A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

Over the last 30 years, I’ve spent untold hours doing pastoral counseling with what seems to be a “gazillion” or more individuals, couples and families. I’ve heard just about everything and seen even more than I’ve heard. I’ve seen what seems to be manageable problems tear families apart. Broken relationships, wounded people, discouragement, and despair seem all too familiar. But, interestingly enough there have been times when I have watched families, couples and individuals actually pull together and become stronger because of overwhelming circumstances that I was sure that no one could go through and “survive”. They not only survived, but they thrived!

I’ve asked myself what it is that those who thrive in spite of horrible life altering circumstances have that those who seem done in by even less severe circumstance do not have? I have come to the conclusion that there are some things that the “thrivers” have in common. And there seems to be one major thing that they all have in common for not just surviving but thriving in spite of their circumstances. What is that one thing? They help others in spite of their circumstances. They regularly and consistently give and help other people in spite of their pain.

Helping and giving to others gives temporary relief to one’s overwhelming circumstances. It has the power to cause a shift in one’s perception of their problems. Time and time again I have seen people going through tragic events in their lives step out of their pain to help someone else. By giving to others their focus changes. When you and I help others in spite of what is going on in our lives, it has the power to change everything. When I move the focus off of myself and onto someone else to give to them, if even for a brief moment, my personal pain is brought into focus.

It seems that when you and I lose our perspective due to our circumstances the circumstances feel even worse. When we focus only on ourselves and how horrible our circumstances might be we allow the circumstances to hold even more power and pain in our lives.

Giving and helping others in spite of what we might be going through is the release valve from the pressures of our circumstances. Just like a teapot the pressure builds in our lives when the circumstances are difficult. There has to be a release of the build up of the environmental pressure, or it leads to potential disaster.

A mental health disorder/illness can be very challenging. It can cause difficult circumstances within one’s life. It can cause you and me to become very self-focused. Which at times is necessary. But, if all we do is focus on ourselves, then bipolar disorder has the potential to hold too much power in our lives. You know what I mean?

How about you? Are you only focused on you and your circumstances? If so, have you thought about helping someone else? Or doing something for someone else? Have you found helping others to be good for you?

Check out Brad’s weekly podcast at www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com 

 

Blessed Are the Unsatisfied, a New Book by Author, Amy Simpson

Blessed Are the Unsatisfied, a New Book by Author, Amy Simpson
Are you unsatisfied? If so, then you are blessed! In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health Pastor Brad interviews author, Amy Simpson regarding her new book entitled Blessed Are the Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World
“We know that our material comforts and temporal accomplishments are not enough to fully satisfy us. Momentary pleasures, whether of pure or darker motivations, are Amyfleeting at best. But Christians often hear the idea that following Jesus means that we should be living a life of full satisfaction. How many of us actually experience that kind of life? Amy Simpson wants to debunk this satisfaction myth in the church. After forty years of walking with Jesus, she writes, “I am deeply unsatisfied not only with my ability to reflect Jesus but also with the very quality of my intimacy with him. I strongly suspect that the abyss of my nature has not been entirely satisfied by Jesus.” Her’s is a freeing confession for us all. Simpson explains that our very unsatisfaction indicates a longing for God, and understanding those longings can bring us closer in relationship with him. And that is where true spiritual health and vitality reside. Read on to discover anew what it truly means to be satisfied in Christ.” from Amazon review

The book will be released in February but click here and you can order it now on Amazon.

Blessed are the Unsatisfied, A New Book by Author, Amy Simpson from Brad Hoefs on Vimeo.

