God Gave Me a Sound Mind
From hate to wholeness.
by Gayle Threlkeld as told to Muriel Larson
“Gayle, your husband called me,” my gynecologist said over the phone, “and he seems very worried about you.”
“About what?” I asked, well aware of what the answer might be. During our last big battle, I completely lost control and attacked my husband.
“He’s afraid you might harm yourself or somebody else,” the doctor answered. “I’d like you to see a psychiatrist.”
“A psychiatrist? What do you mean? I’m not crazy!”
“Your husband says you’ve been very upset lately, and Dr. Ford may be able to help you.”
I finally agreed. “I’ll call Dr. Ford and get back with you,” my doctor said. As I hung up the phone, I thought bitterly, What do I want help for? I’m sick of my life. All I want to do is die! I fell on the couch and wept in frustration and anger.
My doctor called back later to tell me that the psychiatrist agreed: I should go to Marshall Pickens, a psychiatric hospital, for several days of evaluation.
“Marshall Pickens?” I cried. “That’s for mental patients!”
The doctor tried to soothe me, saying that the people who go to Marshall Pickens aren’t crazy. “They go there for help, and you need help right now.”
I finally agreed to go.
But when my husband took me to Marshall Pickens, I stood there and looked around. What am I doing in a place like this? It’s all my husband’s fault!
I turned on my husband and glared at him. Through grated teeth I said, “I hate you!”
When Dr. Ford came in, I spit out at him, “I hate all men — and you’re a man!”
Hate, resentment, and anger filled me. I hardly knew what I was doing or saying. I didn’t know it then, but during the evaluation period I was diagnosed as bipolar. The doctors couldn’t discern my blood pressure when they tried to take it — typical of bipolar disorder. I was given medication to regulate my heart beat, as well as mood elevators, which turned me into a walking zombie. They gave me 24 pills a day during the month I was at the hospital.
What had brought me to this point in my life? I had been reared in a devout Christian home. We went to church all the time, and our church had many strict rules for the Christian life. I had rebelled against those rules because I didn’t understand them. As a child I had made a lifetime commitment to Christ, but my life showed no evidence that it was valid.
As a teenager I became a rebel.
I married Brad when I was 17, but neither of us were prepared for marriage. We bickered and fought almost constantly. Our son, Jason, was born within a year after we were married. I wasn’t prepared for him either; I was like a child trying to raise a child. Our second son came eight years later.
During the early years of our marriage, I attended a nearby church several times. Year after year the pastor and leaders of that church visited our home to talk to Brad and me about Jesus Christ.
“Christ loves you, and He died for your sins,” Pastor Stelton would say. He urged me to commit my life to Christ, but I steadfastly refused. I didn’t need the church or religion. I could make my own life — or so I thought.
Now after 15 years of marriage, my life was a mess, and I was a miserable bipolar. It was as if I were living in a well, hoping it would cave in on me.
When I was discharged from the hospital, I felt like a wilted plant. In the mornings when I awoke, nausea overcame me. I couldn’t eat breakfast, so I went back to bed. My taste and smell were gone — also typical of bipolar disorder.
About a week after I got home, I stopped taking the pills. What good do they do? I thought. I’m tired of feeling like a zombie. But I kept my appointment with the psychiatrist the following week.
Walking into his office, I declared, “I don’t need you any more, and I don’t need my husband any more. I just want to live my own life.” Then I walked out.
The next day I went to a medical doctor who didn’t know me. But as soon as he tried to take my blood pressure, he knew I was bipolar. “I know something is bothering you,” he said. “Tell me, do you go to church?”
I shook my head. “Well, here are some pamphlets I’d like you to read,” he said. “And if you ever need a friend to talk to, call me.” I took the tracts and stalked out, angry that he hadn’t found anything physically wrong with me.
After glancing at the tracts, I threw them away.
Two days later I was sitting on the couch in our living room. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I had to find another kind of life. I looked up and cried, “God, please help me!” Tears began flowing down my cheeks. “Touch me; help me find myself. I can’t do it alone anymore. I have tried everything else, God, and it didn’t help. Now I’m asking You to help me!”
I got my Bible. It fell open to the Psalms, to verses that told me God would be with me and help me. How comforting they were!
Arising, I started doing things around the house for the first time in days.
The next morning when I got up, the nausea was gone; I could actually eat breakfast with my family! My taste and smell had returned.
A few days later we went to our lake home. During the afternoon while everyone was out swimming, I lay down in our bedroom. I thought of the progress I had made in the past few days. “Oh, God, if You can do this for me, someone who is so undeserving, then the least I can do is offer my life to you. Come into my heart and life, Lord Jesus!”
What a wonderful release! I knew I had finally done the right thing. And what a difference God made in my life! He replaced the hate and bitterness with a desire to serve Him. I no longer screamed at my husband or children or used foul language.
Right away I started attending church, going to all the services. I couldn’t get enough! Shortly after that, my son, Jason, made a commitment to Christ.
The Bible says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV). He did it for me — and how thankful I am!