May Was Mental Awareness Month. One Last Guest Post and Share By Tony Roberts. No Needs To Suffer Alone.

May Was Mental Awareness Month. One Last Guest Post and Share By Tony Roberts. No Needs To Suffer Alone.

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS NEEDS TO BE ALL YEAR

Mental Illness on The Streets
By Tony Roberts
Of
“Delight In Disorder Blog”

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Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  (Matthew 8:20)

 

Jesus understood what it is like to be without a home.  Yes, he was a Rabbi supported by the financial contributions of his followers, but he was also a wandering soul at the mercy of the hospitality or rejection of strangers. Masses moved from jubilant shouts of “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!!” to vehement cries, “Crucify him!” From a divine perspective, the homelessness of Christ was part of his mission. But this certainly didn’t lessen his human suffering.

Jesus teaches us that if we want to follow him, we too will take up crosses such as he did. This has meant many things for Christians throughout the ages —  from verbal harassment to capital punishment, and everything in between. The Apostle Paul and his companions certainly knew sacrificial hardship. He writes:

 

To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.  (1 Corinthians 4.11)

 

Homelessness? Jesus gets it. Paul gets it. But does this offer any hope to any of the 150 million people in the world who are homeless today?

The first step to shining the light of Gospel hope is to better grasp the darkness. What causes a person to become homeless?  Marjorie Baldwin suggests it can be many things:

 

What is the underlying problem? There are numerous factors that may lead to homelessness (e.g. domestic violencesubstance abuse, unemployment), but one of the most important is untreated mental illness. Estimates suggest that, nationwide, one-third of homeless persons have a serious mental illness (SMI). In some places, the proportion of mentally ill among the homeless is even greater: 70% in Roanoke, Virginia (2007) and 67% in Colorado Springs (2009). [Torrey 2014; TAC 2015] Most homeless people with serious mental illness are not receiving treatment; many do not even know they are ill. (“Homeless, Mentally Ill, and Neglected”).

 

The vast number of homeless persons in the U.S. who have a mental illness is a travesty, an indictment on a nation who fooled itself into believing that the best way to treat brain-sick patients was to dope them up with psychotropics, kick them out of advanced hospitals and expect community-based homes to magically appear which would offer expert care medical, psychological, physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and relational such that healing might happen.

It hasn’t.

That is the darkness. So where is the ray of hope? I’d like to shine three points of light.

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1.  Food 4 Souls is shining a light in the midst of homeless camps in Indianapolis, Indiana. Their vision is:

 

We exist to go out and serve our homeless community with unconditional love and acceptance by providing Hope in ChristMeeting Daily Needs andAligning Resources to those who are ready to move into a life beyond homelessness.

 

Community Relations Director Dawn Adams shared a story on an episode of the podcast Revealing Voices about “L.A.” she met sequestered at a far-end of one of the homeless camps. She called out for him, but he wouldn’t budge. She told him she would leave a meal and be back the following week.

The next week, she returned. Same thing. Call out. No response. Leave meal. Promise to be back.

This went on for some time. L.A. finally came out to meet her. He was still reserved but opened up more each week. Dawn came week after week. Month after month. Year after year. She said in time L.A. revealed estrangement, emotional wounds, spiritual scars. Dawn stressed that she is not a mental health expert, but she saw that L.A. got the help he needed. Dawn offered L.A. something beyond what his essential care providers could. She became his friend.

We asked if Dawn still sees L.A.. She smiled and answered yes. But not on the streets. He has an apartment of his own now. They meet for coffee at Starbucks.

 

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.  (Matthew 25:40)

 

2. Mental Illness Policy.org offers “unbiased information for policymakers and media.” In an age of relative truth and fake news, this is a very bold claim. Founder D.J. Jaffe provides here a vast clearinghouse of resources on mental illness past, present, and future. An advocate since 1980, it seems he has yet to lose any passion for drawing attention to the needs of those who are too often overlooked.

Jaffe’s articles and recommendations have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Review, Forbes. He has appeared on national news broadcasts explaining issues surrounding mental illness and violence. Federal, state and local policymakers have solicited and relied on his scholarship. He is widely credited as the primary mover behind Kendra’s Law, New York state legislation that allows judges to mandate treatment for people with serious mental illness and a history of violence.

