Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pray away the mental disorder: Idiotic AND dangerous

Laurie Coombs
On Saturday Laurie Coombs wrote in Charisma News (where else?) “When Anxiety, Depression Terrorize You.” Laurie Coombs is a professional Christian. She makes a living selling books and garnering speaking fees. She is also a dangerous crackpot. I will get back to her later.

If you have a torn rotator cuff, there are two near certainties:
  1. Your career as a relief pitcher for the Yankees is probably at an end and; 
  2. It is highly unlikely that you are going to find healing through prayer.  
You are going to need a couple of doctors, one of whom is an arthroscopic surgeon. Why is brain chemistry and function somehow different? Why is it that some people accept the notion that mental disorders can be treated by amateurs?

In short, “when anxiety, depression terrorize you,” seek professional help as soon as possible. These are serious mental disorders. Untreated, aside from feeling miserable, you might lose your spouse and lose your house (after you lose your job). Untreated you will pose a danger to yourself. Untreated you might pose a danger to others. Things like exercise, diet, yoga and meditation and even religious devotion might help but they are not treatment. Without treatment the conditions will likely worsen.

Someone with the education, training and professional certification needs to evaluate whether the anxiety or depression are dominant or if both are about the same severity. The sooner you get treatment the more treatable the conditions will be. Most people require a combination of cognitive behavioral (talk) therapy and medication. This will usually require two providers — a psychiatrist (MD) who will usually refer you to a psychologist for the talk therapy. “Snap out of it” (often at the core of self-help books) is not a therapy and is likely to make people feel guilty on top of the disorder which exacerbates the symptoms. A mental disorder is not a character flaw.

Back to Ms. Coombs:
I tried everything that worldly experts tell you to try. I tried eating better and exercising more. I tried therapy. I tried meditation. I tried a stress management class. I tried yoga. I tried reading self-help books.

I tried implementing the lessons taught in The Secret. At one point, I was even considering going to a Buddhist retreat, if you can imagine that! And when all else failed, as a last resort, I tried medication, but it only made things worse.

There were times I thought I was on to something, but ultimately all these worldly solutions turned out to be a bunch of foolishness.
Note that she includes therapy as the equal of eating better, exercise and so on. What she does not disclose is what kind of therapy she had, for how long and by whom (or what). On Friday, for example, I wrote about the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Those people are not therapists. She also doesn't say if she was in talk therapy and taking medication concurrently. Nor does she say for how long she was taking medication. We don't know if it was prescribed by a psychiatrist or her GP.

It is not at all uncommon for patients to require a change in medication. Some patients feel better in a couple of weeks. Sometimes in takes eight weeks for improvement. One of the reasons for seeing a talk therapist is that he or she will continually evaluate your condition and coordinate with your MD. These conditions (she claims to have panic attacks as well) are not only very serious but they are very complex.

Ms. Coombs carved out a slice of economic Christendom starting in 2010 when she began exchanging letter with her father's killer.  This evolved into a speaking tour and a book titled “Letters from My Father's Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness.” I have not read it (the book might be superb). Christians seem to love it except, interestingly, for her own sister.

Call me a cynic but I see a new round of speeches in the works:
I was desperate, but nothing worked. Nothing was making me better. And so with all other option exhausted, I finally called my friend Sarah and asked about her church. I figured it couldn't hurt to give church a try.

So, I went, and to my surprise the pastor's message spoke to what I was struggling with in that exact moment. As a non-Christian, I left thinking, "The shear probability of that happening is just crazy!" It blew my mind. I went back the following Sunday. It happened again, and it continued to happen over and over until I finally understood that God was showing Himself to me, and I believed.
It's a fucking miracle. Prayer changed her brain chemistry. Sure.

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