 

SUPERFLUOUS ABUNDANCE

SUPERFLUOUS ABUNDANCE

Dr. Kutcher

This post is by Dr. Stan Kutcher, Chair in Adolescent Mental Health and the Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Mental Health Policy and Training at Dalhousie University.   It is from the Trafaigar Castle School Blog Post dated Feb. 21, 2018

Fostering Community

Mental health does not equal happiness.  Those were not the words I expected to hear from Dr. Stan Kutcher, Chair in Adolescent Mental Health and the Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Mental Health Policy and Training at Dalhousie University.  Dr. Kutcher spent the day at Trafalgar Castle last week, working with a group of teachers and counselors from independent schools across Ontario, and then in the evening, speaking to our community.  His words and the directness of his delivery surprised me.  But as he continued to talk and share insight as someone working in the trenches with families, educators, and the health care system, his words began to make sense and resonate clearly.  The problems our children and teens are facing today, according to Kutcher, are particular to Western society.  In order to find solutions, we first need to understand how our parenting, our present-day beliefs, and our modern-day culture are impacting children’s mental health and overall well-being.  In other words, it’s less about taking a look at our children, and more about taking a look at ourselves.

At first glance, things are not looking good when it comes to child and adolescent mental health in Ontario.  Between 2006 and 2014[1], the rate of outpatient physician visits for mental health concerns grew by 25%.  Emergency room visits rose by 53%, and the rate of hospitalization for mental health and addiction issues increased by 56%.  Our schools, our community service providers, our emergency rooms, our hospitals – every part of the system is stretched and struggling to keep up with growing mental health needs.

Admittedly, there is no quick fix.  But according to Kutcher, simply improving our mental health literacy would go a long way to deescalating the panic and reducing some of the problem.  It’s not enough to have mental health awareness.  We also need to be literate in mental health, and that includes understanding four key components:  knowing how to achieve and maintain good mental health, understanding mental health disorders and the treatments that are available, reducing stigma, and teaching people how to access help when needed.

One of the biggest challenges we face is the misconception that positive feelings denote good mental health while negative feelings indicate a problem or disorder.  This strictly Western phenomenon, says Kutcher, is leaving parents (and by extension their children) susceptible to the idea that there’s something wrong with them if they’re sad, or disappointed, or upset.  Instead of teaching them that life is often hard, that negative emotions are a normal response to difficult situations, and that adversity breeds resilience, we have begun pathologizing typical experiences by too quickly throwing out labels.  “Instead of unhappy, disappointed, or discouraged, the word depression is used.  Instead of worried, concerned, or nervous, the word anxiety is used,” says Kutcher[2].   What children need is an opportunity to embrace life’s challenges and all the uncomfortable emotions that go along with them.  They need to learn that strategies are available to help them deal with problems independently, that they are capable of coping, and that it gets easier every time they pick themselves up and dust themselves off.  And most of all, according to Kutcher, they need to be allowed to deal with these difficulties with increasing independence.  READ MORE—>

An NFL Players Journey with Bipolar Disorder: Keith O’Neil

An NFL Players Journey with Bipolar Disorder: Keith O’Neil

Check out Keith O’Neil’s hope-filled keynote address from last Thursday’s Night of Inspiring Hope.  It’s a message about never giving up and one of God’s redemption in his life.

Keith was an NFL linebacker.  He was the captain of the Indiana Colts when they won the Super Bowl!

His message certainly will encourage you!  Click on the the picture below to watch the video or CLICK HERE.

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If you are interested in more information about Fresh Hope, go to http://www.FreshHope.us or email info@FreshHope.us or call 402.932.3089.

To donate to Fresh Hope go to http://freshhope.us/donate/

For a complete list of where Fresh Hope groups are presently meeting, go to www.FreshHope.us and click on “find a group.”  Or you may attain an online group of meetings of Fresh Hope by going to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com

If you are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group within your faith community, contact Julie at Julie@FreshHope.us 

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a production of Fresh Hope Ministries. 

Fresh Hope Ministries is a non-profit ministry.  

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10 Lies the Church Believes about Mental Illness

10 Lies the Church Believes about Mental Illness

by Katie Dale

One Sunday when I was 16, I wore a hat to church, resolute in my misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 11:6: “For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.”

Bipolar disorder had ravaged my young mind, and I clutched at another misinterpretation of Scripture: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). In the middle of the 500-person service I cried out during the pastor’s prayer: “Father, forgive me. I’m sorry.”

