Pastor Brad Hoefs

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

New Year Resolutions? Yes or No?

New Year Resolutions? Yes or No?

Twenty years ago when my life was altered forever by bipolar disorder, I stopped planning and went into a mode of just surviving. All that I could do at the time was to survive one moment by moment. It had taken a good length of time before I moved beyond just surviving. Interestingly enough it was at that time I stopped wearing a watch. Up to that point in my life, I had even worn my watch to bed in case I “needed” to know what time it was. I carried my day-timer everywhere all of the time. I looked at my calendar every morning and every night; making adjustments in it throughout the day. I made lists galore, read them and knew where they were. And setting goals was second nature to me. I could set them, achieve them and set new ones.

I was very driven and organized. No doubt I was a highly functioning hypo-manic “over-achieving-achiever.” That is until the hypo-mania gave way to mania and it caused my life to implode. Interestingly enough in the last few years, I have become increasingly more interested in being proactive about my life. I’ve become more goal oriented again. Not to the point of being hypo-manically driven. But, in a healthy way (so it seems) I have taken more a hold of living my life instead of life living me. This year I’ve even set a few personal goals.

In 2020 I hope to:

1. Celebrate even the smallest of things.
2. Wait to respond when I have become triggered by someone.
3. Stay on task more.
4. Focus more on what is right than what is wrong.
5. Focus more on what I can change than be frustrated with what I cannot change.
6. Show my appreciation for my family, especially my wife, more.

They are simple goals. Not too grandiose.

Recently I read that people change for the following reasons:

5% because we are open to it
5% because we are obedient
15% because of enlightenment
75% because of pain and brokenness

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve spent way too much of life changing due to pain and brokenness. For me, it is time to change for other reasons like enlightenment or because I want to change.

How about you? Do you feel as though life “lives” you or do your live life? Do you have any goals? If so, why? If not, why? What are your goals?

By the way, I still don’t wear a watch. (Probably never well again since I have a phone in my pocket that I can always pull out if necessary.) And I seldom look at a calendar. I’m just taking one step at a time some 20 years later.

 

New Year Resolutions 2016

Brad Hoefs is the founder of Fresh Hope, a national network of faith-based peer support groups for those who have mental health challenges and also for their loved ones. He is a certified Intentional Peer Specialist, and also serves on the State of Nebraska Advisory Committee on Mental Health. Brad was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I in 1995. One of Brad’s passions is to empower peers to live a full and rich life in spite of a mental health challenge. Brad’s blog is “Living Well!” He is the author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis. He has a B.A. in Communications and a Masters of Divinity. Brad has been married to his wife, Donna, since 1979. They have two adult married children and love being grandparents to the grandkids! He is the pastor of Community of Grace in Elkhorn, Nebraska. He also helped start a website called What I Did to Recover that encourages and empowers those who have a mental health diagnosis to live well in spite of their mental health struggles.

Real Hope Has Gotten Me Through My Hopelessness

Real Hope Has Gotten Me Through My Hopelessness

Life can be difficult.  No one makes it through life without painful trials and tribulations. And there is no doubt that having bipolar disorder on top of all of the typical trials and tribulations can make life even more challenging.  There’s just no sugar-coating it. Hopelessness happens all too easily.  But life can also be beautiful. The truth is, no one makes it through life without experiencing joy-filled events and blessings.  But having hope and being hope-filled takes effort, unlike hopelessness.

Probably one of the most peculiar things about hope and hopelessness is that they can co-exist in life. When I reflect on the greatest difficulties and deepest depression that caused extreme despair in my life, it was hope that got me through the hopelessness. But it was not the “wishful-thinking” kind of hope that life would get better that got me through the hopelessness.  That kind of “hope” is nothing more than wishful thinking that things may or may not get better.  And that kind of hope was not enough for me.  Hoping that things might get better could not even bring about the smallest of cracks within my despair.

img_6604So what is this “real” hope that got me through and continues to get me through living life with bipolar disorder?  It’s the Real Hope that was born and died on the cross and His promise.  In particular, it is the promise of Romans 8:28 that has gotten me through the many incredibly painful events that could have easily led to the bottomless pit of hopelessness. In Romans 8:28 the apostle Paul tells us that the Lord will work all things together for our good.  As a person of faith, I believe this.  Knowing and believing this real hope does not mean that I stuff my feelings.  Rather, it means that as I feel my feelings I’m able to work through them and deal with them because I know that He will take even the worst of life’s trials and tribulations and make them work together for me for my good.  That’s hope. That’s real.

