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

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

If You Show Your Child Your Love

If you show your child your love, she's going to share it with others. If she shares her love with others, she's going to get hurt. If she gets hurt, she's going to run back to you. If you comes running back to you, you will give her a hug. If you give her a hug, she'll hold you tightly. If she holds you tightly, she will make you smile with joy. If you smile with joy, she will know she makes you happy. If she knows she makes you happy, she will want to please you more. If she wants to please you more, she will make pancakes with Daddy. If she makes pancakes, she will put a banana face on yours. If she makes a banana face on your pancake, she will want you to sing Gingerbread Man. If you sing Gingerbread Man, she will dance with her [...]

If You Show Your Child Your Love2019-06-28T20:22:36-04:00

The Painful Best

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  (Psalm 42:5)   As one who is touched with bipolar depression, I write about spiritual darkness. Yet, as a believer, I see the light of Christ shining through this darkness. The following are from posts written over the course of the last 6 years. If I have done my job as a Christian who has bipolar, you will find hope to handle despair with the strong arm of faith.   April 9, 2013   I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live...(Deuteronomy 30:19) When I read the news of Matthew Warren's suicide yesterday, I felt sick to my stomach.  I [...]

The Painful Best2019-06-26T03:18:53-04:00

Grandma McPeak. Just Grandma.

Today is Grandma McPeak's birthday. Some time ago,  I had lunch with her.  You know how people often have endearing names for their grandmothers — Nanny, Granny, Mama, etc…  Well, Grandma McPeak has always just been “Grandma” – as if she defined the role. She met me at the door with a smile. Come on in.  Make yourself at home. I brought you some good food for lunch, Grandma. Did you make it?  (sounding surprised) Well, no, Connie did. Bless her heart.  You tell her I said thanks. I set the broccoli salad, cantaloupe (or “mush melon – as Grandma calls it), green onions, and plums on the table, then fixed our plates with pork, ham and beans and green beans.  Grandma was standing by the microwave. Do you mind putting these in for a minute, Grandma? (looking confused) Well, I’m afraid you’re going to have to do it. What’s [...]

Grandma McPeak. Just Grandma.2019-06-24T18:59:11-04:00

Is Depression ‘of God’? – Leanne Sype

In 2013, I partnered with Leanne Sype to begin the process that led to the publication of Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. I was thrilled with her work as editor, a crowdfunding consultant,a spiritual adviser, and friend. Here is some of her story. *** I have depression. It’s called “situational depression” because it was induced by the situation of both my kids being diagnosed with mental illnesses. My son has ADHD. My daughter has depression and anxiety, which, for her, include symptoms like self-harm and thoughts of wanting to die. Over the course of navigating treatments, advocating for academic accommodations, and engaging in the bulk of the emotional support for each kiddo, I felt depression slowly weigh down on my chest. *** I once had a Christian friend tell me that anything with the prefix de- isn’t “of God.” Depression fell into that category in our conversation. Whether that [...]

Is Depression ‘of God’? – Leanne Sype2019-05-15T20:07:09-04:00

Faith in the Midst of Fear: A Love Story

Over Labor Day weekend in 2018, I met the woman who would become my wife. Susan is all I could ever ask for in a life partner. She is intelligent. She has a beautiful smile. She has a great sense of humor. And, most importantly, she loves me and shares my faith. She accepts my identity as one who has bipolar disorder and affirms my mental health ministry. She is a definitive example of "ezer," a help-meet who enhances my life, not a slave subservient to me or a master who emasculates me. I am truly blessed. Susan and I have experienced the last six months as if they were sixty. It has been thrilling, delightful, full of joy and peace. Some we love and who know us best have expressed concern over how quickly our relationship has developed. We respect this. Yet, we have received God's confirmation each step [...]

Faith in the Midst of Fear: A Love Story2019-02-24T06:53:23-04:00

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6.2) One thing I am discovering this year is what a wonderful thing is to share burdens with someone you love so dearly. Since I have been with my wife Susan, we have faced many challenges and experienced many blessings. Our marriage vows: sickness/health; plenty/want; joy/sorrow, have certainly been tested and tried true. I have never been so confident as I am now that our love will survive and that this love is from God and will extend to all God's people. Labor Day, the day before I first spoke to Susan, I had two auto accidents. Yes, two. First, a deer hit me. That's right. I did not hit the deer. She hit me. It was a massive wallop, but I could still drive. So, I reported it and kept going. About 4 hours [...]

Bearing One Another’s Burdens2019-02-06T22:24:08-04:00

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar?

You may want to reconsider if he... ... follows you around the mall telling you how ridiculous you are for wanting to have a career as an at-home mom. ... refuses to leave your apartment until he has beaten you in more computer hangman games than you have beaten him. ... tells you to pretend you don’t know each other at the campus picnic so people won’t know you are a couple. ... proposes to you in bed by saying, “You don’t really want to get married do you?” ... jumps out of your moving car because you can’t agree whether to have plants or flowers at your wedding.   Then again, you may appreciate that he... ... sneaks into your apartment while you are at work, puts on “I Will” by the Beatles, grabs you as you enter and dances with you in his own goofy way. ... composes [...]

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar?2019-01-29T13:08:49-04:00

Psychotropics and Pregnancy: The Costs and Benefits

This week I met a woman who is deeply distraught. She has been diagnosed with chronic depression and sometime ago was prescribed anti-depressants. They worked very well and she came to enjoy a period of relative stability. Then she and her husband decided to start a family. Leery of the impact of psychotropics on her developing child, she spoke with her psychiatrist who agreed to wean her off her meds. At first she felt good as she launched into the journey toward motherhood. Then months past. A year. Two years. No baby. And the demon of depression returned with a vengeance. She found it difficult to work, to enjoy time with her husband, even to concentrate on simple household tasks. She had made room in her heart for a child and now it is filled with sorrow. What can she do? I asked this to some friends and one woman [...]

Psychotropics and Pregnancy: The Costs and Benefits2019-01-17T15:36:57-04:00