A Blessed Rejection

I am still manic, showing no signs of slowing down. It is delightful, but also exceedingly dangerous. Some studies suggest that each severe manic episode you experience in your lifetime robs you of functioning for the future. Chemical highs from the brain may do as much damage as those induce by substances consumed. It is possible that for hour I spend in exercising frenetic energy, I am limiting both the quantity and quality of my life. A good friend who battles bipolar herself reminded me of this today. Our exchange went something like this:   Tony: BJ, if you are interested in receiving a free e-newsletter about When Despair Meets Delight, simply reply with your email address. Thanks! BJ: Tony, I am not interested, and here is why: I am concerned about you. As much as I want you to succeed, I am concerned you are taking on too much. [...]

A Blessed Rejection2020-05-20T14:36:07-04:00

The Loneliness of Mental Illness

One of the tragic things about living with bipolar is that I have often felt very much alone. When I am depressed, I feel unworthy of anyone's love or attention. When I am manic, I can be so grandiose that I feel set apart from the "average" human race. When I am in a mixed state, I become agitated with anyone trying to get close to me. Even as people try to care for me, I can get terribly lonely. My heart goes out to those without the support system I have -- those trapped in delusional minds, those wandering the dangerous streets, those languishing in solitary prison cells. I have been manic for some time now, since I made the commitment to publish my second book. It has been wonderful, but I knew it wouldn't last. It didn't. Last night, in the midst of sharing my exciting news with [...]

The Loneliness of Mental Illness2020-05-18T15:47:17-04:00

The Highway to Hell is Paved with Manic Intentions

I have now completed the final manuscript of second book, When Despair Meets Delight: Stories that cultivate hope for those with serious mental illness. I have received three endorsements. The ISBN#s have been obtained. I have applied to list it in the Library of Congress. I am working with a graphic artist, Jolie Buchanan of Jolie B Studios on the cover design. She is also doubling duties by doing the formatting. I have contracted with my web designer Sean Pritzkau about revamping my website to feature this book and expand my brand to reflect more of what I do at Delight in Disorder Ministries -- A Way with Words Publishing; Revealing Voices Podcast; Faithful Friends Support Group; and Tony Roberts, Faith & Mental Health Consultant. I have sold over 75 advance copies that will defray a good portion of the cost to publish the book, allowing me to approach the [...]

The Highway to Hell is Paved with Manic Intentions2020-05-13T22:44:49-04:00

A Burning Fire; A Wisp of Smoke

Writing, then, was a substitute for myself: if you don't love me, love my writing & love me for my writing. It is also much more: a way of ordering and reordering the chaos of experience. ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath I keep a daily journal of happenings in my life. Some of these things emerge in my public writing. Literary quotes. Character sketches. Story outlines. You will also find less assuming material in my journals. Financial profiles. Schedules. Contact information. To call these daily journals is generous at best. Sometimes weeks go by without a single entry. Then I'll go on a binge and nearly fill a book in a week. If my journal could speak in those gaps, it would cry out in anguish, wail in sorrow, moan in despair. But the pages are blank. Like my mind. Unborn words. Aborted sentences. Silent stories. Flannery O'Connor [...]

A Burning Fire; A Wisp of Smoke2020-04-27T19:05:51-04:00

Your burning questions about mental illness

Near the end of 2019, I completed work on a draft manuscript for my second book. I had written Delight in Disorder while my brain was still in a fog. As my editor put it, I needed to walk the reader through the rooms of my bipolar mind. This second book had the working title of From Despair to Delight: Stories to cultivate compassion and foster friendship with those impacted by mental illness. It was also composed as a memoir, but one that more readily flowed with my story as a man of faith living with a serious mental illness. My intent with the first book was to help those feeling disconnected with faith to reconnect. My aim with this book is to help pastors and church leaders build a sanctuary for those with troubled minds. I felt good about what I had written. So good, in fact, that I sent [...]

Your burning questions about mental illness2020-01-29T21:14:44-05:00

Writing From Despair to Delight

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. ~ Neil Gaiman. This has been a good week of writing days. I was coming into the homestretch of my book and I just kept striding until it was finished. Now I have a completed draft which I've sent to beta readers for recommendations and to Moody Publishers for consideration. The book was conceived near the end of 2013, as I was going to press with Delight in Disorder. It has taken six years to brew, and just about six weeks to write. Edna St. Vincent Millay was once asked how much time in her day she spent writing and she said at least 24 hours. A writer is never not writing, even when she is away from keyboard and screen. But it feels exceptionally good on days when I [...]

Writing From Despair to Delight2019-12-29T19:15:08-05:00

Writing Like Crazy: living, loving, and laughing word by word.

You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world. ~ Ray Bradbury.   I fell in love with writing at a very early age. I've kept journals throughout my life and they have been some of the only things I've held onto in my many moves. Next to my faith, my body of work is the greatest heritage I hope to leave. One of my greatest regrets in life is the day I discarded a collection of love letters never sent. I did it out of embarrassment and a senseless notion that I needed to do in order to forsake all others. Losing these was like [...]

Writing Like Crazy: living, loving, and laughing word by word.2019-12-19T17:02:07-05:00

Portrait of a Writer as a Young Boy – my writing life, the first 15 years.

I have been a writer for almost 50 years now. My first essays lacked originality but made up for it in word count. I will not trade baseball cards in class... I will not trade baseball cards in class... I will not... 500 sentences. 4000 words. Long-hand. I’ve learned many lessons in writing through the years and they started right there in 3rd grade. You must suffer for your art. Ask my sister and she’ll tell you l’ve shortened this to a life motto, “You must suffer.” It was in 5th grade that I learned how delightful it was to write about my favorite subject. Me.  The Autobiography of Tony E Roberts was part mythic, part statistic recounting of my early athletic prowess. I remember it best for the cover - an huge orange baboon in the lotus position. In his book On Writing Stephen King says, If you don’t have [...]

Portrait of a Writer as a Young Boy – my writing life, the first 15 years.2019-12-18T19:03:31-05:00

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

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: Inspiration2019-10-13T20:20:51-04:00