Pastor Brad Hoefs

Pastor | Author | Speaker | Hope Coach | Mental Health Advocate

“Hiding Place” By Julie Thomas

“Hiding Place” By Julie Thomas

By: Julie Thomas

Fear…It thrives in the dark. It engulfs you in the solace of the dark. And you are so afraid and uncertain of the changes that may ensue if you step out of the shadow and gloom of depression, that you nest there. “It’s safer here in the dark,” we think. “I’m familiar with my misery.” And “what if stepping out into the light causes more pain?” And then, before you know it, the safety of your existing, familiar, dark place; becomes your hiding place.

Your heart starts to tuck itself into that dark place. “The heart truly is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out” (Jeremiah 17:9, The Message).

It is possible, to make a ‘lie’ your hiding place. When you tell yourself or when fear tells you that it’s alright to isolate yourself from everyone and everything around you, and you start to crawl into the cave of depression; that becomes your hiding place. That place is your misery and yet, has become your familiarity. There lies the ‘lie.’ Your hiding place translates itself into a place of false refuge.

Now there is nothing wrong in having a hiding place or haven. We all have our hiding places. A place of solace and comfort. I love to cuddle up in a nook of my home with my favorite blanket, a piece of chocolate and a book. My comfort nook.

But sadly, the longevity of all hiding places is fleeting. All but one. One where the more you retreat into, the more you draw strength. A strength that will not cause you to withdraw, rather a strength that will cause you to step forward and take your stride towards freedom. A strength that comes when you rest your heart, in the heart of God.

The safety we feel in our hiding place of isolation or comfort is short-lived. There’s only so much you can do when you’re battling something that is trying to subdue you. But the safety we experience when we entrust our aching hearts to God, is irrevocable.

If I were to deconstruct the supporting pedestals for fear in my life, one of them was the fear of people. My mind turned into analytical laboratory, dissecting what people ‘may’ have thought of me, why they thought of me that way. Some people just down-right terrified me. And some weren’t shy in dishing out opinions and decrees that were more vexing to an already injured soul.

But, you know, as they say, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that” (Proverbs 29: 25, The Message). It’s true. It disabled me to the point of not wanting to see or interact with people. Routine visits to the grocery store were very unnerving. The lights, the sounds, the people, the store aisles…everything would seem like it was spinning before my eyes. The sound of my phone ringing startled me so much that I kept it on vibrate for years. Fear, all over me. The struggle seemed unbeatable and unbearable. Emotionally distraught, physically overwrought

God, calls out fear, Fear in its every guise. Fear is not something we need to carry. Unhealthy fear will nag your health miserably. It did mine. However, we do have the privilege of carrying a healthy fear. And that is the fear that stems from our adoration and reverence for our maker. When we embody the healthy, reverent fear of God, we will be enveloped by the love of God.

That can be our hiding place.

When you face trouble – let God be your hiding place
” You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble” (Psalm 32:7, ESV)

When people don’t understand your struggle and turn against you – God can still be your hiding place
” You shelter them in your presence far from accusing tongues” (Psalm 31:20, NLT)

Don’t let darkness and lies be your hiding place. That is fertile soil for your gloom to thrive further. Share your struggle. Share your story. You never know what treasures will bloom through the grim, choked, rugged path of your depression journey. Perhaps the truth of your journey will inspire hope and truth for another’s.

We Are Not All the Same: How Bipolar Disorder Varies from Person to Person

We Are Not All the Same: How Bipolar Disorder Varies from Person to Person

It’s essential to recognize living with bipolar disorder is a different experience for every person, with complexities such as co-occurring disorders.

Bipolar disorder differs from person to person.  The same medicines do not work for all of us, nor do we all even have the same type of bipolar.  The issues of mental health recovery are very complex.  So, the “things” that have worked for me might not work for you. This is why we need one another.  Corporately, we have answers for one another as we encourage each other and share what “works” for us as individuals living well in spite of our bipolar disorder.

When you and I connect with one another, we empower each other to live well in spite of any possible daily battles with our disorder.  Individually, no one of us has all the answers.  But, together we have solutions for one another. Corporately we have answers for one another as we encourage each other and share what “works” for us as individuals in living well in spite of our bipolar disorder.

It always concerns me when everyone is talking about mental illness/health and over-generalizing it, simplifying it to the point where everyone is lumped together.

