Self-Help And/Or Faith?

By Tim Reside

For those dealing with mental illness, the first great hindrance to healing, recovery and any true hope for an ultimate cure is denial. Frankly, this is not a package that anyone is thrilled to sign for. It is a package that once delivered, however, is not likely to go away by ignoring it. While I am a man of faith and believe in miracles, I know that “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” James 2:17). It might be said that the presumption of faith without right corresponding action could in fact produce death.

Faith without right corresponding action tends to set people up for disillusionment and increased suffering. Initially, my failure to understand this truth actually resulted in my presumed faith being an ultimately defeating and even debilitating form of denial! Then came the day when I realized that “ignorance was not bliss.” Then came the day when I began to assume responsibility for adding to my faith “self-help” works.

Regardless of the triggering and aggravating mechanisms, mental illnesses are generally the consequence of physiological (biochemical) anomalies in the brain. These are body breaks with no less likelihood for requiring a lifetime of treatment and appropriate monitoring and managing than cerebral palsy, quadriplegia, or diabetes. Any one of these body breaks responded to with “faith alone” and without complementary “self-help” works would, in most instances, result in premature death.

Self-help is here defined as acknowledging, in humility, one’s need for help with what they know they cannot handle by themselves. It is a mature and responsible willingness to take the initiative to reach out to, as well as work together with, the available resources that best promote a maximizing of wellness spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially. Such resources in God include: faith, hope, love, family, friends, doctors, ministers, and treatment protocols.

Let me encourage you to keep practicing your faith. Let me also encourage you to add to your faith appropriate corresponding self-help works. If you need to begin learning how to handle the unanticipated delivery of a mental illness package in your life, or the life of a loved one, I recommend that you take advantage of “self-education” opportunities. I recommend our Bright Tomorrows’ “Help Link” resource. If you would like a pastoral care appointment with someone who has an understanding of the challenge of mental illness, email me. A simple contact e-mail form can be found on our Contact Us page.

TIM RESIDE is the President of Bright Tomorrows. Tim has completed 108 credit hours of study in Practical Theology, inclusive of 36 hours at the doctoral level, and holds an MA in Practical Theology. Tim has been successfully coping with and overcoming bipolar illness since 1979.