’ve had a better experience for my and my mother.

    As for earthquakes, I’m a Southern California native, and I can easily sleep through one. I have to be forcibly woken up to go take proper shelter! Though there was one we had last year where those bars that hold the ceiling tiles up at work nearly fell on my coworker, who had been staying late. We had a pipe burst too in the main work building and flood one of the floors. I happened to be walking my dog at the time, so I got to see all the trees shake. Actually, it looked more like they were sliding side to side while rolling. Weird to see. But us Californians at my job were laughing at the visitors from back east. They wanted to go home so bad. Ha ha! Poor things. They were pretty freaked out. “The ground was moving! It’s not supposed to do that!” Thankfully, we haven’t had any big ones that have hurt anybody. Easy to take the small quakes for granted and get used to them. We’re very fortunate, compared to how bad they can get, like what just happened in Nepal.


  43. JA, I left you a couple comments on the Bill Gothard thread. Just to let you know.

    Haven’t time to read this post yet, but hope to get back to it by tomorrow.


  44. refugee, I’m in school cramming mode. I’ve seen your comments, but haven’t read them yet. Hope to take some time later this afternoon. 👍🏼


  45. Wendell,
    I am so sorry that you and your siblings had such ignorance thrown at you apparently from birth. Mothers are not suppose to be like that. Mothers are to nurture and keep their babies safe and warm. I realize that all are not that way, but it was the way it was meant to be. I don’t understand any mother not wanting her children or saying such horrible things to them.

    There is no magic formula. When someone says they were diagnosed with a serious illness, went home and prayed, went back to the doctor and the illness is completely gone, my first thought is “misdiagnosis?”. If they feel they have been healed by divine intervention, that’s fine, but for the most part we need the help of professionals to help us heal or to fight whatever the disease is.

    I’ve been told that our brains are like a record album (telling my age, here) with grooves and when the needle hits and goes around the grooves it plays a tune, we need to rewrite the songs that are in our heads. That is much easier said that done when there has been a life time of abuse. It has helped me, but has taken a long time, certainly not in an hour and the old tunes like to creep in when I’m not looking.

    Your past is not your future. You are not worthless and you never were. Those ideas came from someone that perhaps had their own mental health issues. You deserve some peace in your life and pray that you find it.


  46. Persephone said:

    A related problem, for me, is that most fellow Christians who do show some empathy quietly expect me to process and heal too quickly.

    Yes, like we have to be on their timetable for healing – – – or then we are labeled as bitter.


  47. Julie Anne, I can so relate to this. Though my story has different details, my emotional abuse growing up still haunts me to this day. I, and my siblings grew up with a mother who constantly told us she wished we hadn’t been born, we were stupid, worthless and evil. She constantly berated our efforts and spanked us at the slightest provocation. She told us she wanted to die BECAUSE of us. My father was a firefighter with a moving business on the side, so he wasn’t around much.

    Wendell, Your words were hard for me to read. I’ve known you for – – a couple years? Yet, I never knew this about your childhood and the difficulties you still face. I’m struck that so many of us are caring wounds and as we rub shoulders with people, we have no clue what has gone on in their life and what makes them “tick.” I’m so sorry, friend. I do think it’s cool how our weaknesses and challenges can bring us closer with each other. This makes us better equipped to provide love and support, especially on those difficult days.


  48. Look up Dr. Caroline Leaf on the net and you will find no peer review articles about her so-called research. She has her PhD. from the University of South Africa-Peoria in Speech Pathology. The courses she took in no way relate to her self made title of Cognitive Neuroscientist. You can find clips of her on Kenneth Copeland’s show which connects her theories to the Word-Faith movement. People like her can be very unsafe for people suffering from psychiatric problems. I doubt she either studied or had internships related to mental health unless it pertained to speech problems.
    She may talk a good game, but her methods and theories are not scientifically sound. Stay away.

    Ann, good job sleuthing. Ok, now it’s making sense. The Word-Faith, name it claim it fits perfectly with that quote. “Pray away your mental illness, I’m believing God for a miracle.” This is the same kind of false teaching where people will withhold meds and die.


  49. @ Clockwork said,

    Then Al-Anon ended up being the icing on the it’s-all-our-fault cake.