By doing this, the public is not even beginning to understand the complexities and challenges for each individual dealing with their particular life’s situation and experiences, plus having a mental illness.

Some of us have only one diagnosis; bipolar disorder.  Others of us have the complexity of co-occurring disorders which some now are calling “complex” instead of co-occurring.  Just bipolar disorder in and of itself is enough to make life very complex at times. But, add on top of that a borderline personality disorder, and now it’s even more complicated.  As I watch friends of mine who have a personality disorder, lots of child trauma and bipolar disorder, I have come to know that their struggle for wellness is compounded many times over as they strive to live well in spite of several mental health issues.

Yet, I believe there are some general “living-well” principles that are true for most, if not all, of us. I’d like to share a few of them.  This list is not exhaustive, but some of the “principles” that I believe may be universal to us all:

  1. In order to achieve some level of wellness in our lives, you and I must be disciplined to do those things that move us toward wellness and keep us well. This is a choice.  As much as I hate to be disciplined, I choose to discipline myself daily to live well in spite of bipolar disorder.
  1. To live well, you and I need other people in our lives.  You and I are made for community.  Isolating will not help any of us to live well. If you have alienated all of the people in your life and are alone, then I strongly encourage you to seek out a certified peer support specialist and/or a peer-led mental health support group and/or group therapy led by a professional therapist. You need other people.
  1. To live well, you and I must be committed to some of the hardest work we will ever do in our lives. Living well in spite of bipolar plus any other issues you might face is But, it’s worth it.  It’s a difficult job that sometimes must be done moment by moment, day by day.
  2. To live well, you and I must have hope for our future, or we will give up. Hopelessness comes about when someone believes they have no future.  Choosing to believe that your life has purpose and meaning is key to overcoming hopelessness.  If you are a person of faith, then this is where your conviction becomes key.  Faith gives hope because it says that life, each life, has meaning and purpose.  Person of faith or not, your life is essential.  Your life has meaning. Out of the pain and hurt of your life, you have the power to empower others by just telling your story.  Telling your story to others who are also on this journey gives your life purpose.  That’s a future. And that gives hope.  Never give up. Each of us needs you. You hold some answers for some of us in our journey towards wellness.
  3. To live well, you and I have to choose to look for the golden nuggets in the “poo-piles” of life (Of course, there’s another way to spell “poo” but, I am going to stay with “poo”). There’s a lot of “poo” in life. No one gets through life without pain and brokenness to varying degrees. When you and I let go of our expectations of life, it allows us to find the “gold nuggets,” the silver linings, even in the most difficult of times. Part of doing this means that you and I must never lose our sense of humor about how goofy life and others can be!

So, I offer these five principles to wellness that I believe are some of the foundational principles of a life of wellness.  They are simple.  But, so very important and challenging to do at times.  I’d love to hear your input regarding them. And I would also like to hear from you about those things you have done and continue doing that help you live well in spite of having bipolar disorder.  It’s easy to do, just send in what you do or have done and we will add to the list!

In the meantime, keep looking for those golden nuggets!

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.


Positive Friends Impact Depression’s Effect by Rick Quall

Positive Friends Impact Depression’s Effect by Rick Quall

By Rick Qualls

Depression lies.

It convinces you, ‘“My friends don’t want to be around me.”  “I’ll just bring everyone else down.” “I am not worthy of having friends.” “Nobody likes me anymore.”

When you are depressed, making and keeping friends can be a challenge. But research shows that a group of positive friends makes a difference.

Professor Frances Griffiths, head of social science and systems in health at Warwick Medical School University of Warwick, said: “Depression is a major public health concern worldwide. But the good news is we’ve found that a healthy mood amongst friends is linked with a significantly reduced risk of developing and increased chance of recovering from depression.”

In Griffiths study teens who have five or more mentally positive friendships have half the likelihood of depression. Those with ten friends have twice the probability of recovering from their depression symptoms.

What can you look for in positive friendships?  Good friends offer space to be yourself. They don’t try to fix you or try to make you act a certain way. They listen and offer support not judgment.

The Bible offers practical advice on developing and maintaining good friendships.

Good friends take time for each other. Friendships don’t occur in a vacuum.  “Be devoted to one another…” Romans 12:16. Spending time together doing activities that you enjoy or working on projects together create opportunities to build relationships.

