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Author Topic: Possible convert struggling with mental illness  (Read 501 times) Average Rating: 0
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dottykins
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« on: September 09, 2012, 04:04:31 PM »

I was raised Protestant, but, in my exploration of Orthodoxy, feel called by God to move towards it. Hopefully this is the appropriate place to ask these questions.

I'm in my early twenties and have struggled with fairly severe OCD and anxiety. A fairly unstable home life exacerbated these illnesses, resulting in compulsive lying to keep safe and difficulty trusting others. Recently, I started to professional help and am starting to have hope again, for which I'm eternally grateful to God for. I take complete responsibility for the sins I have committed because of them, and fully desire, with the grace of God, to fight against the compulsive lying and other sins I am tempted by.

In about six months, I will be moving to a new city where there are Orthodox churches (there are none close enough for me to drive to where I live now), so I plan on visiting them then. Here are a couple of questions I have:

1.) Would a priest be understanding about how my past and illnesses have shaped my life, and be willing to aid me in learning how to live a life of integrity? I worry that this would be too demanding of a priest.

2.) Does Orthodoxy condemn medical treatment of such illness, such as anti-depressants and the help of a therapist to keep my symptoms under control?

3.) Would I be shunned by other members of the Orthodox church for suffering from these illnesses and how they have manifested themselves in my life?

4.) Does anyone have suggestions for creating a supportive community with other Orthodox Christians until I move? Is this forum a good place to learn and ask questions and for prayer?

Thank you very much!
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stavros_388
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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2012, 04:30:25 PM »

Welcome, dottykins!

1) A good priest will definitely be understanding regarding your past history. If my current priest wasn't understanding in this way, I'd be in big trouble.

2) No. My priest is aware that my own psychiatric issues are being medically treated. Just listen to your doctor for now and speak to a priest about it honestly and openly when you arrive at your new destination.

3) Hell, no! You don't really need to disclose these things to your fellow parishioners, and we are all broken, all fallen, and we all have to deal with all kinds of issues (physical, psychological, psychiatric, and so on). My priest often says that you have to start where you are. God knows you better than any of your parishioners ever will. Do your best to do His will and leave the rest to Him. Anyway, Christ calls us not to judge.

4) This forum, as well as the forum at Monachos.net, are good places to meet other Christians and ask questions. But be careful not to get pulled into needless debates and so forth. Most people on this forum are eager to help and answer any sincere questions you have. Read good books and take some of what you may read here with a grain or two of salt.

I hope this is at least a little helpful for you. Best of luck!
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Punch
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2012, 09:25:30 PM »

I was raised Protestant, but, in my exploration of Orthodoxy, feel called by God to move towards it. Hopefully this is the appropriate place to ask these questions.

I'm in my early twenties and have struggled with fairly severe OCD and anxiety. A fairly unstable home life exacerbated these illnesses, resulting in compulsive lying to keep safe and difficulty trusting others. Recently, I started to professional help and am starting to have hope again, for which I'm eternally grateful to God for. I take complete responsibility for the sins I have committed because of them, and fully desire, with the grace of God, to fight against the compulsive lying and other sins I am tempted by.

In about six months, I will be moving to a new city where there are Orthodox churches (there are none close enough for me to drive to where I live now), so I plan on visiting them then. Here are a couple of questions I have:

1.) Would a priest be understanding about how my past and illnesses have shaped my life, and be willing to aid me in learning how to live a life of integrity? I worry that this would be too demanding of a priest.

Yes.  It is not too demanding for any real priest.

Quote
2.) Does Orthodoxy condemn medical treatment of such illness, such as anti-depressants and the help of a therapist to keep my symptoms under control?

No.  Orthodoxy believes that God also guides the doctors and blesses them to make us well.  While some of these mental illnesses may be demonic opression, many are just the natural result of man's sin and nature's fall.  There is nothing wrong with, or faithless, in seeking medical treatment.

Quote
3.) Would I be shunned by other members of the Orthodox church for suffering from these illnesses and how they have manifested themselves in my life?

Who needs to know?  And if you find someone with whome you want to share these things, they should accomodate you.  I do not like to be lied to.  But if a person came to me with your above confession, I would think nothing badly of them.  We all struggle with things that are often unsavory.


Quote
4.) Does anyone have suggestions for creating a supportive community with other Orthodox Christians until I move? Is this forum a good place to learn and ask questions and for prayer?

Thank you very much!

It can be, if you take half of what you read with a grain of salt.  There are some really wise people on here.
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2012, 09:34:08 PM »


dottykins, welcome to the forum!!!!

I completely agree with what Punch said.

Don't be worried about what people say or think...as long as you know you are doing your best before God.

Feel free to ask questions on this forum, just don't be put off if you get some snarky replies.  Sarcasm is hard to gauge if you are not speaking face to face....but, everyone truly means well...we've just gotten to know each other so well, that we squabble like siblings, sometimes.

May God help you and guide you on your journey home!
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2012, 02:21:09 AM »

1.) Would a priest...be willing to aid me in learning how to live a life of integrity? I worry that this would be too demanding of a priest.

He would be understanding and be able to aid you if he's a real priest, yes.

But a priest only has so many hours in the day, and so he wouldn't, of course, be able to provide 24/7 assistance or anything like that. It's helpful to keep in mind the practical. Perhaps your priest would recommend, or you could seek out, a 12 step program or something similar to compliment your professional treatment?
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if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.
dottykins
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2012, 09:19:09 AM »

Thank you all very much for your kind responses! I feel welcomed and reassured.

NicholasMyra, your idea was an excellent one, thank you. When I find a priest at a parish that I would like to attend, I will ask him if there is any additional care he would suggest in addition to professional treatment.
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Thomas
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2012, 09:25:17 AM »

My daughter has both PTSD, Anxiety Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder and our Parish priest is very kind and considerate with her as are the members of the parish. We have several people who have social phobias in the parish and Father has directed them as to what to do in church whentheir phobia hits them. I find for the most part Orthodoxy makes efforts to be inclusive of people with mental and physical illness accepting them where they are and assisting them to live and make progress in their spiritual life despite their disabilities or illnesses.

Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum. I hop[e that this will be a place for you to get your answers to your questions about Orthodoxy in a safe and non-judgemental forum.

Your brother in Christ,
Thomas
« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 09:26:11 AM by Thomas » Logged

Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas
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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2012, 10:20:59 AM »

I am also a VERY possible convert struggling with mental illness.
I have Schizo Affective Disorder and suffer from paranoia.
My Priest has been wonderful about the situation. I assume most Priest have his integrity
as well.
I am very new to Orthodoxy and I find the Orthodox more understanding and less judgmental than the Roman Catholics I am leaving.
For myself I have found the more I focus on God and the less I focus on myself, the less anxious and paranoid I am.
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