Day Three – “The miracle Button” – If I offered you a miracle button which when pressed would instantly take away your mental health issues – would you press it or not? And why?
I think the first time I heard this question posed in respect of someone’s mental health it was by Stephen Fry in his documentary “The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive”. (Which is, I believe, available on YouTube and worth a watch if you are interested.)
Interestingly nearly all those he asked responded, “no way”. But I would rather not simply respond without thinking it through some.
Many of the reasons given for not wanting to push that little red miracle button all boiled down to the same thing – the mania or the good parts of the illness far outweigh the bad parts of the illness for the sufferer and to lose them would not be acceptable.
But see I have a couple of difficulties here…
Firstly, is it not true that to some extent or other the ‘goodness’ of the ‘good parts’ are actually being measured in comparison with the badness or the bad parts? And thus is not how good they actually are – or our perception of that – being heightened or exaggerated?
Secondly, unless you are talking about the mania – which I know can cause great productivity and feelings or experiences of elation, how do you know that the good parts – which people often ascribe to being part of the illness – creativity, lateral thinking etc – really are a part of the illness. Which therefore then begs the question how do we know that we would therefore actually lose them as a result of pressing that button?
Thirdly, but along the same lines, how do you know that having the illness removed will remove the good parts as well anyway? What if having had the illness unlocked those creative, beneficial parts, and now that they are or have been unlocked they will remain regardless of whether or not the illness remains?
Of course it is all hypothetical – a Schrödinger’s cat situation isn’t it? As we will never truly know until we push the actual button. So all I am saying is that I simply don’t want to blindly accept an illogical or questionable argument 🙂
Lastly in this regard, is there not a certain amount of selfishness being demonstrated within that argument? What about others – our loved ones and those closest to us for example?
Yes we benefit directly from the mania, the elation, and yes certainly others may benefit to a lesser degree and more indirectly from the good parts but compared to the burden they experience as a result of the bad parts, is it still worth it?
Another position adopted by folk when faced with this question is the position, “No I wouldn’t push the button because if God allowed this into my life who am I to simply push a button and remove it?”
Well I can so very easily understand that position and on face value it seems noble and perfectly valid but again I have a couple of difficulties here…
Firstly, and I am not being disrespectful just honest here, I have real problems with the whole “God allowed it” argument when it comes alongside the question of “free will”.
How do we know that the illness is not as a result of one of our own “free will actions” rather than something God allowed to enter into our life? Even in the case of a genetic illness how do we know it wasn’t resultant from something our predecessors did as a result of their “free will”?
See I have this friend who I love dearly but who repeatedly fails to take responsibility or own up to his actions. And the excuse he nearly always throws up is “But hey I am the way God made me.” It is just such a bogus cop out!
Firstly, we know both in Psychological and scriptural terms that we are a) imperfect and b) have been and are – to varying degrees – influenced by other people and by our circumstances and environments.
So unless you are and have always been either a) totally immune to these influences or b) raised and/or lived in a family and circumstances and environments which were always exactly how God wanted them, the NO you are NOT how God made you!
And if we are not how God made us, how then can we simply accept that our illness is without doubt God’s will? Could it not be a result of ours or someone else’s sin or bad decisions?
That is not to say that I deny the possibility of it being something God allows. I do of course accept this possibility, I simply (as a result of the whole free will consideration) don’t accept it as being a definite.
Which brings us to the stance – “If God wanted to remove my illness from my life, he would do so.”
I am reminded of a story I heard in a bible teaching one day…
A pastor was caught in a flood had to climb on his roof for safety. As the waters rose ever towards him he prayed for help.
A row boat came along and tried to rescue him, but thinking of others first and sure God would save him he sent them away telling them to go help others first.
Still the waters grew ever upwards and a speed boat came along and they called to the pastor to come down and get into the boat. “No I am ok! God will save me.” He called back as the waters rose to his waist. “Go help others first.”
Just as the waters rose to the pastor’s neck a helicopter hovered overhead. “I’m ok.” He shouted up, “I am sure my God will save me. You go help others.”
Eventually the waters rose and rose and the pastor died and went to heaven.
“Um Lord, ” The Pastor spoke respectfully on meeting God. “What happened? I was so sure you would save me.”
“Well my child,” God answered, “I did send you a rowing boat, a speed boat and a helicopter, what more did you want?”
LOL, its a humorous little story isn’t it, but the point is – what if the little red miracle button was sent by God? What then?
But my point is this. I have heard the arguments and considered the positions that many others have adopted in respect of this question and each one has its own validity or merit. And certainly I don’t mean to appear disrespectful of any of those positions.
But I myself just truly struggle with this question. And, as I mentioned above, I also have to consider the effect that my mental illness has on others on my friends and family.
What about the strife and the concern that I put them through as a result of this illness?
By my not choosing to press this button am I not actually running the risk of being selfish?
It is just such a difficult question isn’t it? “What about if the button was to remove your terminal cancer?” What then? Would you push it then? And if so what makes it OK to push it then but not now?
See, I love my Lord and I love my God and in truth they have brought me through so much so far. And I truly want to do His will so the very first thing I would do about it is to pray I think, and at the same time get my church to pray and I hope that having done so I would respond accordingly.
So I guess my answer to the question, “If I was offered a miracle button which when pressed would instantly take away my mental health issues – would I press it or not? And why?” Has to be I just don’t know and for all of the reasons above.
Again, please understand I am not being disrespectful of anyone else’s answer to this question or saying their stance is wrong. I am simply seeking to answer according to my own heart.