Healthy friends disregard social differences, and do not avoid each other when problems arise. “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16

Positive friends are not narcissistic. A narcissist can be attractive to be around at first. They are full of “self-confidence” and an energy that draws us when our self-confidence is at a low ebb.

But it is a negative signal if they manipulate you to prop up their ego. They talk about themselves and their accomplishments. They brag about knowing how to get special treatment. It is a warning if you begin to notice that all they talk about is themselves. You may notice they lack empathy or compassion or caring for others. A narcissist uses your depression against you and will make your situation worse.

Good friends develop trust over time and it becomes safe to share their deepest hearts, even the weakness and sin in our lives. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…James 5:16

Positive friends offer non-judgmental support and listening. Friends accept you when you are depressed, when you are grieving, or going through any kind of trials. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7

Solid relationships are based know how to put up with each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. Everyone has some peculiar behaviors. “…be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Eph 4:2

Friends build each other up and do not tear the other down. Words are powerful tools to help bolster one another. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph 4:29

Friendships don’t just happen. We must be intentional about developing these relationships. They take time, encouragement,  trust, and sharing with one another.

These healthy friendships can have positive impact on your depression.

Depression lies. There are people around you that care.


Check out Rick’s other posts and the posts of all of our Fresh Hope bloggers at: Fresh Hope Blog


Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.



Advice from a King in Managing Depression by Rick Qualls

Advice from a King in Managing Depression by Rick Qualls

You are not alone in your struggle with depression.

Even David, the shepherd boy who became the great king of Israel, struggled with depression.

In Psalm 37 David teaches us ways of managing depression.

David practices dealing with his enemies with the spiritual tool of meekness. Meekness is not weakness. Meekness is strength under control. Here are some ways we can use meekness to manage depression.

What was  David’s enemy? We are not sure, but our enemy is depression. You will encounter those who say unkind things. Meekness is not concerned about people who make hurtful remarks or who just don’t understand the path you travel through depression. Psalms 37:1 says, “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong.” Don’t be overly concerned with those who say cutting remarks. Many do so out of ignorance.

There is power in letting hurtful remarks go. Many don’t understand depression but think they do and give advice that is not helpful.

Meekness places trust in God. The season of depression will end. Meekness practices day by day the things we can do to manage our symptoms and trust God with the things we cannot. ”For like the grass they [your enemy depression] will soon wither, like green plants they will die away.” (Ps 37:2.)  There will be a time when this episode of depression will ease. Imagine what it will be like when it lifts.

Meekness fills the mind with positive words from God. God’s promises combat negative self-talk. The tapes of our mind have phrases we use over and over. Phrases like, ”I’m broken.” “There is no hope.” I don’t have anything to give.” infect our mind with hopelessness.

Instead, follow David’s advice in Psalms 37:5-6, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” Replay God’s promises in your mind to counter negative rumination.

Meekness seeks a quiet heart. It learns how to be still before the Lord, how to keep silence in his presence. “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Ps 37:7)

For me, the practice of contemplative prayer was a life-saver during a deep depressive episode. Learning to quiet my heart, I could feel God’s grace overwhelming me and relieving the dark moment. Being still before the Lord takes time to learn but it may be helpful for you.

With meekness don’t let your anger take control. Sometimes anger is a coping method, a natural result of depression. Some have defined depression as “anger turned inward.” Psalm 37:8 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it only leads to evil.”

And don’t miss the promise, “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”

May practicing meekness bring peace to you, my friend.



Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.


Shame-Based Families Versus Grace-Based Families

Shame-Based Families Versus Grace-Based Families

When raised in a shame-based family one can easily find life to be fraught with emotional landmines.  Relationships can be difficult because of shame-based thinking.  Shame can lock you into cognitive distortions that cause difficulties in marriage, parenting, work relationships and friendships.  Shame itself can make it way into your soul, warping how you see everything in life.  Grace, on the other hand, frees one to be in relationships with others and to enjoy those relationships even when there is conflict!

In this podcast, Pastor Brad compares the difference between a shame-based family and a grace-based family.

Simply put, this is a must listen to podcast for everyone!  Whether you have a mental health challenge or not, you will want to hear this podcast.  This program will be of benefit to you.

We encourage you to share this podcast with your friends via your social media connections. To listen to the podcast, click here or click on the icon below:

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After listening to this podcast, we encourage you to email us at 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:

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 (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

If you are interested in more information about Fresh Hope, go to or email or call 402.932.3089.

