Growing up in the charismatic church in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia – I was taught to pray about everything; which I’m thankful for – because even though I’m no longer religious; I most certainly am spiritual. BUT … I was also taught that you could pray everything away. Which, I’m not certain is true.
One of the reasons I never wanted to be a psychiatric nurse, was because I wondered if some of the patients actually were possessed and not suffering from a mental illness; and if this was true – no amount of thorazine (or any other anti-psychotic) would be able to “fix” this. Yes … I actually just said “possession,” as in the devil. I DO know – there is BOTH spirit and physical (mental) disorders.
Anna knows this. Her mother was considered an exorcist, in that she was annointed with the gift of being able to cast out demons from people. Anna slept in the same bed with her mother until she was 25, and then moved in with her then girlfriend, and then a few years later – me. She has never slept alone. Why? Because she was scared!! Anna witnessed countless exorcisms performed by her mother. She’s been thrown out of her bed before because a demonic spirit tried to attach itself to some collectible dolls she was helping her boyfriend sell at the time (yeah; hilarious – Anna had a boyfriend!! hhhhaaaaa…. AND HE collected dolls!! … uuhhhhhh, yeah – I think he was gay too! … yes, I know that’s stereotypical – just saying).
Anna was about 20 years old and asleep in her bed in the house she grew up in. Her dad was asleep in the other room, but was awoken by a tapping noise … it was coming from one of the dolls that was in a collector’s box. Accompanied by the tapping noise was a voice saying, “Hey … let me out. I want to play with Anna.” At the exact same moment, a few rooms away, Anna was thrown out of her bed and onto the floor!! Her dad immediately placed his hands, as a point of contact, on the doll box and rebuked the devil. No more demonic activity came from that doll, BUT you best believe – the next morning, the promptly removed all the dolls from their house. I don’t know about you, but I would STILL be sleeping with my mother if this had happened to me!
Spirits are real. Bottom line.
I had an encounter with an evil spirit when I was about 5 years old. I woke up in the middle of the night and had to go to the bathroom. Me and my 7-year-old sister shared a Strawberry Shortcake bedroom. I climbed out of bed, and approached the doorway, but quickly stopped when I saw a black 3-D shadow of a witch standing in the hallway – blocking my path from my bedroom to the adjacent bathroom. Directly across the other side of the hallway and from our room was our parent’s room. I started yelling as loud as I could for my dad. He came to his doorway across the hall and said, “What is it Katie!?” I replied, “Don’t you see that!!?” He did not. He flipped on the lights, rebuked the devil in Jesus Name, and the spirit disappeared. But I still remember, explicitly, that night. It was real. It was not my imagination or a dream.
After spending 10+ years in maternal newborn nursing, my curiosity and fascination with psychology and psychiatry got the best of me. I went to work as a psychiatric RN on an inpatient behavioral hospital within an all-male unit. I was the Intake Nurse, which meant I conducted a comprehensive assessment and history on each and every male patient admitted. They ranged in ages from 18 to 80. I had also, simultaneously, switched my graduate school focus from Clinical Nurse Specialist to Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Bad idea. That didn’t last. Nor did the psychiatric nursing job.
Why? Because of the spiritual heaviness that was trying to attach itself to me each shift as I listened to story after story of personal encounters these men, from 18 to 80, tell about their childhoods. Almost every single one of them had the same story: they were raped or molested by either their father or father-like figure such as stepdad, very close family friend, or uncle. The majority of people who suffer from either mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and suicide attempts, AND those with substance abuse issues – have a history of abuse (whether it was sexual, physical, or emotional). The difference between females and males who have been the victims of childhood abuse is that girls grow up to be young woman who are often sexually promiscuous. Men, in comparison, not always – but often, then become adult sexual predators.
It was just too much, emotionally and spiritually, listening to the explicit tales of sexual abuse against AND by these men. The thing about psychiatric hospitals, and mental illness treatment in general, is that patients are protected. Which is good. It protects you, for example, if you experiencing clinical depression that causes you to have to be admitted into a behavioral health hospital. The laws protect your anonymity. If someone calls the hospital and asks the staff if you are a patient there – the staff will simply say, “We can neither confirm or deny if we have a patient here by that name.” Additionally, the law protects you from receiving any sort of discipline at your job for absences related to hospitalization. This is good.
