A Woman Among Lions, Fighting for Faith and Family by Kirsten Panachyda

My guest blogger today is Kirsten Panachyda. Kirsten writes and speaks to infuse courage into the soul-weary. Her book Among Lions: Fighting for Faith and Finding Your Rest while Parenting a Child with Mental Illness is available now. Kirsten blogs at kirstenp.com. She and her husband Dan have two sons, and they are a roller-coaster-riding, travel-loving, blue-hair-dying family.   Once again my night devolved into nightmares, restless dozing, and eventually, sleeplessness. I stayed in bed until I felt like I would explode if I didn't cry and then I crept downstairs. I shuffled into the kitchen, thinking maybe I could make a cup of herbal tea to soothe my tight throat and aching chest. I got as far as the stove, picked up the battered red kettle, and slid down to the floor.  My kitchen floor was not something nice to sit on. When we bought the house in 1997, [...]

A Woman Among Lions, Fighting for Faith and Family by Kirsten Panachyda2021-05-23T04:03:14-04:00

The Pursuit of Happiness — Leaving for Good, chapter one

My mind has been stagnant lately. My muse has been silent. Depressive episodes do this to me sometimes. I lack the energy and motivation to cultivate a concept and bring it to life in the world. The more time that passes without creating a new piece of work, the more anxious I become that I will ever write something worthwhile again. When I fall into this quagmire, I sometimes look back and rework things of the past. I began the following over seven years ago now. I conceived it as the opening chapter of a short story, "The Pursuit of Happiness," that would be the closing of a trilogy that would also include "Life," and "Liberty." I'm not sure what will develop, but I really like spending time with the members of the Jacobson family and hope to go with them where they take me.   Stephen Jacobson’s day was [...]

The Pursuit of Happiness — Leaving for Good, chapter one2021-04-14T16:29:10-04:00

Hear the Good News: When Despair Meets Delight Audiobook Launches Ash Wednesday

Most pastors would be shocked to know how many people in their church family live with or are directly impacted by mental illness. Stigma continues to keep mental illness silent in the church. Parents who sit in church pews week after week feel completely alone in bearing the pain of their son’s or daughter’s mental illness because they are embarrassed or afraid to say anything. The person sitting next to them may be carrying the same burden but who would know. And they will continue to carry these burdens alone until the church is willing to talk about it. -- Mark Teike, Pastor; St. Peter's Lutheran LCMS (Columbus, IN), from the Foreword of When Despair Meets Delight. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. This year it lands on February 17 -- this week! Lent is a season to take spiritual inventory of our relationship with God, others, and self. [...]

Hear the Good News: When Despair Meets Delight Audiobook Launches Ash Wednesday2021-02-16T17:17:32-05:00

Saints and Shadows by Les Rust

Leslie D. Rust is a Presbyterian pastor, writer, and blogger who has a keen interest in liturgy, monastic spirituality and the mysteries of faith. Having grown up in the mountains of east Tennessee he is an avid hiker, camper, and makes and hangs out in hammocks of his own creation. He is fond of music, mirth, and at least a little bit of mayhem. He can be found blogging at Character in the Making. characterinthemaking.com.   The sun has made its way into my window this morning.  It is a clear day with only a few high, thin clouds at the moment—warmer than it has been.  Thankful for the sunlight on this new day.   Before it rose I was chatting with a good friend who has a ministry dealing with faith and mental illness.  He has had a hard time lately including a brief stay in the hospital to help [...]

Saints and Shadows by Les Rust2021-02-10T09:53:56-05:00

Out of the Darkness by Laura M.

I have a horrible confession, an unthinkable thought. At one point, I thought about ending my life. Why? Well, I’d just had a baby and my husband of thirteen years had been constantly on my case, during my whole pregnancy, about what a horrible person I was, what a failure as a mother I was, and how I cornered him with this pregnancy. What was the point of my being here then?    It never occurred to me, until later, of course, that those feelings were a mix of sleep deprivation, of not having the medicine I needed to heal, of postpartum depression, and that my husband was abusive. I was breastfeeding our child and his tummy was not filling up. Plus, he was a newborn with his days and nights mixed up, and was busting out of his swaddles like Hulk Hogan. All I saw, instead of those logical [...]

Out of the Darkness by Laura M.2021-01-13T14:16:24-05:00

Family Support of the Seriously Mentally Ill by CJ Hanson

Beginning with this post and continuing through 2021, I will be featuring guest posts from persons who have been impacted by mental health challenges, from such things as bouts of anxiety and depression to serious brain disorders (SBD) such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. My first featured author is CJ Hanson. Catherine J (CJ) Rippee-Hanson is 63 years old and a lifelong, social activist, writer, and singer - maneuvering through tragedies that have led down many different paths.  One of a set of identical twins who now work together to advocate and personally challenge our broken mental healthcare system.  Also known as the 'Twin Tag Team,' after 33 years of tending to the needs of our brother. He had a horrific accident in 1987, resulting in a TBI and loss of his eyes.  Three years later he began showing symptoms of Schizophrenia w/Psychosis with chronic and severe Anosognosia.  He has [...]

Family Support of the Seriously Mentally Ill by CJ Hanson2020-12-23T17:58:22-05:00

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

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

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

Darkness is My Closest Companion

My friend and my neighbor have put away from me, and darkness is my only companion. (Psalm 88:18; Book of Common Prayer)   "... depression is not just sadness or sorrow. Depression is not just negative thinking. Depression is not just being "down." It is being cast to the very end of your tether and, quite frankly, being dropped... The sick individual cannot simply shrug it off or pull out of it. While God certainly can pick up the pieces and put them together in a new way, this can only happen if the depressed brain makes it through to see again life among the living."  ~ Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Darkness is My Only Companion.   It's been 14 days that have passed like 14 years. Some days I lay in bed into late afternoon. One it was 6 p.m. Other days I'm up well before dawn. Up or down, the [...]

Darkness is My Closest Companion2019-06-19T06:02:20-04:00
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