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

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