In 2015 four years of increasing deterioration of my mental health led to my hospitalization, twice within a four month period, with schizoaffective disorder. I was not informed that I had the disorder until 3 years after, in 2018, because the news of such a devastating diagnosis itself has led people to self-hatred to the extent of provoking suicide. If this applies to you, don’t give up, and read my book.
This is not the place to offer a theology of suicide, if a satisfying theodicy – theological treatise – of the phenomenon could ever suffice in the first place. No, with the matter of suicide suffice it to say that the pastoral response is the only appropriate response.
Furthermore, prevention of suicide, as well as preventing the harming of others, is the far more preferable option in the case of serious mental illness (SMI), and this requires in most cases, self-compassion, self-understanding, successful meaning-making in the face of a devastating diagnosis and troubling symptoms, and most important, medicine, perhaps therapy, and an overall commitment to good health.
Particularly helpful is the ability to approach mental health challenges from a growth mindset. Rather than trying to avoid symptoms, I try to promote health – holistically. My physical, mental, emotional, relational, and marital, and professional health.
For this reason, the optimism of Wesleyanism, a famous stream of Christianity, is particularly inspirational; or at least it has been for me.
My mentor Rick Steele at SPU first alerted me to the reality that God wills my flourishing, and that disordered desires are dehumanizing. Therefore, why not dutifully take one’s medicine as a matter of Christian responsibility?
Since working out my salvation with his care over a period of years, I have since sought to help others do the same via my mental health website and blog. My hope is that it is helpful.