BUT, this also means that the workers cannot disclose any sort of information given to them by the patient to any outside party, such as law enforcement. If a patient tells the nurse or psychiatrist that he was the one that just killed the 5 people they’re discussing on the local news – the nurse and psychiatrist cannot call the police and tell them this. I know … #MindBlown …. In fact, one of the nurses that facilitated the orientation training told us that over the years – she’s had people from the mafia admit themselves into the psychiatric hospital she was working at previously and stay there for months. They would say they felt suicidal or something like that, pay cash money for the entire treatment, and stay put. Why? Because if someone in the mafia was looking for them, even if they suspected they were at the mental hospital, the staff would always say, “I’m sorry. I can neither confirm, nor deny, if we have a patient here by that name.” And nobody can come in. A psychiatric hospital is very secure. You have to have a key to open each and every door.
Wild … I know.
Another reason I had to let go of the idyllic notion that it was just so cool to witness all the psychiatric and psychological abnormalities is that, just as I had feared earlier in life that would would happen if someone was diagnosed with schizophrenia, for example, actually was not schizophrenic but rather possessed. I witnessed this one evening when I had to go to the stabilization unit for some reason. If you ever encounter a person that is demonically possessed, you will never forget it. There is a whole other “thing” showing through their eyes. I’ve always heard that the eyes are the window to the soul. This is true. I made eye contact with an elderly woman on the stabilization unit and quickly turned away. Don’t EVER stare at a possessed person in the eyes. Why? Because spirits can transfer from both human to human AND from inanimate objects to humans.
Which brings to my next point… stay away from antiques!! There was a lady at the church years ago that was experiencing and witnessing supernatural phenomenon in her house. She had Anna’s mother, the Pastor, come over to perform a cleansing – or house exorcism. Pastor discovered while there, the woman recently had brought in a chest that you put at the end of your bed. She had never been able to open it. Pastor opened it and discovered an old soldier’s hat in there. It still had the sweat and blood stains on the inside of the hat. Pastor instructed the woman she must get rid of the chest and all the components, including the sweat and blood stained soldier’s hat, out of her house immediately. The woman did. She never experienced paranormal activity in her house again.
It’s important. Pay attention. I’m not crazy. It’s real.
Now, I’m not saying that mental illness is not real. Nor am I saying that people with psychotic diagnoses, such as schizophrenia, are possessed. No; not at all. Psychiatric illnesses are most definitely real. The physiological mechanisms in the brain are not functioning the way they were intended to, which is what causes the symptoms such as hallucinations. Thank God for science! Thank God for creating the men and women that were able to discover this AND create medicines that help alleviate the symptoms.
I’ve dealt with anxiety my entire life, for over 30+ years. I’ve also dealt with intermittent severe depression. Thank God (or whatever you call God – Spirit, The Universe, etc.) for medicine. Thank God that He gave us more than ‘just prayer.’ I remember being in middle school and my dad having a sudden onset of a sever panic attack in the middle of driving his routine school bus route of middle schoolers. He and my mother both drove school buses for health insurance benefits for themselves and their 5 children; because although they were ministers at church – health benefits are not that great in the ministry. In fact, Anna’s parents were never paid a dime for their pastoring ministry of many, many, many decades.
My dad literally had a panic attack after dropping off one of the middle-schoolers. Thankfully, he put it in park. Someone, I don’t know who but I think an onlooker from a nearby house, called the police and the ambulance came. They took my dad to the hospital. I’m surprised, to be honest with you, they did not admit him to a psychiatric hospital. Why? Because the entire time, the only thing he verbally expressed was in the form of speaking in tongues, as us Pentecostals and Charismatic Christians call it. Yeah; I know. I wonder what the EMT’s, nurses, and doctors were thinking. My dad ended up coming home, no longer experiencing an acute panic attack and followed up with his primary doctor who prescribed Prozac, which had just come out in the previous few years. My dad, however, only took it for a couple of weeks because the church viewed mental illness as not-a-real-thing. They thought it was a demon. Uuuuhhhhh …. nnnoooooo.
The take-away is this:
- Psychiatric and mental health disorders have a physiological basis that must be treated with the appropriate clinical care, including pharmacological (medication) and non-pharmacological(meditation, counseling, behavior-modification behavior) methods.
- Demonic possession must be addressed by a minister who is annointed, or gifted, with the ability to cast out devils. Not everyone, as Anna reminds me, is given this gift. She was most certainly not given this gift like her mother.
- God is the one who made the man, or woman, that discovered the medication that helps alleviate symptoms of mental illnesses. So if you, or a loved one, need them – take them! It’s from God!