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?

 

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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.

 

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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!

Guest Article That “Touched My Memory” of My Mental Health As A Child.

Guest Article That “Touched My Memory” of My Mental Health As A Child.

Most of my recovery friends, readers, and regular visitors know I enjoy finding many amazing websites about recovery from addiction and mental health. I vowed this year to write and share more openly about my mental health challenges. So when I recently visited one of my resource websites on mental health, my friends of National Alliance on Mental Health  ~NAMI …I read a new article I wanted to share.

Because when I got to reading the part of the guests” experiences with panic attacks, anxiety and such, it brought up those old feelings I got when I was in therapy and looking back to then and connecting the dots to my own problems as a child and early teens with symptoms, especially after my abuse and sexual trauma that happened. I was able to see that I had many mental health issues even back then but was never diagnosed until my gambling addiction took hold of me in adulthood.

The gambling I used to ‘escape and numb out’ those old hauntings which brought out the symptoms I was suffering again now. When I attempted my first suicide and placed in a crisis center for several weeks was when I was finally diagnosed. I went years without knowing what “that” was, and why I felt severely depressed on and off and PTSD, mild mania and anxiety. I was a mess!

Thanks to therapy and medications I am manged and have learned to treat my mental health just like any other disease like diabetes or heart disease. And that rings true for maintaining my recovery from addictions.

And why it is important to heal all areas of Emotional, Body, Spirit and our Mental Well-being … Catherine

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You Can’t Plan For Mental Illness ~ Courtesy of Allie Quinn | May. 23, 2018 

 
My 5-year plan after finishing high school was simple: graduate from college in four years, then begin graduate school directly following graduation. It was easy for me to imagine a 5-year plan at 18 years old when my toughest challenge at that point had been taming my frizzy hair.

My first two years of college were very successful. I made close friends, was hired by my college as a writing tutor and connected with teachers and administrators in the school district I wanted to eventually work in. I was right on track with my 5-year plan.

During my third year of college, however, the mass shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I felt a very deep connection to the event and in the following months, I noticed that I was on high-alert in public areas. I worried for my safety.

A few months later, I learned about the Boston Marathon bombing when I was in my college’s library. I immediately looked at the entrance to the library and wondered where I would hide if a shooter came through the door. A habit of making “escape plans” in my head became uncontrollable. I created them for any public place, and I avoided walking in open spaces and going out at night. Each night, I dreamt that I was trying to escape from a mass shooting; even in my sleep, I couldn’t shake this overwhelming fear.

Looking back, I can see the warning signs that I needed help. I didn’t tell anyone about the thoughts and feelings I was having because I didn’t want people to think I was “unstable.” Admitting to myself or to others that something was wrong could jeopardize my 5-year plan. I told myself that all college students felt this kind of stress and that I’d feel better when the semester ended.

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My junior year ended, but instead of feeling better, I felt significantly worse. I experienced severe panic attacks, paranoia, and anxiety that made it impossible for me to drive, work or stay home alone. After I sought treatment with a therapist and psychiatrist, they recommended I check myself into a psychiatric hospital, so doctors could balance my medication, and I could learn skills to help manage my anxiety. I would be hospitalized five times, spending nearly three months in the hospital. My worst day was when I had to withdraw from my senior year. It felt like years of hard work just slipped away.

I questioned: Why didn’t I seek help sooner?


After my last hospitalization, I immediately re-enrolled in classes. I didn’t give myself the chance to heal because I wanted so badly to get back on track with my 5-year plan. Because I wasn’t working on my mental health, I struggled through two classes, and I wasn’t enjoying school like I did before.

One day, I finally accepted that if I kept putting my education before my mental health, I could risk having another breakdown. I decided to take medical leave from school; I needed to focus on my mental health and regain my strength and confidence. For the next two years, I attended therapy, worked with my psychiatrist, adopted a psychiatric service dog, discovered skills to help me cope and practiced self-care. Eventually, I felt like myself again.

So, I began college again last year. This time, I felt ready. I will be graduating this December with a B.S. in Community and Human Services. The deadline for my 5-year plan has long passed, and my life has not gone as I planned, but I am happy, healthy and have a mission to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. Battling mental illness and maintaining mental health is an ongoing part of my life, but the struggles I faced have put me on the path I’m meant to be on.

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Nami National Alliance on Mental Illness
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For example, I recently became a young adult speaker for NAMI Ending the Silence. I travel to high schools to share my journey with mental illness and talk to students about mental health and stigma.

