You, Me, Empathy - Episode 53: Living with Mental Illness as a Christian with Aaron J. Smith
Trigger Warning: Suicidal ideation and self-harm are mentioned in this episode.
Audio Note: Aaron’s adorable kiddo was in the background of this one.
On Episode 53 of You, Me, Empathy, Aaron J. Smith and I explore the intersection of Christianity and mental illness, the spiritualization of mental health, medication as a sin, and the key to any life perspective: looking for what is love.
Aaron shares his experience growing up in Christianity, and the suicidal ideation and self-harm he felt like he had to hide from his family. We also explore the shame that comes with suicidal feelings, especially for those who don’t have the tools or language or loving support to express it in a healthy way. Plus, we talk about the overspiritualization of mental illness, the distorted thinking that medication and any mental illness is a sin and somehow a result of falling away from God, the guilt-repent cycle, and Aaron’s eventual falling away from the church.
Aaron is still very much a Christian, but he’s taken a courageous journey of self-discovery, finding that mental illness has nothing to do with faith or religion or belief. He’s learned that he needs to bring humanity into faith perspectives. He’s learning about neuroscience and the brain. And, my favorite thing of all, he’s found that it’s all really about love:
“Instead of looking for what is right and wrong, I am looking for what is love.”
Isn’t that just the most beautiful perspective ever? That’s what we should be aiming for, feely humans. Love. Human kindness. Understanding. Empathy!
Scroll down for links! Thanks for listening, and thanks for empathizing with us!
Support You, Me, Empathy:
Aaron on Twitter: @CulturalSavage
Aaron on Instagram: @CulturalSavage
Cultural Savage: The Intersection of Christianity and Mental Illness by Aaron J. Smith
Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A History of God by Karen Armstrong
The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong