When I go to my local Christian bookstore, I walk in and the first thing I am faced with is the "new release" book section.
Now, you might be thinking, "what's so special about that?"
Well, nothing really.
Except for the fact that three shelves are all self-help books written by "Christian authors". Maybe two shelves contain fictional and testimony books.
In the store there are about three rows of shelves dedicated to self-help for the "Christian". A row and a half dedicated to devotionals. And that's not including the special display by the check out.
Then there is a special wall row dedicated to "special" self-help books. I don't remember what makes them "special", I don't pay any attention to it.
Then there's three wall rows dedicated to all sizes, age groups, theological, leather bound, nylon bound, study, and all the many different translations of bibles. Sheesh!
As well, there are about three rows dedicated to fiction novels, romance, drama, political thriller, mystery, thriller, and fantasy. And a row for the youth aimed fiction novels, containing the aforementioned novel genres.
Now, one might be thinking why I am writing about this. To tell the truth, I'm not exactly sure myself.
It's still in the process of processing info before coming out of my mind.
I'll play the ADHD card with this.
I was just talking with my mom just after looking through an advert newsletter type magazine selling all types of "Christian books". Most of them being "Christian self-help" books.
And I noticed that quite a lot were specific on familiar subjects that I am quite familiar with.
That being emotions, moods, brokenness, and so on.
It struck me that not a one of the books mentioned anything about mental illness.
Which is where a lot of the problems with the subjects that mentioned just above.
It seems to me that "Christian authors" are still denying the strong link between problems with emotions, moods and so on...
There was not a single book on the subject of mental illness.
This makes me sad, considering how prevalent mental illness is in society today, and that includes the "Christian society".
In Canada, one in five people have experienced and/or are experiencing one mental illness or another.
And more disturbing, suicide in teens is the number one killer next only to accidental death.
Depression is NOT just being "depressed" or just "feeling down".
Depressive disorders are very real illnesses and do kill a lot, both in teen-agers and adults; mostly women over men.
I am a Christian, who just happens to have five mental illnesses.
Those being Borderline Personality Disorder, Bi Polar Affective Disorder (Bipo II), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Generalized and Social Anxiety Disorders.
I am unable to work due to them, as I have been for the last almost six years.
Mental illnesses are just like any other illness, the sooner you catch it, the easier or the higher the chance of recovery or the treatment working.
The longer one goes without diagnosis, the harder the treatment and the less likely for the chance for any kind of recovery.
Okay, back to what I was talking about before, ADHD again.
Many, as I have already said, live everyday with their illness(es) with little or no hope.
They suffer in silence, for fear of ridicule, and/or judgement.
Ooops, went off topic again. lol
As I was saying before, there were no books that addressed this ever growing issue of mental illness(es).
I have to wonder why.
Do Christians not think that mental health issues are worth writing about?
Do some Christians still think like in the dark ages?
Where it was widely believed that mental illnesses were a curse of the devil.
They were believed also, to be judgements from God for one kind of hidden sin or the other.
I think it is mostly due to the fact that most Christians think that they can just pray everything away, and all will be good and "normal.
Now, I am not questioning the validity of prayer, I know prayer works and can change everything.
But what most Christians don't realize, is that one with mental illness isn't going to necessarily recognize and/or accept an offer of prayer.
One must realize that those of us with mental illness(es) don't have brains that are working properly when it comes to mood and emotional disorders, including any other type of mental illness.
Not to say that we are broken and beyond all repair.
Because we are not!
Maybe to you, not me.
I am not saying praying for us is not a bad thing or useless.
Everyone needs prayer, we all need the comfort and healing of God's grace and unfailing love.
Really, there is no difference between the Christian with mental illness(es) and the Christian without mental illness(es).
However, mentally ill Christians are "unique" in a way.
We are vulnerable to spiritual attacks, maybe even more so than the layperson, because as with any predator, Legion seeks out the so-called weak and sick first whom to attack and devour.
I have many experiences with spiritual attacks.
And I'm not being delusional or paranoid.
I say the Christian with mental illness(es) are "unique" because we face many more challenges than one who is not a Christian but has mental illness(es).
Not only do we have to deal with ourselves, the stigma that surrounds mental illness in general, but all the presumptions, assumptions, and misconceptions of most Christians who just do not, or will not understand what mental illness is.
Mental illness(es) are an imbalance of the chemicals in one's body and brain.
Those chemicals are one's feelings and emotions.
Thus the behaviour most would deem as "strange" and "abnormal".
Mental illness(es) are real and physical illnesses as is Cancer, Diabetes, Cystic Fibrosis and so on and on...
Christians need to catch up to the modern age and realize the unique situation of the Christian who just happens to have mental illness(es).
God would never put anything on anyone, He loves us all, His children.
Nor would He have anyone suffer needlessly.
He would never judge anyone differently than the other just because one just might be sick.
He does, however, use those of us with mental illness(es) to reach those who wouldn't otherwise be reachable, because of the mistrust and fear that exists with the mentally ill.
And justly so.
I should mention God does use the layperson as well to reach people.
I myself have been blessed with the spiritual gift of encouragement.
As well as wisdom.
I have been given many other talents, as with the ability to write poetry, and one day to be an author.
I also paint, draw and am a photographer.
Now, I'm not saying I am more special or gifted and blessed than anyone else, I'm just as screwed up as the next man, irregardless.
I am now seeing I may be the one who starts writing about mental health and the Christian. I do feel a stirring in my heart.
But I am still at the development stage, and am still being prepared for such a huge undertaking.
That's what my purpose in life is, to reach out to those who are like minded to me. To be a voice to and for the silent.
I can hear the silence scream.
So many suffer needlessly in silence for fear of ridicule, judgement that they often experience both in the church and the world. It's this silence that is the true killer.
Not to be blaming anyone, for no one is to blame.
Yes, I think God is trying to tell me something in regards to the lack of books about mental health.
It is definitely time, as it has been for a long time, for the light that I have been given to carry, to carry it out into the open.
I can only hope that I will be a blessing to someone and an encouragement and maybe even an inspiration to someone.
All according to God's perfect will of course.
So, it just might be me to fill the void in Christian book stores with the truth about mental health pertaining to the Christian.
Keep a look out in the "new release" section at your local "Christian bookstore", who knows, maybe you'll find a book on mental health that I wrote.
SCOTT DAVID BUCKLEY