Mental Illness or Demon Possession?

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 [...]

Mental Illness or Demon Possession?2020-05-30T05:00:34-04:00

When Bipolar Mixed States Threaten Your Relationships

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?     Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;     if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,     if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me,     your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me     and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;     the night will shine like the day,     for darkness is as light to you.  (Psalm 139)   Time will pass; this mood will pass; and I will, eventually, be myself again. But then, at some unknown time, the electrifying carnival will come back into my mind. ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness It's been over a [...]

When Bipolar Mixed States Threaten Your Relationships2020-04-22T17:34:33-04:00

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 Bars2020-04-16T14:10:02-04:00

When Darkness Meets Delight — Diagnosing the Problem (part one)

Rev. Roberts, you have bipolar disorder. What? I was in a medication-induced stupor. My mind was in a haze. Was I dreaming? Bipolar? I had heard of it, but I couldn’t connect with it. What did it mean for me? I couldn’t take it in, so I turned over and went back to sleep. Maybe dreams would take this dreadful diagnosis away or at least infuse the hope I needed to handle this new reality. Rest wouldn’t come as I tossed in a hyper-vigilant wakefulness, staring beyond the walls. I got up and walked to the central nurse’s station. The nurse on duty wore a gentle and kind expression. She had a glow about her and seemed to float above her rotating chair.  She asked what I was looking for. I told her the diagnosis I was given and that I wanted to understand what it meant. Suddenly, her expression [...]

When Darkness Meets Delight — Diagnosing the Problem (part one)2020-03-15T13:17:57-04:00

Readers Respond: How did you first react to your mental health diagnosis?

If you have a mental illness or you love someone who does, what was your first reaction when you received the diagnosis? Denise J: That is a complicated question.....there were many, many feelings and thoughts..... Mariah R: Things finally made sense in my world. Joseph M:  Silence. But, before the diagnosis, we heard that our parenting skills were the problem—we were either too strict or too lax, depending on the day and person talking to us. No apologies after the diagnosis. Cindy G: Heartbroken. Kristi M: Denial followed by anger,frustration,and bewilderment. Robin F: I was glad to finally find out what my son was going through. I felt with the diagnosis that his drug abuse was more self medicating as he had never done drugs before. He no longer did drugs once coming home. He was in denial but soon realized this was his life to be. I grieved a [...]

Readers Respond: How did you first react to your mental health diagnosis?2020-02-23T15:44:28-05:00

Neither to the Left Nor to the Right: My Story, My Message, My Mission

Those who know me best know that I am not into partisan politics. My stomach churns equally from the Left and the Right. This does not mean I don’t care about political issues. You don’t have to know me very well to know that my identity as a Christ follower who battles bipolar disorder impacts all I think, feel, write, and act. I have and will continue to advocate strenuously for policies that enhance the care of those impacted by serious mental illness (SMI). Yet, also, for the sake of my own well-being and to better share the fullness of abundant life, I'm going to share something I published some time ago about who and Whose I am.   My Story In 1995, I was a young, ambitious pastor serving a small village church.  One Sunday, I delivered a sermon on human illness and divine healing in which I shared [...]

Neither to the Left Nor to the Right: My Story, My Message, My Mission2020-02-12T17:39:06-05:00

When Politics Gets Personal: Disability Rights and Serious Mental Illness (SMI)

Those who know me best know that I am not into partisan politics. My stomach churns equally from the Left and the Right. This does not mean I don't care about political issues. It is simply not possible to live well in a Democratic Republic unless we are concerned citizens who keep abreast of current affairs and think critically beneath Facebook fodder and Twitter tweets. Politics is personal. It is not surprising that we care about issues close to us. If we are parents, are our children getting a good education? If we just graduated from college, what is the job market? If we are approaching retirement, how are our investments doing in the economy? In our diverse society, politics impact not only generations, but genders, ethnicity, faith, sexual identity, and other aspects of our lives. You don't have to know me very well to know that my identity as [...]

When Politics Gets Personal: Disability Rights and Serious Mental Illness (SMI)2020-02-10T15:03:15-05:00

Your burning questions about mental illness

Near the end of 2019, I completed work on a draft manuscript for my second book. I had written Delight in Disorder while my brain was still in a fog. As my editor put it, I needed to walk the reader through the rooms of my bipolar mind. This second book had the working title of From Despair to Delight: Stories to cultivate compassion and foster friendship with those impacted by mental illness. It was also composed as a memoir, but one that more readily flowed with my story as a man of faith living with a serious mental illness. My intent with the first book was to help those feeling disconnected with faith to reconnect. My aim with this book is to help pastors and church leaders build a sanctuary for those with troubled minds. I felt good about what I had written. So good, in fact, that I sent [...]

Your burning questions about mental illness2020-01-29T21:14:44-05:00

Revealing Voices: A Faith-Based, Peer-Led, Story-Driven, Stigma-Breaking Podcast

I was over at Studio E recording Revealing Voices with my good friend Eric over a glass of wine. Between sips, Eric looked at me quizzically and asked, "How many of your readers listen to our podcast?" I was dumbfounded. Literally found dumb. "I have no idea!" I exclaimed, "Furthermore, I don't even know how many of my readers know about Revealing Voices." [Note: Eric and I don't always drink wine, but when we do, we can be redundant and say things like furthermore.] How about you? Yes, you, Delight in Disorder reader out there. The one looking at this post on your mobile phone, your iPad, laptop, PC, or God-knows-whatever-other-kind of technology. Do you know about Revealing Voices? If so, have you checked us out? Let me share a little about our show: Several podcasts touch on mental health. Others bring up topics of faith. We offer a unique faith-based, [...]

Revealing Voices: A Faith-Based, Peer-Led, Story-Driven, Stigma-Breaking Podcast2020-01-26T20:25:49-05:00

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