Holistically Managing Mental Illness | Rick & Kay Warren


Kay: You may have just been diagnosed with
a mental illness, or you may have a family member who has just been diagnosed, and yet
your mind is full of thoughts. You might even be a little frightened, because that’s an
overwhelming diagnosis. We want to talk to you in this, about how to manage a mental
illness from a holistic perspective. Probably the very first thing from this diagnosis is,
your psychiatrist may have said to you that adding medication may be the very first thing
that you need to do. Taking medication for a mental illness, that can be very frightening.
You don’t know how you’re going to feel, you don’t know how it’s going to make you act,
you don’t know is it going to change you. It can really be a frightening thing.
Rick: Yeah, and as a pastor who studied the Bible for over 40 years, I can tell you this,
it’s not a sin to be sick. It’s not a sin to take medication. In fact, a lot of people
think that … they’re ashamed of taking medicine. Well, why? If my heart doesn’t work and I
take heart medicine; there’s no shame in that. If my liver doesn’t work and I take liver
medicine; there’s no shame in that. If my brain isn’t working work and I take medicine
for my brain; there’s no shame in that. There’s no stigma to that, it’s just part of being
a human being and living in a broken world. Kay: That’s what we want to talk about, is
how to manage mental illness in a holistic way. Sometimes people think if they go and
they get a diagnosis and somebody says, “Okay, here’s the illness that you have. Here’s the
medication that you have, and we also want you to involved in therapy.” Sometimes we
can think that that’s all that’s necessary. Sometime that’s good, sometimes taking medication
and being in weekly therapy dealing with your mind and dealing with your thoughts, is incredibly
… Rick: Your emotions.
Kay: Your emotions, is incredibly helpful, but that’s not all. You’re going to need to
work in some other area. There’s some other things that are going to add benefit to you
managing a mental illness. Rick: Yeah, you might even take it in layers.
You might start at the most basic level, which biological, and that is what’s wrong in my
body that needs some medicine. Then what’s wrong in my thinking that maybe needs some
straightening out of the way that I think. Of course, a good counselor can help you on
that. The Bible says, in the multitude of counselors
there is safety. In other words, it is wise to get advice from other people. People see
things that we don’t see. They can also help us interpret experiences in our life, like
trauma, abuse, difficulties that we’re been unable to even think about ourselves.
Kay: You mentioned physically, that things can go wrong inside our bodies that can lead
to mental illness. Also, there are things that you can do to control what happens in
your body. Meaning you and I are totally in control of how much sleep we get. You and
I are … Rick: Right.
Kay: Totally in control of how we eat. There are things you can adjust, your diet. Maybe
there’s some foods you need to cut, maybe there’s some food … if you’re just eating
Ho-Ho’s and coke every day for breakfast, there’s a good chance that’s probably not
going to help your mental health or your physical health. Really take a look seriously at what
you’re eating, how much sleep you’re getting, how much rest, how much physical activity.
When you add that physical component, it will have an effect on your mental health.
Rick: What we’re saying is that no mental health issue is simple; they’re all complex.
There’s a biological component that maybe require medicine, there is a physiological
component that could involve rest, exercise, and taking care of your body. There is a thought
component, which can involve helping interpret the experiences of life that make your illness
either worse or better. Then of course their relationships. Relationships have a profound
effect on our lives. Good relationships help us cope better with the natural problems we
have, bad relationships make it worse. Kay: Yeah, and we’ve found, because our son
lived with a mental illness for a very, very long time. In our family, and in our relationships,
we found that sometimes the relationship became strained; that mental illness caused there
to be some chaos, caused there to be some relationships that just didn’t work well.
As you’ve maybe just been diagnosed or you are a family member of somebody has, one of
the aspects in learning to manage mental illness in a holistic way is to approach relationships.
There may be some relationship repair that needs to happen, that will help you or help
your family member, as you guys cope with this diagnosis; this sometimes very frightening
diagnosis. We’re talking about what you can do take …
Rick: Let me say about that too. If you are a loved one of someone who’s struggling with
mental illness, and they have isolated you or they have had conflict with you or whatever
strain in the relationship; don’t take it personal.
Kay: Yeah, that reminds me. One of the best pieces of advice that we ever got, in helping
our son and in our family relationships, was to not take it personally and to listen to
the music, not just the words. Sometimes people who have mental illness say terrible things.
Let’s be honest, sometimes people, especially if they’re in a particular episode or if they’re
in a moment in which they’re struggling. Rick: They’re in pain.
Kay: They’re in deep pain, and they will say things, or you will say things that later
you go, “Why did I say that? I don’t mean that. These are people I love.” For us as
family members, we learned not to take it personally, to listen to what is, to what
his heart was not necessarily what his words were. That was a huge piece of advice for
us. Relationships in managing mental illness will have to addressed and helped.
Rick: Of course your relationship to God is a very important factor. The spiritual component
in mental illness, God has power that nobody else has. The Bible tells us that Jesus has
healing power in his words and in his life. Many years ago, probably 30 years ago, I went
through an entire year of depression. When I was going through that depression, one of
the many things I did, I took some medication, I went to see a therapist. I also read through
the Book of Psalms. As I read through the Book of Psalms, I underlines every verse that
had to do with depression or was a word on encouragement to me. I still have that Bible
30 years later. When I know someone who is discourage, somebody is going through a tough
time; I’ll often open that Bible and flip to those exact verses that helped me through
those painful days. Kay: Yeah, I would say if you are the person
who has just been diagnosed with mental illness or your family member, we cannot over-emphasize
how you’ve got to build yourself spiritually. There is a spiritual aspect and a spiritual
component. To be able to have a group, maybe just … maybe there’s just two or three verses,
you don’t have to have the whole Bible. You’ve got two or three verses that you can hang
onto in those moments when you’re feeling very low or the pain is so deep.
I don’t there’s a place in the Psalm’s, where the psalm says, “Darkness is my only companion.”
The people in the Bible, who wrote the Bible, really understand depression, understand pain.
Jesus understands it. Not only do you need to have that spiritual strength for yourself,
but line up some people who will pray for you. Some people who will promise, who will
commit to you that they will pray. There is this spiritual aspect that you’ve got to manage,
as we holistically manage mental illness. Rick: Part of the spiritual component in managing
mental illness, is to hold onto the promises of God. There are over 7,000 promises in the
Bible. I was talking to someone the other day who was struggling with schizophrenia.
He said, “The promise I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” He said, “Got
him through his darkest days.” Those promises are there, that you could hold on to when
you can’t believe everything you think. You can’t believe everything you see, but you
can believe everything God says to you. The more you understand how much God loves you
unconditionally, that he sees, he cares, he knows, he grieves, and he can help; these
are the spiritual components that you need to hold onto.
Kay: Yeah. Just remember that you are not just your mind, you’re not even just your
emotions; you are a whole-being. You are a body, a soul, and a spirit. To manage mental
illness, don’t overwhelmed by it. Just … but to go after this approach to manage it with
medication, through therapy, through your body, how you take care of your body, the
relationships that may need to strengthened. Absolutely, at the very bottom line, is strengthening
your relationship with God. He is the best person of all to help you manage.

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