Mental Health Ministry with a Faithful Friend

Something HUGE is happening for me this weekend and the only thing better than its magnitude is that my good friend will share it with me. This Saturday from 10:15 - 11 am I will be participating in a Zoom dialogue with my partner in mental health ministry, Eric Riddle. Eric and I first met in 2014, when an article about me and my first book came out in the local newspaper. Eric and I share similar diagnoses and also had experienced a measure of healing from both prayer and pills, worship and psychotherapy, Bible studies and support groups. We met weekly for nine months with no agenda but to walk around Eric's neighborhood, talk about what was in our hearts, and listen for God's guidance. Over that period we conceived of a faith-based mental health support group called Faithful Friends that has touched the lives of dozens of men [...]

Mental Health Ministry with a Faithful Friend2020-08-13T16:20:42-04:00

When Despair Meets Delight: Growing Closer Each Day

Things are speeding up as I progress toward the publication of When Despair Meets Delight. This week I have: Messaged prospective buyers about advance orders. Conducted an interview with a local reporter for an feature article. Met with a librarian about an upcoming virtual book launch. Spoke with a Christian radio station about appearing on one of their programs. Scheduled appearances on two Facebook live podcasts. All this while attending to my dying father and coordinating his funeral service. Am I manic? Perhaps. Should I slow down? Maybe. What happens if/when I crash? I don't know. One thing I'm sure of is I'm not manufacturing my mania. I am getting plenty of sleep. I'm taking my prescribed medication on time. I have a relatively good rhythm of work and rest. There are certainly improvements I could make in such areas as diet and exercise, but I'm doing my best. I'm [...]

When Despair Meets Delight: Growing Closer Each Day2020-08-07T15:28:38-04:00

Around the World in 80 Key Strokes: Writing as Global Mission

I have been more active on social media than ever before as I promote my book. While I worry of becoming grandiose by focusing on my own story, I am delighted at the friendships I am forming around the world with people who share the same passions about reaching out to those impacted by brain illnesses with the compassion of Christ and the consolation of the Holy Spirit. One friend I've recently made is Rosette. Rosette is from Uganda and is part of a faith community which takes seriously the call of Christ to engage in healing ministry. She shared a story of a woman with severe schizophrenia who had been left to flounder in isolation. Members of the church visited her, prayed with her, advocated for her to get and take the medication she needed. Now, while not cured, she functions fully in the life of the community. She [...]

Around the World in 80 Key Strokes: Writing as Global Mission2020-07-23T03:13:53-04:00

When Despair Meets Delight Goes to Press

The time is at hand. After five years of gestation, and over a year of hard labor (with a week of major complications), I have been assured that When Despair Meets Delight will go to the printers today. From there, it should take two weeks to prepare a review copy. When I am satisfied that all looks good, I will bring boxes of books home. Then comes the delightfully arduous task of mailing out advance orders -- now over 100. On September 3, the print and e-book will be released on Amazon and the audio version on Audible. This has been an incredibly busy week. I contracted with a man from Uganda to design memes for social media. I hired a sound engineer to create a commercial for iHeart radio. I have been reaching out to podcasters, blog authors, pastors, and others to get the message out. I am both [...]

When Despair Meets Delight Goes to Press2020-07-19T07:06:48-04:00

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 Excuse2020-07-12T21:52:35-04:00

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?2020-07-08T22:17:53-04:00

Leaning on My Tribe: An Appeal for Prayer

Yesterday, I published this blog post about the “mixed state” I’m now experiencing. Immediately, encouraging words and uplifting prayers came pouring in. For this, I am very grateful. Knowing I am not alone in this battle gives me more confidence to endure. But the attacks remain fierce. On my morning walk today, voices were yelling at me all the things I’ve done wrong in the past and how I am bound to fail in the future. It is not a coincidence that the Adversary is advancing the war as my ministry grows stronger. One of my readers, Paul M., suggested I appeal to my friends and readers to engage in collective prayer for me as I walk through this valley. So, I am doing just that. I would appreciate your hopeful thoughts, encouraging words, and, particularly your uplifting prayers. I need your prayerful support. I believe God hears the prayers [...]

Leaning on My Tribe: An Appeal for Prayer2020-06-18T15:37:41-04:00

Hopeless Agitation: When Depression Meets Mania

I am in an extended "mixed state." A mixed state is perhaps the most unpleasant and risky mood state in bipolar disorder. It is where the bleak hopelessness of depression meets the frenetic agitation of mania. In my mixed states, I find it impossible to be creative. I am mean to others, particularly my wife. I want to just take my mind off my troubles, but my mind refuses to be distracted. The extended mixed state I am now in is raising the question of whether my current regiment of medication is working. I've been on the same "cocktail" of four psychotropics for over seven years now. For someone with my diagnosis, that's a long time to be on the same meds. My psychiatrists has done about all the "tweaking" she can do, as I'm on the maximum doses of each med. I may have to face the reality that [...]

Hopeless Agitation: When Depression Meets Mania2020-06-17T16:14:51-04:00

Escaping the Self-Centeredness of Mental Illness

Mental illness can be one of the most self-centered ailments there is. By this I do not mean that people who battle mental illness are necessarily self-centered. No, I mean the illness itself consumes our minds in such a way that we become unable to see beyond the realm of our own emotional pain. This is not our fault. We are not to blame, at least not for the way our minds work. Contrary to what many believe, our aim is not to draw attention to ourselves. This may be the result, but it is not our desire. One of the worst episodes I've had happened on December 1, 2016. I was blindsided from the rear and, in spite of little physical damage, I went into sort of shock. I was taken to nearby hospital. As they tried to transfer me onto a gurney, I became convinced I was paralyzed. [...]

Escaping the Self-Centeredness of Mental Illness2020-06-07T19:06:01-04:00

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
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