Your Questions About Faith and Mental Illness

This week I sent out emails to my subscribers that said this... If we could have a private conversation, what questions would you ask me about faith and mental illness? I received a wonderful and wide-ranging response. Here are some I've received so far:   "Is God ok with me taking meds for the rest of my life? Does having mental illness make a person struggle with knowing God more than the average person?"  ~ C.T.   "Why is it so exhausting? The mental battle has reeked savagely on my physical self. I battled for years depression. Always treading water. My spiritual walk though however has gotten stronger. I am a stronger more faithful Christian. Now my battle is trying to make it to places people expect me to go. Church is a big one. The guilt for disappointing is immobilizing." ~ S.B.   "How does one differentiate between experiencing [...]

Your Questions About Faith and Mental Illness2018-10-25T21:10:17+00:00

When Depression Looks Like Laziness

I went to bed last night at 6 p.m.. I got out of bed at 1 p.m. this afternoon. 19 hours. Sometimes it's longer. This time it would have been had not Briley, my 80 pound lab overpowered me with her playful bites on my hand and slobbering kisses across my face. Briley loves me very much and doesn't want me to add to the despair of my depression by wallowing on a bed of misery. Before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I attributed days like these to sheer laziness. I couldn't understand why some days I was so eager to start the day that I would wake up hours before my alarm. Sometimes not sleeping at all. Then other days it was like a Sumo wrestler sat on my gut, pinning me down with no chance of escape. How do I tell if I am buried in depression [...]

When Depression Looks Like Laziness2018-10-21T20:26:41+00:00

Get Your Personal Delight in Disorder

Since publishing my spiritual memoir, I have been blessed to see the many ways God has used it to reach the lives of those impacted by mental illness. At a library book signing the night it was released, over 100 were in attendance. As I shared some of my story and read portions of the book, expressions of recognition came over the faces in the crowd. In the Q & A section, one man said, I have lived with schizo-affective disorder for over 50 years and I've tried to keep it a secret. Thank you for showing me the value of sharing my story. Also at that gathering was a young Eric Riddle who, like me, has bipolar. Eric had recently been hospitalized and was looking for a way to put his life back together. We agreed to meet weekly for prayer and discernment and from this was conceived our [...]

Get Your Personal Delight in Disorder2018-10-15T15:21:42+00:00

The Young and the Anxious: World Mental Health Day

I am a baby in the Baby Boom Generation, born in 1964. I remember doing drills where at the teacher's command, we would hide under our desks, get on our knees and cover our heads. The thinking was that in case of a nuclear attack, those wobbly cast metal one-unit desks would shelter us from radiation. We may have been foolish, but damn, we believed in the power of our own resourcefulness. Even though I came from a "broken home," I was encouraged by voices of teachers, coaches, and pastors around me that I could rise above my station and aim for a better life. "You are good student," "You understand the game," "God has big things in store for you." These voices filled me with hope during particularly dark days at home. Wednesday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day. The focus this year is "Young People and Mental [...]

The Young and the Anxious: World Mental Health Day2018-10-09T16:28:29+00:00

10 Reasons to Leave Your Psychiatrist

     O grant us help against the foe    for human help is worthless.  (Psalm 108:12) I have Christian friends who advise me to steer clear of psychiatrists who do not share my faith.  I believe though,  "God, can use even atheists to promote healing should God choose to do so.  I've had some excellent psychiatrists and some real stinkers.  During one period where it seemed I was getting one bad psychiatrist after another, I wrote a list of 10 ways to tell it might be time to leave your psychiatrist and I'd like to offer these to you, free of charge... It's time to leave your psychiatrist when s/he says...      1)   Enough about your mother, let's talk about mine.      2)   Sure, the blue meds are working, but the pink pills are so much cuter.      3)    In my professional opinion, you're crazier than a loon.      4)     [...]

