Tag Archives: Mental Illness

Showing My Scars

This Saturday I’ll be speaking at a conference called Shattering Stigma with StoriesI attended this event last year and experienced the powerful and informative stories of real people who struggle with mental illnesses, including anorexia, depression, and bipolar disorder. One of my writing friends, Leanne Sype, was one of the speakers. When we later met for coffee, I mentioned that I had a strong desire to tell my story and that I was drawn to this ministry. So she arranged for me to meet with the woman who created the Shattering Stigma ministry at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church.

Well, almost a year later I’d all but forgotten about this ministry, thinking they were never going to ask me to speak at their conference. That’s when Leanne contacted me to ask if I would be on a trauma panel. It didn’t take much thought to know the answer was yes.

So, the conference is this Saturday. Oh wait, I said that already. Can you tell I’m excited?

It seems weird to be excited about telling my story of having endured trauma and struggled with symptoms of PTSD and depression as a result. But I am excited because I know that God will use my story, just as He used the stories of the speakers last year, to shine a light on the truth about people with mental illnesses. That truth is that they—we—are loved by God. He desires to step into our circumstances and bring hope and healing. He desires for us to be a part of His Church and He expects His Church to minister to us in the midst of our struggles and pain.

He expects us to show the scars of the wounds He has healed so that others may find healing, too.



Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life

Why This Pain?

Why would God allow this pain?
Sometimes I wonder, sometimes I doubt
What is this suffering all about?
What could there possibly be to gain?

Oh the trauma that drove me insane
Mired in darkness, struggling to get out
Why would God allow this pain?
Sometimes I wonder, sometimes I doubt

Though I know there’ll soon be rain
Sometimes at God I want to shout
Wallowing in a spiritual drought
Identifying with His Son who was slain
Why would God allow this pain?


The Meeting the Bar lesson at dVerse Poets Pub today is the Rondel. Check out the other wonderful Rondel’s linked from the lesson.

I actually started writing this poem last night, as part of my decision to write 40 poems for Lent, and it wasn’t quite a Rondel. I made some modifications and had to remove a few lines, although I kept them on the back burner for one of the other 40 poems.


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Poetry

Suicide Is Not Selfish

Today, Sept. 10,  is World Suicide Prevention Day. I decided to share just a little post from my perspective.

Often we hear it said that those who commit suicide are selfish because they hurt the people they leave behind. But if you’ve ever had suicidal thoughts or tried to commit suicide, you know that is not the case. (If you never have, it is very difficult to understand.)

I’ve only been truly suicidal once, but my thoughts were far from selfish. At the time, my actual thought was that my husband and son would be better off without me because I was so depressed and broken that I was no good to them.

Thoughts of suicide often follow a long pattern of trying to get well with little or no success. It stems from hopelessness and a sense of feeling like you are a burden to those around you. To consider suicide is to desire to unburden others.

Unfortunately, the thought processes of a person who is suicidal are just simply wrong. I know mine were. I can’t imagine where my husband and son (who was 1 ½ then and is 20 now) would be if I had gone through with it. They certainly would not be better off. That thought was a lie.

There is always hope, even when things seem the most hopeless. What a person struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts needs is love and hope. They need understanding and reassurance that the rest of us would not be better off if they were gone. They need to know we are there for them and that they matter to someone.

They need to know that God loves them and wants what is best for them, and that “This too shall pass.” But in the meantime, we are there to be a shoulder to cry on and a heart to confide in.

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Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life

Impossible Madness

Why does it feel like I’ve lost you
when you aren’t even dead?

Why am I the only one
who wants to make amends?

Why does it have to be so hard
after all these years?

Maybe it’s the tears
mine and yours, and theirs,
that makes breathing and living
loving and forgiving so impossible

I guess sometimes families and madness
can’t survive one another

Because that’s what you are, you know,
mad, or crazy, or mentally ill
whatever you want to call it

It’s torn us apart
because you don’t understand
why they can’t begin to comprehend
what’s going on inside your head

It’s torn us—you and me—apart
because you’ve convinced yourself
that I don’t at all understand
what’s going on inside your head

You forget I’ve been there
that those crazy, mad thoughts
have been inside my head, too

But then you’ve forgotten a lot of things
all the times I was there for you
just to listen
and the times you were there for me

My greatest desire is to forgive
and to be forgiven
to live and laugh and love again
to mend what has been torn asunder
to heal the thoughts inside your head

But right now, in this moment
it feels like you might as well be dead
at least that would be easier to live with


Filed under Family, Life, Poetry

Broken Heart of Love – A Poem

Broken Heart of Love

This searing pain in my heart
I wish it would go away
I pray for it to leave me
But it is love
I would be hollow without it

I watch you drowning
in a sea of turmoil and fear
I reach out my hand,
the one connected to my broken heart
“It’s okay, the sailing’s fine,” you say

I walk away, thinking perhaps
My eyes deceive me and you are not
drowning, or else why
would you say otherwise?
I know you would not lie

But still this pain
deep down inside my aching heart
reminds me
that you are not fine,
the sea is not calm

The storm rages
but I cannot rescue you
You cannot see my hand
reaching through the darkness
beckoning you to dry land


Filed under Faith, Family, Life, Poetry

I don’t usually reblog posts from other blogs, but this one really touched me today. Bryan Lowe has written a great many encouraging and helpful posts, this is but one. I always appreciate his perspective as one who struggles himself with bipolar disorder and some anxiety issues as well. He shares today from what he knows of another great writer who shared from what he knew of the spiritual and emotional battle many face.

