Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guest Post: One Believer's Struggle with Schizoaffective Disorder, Depressive Type

Rhonda McMillon was the beautiful woman who sat across me at the table at church during my Bible Study group a couple of summer's ago. Her words encouraged me in some of my more challenging mothering years (I'm still in them, actually). I found her tone to be comforting and I liked that. The irony of the situation is that in a room full of what she would have considered to be "normal" people she was the one I seemed to most easily bond with in the room. (Don't read into that) ;) Her spirit is warm and inviting, and her personality is fun, yet deep. Through her journey she has embraced God's grace in her life, and she readily offers it to everyone she comes in contact with. Meet author, mother, and my personal friend, Rhonda McMillon...


Schizoaffective Disorder, Depressive Type is the official diagnosis I received in April of 2006. That's what the attending psychiatrist told me the second or third day of my stay in a psychiatric hospital. She went on to inform me that my mental breakdown was due to the above brain disorder; a type of mental illness in which episodes of schizophrenia (hallucination, delusions, and disorganized thinking) overlap with episodes of depression.

After years of my mind being shattered with crazy thoughts of suicide, sleeping all day long and hearing voices of people that were not present, I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, the verse Isaiah 61:1, "He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted," was coming true for me. Here is my story. I hope it will help you to realize that God is there for you in your darkest hours.

MY STORY: Healing For My Broken Heart

After coming home from the psychiatric hospital, I wasn't aware that I was in for a roller coaster ride of seeking diving healing. I asked God to heal my broken heart by completely taking away Schizoaffective Disorder, Depressive Type. I falsely believed that if this mental illness was gone, I wouldn't have any more problems in my life. At the time, I didn't realize I had asked Jesus for something that wouldn't happen.


I hoped to find my solution by writing to prayer ministries on T.V. and asking to receive healing from my mental disability. Also, I stood in prayer lines at churches requesting that this sickness be taken away. I was assured Jesus would answer my diligent prayers. After about a year...nothing.

I remember asking my psychiatrist to please do something for me. She politely told me to continue taking my medication, seeing my counselor, and start attending an Adult Day Treatment program. I did this for a little while...nothing. Devastation closed in around my heart. I didn't consistently follow through with my doctor's treatment plans because inwardly I was embarrassed about having a mental disability. I just wanted it gone-out of my life for good.

I came up with another one of my "solutions". Instead of overcoming my own stigmas about mental illness, I would go back to school to prove I was "normal". My psychiatrist suggested that if I enrolled in school I should take it slow by attending one class at a time. However, I didn't listen. I decided to enroll full time and attended four classes. Also, I talked myself into needing to make straight A's.

I did happen to make excellent grades. However, because of the stress of a full time school schedule, memory lapses and disorganized thinking (symptoms of Schizo-affective Disorder), I couldn't store information in my long term memory. Therefore, I was unable to succeed at a job in the field that I went to school for. This failure only reinforced my fear that I wasn't normal. I was brokenhearted.

My next solution was to get a job. There is nothing wrong with working. Yet, I returned to work because I was feeling worthless and embarrassed about accomplishing nothing. Once I began working, I did experience better self-esteem. However, when I started having episodes of euphoria, I falsely believed that God had healed me and began taking less of my medication until I just came to the point where I stopped using it. Also, I avoided attending my counseling and psychiatric appointments.

In 2009, because I was no longer seeking treatment, I had another mental breakdown. Exhaustion overwhelmed me as I wondered why God hadn't healed me. That's when I gave up and prayed not my will be done, Father, YOUR will be done.

A couple of days after that prayer, my mother called and said she had been praying for me. She peacefully suggested that it was time for me to take my medication and see my doctors again. Also, she lovingly explained that having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Needing help is nothing to be embarrassed about.


At that moment, a shift began to take place in my heart. It was grace and love moving through the core of my being like a soft, warm summer breeze. No, my brain disorder was not healed. Don't get me wrong. I do believe that God does completely take away illnesses from many people. However, this didn't happen to me. I don't know why God has other plans for my life. I can just tell you a healing happened on the inside of my heart.

As I began to see my illness with the eyes of my heart filled with Christ's love, I started my recovery process over. This time I realized that God blessed me with medication and doctors to help me to become stable. As the medication lessened the hallucinations, disorganized thinking and depressive episodes, I began to pray that God bless me with the help, love and grace to accept that I will have this brain disorder for the rest of my life. In December of 2009, my prayer was answered. I was surfing the WEB and came across the site, www.NAMI.org (National Alliance on Mental Illness). This is a support group for people with mental disabilities and their families.


I was nervous when I attended my first NAMI meeting. However, as people with mental illnesses began to speak up, my embarrassment about myself began to melt away. Now I understand that mental disabilities affect many people from various cultures and classes. A deep peace came from within me as Jesus opened my heart to accept that I have no reason to be ashamed of having a mental illness.

It's now July 26, 2011, five years and three months after I have been diagnosed with Schizo-affective Disorder, Depressive Type. At times I still suffer through trickles of depression and days with my mind cracking like eggshells. It's in these moments that I call out to God to help me to love Him and those around me despite having a mental illness. And God, please help me to be faithful with my doctor's treatment plan for me. Then, I'll sense God's grace settle on me like a soft, warm blanket bringing peace to my heart. That's when I remember some of the many ways Isaiah 61:1 is alive and active in my life.

Instruments God has used to bind up my broken up heart these past few years:
  1. Jesus has blessed me with a wonderful family who support me. He has even healed our relationship to the point where we have written a book about our experience as a family living with a loved one with Schizoaffective Disorder, Depressive Type. The book is titled: A Different Kind of Blossom, Essays about our Journey through a Mental Illness, which is available for purchase at www.adifferentkindofblossom.com
  2. God has surrounded me with a wonderful,caring mentor, Jamie Standefer, and other good friends who love me just as I am, mental illness and all.
  3. Before I had treatment for my mental disability, I wandered from church to church seeking for an authentic, intimate relationship with Christ. Now I am blessed with a church home where I can grow in the love of Christ.
  4. Most of all, God continues to heal my heart into realizing that my worth doesn't come from money, career, or mental ability but from my identity in Christ. The important thing for me to do is to live out His love for me and my love for Him and others. Amen.

About the author:

Rhonda McMillon lives in Valparaiso, Indiana where she loves being a mother to her three sons, Marcus, Marcellus, and Nicholas. She, along with her three sons and her mother, Essie McMillon, coauthored the book: A Different Kind of Blossom, Essays about our Journey through a Mental Illness, which is available for purchase at www.adifferentkindofblossom.com




Are you interested in learning more about Rhonda's story? She joined with her mother and her three sons in creating a book that reaches out to those with a mental illness and the famililes of those with a mental illness. If you loved getting to know Rhonda through this post, you will also love getting to know her family through their book. Check for an upcoming post to find out more about our book giveaway. One lucky winner is going to win their very own copy of Rhonda McMillon's A Different Kind of Blossom Book!!!! It could be you!!! Stay tuned!!!!

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