Six years ago I knew nothing about mental illness or what the signs were to look for, nor did people in my church, even after I was hospitalized twice in one year. Some church members diagnosed me as demon possessed; I knew I wasn’t because I was in Christ. The first time I was hospitalized the doctors sent me right back home, saying that I just had a very strong faith. Almost jumping out of a vehicle and thinking that God’s angels were going to catch me is a little more than having a strong faith. On my second visit to the psychiatric hospital, where I stayed for five months, I did eventually get properly diagnosed with having schizoaffective disorder. The right medication was given to me and within a couple of days I had already found peace of mind. Take this journey with me and see how an unwell mentally ill person thinks and behaves.
It’s happening to me again, I anxiously thought as I sat in my car. Panicked, I froze. I need to speak to someone, someone who knows about spiritual gifting and the forces of good and evil, someone in the church. But who? Satan and his powers were surrounding me. I could see them. Being brave and reaching for the handle, I opened the door. Cautiously stepping out, I recited the words out loud, “In Jesus name, you can’t touch me. In Jesus name, you can’t touch me.” I ran inside my parents’ home.
Engulfing me were the sounds in the house. It was invasive. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock went the clock. Words of the Lord then cluttered my mind, “I will send you out among them, casting out demons. Be strong and courageous. Fear not, for I am with you.” My stomach growled. I was starving. Opening the fridge, “Fast food...fast food...fast food...” It echoed in my head. With fear I closed the fridge as more words continued, “Great and marvelous things I have in store for you.”
“I don’t want it!” I shouted.
“I know the plans I have for you, plans of good and not evil. Go now, casting out demons. Do not be afraid.” Grabbing my head, I wanted it all to stop.
Everything I looked at was distorted. Demon like faces appeared in the shadows. I looked out of the window; the trees took on different forms. The clouds in the sky formed evil beings. They were coming to get me! Terror gripped me. If this is some kind of spiritual gift from you God, I don’t want it.
I remembered a conversation I had with Trish, a lady from church. “Kristina, I had gotten an angel from one of my friends. I felt really uncomfortable about this angel. It was supposed to watch over me and keep me safe, so I hung it on the wall. I felt an enormous evil presence in my home. God commands not to have any foreign idols in your home, so putting two and two together, I got rid of the angel and the evil presence was gone.”
Knowing what had to be done, I got rid of everything and anything that was, in any shape or form, related to worshipping other gods.
As I went through my belongings, tossing many things in the garbage, God’s voice spoke to me, “You are a new creation in Christ. The old has gone, the new has come.” I sensed God was going to do great things. Miracles! He carried on speaking, “I will heal your body from head to toe, every inch, just as I promised. The time is now!” God was going to give me a new body; he’d even remove my tattoos in the process. I was ecstatic!
Since Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia were a part of my daily life, I couldn’t even go for a walk without my head spinning out of control and losing my balance. All I could do physically was eat, sleep and shower. Earplugs became a habit for me to wear since sounds intruded my mind. Lately I couldn’t sleep either. I was wired, yet exhausted beyond what I could bear.
A new body—a new me. A permanent smile was on my face. I felt the joy bubbling up within me. Could this be how freedom felt? Everything would be new. How exciting!
The young adults were having a bonfire tomorrow night. This was perfect. God’s voice was leading me, “Pack up your car with all your old belongings. It will all be burned in the fire. Your car will go as well. There will be a huge explosion.” Wow!
Keeping all this to myself, I didn’t speak a word of it to my mom. She wouldn’t understand. She wouldn’t believe it. Not one bit of it. But things just kept getting weirder and weirder, the things I saw, and heard. Tonight Trish was having a Bible study and going to it would be a good idea. I could talk with her. She would have some answers. I hoped she would.
My mind raced with my thoughts and with God’s voice. Focusing on the study was hard. When the study was over, I patiently waited for the opportune time to speak with Trish. Looking around, I noticed the tree trunks out the window were in the shape of naked bodies. Shaking my head, hoping the images would go away, I searched for a distraction. But there was none; distortion appeared everywhere.
“Excuse me Trish, can I talk with you privately?” I blurted eagerly.
“Sure honey, let’s go into the spare bedroom.”
I poured my soul out to her, telling her the suspicious things that were going on. “Is all this stuff from God?” I asked, wanting desperately to cling to her answer. She had no answer that gave me peace.
“It’s a spiritual battle. Everyone has a different God-given gift. This is between you and God. Keep seeking God in prayer. He will reveal to you the answers,” she confidently explained.
For months I had been doing that—and nothing, just more confusion.
Running upstairs to my bedroom, urgently taking my Bible, I decided to do some reading; maybe then I would find the answers I needed. I pondered where I could start. Then I had a bright idea: at the beginning sounded like a good solution. I opened my Bible to Genesis and read the part where God created Adam and Eve, “Adam and Eve were both naked and felt no shame,” (Gen. 2:25) knowing they were loved by God.
I heard the voice of the Spirit, “Kristina, take off your clothes, and I will put a dress of splendor on you.” I followed the instructions and immediately felt the garment of splendor swish softly like silk against my nakedness; it was indescribable. I felt like a royal princess. I twirled with delight.
“Show others my love. Go out into the world. They will see, because you are unashamed. Go now,” commanded God.
Standing in my room, wearing my dress of splendor, I fought the voices in my head; but they were overpowering. “I have given you a garment of splendor to wear. The world will go to hell. You must show them that I love you and you are unashamed. And they will see that I love them too. You must go now, time is ticking. “GO!” screamed God.
I fought the command with every inch of me. This can’t be the way I must go, surely there was another way.
“I will be glorified. Now go!” commanded the voice once again.
“GO!” came the voice, stronger still.
Off I went out into the world to save people from hell. You can only imagine what happened.
I am not sure how much of my thoughts and actions were caused by or inspired by the church, my faith and religion, but the whole experience has made it difficult for me to attend church or even actively seek God in my life. Now, five years later, I am finally taking some small steps to do so. I still take my medication every day, the key ingredient for keeping the balance in my mind. Since hearing God’s voice is not an answer for me (it is still difficult for me to judge whether it is Him or my illness), I follow what is in my heart—that which I know is love, as well as the knowledge from others that I trust. I walk forward being guarded; this is all I can do right now in my faith. But God knows I love him, and he loves me. And I know that I don’t have to save the world.