    That sounds familiar. Kind of.

    I a few years ago, I shared with my brother at least one of the incidents where our sister blew up at me (I didn’t do anything to provoke her, she has almost always been emotionally abusive towards me), and he told me he learned in his Alcoholics Anonymous to ask himself what role did he play in a situation?

    So he was telling me to ask myself what role did I play in my sister screaming at me? Well, none. I didn’t provoke her, she has a bad temper and had just had a nasty fight with her BF.

    I was puzzled by my brother’s reaction so I did some research. I found out from reading ex-AA sites, that AA is very victim-blaming like that. They will basically tell you to blame yourself if someone does something to hurt or wrong you.

    I’ve never done that to my brother, I’ve only given him sympathy when he’s talked to me for hours about his difficult marriage, how hard his life is, etc.

    You said,

    Then Al-Anon ended up being the icing on the it’s-all-our-fault cake. Because then we had a disease called codependency, for which there was no cure but going to Al-Anon meetings for the rest of our lives, even though I know my mom to be the least codependent person in the world. She never put up with my dad’s BS, which is why he hated her so much

    I was relieved when I finally figured out that my mother was codependent, and that was what was wrong with me as well. (She raised me to be codependent too.)

    Codependency is not really a disease but rather, a way of interacting with people. It more a set of wrong assumptions and wrong beliefs – about other people, about where you get your worth from, how to deal with conflict, etc.

    Once I figured out that all the core beliefs of codependency are bunk, that I could live differently (like stand up to people instead of being their doormat), my anxiety of people dropped a lot, and my depression evaporated.

    My mother sure made it difficult for me to work my way through that and see it as bunk though, because she confused codependent behavior (such as being passive and non-confrontational) with being a “good Christian.”

    And since I was a kid, I was deadly serious about loving God and being a “good Christian.” That made it tougher for me to ditch the codependency or to see what was wrong with it.


  50. I don’t know who this guy is, or how accurate he is:

    _Dr Caroline Leaf – Serious questions, few answers (Part 1)_
    – from a blog by Dr C. Edward Pitt

    _Dr Caroline Leaf – Serious questions, few answers (Part 3) – “Flirting with heresy”_

    Leaf is kind of under the radar at this time. A few years ago, I was watching Joseph Prince on Christian TV, and it was like 2 or 3 years later that I started to see more and more critiques of him online.

    Not that I have a huge problem with Prince myself (not saying I dig on his Word of Faith stuff, but I don’t hate the guy either), but other Christians do, but it took them like 2 – 4 years to take notice of Prince before I started seeing the podcasters and bloggers analyzing Prince.

    Leaf has only been on TBN (it seems to me) for maybe the last 2 to 4 years. She’s not been on as long as their other, usual guests.

    After Leaf had been on TBN as a guest on other people’s shows (such as “Praise the Lord”) – for about a year or two – TBN finally gave her her own show.

    If you give it more time, you may see more and more Christian bloggers notice her and start to talk about her on their blogs. I’ve known about her for the last few years, but it never occurred to me to mention her here or on other blogs.


  51. I am 54, and when I was 40, my family doctor diagnosed my problem. He told me I was suffering from clinical depression. I had to face the fact he was right. I’d been dealing with depression my entire life. I guess the reason no one in my church or anyone else for that matter ever gave me the old “pray it away” fix is because I never talked about it. My battle with depression nearly wrecked my life. I was so miserable at one point that I contemplated suicide. My doctor, a very kind Christian man, led me toward the right medications and counseling to get my life back on track. I became very proactive about my mental health and learned how to manage my depression and occasional bouts of anxiety. I have been off of anti-depressants for a number of years now, but I’ve learned to manage my symptoms with diet and exercise. Prayer helps, as does meditation on God’s Word, but these will not “fix” mental issues. As a pastor, I cringe when I hear someone say that prayer is the cure for mental issues. Would we say that to a cancer patient or a diabetic? Again, prayer is awesome, but sick people need medical attention.

