Self-Pity or Emotional Honesty?

"Mitch, I don't allow myself any more self-pity than that. A little each morning, a few tears, and that's all." I thought about all the people I knew who spent many of their waking hours feeling sorry for themselves. How useful it would be to put a daily limit on self-pity. Just a few minutes, then on with the day. And if Morrie could do it, with such a horrible disease . . . ― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie. Self-pity, in measured doses, is a natural expression of grief and sadness. It is part of being human. God would expect no less from us. It can even be beneficial. As we get in touch with our personal emotions, we can be more empathetic towards others. But, there is a time and a place for self-pity. If it spills over too broadly, our relationships can become terribly imbalanced. This is particularly [...]

Self-Pity or Emotional Honesty?2020-01-15T20:29:31-05:00

Mental Illness in Society: Can We Both Care and Protect?

Our community is reeling from a tragic incident that occurred last Friday night.   Air Force veteran Derek Henderson, 38, was killed the same night he was supposed to be taken to a VA hospital. Local law enforcement came to a home three times last Friday looking for Derek Henderson. But despite an emergency detention court order, the mentally troubled veteran was never taken into custody.   How often does this story repeat itself? Hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands? The system that is supposed to be providing care for those of us with serious mental illness is broken. Who do we blame? Some point the finger of blame at the mentally ill themselves. Why do we let ourselves fall into such a pit?   Henderson served in the Air Force in Afghanistan and was a certified personal trainer. But his family said he suffered a long battle with mental health [...]

Mental Illness in Society: Can We Both Care and Protect?2020-01-12T16:50:29-05:00

Writing From Despair to Delight

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. ~ Neil Gaiman. This has been a good week of writing days. I was coming into the homestretch of my book and I just kept striding until it was finished. Now I have a completed draft which I've sent to beta readers for recommendations and to Moody Publishers for consideration. The book was conceived near the end of 2013, as I was going to press with Delight in Disorder. It has taken six years to brew, and just about six weeks to write. Edna St. Vincent Millay was once asked how much time in her day she spent writing and she said at least 24 hours. A writer is never not writing, even when she is away from keyboard and screen. But it feels exceptionally good on days when I [...]

Writing From Despair to Delight2019-12-29T19:15:08-05:00

A Child Will Be Born: Pregnancy & Parenting Thoughts by Katie Dale

by Katie Dale (bio below) Among the busy-ness of life, I’m burned out. Not to mention…pregnant! For someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you may be wondering how safe it would be to get pregnant with a Severe Mental Illness. I consulted with my last psychiatrist and current psychiatrist and maternal prenatal doctor, and based on their direction and guidance regarding the medications I’m taking, supported me in remaining on my meds while trying to get pregnant. Both psychotropics I’m prescribed (Abilify and Wellbutrin XL) are relatively normal risk (3-5% typical risk of defects as normal) to the baby while pregnant and breastfeeding. I discussed the risk/benefit with all three docs and my husband and it makes more sense to stay on the medications. I know what it’s like to go off…and that would be more risk to me and baby than if I stayed on. In late August last year, [...]

A Child Will Be Born: Pregnancy & Parenting Thoughts by Katie Dale2019-12-24T15:35:51-05:00

Shame on You: When Mental Illness is Taboo

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. It is not God's good design, [...]

Shame on You: When Mental Illness is Taboo2019-12-15T20:11:42-05:00

Mystics and Madmen: When Faith and Mental Illness Clash

Well, I'm back in my writer's chair, in fits and starts that is. After pressing through a harsh spell of mental anguish, I had the good fortune of contracting pneumonia. It could be worse. Their first diagnosis was congestive heart failure. Pneumonia saps my strength and makes me contagious, but I can live with this. Truly live. As I sit here on a cold winter's night, the blank screen taunts me. I've decided to do what all good writers do. Steal the work of others, with citation. After all, even writers aren't God. No Creatio ex Nihilo for us. So what follows in the italics is a message sent to me on December 13 of last year by a woman named Carrie. Carrie is so thoughtful and articulate, I'll let her speak for herself then I'll make a few brief comments at the end.   Hello Tony,  I've been following [...]

Mystics and Madmen: When Faith and Mental Illness Clash2019-12-11T21:21:21-05:00

Mental Health Ministry: The Mission Field in Your Backyard

by Catherine Boyle, Director of Mental Health Ministry, Key Ministry. (see bio below) A few weeks ago, I came across some old notes I saved from April 2015 for a still-unwritten book. In those notes was a website link to Key Ministry. For six months leading up to those April notes, I had been sensing God calling me back to ministry, specifically ministry to and with people with some form of mental illness. At the time, I was working in a secular corporate job, earning money to prepare for our kids’ college years. But before that, for more than a decade when my kids were young, I wrote and spoke about my experience with eating disorder and how God’s love helped me heal. I even worked as a full-time volunteer for three and a half years for a ministry startup, a transitional home for women working to overcome their own [...]

Mental Health Ministry: The Mission Field in Your Backyard2019-12-01T19:20:03-05:00

Writing From Despair to Delight

I'm feeling empty inside. Just empty. I have no reason to feel this way. My loving wife is working at her desk beside me. If I said the word, she would turn to me and smile, hold my hand, give me a hug. My faithful companion Briley is lounging in the room next to us. If I got up, she would come bounding to my feet with a look of sheer affection in her eyes, panting in adoration. I have shelter, my favorite travel mug filled with coffee, a top-notch computer. John Prine is singing over my Bose speakers. Life is good. So why do I feel so lousy? No reason, really. None but that the chemicals in my brain are attacking my mind and body, convincing them that I have done irreparable damage to people in my relationships, that my work is worthless, that I am a lazy slug, [...]

Writing From Despair to Delight2019-11-04T21:19:45-05:00

Thank God for Pills and Prayer by Paul Monson

Every day I like to say, “Thank God for drugs!”  I don’t mean the kind that make you high or get you stoned. I’m referring to the medical kind that make you well.  You see, I suffer from Parkinson’s Disease and I take drugs every day. They help control my shaking, enable me to speak and to swallow, and type the words you now read.  Without them, I couldn’t function well enough to hold down a job. I’d be collecting disability. With them, I continue to work in full time ministry. This isn’t theory or conjecture for me.  I know from personal experience how medications directly impact my quality of life, so I thank God for them.    This is also why I see the need for the mentally ill to take medication.  If a medication helps control a bipolar person’s severe mood swings or keeps a schizophrenic in touch [...]

Thank God for Pills and Prayer by Paul Monson2019-10-30T17:41:18-05:00

Psychotropics and Pregnancy: The Costs and Benefits

Some time ago I met a woman who was deeply distraught. She had been diagnosed with major 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 was filled with sorrow. What can she do? I asked this to some friends and one [...]

Psychotropics and Pregnancy: The Costs and Benefits2019-10-20T19:46:14-05:00