Before you yell at me, yes, I know that sometimes it is also beyond one’s control. I am not denying the existence of clinical depression, being bi-polar, having obsessive and/or compulsive disorders, PTSD, social anxiety, or any other myriad of disorders that are out there. Sometimes they are totally legit. I get it. I agree. I’m not talking about that. There’s my disclaimer. But SOMETIMES people are diagnosed as mentally ill when the issues are really spiritual ones.
Actually, I’m pretty sure that deep down inside all of us there are crazy seeds. Little nuggets of nuttiness that just sit there waiting and wanting to be fertilized and nurtured into full blown gardens of mental dysfunction. Usually they are dormant, only showing themselves on occasion when you wig out on the kids for putting dirty laundry away in their drawers, when it’s gloomy outside and the thought of leaving your house overwhelms you, or when the car in front of you cuts you off and then decides to hit his brakes. But sometimes people take those seeds and instead of doing what they can to keep them at bay, they actually nurture and feed them. Like Miracle Grow on one of those giant tomato plants, the crazy grows past what is normal and blooms into something bigger.
“Isolation cooks the crazy.” It’s one of my husband’s favorite sayings because time and time again it proves to be true. There is a strong correlation between cutting oneself off from other mentally healthy people and losing it yourself. Humans were created to be social creatures. We were meant to have other people in our lives to enforce our checks and balances. In the Garden of Eden, God himself said that it is not good for man to be alone. And when people start to separate themselves from others too much, it becomes evident. Your grip on what’s normal and truthful begins to slip. And when truth no longer plays a factor in your mental decision making, you open the door for all sorts of irrational thinking to take over.
And not to sound like one of Job’s friends, but you know what else plays a major factor in poor mental health a lot of times? Good, old fashioned sin. I know it’s not a popular idea these days to say that there are things that are just clearly right and wrong, but it‘s true. It’s why sane people know that it’s not o.k. to murder people. Certain things are hardwired into us. And when those things are violated, it changes the way our minds work.
Addiction is a big one. If you smoke crack, it’s going to rewire your brain. Same with alcohol, sex, and even sometimes food. Chemical and physical changes in our brains can be manifested by moral choices. There are a ton of stats that talk about the tie between mental illness and addictions. I know there is a “which came first the chicken or the egg” debate surrounding them, but honestly, both are true. Sometimes people are more prone to be addicts because of mental illness and sometimes mental illness is a byproduct of addiction.
Addiction isn’t the only one though. If you find yourself existing under a constant blanket of guilt because you are living in a way that you know you shouldn’t, if you continually focus on grim and negative thoughts, on what you aren’t capable of instead of what you are capable of, or on every bad or unfair thing that has happened to you, it is going to cause you to feel depressed and anxious. Your fears increase. Your mistrust of others increases. Your desire to do mentally healthy things decreases, and before you know it, you are in full blown crazy mode. While it may have evolved to a place that is truly a medical issue, it started off as something that could have been totally preventable.
Psalm 32:3 says, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.”
Romans 6:16 says, "Don't you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living."
Our moral choices have physical consequences. And we can become enslaved to them.
If you suffer from mental illness, get medical help if you need it. I’m not denying that is sometimes necessary and beyond your control. Even if it was initially caused by sin, sometimes medical intervention becomes a necessary step towards healing. I’m not trying to pile guilt onto an already complex problem.
But if you find yourself just now starting to struggle with some of these mental traps, check yourself and your behaviors now. Make necessary adjustments before your crazy seeds bloom into a full blown garden of nuttiness.