    I believe those suffering from mental issues such as depression, anxiety, and bi-polar disorder need to come out of the closet. Ours are illnesses that need treatment, and we are human beings who would love to feel better. Please don’t tell someone suffering from depression to just “get over it and feel better.” I assure you, the depressed person would love to get over it, but what he or she needs is compassion and medical help. Ever since I began talking openly about my battle with depression and sometimes addressing it from the pulpit, many people have come to me and thanked me telling me that they too suffer from these afflictions and knowing I did also was an encouragement to them.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I know it will encourage others. What a shame that well meaning Christian people fail to grasp the scope of mental health issues. This must change. The church must wake up and learn to compassionately address these illnesses. Thank God for the right counselor who addressed the trauma of your childhood that was triggered by the earthquake and subsequent anxiety.

    Thanks also for letting me share from my heart today.

    God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. I have had a really good experience with Al-anon for the last 12 years. I learned to be easy on myself because not everything that happens is my fault. I have learned to relax more and trust God more. One of the sayings in Al-anon is “Take what you like and leave the rest”


  53. Dan Birchfield,
    Your openness is a breath of fresh air and I am sure a blessing to many who have issues they would like to be able to speak up about and know from experience they need to protect themselves. Brenda


  54. Ever since I began talking openly about my battle with depression and sometimes addressing it from the pulpit, many people have come to me and thanked me telling me that they too suffer from these afflictions and knowing I did also was an encouragement to them.

    Dan, Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your personal story. Something very special happens when we admit our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It makes us real to others. I’m glad you are able to use your experience and share it from the pulpit. You’re the kind of pastor I want to hear. One who shows compassion and understanding. What a gift! Thank you 🙂


  55. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    You have no idea the joy you have brought to my life with your gift of turning a clever phrase, particularly when making a sardonic reference to someone nefarious. I use a lot of humor, often irreverent humor, to laugh often because so much breaks my heart. Your words make my heart merry, and that is good medicine.


  56. I struggled with depression though it was not clinical depression. Much of it was brought on by constant chronic pain, loss of neurological function and losing sight. I was often also depressed because of my issue with dyslexia. I have never quite understood why these types of issues tick of evangelical Christians so much. Basically much of the time such issues are seen as sin or God’s punishment because we are such wretched filth. With these issues and losing almost all of my family do to several horrid illnesses, in which I was the primary care provider over about twenty years off and on mostly on it really took a toll.

    First I understand it should not take a toll, we all have it coming and God owes us nothing but an express train ride to eternal perdition. That I learned at Church. I tried very hard not to need people, but every once in a while I would reach out to the real world faith community. I have repented of that vile sin and never will cross that road again.

    I was eventually able to overcome these issues, with the help of the people on these blogs and folks at work. But I have come away with a few things. I keep my distance from God that has helped a great deal in some ways in others not so much. I definitely keep an extreme distance from organized evangelical religion that has been a big help. It is clear they do not miss me and the feeling is very mutual.

    I do relate to the depression, it hurts and is like drowning in marbles. The twitching tension and the utter fatigue and the night terrors where you wake up screaming and running around the house thinking you are on fire, a present from when I was a kid and really was on fire running around the house. I am over much of that and with my quitting drinking it has made even more of a difference. I loved going to AA was wonderful, but I could not get past the God thing. In my experience with religion is you dont, ever ask God for anything. I know that is wrong, but it is just so ingrained in me like a tick or something.


  57. Thanks for your bravery in sharing your story. I’m glad that you found your way through the storm. I just wanted to make a couple of points.

    Thanks Daisy for pointing to a couple of my blogs. I’m an Australian medical doctor (General Practitioner). I’ve also personally suffered from depression, and help people with their mental illness every day. I have spent the last 2 years researching Dr Leafs teaching in depth, and I’ve written numerous blogs on her teaching ( as well as a book ( I’m pretty confident that my work is accurate, but I’m happy to receive feedback if anyone disagrees with me.

    Like Julie Anne and a number of other commenters here, I’ve experienced the same existential angst, believing that I wasn’t a good enough Christian because I had a mental health problem. Dr Leafs teaching can make the stigma of mental illness for Christians even greater by suggesting we can just think our way out of it, or pray our way out of it.

