My Sister, My Psych Shepherd

This post was originally published on January 14, 2018; 6 months and 13 days from when I moved away from my self-destructive life alone, into the home of my sister and brother-in-law. I don't pay enough for room & board, so now and then I like to boost them up with a good story. Here is one of those. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (Psalm 23.1-2 KJV) My family of origin was crazy. I mean crazy. I dealt with the craziness by retreating and became a psych patient myself. My sister responded with an urge to treat the problem and became a psych nurse. But my sister ("Karen") is much more than any psych nurse. Many of my friends who have mental illness have great respect for her. My [...]

My Sister, My Psych Shepherd 2018-03-18T16:15:26+00:00

One Angel Who Did Not Fear to Tread

I want to tell a story I've told many times before. But I can't tell it enough. It's the story of what happens when someone with a mental illness falls into the pit of despair is lifted up by the loving faithfulness of one who cares. December 1, 2016. I am in the Goodman exit lane off I-490 in Rochester, New York. An unusual light shines in my rearview. In seconds, I hear a loud crack and feel a tremendous lurch. Someone traveling too close, going too fast, hit me. Hard. I called 911 and a policeman showed up, followed by an ambulance. I was taken to Strong Memorial hospital where they ran tests and found nothing conclusive. But I became increasingly agitated. I became convinced that I was paralyzed. Three doctors ran tests on me at separate times and concluded that nothing was wrong. Physically. That's when I called [...]

One Angel Who Did Not Fear to Tread 2018-03-01T00:50:49+00:00

Is Depression ‘of God’? – Leanne Sype

In 2013, I partnered with Leanne Sype to begin the process that led to the publication of Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. I was thrilled with her work as editor, a crowdfunding consultant,a spiritual adviser, and friend. Here is some of her story. *** I have depression. It’s called “situational depression” because it was induced by the situation of both my kids being diagnosed with mental illnesses. My son has ADHD. My daughter has depression and anxiety, which, for her, include symptoms like self-harm and thoughts of wanting to die. Over the course of navigating treatments, advocating for academic accommodations, and engaging in the bulk of the emotional support for each kiddo, I felt depression slowly weigh down on my chest. *** I once had a Christian friend tell me that anything with the prefix de- isn’t “of God.” Depression fell into that category in our conversation. Whether [...]

Is Depression ‘of God’? – Leanne Sype 2018-02-14T17:16:05+00:00

Reaching Out; Letting Go: Kelcey Rockhold

Kelcey Rockhold is an exiled Portlandier now living in Tuscon. I ran across her story as I was browsing for personal narratives about depression. We have followed each other over three years now and I have found our writing relationship very enriching and inspirational. Kelcey is in a much different place than where she was three years ago and it has been a blessing to see her grow. +     +     + For years, I was told by medical professionals that I most likely wouldn’t have kids. Sometimes I would hear that I “shouldn’t”. My mental state for quite a few years was rocky to say the least, due in large part to an eating disorder I was battling. My heart was broken for so long, believing deep down that I would never have kids, even though that was the only thing in the world I [...]

Reaching Out; Letting Go: Kelcey Rockhold 2018-02-11T19:33:02+00:00

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar?

You may want to reconsider if he... ... follows you around the mall telling you how ridiculous you are for wanting to have a career as an at-home mom. ... refuses to leave your apartment until he has beaten you in more computer hangman games than you have beaten him. ... tells you to pretend you don’t know each other at the campus picnic so people won’t know you are a couple. ... proposes to you in bed by saying, “You don’t really want to get married do you?” ... jumps out of your moving car because you can’t agree whether to have plants or flowers at your wedding.   Then again, you may appreciate that he... ... sneaks into you apartment while you are at work, puts on “I Will” by the Beatles, grabs you as you enter and dances with you in his own goofy way. ... composes [...]

