Statement of personal experience with mental illness

  • I come from a dysfunctional family with mild to moderate levels of mental illness. The mental illness is exhibited as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive(OCD) via unhealthy perfectionism and sometimes hoarding, posttraumatic stress(PTSD), personality disorders, and attention deficit(ADHD). Two other illnesses exist in my family that can negatively affect mental health are Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue syndrome which is characterized by chronic widespread pain and fatigue for unknown reasons.
  • My mother, father, and siblings exhibit some of the symptoms of these illnesses.
  • My parents and siblings have not been able to maintain a positive relationship. This has lead to my parents and siblings not getting together for family celebrations such as birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas since 1978. They all live in the Mayfield area so travel is not an issue. I have tried to make peace and maintain a relationship with all family members but it is very challenging. You likely have heard the phrase, "they had a personality conflict or a falling out." A "personality conflict" or a "falling out" can be the result of personality disorders.
  • Dysfunctional family patterns run in cycles and tend to repeat if not acknowledged and overcome in a healthy manner.
  • People in dysfunctional families tend to shift blame to other people and deny personal responsibility for their actions.
  • Sometimes the grandchildren will be kept away from grandparents and misunderstand things to the point that they choose to avoid any contact with the grandparent as an adult. Sometimes grandchildren base their decisions on what they have been told instead of investigating for themselves if the things they have been told are actually true.
  • I exhibit some symptoms of these illnesses and dysfunctions but they do not impair my ability to provide quality counseling. In the past, I experienced a mid-life evaluation. During this time, I felt regret/discontentment that I had not married and did not have children of my own. After a brief period of time, I once again regained contentment and believe that only if it is for the best will I be married and have children of my own. I pray this daily, "Lord If it is best for me to be married someday please guide my steps to find someone who will be a blessing and help me grow closer to You. If it is best for me to be single the rest of my life, give me peace, help me remain happy, and help me continue to grow closer to You." Personal experiences such as these give me understanding, knowledge, depth, and compassion to enhance the counseling I provide.
  • My personal experience with mental illness, living in a dysfunctional family, and having a passion to help others are the primary reasons I entered the counseling profession.

  • In my own experience, the following are some tasks that must happen to stop the cycle of dysfunction.
    1. Have a willingness to change.
    2. Pray, study, and seek God's help.
    3. Be humble and accept that I'm not always right.
    4. Seek wise counseling.
    5. Do not expect perfection.
    6. Stop attempting to control, in other words letting go & letting God.
    7. Forgive past dysfunction, but beware...trusting again may not be a safe option. Healthy boundaries are critical.
    8. Do not participate with or enable those who continue in the dysfunction, maintain boundaries.
    9. Stay in the truth. Stop any tendencies to distort, delude, or exaggerate the facts.
    10. Go through a healing process. Do the hard work and face the tough choices.
    11. Make permanent changes in attitudes and work to relate with people in healthy ways.

    Joseph A. Williams


    Click here to return to
    Christian Counseling Services