Shame on You: When Mental Illness is Taboo

Shame is a soul eating emotion.  ― C.G. Jung Guilt can be good, if it leads to a change of heart, a transformed mind, reformed behavior. Shame, however, is a wicked parasite that feeds off not what we have done, but who we are. Shame is an external imposition. At least it starts that way. We are taught to feel ashamed. The 3-year old child of a friend once hopped out of the bathtub and took off running through the halls, shouting "I love my body. I love my body." This innocent exuberance is soon replaced by quiet discretion which, if handled too roughly, can become shame the child feels over his body. Shame is not part of God's created order. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.  (Genesis 2.25) Shame only came about as a result of disobedience. It is not God's good design, [...]

Shame on You: When Mental Illness is Taboo2019-12-15T20:11:42-05:00

Mystics and Madmen: When Faith and Mental Illness Clash

Well, I'm back in my writer's chair, in fits and starts that is. After pressing through a harsh spell of mental anguish, I had the good fortune of contracting pneumonia. It could be worse. Their first diagnosis was congestive heart failure. Pneumonia saps my strength and makes me contagious, but I can live with this. Truly live. As I sit here on a cold winter's night, the blank screen taunts me. I've decided to do what all good writers do. Steal the work of others, with citation. After all, even writers aren't God. No Creatio ex Nihilo for us. So what follows in the italics is a message sent to me on December 13 of last year by a woman named Carrie. Carrie is so thoughtful and articulate, I'll let her speak for herself then I'll make a few brief comments at the end.   Hello Tony,  I've been following [...]

Mystics and Madmen: When Faith and Mental Illness Clash2019-12-11T21:21:21-05:00

Mental Health Ministry: The Mission Field in Your Backyard

by Catherine Boyle, Director of Mental Health Ministry, Key Ministry. (see bio below) A few weeks ago, I came across some old notes I saved from April 2015 for a still-unwritten book. In those notes was a website link to Key Ministry. For six months leading up to those April notes, I had been sensing God calling me back to ministry, specifically ministry to and with people with some form of mental illness. At the time, I was working in a secular corporate job, earning money to prepare for our kids’ college years. But before that, for more than a decade when my kids were young, I wrote and spoke about my experience with eating disorder and how God’s love helped me heal. I even worked as a full-time volunteer for three and a half years for a ministry startup, a transitional home for women working to overcome their own [...]

Mental Health Ministry: The Mission Field in Your Backyard2019-12-01T19:20:03-05:00

Writing From Despair to Delight

I'm feeling empty inside. Just empty. I have no reason to feel this way. My loving wife is working at her desk beside me. If I said the word, she would turn to me and smile, hold my hand, give me a hug. My faithful companion Briley is lounging in the room next to us. If I got up, she would come bounding to my feet with a look of sheer affection in her eyes, panting in adoration. I have shelter, my favorite travel mug filled with coffee, a top-notch computer. John Prine is singing over my Bose speakers. Life is good. So why do I feel so lousy? No reason, really. None but that the chemicals in my brain are attacking my mind and body, convincing them that I have done irreparable damage to people in my relationships, that my work is worthless, that I am a lazy slug, [...]

Writing From Despair to Delight2019-11-04T21:19:45-05:00

Thank God for Pills and Prayer by Paul Monson

Every day I like to say, “Thank God for drugs!”  I don’t mean the kind that make you high or get you stoned. I’m referring to the medical kind that make you well.  You see, I suffer from Parkinson’s Disease and I take drugs every day. They help control my shaking, enable me to speak and to swallow, and type the words you now read.  Without them, I couldn’t function well enough to hold down a job. I’d be collecting disability. With them, I continue to work in full time ministry. This isn’t theory or conjecture for me.  I know from personal experience how medications directly impact my quality of life, so I thank God for them.    This is also why I see the need for the mentally ill to take medication.  If a medication helps control a bipolar person’s severe mood swings or keeps a schizophrenic in touch [...]

