From a Mental Hospital Ward, [Crushed]

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.”

Psalm 143:3

Some time ago,  I was hospitalized for my mental illness. (Actually seven times.) And though each time was bitter, but the Lord carried me.  They would take from me my shoelaces, and belts, and fingernail clippers.  Basically, I was stripped of everything, anything that I might use to harm myself. But I was creative, I took a clock off the wall and rolled it in a blanket,  I smashed it and used the shards of glass to cut my wrists.The nurses were exceptionally observant, and within moments they intervened.

I had already been stripped, searched, and then brought into a ward full of very sick people.  Much of all of this is a terrible glazed blur.  There was a real awareness of unreality.  I was quite confused, and it would take several weeks before I could reconnect.  Things were no longer ‘reasonable’ and I could discern nothing.  But I didn’t know I was so confused (but I did suspect it). The staff were quite aware and accommodating.  They let me be, so time could take care of the rest. I needed to unravel things  

Besides, Jesus knew exactly where I was if I didn’t.

Days rolled by, quite slowly.  The tedium of a mental hospital is the worst— much more difficult than jail or prison.  You walk in a very limited corridor, back and forth.  You wait for your shrink, and wait, and wait.  You pace, and pace. You pray, stupidly.  The other patients were equally disturbed.  There was a great variety among them.  One guy would urinate in any corner. Once he jumped up on the nurses station, and took a “whizz.” It was hysterical.  He almost shorted out their computer.

In all of this, there was a very bleak and strange awareness, of being incredibly ‘detached,’ and only remotely aware that something was not right with me.  I tried to get well, but I was mentally lost.  I paced, and I remained confused.  I was most definitely in an ugly place.  Desperate and increasingly bewildered, I knew I had no place to go.  A fine place for someone who used to pastor, and teach at a Bible college.

If you have been in this place, you will recognize the ‘lostness’ of being on a ward of a mental hospital. It is confusion mixed with despair,  and without a part of very strong drugs, and there is nothing you can do to be released.  And really until you come to this fact, they will never let you go.  They wait for you to snap out of your confusion, unfortunately that takes time. Sometimes many weeks and whole months. Sometimes never.

It’s worse when you have a family.  In my case it was my wife, and two small children.  This at times, would twist my heart.  I would get a very short phone call, once a week.  But this was quite difficult.  I gained very little from those calls, and I found myself quite disturbed after each call.  Being on this ward tinged me completely. It was like being dipped into darkness.  I was very much affected.  Now on the outside, I admit I was quite disturbed, but at the time I honestly did not understand a way out.

Dear friend, having a mental illness is cruel and disturbing.  And being committed to a mental hospital is a desperate thing.  Having passed through its locked doors is something you will never forget.  The way I figure these seven hospitalizations have stolen over six months of my life. Its work is irrevocable, its fingerprints will be on your life, for as long as you live.  But God will bring good out of this. This I know.

“Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
    Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
    the Lord will be my light.”

Micah 7:8

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The Oblivious Find His Mercy

sshot4f7069193810fI have had a strange life. 

There were times in one of the mental hospitals, where I was very much disconnected from the real world.  I went through weeks of “not understanding,” I wasn’t able to mesh with the routine around me.  I sincerely thought I did, and I wanted to very much.  But the ‘gears’ wouldn’t come into alignment. Mental illness made me a stranger to what was real.

Struggling with mental illness will very often take you into places you have never, ever dreamed of.  As a matter of plain fact, you’ll hardly will grasp what is real.  And that is when you sink into insanity.  (At this juncture, only God can restore you.)

My heart goes out to those who are lost in their own minds. 

But certainly also to those ‘loved ones’ who are completely muddled. They so want to explain what is happening.  Those of us, ‘on-the-slide’ down, must realize that we are affecting all those lives of those who are nearest to us.  This is not a guilt-trip, but a simple acknowledgement of what ‘falls-out’ on the recipients of our twisted confusion.

“My mind is a neighborhood I try not to go into alone.” 
— Anne Lamott

The point of this is we must accept that there are places in our minds which are “no man’s zones” where logically none can go safely.  Those of us start to transgress that ‘zone’ and we become casualties.

Destruction rules in us, and we are undone.  All you want to do is to escape from what is hurting you.  Maybe that is why abusing alcohol and drugs is so prevalent among hurting people.

I do want to encourage you who are waiting for a dear one, a loved one to emerge from their confusion.  They are lost, and have disappeared into the fog.  It’s hard to see them anymore. Your heart breaks because of their condition.  But you must trust in the Grace of the Father.  You really have no other options.

“We are workers together with God, so we beg you: Do not let the grace that you received from God be for nothing.”

2 Corinthians 14:1

ybic, Bryan


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