Bearing the name of Paul, I have always felt a special kinship with the Apostle. One event stands out especially—his encounter on the road to Damascus.
My encounter was a decade ago. I had been experiencing a two-year slide further and further into the darkness of depression, delusion and psychosis. I had reached the point where right or wrong were so enmeshed that nothing made sense. My minister, family, doctors and therapists were caring and supportive, but nothing slowed the descent.
If anything, the slide became a free fall into the abyss. Emotions, at full intensity, layered upon one another—pushing and pulling me in all manner of directions. The most difficult thing about this was that I lacked the awareness that I was ill.
Then came my road-to-Damascus experience. It was a week or so after Easter.
The question entered my mind, "How could I explain everything that happens?"
Since I had minored in philosophy and studied St. Thomas Aquinas, the answer was obvious.
"The invisible hand of God, the unmoved mover."
In that instant, the scales of psychosis and delusion fell from my eyes.
While aggressive psychiatric therapy played a significant role in my recovery, I am convinced that the healing touch of God let me see reality once more.
When I reported this experience to my psychiatric nurse later that week, she told me that she had never heard of or encountered such a sudden change. She informed me that treating people with psychosis and delusion tended to be especially difficult because their condition blinds them from reality. She added that often years of psychiatric and psychological therapy might pass with little improvement.
Ten years have come and gone since that time. I have come a long way. Daily, I continue to walk the path of recovery. Some days are smooth; some are a bit rocky, yet all are precious gifts from God.
Paul M is a UCC member. He has requested anonymity because of the personal nature of this piece. Focus on Faith is a reader-written column to help others grow in their faith. For information about mental health, contact the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill: www.nami.org or call 800-950-NAMI (6264).