See, I’ve come to understand how my faith has been instrumental in my living well.  I don’t do wishful thinking kind of hope.  Instead, I do Romans 8:28 hope.  In other words, as I go through difficulties (and there are plenty of them) I recognize them, feel the feelings because I know that the Lord will take all of the pain and make it work for my good. It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden things become easy.  But I’m able to move through the pain, knowing how it will end.

The Lord is the real hope.  The Father sent His Son into our messy world to redeem us.  Born right in the midst of the stench of that stable,He came.  And on that cross, He died for you and me. Out of what appeared to be a hopeless beginning and an even more hopeless death on the cross, He rose as proof that He is indeed our sure and certain hope.

There is no way that I would be living well, much less living, without Him as my hope.  Romans 8:28 has gotten me through the hopelessness. Grab ahold of that hope my friend.  Whatever difficulties you are going through this day, He can and will make though things work together for your good.  No, he doesn’t promise a painless life. In fact, He says that in this life you and I will have difficulties.  Instead, He promises to never leave you, and to take those problems and work them together for your good.  And in knowing this, you and I can move forward in spite of our present circumstances.

On this day, my prayer is that you will grab ahold of the real and certain hope we have that He will take all of your difficulties, pain, and problems, and work them together for your good.  Keeping moving forward: moving one step at a time.  He loves you.  He is with you. He is for you. And Heis at work; making all things work out together for your good!

Blessings my friend,

Brad

Our Fresh Hope podcast has been nominated for Wego Health’s Best in Show Podcast award!We encourage you to endorse the nomination by going to:https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/13355

7 Ways to Effectively Fight Off the Wintertime Blues

7 Ways to Effectively Fight Off the Wintertime Blues

The gray days and long nights of winter affect my mood. Every winter I’m reminded how much I dislike it. My doctor says that anyone who lives in the regions of the world where days are short, and the sunshine is lacking will be affected by it whether they have a mood disorder or not.

 

Since moving to a year-round warm climate is not an option at this point in my life I fight off the adverse effects of winter by doing the following:

  1. I use full spectrum light bulbs in my home and office. Full spectrum bulbs mimic daylight and provide more of a full spectrum light range like the sun.
  2. When there is daylight, I spend time outside as much as possible. Many times it simply means a quick brisk walk.
  3. Inside during the daylight hours, I always open all of the window coverings at the home and office. Plus, I will sit by the a window as much as possible. I realize that to “reap” the benefits of the sun and vitamin D you need to be out in the sunlight, yet my mood is always lifted even if I’m only “feeling” or seeing the sunlight even through the window.
  4. I faithfully take vitamin D. I start it around mid-October and usually stop at the end of March. I follow my doctor’s recommendation for the dosage of it. Taking Vitamin D is probably the most significant aid for me in facing the dark days of winter.
  5. I also take B12 during the same time that I take vitamin D. B12 helps my energy level that keeps me more active as I would be during warmer seasons. Being more active, staying busy, are essential for maintaining my mood. Sometimes because of the inclement weather I find myself wanting to stay inside. But, I force myself to get out to take a short walk if nothing else. I also attempt to have plenty of social interaction with other people which keeps my focus on things other than how much I hate the cold, snowy days of winter. (Again, I follow the instructions of my doctor as to how much of the B12 to take.)
  6. If possible, I try to plan a get away to someplace sunny and warm during the winter time; even if it is only for a couple of days. And when getting away is not possible I will find someplace close to home that is close to someplace warm and sunny, like a swimming pool at a health club that has a lot of natural light.
  7. And if needed, I use light therapy. Numerous national chain stores that sell lights for S.A.D. in their pharmacy. While I’ve not needed to do light therapy for many years now, when I did need it, it was extremely helpful. In fact, I had to be careful to do it too late in the day as would lift my mood too much before bedtime.

How about you? Do you live in a climate where the winter time is long, cold, gray and less sunshine? If so, what do you do to fight off the wintertime blues?

You can check out Brad’s podcast at www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

Interested in possibly starting a faith-based mental health support group?  Check out Fresh Hope.

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.

unnamed

Depressed? How to Avoid Fueling Hopelessness

Depressed? How to Avoid Fueling Hopelessness

Hopelessness can’t flourish if we work alongside our medication to redirect our thinking towards hope instead. 

By Brad Hoefs

For the last year or so, I’ve been going through what I would say has been the second-most challenging situation in my work life that I’ve ever been through in the church that I pastor. As some of you might know, conflict in a church is really messy and can be extremely painful.  

I’ve come to the conclusion that why it is so messy and painful is because the wounding is coming from people that you love and care about and have been in relationship with and in my case some cases for many years.

