Disclosing in Dating: How I Reveal My Mental Illness

I took the leap. I joined a dating site. I've cast my net. Now all I need to do is let my Beloved swim in. I will then pull her into my boat. My love boat, if you will. Easy peasy. What can go wrong? As a female friend has told me my stock has gone up in my 50s. I think she meant this as a compliment. That I have aged well. Either that or women my age have lowered their expectations. Things have gotten off to a great start on the site. I've found a good many women I would go out with. I've contacted some and a few have responded. I've had extended chats with two of them. Tomorrow morning I meet one for coffee. I'm looking forward to it. I'm eager to discover together who we are, what are our shared passions and our unique qualities. [...]

Disclosing in Dating: How I Reveal My Mental Illness 2018-08-16T01:46:38+00:00

The Fruit of Faithful Friends

In March of 2014, I met Eric Riddle, a fellow pilgrim on the road to faithful recovery from mental illness. We had both seen the good and bad of mental health care and faith community ministries and thought God might use us to contribute to the solution rather than just complain about the problem. We committed to meet weekly for walks, Scripture study, intercessory prayer, and brainstorming. We spent a great deal of time at first dealing with our own brokenness. Eric and I both had received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and had been treated both as inpatients and outpatients. Beyond our mental health diagnoses, we shared the pain of broken relationships, the joys and concerns of parenting, our hopes and fears for the faith communities, our local community, our nation, our world. Our genuine prayer was that God might use us as wounded healers, partnering with churches and [...]

The Fruit of Faithful Friends 2018-08-12T20:42:52+00:00

Postpartum Psychosis by Bipolar Mumma

I can remember quite clearly the moment that I realized that I might have had postnatal depression. It was in the middle of a Canberra winter; cold grey skies, it was windy outside and I was stuck inside with newborn. I had tried everything to get my child to go to sleep. I had rocked him, bounced him on my exercise ball, walked laps around the house, I even pleaded with him in case that might have worked. But nothing was going to get my child to go to sleep. I ended up placing him carefully in a pram and rolling him over the ledge between my carpets and flooring, over and over again. I was crying as I was doing this. Pleading with myself that this was something that most mothers went through. But what most mothers did not go through was voices in their heads. I heard a [...]

Postpartum Psychosis by Bipolar Mumma 2018-08-04T22:32:29+00:00

A Church With No Walls

This has been a particularly good week to be part of a faith family that cares and shares. Last weekend, my prayer partner contacted me about how I was coming along in a terribly difficult family conflict. We prayed for each other as brothers in Christ. This week, an elder followed up to ask if I needed any financial assistance. I told him I was holding up so far, but that the offer was a huge show of support. Yesterday, my pastor and his family showed up at an author fair I was featured in. Their smiles made my whole day. Today, a man came up to me to tell me how much he appreciated my article in the local newspaper. Yes, it has been a particularly good week to be a receiving and contributing member of my faith family. A healthy, holy church includes all God's children both by [...]

A Church With No Walls 2018-07-22T20:29:43+00:00

Dealing with Suicide

I'm doing an interview with Brainstorms tomorrow.  Brainstorms is a radio show hosted by Megan Malfi on Hamilton Radio focusing mostly on mental health and mental disabilities or disorders. On Brainstorms they are always striving to learn more about different mental disorders, how they can help others stay mentally healthy, and how to cope with mental illness in ourselves or a loved one.  "Whether we’re talking about things we love that make us happy or things that give us stress, our goal is always to convey the message that YOU HAVE VALUE." Megan and I have been communicating for about a month on how we can be mutually supportive in our ministries. She very graciously offered to take the first step and invite me on her program. As a diligent host, she has since read Delight in Disorder and has asked very soul-searching questions. One is this -- A lot of [...]

