My Life and Faith and Mental Illness

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by Ben Huot

www.benjamin-newton.com

October 24, 2021

person in corn maze
But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth.’” Deuteronomy 8:3

—Jesus Christ when tempted by the devil in the wilderness, from World English Bible, Matthew 4:4

I have not had the easiest life in some respects while in others I am living the dream.

I am an American citizen and lived in America all my life. This puts me in a very special category like that of a lottery winner. I also have a great family and I have had God in my life from the very beginning.

On the other hand I have had some difficulties some of which very few people have. I had large warts as a child, I served in the Army as an enlisted soldier, and I have Schizophrenia, which is the most severe mental illness you can get.

I also have had to go through a psychotic episode, be in a locked down psychiatric ward of a hospital a week and a half, live in a group home with other mentally ill people a year, and I even lived in a retirement home for several years.

The army was the real life changer for me which, looking back on it, actually was useful training and prepared me well, for both my future and the future of America and the world. The positive things it gave me were more things to write about and a pension.

There are numerous downsides to having Schizophrenia, which was caused by a combination of both my genes and my experience in the Army, as decided by the Veterans Administration.

Schizophrenia affects me personally by making me very paranoid of other people. I think people are targeting me and I think people are talking about me badly. I know on a certain level that this is not likely true, but it still is very real to me. This is what makes it impossible for me to work a job, which is the basis for disability status from the Veterans Administration.

I also have to take a medicine that always makes me very tired and slows down my entire physical body, so that I never feel rested no matter how much I sleep. This medicine also makes me much more likely to get heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Another part of my disability from the Veterans Administration is chronic allergic conjunctivitis. This condition is commonly called pink eye, because it causes the white part of the eye to get irritated and turn pink. For me, this is caused by a combination of stress and sensitivity to toxic chemicals, like household cleaners.

The eye problem seemed to me very severe at first, but later I seemed to be able to get it more under control, once I was on my first anti-psychotic medication, in the hospital.

So I, like many people in the world today, find life a very frustrating experience, because we see everything falling apart and yet no one knows how to fix it. There is more temptation and evil in the world than every before. We seemed to solve very problem and yet we are more unhappy than ever before.

This is because we have given up on the difficult task of following God in our lives. Many suffer more than ever before, so many blame God for this. But we know this is not true, because people are clearly the cause of all the suffering that we can find the source of.

The key to happiness is having peace with God, which will allow us to find peace with ourselves and our world. One of the biggest barriers to faith today is the issue of control.

We do not want to accept God’s gift of grace. This grace comes with it eternal life, being filled with God’s Spirit, being part of community of believers and spiritual gifts like wisdom or encouragement. We do not want to accept this because we know it is not a one time simple prayer, although it starts that way.

Faith is a journey through your entire life where you continue to surrender control of your life over to God. We learn very quickly today not to trust anyone or anything and so it seems unwise to let God in control of your life. It gets even more difficult when you are told you might suffer worse, because you are saved, not less.

I have found it hard to trust God, as I find it hard to trust anyone, both because I have Schizophrenia and because I know enough of how the world works and see the direction things are going in. I believed that God wanted me to join the military and a lot of pain went along with it both then and later, both physical and emotional.

But God did get me out of the military before I got hurt really bad, like many soldiers who served in combat, in that time period. I screwed up many things in the military, but I always gave 150% and did whatever I was told instantly. That got me an honorable discharge and later a pension.

But none of this would have happened without the direct divine intervention of God. That is the most rational explanation.

Anybody who served in the military knows most people want to leave not long after they get in and you cannot get out period until your enlistment ends and sometimes not even then. Even getting out with a mental illness requires a US congressional representative and we did not put any pressure on the military or the Veterans Administration to make their decisions.

Just as we need food and sleep so also we need God in our lives. If we do not follow God and put Him first in our lives we will get ourselves into many different addictions like food, work, or worse. Only God can fully satisfy this hunger we have for Him in our lives. We are not designed to be fully autonomous. We were designed to be in a symbiotic connection with God.

It is painful to follow God, but it is more painful not to. You will suffer no matter what in this world. But you can have peace with God, yourself, this world and in the next. Following God is hard work and requires the ultimate commitment, but so does anything worthwhile.