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar? 2018-01-29T20:06:45+00:00

Penance: Spiritual Self-Harm

penance: (n) punishment inflicted on oneself as an outward expression of repentance for wrongdoing. ‘he had done public penance for those hasty words’.   When I first separated from my (now) ex-wife, I was miserable. I wrestled with a sense of guilt and confusion, searching my mind for what I could have done differently to make a better marriage. It wasn't as if I had shut God out of my life, or the life of my family. Faith, while admittedly mixed with many of my own flaws, was evident in who we were and how we behaved. My mental illness had certainly played a strong role, but even that didn't seem like an adequate reason. Granted, over 90% of people with bipolar who marry wind up divorced. Yet, I held out hope that God would bless us to be the slim exceptions. My time alone after I left my family behind [...]

Penance: Spiritual Self-Harm 2018-01-24T03:18:30+00:00

No One Cares About Crazy People: A Review

I hope you do not "enjoy" this book. I hope you are wounded by it; wounded as I have been in writing it. Ron Powers knows craziness inside and out. His book is part-expose, part-memoir. Not only does he unveil the atrocious way demoniacs/lunatics/maniacs/mentally ill have been abused throughout history, he also shares a very personal story about how mental illness has ravaged his family. Powers primarily examines schizophrenia, the mother of all mental illnesses. The most debilitating. The one most resistant to treatment. This is the illness Powers's sons Kevin & Dean have. But this diagnosis does not define them. They are creative, compassionate young men. Powers describes how his sons were moved by music and this passion for artistic expression gave them direction and purpose. But, as their minds gave way to the mental illness within, they would lose the capacity for anything coherently creative. Only chaos. [...]

No One Cares About Crazy People: A Review 2018-01-19T16:09:36+00:00

Revealing Voices: The Launch

I love to write. I love it even more when people read what I write. And I love it the most when people respond to what they've read that I've written. Today I got an email from Natalie M. She writes about our upcoming podcast, Revealing Voices: the mental health podcast raising unanswered questions, sharing unanswered prayers -- What a wonderful, amazing, much needed and Holy Spirit-filled idea... My husband just six months ago took over as a Senior Pastor of a small church... and being in ministry we realize how important mental health is...It's something I've struggled with over the years, it's something  that God brought me through, though I have occasional  down days. God brought healing and beauty from the ashes and has allowed me to share my testimony. Depression is not something that Christians don't experience. It's a growing issue that pastors need to speak about, [...]

Revealing Voices: The Launch 2017-11-20T15:57:31+00:00

Mental Illness: Explanation or Excuse

This is not something I want to write. It's something I feel compelled to write. First, an explanation. Mental illness is a serious problem, both for those of us who have it and for our loved ones impacted by it. It is a also a major societal issue. How we care for those who are most vulnerable is a reflection of who we are and what we believe. If we let "the least of these" fall through the cracks, we will be judged by our consciences and by our faith convictions. God does not look lightly at those abusing His children. Mental illness is a medical condition stemming from faulty brain chemistry which current medical science can treat, but not cure. My own bipolar disorder is considered a serious mental illness (SMI). SMIs are disabling conditions that are chronic. You can't just take a pill and make them go [...]

Mental Illness: Explanation or Excuse 2017-10-19T14:49:19+00:00

She had the softest hands of any women I had ever touched, of any woman who had ever touched me. I asked her one time, “Grandma, how to you keep your hands so soft?”  “Dishes. Wash plenty of dishes.” Maybe she thought this would motivate me to do more work around the house instead of constantly burying my nose in a book.  No, dishwashing alone wasn’t the secret of Grandma's soft hands. It was lotion. Tons and tons of lotion. My sister revealed this to me after nearly half a century of going on the washing-dishes-alone-theory. Every baby born to the family for almost five decades felt the gentle touch of Grandma's loving hands as she played with us and prayed with us, as she read to us, as she taught some to work and shook her head at why others wouldn't.  My Uncle Geoff is one who carries [...]

2017-07-19T19:58:42+00:00