Disorders and Sin

I was thinking today about people with disorders and how they struggle sometimes, with sin and understanding the moral evil of sin.

Someone who lacks empathy, or has an anxiety disorder in which they are conpulsed to do an immoral act. How responsible would they be for their actions?

And going back to empathy, some people with alexithymia (although it’s more of a personality trait) sometimes can’t understand or relate at ALL to the feelings of another person. They may come across as rude, arrogant, or any other negative connotation you can think. Would they be as guilty of the sin of pride as a non-affected individual would be?

I am compelled to answer this question because this sort of thing seems the purpose of God in my life, what little purpose there is remaining, which is known only to Him.

My daughter was born in 1987. No one had ever heard the words “Asperger’s Syndrome”. From infancy through toddlerhood and even into early school years, she had every symptom. Brilliant, began speaking English as a real language at less than 9 months of age, totally socially inept, unable to participate with other children in organized activities. I heavily socialized her: three “Mommy and Me”, Gymboree, Christian pre-school, Christian Kindergarten, Christian school (until grade five). It was like parenting five children at once. I had been well prepared for this and, even though I knew there was “something wrong”, I could find no professional (therapist or child psychiatrist) who could identify it. I gave her a storbyook childhood because I had reached an age where I had transcended (by the grace of God and on and off intensive psychotherapy) the serious damage done to me by my dysfunctional childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood (I basically raised myself).

My daughter was in an environment in my home (as a single mother but her father had an open door policy) to love and cherish Jesus. And she did. She was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church as an infant but later (I had left the church for some 12 years) volunteered for baptism in a strong, very large, very spirit filled Evangelical Christian church. About age 12 or so, the problems began to be very apparent. She was in and out of therapy with a child psychologist for her entire life, no one could identify what was happening (not even the two child psychiatrists I took her to see).

By age sixteen, paranoia set in. She had reported in middle school that she was being tormented and bullied because she was not dressing “like the other girls”. I hired an educational malpractice lawyer; I brought in social activists in my community on Long Island; I dragged the Superintendent (kicking and screaming) into this melee. The Principal was fired; the vice Principal was forced into early retirement. How much of this “bullying” (I know SOME OF IT was true) actually took place or was a symptom of my daughter’s complex underlying psychosis? I will never know.

I moved off Long Island to an upstate small community in 2003, she was a Junior in high school by then. Her school on Long Island had been on lock down the entire year of her sophomore year (and THIS in a “good” school district) and I thought it was necessary for her to live in a beautiful environment where the children her age did not dress like hookers (as they did on Long Island) and where she might “fit in”. She could not “fit in”. I got her through high school, I even convinced her to go to the graduation ceremony. And then it all began to fall apart.

She was eventually diagnosed (differential diagnosis: written tests, history of psychiatric hospitalization) as schizo-affective/bipolar. In the last months of her life, she began frantically pacing, she could not help herself. She was having auditory (and perhaps visual) hallucinations which she would not admit to. She saw all of this as a spiritual battle and had the delusion that she was “married” to a “angel” named “Cloud” with whom she really belonged. You cannot disengage a mentally ill person from their delusion, it is absolutely impossible. No medication can do it either. I and her father, both, have sensitivity to drugs (medication) and she inherited it, so she was unable to take the mood stabilizers (they caused a deadly rash). She was on an anti-psychotic. I lived in a lock down psych ward in my home: every over the counter medication, scissors, knives, screw drivers, and real medications, were in a safe screwed to the wall and floor in my closet, the closet had a deadbolt lock, my bedroom door had a deadbolt lock. She had made several very elaborate suicide plans (I actually had the FBI and Homeland Security in my home at one point because she had ordered Darvon from Roumania; FBI said it wouldn’t get past customs. Guess what: it did)

A living hell, day and night, to watch your brilliant, artistic, funny, beautiful and gifted child with plans for her life as a wildlife biologist turn into a face wearing a mask, a person who could not do anything but suffer, who was afraid to sleep in her own room and had to sleep in my room (we swapped), who was convinced this was not mental illness. Living hell. She took her life on March 2, 2011. WAS SHE HELD ACCOUNTABLE BY GOD? Not any God I know. Would I BE? Yes. I am not mentally ill. Even in the extreme pain I have suffered in the 3 years and 3 months, and even though it has occurred to me that I can’t go one more day, I owe God my life. I am not mentally ill. She was.

If God considers her damnable, then this is not the God I know, and have known, and continue to know. There are circumstances regarding serious mental illness that remove all responsibility for actions. I can’t answer a question such as, “What about that kid in CT who killed his mother and then went into that school and killed all those young children”…how can I answer that, am I God? But my daughter was chaste; she was reading the Bible; she was downloading scripture and pictures of Jesus; she was wearing a crucifix. And I know she is in paradise for reasons I do not have to (or choose to) explain here.

DO NOT JUDGE. The judgment you bring upon others will turn back to YOU. Remember when Jesus stooped and wrote on the ground during the impending execution (by stoning) of a woman caught in adultery? WHAT DID HE WRITE? We don’t know, but we know what He said to her: “GO AND SIN NO MORE.”

Beautiful story, Povero. God bless you.

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