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 [...]
This is my love letter to my wife Susan. We have been together now for three years and have experienced as much joy and sorrow than many couples together for fifty. We now live in our own home with our devoted lab Briley. We enjoy listening to music, Facetiming grandchildren, taking drives through Brown County state park, and visiting with family. Susan, When we first met we went on a whirlwind romance that was magical. It also had some of the marks of a manic episode, but it was much more than this. I was not psychotic; we were crazy in love. We talked for hours on my trip to New York and back. I stayed up through the night making a playlist filled with your favorite music and selections that would soon become “our songs.” We still listen to it on quiet date nights, look over at [...]
It's time to leave your psychiatrist when s/he says... 1) Enough about your mother, let's talk about mine. 2) Sure, the blue meds are working, but the pink pills are so much cuter. 3) In my professional opinion, you're crazier than a loon. 4) Suicide, smooicide. 5) If you want a taste of E.C.T. just stick your tongue to this car battery here. 6) What was that you said? I was too busy picturing you in the nude. 7) Before we treat your O.C.D. I'd like you to clean out my garage. 8) You think you've got problems! My Porsche has a flat tire. 9) I can see now why your wife wants to leave you. 10) You think, you're fat because you are fat.
Let me make this clear. Mental illness is not demon possession. If you are a faith leader and someone asks you to exorcise a friend or family member, don't do it. What can you do instead? A good pastor friend of mine has shared with me a screening process to rule out lesser afflictions before one might consider a chronic diseased soul. Examine the environment. Take a particularly close look at the relationship dynamics of the person presented as the problem. Often families and other intimate groups target one member and poured all their disruptive thoughts and feelings into a scapegoat who responds with peculiar and sometimes even volatile behavior. It can be very difficult to examine the lives of those convinced they are only acting out of love. They may themselves become angry with you, even abusive. Be sure to tread lightly and have back up before you take [...]
Shame is a soul eating emotion. ― C.G. Jung Guilt can be good if it leads to a change of heart, a transformed mind, and reformed behavior. Shame, however, is a wicked parasite that feeds off not what we have done but who we are. Shame is an external imposition. At least it starts that way. We are taught to feel ashamed. The 3-year old child of a friend once hopped out of the bathtub and took off running through the halls, shouting "I love my body. I love my body." This innocent exuberance is soon replaced by quiet discretion which, if handled too roughly, can become shame the child feels over his body. Shame is not part of God's created order. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. (Genesis 2.25) Shame only came about as a result of disobedience. It is not God's good [...]
Some time ago, I began a subscriber survey that has proven very fruitful. I've learned more about who my readers are and what they are looking for when they come to Delight in Disorder. Some of the most revealing content came from the comments provided in the "other" category. When asked what sort of posts would be most helpful, one reader replied: "... how God feels about mental illness and why He allows it." This thoughtful response raises many profound questions. I want to carefully and prayerfully respond. Yet, please understand that I am not an expert theologian or a mental health professional. Instead, I am a believer in Christ who has lived with a mental illness for over 30 years. This doesn't give me all the answers, but helps me better understand the questions. I feel much more confident answering the former question than the latter. The depth of [...]