Stigma from Religion

I’m just leaning on God.

Which was her reasoning for stopping her Lexapro.

Nora’s family lashed out angrily at her. “Why are you so horrible!”

Her husband had left her for another woman from their church, a “friend” of Nora’s who used to come to their house for movie nights. He said, “You’re like poison, Nora. I’m not happy any more with you.”

Nora had now lost her job. She couldn’t focus and cried too much at work. Her supervisor told her, “You are not the same.”

Nora decided she wasn’t going to take her medications any longer because what she needed was more faith to be well and to get her life back. Her plan for recovery from debilitating depression and paralyzing anxiety was to be more dependent on God by way of certain practices, mainly not taking her medication. Although she didn’t see her plan for recovery quite so transparently. She thought it was through prayer and sincere intention to be God’s rehabilitation appurtenant.

Nora did say she was still taking her anticholesterol medication. And so we spoke about the important related perspectives between what Nora saw to be “medical” verses “spiritual” illness.

  • First to lead into the matters, “What are you taking your Crestor for?”
  • Where does cholesterol come from in our bodies?
  • Where do emotions and behaviors come from?
  • Is there a spiritual element that has a relationship to high cholesterol?  How about to emotions and behaviors?
  • Is there a medical change that causes the disease of hypercholesterolemia? How about emotions and behaviors?
  • Why be willing to take medication for a spiritual illness of hypercholesterolemia? Wink.

Nora, it turned out, loved where this conversation took her thoughts. It was hard to encounter inconsistencies in her religious beliefs and practices. But she did because she is a woman of courage!

It got me thinking about what role our cultures, related to religion, play into our emotional health. Is there a source of stigma against getting life saving medical treatment for mental illness that we are missing simply from the religious culture we are quietly woven into through life?  Randy Travis’s song lyrics, “I hear tell the road to hell is paved with good intentions…” implies that we in religion justify the collateral damage, such as death and ruined lives by mental illness, by the belief in the greater good. I’m sure I do this too in my own unconscious way. And isn’t that what this post is all about? I want to take a big stick to this glass and shatter it! (Aggressive much? Smile.)

When I think of Nora, sometimes I can’t believe she actually is taking medication and doing so well now in her life journey. It’s a miracle.

Self-Care Tip: Explore the role religion is in your opinion toward medical treatment.

Questions: How does religion interweave into your stigmas? Or those you’ve broken through? 

Or maybe it’s the opposite. Religion has contributed to your self care and medical choices?

Please speak! We need to hear you!

3 thoughts on “Stigma from Religion

  1. Nothing, including religion and medication, helps, ultimately. You live through it (or in it or with it) and you eventually die and, with incredible gratitude, talk it through with God, Him, her or itself, and finally rest peacefully for eternity.
    Amen.

  2. I just reread Eat, Pray, Love, totally different book now than it was when I was using books to lose/hide myself while dealing with a newborn/crosscountry move/first time invasion of the inlaws.
    Point! She was trying to find her path to God and peace and OFF anti-depressants 😉

  3. NORA!!! Get back on your brain meds girl! A very smart woman once told me “God wants us to be happy, why not be the best we can be”. I am not ashamed that I need medication, I feel I am a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, Ti Tia,…. being on stabilizers. What I value the most about my entire body is my BRAIN. I will care for it like nothing else!!! If I am happier and more stable on meds then PRAISE GOD for my Doctor (Psychiatrist). I think it’s FOOLISH and outrageous that people are scared to take antidepressants…..The stigma cracks me up!! Hello? You take birth control, diabetes meds, heart meds, ambien…..But the most important thing you cannot care for? THE brain!!!! LOL I have a better relationship with God and my family and I am so happy, like never before! I thank GOD I am not STUPID or ignorant, I thank God for Sana, my husband, my family who said F the stigma!!! Earth is not my home, I don’t feel I belong here, I want to be in heaven soooooo bad. However, in the meantime I will make dang sure I am happy here to my fullest!!!! And I am! My advice! “Get on brain meds and own it, be happy”! Live, love and laugh! Life is too short!!!

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