Without going into the details, I’ve gone through an extremely challenging, hellish last year or so. I don’t tell you this so I can complain some more about it but so that you know that the insights I’m about to share with have been genuine insights that have come from what I’ve been through these past months. See, I’ve been living teetering on the edge of hopelessness. I have had to struggle and hold onto hope through all of it while hopelessness and giving up kept knocking at the door.

Early on as the hopelessness began to creep into my thinking and my feelings I knew I had to fight against it. So, I actually sat down and made a list of ways that I was feeding the hopelessness or that I needed to stay away from doing lest I feed the hopelessness.  

I truly believe from my experiences of managing bipolar disorder that more times than not, I have not worked with my medicine. In other words, while taking the antidepressant I many times have not changed my thinking (feeding my hopelessness) and just waited for the medication to be some sort of magic bullet in getting better.   

I knew from having fed my hopelessness in the past, that I better be proactive in working alongside my medicine or I would simply end up in a deep dark hole of depression and despair. 

Hopelessness can’t flourish if we work alongside our medicine and don’t feed it and feed hope instead. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel the feelings and work through the pain, but don’t feed it.  What we don’t “feed” can’t flourish. 

So, here are a few of the items I listed that I needed to stay away from as to not feed the hopelessness and instead actively process the pain and feelings and to instead feed hope:

#1) Isolating & wanting to be alone

So, I committed myself to be around people no matter how much I wanted to be alone!

Nothing feeds hopelessness more calories than isolating yourself.  After all, usually when I’m going through something emotionally hurtful, I want to be alone.  And in the aloneness, I begin to ruminate about the situation, and the hopelessness starts to grow.  Isolating along with the ruminating are like yeast to bread dough. 

We were not created to do life alone. Brene Brown says, “Connection is why we are here.  We are hardwired to connect with others, it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” 

When you are feeling hopeless, one of the most important things you can do is get around people that you love, trust and care about you.  Process your hurt and pain with them. Don’t isolate.  Doing life with others is what we were created for!

By the way, for me, lots of sleeping can quickly provide a way to isolate.  So, I knew that I had to be careful to not escape the emotional pain by sleeping a lot. 

#2) Shame

So, I committed to not shaming myself even as I had made mistakes in the situation of conflict that I was going through. 

Shame makes you feel like you have to cover up what is “wrong” with you, you can’t have this problem.  Shame makes you feel like you should not make mistakes and should handle yourself correctly at all times.  Shame doesn’t allow you to have personal grace.  Shame demands perfection.  

Shedding one’s shame is a must! And keeping shame at bay is a constant commitment I have to make to myself.  

#3) Ruminating

Thinking the same negative thoughts over and over merely burn into our brains a deepening “groove” that makes getting ourselves unstuck or out of that groove nearly impossible.

#4) Shutting down emotionally

In other words, zoning out emotionally would do nothing but feed my hopelessness.  So, I committed to keep moving, to keep my schedule, not to merely zone-out, shutting down emotionally.  I was not about to let what I was going through become such a crisis that I couldn’t function with everyday tasks and the rest of my job. 

#5) Bad Habits 

Bad habits like eating to cover up the painful emotional feelings.  So, I knew I had to process my feelings and not stuff them, or eat them.

Bad habits like not going to bed at a decent time, job or not!  Not being in sync with your routine like the rest of the world is going to cause you to feel even more alone and feed hopelessness. 

Bad habits like not having a schedule, eating lots of sugar would only going to stir up my mood challenges even more. 

#6) Believing lies

You know, the lies that make you feel as though the tough time you’re going through will go on forever.  Or lies that tell you “you can’t endure this, so give up” just cause hopelessness to flourish.  So, I committed myself to believe the truth, speaking out the truth and holding to the truth.

#7) Not processing and working through your emotions and feelings in healthy ways 

So, I committed myself to process and work through my feelings and emotions.  I knew that I had to be in charge of them versus them having charge over me. 


Well, these are the main things I knew would allow hopelessness to grow in my situation these past months.   No doubt committing myself to hold the hopelessness at bay helped me go through the last year.  However, it does not mean that I didn’t feel sad and alone at times.  It doesn’t mean that there weren’t some sleepless nights.  It hurt emotionally.  I had to “go through it.”  As they say, when you are going through hell, keep going!  And that is what I’ve been doing. 

I’m hopeful that I’m on the other side of things now.  But, there are still some tougher days.  Every now and then I have some enormous waves of grief.  But, I refuse to yield to hopelessness.  I’m fighting back. And I won’t let up.  And I’m not doing it alone.  It is what it is.  It’s lasting longer than I want it to, but it will pass sooner or later.  And I’ve committed myself to learn from it and grow because of it.  