To donate to Fresh Hope go to

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

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

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

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“Don’t Ever Give Up Hope,” interview with Keith O’Neil, Former NFL Player

“Don’t Ever Give Up Hope,” interview with Keith O’Neil, Former NFL Player
Keith O’Neil is a former NFL football player. Keith played for the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants. During his professional career he served as team captain and was a member of the Colts Super Bowl XLI Championship team. Keith is an international speaker and speaks to audiences in the sports, faith and mental health communities. He is also the President and Founder of the 4th and Forever Foundation which brings awareness to mental health and funds research for mental illness. Keith also recently wrote a memoir, Under My Helmet – A Football Players Lifelong Battle With Bipolar Disorder.
Click HERE to check out this interview!
Keith played in the NFL with an undiagnosed mental illness, bipolar disorder and is extremely passionate about helping others who suffer with mental health issues. He is devoted to erasing the stigma of mental illness in our society. He is utilizing his book along with motivational speaking engagements to create awareness of mental illness.
The reason Keith is going public about his experiences is that he wants to inspire those with similar challenges. He believes, “with the proper diagnosis, medical attention and determination, anyone can achieve anything. If I can make it in the high stress environment of playing in the NFL with bipolar disorder, anything is possible!”

We encourage you to share this podcast with your friends via your social media connections.

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.


Bipolar Medicine Side Effects And Exercise

Bipolar Medicine Side Effects And Exercise

By Rick Qualls

I was shocked when I read the doctor’s notes about my check up older obese white male. I did not realize my weight had gotten that far out of control. In my mind, I see myself as a bit overweight but not obese.

Like many other bipolar patients, I struggle with weight. A number of my medications have the side effect of weight gain. Other side effects include a slowing of cognitive function and speech. It is no wonder my metabolism is slowed.

Like many, I have a lack of motivation to exercise. One bipolar patient describes it as a vicious cycle. There are things we can do to get over depression (including exercise). But this requires motivation. Depression takes away motivation and keeps us from doing things to improve our health. It is a downward spiral.

Exercise is missing in my self-care, perhaps yours, too. Here are some things I have learned from other patients.

Walking a dog regularly forces us to walk. It pushes us out of the house on a regular basis.

A little exercising in place, such as jogging, can get you started to exercise. Even doing a little bit stirs the cardio system and may give the motivation to walk or exercise outdoors.

I once jumped rope inside when the weather was too bad to jog. It was easy to begin for a few jumps and then I allowed myself to quit if I needed or to continue if I felt like it.

Many people use small acts to begin a new habit. Set a time limit of 10 minutes in the gym and give yourself permission to quit if you feel you can’t go on. Probably after the effort to do 10 minutes, you will discover the motivation to continue a full workout. 

If you are fortunate to be able to hold a full-time job, coming home leaves you with the tiredness from work and the lack of motivation caused by depression. It is a double hit to motivation.

Having a workout friend can help with external motivation. It is hard to say no to someone you have agreed to exercise with. This lack of motivation can be positive. You may not have the energy to say no to your exercise partner.

Some people find that exercise is as good as an antidepressant. Others find that exercise does not lighten their mood.

What are some exercises people have found helpful? Jogging, swimming, biking, and gym workouts that include weightlifting. Loud music may help with motivation. (My music tastes run into the line of light jazz. Light jazz does not motivate exercising! )

In the Bible we are reminded to take care of our bodies because it is a temple for God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own;  you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

I’ve made my start in an exercise habit. In a shed behind our house is an old elliptical machine. I have started using it in the morning. Maybe this will be the beginning of a program for me.

Good luck with yours, too.



Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.


God’s Second Chances

God’s Second Chances

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. 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 inner-city hospital.

Click here to check out our podcast “God’s Second Chances!”

If you listen to our podcast feel free to comment and give us feedback! We love to hear your thoughts!


Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.


Seven Issues that Will Impede Your Wellness

Seven Issues that Will Impede Your Wellness

By: Brad Hoefs


For the last six years, I have had the privilege to be a Fresh Hope group facilitator. I’ve had the opportunity to encourage others in living well in spite of their mental health diagnosis. I have also had the opportunity to see close up some issues that can impede one’s wellness. Certainly some of them I have struggled with and sometimes still struggle with myself.