    I’m not sure who it was, but there was an earlier comment saying that Dr Leafs Facebook minders deleted their reasonable concerns from her comments then blocked them from posting. This is very common. It has happened to me, and to numerous other people who have contacted me through my blog. I suggest that you make your concerns known to your friends through social media, your pastors, and to the national executive of the church organization you belong to. It’s only through people politely raising their concerns with Dr Leafs teaching to as many people as possible that Dr Leaf will reconsider her teaching, and the negative impact that it is having on the lives of Christians with mental health.


  58. Welcome Dr. Pitt,

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your work with us. The removing and blocking of comments on Facebook is concerning. That’s a method of control and removing someone’s voice. I am NOT okay with that, so I am going to be “liking” her Facebook page and will share through social media. I will be checking out your blog. Thanks again!


  59. Incogneto,
    I am assuming that your health issues are a result of the fire as a child? I have to wonder if “Christians” who could be of help to those who are in need yet instead blame and shame are truly “Christians”. You did not cause the pain you suffer and God didn’t either. I’m so glad that you gave up drinking and you are healing. Depression is an awful thing. Thank you for telling your story. I will pray for your continued healing. God has a plan for your life that doesn’t include condemnation from ridiculous people that can’t see beyond the end of their noses.
    ((((HUGS)))) Brenda


  60. Incognito,

    You say, “First I understand it should not take a toll, we all have it coming and God owes us nothing but an express train ride to eternal perdition.” Maybe you say this tongue in cheek, maybe not. Either way, I have no doubt that this is what the “church” taught you. The “church” teaches many lies. Just as parents are obligated to care for children they bring into the world, God is obligated to care for those he created in his own image. The obligation is not imposed on him from outside himself. It flows from his very nature, which is Love.

    The problem is, much (maybe most) of evangelicalism does not really believe God is Love. It preaches a small g god who, being obsessed with his own glory, is angry, vindictive, and unjust. They preach a god who, were he a human judge, would sentence a defendant to life in prison for driving one MPH over the speed limit. Oh, and the jailers in this prison would amuse themselves every day by slowly pulling out their inmates’ toenails, and such like. Really, the god preached by evangelicals (not all of them) looks like the satan, except that this satan-like “god,” unlike the satan, is all powerful.

    One thing that has helped me is to recognize that Jesus is the perfect representation, expression and image of the Father. At least that is what Hebrews 1:3 says. If this is true, our God cannot be the tyrant he is made out to be by evangelicals. Rather, our God is meek and lowly. His yoke is easy and his burden light.

    I fear it may seem like I am preaching. I do not wish to be doing that. It’s just that I am still recovering from from the evangelical misrepresentation of who God is,and I think that what I am being shown is worth sharing.

    I wish you well.


  61. Brenda R., thanks for your words. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I am not debilitated by these feelings, but they are a constant part of me. In general, I have been successful and have a good marriage with great daughters and wonderful grandkids. Sometimes I wonder how much better I could have done if I had not experienced what I did. That is not to say that I can blame every mistake in my life on my abuse, far from it. I have learned to take responsibility for my actions and to take proactive steps to keep my past from dictating my future.

    It is more of an internal hell, a battle that is constantly being fought. When something good happens, I have to fight the urge to say it is a fluke, an cosmic accident. When I make a mistake, bad decision or simply sin, I have to fight the desire to blame it on my past. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes not.

    You know what I thought was ironic, but now I know is part of the pattern was that after my mom would have an especially hard session of going after me, I would cry myself to sleep, but sometimes she would come to my bed and kiss me on the cheek as if to say she was sorry. Talk about crazy making!


  62. Julie Anne, like many, it is not something I talk about a lot. Most people don’t want to hear it and I used to get the eye rolls, so it is a subject close to my vest. I am not a man’s man. I cry at emotional things like movies and books. When I pastored, there were even a few times I cried when I told an especially heart rending illustration; however, a lot of people don’t want to be around guys like that, or hear about a person facing emotional struggles. They want to throw out a fix-it platitude and move on to more important things like what the Kardashians are doing or gossip about so-and-so at church.

    Additionally, I try not to burden others with it because I don’t want everything to be about me. I don’t want this struggle to define me and frankly, being somewhat introverted, I don’t like too much attention.