Broken Believers

martin_luther2 (1)Martin’s Depression

The hymn A Mighty FortressIs Our God gloriously celebrates God’s power. It was penned by the great 16th-century reformer Martin Luther, who believed God’s power could help believers overcome great difficulties — even depression. Given his pastoral heart, he sought to bring spiritual counsel to struggling souls. His compassion for those souls shines in numerous places, including his sermons, lectures, Bible commentaries and ‘table talks’. In addition, he devoted many letters to counseling troubled folk.

Luther’s writings reveal his knowledge of various emotional difficulties. For example, in August 1536 he interceded for a woman named Mrs. Kreuzbinder, whom he deemed insane. He described her as being “accustomed to rage” and sometimes angrily chasing her neighbor with a spear.

In addition, Luther’s wife, Kate, struggled with pervasive and persistent worry indicative of generalized anxiety disorder. Prince Joachim of Anhalt, to whom Luther often wrote, exhibited signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder

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Filed under Blogging, Faith, Jesus, Life, Music

A Ministry for Broken Believers

Recently I was invited to be a contributing author on another blog called Broken Believers. I was quite honored when Pastor Bryan Lowe, the owner of this blog, asked me to contribute posts to what is already a wonderful blog.

I thought I’d use my space today to tell you a little bit about Broken Believers and Pr. Bryan, and encourage you to check out his wonderful blog. Pr. Bryan lives in Alaska with his wife. He calls himself a rascal, which I think may be a pretty good description. Himself a person struggling with bipolar disorder, he ministers to the mentally ill in a way that those who have never known mental illness never could. God is using Pr. Bryan in a mighty way, and he seems to be just fine with that.

On Broken Believers you will find information about mental illness, but also about Christianity in general, what C.S. Lewis calls “mere Christianity.” Pr. Bryan knows what it is to be lost and in need of Christ, and he has a wonderful way of showing others the hope that he has found in his Savior.

I was first drawn to Pr. Bryan’s website because of my own struggles with depression, a mental illness some might call the “common cold” of mental illnesses. But I’ve learned so much about the brokenness of all humanity through his writing. We are all broken in some way or another, but Christ is there to bind up our wounds.

One of my favorite pages on Broken Believers is a story called “Is There No Wound?” It is a wonderful illustration of what God calls us to do with our brokenness, and that is to minister to others. Pr. Bryan lives out this story through his blog.


Filed under Blogging, Faith, Jesus, Life, postaday2011

Fighting for Joy – A Book Review

A couple of months ago my fellow blogger Pr. Bryan Lowe over at Broken Believers posted a book review of “When the Darkness Will Not Lift” by John Piper. I commented on his post that it looked like a great book and that I should add it to my already long reading list. His reply was, “Not getting it is NOT an option.” I heeded his directive and bought it that same day from Amazon.com. I am so glad I did because he was right. Not reading this book is not an option for anyone who has struggled with depression or knows someone who has or is.

Piper’s short work (only 79 pages) was written as a single chapter in a larger book, but then was also published separately. I may have to get the larger book, but for now I want to share with you a snippet of the wisdom I found in this book.

First and foremost, Piper recognizes that he cannot possibly plumb the depths of his subject – fighting for joy in Christ when depression will not go away – and that the causes and cures of depression are as varied as the people who suffer with it. His work is a starting point, and a good one at that.

What I liked best about this book is that in the Introduction Piper lays a groundwork in the Christian faith that I believe is easily forgotten in the mind of someone with depression (and is often not understood by Christians generally). He explains the difference between justification and sanctification, cautioning that the two not be confused or combined because keeping them separate is the foundation of “fighting for joy like a justified sinner.” (Piper, pg. 14).

He explains justification in this way:

The biblical truth of justification says that my rescue from sin and God’s wrath is first a legal rescue, and only then a moral one. First, I am legally absolved of guilt and credited with a righteousness that I don’t have. That is, I am declared righteous in the courtroom of heaven, where God sits as judge, and where I, without justification, would stand condemned by his law. That’s what the word “justify” means: not make just, but declare just. (Piper, pg.14-15).

Justification happens the moment we believe Jesus died for our sins and trust in Him as our Lord and Savior. Nothing we do thereafter changes our legal status in heaven.

Sanctification, on the other hand, takes much longer, sometimes a lifetime. It is the process by which the Holy Spirit, dwelling in the heart of the believer, slowly but surely changes who we are to be more like Christ. We often “lament,” Piper says, that the change occurs so slowly and we have failed in being perfect once again.

Piper further explains the difference between justification and sanctification:

Both justification and sanctification are gifts from God. Both are bought by the blood of Christ. They are inseparable, but different. Both are by faith alone. Justification is by faith alone because only faith receives the declaration that we, the ungodly, are counted righteous. Sanctification is by faith alone because only faith receives the power to bear the fruit of love. (Piper, pg. 18).

In the first chapter proper, Piper clearly stresses that depression can often have a medical cause. Sometimes other chronic illness or pain can lead to depression. The body, mind, and soul are all interconnected. He states that those who fight for joy but for whom the darkness does not lift can nonetheless truly be Christians. This is an important chapter to read for Christians who are unfamiliar with depression and might be tempted to tell a depressed person that if they truly had faith they could snap out of their depression. Often it is just not that easy.

If all you did was read the introduction to Piper’s book, you would be blessed. If you read on through chapter 1, you’d be doubly blessed. But he goes on to share so much more with so few words. In the interest of space, I won’t go into depth on any of the points in the rest of the book. Piper shares some tips to help someone struggling with spiritual or physical depression to fight for the joy of Christ, and they are all relevant at one time or another in the life of both Christians and non-Christians. He relates his points with some great stories, too.

After reading this book, I agree wholeheartedly with Pr. Lowe: “Not getting it is not an option.” It’s only $7.99 on Amazon.com and well worth the money and the time it takes to read it.


Filed under Book Review, Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, postaday2011