The experience has been life-changing. For years, my goal has been to help people, and through NAMI Ending the Silence and blogging, I am making a difference. I believe that talking openly about mental health issues will end stigma and lead to more effective treatment for mental illness.

Please, if you’re experiencing symptoms or warning signs of a mental illness, seek help as soon as possible. Your mental health is farmore important than your 5-year plan. I’ve learned that college can wait—treating mental illness cannot.
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Allie Quinn is a mental health blogger, public speaker, and young adult presenter with NAMI’s Ending the Silence. She works to educate people about the realities of living with a mental illness and raises awareness about the use of psychiatric service dogs. Allie’s mental health blog is Redefine Mental Health

Sad Example Why Depression is Serious and Mental Health is so Important. R.I.P. Actor, Verne Troyer. AKA Mini-Me

Sad Example Why Depression is Serious and Mental Health is so Important.          R.I.P. Actor, Verne Troyer. AKA Mini-Me

“One of my favorite comedies are the “Austin Powers” series and of course Actor Verne Troyer who played the character, Mini-Me in the movies. Sad news today that he has passed away at the age of only 49 from a battle with depression.” With his favorite line being, “You Complete Me,” it is quite the shock that he has passed on.”

I now hope that many who read about it through the media and internet will now understand just how serious depression can be when others like me and now Verne passing away from undisclosed issues from depression. It needs to be a wake-up call for all us to know and treat mental and emotional disorders and illness very seriously.

I know first hand as both my suicide attempts were not just from my addiction, but also from undiagnosed severe depression and other disorders. It had become so bad along with my gambling that I just wanted to die because I had no idea what was wrong with me! Here is what we know for now about Verne …

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From His INSTAGRAM:

It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today.

Verne was an extremely caring individual. He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh. Anybody in need, he would help to any extent possible. Verne hoped he made a positive change with the platform he had and worked towards spreading that message every day.

He inspired people around the world with his drive, determination, and attitude. On film & television sets, commercial shoots, at comic-cons & personal appearances, to his own YouTube videos, he was there to show everyone what he was capable of doing. Even though his stature was small and his parents often wondered if he’d be able to reach up and open doors on his own in his life, he went on to open more doors for himself and others than anyone could have imagined. He also touched more peoples hearts than he will ever know.

Verne was also a fighter when it came to his own battles. Over the years he’s struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately, this time was too much. During this recent time of adversity, he was baptized while surrounded by his family. The family appreciates that they have this time to grieve privately.

“Depression and Suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another. And always know, it’s never too late to reach out to someone for help.”

In lieu of flowers, please feel free to make a donation in Verne’s name to either of his two favorite charities; The Starkey Hearing Foundation
https://www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org/
Best=Buddies: https://www.bestbuddies.org 

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Article Courtesy of YAHOO NEWS Carla Herreria 2 hours 24 minutes ago

Verne Troyer was 49 years old, who rose to fame after playing Mini-Me in the blockbuster “Austin Powers” films, died on Saturday, the actor’s representatives confirmed to HuffPost.

 

“Verne was an extremely caring individual,” an official statement shared with HuffPost read. “He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh. Anybody in need, he would help to any extent possible.”

 

Troyer’s representatives did not disclose a cause of death but said that that the actor “was a fighter when it came to his own battles. “over the years he’s struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much,” the statement read.

 

“Depression and Suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another. And always know, it’s never too late to reach out to someone for help.”

 

Troyer was born with a form of dwarfism in Centreville, Michigan. He, his older brother and younger sister grew up in an Amish community, although his parents had left the religion when he was young.

“My parents taught me to be optimistic and independent,” Verne said in a 2015 interview with the Guardian. They made me feel that I could do anything I set my mind to, which has really helped me,” he added. “They didn’t make allowances for me because of my height.”


Troyer said his parents were
 his role models“They never treated me any different than my other average sized siblings,” he wrote. “I used to have to carry wood, feed the cows and pigs and farm animals” …

“Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honor of working with him,” his “Austin Powers” co-star Mike Myers said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed.”

In recent years, the actor had launched his own YouTube series where he shared his recipes, interviewed people, reviewed products and answered questions from fans.

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My thoughts as I close this Tribute to a little-statured man who had a very BIG HEART… depression, even by itself a battle some of us just don’t win. If you or someone you know or care about is battling from depression or any Mental Health issues, please reach out to them and get help. There now are many places we have to get loved ones and friends help and there is NO SHAME in doing so.

