Mental Illness in Society: Can We Both Care and Protect?

Our community is reeling from a tragic incident that occurred last Friday night.   Air Force veteran Derek Henderson, 38, was killed the same night he was supposed to be taken to a VA hospital. Local law enforcement came to a home three times last Friday looking for Derek Henderson. But despite an emergency detention court order, the mentally troubled veteran was never taken into custody.   How often does this story repeat itself? Hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands? The system that is supposed to be providing care for those of us with serious mental illness is broken. Who do we blame? Some point the finger of blame at the mentally ill themselves. Why do we let ourselves fall into such a pit?   Henderson served in the Air Force in Afghanistan and was a certified personal trainer. But his family said he suffered a long battle with mental health [...]

Mental Illness in Society: Can We Both Care and Protect?2020-01-12T16:50:29-05:00

A Child Will Be Born: Pregnancy & Parenting Thoughts by Katie Dale

by Katie Dale (bio below) Among the busy-ness of life, I’m burned out. Not to mention…pregnant! For someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you may be wondering how safe it would be to get pregnant with a Severe Mental Illness. I consulted with my last psychiatrist and current psychiatrist and maternal prenatal doctor, and based on their direction and guidance regarding the medications I’m taking, supported me in remaining on my meds while trying to get pregnant. Both psychotropics I’m prescribed (Abilify and Wellbutrin XL) are relatively normal risk (3-5% typical risk of defects as normal) to the baby while pregnant and breastfeeding. I discussed the risk/benefit with all three docs and my husband and it makes more sense to stay on the medications. I know what it’s like to go off…and that would be more risk to me and baby than if I stayed on. In late August last year, [...]

A Child Will Be Born: Pregnancy & Parenting Thoughts by Katie Dale2019-12-24T15:35:51-05:00

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

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

From Despair to Delight: Inspiration

In his seminal book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King tells this story -- A friend came to visit James Joyce one day and found the great man sprawled across his writing desk in a posture of utter despair. "James, what’s wrong?" the friend asked. "Is it the work?" Joyce indicated assent without even raising his head to look at his friend. Of course it was the work; isn’t it always? "How many words did you get today?" the friend pursued. Joyce (still in despair, still sprawled facedown on his desk): "Seven." "Seven? But James… that’s good, at least for you." "Yes," Joyce said, finally looking up. "I suppose it is… but I don’t know what order they go in!"   In March of 2014, I published Delight in Disorder, a devotional memoir about my life as a pastor with bipolar disorder. It was nearly 5 years [...]

From Despair to Delight: Inspiration2019-10-13T20:20:51-05:00

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 Bars2019-08-11T15:11:13-05:00

Does Mental Illness Lead to Violence?

I don’t follow much mass media, but at times it is impossible to escape. Accounts of the El Paso and Dayton shootings and the Los Angeles stabbings are prime examples. What could possibly motivate persons to such violent extremes? Political leaders, pundits, and partisans toss around various theories. Access to guns? Video games? Mental illness? As one with a mental illness who now serves as a Faith & Mental Health Advocate, the issue is much more than political posturing, it is passionately personal. True, I have witnessed first-hand aggressive behavior stemming from mental illness. Yet, the vast majority of harm is self-directed, not violence against others. Fear-based stigma does no one any good and does many much harm. The Treatment Advocacy Center, one of the leading organizations promoting better mental health care and safety has written in  “Risk Factors for Violence in Serious Mental Illness”, five points:   Most individuals [...]

Does Mental Illness Lead to Violence?2019-08-08T18:05:34-05:00

Life and Death with Bipolar

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 her [...]

Life and Death with Bipolar2019-06-05T17:19:29-05:00

All the Difference in the World

In 2008, my mental illness progressed to the point that I became unable to work in my profession. I had served as a pastor for over 20 years. It was more than just my job. It was my calling. My vocation. I did not work as a pastor; I was a pastor. I delivered God's Word week after week to help people, my people, see their stories in God's story. I led Bible studies at a local addiction treatment center, extending the hope of Christ's forgiveness for those ready for a new path in life. I prayed with wailing women as they sat beside their dying husbands. After I resigned from pastoral ministry, I didn't know what I would do. I tried many things. Weeding. Cleaning furnaces. Roofing. Volunteering at the VA. Building mini-barns. I had no idea what I was doing. I tried to stay busy, but I [...]

All the Difference in the World2019-05-01T19:03:24-05:00

A Beautiful, Brilliant, Unquiet Mind

When I first received my bipolar diagnosis, the picture painted for me of my future was rather bleak.  The staff at the psychiatric hospital explained that I would likely not be able to continue in ministry.  I would go on disability, have repeated hospitalizations and the chances of remaining in my marriage were slim to none. My psychiatrist, however, offered a ray of hope.  He recommended a memoir that had just been published by one of the most world-renowned expert on bipolar disorder - Kay Redfield Jamison.  In Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Jamison beautifully describes her own life-long struggle and brilliantly depicts the love-hate relationship many folks with Bipolar have with their illness.  She defines what she prefers to call "Manic-depression" ...a disease that both kills and gives life.  Fire, by its nature, both creates and destroys.  "The force that through the green fuse drives [...]

A Beautiful, Brilliant, Unquiet Mind2019-04-03T21:43:19-05:00