My parents held me tightly, quite embarrassed in the moment and apprehensive, not knowing what I’d say or do next. I remember speaking to the pastor afterward. Maybe I had asked my parents if I could apologize to him for my outburst, or perhaps my parents wanted me to give a sort of explanation. Either way, he forgave me, and we left it at that. But why didn’t anyone do anything? Couldn’t they see I was struggling with mania or even borderline insanity?

It’s been 13 years since my first hospitalization and five since the last. Both times, part of what sent me into the tailspin of mental illness were misunderstandings and false information. In our journey with this illness, my family has been misled by lies we were told, or truths withheld. These lies continue to mislead the church and keep people from properly viewing mental illness as what it is.

Lie #1: You’re just going through a rough time. Pray, give it to God, and give it time.

The reality is, if you are clinically depressed or you have bipolar disorder, it is not good to forego seeing a mental health professional. Therapists and psychiatrists are qualified experts on the care and keeping of your mind. If you are in a chemically imbalanced state of mind, chances are, no amount of praying or time is going to help, unless God is answering your prayers for a good psychiatrist or psychotherapist.

Lie #2: You’re simply in the middle of a spiritual battle. Just renounce and resist the devil, and he will flee.

You may be in the middle of a spiritual battle, but there’s more going on here, too. Don’t waste time renouncing Satan or anyone else, especially considering how vulnerable the psyche is in a mentally unstable state. Seek a medical professional’s help immediately. You can seek spiritual support, and seek God through prayer, and at the same time receive professional health care.

Lie #3: You’re depressed? Pray it out.

            Depression, if clinical, means your brain does not have the means to get out of the slump it’s in. If you’re relying on just praying it out, you’re fighting an uphill battle. Though prayer has been shown to alleviate symptoms, being in a clinically depressive state is more than just a prayer away from wellness.

Lie #4: There’s nowhere in the Bible the Lord addresses mental illness.

While the term “mental illness” isn’t in the Bible, King David was very familiar with the reality of depression and perhaps even mania. Reading the Psalms, we see an outcry of emotions from this man after God’s own heart. Elijah was depressed to the point of experiencing suicidal ideations (1 Kings 19). Instead of condemning him, God cared for him and sent an angel to meet his physical needs. These are only two examples of the many men and women in the Bible who suffered in deep depression or from psychotic troubles, PTSD, and other mental health issues.

Lie #5: You can be healed…if you have enough faith.

Oh, if we could just move that mountain on our own, with the faith inside us. But God is sovereign, and that sovereignty means our faith to be made well is not a cure-all. God may heal you miraculously, but most often he does not. Remember, medication is a gracious gift from God to apply to the infirmities of the mind, in order to bring about a different kind of healing.

Lie #6: Jesus healed everyone.

What about in his own hometown of Nazareth? Nope. They couldn’t and wouldn’t let him with the doubts they held, because they presumed to know who Jesus was already. And even those who believed were not always healed. Jesus left many behind as he moved on to minister to the next town or meet the next set of plans the Father had for him (see Matthew 8:18).

Lie #7: You’re choosing to stay depressed—choose to be happy.

If everyone could will it to be, they would be happy. This is especially true for those in depression. Just like having enough faith, “willing” yourself to be happy is never an option in depression. The mind can be responsive to conditioning and cognitive behavioral therapy, and it can adjust in time. Medications can help with that therapy, but to just choose to be happy in clinical depression is like choosing to be a marathon runner when you’ve never even run a 5K.

Lie #8: You’re sinning somewhere—confess your sins and be healed.

I’ve seen this one before, believing that with enough faith, and if I could only get right with God, He would heal me. God chooses not to heal most people who have chronic illness—although he does enable us to discover medications that can help us manage and live well with these conditions. The Bible makes clear that illness does not primarily function as punishment for individual and specific sin; it’s an outcome of original sin and a backdrop for God’s grace (see Jesus’ explanation in John 9, where He healed a man who was born blind). It’s also clear that no one who receives God’s healing actually deserves or earns it.

Lie #9: Your behaviors are sinful—you should be ashamed. Repent!