Jaffe is the author of Insane Consequences: How The Mental Health Industry Fails The Mentally Ill (Prometheus Books, 2017).

The thing I admire most about Jaffe and the reason I support Mental Illness.org is that he refuses to accept conventional myths that those of us with mental illness always know and can accomplish what is best for us. Hard experiential evidence and emerging scientific discoveries demonstrate that we are often our own worst enemies. Our minds betray us. We need rational laws and reasonable resources that protect us and others from our illness.

 

3.  Kennedy-Krieger Institute has a mission:

 

“To transform the lives of children with disorders of the brain through groundbreaking research, innovative treatments, and life-changing education.”

 

And their vision is:

 

“Discoveries of how the brain develops and functions are occurring at an accelerating pace. The Kennedy Krieger Institute leads the way in translating these scientific advances into new therapies and educational interventions, while providing an inspirational environment for training tomorrow’s leaders in the field. These successes benefit millions of children and families around the world.”

 

The reason I’m highlighting Kennedy-Krieger is simple. His name is Jacob.

Jacob was born with Down syndrome. Like many persons with this unique genetic profile, Jacob brought joy into the world and shared delight with everyone he met. He was the life of the party.

I say was because when he hit puberty, he collapsed. Literally. He went into a comatose-like state where all he would do is lie on the ground. He only got up to eat and void. His parents, Don and Joyce, were advised to take him to Kennedy-Krieger at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. There they met Dr. George Capone who, by his own admission, guessed what was going on.

Dr. Capone had heard of a study from the University of Missouri of 12 similar cases. They had gained approval for and administered experimental treatment. Out of the 12; five got better, five stayed the same, and three regressed.

Don asked Dr. Capone if he recommended the treatment and if so, could he provide it. Dr. Capone said he could not.  Don told me there was something calculated in his facial expression when he said, “I can not.” What did he mean? Don wondered.  I don’t recommend it? It’s not my specialty? Maybe even, Kennedy-Krieger has yet to approve it?

At any rate, it didn’t happen. Jacob would endure another 5 years of a state of catatonia where he seemed to be living in another world.

But that’s not the end of the story. Research on the treatment expanded, much conducted by Kennedy-Krieger and similar institutions. Many successes were reported, some dramatic. The treatment went from becoming experimental to being recommended. Even by Dr. Capone. Don and Joyce decided to give it a shot.

Jacob is now 18. His teachers say he is making amazing progress. His principal, who has known Jacob since kindergarten, says glimpses of his exuberant joy are back. Jacob is ready to launch into the world and share his delight with others.

 

Homelessness is not so much about a lack of housing as it is a lack of mental health care. We combat homeless when we become friends fight for better laws and support research for a cure.

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Do You Advocate About Mental Health and Want To on a Bigger Scale? Join Tony Roberts as a Patron and He’ll Help You Do So …

Do You Advocate About Mental Health and Want To on a Bigger Scale? Join Tony Roberts as a Patron and He’ll Help You Do So …

 

Growing Delight in Disorder

“One thing I have learned in my spiritual life is not only is it more blessed to give than to receive, but it is more rewarding.”

 

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As a pastor, I observed many who came to church sporadically, made no effort to participate in service and gave only a few small bills whenever the mood struck them. One common feature I consistently noticed in these folks is that their spiritual growth was stunted.  I saw first hand that those who withhold their time, talent, and money from kingdom work, isolated themselves from God’s abundant grace experienced in a generous community.

I am no longer in pastoral ministry, but I see the same principle apply to my mission here at Delight in Disorder. Over the course of the last five years, I am reaching a growing number of persons impacted by mental illness. These folks need encouragement, support, and spiritual counsel. I have been blessed to be one of God’s instruments of healing, through my book, this blog, phone and video consults, speaking engagements and my podcast. My ministry has grown from a manuscript in a junk drawer to a message spreading across the globe.

My mission here at Delight in Disorder is to foster hope in the lives of those with troubled minds and cultivate compassion within the faith community for those with mental illness. To carry out this mission, I need your help. Your prayers. Your stories. Your encouragement. Your financial support.

 

Why Do You Need Financial Support?