Suicide National Hotline & Mental Health Help: 

Nami National Alliance on Mental Illness

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-Condition/What-to-Do-In-a-Crisis

CALL THE NAMI HELPLINE

800-950-NAM

Iinfo@nami.org

M-F, 10 AM – 6 PM ET

FIND HELP IN A CRISIS OR TEXT “NAMI” TO 741741

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

“Fear Traps Me Into Being WHO I Am Not Many Times”…Guest Article by “World Of Psychology” Shares It Well.

“Fear Traps Me Into Being WHO I Am Not Many Times”…Guest Article by “World Of Psychology” Shares It Well.

I told myself at midnight new years’ eve, I was going to write, share, and be more open and transparent about my mental health issues this year. So when I came upon this article and gave it a read, I knew I had to share it today as many of us who maintain recovery from addictions are dually diagnosed with mental health challenges like myself. And those who don’t understand what it is like to battle agoraphobia along with depression and a few other disorders I have been working through, many seem to cling to “The Stigma” around all of the ABOVE.

Now, yes, I do understand that those who have not been touched by mental or emotional problems or disorders or know or have a family or friend who does, not all people are sorry to ‘ignorant’ about these topics. However, there some who don’t think mental health problems, like Tom Cruise, even exist. HA!

I’m here to say they do and about 42.5 million American adults (or 18.2 percent of the total adult population in the United States) suffers from some mental illness, enduring conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and more.

That is 1 in every 5 people suffer in just the United States alone. So, sorry Tom Cruise and L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology, YOUR WRONG. Here is an article that helps us have insights on how paralyzing “FEAR” can make us feel TRAPPED…By 

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How Fear Traps You into Being Someone You Are Not…

“The fear response is triggered when facing danger.”

The “danger” could be not measuring up to a desired or imposed standard, not getting done what you set out to do, not fulfilling expectations (your own or someone else’s), being seen as less than perfect or failing at something. There is also the “danger” of not fitting in and being noticeably different from the norm. All these fears and anxieties stem from questioning your ability to cope with life’s challenges and people’s responses to your actions.

External messages from the media and authorities are also powerful triggers of anxiety and fear. Believing the world to be a dangerous place creates a pervading sense of powerlessness that undermines your personal power and inner strength in many different ways. 

  • Fear manipulates you into forgetting how strong and competent you really are.

  • Fear negates your resilience. Feelings of helplessness trick you into believing that you do not have what it takes to tolerate hardship and bounce back from adversity.

  • Fear narrows your focus to mainly notice problems, damage, hurt or harm.

  • Fear impairs realistic thinking so the scale and likelihood of potential danger are often overestimated. Unless you live in a war zone, a dangerous neighborhood, an abusive relationship or have just experienced a significant natural disaster, most commonly assumed dangers are less prevalent or disastrous than imagined.

  • Avoidance is one of the responses to fear. Self-imposed restrictions on where you go or what you do limit your options and shrink your world.

  • Fear can sabotage creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone.

  • Fear prevents you from living in the here and now. Worrying what might happen and anticipating dangers and calamities in the future removes your attention from the present, the only place where you can function to the best of your ability. Dwelling on past events instead of focusing on the present also clouds your perception to the realities and opportunities of the now.

  • Survival emotions such as anger (fight); worry, panic and anxiety (flight); depression and hopelessness (freeze) limit your emotional expression and narrow your emotional range. Negative feelings drag you down and deplete vital life force while positive emotions such as trust in yourself, courage and hope strengthen and nurture you.

  • Fear cuts you off from the flow of life and universal benevolence you could tap into.

  • Destabilized by fear you lose your firm grounding in your own power. This diminishes your ability to recognize potential agendas by external sources of fear. As a consequence, you become an easier target for manipulation and abuse.

Fear is the result of a physical mechanism involving the adrenals and various other body systems. In cases of real and acute danger, this is useful as it alerts you to the need for action.

However, the same kind of responses are also triggered by imagined danger. With the lines between real and imagined danger often blurred in modern life, fear in all its forms can become chronic. Like with ‘Agoraphobia’ or other panic type disorders.

“Tricking you into believing that you are weak and without inner resources or that a catastrophe is imminent, fear and its allies are some of the most damaging emotions to allow into your life. You have a choice what you do with your fear: stay in its thrall or make the decision not to be pulled into it and question it is associated — and usually automatic — thoughts.”