So, for this post I thought I would share with you seven issues that I believe are significant issues that hold can hold you and me back from living well in spite of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. These are not the only issues that can impede wellness, but they seem to be major ones that I see consistently as a group facilitator:

  1. Isolation: Certainly we all need some alone time. In fact, it’s important to have it. However, too often those of us with mental health challenges will simply shut ourselves off from the rest of the world. Usually, we do isolate physically. But we can certainly be around others and still isolate ourselves emotionally; holding others at arms-length. It impedes mental health recovery when we isolate from everyone else around us. You and I were made to be in relationship with other people. And we certainly need healthy social interaction with others to come to a point of wellness.
  2. No Support: It is sad, but true, all too often family members are not supportive for many different reasons. The truth is that when those of us who have a mental health challenge have the healthy support of family and close friends we do better in our recovery. So, what do you do when your spouse or significant other is not supportive? I believe that when you have no support at “home” then it is imperative to become active within a peer-to-peer support group. It’s important to find a group that is encouraging, is principled and offers hope. Research shows that while venting about one’s life and recovery is important, when it is the only thing that is done within a group setting it can make one sicker. No support at home? Find a health support group if you can’t change the situation at home. Sometimes you have to stop complaining about what you don’t have at home and find the peer-to-peer support that focuses on living well.
  3. Self-Sabotaging Behavior: Again and again I have seen folks begin to get their lives back; beginning to live well. And then they will self-sabotage their wellness! Sometimes it is because they have not changed behaviors that are self-destructive. Sometimes it is because they fear to succeed in living well. And many times it is due to a lack of mindfulness; lack of self-awareness. It is so easy to live on automatic pilot not paying attention to our thinking, feelings, and mood. If you and I want to live well in spite of having bipolar disorder, then it is imperative that we are mindful of what we are thinking, feeling and doing.
  4. Lack of Self-Discipline: Being self-disciplined can be very difficult. Being disciplined is something that I have to work on constantly. Whether it is due to having bipolar disorder or because of my personality type; I’m not very disciplined in most things and especially lack discipline with things I don’t interest me. So, there are a lot of important things like health eating and exercise that I have to push myself to do. Believe you me, I know what it is like to so depressed that to even shower is more than you can do. And I also know what it is like to be so manic that you have no time for discipline. But, it is key to your wellness and mine to be self-disciplined in all things. Self-discipline helps us to achieve balance in our lives. Sometimes you just have to just “push-through” even though you don’t feel like doing something. And when you do, you find that you will feel better for having done it.
  5. A Victim Mentality: Let’s be honest, it is very easy to feel sorry for ourselves. Self-pity can impede living well in spite of having bipolar disorder faster than just about anything else can. Feeling sorry for myself has never moved me one step closer to living well. In fact, it has always moved me away from wellness. Yes, I have pulled the “bipolar-card” through the years. You know, where you use your bipolar disorder as the excuse for what is sometimes just bad behavior or an unchecked temper. If you see yourself as a victim, then you are the victim. But, not the victim of someone else’s actions but of your thinking. Of course, there are times when people are victimized by crimes and the abuse of others. But, those who recover from these types of things end up telling you that they don’t see themselves as victims but as an overcomer.
  6. The Medicine Yo-Yo: Too often you and I are impatient for the medicine to work. And many times you and I don’t like the side effects or don’t take a medicine long enough for the side effects to subsided. So, we “play” with our meds. Some time ago, and I don’t remember where, I read that going off and on your medicines can cause your brain chemistry to cycle even more. If you believe your medicine is not working, contact your doctor. Don’t play doctor. If the side effects are troublesome, talk with your doctor. Sometimes you have to put up with the side effects until they subside and in doing so, it will be worth it. And if you are doing well, don’t go off of your medicine. Your medicine is why you are doing well! (By the way, a whole other issue with medicine is the use of alcohol and other street drugs; self-medicating, etc. The truth is, when you sabotage your wellness by self-medicating, you are cheating yourself of wellness. And a brief word about the use of marijuana- if you have bipolar disorder, and you use it, it can cause psychosis. If you don’t believe me, Google it! )
  7. Hopelessness: Hopelessness can kill. Hopelessness happens when you and I believe that we have no future. When you and I have no dreams, hopelessness sets in and holds us in its grip. It is imperative to have dreams, goals for your future. Even the smallest of dreams and goals can give to you and me hope. If you feel hopeless, start setting goals that will help you achieve wellness. And when you reach even the smallest of those goals, celebrate it! Hopelessness is like a cancer of mood, motivation and reason to live. The only cure for hopelessness is to believe that you have a future. Do you have a future? Yes, you do! And it’s a good future! How do I know that? Because I’ve been to the point where my life was “over” and it seemed as though the best was behind me. I believed that I had no future. And I felt as though I could not go on. But, then little step by little step; day by day life continued, and I began to live again. It was not easy, and it was the single hardest work I’ve ever done. I began to understand that being a husband and dad that my family could count on gave me a purpose, a reason to live and move forward. I stopped focusing on me. Cause I couldn’t do it for me at first. So, I did “it” for them. And I made a decision, a simple to decision to believe that I had a purpose and a future in spite of how I felt. It was not easy. And at times, it was darn right painful. But, oh so worth it!