I want to be clear your financial gifts are to grow this mission, not increase my personal lifestyle. God has blessed me with income streams to put food on the table, have a roof over my head, and meet my daily needs. Monies contributed will go to expand the outreach of Delight in Disorder.

Build community among those engaged in advocacy and mental health ministry. Produce and distribute more written content to nourish the spiritual lives of wounded souls. Promote faith and mental wellness online and through other avenues. Provide for direct outreach through workshops and conferences on healing and wholeness. These are just some of the needs I envision to grow this ministry God has laid on my heart and, I hope, yours.

How Much Will It Cost?

To become a patron, you can contribute as little as $1/month or as much as God leads you to give. Again, I want to stress this should not come at the expense of your own needs, your family’s needs, or the needs of your local faith community. Instead, prayerfully consider how much you value this mission and give out of desire, not of obligation.

What Do I Get Out of It?

While it is true there are spiritual rewards whenever we give for kingdom work, I also want my patrons to receive practical benefits. These range depending on giving tiers (with each successive tier including perks of lower tiers):

  1. $1 or more a month — Covenental Clinician: Join private FB community to discuss issues of faith and mental health.
  2. $15 or more a month — Biblical Behavioralist: Receive personally inscribed Delight in Disorder for self or as a gift.
  3. $40 or more a month — Theological Therapist: Participate in a quarterly webinar on mental health ministry.
  4. $50 or more a month — Freudian for Faith: Receive monthly devotional journal (via snail mail!).
  5. $100 or more a month — Apostle for Affirmation: Video dialogue with me about a mental health matter.
  6. $200 or more a month — Manic Depressive Missionary — I will speak at a venue near you.

 

What Is My Best First Step?

The best way to get a taste of this new mission incentive is by becoming a mission partner at the $1/month Covenental Clinician tier. My private Facebook page will launch on November 1. It will be a place where you will find a wide variety of resources. Things like — personal stories from persons like me with mental health diagnoses; news about legislation impacting those with mental illness; discussions about the best way to offer Christ-like compassion for those with troubled minds.

My goal is to have 50 Covenental Clinicians by the launch date of November 1.  As a faithful reader of my blog, I hope you will become one of my founding partners.

I hope you are as excited as I am about this new mission venture. For more information and to pledge your support, go to MY SUPPORT PAGE.

Become a Patron Today and Help Tony Grow Through Faith His Mission at “Delight in Disorder Today.”

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37.4)

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Who Is Tony Robers?

 

Image result for tony roberts delight in disorder

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From Ministry to Madness

In 1995, I was a young, ambitious pastor serving a church in Northeast PA. One Sunday, I delivered a sermon in which I shared these words:

Our ailments may be blessings in disguise. As we listen to our bodies and minds and seek out care, we gain insight 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 end, and that I would spend the rest of my life in and out of psychiatric hospitals.

By the grace of God and with much help from many others, I served another dozen years of fruitful ministry, was married for twenty-three years and have progressed in treatment to enjoy “maintenance remission.”

From Madness to Mission

As one who has benefited from both faith and mental health treatment, I have Good News to share. And it is this — with Christ’s saving grace, the hellish impact of mental illness will be bearable.

God is with us even in the darkest valleys of despair. We have an essential purpose, to extend fellowship with others who struggle, and to fight the stigma that often leads to dangerous silence.

Many people with mental illness are angry at God, at believers, and at faith communities. People within churches struggle to reconcile medical advances about brain chemistry with Biblical truth.

I have lived in both worlds. I wrestle daily with my dual identity as a Christian who has a serious mental illness and have a hopeful word to say to both.

My mission at Delight in Disorder is to bridge the vast gap between faith and mental illness — fostering faith among those with disorders and diagnoses and promoting compassion within the faith community.

Can we partner together?

Won’t you join me on this mission? There are several ways you can help:

  1. Financially give at any level.
  2. Share this page with someone you know.
  3. Respond with your stories of faith / mental illness.

And lastly: pray for those impacted by mental illness. When we do these things, we reclaim our godly mission in the madness of the world.

 

Maintaining Recovery With Mental Health Makes Us Look At Things a Wee Bit Different Than Others. A Story By Tony.

“My Grandpa George died when I was in a psych hospital. So I wrote him this story. Sometimes the truth needs a little myth mixed in to swallow it down.”

