Cracked Pots

“… the jar he was making did not turn out as he hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.” (Jeremiah 18.4, NLT). Some months after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I returned to work as a pastor. It was difficult at first, but with much prayerful support, our ministry became fruitful. People who had hidden mental health issues for fear of judgment, now confided in me and together we grew in grace, offering our whole selves in worship and outreach among those who sought healing for body, mind, and spirit. I was asked to serve as a mentor for students preparing for pastoral ministry. One weekend, they brought together mentors throughout the state for training on how to best equip persons for service in what can be a consuming career. Many topics were addressed: spiritual growth, emotional well-being, financial fitness, etc. During [...]

Cracked Pots2018-04-12T01:20:35+00:00

The Bittersweet Blessing of Bipolar

“Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum. ― Vincent van Gogh; The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh Now that the human genome project can draw the DNA map of our bodies, gene therapy becomes an ever increasing reality. We can restructure our bodies and minds such that debilitating conditions could disappear. The question we now face is what goes and what stays? And, who decides? One of the persons who serves on the human genome project is Kay Redfield Jamison. Jamison has both a professional interest and a personal perspective in genetic mapping. First, she is a psychiatric researcher. She is certainly concerned about the tools medical science can use to alleviate unnecessary suffering. [...]

The Bittersweet Blessing of Bipolar2018-04-05T03:54:37+00:00

World Bipolar Day Meets Good Friday

March 30, 2018.  Good Friday. As a Christian, Good Friday is a day I celebrate the death of my Savior. Strange, huh? Said better, I celebrate the Way Jesus died for me and for the sins of the world. Good Friday reveals humanity at our worst -- betrayal, false arrest, phony trial, mob mentality, torture, execution. Yet Good Friday also demonstrates humanity as we were designed to be -- faithful, sacrificial, loving to the end.     March 30, 2018. World Bipolar Day recognizes the almost 6 million persons who live with this mental illness that can be both animating and debilitating. Persons with bipolar are often counting as some of the most creative, inspired, intellectual people past and present. But the ravages of the brain disease often lead to destructive behavior, even death.   Today I reflect on this special day for my faith and my mental health from [...]

World Bipolar Day Meets Good Friday2018-03-30T01:47:17+00:00

Examining Medical Science; Observing Faith Practice

{Note: This post was first published in June of 2017. The events described convinced me I could no longer live alone without assistance. I'm publishing this today (March 18, 2018). Later this week, I'll share one that reflects how far I've come.} I spent last weekend in an Emergency Observation Bed (EOB) of a local hospital. I was allowed to wear my sweats and slippers (I came prepared), as well as read my Bible and write in my cloth-bound journal.  Note to self: Get a sturdy pocket sized Bible instead of my 8-inch thick parallel one. One guy on the unit asked me if I was going to beat him up with it. What brought me there? I wasn’t exactly a threat to myself or to others, but I did feel I was on the verge of losing control. As I told my psychiatrist, I didn’t feel desperate, but [...]

Examining Medical Science; Observing Faith Practice2018-03-18T16:24:33+00:00

Delight in Disorder: My Story, My Message, My Mission

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 these words: When we become ill, it is important to listen to our bodies and pray that God help us make necessary changes. Our ailments may be blessings in disguise. We may be expecting too much from ourselves, or avoiding things we need to face. As we listen to our bodies, talk and reflect with others, and pray together, we can gain spiritual insight which will help us live healthier, more productive, more abundant lives. The next day, I was in the seclusion room of a psychiatric hospital. I was told I had bipolar disorder, that I would never work as a pastor again, that my marriage would likely end, and that I would spend the rest of [...]

Delight in Disorder: My Story, My Message, My Mission2018-02-08T09:44:15+00:00

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar?

You may want to reconsider if he... ... follows you around the mall telling you how ridiculous you are for wanting to have a career as an at-home mom. ... refuses to leave your apartment until he has beaten you in more computer hangman games than you have beaten him. ... tells you to pretend you don’t know each other at the campus picnic so people won’t know you are a couple. ... proposes to you in bed by saying, “You don’t really want to get married do you?” ... jumps out of your moving car because you can’t agree whether to have plants or flowers at your wedding.   Then again, you may appreciate that he... ... sneaks into you apartment while you are at work, puts on “I Will” by the Beatles, grabs you as you enter and dances with you in his own goofy way. ... composes [...]

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar?2018-01-29T20:06:45+00:00

The Secret to Finding Sanity After a Mental Episode (by Katie Dale)

I was sauntering through Wordpress blogs that have "faith" and "mental illness" tags. I found very little, which is further confirmation that what we do here at Delight in Disorder is so vital and essential. Just as I was about to take a screen break, my eyes fell on a blog with an interesting title: Bipolar Brave.  The landing page immediately drew me in -- a picture of a joyful young woman, next to a well-defined three-sentence elevator message: “They may say I need to take a step of faith, and I will tell them, I did. The truth is, no matter how much faith one has, medication is nothing short of a miracle. Doctors treat, God heals.”.  You can't get any closer than this in expressing the intimate relationship between faith and mental illness. So, I reached out to Katie and invited her to do a guest post for [...]

The Secret to Finding Sanity After a Mental Episode (by Katie Dale)2018-01-19T16:03:27+00:00

Living Prepared to Die

A friend of mine, who also has bipolar, was in an auto accident when she was in college. She was taken to the emergency room where she had an x-ray and cat-scan. Neither showed any physical damage. She called her resident adviser to come to the hospital to pick her up. By the time he got there, she was livid with the staff, crying out to anyone who would listen, and many who wouldn't, that she was paralyzed. Three doctors and several nurses examined her and found nothing physically wrong. As the night wore on, however, she became hysterical. She said she had a massive inflammation in her spine. She was admitted to a medical-behavioral unit where she was diagnosed as having an acute manic episode. She was given psychotropics. They also performed an MRI and found a mass in her lower spine.  Another cat-scan also revealed a mass in [...]

Living Prepared to Die2018-01-19T16:10:04+00:00

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 Illness2017-12-06T17:02:03+00:00

How Do You Help People?

Today I woke up at the crack of dusk, after having spent a restless 15 hours in bed. I was anxious about things beyond my control, tortured by my past failures, questioning my purpose. Some people compare themselves with others who do less and feel good about themselves. I compare myself against my best self and feel miserable. At my best, I wake up, take my meds, brew some coffee and nurse it while doing a devotion. But I'm not at my best. The first thing I did was pull up my emails to see if there were any more contributors to our upcoming mental health podcast, "Revealing Voices."  There was not. I felt very discouraged. Was I doing something wrong? Had I sensed a need that isn't there? So many unanswered questions. So many unanswered prayers. I took a deep breath and pressed on. I checked my LinkedIn [...]

How Do You Help People?2017-12-06T17:01:18+00:00