    I guess, in this context, I felt more safe because I have shared more here than I have in most venues of late.

    Liked by 1 person

  63. In the facebook link below, you can see a brief video of Leaf’s teachings. Imagine being in a mental health crisis sitting in the audience looking for answers to fix your problems. Do you see how damaging this could be? She’s not encouraging anyone to seek help from professionals, she’s saying it’s all about how YOU handle it.


  64. Wendell G,
    Our childhood, whether good, bad or in between will always be a part of us. We do have choices when we become adults. Are we going to stop the insanity or carry on the tradition. Everyone processes differently and I am glad that your life has been a good one.

    I get really upset when I hear about Mom’s that don’t protect their children and my mama bear comes out. Not that we can protect them from everything, but they should be safe with us. I have thought that my mom (and God) should have known what was happening to me and come to my rescue, but no one did. When you said your mom would kiss you on the cheek at night the first thing I thought of was the kiss of Judas. I’m sure that is not a real comfort, but is how I felt about my stepfather.

    It is good to be able to get our feelings out in a safe community. It is healing and none of us will be completely healed until we stand before Jesus and collect that glorified body that he promises.



  65. Julie Anne, I’ve read and reread this post. I am at a loss for words. All I can say is that I am glad you have made it this far. And the same goes for Wendell and all the others who have shared. I really love and value this community.

    Liked by 1 person

  66. Recently I have heard from the pulpit that depression is proof you are ” living in sin” and that we are not to have self esteem based on some misused verse in Corinthians. Occasionally in church the thought crosses that guys like Tony Robbins would make a better pastor than 90% of those in circulation today.

    Sometimes even that Deal a Meal guy Richard Simmons seems like a better candidate I would rather watch his info commercial then sit through a lot of the crap being deseminatated in church services.


  67. Julie Anne,

    Thanks for sharing this. Your story will help a lot of people know they are not alone. Speaking up is so important in the healing process.

    Another source of good information about PTSD, whether the trauma comes from the battlefield or from domestic violence, is the book Trauma and Recovery by Dr. Judith Herman (Harvard Ph.D.). Dr. Herman is considered one of the world’s experts on the topic.

    She mentions many factors in recovery: Getting to safety, giving the victim a voice to speak about the trauma, letting the victim make their own decisions, finding safe people for support, joining a support group of fellow survivors, turning the pain into a way of helping others, etc.

    J.A., your entire blog is a way to give trauma survivors a voice and help explore the depth and breadth of their pain and anger. It’s a much needed Christian ministry.

    Liked by 1 person

  68. Crap, I just watched the Facebook video of Dr. Leaf. I am not feeling charitable towards her. Her teaching makes me cringe as I recall my fourteen years of humbling myself in prayer, naming my sins & praying for healing/emotional heath. 14 wasted, painful years.

    I needed serious mental health intervention, I needed a “David” to process the multiple traumas in my childhood. This type of teaching almost destroyed my faith, because what kind of God doesn’t answer prayers for anxiety, depression, rage, shame and guilt?

    When I left the church world I wandered in confusion & figured I was bound for hell. I might have left Jesus or the teachings of a fake Jesus but here is the deal, He didn’t leave me. Not that I have all my ducks in a row, not that I don’t struggle, or wrestle with depression today, the difference today is I know in my knower that I am His daughter & he will never leave me nor forsake me. The voices/comments here have made me feel less alone & have helped me to see through the veneer of false teaching.

    Thank-You Julie Anne for sharing in detail how you made it through the darkness of PTSD. You are a wild, remarkable woman who shoots straight from the hip! I do mean wild in the best way, you don’t put up with religious trickery or magical malarky.


  69. Thanks for finally writing about >My Personal Mental
    Health Story: When Christians Say Potentially Harmful Words to Someone inn a Mental Health Crisis | Spiritual Sounding
    Board <Loved it!


  70. GARY W
    I have decided I like you. Lol.
    I suffered greatly as a toddler to the end of my teens. Abuse which altered my mind.
    Every waking moment was bathed in fear. Fear was my cojoined twin.
    I married at 20 and spent the first 25 years fighting for breath, control, and just to be loved. Fear never left.
    But along the way out of these horrible horrible traumas and never ending fear, there were some paramount things that have brought abundant healing.