 
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There are many different ways to defuse fears. All of them involve feeling it without trying to suppress the feeling or run away from it. Like other emotions, fear follows a bell curve where it rises, peaks and eventually subsides if you stay with it as a witness rather than disappearing into it. When you have weathered the emotional storm and feel calmer, take a good look at your thoughts and the reality of the situation.

Examine your triggers and the beliefs associated with them. What is their origin, do they reflect the truth? What is your fear about? How you see yourself, how other people might think of you, what you are told about the world? What keeps you in a state of fear?

Depending on your situation, devise your own path to freedom. You may decide on “gradual exposure”, i.e. approaching a feared situation not at once but in several small increments over a number of days or weeks.

You could also draw a “fear ladder” with your “little” fears at the bottom rungs and the “big” ones on top. Begin addressing the less difficult ones and gradually work your way up. It will show you that you do not have to give in to fear and let it define your life and how you see yourself.

Enlist help and support if you need it, but ultimately no one can do this work for you. Remember, you are much stronger and more resilient than fear will allow you to know.

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About Christiana Star

Christiana is a counseling psychologist and writer with a strong focus on self-help, personal growth, and empowerment. Combining professional experience with a spiritual outlook on life, her work offers new perspectives, insights, practical tips and easy strategies that can be applied straightaway. When she is not writing, Christiana can be found in nature: tending her fruit and vegetable garden with various degrees of success or exploring Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches with her very quirky little dog.

Download the free ebook “10 Keys for Moving Forward when Life Has Changed”, receive the monthly newsletter or access her weekly blog at www.christianastar.com.


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This part of her article HIT ME, “Fear can sabotage creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone.”

That is me! I feel safe in my places within my “Comfort Zone.” It truly is debilitating and then I get depressed as it feels like looking out a window as LIFE is passing by WITHOUT ME In It…

So, what role does fear play in your life? What have you found useful in overcoming fears? If you are struggling, what is your difficulty?  Please share your feelings and comments with me.  Maybe together we can help one another…


Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

A Special “Uplifting” For Those Like Me and Many Who Struggle With Depression By My Dear Friend Author, Tony Roberts of “Delight In Disorder”…

How Does God Feel About Mental Illness?

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last week, Tony began a subscriber survey that has thus far proven very fruitful. He learned more about who his readers are and what they are looking for when they visit Delight In Disorder… 

“Some of the most revealing content came from the comments provided in the “other” category. When asked what sort of posts would be most helpful, one reader replied: ”

“… how God feels about mental illness and why He allows it. I know cancer patients, for example, feel the same way, but you won’t hear anyone abandoning them. Instead they receive love, prayers, and casseroles. Living alone with a debilitating illness is so hard.”

This thoughtful response raises many profound questions. I want to carefully and prayerfully respond. Yet, please understand that I am not an expert theologian or a mental health professional. Instead, I am a believer in Christ who has lived with a mental illness for over 30 years. This doesn’t give me all the answers but helps me better understand the questions.

How does God feel about mental illness? Why does He allow it?

I feel much more confident answering the former question than the latter. The depth of God’s love for us surpasses any love we could have for each other. When we look to Jesus Christ and his feelings for us, God’s emotions are revealed. Jesus became furious at religious leaders who were excluding “imperfect” (sinners) from full participation in worship. Jesus went to outer regions to reach out to those dismissed as “demon possessed” and freed them from the captivity that caused them to be separated from the faith community. Like the Samaritan lifting the bleeding man out of the ditch and caring for him, Jesus cares for those who are hurting, both physically and emotionally.

So, why? I want to approach this more as a prayer than an accusation. Like when the prophets called on God, “How long, Lord. Will you forget me forever?” In my prayer life, I have come to understand God’s mysterious role in human suffering as something beyond my ability to understand, yet something I can fully trust. I believe God has a plan for me much greater than my mental illness in this life. As the Apostle Paul says, “for this slight momentary affliction is not worth comparing to the greater glory to come.” ( 2 Corinthians 4.17). Like a woman in the midst of agonizing labor, it is next to impossible to believe this in the moment, but when her child is born…. AMAZING!

Why don’t people respond to mental illness with love, prayers, and casseroles?

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I hear this from many both within the church and beyond. Mental illness can be a life-threatening illness, given the number of deaths by suicide. It is, however, viewed by many as an annoying condition that could be overcome with self-willed faith, maybe a few extra push-ups, and good old-fashioned elbow grease. I have heard people comment that they grow weary of caring for family members and friends with chronic mental illness. It never goes away.