By the way, hope is something you can borrow from others. So, if you need hope as you are reading this, but you have none, then borrow some of my hope. Dr. Sean Lopez has done clinical research that proves hope is something that you can borrow. Plus, hope is catching. Hang around a bunch of hope-filled people and you will become hopeful.

Are any of these things that I have listed here impeding your journey to wellness? If so, how might you overcome them? What is your game plan? One are other issues that hold you back from wellness in your life? What are issues that you have faced and overcome that have moved you to wellness?


Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.


The Difference Between What We CAN and CANNOT Change

The Difference Between What We CAN and CANNOT Change

Wisdom for Living Well: Knowing the Difference Between What We Can Change and What We Can’t Change

This line from the Serenity Prayer has been a key for me in learning how to live to well in spite of bipolar disorder:

 “The serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” (Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr [1892-1971])

After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995 I spent a lot of time focused on things I could not change. Which led me to becoming frustrated, hurt and angry. This “side-trip” on my road to wellness took me down a path that had the power to make me bitter and resentful. Which was holding me back from getting better.

Thankfully my therapist at the time was able to help me get back onto a path that led to wellness and the key was in knowing the difference between the things I could change and those things that I could not change.

For instance, some of the things I could not change were:

  • I couldn’t change other people’s reactions to my mental illness including those close to me. (This was a big one for me!)
  • I couldn’t change the fact that I had (and still have) bipolar disorder and I couldn’t “will” it away.
  • I couldn’t change my past.
  • I couldn’t change the fact that I would need medicine.

This list could go on and on. But, I think you get the point.

The first one on the list was a BIG one for me to accept and come to terms with; not being able to change people’s reactions and opinions regarding my having bipolar disorder. I had lived my life with a lot of “people-pleasing”, so it really mattered to me what other people thought and said about me. So, I spent a long time and energy spinning my emotional wheels around this issue and what other thought or said was simply not something I could change and nor was it was my responsibility.

As I focused on the things I could not change I found myself not changing the things I could change!

Strangely enough, that which occupies your thinking is also the direction you go. So, as I focused and obsessed on the things that I could not change I started to become frustrated, angry and bitter about them. There certainly was neither serenity nor peace for me.

The key for me in accepting the things I couldn’t change was to change my focus to the things that I could change. And as I focused on the things I could change I began to get my life back. I know that whatever I focus on in my thinking is “where” I’m headed. I began to make a list of the things I could change and began to work on and think about those things. It took a lot of will power at first. I continue choose to focus on the things I can change so that I might live well.

Some of the things I can change:

  • I can change how I respond to others in spite of how they have reacted to my disorder.
  • I can find those who do understand and are supportive in spite of those who do not understand and not supportive.
  • I can change learn from my past and take what I have learned and apply it to today and my future. I don’t need to beat myself up over past mistakes.
  • I can choose to live life well in spite of having bipolar disorder. In other words, my whole world is not wrapped in having bipolar disorder. It is just a part of my life, not the whole of it.
  • I can change my doctor or therapist if they are not helpful

Again, this list can go on and on too.

I believe that knowing the knowing difference between the things I can change and the things that I cannot change and focusing on the things I can change has been key to my living well in spite of having bipolar disorder.

How about you? Have you or are you learning the difference? What can you change? What can’t you change? Are you focusing on the things that you can change and letting go of the things you can’t?


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