Dealing with Suicide 2018-07-18T23:28:51+00:00

The Relationship Between Religion and Mental Illness by Psychosis Recoverer Peter McDonnell

We are all lucky enough to have a brain.  Some are grounded, shaped by experiences of regularity that don’t feel the need to explore anything spiritually interesting or indeed supernatural.  Some people would rather search that kind of thing out. My brain is geared toward the latter, but I have learned that an element of conventionality and being in step with the ordinary world is no less than a necessity.  Kind of like Agent Mulder from ‘The X Files’ who has his sceptical partner, Agent Scully keeping him grounded and ready to consider the more scientific answers to some of this wonderful life’s questions.   One of the biggest questions in this life is ‘Is there a God?’  My instinct tells me that yes there is, undoubtedly, based on my observations and experiences, and what I feel in my heart.  Then my more rational side prods me and says ‘hold [...]

The Relationship Between Religion and Mental Illness by Psychosis Recoverer Peter McDonnell 2018-06-05T21:35:57+00:00

Fresh Hope for Mental Health Interview

A few weeks back, I received an unexpected message from Pastor Brad Hoefs from Fresh Hope for Mental Health. Fresh Hope is a mental health ministry that reaches out with an uplifting Gospel message for those who are often cast down. Their mission is to "empower individuals to live a full and rich faith-filled life in spite of a mental health diagnosis." Toward this end, they have developed curriculum for support groups around the country, they are producing webinars on such topics as "What I Wish My Pastor Knew About Mental Health," and distribute a podcast that is one of the best of its kind. Pastor Brad reached out to me to be a guest on this podcast. Below is the link to the program and the show notes:   In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Pastor Brad interviews Pastor Tony Roberts. Pastor Tony Roberts was born and [...]

Fresh Hope for Mental Health Interview 2018-04-26T01:42:55+00:00

The Bittersweet Blessing of Bipolar

“Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum. ― Vincent van Gogh; The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh Now that the human genome project can draw the DNA map of our bodies, gene therapy becomes an ever increasing reality. We can restructure our bodies and minds such that debilitating conditions could disappear. The question we now face is what goes and what stays? And, who decides? One of the persons who serves on the human genome project is Kay Redfield Jamison. Jamison has both a professional interest and a personal perspective in genetic mapping. First, she is a psychiatric researcher. She is certainly concerned about the tools medical science can use to alleviate unnecessary suffering. [...]

The Bittersweet Blessing of Bipolar 2018-04-05T03:54:37+00:00

A Dream Revisited

I have a dream. A nightmare, really. It goes something like this. I am at the peak of my pastoral career. In good health. Surrounded by loving family. Comfortable. Confident. Then something happens. I never know just what. Last night it started with a fever. I knew what was coming on, so I took deep breaths, murmured, growled, cried out. I woke up. But not really. Only enough to feel sure I was in a space other than the dream. Not enough to wake up. The dream goes deeper. I am in a hospital bed, bars on every side. Strapped down. An old black-robed woman hovers beside, whispering harsh words into my ears. Speaking to me in a secret tongue. I want to make her go away but I can't move. I breathe deep. Deeper. Until I can make a small sound. A whimper. A moan. Finally, a scream. It [...]

A Dream Revisited 2018-04-02T01:49:40+00:00

World Bipolar Day Meets Good Friday

March 30, 2018.  Good Friday. As a Christian, Good Friday is a day I celebrate the death of my Savior. Strange, huh? Said better, I celebrate the Way Jesus died for me and for the sins of the world. Good Friday reveals humanity at our worst -- betrayal, false arrest, phony trial, mob mentality, torture, execution. Yet Good Friday also demonstrates humanity as we were designed to be -- faithful, sacrificial, loving to the end.     March 30, 2018. World Bipolar Day recognizes the almost 6 million persons who live with this mental illness that can be both animating and debilitating. Persons with bipolar are often counting as some of the most creative, inspired, intellectual people past and present. But the ravages of the brain disease often lead to destructive behavior, even death.   Today I reflect on this special day for my faith and my mental health from [...]

World Bipolar Day Meets Good Friday 2018-03-30T01:47:17+00:00