My name is Suzanne Jafferian. I was born Suzanne Louise Martel and have gone by both Suzanne and Sue throughout my life. Today, I primarily use Suzanne in my work as a Psychologist and Counselor and Sue in my private life, although I often mix the two. I am and have been a licensed mental health counselor since 2009. In 2002, I received a M.Ed. in Counseling and in 2015, I received a Ph.D in Psychology. I have 2 beautiful daughters; one is 17 and heading off to college this year and the other is 13 and will be starting high school when my older one leaves. Oh yes, and Dean, my amazing, supportive husband who I don’t know where I would be without!
Like they used to say in those old hair replacement commercials, I am not only a provider — I have been a patient as well. Shortly after I started college, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had my first manic episode. I was hospitalized for around 2 weeks and put on heavy duty medications including haldol and lithium. This was a turning point in my life as it began a 30 year run of being on and off medications to manage this condition.
One year prior to this initial break, I had become a Christian and was filled with such joy and freedom. I couldn’t understand why now that I was not smoking pot, drinking, and dabbling with other drugs that I would have this crazy breakdown situation. My condition was attributed to having been self-medicating for those years through high school and now that I was no longer doing that, I would need to be on prescription medications to manage this mental illness.
I would like to include in this initial post, one of my all-time favorite scriptures that has meant so much to me through the years:
1 John 3:1-3 (NIV): “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”
I memorized those verses many years ago in the NIV translation and God often brings it to my mind in order to induce peace within my soul. However, there has been controversy surrounding those verses for me. When I first read it oh so many years ago, I was especially encouraged by the part that says, “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself,” and shared it with a minister of my old church. The passage impacted and inspired me because I thought, wow it is the hope that purifies me …but he jumped in and said, “Yes, because we have this hope, we need to work really hard to purify ourselves in response.” My heart fell at the time because the freedom I had experienced as a young Christian had all but completely disappeared into a works mentality. I needed to work hard to be pure which quite frankly, I was never really good at; I was always falling short in some way, sinning and never quite measuring up. It was all so overwhelming and sad.
Fortunately, my freedom is now found in Christ, although it has been a long, long, long journey. This has come because now I have a better understanding of God’s grace and know I’m not under the law. This freedom came complete with healing from bipolar disorder — I am totally medication free and it has been almost 3 years since I have taken any prescribed medications for this illness. Although I have taken a melatonin here or there for sleep, my journey has come a long way from being dependent on initially haldol and later seroquel, trazadone, and lorazapam for sleep. I had also been on, as I mentioned, lithium as a mood stabilizer and then lamictal.
I think the freedom, not just from mental illness but legalism itself, has ultimately come by seeing Jesus as He is. I have come to a greater understanding of the love of God through changing my view of Him. The focus of this blog will be sharing that journey.