Sometimes the behaviors that come from mental illness are sinful. We have no reason to call out people with mental illness as more sinful than other people; they’re not. The outright wrong acts and behaviors one commits while mentally unstable are not necessarily expressing a person’s intentions but are more like a knee-jerk reaction because people with mental illness often experience poor impulse control and act on impulses that other people are able to resist or keep hidden. They may also misinterpret their surroundings and unknowingly behave in ways that are inappropriate. That does not make them any more sinful than other people, since sin really resides in our hearts rather than simply in our actions. Repentance may be required, but not in greater supply than for anyone else.

Lie #10: Psychiatric drugs are of the devil.

Psychiatric drugs are no more evil than any of the other medications we have developed to prolong life, improve quality of life, and help people live to their potential. While the misuse or neglect of psychiatric drugs can be dangerous, the proper diligent monitoring and application of such tools are invaluable to aiding the healing process of the mind. Healing, care, and restoration are part of God’s work, not acts of evil.

Katie Dale is a 30-year-old USAF officer’s wife, writer, mental health care advocate, and artist. She is planning on publishing her memoir soon, and in her free time she enjoys katie dalerunning, drawing, and taking cat naps with her cat, Anna. See more at her blog on bipolar disorder, https://bipolarbrave.com.

 

A Pastor’s Journey​ with Bipolar Disorder: Pastor Tony Roberts

A Pastor’s Journey​ with Bipolar Disorder: Pastor Tony Roberts

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Pastor Brad interviews Pastor Tony Roberts.

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

Tony 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, he wound up at the seminary and became a pastor. It was then that symptoms of depression and mania culminated in a psychotic episode that became pivotal in his life, for better and for worse.

After graduating from Hanover, Tony obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. While there, he 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.  Tony Roberts 2

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

Tony now live in Columbus, Indiana, with supportive family and faithful friends who keep me honest and encourage me to be who God created him to be. Tony’s greatest earthly delights are my four children and two grandchildren, with one more on the way. “The soul is healed by being with children.” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

To listen to the podcast click here or click on the podcast icon below:

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After listening to this podcast, we encourage you to email us at info@FreshHope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.

If you are listening to this podcast on iTunes, we encourage you to leave a comment regarding the podcast. Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site:  www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

Pastor Brad Hoefs, the host of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, is the founder of Fresh Hope Ministries, a network of Christian mental health support groups for those who have a diagnosis and their loved ones. In other words, Fresh Hope is a Christian mental health support group.

Brad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. He is a weekly blogger for www.bphope.com (Bipolar Magazine). He is also a certified peer specialist and has been doing pastoral counseling since 1985. Brad is also the author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, which is available on Amazon or at http://www.FreshHopeBook.com

If you are interested in more information about Fresh Hope, go to http://www.FreshHope.us or email info@FreshHope.us or call 402.932.3089.

To donate to Fresh Hope go to http://freshhope.us/donate/

For a complete list of where Fresh Hope groups are presently meeting, go to www.FreshHope.us and click on “find a group.”  Or you may attain an online group of meetings of Fresh Hope by going to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com

If you are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group within your faith community, contact Julie at Julie@FreshHope.us 

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a production of Fresh Hope Ministries. 

Fresh Hope Ministries is a non-profit ministry.  

The copyrights of this program belong to Fresh Hope Ministries and may not be duplicated without written permission. 

All of the podcasts of Fresh Hope Today, as well as numerous other videos, are all available on our YouTube channel: Fresh Hope Network

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is on Facebook at  www.Facebook.com/FreshHopeforMentalHealth

FREE Webinar “What I Wish My Pastor Knew About Mental Health”

FREE Webinar “What I Wish My Pastor Knew About Mental Health”

We are offering a FREE webinar for ministry leaders entitled What I Wish My Pastor Knew About Mental Health. It will be hosted by best selling author and speaker, Amy Simpson.  

Amy will be joined by three other panelists:

  • Brandon Appelhans, Founder and Executive Director of My Quiet Cave in Denver; lives with bipolar disorder
  • Professor Faith McDonald, a writer in Pennsylvania; mother of a son with mental illness
  • Julie Baier, parent of a loved one who lives with mental illness; NAMI support group facilitator and on the board of NAMI Dupage in Illinois

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For more information about the webinar click here.