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“He Was in Heaven Before He Died”

“The following is not a story based solely on facts. I did have a Grandpa George and this was pretty much how he lived and died. But I didn’t make it to the funeral. Instead, I was in a hellish heaven of my own in the psych unit of Columbia Presbyterian.”


I got the call late at night that Grandpa George had died. He had lived a hard life.  He didn’t have the opportunity to get a good education. He never learned to read or write because his demanding father made him quit school to help in the fields. He worked hard to get by and managed to scrape together a living. He met a woman – Maize – at the tomato factory where he worked. She says he was throwing tomatoes at her, so she knew he liked her. They were married in less than 3 months. They stayed together “until death did they part” almost 60 years later.

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I drove alongside the cemetery in a rented Ford Focus, admiring the tombstones in the early morning sun. My mind wandered to Grandpa’s last days. He was able to die at home, thanks to Hospice and the care of family, especially his son Geoff (since Grandma was limited in what she could do). Geoff fed him when he was hungry, bathed him to keep him clean, and sought to bring comfort to this man who had hardly ever comforted him.

Grandpa George had not lived a perfect life, perhaps not even a good one. He was quick to become angry and had been accused by some of being abusive. He was known to challenge his supervisors to fights. He bullied Grandma and Geoff, who could never seem to please him. He certainly had skills – building his house from the ground up. He could be generous with his time, helping neighbors with necessary fix-up projects. Yet he had a temper that could flare up at the least misunderstanding.

Still, he could also be playful and gentle with children, rocking them on his knees or playing “Peep-Eye” (his version of “peek-a-boo”). He had pet names for all the grandchildren which were both endearing and practical. I’m not sure he could remember what our real names were.

I thought of his faith.  He went to church regularly for most of his married life. He drove the church bus and took great pride in rounding up children from homes where the parents were just happy to have them off their hands for a few hours. He had a simple faith: child-like even. I wondered if it brought him peace and comfort especially in his last days.

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The sun was full in the sky as I pulled onto the gravel road that led to a family plot. I looked at the simple white crosses to the side – the graves of soldiers who died before they could marry, have children, and raise a family. I saw the graves of infants, who escaped suffering as well as joy in their lives.

I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the life my Grandpa George got to live, the good and the bad, and prayed that he might be received into a new and better life to come. Later that day, driving the rental Ford Focus back to the airport, I looked out on the Wabash River and I smiled.

They say when you die you go “home to God”.  I have this hope for Grandpa.  
At least, I am glad that he was home when he died.  
I’m glad he got a little taste of heaven before he died.
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Delight in Disorder

Ministry, Madness, Mission

 

My name is Tony Roberts. I am a Christian and I have a serious mental illness.

Many of my friends who also have troubled minds wonder how it is I would hold onto faith after such an agonizing spiritual struggle with insanity.

Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ wonder how my mind can be so disturbed if I am a believer.

I believe faith and medicine, prayer and pills, worship and therapy are God’s essential graces to promote healing.

So, I’m telling my story in the hope of sharing Good News with those who have unquiet minds and shattering stigma about mental illness within and beyond the faith community.

I hope you’ll join the conversation by visiting my site.


Tony Roberts, Author

Delight in Disorder:  Ministry, Madness, Mission

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Order Today on Amazon & Amazon Kindle!

I Welcome Tony Roberts. A Man of Faith, An Author, and more. My Weekend Spotlighted Recovery Guest Blog.

I Welcome Tony Roberts. A Man of Faith, An Author, and more. My Weekend Spotlighted Recovery Guest Blog.

“I have known Tony Roberts for quite some time. We first met here on WordPress where he first had his blog. He has a new website that is AMAZING and I started receiving his new email newsletter. I was so thrilled to see his new site and asked him if I could “Spotlight” his site here on my blog. He has been a great friend, recovery and mental health support to me.

He IS a man that stands in grace in his faith in the Lord, and I have been blessed by our friendship! So, meet Author, Tony Roberts and his book and website; “Delight in Disorder”…

 

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About Tony Roberts:

This is me with Grandma McPeak. She died less than a month after making this quilt for my grandson. She was the first Bible I ever read. Her life overflowed with Christ’s love, in all she said and did.