10 Reasons to Leave Your Psychiatrist2018-09-06T16:45:53+00:00

Ironic Iconoclasm: Healthy, Holy Humor

Some time ago, I was asked this question: In two words or less, how would you describe your sense of humor? The first two words that came to my mind were - "Ironic Iconoclasm". Then I wondered, "What does that mean?" This post is my effort to answer that question. First, irony comes in various forms.  I like how this on-line dictionary defines one aspect of irony - a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other's false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning —called also Socratic irony. I've learned this form of irony not so much from the classic Greek philosopher Socrates as from my self-proclaimed Kentuckian father Veston.  When Dad wants to catch someone off-guard with a thought provoking question, he begins with - Now, I only have a sixth-grade education, so you'll have to help me understand this... Dad is actually [...]

Ironic Iconoclasm: Healthy, Holy Humor2018-09-03T20:55:08+00:00

Prophet for People with Mental Illness

True prophets speak the truth no matter what the cost. The Word of God burns inside them until they have no choice but to speak and to act. Through stories, dreams, visions, God speaks through prophets that others may hear and hold onto the promise or heed the warning. In the Bible, true prophets are a mixed breed. Some are royal advisers. Some are outlaws, opposing unjust rule. Some are simple farmers, or shepherds, like the prophet Amos. The credential for becoming a prophet is not wealth or intelligence or popularity. For each prophetic occasion, God hand-picks the prophet who will deliver the authentic message from God to the people. At times this was a message of hope, reminding the exiled community of God's covenant promise. This message was encouraging, uplifting words like: "Keep moving forward. God is with you." Other times it was a word of warning: "Change [...]

Prophet for People with Mental Illness2018-08-22T23:48:00+00:00

Disclosing in Dating: How I Reveal My Mental Illness

I took the leap. I joined a dating site. I've cast my net. Now all I need to do is let my Beloved swim in. I will then pull her into my boat. My love boat, if you will. Easy peasy. What can go wrong? As a female friend has told me my stock has gone up in my 50s. I think she meant this as a compliment. That I have aged well. Either that or women my age have lowered their expectations. Things have gotten off to a great start on the site. I've found a good many women I would go out with. I've contacted some and a few have responded. I've had extended chats with two of them. Tomorrow morning I meet one for coffee. I'm looking forward to it. I'm eager to discover together who we are, what are our shared passions and our unique qualities. [...]

Disclosing in Dating: How I Reveal My Mental Illness2018-08-16T01:46:38+00:00

The Fruit of Faithful Friends

In March of 2014, I met Eric Riddle, a fellow pilgrim on the road to faithful recovery from mental illness. We had both seen the good and bad of mental health care and faith community ministries and thought God might use us to contribute to the solution rather than just complain about the problem. We committed to meet weekly for walks, Scripture study, intercessory prayer, and brainstorming. We spent a great deal of time at first dealing with our own brokenness. Eric and I both had received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and had been treated both as inpatients and outpatients. Beyond our mental health diagnoses, we shared the pain of broken relationships, the joys and concerns of parenting, our hopes and fears for the faith communities, our local community, our nation, our world. Our genuine prayer was that God might use us as wounded healers, partnering with churches and [...]

The Fruit of Faithful Friends2018-08-12T20:42:52+00:00

Postpartum Psychosis by Bipolar Mumma

I can remember quite clearly the moment that I realized that I might have had postnatal depression. It was in the middle of a Canberra winter; cold grey skies, it was windy outside and I was stuck inside with newborn. I had tried everything to get my child to go to sleep. I had rocked him, bounced him on my exercise ball, walked laps around the house, I even pleaded with him in case that might have worked. But nothing was going to get my child to go to sleep. I ended up placing him carefully in a pram and rolling him over the ledge between my carpets and flooring, over and over again. I was crying as I was doing this. Pleading with myself that this was something that most mothers went through. But what most mothers did not go through was voices in their heads. I heard a [...]

Postpartum Psychosis by Bipolar Mumma2018-08-04T22:32:29+00:00