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

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
Go to Top