It doesn’t have to be this way. When I was first diagnosed, I was serving as a pastor of a small congregation in Northeast PA. I spent over six weeks in the hospital, while my wife cared for our children at home, ages 3 & 1. The church rallied to provide child care, meals, rides. It was wonderful. I was given leave for recovery time and welcomed back when I was ready. Churches can be havens of refuge, but too often we are not.

Living alone with a debilitating illness is so hard.

Amen! Damn, right it is! And, one of the debilitating factors is that our mental illness coerces us to do the very things that do us the most harm and fail to do the things that could most help. It does us no good to lie in bed for hours on end, but there are days the thought of getting up seems to us like running a 3-minute mile. It would be helpful to go out and spend some time with other people, but there are days where the fear of doing something inappropriate is just too strong.

This past year, for various reasons, I tried to live alone in an attic apartment in an unfamiliar city. On Saturdays, I visited my children. Sundays I went to church. The rest of the week I was on my own. I was not able to make new friends. I tried support groups, meet-ups, readings, dating sites. People scared me or I scared them. In this climate, I had 7 episodes that required intervention. In just 18 months.

Thanks be to God and the loving support of my family, I now have an apartment in my sister’s basement. It provides me a wonderful living space of my own yet I am not alone.

I know such spaces are hard to come by for persons with mental illness.

I pray you find yours.

Tony R.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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.

Tony Roberts, Author
Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission is on Amazon & Amazon Kindle


Guest Article By PsychCentral That Hits Home For Me…

Guest Article By PsychCentral That Hits Home For Me…

Helping Others Can Heal the Brain.
By World of Psychology & By

The greatest show in Las Vegas history must be the recent outpouring of the best of humanity. The courage shown by professional rescuers and regular citizens reaching out to help, and even risking their lives to do so, leaves many of us wondering what would we do and what can we do to help others.

Making a positive difference in someone’s life doesn’t take a life-threatening effort. Simple kindnesses can go a long way for someone struggling. I was lucky enough to receive such help this summer.

I blew out my ankle. Really blew it out. As I enjoyed a walk with my husband, on slightly uneven pavement my foot slid off the side of my two-inch platform sandal. Three bones broke and the ankle dislocated.

A 30-something couple immediately rushed to help as I sat crying and cursing on the ground, ankle deformed. The woman shielded me with her bike from any traffic in the alley close to where I crumpled. Her husband ran to get ice. My husband ran to get the car several blocks away.

This caring couple stayed with me while he was gone. I asked the woman if she was in the medical field, as she seemed so calm talking with me in my panicked state. She was not. The iceman cometh and brought immediate relief. They reassuringly talked with me about the time a car hit him and noted how he was OK now.

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Another young stranger warmly put his hand on my back, asking if there was anything he could do. I thanked him but declined. His smile and thoughtfulness remain etched in my mind, even though he may have thought he did nothing of importance. But as a psychotherapist, I know neuroscience tells us that looking into someone’s eyes in an attuned way or a gentle touch from a safe person actually helps regulate and calm the nervous system.

My husband arrived and he and the Iceman helped me up from the concrete to hop to the car. In the ER doctors expertly popped my ankle back into place. A subsequent surgery left me cocooning at home for seven weeks unable to bear weight on the foot.

I cannot thank those strangers enough for their concern. I don’t know how I could have made it alone sitting on the curb, ankle protruding waiting for my husband to fetch the car. I also don’t know what I would have done had I not had my loving husband to care for me in the moment and ensuing months of recovery.

When we have a traumatic event, something positive in that experience, such as the demonstrated concern of another human being, aids healing. The positive helps eclipse the negative. When I think back to that scary, life-changing fall, I also think of the kindness shown and feel gratitude. How many of us walk around shielded, not reaching out to others due to whatever fears or hesitancies hold us back?

Helping My Partner Understand Bipolar Disorder

Yet our brains are wired for connection. Having someone help us at a time of distress with as little as a kind word or caring facial expression, helps our brains heal from trauma. Our brains seek safety and we neurologically change for the better in its presence. When I watched Las Vegas video, I knew that although the helpers couldn’t cure the trauma, they were definitely aiding the healing.

The ultimate calming presence, Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers fame said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” How important this lesson is as we watch the aftermath of mass shootings, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, and hate rallies. I know the helpers in these scenes are providing greatly needed brain healing mental health services, whether they know it or not.

In these days of daily distressing news, we can ask ourselves how can we each set an intention to help others every day even in small ways. Such acts of kindness toward others have been clinically shown to improve one’s own level of happiness and I believe help our whole world.

What better time than now for such intentions?

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