What Mental Illness Taught Me About Jesus

When I first started working in mental health, I didn’t know what to expect.  I knew how mental illness was portrayed in movies, but I didn’t know what it was really like. 

In training they taught me the definition of mental illness.  The different types.  The symptoms.  The treatments. 

I was told about its prevalence. I learned that illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are no different than other illnesses, like diabetes and heart disease. The only difference is that it is the brain that is affected, not the rest of the body. 

They prepared me for the worst.  I was told gruesome stories involving death, sex, bodily fluids, and other things that I didn’t want to imagine.

When I finally began working the wards – and I finally got to look mental illness in the face – I was shocked.  I didn’t know that the outcasts I was taught to fear all of my life were actually… people.  People who loved and hoped and feared and wept. 

These patients were much like the people I interacted with at home or at school.  After being on the wards for a month, I found that I could even compare a few of the patients to some of my friends.  I could see my own sister reacting in the same way to the same circumstances as a woman I met – a woman who would never leave the institution.

There were many patients who had no hope of leaving or being accepted as “normal” by everyday society. I knew that some of them would act and be treated like monsters for the rest of their lives.  It was for these people, the ones who had no visible hope, who needed to be loved.

It was here that I was able to see a beautiful picture of the gospel that I had never noticed before.

When Christ became flesh and dwelt among us, he helped the sick and the needy.  Not only did he miraculously heal the sick and cast out demons, but he showed love and kindness to those who were usually shunned.  He gave hope to those who had none. 

I worked in mental health for three years and from my experiences there I learned how vulnerable and helpless man can be.  I learned that we are all desperately in need of a savior who will redeem us from our own depravity.  I saw the true beauty of the grace of Jesus Christ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *