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My Story:Living with a Mental Illness

 Hello lovelies!! Am I the only one that didn't find out that May is mental health awareness month until towards the end?! When I saw it posted on a girl page, I immediately thought I have to blog my story and tell my readers that I've battled living with a mental illness. Since I found out maybe a couple of weeks ago about it being mental health awareness month, I was so full of different emotions, for this is still a sensitive area for me. Disclaimer: I am not an expert, I do not have all the answers concerning mental illness; I always advise doing your own research. However, I will share my experiences and what it was like living with a mental illness and being a Christian. Any negative comments will be deleted. There is someone out there looking for a story of hope and your remarks can make a person feel rejected and want to be isolated. I'm an aspiring mental health advocate and my hope is to bring people to Jesus. 

Few facts from National Alliance on Mental Illness
A mental illness is a condition that impacts a person's thinking, feeling or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis. 

One in four adults−approximately 61.5 million Americans−experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17−about 13.6 million−live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.1 

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. (more common than homicide) and the third leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24 years.22 More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide had one or more mental disorders. 23 

My Story:

     In 2008, I lost my aunt who was very dear to me. At her funeral I did not cry, the Lord showed me in a dream after she passed away that she went to be with Him in heaven. She looked youthful and was wearing all white. A peace was over me that morning the day after she passed. She was like a second mom to me and my mom, a best friend and counselor. She was someone who you could talk to for hours and just felt so loved and welcomed by. Months passed from her passing and I began to really miss her; I grieved for months and cried. She was the matriarch in the family. I didn't know who to go to anymore concerning things. With her, I didn't have to say a word, she knew. At that time a lot was going in my family and because she was gone it felt really rocky at times. At this time, people were coming to me with their problems and I would it keep it confidential but I would carry their burdens and didn't realize how empathetic I was. I learned later that I was extremely empathetic and could feel other people emotions and burdens.God really was pulling on me by telling me in dreams whether it was about family, politics or world news for things to come. I felt overwhelmed and didn't know who to express all these things to that were happening. The Lord put in a dream of a lady with a certain shirt and I saw her face, when school started that fall, I met her at the first Christian Club meeting. She was my friend's mother, named Apostle Subrina Franklin. I told her my dreams, my burdens and concerns and how I felt about a lot of things that were happening in my life. The woman of God prayed for me and kept me lifted. Due to grieving and burdens, I missed weeks of getting good sleep at night. I felt my body was off but I prayed and it got better. I was 16 years old and seeking the Lord concerning my purpose. I told the Lord I wanted a story that would bring Him glory and for me to be able to reach others. So I prayed, consecrated, and worshiped God until Jesus answered. GOD does speak! This is part 1 of him telling me my purpose,  He told me, "Sheree, you will write books, do radio, and you will help others get to know me. I have so much in store for you daughter, trust me." I thought that was a good start for it to be my first time asking God specifically about something; I was shocked He answered, so I rested on that promise. Even though God spoke, I still grieved over some of the things He was showing me in dreams.

me at 16 years old December 2008

Due to this my sleeping pattern was off and I started not to eat due to everything being on my mind.  I began to think, say and do irrational things and then one night in January 2009, I stayed up all night texting friends that I love them out of depression and felt like the world was ending. I couldn't control my thoughts. They were racing. I had a very big room that was upstairs and I was walk pacing back and forth. I felt I had no control and my emotions were everywhere and once again, no sleep. My mom checked on me and felt my body temperature by grabbing my arms and hands and sad I was cold. I didn't feel normal and I wasn't acting normal. My mom and dad rushed me to the hospital to seek professional help and they admitted me to a mental hospital (I hate the term psychiatric ward...sounds scary) Kingswood Hospital. I did not know where I was, the first night I slept all night. I remember telling the psychiatrist all I need is some good sleep, I have not been getting my rest. She understood and after group therapy sessions, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Being at Kingswood was my first time seeing and hearing about hallucinations, and so many children who attempted to commit suicide. I remember being full of emotions at the hospital because I felt like Lord, "more problems? I'm trying to escape from my problems!" I didn't hear from God in the hospital but I prayed to Him like never before. After I was discharged, I remember feeling so tired; the medications made me super drowsy and I couldn't return to school for two weeks. I needed time to adjust. When I returned back to school, classmates asked where was I and I had to tell them I was on a vacation. I was so embarrassed, and felt so much shame. I was angry with myself and God at that moment. I could barely do my school work, my weight fluctuated so much due to the medications, and I felt alone. I couldn't go to events because I had to take my medications around 9 pm and  they would instantly put me to sleep. Even though I was hurt about having an illness I would journal to God and read my Word. I would take baths to relax my mind and my body almost every night.  I opened to my best friend Amelia about my illness and she prayed and just loved on me. She kept me focused to graduate from high school and I had a wonderful academic counselor who is my family friend that supported, prayed and encouraged me. Plus I had family who is an awesome support system that encouraged and prayed that I will graduate on time. And I did!!!

