Help! Mom and Dad Didn’t Teach Me How to Live in This Crazy World

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This article is for everybody and may be particularly helpful for people with a mental illness searching for spiritual guidance. Anyone with a sixth-grade reading level will benefit from my advice. The tools I discuss require only five minutes of your time every day. 

I don’t consider myself a Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, or Evangelical. My influences are primarily secular, and though I am by birth a confirmed Catholic, I am not highly involved in the Church.

However, there is a use for Judaeo Christian scripture that crosses all lines. Let me explain.

Many people in society are looking for guidance. I will not blame my diagnosis on my upbringing. Still, the chaos and street influences in my life and my inability to listen to anyone but myself resulted in mental confusion and lack of direction. I found guidance in some of the books in Scripture, the Old Testament, and the New.

The book of Ecclesiastes addresses existential crises, why we are here, what to do while we are here, and simply, the universal question “Why?” It was written supposedly in part by Solomon, who was considered the wisest of the wise. However, this wealthy king, who had explored all the pleasures and wealth of life, had come to a point where he was deeply depressed.

Ecclesiastes offers easy-to-understand and straightforward philosophies of life.

Proverbs is a collection of wisdom writings on everything from handling finances to how to conduct oneself socially.

Genesis makes you realize that every family is dysfunctional, and you don’t need to be upset about it. More importantly, it stresses that whatever happens, family is family and valuable despite foibles.

Deuteronomy lists rules for living. Take them or leave them according to what works for you.

The stories are fascinating, the characters human, and slowly, you become aware that the universe is in everything, all of us, always.

Religious Scripture offers emotional and spiritual guidance.

Psalms offer encouragement and speak to the pain of loss, depression, insomnia, betrayal, and the general feeling of despair we all encounter in life. The psalmist cries out too and shows that it is okay to let it all out. Usually, after an emotional outburst, the psalmist feels better and is ready to get up and try again. I see the psalmist as full of mood swings, and many mentally ill can relate to that.

The Gospels relate to Jesus’ teachings. It is full of allusions to social justice and the importance of caring for each other. But it is practical too. The idea of karma pervades. We are responsible for what we do. We should use our gifts wisely. Whatever we do is accounted for, good or bad.

Reading offers tips and everyday advice.

There are specific guidelines for living well in society. Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t cheat.

These are only some of the treasures I got from Scripture. The more you read, the more you learn.

Judeo Christian writings are not the only way to go. I can’t say I got too much from the Koran, but many Muslim traditions are helpful for everyday living. For non-muslims, the book Don’t Be Sad is helpful. You can find it online. Also, the writings and teachings of Omar, a Muslim ruler, were terrific to me.

The eastern writings are jewels and can be the best introductions to philosophy, morality, ethics, and therapy. The teachings of Confucius were my first taste of non-material wealth, followed by the beautiful writings of that young Lebanese mystic, Kahlil Gibran. These are brief and straightforward writings, perfect for people new to spiritual life.

Bookstores & books are still relevant.

I find that the universe is generous, and if you are seeking, you shall find. Someone may hand you a book, or a pamphlet, that addresses the guidance you need. You can always process what you read with somebody. But often, mentally ill young people are depressed, isolated, and need advice. 

In such a case, bookstores and libraries can help. Oops, I forgot the nature of the beast to whom I speak!

Why is it that even mentally ill millennials are adept at tech? Okay, then use it well. If you are looking for guidance and not necessarily God, ancient writings can help you out.

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About the Author

Ember Manos Belle

Ember Manos Belle is a 'Systems Advocate' and Behavioral Health Therapist in the NYC area. Ember is the author of Climbing Towards November (2009), and Pause in the Western Rhythm (2019).
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