When we’re sick, we need medicine, and we need treatment. As with any physical ailment, mental ailments have their medicine and treatment too. Sometimes, when handling an acute mental illness episode, hospitalization can be necessary, and unfortunately, incarceration may be a reality (for some). Based on my own experiences in these kinds of situations, I give you the following advice to hang on to while you’re undergoing an inpatient stay or incarceration:
Ask God to grant wisdom to the medical staff before you meet with the psychiatrist, therapist, social workers, etc. Pray for God to give you favor and rapport with other patients/inmates/staff – everyone you come into contact with through your time there. Ask for healing and resolution through the right people, medication, and therapies.
- Be honest with your symptoms.
The medical providers treat you for what you need, so being transparent and honest is the best way to get the best treatment for you. Tell them how the mania, psychosis, depression, symptoms are, and try to be as clear as possible. They should have information from YOU on how bad it really is, in order to have a chance to find the right medication and therapy.
- Express yourself.
Be diligent to journal your feelings and thoughts through this time. It’s part of the healing process to understanding your heart and soul. Even if the words don’t make sense on paper, continue to write prayers or lamentations out. If you are prone to manic symptoms, I would also advise being more reserved with your expression in your worship.
If you are inclined to have manic symptoms like thoughts of grandeur, hyper-religiosity, or inflated sense of self, this can be tempting to lose control. But one of the fruits of God’s spirit is a sound mind/self-control. Be wise as a serpent because mania can easily elevate the mood to euphoria when singing.
- Read and listen to the Bible.
If you can, spend time in Bible study, church services, and if they have a chaplain in the building, take advantage of their services to gain godly counsel. If you are particularly sorrowful, depressed, the books of Psalms, Job and Lamentations are particularly comforting. If in mania or psychosis, stay away from Revelation for now and spend time in the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, or the epistles (New Testament letters to the church). Proverbs is a sensible book to read when manic as well.
- Take your medications as prescribed.
If you are faithful to do what the doctor prescribes, and symptoms are not alleviated or don’t improve in 2 -3 months, be honest and let the doctor know. They can adjust to a different dosage or medication to help find the right one. It’s going to be mostly trial and error. And NEVER adjust medication on your own. Always talk to the psychiatrist first.
- Make Peace with Yourself, Others, and God.
If you have burned bridges with anyone, make amends. Ask the Lord to give you the foresight to make the most of the time while you’re inside the hospital or jail and to be as fruitful and productive as possible in Him. And listen to His spirit in your heart for the answer. When it aligns with the Bible, it’s probably His voice talking to you, but if it doesn’t align, throw it out.
Beyond this, once you get out into the world and are adjusting to life – a few things that come to me:
- Stay on the medication NO MATTER WHAT. Medication is one very big key to recovery.
- Get involved in a local church. Pray and search for a Biblically-based, gospel-centered, sound theological and mental-health friendly congregation.
- Try to find a job or volunteer activity. You must find a purpose to fulfill your time and spend it with rewarding work that you enjoy and are compensated for, either monetarily and/or morally/emotionally.
- Exercise. Find a practical sort of physical fitness you enjoy and can progress at. Begin a routine by setting a SMART Goal to follow through. Have a trusted, reliable friend or family member to keep you accountable and join you in staying healthy physically.
- Continue therapy. If you have trouble finding a Christian counselor in your area, try searching on aacc.net, therapyforchristians.com, or christiantherapistnetwork.org.
One Last Thing
1 Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
It will be a season, and because you love Him and follow Him, He will meet you where you are. He will provide strength and light at each step. You are not alone, ever! He is with you and has seen everything past, present, and future, and has every intention to give you the desires of your heart – for your good and His glory.
Stay brave and bold,
About the author:
Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at KatieRDale.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Since my former profession of case manager at a behavioral clinic, I’ve stepped into the role of stay-at-home mommy to Kylie. And I get to travel the world with Chris, my man in uniform. Aside from that, I could live off mac ‘n cheese, and I still hold onto my aspiration to run a sub-20-minute 5k. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale. Stay bold, brave, and real.