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 [...]
About tonyrobertsI am a man with an unquiet mind who delights in the One who delights in me.
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 [...]
A few weeks back, I surveyed my subscribers to ask what topics you would like to me address. I received this response from a woman I'll call "Miriam" -- Maybe could you write about tips for maintaining a prayer life and connection with God in the midst of a severe depression when all spiritual consciousness feels absent and motivation is non-existent due to the disorder. Oh my, Miriam, we've been to some of the same miserable places. I suspect many of you reading this have as well. They say misery loves company. I say there is no better company for misery than a fellowship of faith. I'm typically not one to give advice, or tips. But I can share some stories from my experience and the experience of others I've known that might be an encouragement. When we have fallen into a pit of despair, sometimes it helps [...]
Karma means action and action motivated by compassion is good. To complain that what happens to you is just the result of your karma is lazy. Instead, confidently recalling the advice that, "You are your own master," you can change what happens by taking action. ~ Dalai Lama. If you want God's grace, all you need is need, all you need is nothing. But that kind of spiritual humility is hard to muster. We come to God saying, "Look at all I've done," or maybe "Look at all I've suffered." God, however, wants us to look to him... ~ Timothy Keller. I have a good friend (I'll call her Trish) who practices Buddhism. Trish says she likes having a teacher tell her what to do to gain spiritual enlightenment. She claims this is just what Jesus did with his disciples. He showed them the right things to do, and [...]
“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. [...]
I have been dabbling in twelve step programs through much of my adult life. Recently I have been led to fully immerse myself in "working the steps" and thus far it has been a cleansing experience. There is something about surrendering our wills to God that gives us a huge measure of wisdom, courage, and serenity. I don't know where this journey is leading me, but I am committed to taking it one step at a time. This does not mean I have somehow replaced my faith in Christ with faith in a nebulous "Higher Power." I believe this would not only be foolish but dangerous to do. Christ has an exclusive claim on my life and the lives of many others. But is this Truth for all? I can only say, as a Christian who is also in a twelve step program that Christ is the only Way I [...]