Soul Eating Shame: Internalized Stigma

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, of willful separation from [...]

Soul Eating Shame: Internalized Stigma2019-08-19T00:55:15-04:00

Even in the chaos, there is encouragement.

I find delight when I write. More delight when people read what I write. And even more when readers respond to what I write. But I am perhaps most delighted when someone is moved in such a way by my work that they offer me an encouraging word or, one that challenges me to do better. Like this from a reader named Bev:   Tony,  I understand the focus of your email is mental illness.  However, it seems that examining your mental illness and dwelling on it makes it more intense.  I suffer from anxiety, and yet, I know that if I were to spend too much time thinking of it, it would be worse.  There are so many ways to become and stay stable that I don't want to spend time irritating a wound.  Today the sky is so lovely, and I will dwell on the good and the [...]

Even in the chaos, there is encouragement.2019-08-14T21:29:19-04:00

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness

I start this post with one basic assumption. Not all persons with mental illness are creative. Some sit around all day playing video solitaire, watching episodes of Judge Judy, counting the cars that pass by. Some persons with mental illness have neither the desire or the capacity (or both) to do anything that resembles creative expression. (Though you never know the depths of creativity lodged in their brains.) At the same time, I find my mental illness plays out in a creative way, primarily in my way with words. I'm not Hemingway. It's not quality, but quantity for me. Most of my waking and sleeping hours are spent plotting how I can use my words to the best effect. When I am under unusual amounts of stress, you will likely find me tucked away in a corner, Pilot G-2 gel pen gliding across a composition journal, describing the world [...]

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness2019-08-07T22:29:13-04:00

How Women Are Crazy: Pyschiatric Abuse Through the Ages

I was speaking with a friend this week about his grandmother who had been a missionary to one of the Asian nations. She had kept personal journals of her years in the mission field and my friend was prayerfully hoping to obtain them and possibly write a biography. One of his motivations was to celebrate the life and service of a woman of faith who had gone largely unnoticed in the shadow her famous husband cast. To acknowledge that women have been unfairly silenced for no other reason than their gender is more than just a radical feminist statement. It is a harsh and sometimes cruel reality. For centuries, women who somehow deviate from the societal norms placed upon them have been "put in their place" by the psychiatric profession. ... psychiatrists were often hired by husbands and fathers to probe their wives’ and daughters’ “abnormal” behaviors. The reasons men [...]

How Women Are Crazy: Pyschiatric Abuse Through the Ages2019-07-31T21:43:31-04:00

The Level Ground of Praise Gatherings

My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord. (Psalm 22.6) Faith gives you an inner strength and a sense of balance and perspective in life. ~ Gregory Peck The past 10 days I have enjoyed beautiful balance. It's a precious gift. Not something I experience very often. I don't rely on it, as it is so rare and fleeting. But I will enjoy it while it lasts. As someone with bipolar, balance is not something I can readily achieve. Certainly, there are ways I can avoid aggravating our condition to extremes. Things I've been doing over the past 10 days that boost the watchdog chemicals in my brain -- serotonin (combatting mood swings) and dopamine (battling depression). Things like going for a morning walk. Avoiding excess sugars and alcohol. Prayer and reflection on Scripture. Regular and ample sleep. All of these things have [...]

The Level Ground of Praise Gatherings2019-07-17T23:48:30-04:00

Loving Money – More or Less.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10). But money spent while manic doesn’t fit into the Internal Revenue Service concept of medical expense or business loss. So after mania, when most depressed, you’re given excellent reason to be even more so.  ~ Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. A few years ago I walked into a car dealership intent on driving one home. I had done no research. In fact, I had only concocted the scheme that morning. My thinking was I needed an all-wheel drive with plenty of seats for my children and grandchildren. I didn’t consider that I only saw them every other month or that the prospect of me taking them for a drive was next to [...]

Loving Money – More or Less.2019-07-14T23:10:58-04:00

Purposeful Prayer with the Armor of God

About 20 minutes into my 3-hour emotional collapse last Friday night, I told my wife Susan there was more going on than just a disturbance of brain chemicals. The root cause of my uncontrollable crying session is spiritual. God is working in my life and ministry and this puts me at greater risk of Enemy attack. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis — Satan doesn’t need to go after his own, but those who seek to follow Christ. Susan listened prayerfully and suggested I focus on the “Armor of God” passage in my devotional time. It is found in Ephesians 6:11-20 and it goes like this:   Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, [...]

Purposeful Prayer with the Armor of God2019-07-10T22:22:24-04:00

Freedom for, not from Religion

Today (July 4) Americans celebrate our Declaration of Independence from “British tyranny” (as it was then perceived.)  It was primarily a declaration of economic and political independence (a reaction against “taxation without representation.”)  My thoughts today, however, turn to the “religious freedom” our ancestors sought in the new land.  I am particular interested in those “founding fathers” who signed the Declaration of Independence 243 years ago today.  Were they seeking “freedom from religion” or “freedom for religion”? And if it was “for religion,” what was the nature of this religion? While modern atheists may find a few examples of statements from our colonial forefathers that support the notion of “separation of Church and State” (a phrase not found in the Constitution), they would be hard-pressed to excise God (or Providence, or Sovereign) from the foundational writings of our nation. The opening words of the Declaration of Independence reveal just one [...]

Freedom for, not from Religion2019-07-04T15:14:24-04:00

If You Show Your Child Your Love

If you show your child your love, she's going to share it with others. If she shares her love with others, she's going to get hurt. If she gets hurt, she's going to run back to you. If you comes running back to you, you will give her a hug. If you give her a hug, she'll hold you tightly. If she holds you tightly, she will make you smile with joy. If you smile with joy, she will know she makes you happy. If she knows she makes you happy, she will want to please you more. If she wants to please you more, she will make pancakes with Daddy. If she makes pancakes, she will put a banana face on yours. If she makes a banana face on your pancake, she will want you to sing Gingerbread Man. If you sing Gingerbread Man, she will dance with her [...]

If You Show Your Child Your Love2019-06-28T20:22:36-04:00

The Painful Best

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  (Psalm 42:5)   As one who is touched with bipolar depression, I write about spiritual darkness. Yet, as a believer, I see the light of Christ shining through this darkness. The following are from posts written over the course of the last 6 years. If I have done my job as a Christian who has bipolar, you will find hope to handle despair with the strong arm of faith.   April 9, 2013   I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live...(Deuteronomy 30:19) When I read the news of Matthew Warren's suicide yesterday, I felt sick to my stomach.  I [...]

The Painful Best2019-06-26T03:18:53-04:00