    I paid a therapist copious amounts of money to listen. He was a Christian. A man of few words. Which annoyed me to no end. I would walk out after paying him my monthly fees and feel so ripped off. He seemed to not offer much help, in my pea brain.

    But in hindsight, it was his greatest gift to me. He allowed me the freedom to say whatever needed to be said. He validated whatever came out of my mouth with encouraging words like. “That must have been hard” or “I am sorry that happened to you”
    At the time, I felt like knocking his block off, because I thought at the rate I was paying I should have got more something lol.

    But the art of listening, and bearing one another’s burden let me draw from within all the nasty , painful, horrific tales of my childhood. He let me express my overwhelming fear, without judgement, accusation, and feeling like he was thinking I was responsible for what happened.
    Now years later I see the benefits of the art of listening. He allowed me to express at my own pace, I was in charge of what I said, I had the power for the first time in my life.
    All keys to successfull therapy.
    I felt validated and most of all that he heard me and believed me.
    He wasn’t caught up with this technique or the latest whatever. He didn’t need to hear himself speak.
    And the other key component overall, was love. Not from him ( that is creepy), but just other people. Some Christians and a lot of non Christians.

    So Gary W, I like you because I have experienced these words:

    Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 ESV)


    Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15 ESV)
    My tales of abuse actually did shed a few tears in the corner of his eyes.

    It’s true.
    My biggest beef at the time and now is it was sad the church was an unsafe place to go for healing.
    Nobody really wanted to listen. They really don’t practice bearing anothers burdens. They brush you off with sweeping gestures , of verses they probably don’t really believe. Its just a way to get rid of you so they don’t have to listen and bear you up, weep, love or do anything that costs them to lay down their lives.

    I paid a guy, thousands ,& thousands of bucks to listen to me. I used to joke the only reason he did was because he got paid. Which was true, but , he really was transparent about helping and really wanting healing for me. He was sincere at least when he took the cash. Lol
    Anyhow, the church should do what he did.

    Unbearing pain, and trauma, and voicing it to someone brings healing. Just knowing someone understands and is broken and sad or angry about it brings so much validation.
    I really think we need medical proffessional help. I needed my therapist and my doctor badly. They played a specific role in my healing.

    But we also need each other in the body of Christ to lay down the weapons of judgement, pride, impatience, spite, and jealousies.
    We need to shut our mouths and listen. And love.

    As I was also sexually abused by clergy church wasn’t a safe spot for me. But early on, before therapy, I did experience some people from a different church who did love me enough to listen. Or at least be their guinea pig for prayer.

    I also experienced quite bad and painful spiritual abuse also. So it was a mixed bag, much like a handful of Bits and Bites. Everyhandful was a whole new ball game.

    I think the key was I never stopped hounding God for help. I had been to the pit of despair, there was nothing but death there. The only other option was God.

    So to all of you with painful gut wrenching stories we hear you, and never give up.

    And to JA.
    Your story , must be spoken. It is powerful.
    Your little girl , what a powerful tale of God’s grace and mercy.
    I must admit, I tend to get second hand PTSD, and my intial reaction was utter panic inside. I still have a way to go with certain brain wiring of PTSD symptoms. I’m not sure if it will go away. But, God must have brought her down in his hand or an angel wing.
    Thanks for telling us.


  71. Bunkababy, your comment is wonderful. I love what you wrote to Gary W. (He hasn’t been around for a while and I miss him and his words.)

    I’m glad that you have sought help for PTSD. Keep talking and moving forward. Your story is so important!


  72. The timing of finding this blog
    Post couldn’t have been any more perfect. Praise God for that and thank you for your words. I REALLY needed to read them today.



  73. I’m glad this article benefited you, Tina! BTW, I changed your name to Tina2 because we have another commenter by the name of Tina 🙂 Thanks!


  74. Isn’t it amazing how reading the words of someone’s story can really resonate with you? The same thing happened with me years ago when I discovered I had really experienced spiritual abuse. It’s actually life changing. Thanks for your comment, Tina!


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