Recently my wife and I had lunch with a very dear friend.  As we talked, we talked about the sadness and heaviness we are still feeling at times.  We talked about what we can do to process it, to help it “move along.”  And as we got in the car to go back to the office, I said, “You know, I think I’ve gone through all of this rather well.  After all,  I’ve gone through in spite of having bipolar disorder.  In other words, the bipolar disorder has stayed in check throughout this.  Yes, the struggle with hopelessness continually knocking on the door may indeed be due to the bipolar disorder, I haven’t caved into it.  After all any time you have bipolar disorder, and you go through a significantly painful situation, and you are still managing it, that’s a good thing!  Years ago, this situation would have wiped me out.  It would have ended with a hospital stay and not working nor functioning with the daily routines of life for months. 

Did I handle everything correctly?  Of course I didn’t.  You can’t get perfection from an imperfect person, whether they have bipolar or not! But, by the grace of God and a whole lot of work, hopelessness has not won. Hope is prevailing. And I’m getting through it one piece with peace of mind in spite of having bipolar disorder.  

How about you?  Are you like me and too easily go to the door when hopelessness is knocking?  Do you feed hopelessness?  If so, how?  And if you do, how might you better starve hopelessness and instead feed hope?

 

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.

unnamed

De-Stressing the Holidays

De-Stressing the Holidays

By; Jamie Meyer

Just a few days after Halloween I took our little dog, Mika, for a walk after dark. Strolling down the sidewalk I noticed that the orange lights, inflatable goblins, and spiderwebs draped across front porches had been replaced with twinkly white lights and inflatable Santas. Seriously? We were barely into November and the homes around us were already decked out like Christmas was just around the corner.

An unexpected wave of sadness came over me. Tears welled up as I was reminded of the pressures, stress, and shameful thoughts that begin to crowd my mind during the holidays. Seeing Christmas decorations on houses and in every store triggers a cascade of emotions from discouragement to dread.

After my recovery from major depression nearly ten years ago, the holidays have become stress x10 for me. You probably think I’m being too dramatic but this is how my brain works when I think about surviving Thanksgiving through New Year’s. It’s the only time of the year when there are more expectations, more decisions to be made, and more demands on limited energy.

A few days ago I told my husband that I’m already feeling anxious even though it’s only mid-November. He suggested that I write down everything that needs to be done between now and Christmas. Then we’d sit down together and decide what’s most important to us, what we can do together, and what we can eliminate or at least cut back on. We’re even going to put dates on the calendar when we’ll do things like hanging the outdoor lights.

I think one of the best things we can do to stay mentally healthy is to be proactive in managing the big things in our lives, like Christmas, instead of letting those things control us. My usual approach to the holidays is to ride the waves of anxiety, gritting my teeth until I get through it. I let myself get all out of sorts mentally and physically when caring for myself should really be my number one priority.

How do we realistically do that when we’re already feeling overwhelmed? Like my husband suggested, I think it helps to get our thoughts and feelings down on paper. Things become more concrete when we can actually see the words rather than letting them spin around in our mind and cause distress.

If we know a triggering event is coming up, we can plan ahead for what we’ll do to reduce the odds of becoming anxious and stressed out. Some people are troubled by having too little to do instead of too much during the holidays. Planning ahead will help them know what to do when they’re lonely, and what not to do, like isolating or using alcohol or drugs to numb the pain.

Several things I’m going to try this year include asking for help and sharing my thoughts and feelings instead of bottling them up inside. I’m going to do my best to lower my expectations and reduce the pressure I put on myself to make the holidays perfect. As I look over my list of holiday to-do’s, I intend to cross off anything that would be nice but not necessary to make the holidays enjoyable.

I think it would also be helpful to identify my assumptions about this time of year. For instance, I just assume I’ll send out Christmas cards every year because it’s something I always do. I believe that friends and family expect to hear from us as well. A better alternative would be to ask myself if sending cards is absolutely necessary. Is everyone expecting a card from us? Probably not. Will they think less of me if they don’t receive one? Since I have no way of knowing what people think then why be concerned?

Why does every part of the holiday season have to be perfect when “good enough” will do? I think about how much happier I’d be if I stopped comparing myself to others or worrying about what other people think.

Breaking down an overwhelming situation into manageable pieces makes it easier to choose what’s most important to us during the holidays. If we make caring for ourselves one of those important priorities, we’re better able to focus our time and energy on the people and activities that are most meaningful.

I wish all of you a blessed Christmas and may the gift of God’s peace be yours throughout this holiday season.