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I  first sensed a calling to be a writer at the age of nine when I composed my first poem, “Ode to My Pet Rock.”

I was born and raised in the Hoosier heartland just south of Indianapolis. I grew up worshiping high school basketball and once had the honor of playing in a televised “game of the week.”

I went to Hanover College (alma mater of both Mike Pence and Woody Harrelson – go figure). After many detours into sex, drugs, and more folk rock than roll, I wound up at a seminary and became a pastor. It was then that symptoms of depression and mania culminated in a psychotic episode that became pivotal in my life, for better and for worse.

After graduating from Hanover, I obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. While there, I did ministry assignments at a state hospital for persons with developmental disabilities, as well as at a women’s prison, and an inner-city hospital.

I served two decades as a solo pastor. I then shifted to writing, speaking, and leading small groups. In March of 2014, I published my spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. Having served in pastoral ministry and gone mad, it’s now my mission to bridge the gap between faith communities and the mental health world.

I now live to write and write to live in Rochester, New York. I also have a “delightful domain” on Lake Caroga, the gateway to the Adirondacks.  My greatest earthly delights are my four children and two grandchildren.

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“What makes Tony’s devotional so compelling is that bipolar disorder continues to periodically beat the crap out of him, and he still believes.”

– David Zucker, Mental Health Advocate, University Presbyterian in Seattle.

 

Product Details

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About Tony’s Book:

Delight in Disorder is the story of one pastor’s battle with bipolar disorder. This spiritual memoir is a house of meditations where faith and mental illness co-exist, at times fueling each other to dangerous distortion, at times feeding each other to fruitful gain. It offers hope for those often neglected and shunned. It also fosters compassion for believers towards those with troubled minds.

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One of My Favorite Blog Posts From His Site:

Enemies Sprouting Like Mushrooms

In The MessageEugene Peterson calls Psalm 3 – “A David Psalm, when he escaped for his life from Absalom, his Son.” The words that follow reveal a haunted poet king, surrounded and scared.

God! Look! Enemies past counting!

Enemies sprouting like mushrooms,

Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery:

“Hah! No help for him from God!”(vv. 1-2)

David sees no escape from sure defeat, certain death. This does not keep him from crying out to God – in fact, it motivates him all the more to do so. He lifts up to God the torturing taunts of his enemies and then reminds himself just Who it is he’s talking to –

But you, God, shield me on all sides;

You ground my feet, you lift my head high;

With all my might I shout up to God;

His answers thunder from the holy mountain. (vv. 3-4)

No matter how insurmountable the odds, David believes and asserts that God’s defense is greater than human offense. God is able and willing to act mightily to answer the prayers of His children, like thunder from a mountain. This brings David tremendous peace of mind.

I stretch myself out. I sleep.

Then I’m up again – rested, tall and steady,

Fearless before the enemy mobs

Coming at me from all sides.  (vv. 5-6)

God’s answer to David’s plea for protection in battle is not to fight the battle for him, but to give him rest and courage to fight with confidence.

Some years back, on a youth mission trip to Washington D.C., we were “attacked by enemies” from all sides. One girl was displaying symptoms of an eating disorder. Another was on her hands and knees, compulsively cleaning the floor while others laughed at her. The boys were vying for attention from the girls and a few were “coupling off” – dangerously close to crossing sexual boundaries.

That night (actually early morning) when I finally went to bed, I couldn’t sleep. I decided to take a walk. As I strolled the streets of the nation’s capital, I prayed to God out loud. Had someone seen me, they would have rightly assumed I was a stranger with a mental illness wandering the streets – but I don’t think they would have known I was praying.

When I got back to my room, I noticed my body relaxed, and my mind was at ease. I was able to sleep soundly for several hours and woke up feeling refreshed. The next day we had a team meeting for prayer and Bible study. It was the start of the best day of the trip – a day where we clearly saw God at work in the world within and around us.

God doesn’t often fight our battles for us. Instead, God gives us the strength and courage to face our battles with confidence and claim the victory for Christ.
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So please visit my friend Tony Roberts new website for some “Spiritual Up Lifting” as he shares his life, his recovery, mental health challenges and LOVE and Encouragement with all who visit there. You can buy his book here on Amazon!
Connect with Tony on Social Media:

Facebook
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Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon