by Beverly Ward
September 11, 2022
From Science: We all have a 'breaking point', a point where the stressors in our lives are just too much and our ability to cope is not enough. Sometimes crossing this line results in a psychotic episode. Psychosis is simply when a person experiences disruptions to their thoughts and perceptions that make it difficult for them to recognize what is real and what isn’t. Often psychosis is experienced as seeing, hearing, and believing things that are not real. Common examples of psychosis are hearing voices as if someone is talking when no one is, seeing people or things that are not actually there, believing that people are persecuting or following us when no one is. When someone is experiencing a psychotic episode the events they are experiencing are not really happening, but the person is experiencing them as if they are real and their thoughts and emotions related to the events are very, very real. Most people report being scared and confused when experiencing psychosis.
Anyone can experience a psychotic episode and many people do. As many as 3 in 100 people will have a psychotic episode in their lives. Many people who experience psychotic episodes report being afraid to tell anyone. Often they report feeling ashamed, and worried that others will look at them as fundamentally flawed if they talk about what they have experienced. Unfortunately, psychosis is not well understood in our culture and therefor it is often stigmatized. Changing this perception begins with education. Good, reliable information about psychosis can be found at the websites for NAMI, Mayo Clinic, and NIMH.
If you or someone you love experiences a psychotic episode, don't be afraid to talk about it and to seek help. It is important to get help right away, early treatment has been shown to slow, stop and even reverse the effects of psychosis. There is an excellent video in the Lagniappe section about how to support someone in a psychotic episode.
From Scripture: No illness, whether physical or psychological, changes anything about the Truths in God's Word. People who have experienced psychosis sometimes report fears that God is punishing them, angry with them, or does not love them. Scripture shows us that God's people experience illnesses. We are told that these human bodies we have will decay and die (1 Corinthians 15: 42-44). We get diseases: cancer, depression, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, bi-polar disorder, high blood pressure, schizophrenia, autism and many, many other forms of illness. It is part of our humanity. With the assurance afforded in God's Word, we can know that, in the next life, all pain and suffering will be wiped away permanently. For now we live in bodies that sometimes get sick and will eventually expire. When we step into eternity, we will receive new and glorified bodies free from diseases and all human weaknesses - Hallelujah.
God gave us His Word as an anchor to hold us to Him in this life, as a compass to set the course for our life, as a light when darkness falls, as a sword to cut through the strongest of lies. If you are human, God's Word applies to you and His Word says that He loves you and is fighting for you. He is with you and not against you. You are His beloved. Consider Romans 8:35,37 "Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? ...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us."
Action Plan: Pay attention to your self-care. The best prevention of psychosis includes managing our lives to prevent overwhelming stress from pushing us into a break. Good self-care includes the basics of a healthy diet, some form of exercise, good sleep, keeping our bodies clean, and it also includes mental health habits such as being mindful of the information we put into our minds (what we read, watch on TV, listen too, including music). What you are putting into your mind (your mental diet) shapes your thoughts and beliefs, even if you are not aware of it. Scripture warns us to guard and protect our hearts and minds. Consider Proverbs 4:23, "watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life".
What should be our mental diet? Consider Philippians 4:8, "...whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]."
A woman who has Schizophrenia teaches us how to support someone during psychosis
Psychiatrist Daniel Amen talks about Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Philippians 4:8