Me after graduation held at Ford Field on June 7, 2010

In high school, I fasted and would do just water in high school and would eat fruits and vegetables some other days, praying to God to heal me and take me off my medications. Some medications were causing suicidal thoughts and so I decided on my own to stop taking them.  This happened after I graduated... I was still learning and would hear "don't accept it or don't claim it."  Which wasn't helpful plus some frowned upon me and left my life that I thought were my real friends. Mental illness isn't talked about in the church and most times it can be the butt of jokes, which is cruel. So I'm on this journey of purpose and had two more hospitalizations in one in 2010 and then two months later in 2011 on Valentine's Day and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder is a mental disorder marked by alternating periods of elation and depression. I remember the case manager told me after she received my chart that I was diagnosed with that and I went home and cried my eyes out. I never heard of Bipolar Disorder and was told it's for life. I felt doomed. The Lord spoke to me that night and said " You will not be on medications forever." So I thought okay, Lord, then I'm not going to take these meds like that. You would think I would have common sense to take my medications but I was so ashamed  and distraught. The medications for Bipolar Disorder caused significant weight gain and it was messing with my bladder and can affect your kidneys. I was afraid. In between time, I would have episodes and deliverance would be done but the chemical imbalance is still there. I would tell the Lord I'm pressing through. I was preaching, doing radio, working with the youth, having my own Christian organization on campus but I really wasn't whole and healthy.

WAYN Radio Fall 2012
God's House College Crew at Wayne State University

ministering to teen moms about having hope and going to college in 2013

trial sermon June 2013
   I'm doing all these things but still looking for the answers myself. In 2014, I had my last episode and hospitalization and I told the Lord I still believe your word is true about one day being meds free but I am going to pray and bind up all side effects and take my medication. It was truly a humbling process and I told the Lord I would let go of pride and share my story. My first sermon about having a mental illness, was on The Dangers of Pride. I learned that it is God's sovereignty when He will heal me and make me meds free. My therapist and mom told me to take a year off school and although I felt disappointed, I took their advice. I felt like a failure. But during that time off I learned how to cope, I was put on a medication that worked better for me, I went to group therapy and learned what my triggers (school and stress) were and learned ways to manage my anxiety and depression. I took a class to learn how to not relapse and what to do when you feel your triggers rising. I went to a recovery program for those who suffer with mental illness and were able to do office work which helped me as well and in the same program I learned how to cook new meals. I read blogs about people rejection with living with a mental illness and faced my own. I periscoped my story during mental health awareness week  and became open with more friends and received so much love and support. They all told me to go and write a blog about, prayed and encouraged me. 

In 2012, I remember Apostle Franklin said write down your purpose and the Lord spoke to me in that moment and said "Daughter, you will help and minister to the mentally oppressed and help them to overcome spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally." I am still a work in progress but I'm glad to see that the work has begun and even though the in between part wasn't perfect from 2012 til now due to me going through the process of accepting it and learning to manage my own illness. GOD has kept me and proved himself faithful over and over again. This past January, my psychiatrist said, "If you don't have any more episodes or hospitalizations, I will take you off your meds." OMG! I wanted to shout in that doctor. office! God said it will happen and I'm glad I held on to His promise. But I still was nervous because my anxiety and worry is real bad. I text every intercessor and they all said it is done and asked the Lord to make it sooner for me to be off my meds. God is so good and I'm thankful. Before that doctor. appointment I told the Lord if he didn't take me off my meds, I will still manage and serve Him and do what He has called me to do. 

What is living with a mental illness like for me? I thought it took my life away. Some days your faith is strong and sometimes it's weak. Sometimes it feels like you are all alone and there is no one who understands but there is. I constantly tell myself that I am so loved and accepted by GOD no matter what because living with a illness I felt I was cursed by God and that He rejected me. I learned that people don't understand mental illness and some lack the patience. I had to understand that because of me sharing my scars with the world (my book will be deeper than this blogpost) that not every church will allow me to preach in their pulpit or accept my ministry, and I'm okay with that. I am not seeking platforms in the first place. God will put you on one and will open doors no man can shut for His glory. I relate to the lost, the broken, and the ones that have been silenced. God made me a more compassionate woman of God and understanding. I'm learning to take one day at a time. God is in control of the entire universe and He sees me and my destiny. In this illness, I found even more purpose and there are millions like me who suffer as well that needs hope. GOD is my only hope. 

For the person who is struggling with a mental illness, don't quit on life! God is a healer and a redeemer! He uses medicine to heal his people. There is nothing to be ashamed of and you are not alone. The test and trials you endure is to bring you an even greater testimony. Jesus is with you and He sees every tear, and saw every breakdown. He is ready to bring you breakthrough! Receive it and Him in your life today!

For the families of a loved one struggling with a mental illness. I know at times it can be difficult and you may question GOD as to why it happened, but trust God saw you fit to love them and be patient to grace them through this thing we call life. Always pray for your loved one and read deliverance and healing scriptures and declare it over their life. Pray that peace will be their portion and always pray that they will have the mind of Christ.

-Signed a broken woman who is now made whole in Jesus...This story is not done. God is still moving and working! 

XOXO Sheree B

Me at my 24th birthday Party. So thankful for life! Life is Good! God is Good!


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