In the days following, I looked for support, calling a few friends to ask for prayer. But no one returned my call. Are they thinking there’s something wrong with me because I was excluded from the group?

I called the person who would be taking over leadership of my support group, hoping she might offer compassion. But when I told her what had happened, she didn’t miss a beat, saying “Maybe you could find another church.”

With support from my church disappearing, I felt like my faith was under attack. I was alone. Abandoned.

Strange how leaving the leadership of my support group, and all that would mean to me, was coinciding with exclusion from the study group. Why were those two big losses happening at the same time?

It wasn’t until years later that I was to discover the truth. But first there would be many years of suffering.

I said earlier how there are two sides to every story. But not every side is a righteous one. There is the side that causes pain, and the side that receives the pain. And the reason for hurting another is not necessarily justified.

Did they forget I was a human being with feelings? And if I was not a human being, what was I?

I was bewildered, wondering why I, a person who had served God faithfully, making big contributions to mental health, was being treated like this. I had helped many learn to trust God as they battled illness and I was continuing doing so. Has that all been forgotten?

As the year wore on, much more hurting followed—in words and in action. I felt like a child, punished by the person who had taught me about God’s love, the person who had been a friend to me. Throughout this time, I expressed my pain to a couple of leaders. I told them everything as it happened. Their compassion comforted me, but nothing was done.

And the question that would keep repeating itself for years to come was “why?”

As I write, I try to remember that it’s up to God to judge. Not me. Bad things happen. And evil things too.

Today I look at the injustice and see the years of suffering it brought, trying to remember that I must now learn to accept and let it go.

But first I will finish telling my story. I’m hoping it will teach what can happen in the life of a person with mental illness when she’s mistreated. I also hope that people with mental health problems will come to be recognized as people of worth, in the same way as others have worth.

marja