Thank God for Pills and Prayer by Paul Monson2019-10-30T17:41:18-04:00

Psychotropics and Pregnancy: The Costs and Benefits

Some time ago I met a woman who was deeply distraught. She had been diagnosed with major depression and sometime ago was prescribed anti-depressants. They worked very well and she came to enjoy a period of relative stability. Then she and her husband decided to start a family. Leery of the impact of psychotropics on her developing child, she spoke with her psychiatrist who agreed to wean her off her meds. At first she felt good as she launched into the journey toward motherhood. Then months past. A year. Two years. No baby. And the demon of depression returned with a vengeance. She found it difficult to work, to enjoy time with her husband, even to concentrate on simple household tasks. She had made room in her heart for a child and now it was filled with sorrow. What can she do? I asked this to some friends and one [...]

Psychotropics and Pregnancy: The Costs and Benefits2019-10-20T19:46:14-04:00

What’s So Funny About Mental Illness?

This week I posted a meme that has been going around in various places. It goes like this: “Being popular on Facebook is like eating at the cool table in the cafeteria at a mental hospital.” I posted it because I identified with the humor. Two of my goals in life have been to be popular on Facebook and sit at the cool table when I’m in the mental hospital. One of the things that keeps me relatively sane is my ability to laugh at myself and I find particular pleasure in making people laugh with me. Certainly, I have a serious mental illness; that's a part of who I am. Not taking myself too seriously diminishes the power of my disordered ego. Thus, more often than not, the things I find funny are self-deprecating jabs. But self-deprecating humor may be misused in non-intimate settings such as social media. In [...]

What’s So Funny About Mental Illness?2019-10-09T16:54:11-04:00

NEWS RELEASE: A new book by Tony Roberts

After 5+ years riding Delight in Disorder, I'm now writing a new book with a working title: "Mental Health Ministry: Cultivating Compassion for those with Mental Illness" What do you think? After a few twists and turns, it is taking shape nicely. It is part-memoir, part-essay. I tell the story of my life in ministry and those who have ministered to me. As I put it in the Introduction:   This book is about mental health ministry. It’s not a “how-to” book. I can not tell you what will work in your ministry setting. Instead of answering the question, “How do we do mental health ministry?” I want to challenge you to ask, “Why are we not doing it?” Statistics are essential, but unless they are enfleshed with stories, they won’t lead to change. Evidence-based programs may produce proposals for getting grants, but if faith communities are going to carry [...]

NEWS RELEASE: A new book by Tony Roberts2019-09-29T17:34:41-04:00

Grace, Delight, and Foolishness: Devotions & Responses

In addition to writing for this blog, I write for such publications as Upper Room, These Days, and Stand Firm. Writing these devotionals is an exercise of faith for me and a way to connect with others hungry for the Word. This month I was fortunate to have a series of devotions ("Our Unbelief; God's Faithfulness") published in the Aug/Sept/Oct issue of these days. They hit home for several persons -- from a psychologist in Tempe, Arizona, to a retired minister in Bradenton, Florida, and many others. Perhaps the most gratifying response came in the mail - letters from a homeless person with a Ph. D. in political science who had schizophrenia and had been living on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee until an hospitable congregation took him under their wings, found him housing, welcomed him into Bible Study and encourage him to become an advocate for the homeless. I [...]

Grace, Delight, and Foolishness: Devotions & Responses2019-09-22T17:12:09-04:00

I am ; even me.

I’m writing this on September 11, 2019. World Suicide Prevention Day. About an hour ago I read the tragic news about Pastor & Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson, who died two days ago by suicide. Here is how Christianity Today described Wilson — His wife, Julianne Wilson posted a photo tribute of her husband on Instagram. The photo slideshow shows him fishing “in his happy place.” She described her husband as “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious.”... “Tragically, Jarred took his own life,” [          ] Eaton said. ”Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most.”   I did not know Jarrid Wilson, but I know his story well. His story is the story of far too many persons who try so hard to care for others yet are unable to receive care for themselves; not so much out of stubborn [...]

I am ; even me.2019-09-11T12:07:27-04:00
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