In 2012 I had my early onset cataracts removed. I was 52 years old. Early onset cataracts runs in my family. All the women had the surgery before the age of 55. For me this was a miracle! 50 years ago, when I was 2 years old, I was diagnosed with severe myopia and strabismus. That means I was legally blind. At the age of 2 I started wearing eyeglasses with lenses so thick they looked like Coke bottles bottoms. As long as I wore those glasses I could see well enough to go to school and learn to read and write. As a teenage I was able to get a driver’s license.
Two days before the surgery to replace the lens in my right eye, (the second procedure) I began having really strange floaters. I told the doctor on the day of the procedure about it and, “Uh oh!” was not what I wanted to hear from him! He got out his special little magnifying glass and pointed a really bright light into my eye. He had a good look and said, “OK! It’s not a detached retina. You can have the procedure today.
One week after the procedure, while I was sitting in a bible study, I noticed that 1/2 of my vision in right eye was gone. It was like someone had pulled a black curtain across half on my eye and I could’t see around it. I called the doctor and he gave me the name and number for a doctor who specialized in detached retinas. For, indeed, that’s what I had; a detached retina.
The procedure was scheduled for the next day. And when I woke up in the doctor’s office, he explained what he had done: He had put a needle into my eyeball and sucked all the jellylike “vitreous humor” out of it, leaving it like an empty sack. Then he put the retina back into it’s proper place and filled my eyeball up with nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas.
And here’s where the fun began:
For about 2 weeks, looking through that eye was like looking through a fish bowl filled with clear jello. And at night, when I closed my eyes I saw darkness and a line of the most exquisite icy blue that glowed and diffused into a haze. It was so beautiful that I didn’t want to sleep!
As the laughing gas dissipated it was replaced by new vitreous humor
The second stage of recovery was a circle of clear vision surrounded with darkness. When I looked into a light with that eye shut, I saw a deep and rich orange that surrounded a purple circle in the center, ringed with black. It was breathtaking! As the days moved forward the purple circle got bigger and bigger.
Eventually, the circle became so large that the colors disappeared and were replaced by a cluster of clear bubbles, each inside a black ring. And as time went on, the bubbles became smaller and smaller and then there was a little cluster of them that danced on a line below which was clear vision and above which was the clear jellylike laughing gas. I had a lot of fun making the bubbles dance when I shook my head!
All told, the experience lasted eight weeks. And, I know I’m a little crazy, but I really enjoyed it!
And, you know, that’s what it’s like, living a life of gratitude. I was thankful for the doctor, thankful for the procedure, thankful for the ability to turn 8 weeks of not being able to see into an adventure.
Jesus gave me a point of view that made everything so much easier!
I suffer for people who attend a fellowship with believers who do not understand that mental health is a real medical issue. That means that those who are plagued by depression or anxiety don’t feel like they have spiritual family they can turn to.
I also suffer for people who feel that because of stereotypes, real or imagined, they can’t let anyone know how they suffer.
Mental illness is one of the enemy’s most popular tools to keep saints from living their fullest, most authentic lives. As long as he has free range in the minds of those who don’t understand mental illness and really don’t want to, men and women will continue to hide their pain.
How sad is it that those who so desperately need fellowship and someone to come along side of them, are so afraid of telling anyone because they think they’ll be judged for failing to lean on God to make this “go away” or are seen as unreliable, not to be trusted or just “not right.”
I live with generalized anxiety and depression; the result of a traumatic childhood. My mother suffered with bi-polar disorder, again the result of a traumatic childhood. (and was never diagnosed or treated.) My daughter has bi-polar disorder and my son, anxiety and depression.
How much of this was due to my lack of parenting skills? How much is a generational curse? Does it matter?
Chains can be broken. Healing can happen. I know that the God I serve can remove the pain in a split second. But why doesn’t He?
Why doesn’t He heal everyone with diabetes, or arthritis or any other illness?
My point is, mental illness is as prevalent as any other disease, and maybe even more so. The treatment of mental illness is also possible.
I take medication. I have since 1988, after the birth of my daughter. Without the serotonin supplement my brain needs I am incapable of the joy that I have and greatly desire to share with others.
Mental illness is not a spiritual deficiency.
Mental illness is not necessarily a demonic attack, although Satan will use our weaknesses against us.
Mental illness is not always something that can be overcome by prayer, although we who have it should continue to live with an expectation that we could be healed tomorrow.
Mental illness is not something that can be overcome by “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.”
Mental illness is often linked with people who have a yearning to create whether as musicians, writers or painters and sculptors.
Is it something we would trade away if it meant we couldn’t be artists? Not me. Using the creative tools that the Master of the Universe gave me so enriches my life! Artists see things differently than that rest of the world. We feel more deeply, we react more deeply. We rejoice and mourn more deeply. How can that be a bad thing?
Please, if you’re a person suffering with mental illness, along with your prayer life, include a trip to the doctor. Find out if there are ways you can live a fuller life where joy is present at every turn of every day!
Please, if you know someone who suffers with mental illness, ask them how you can pray for them. Encourage them to get help. Offer to take them to the doctor’s office and stand by in the waiting room until they’ve had their consultation.
Remember that artists are feelers. Help them discover their “super power” of empathy. Help them serve their Lord in the way He created them.
He did not create us to have mental illness but He did create us to feel and experience life differently than many others.