About tonyroberts

I am a man with an unquiet mind who delights in the One who delights in me.

To a muse, myself.

Originally published September 10, 2018....   My senior year of college, I set out to write a book. To accomplish this, I had to get a muse. All great writers have muses. I made a list of qualities my muse had to have: 1)   She had to be beautiful. 2)  She had to be smart. 3)  She had to be passionate. I looked across campus and my eyes lit on a Botticelli Beauty with flowing blonde hair. Monique. She was reading The Stranger by Albert Camus, jotting down notes in her black leather journal. I later discovered this was filled with incisive quotes she uncovered to satisfy her thirst for inspired truth. Beautiful. Check. Smart. Check. I introduced myself and we soon became friends. We shared a common disdain for pop culture. We were disgusted by the same people, hated the same things. One might think we were a [...]

To a muse, myself.2019-08-21T23:48:38-04:00

Soul Eating Shame: Internalized Stigma

Shame is a soul eating emotion.  ― C.G. Jung Guilt can be good, if it leads to a change of heart, a transformed mind, 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, of willful separation from [...]

Soul Eating Shame: Internalized Stigma2019-08-19T00:55:15-04:00

Even in the chaos, there is encouragement.

I find delight when I write. More delight when people read what I write. And even more when readers respond to what I write. But I am perhaps most delighted when someone is moved in such a way by my work that they offer me an encouraging word or, one that challenges me to do better. Like this from a reader named Bev:   Tony,  I understand the focus of your email is mental illness.  However, it seems that examining your mental illness and dwelling on it makes it more intense.  I suffer from anxiety, and yet, I know that if I were to spend too much time thinking of it, it would be worse.  There are so many ways to become and stay stable that I don't want to spend time irritating a wound.  Today the sky is so lovely, and I will dwell on the good and the [...]

Even in the chaos, there is encouragement.2019-08-14T21:29:19-04:00

The New Asylums: A Dialogue on Mental Illness Behind Bars

I have been aware of the prevalence of persons with mental illness who are incarcerated. I also know first-hand how quality in-patient psychiatric care has all but disappeared. Still, this chart portrays the crisis of mental health care in our nation. And, from the numbers I've seen, it's only getting worse. What follows is a dialogue that took place in perhaps the best Facebook groups I belong to: Advocates for People with Mental Illness. I wish these folks were in policy-making posts rather than the ones we currently have.   J:   Neither peak seems to be healthy, at least not long term. I wonder where the curve would be in a good system. D:  The community health care system that was promised after institutions closed is a dignified response to caring for people who live with mental illness. Much cheaper than institutions and so much more effective and respectful. [...]

The New Asylums: A Dialogue on Mental Illness Behind Bars2019-08-11T15:11:13-04:00

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness

I start this post with one basic assumption. Not all persons with mental illness are creative. Some sit around all day playing video solitaire, watching episodes of Judge Judy, counting the cars that pass by. Some persons with mental illness have neither the desire or the capacity (or both) to do anything that resembles creative expression. (Though you never know the depths of creativity lodged in their brains.) At the same time, I find my mental illness plays out in a creative way, primarily in my way with words. I'm not Hemingway. It's not quality, but quantity for me. Most of my waking and sleeping hours are spent plotting how I can use my words to the best effect. When I am under unusual amounts of stress, you will likely find me tucked away in a corner, Pilot G-2 gel pen gliding across a composition journal, describing the world [...]

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness2019-08-07T22:29:13-04:00

Does Mental Illness Lead to Violence?

I don’t follow much mass media, but at times it is impossible to escape. Accounts of the El Paso and Dayton shootings and the Los Angeles stabbings are prime examples. What could possibly motivate persons to such violent extremes? Political leaders, pundits, and partisans toss around various theories. Access to guns? Video games? Mental illness? As one with a mental illness who now serves as a Faith & Mental Health Advocate, the issue is much more than political posturing, it is passionately personal. True, I have witnessed first-hand aggressive behavior stemming from mental illness. Yet, the vast majority of harm is self-directed, not violence against others. Fear-based stigma does no one any good and does many much harm. The Treatment Advocacy Center, one of the leading organizations promoting better mental health care and safety has written in  “Risk Factors for Violence in Serious Mental Illness”, five points:   Most individuals [...]

Does Mental Illness Lead to Violence?2019-08-08T18:05:34-04:00

How Women Are Crazy: Pyschiatric Abuse Through the Ages

I was speaking with a friend this week about his grandmother who had been a missionary to one of the Asian nations. She had kept personal journals of her years in the mission field and my friend was prayerfully hoping to obtain them and possibly write a biography. One of his motivations was to celebrate the life and service of a woman of faith who had gone largely unnoticed in the shadow her famous husband cast. To acknowledge that women have been unfairly silenced for no other reason than their gender is more than just a radical feminist statement. It is a harsh and sometimes cruel reality. For centuries, women who somehow deviate from the societal norms placed upon them have been "put in their place" by the psychiatric profession. ... psychiatrists were often hired by husbands and fathers to probe their wives’ and daughters’ “abnormal” behaviors. The reasons men [...]

How Women Are Crazy: Pyschiatric Abuse Through the Ages2019-07-31T21:43:31-04:00

My Angel of Mercy

It's been a busy week. We are at the National Correctional Education Association (CEA) conference. I have come along to support my wife Susan, who is President. While she attends to many various and sundry presidential matters, I am staffing her display table, selling her book Kicked to the Curb, encouraging people to subscribe to her blog, and sharing information about her business Nexus Point Consulting. Often, a week of being around people would do me in. While I flock to the spotlight, I can be consumed by the energy of crowds. When I took the Myers-Briggs I scored off-the-scale Introvert. I have learned to endure public duties, but they clearly drain me. As I write this alone in our room, listening to the white soul sounds of Slaid Cleves, Susan is still going strong at a reception honoring teachers of the year. It may take me a week or [...]

My Angel of Mercy2019-07-29T20:22:58-04:00

Christians Under Treatment

A couple of weeks ago I spoke to a group of nursing students about my life with faith and mental illness. I shared stories about having episodes, working through mental disorder, receiving support from friends and family. At the end of the session, one student asked a very thoughtful question: "Has your faith influenced your choice of mental health care providers?" I thought, what a great question! One I have given much thought to and never been able to talk about it in a group of this kind. When I talk to many of my Christian friends who are in need of professional mental health care, they are often reluctant to pursue it. In large part, because they want to find providers who share their faith, their worldview. I can appreciate their hesitation. When it comes to something as crucial to our identity as our minds, we don't want [...]

Christians Under Treatment2019-07-24T23:18:18-04:00

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 Excuse2019-07-21T22:04:05-04:00