Mad Intensities: What Makes Us Laugh

“It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” ― Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot Fry here captures the truth that demonic mental spirits can be redeemed and turn into angels. Self-consciousness turns us yet leads us to activities of the mind.. language, literature. Apartness, an inability to join in, leads us to appreciate the absurdity of what is deemed "normal." Shame and self-loathing turn to laughter and mad intensities when we are blessed to not take ourselves so seriously. Many of the best comics who have ever been, are touched with a sort of genius notched up to mad proportions. Robin Williams was the best of my generation. He was never [...]

Mad Intensities: What Makes Us Laugh 2017-09-13T22:07:12+00:00

To Be or Not to Be: Thoughts on Suicide

“When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace. ‘This is my last experiment,’ wrote a young chemist in his suicide note. ‘If there is any eternal torment worse than mine I’ll have to be shown.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide   When I was in training to become a student counselor in college, we were taught how to respond to persons who seemed to be suicidal. Some things we should look for included: 1) Sleeping an inordinate amount of time or not sleeping at all; 2) Showing no concern for hygiene; 3) Skipping meals; 4) Excessive drinking or using other drugs.  To an extent, these behaviors can be exhibited in any college student, in any one [...]

To Be or Not to Be: Thoughts on Suicide 2017-09-11T12:49:14+00:00

Balance

When I am most imbalanced, I have taken many dangerous and foolish risks. Like driving 90 mph on the Interstate while reading a book and writing a review. Like dodging traffic as I walked through city streets recording what I considered brilliant thoughts. Like stuffing dozens of candy corn into my mouth until I couldn't swallow or breathe. Why would I do these things? When I am manic, I reply, "Why not?" When I am manic, I take on special powers; I can topple towers, read minds, and save souls. I have a direct line to God. I am God's special child. God has ordained me to create peace, provide help for the helpless, hope for those in despair. When I am manic, I am on top of the world. Better yet, I am the top of the world. But what goes up, must come down. And often the higher [...]

Balance 2017-08-31T23:54:54+00:00

The Highs and Lows of Homecoming

It's been over 35 years now since I graduated from high school. For the first time, I'm going to the class reunion. Why am I going now? Why haven't I come before? I didn't go for years because I believed there were certain expectations on my life and until I fulfilled them, I would be too ashamed to go back. I'm not sure what these expectations were, but they were more likely self-imposed and largely unattainable. Nothing so easily calculable as monetary success, world travel, beautiful family. I measured my worth by affecting a life-changing difference. Saving the world one hurting soul at a time. It took me 32 years and one "nervous breakdown" before I let this dream die. But, by God's grace, I didn't die with it. My life story doesn't end there. But I wasn't ready to reconcile who I was in high school with who [...]

The Highs and Lows of Homecoming 2017-08-31T23:50:10+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 2017-08-25T23:15:45+00:00

Suicide and Salvation

Not long ago, I took a leisurely stroll with a young friend along a "people path" in my neighborhood. We paused and watched some ducks circling the pond beyond the log fence. "Is suicide the unforgivable sin?" he asked. I was taken aback. I didn't know what to say or how to say it. I needed more time to formulate what the Bible says and doesn't say about the subject of suicide. But I couldn't wait to respond. He seemed urgent. I looked at his face, trying to read what he was saying  in the lines of his forehead."Why do you ask?" He turned away. "I have a friend who was the first person to share Christ with me.  Until about a month ago, I would say she had the strongest faith of anyone I know. Then suddenly she started doing strange things. One day, she scrubbed her church's [...]

Suicide and Salvation 2017-08-21T15:07:46+00:00

A Faithful Response to Mental Illness

I was first diagnosed with a mental illness in 1991. I told only my wife and one trusted friend. Four years later I had a manic/psychotic episode that essentially made it necessary for me to tell the members of the congregation I was serving. By God's grace, they responded with amazing love and tremendous support. I was given unlimited paid leave and told I could resume my work whenever I was ready. Women provided meals and childcare so my wife could visit me. An offering was taken to pay off the gigantic cost of health care. On the flip side, both my therapist and psychiatrist respected my faith and the role it played to promote healing in my life. They appreciated that I did not use my faith as an excuse to refuse medical treatment. They saw the two working hand-in-hand to guide me towards well-being. Certainly, there were [...]

A Faithful Response to Mental Illness 2017-08-17T13:17:18+00:00

The Promise and Perils of Pills

Some time ago a woman named Robin connected up with me on a Facebook group for writers. Robin is a free-lance author who writes for such publications as bp magazine, a periodical for those with bipolar disorder and those who care for them. bp is sort of like the BBC for those of us with mental illness looking for hope, education, and support. Robin asked if she could interview me for an article. My first response was "Wow." Just, "Wow." It's been several weeks now and we are set for a phone meeting on Wednesday. My "Wow," has turned to "Thanks," to Robin; and "Please help, Lord," that I might represent the Delight in Disorder mission well. Robin has given me the topic she wants to focus on in our interview... medication. I thought it would be good to share some initial thoughts with you, to best prepare. In [...]

The Promise and Perils of Pills 2017-08-14T23:31:45+00:00

Delight in Disorder: My Story, My Message, My Mission

My Story In 1995, I was a young, ambitious pastor serving a small village church.  One Sunday, I delivered a sermon on human illness and divine healing in which I shared these words: When we become ill, it is important to listen to our bodies and pray that God help us make necessary changes. Our ailments may be blessings in disguise. We may be expecting too much from ourselves, or avoiding things we need to face. As we listen to our bodies, talk and reflect with others, and pray together, we can gain spiritual insight which will help us live healthier, more productive, more abundant lives. The next day, I was in the seclusion room of a psychiatric hospital. I was told I had bipolar disorder, that I would never work as a pastor again, that my marriage would likely end, and that I would spend the rest of [...]

Delight in Disorder: My Story, My Message, My Mission 2017-08-28T20:14:23+00:00

Advocates for People with Mental Illness: Laura Pogliano

In my search for the latest and greatest information and support for persons with mental illness (MI) , I ran across a Facebook site called, "Advocates for People with Mental Illness." I quickly came to know this site was unique: sensitive to the stories of individuals and families afflicted by MI, but also containing provocative reflections and proactive links to research and legislation at the cutting edge of the field. I reached out to Laura Pogliano, an administrator for the site and she agreed to do an interview. My words are in italics.  What drew you into the field of mental health advocacy? Well, the human psyche is itself interesting, but primarily my son became suddenly ill with psychosis and paranoia in the summer of 2008. By 2010, I was understanding how important advocacy was, not only for my son, but for others. I was very upset with a [...]

Advocates for People with Mental Illness: Laura Pogliano 2017-08-04T10:28:07+00:00