Jamies-bio

6 things I found in the Fresh Hope Support Group By: Samanta Karraa

6 things I found in the Fresh Hope Support Group By: Samanta Karraa

By: Samanta Karraa

When I started attending a Fresh Hope group I found-

  1. People who had a mental health diagnosis, who were living a full and rich life in spite of their diagnosis. They were working, taking care of their families, getting married, getting a master’s degree, serving at their churches and starting new projects in spite of having a mental health challenge. I cannot describe to you how loudly this spoke to me.
  2. A leader who had a diagnosis and therefore could understand me. She was well ahead in her recovery process and had been trained to facilitate the meeting. FH groups function peer to peer. Encouragement and hope are shared amongst the members.
  3. Acceptance. People accepted me for who I am and at the point of recovery in which I was.
  4. Confidentiality. What is said in a FH group stays there. We don’t mention who was at the meeting either.
  5. A community of faith who understood. With so much stigma going around and so much misunderstanding amongst Christian circles, finding a faith-based community who understood mental illness was like finding a treasure. Although the topics introduced at the groups don’t have the format of a bible study, but rather a recovery centered approach, our values and recovery principles are Biblically based.
  6. Answers. After having been diagnosed I had lots of questions and uncertainty. However through the Fresh Hope principles of recovery I received answers to my many questions. And this filled me with hope.

If you´re thinking about attending a Fresh Hope group or starting one in your area, think about it no more. Don´t settle for reading about the things that I found. Go and try for yourself. I am sure you will find these blessings and many more.

 

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.

unnamed

When Christmas Is Difficult

When Christmas Is Difficult

This is a special Christmas edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health. 

In this edition, Pastor Brad talks with Perry Root, Sr. about experiencing grief or depression during Christmastime.  Perry is an M.S.W. student doing his practicum with Fresh Hope and is also a fulltime member of the Community of Grace staff.  He shares some insights as to experiencing grief or depression at this time of the year.

We encourage you to share this podcast with those that you believe might benefit from it.   Even posting it on your social media may reach someone who is very lonely, sad and depressed during this what many call “the most wonderful time of the year.”

To listen to this episode click here or click on the icon below:

small logo for Fresh Hope

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.

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.

unnamed

Facing Real Together by Lindsay Hausch

Facing Real Together by Lindsay Hausch

I heard her cries with my heart, more than my ears, each wail reverberating in my aching chest. I cradled her head and held her rigid body against mine as she yelled, “no, no, no,” then heaved a shaky breath to release another loud howl. I whispered in her ear “I’m here. I love you,” again and again, as I swayed and tasted the salty tears that ran down her neck.

For five minutes I felt the waves of emotions that coursed through her tired body, confusion, anger, frustration, fear as she succumbed to exhaustion. I absorbed her helpless desperation, but wouldn’t, couldn’t, let myself collapse beneath it. Instead I just held her, rocked her, and continued my chant, “I’m here. I love you.”

There is a sacred space we enter with another person when we can let them feel what they are feeling without avoidance, advice, judgement, or tense discomfort. Simply to tell them, “I’m here and I love you.”

I am not in my daughter’s skin, and so I don’t know what it feels like to have steroids coursing through me, creating a surge of unpredictable emotions and moods. This little girl has all these new big feelings without words to even make sense out of them. I want to understand what she feels, I want to tell her how to make it better, or distract her somehow. But in this desperate moment, after a sleepless night, a long morning, and still no nap, I can only be here with her as a witness.

Yes darling, you are miserable. Your body aches, you are tired but your body won’t behave and sleep as it should. You feel angry and powerless. You want mommy to make it all better, and you are learning, maybe for the first time, that there are some things that mommy can’t fix. But I am here, I am with you in this. I love you.

And in this brave moment between a helpless baby, and her helpless mommy, I begin to learn a lot about how to help someone heal. Because when we are confused, overcome by big emotions we can’t explain, when life hurts and we feel too tired to even make our bed, we don’t need advice; we don’t need platitudes, or our pain to be wiped away like an unsightly smudge of dirt. We need a brave person to stay and hold us through the waves of grief, anger, desperation, and longing, to whisper lovingly, “I am here.”

Because when life knocks the breath out of us, sometimes the bravest thing to do is to inhale and exhale those first few breaths, to be held by the loving arms of those there to support you, and fearlessly succumb to the illusive sleep that our tired souls need.

Sometimes its another person holding us up. Sometimes its on our knees in the sacred  space of solitude. But as we cry out in weakness, “I am tired, I am scared, Lord I am hurting,”  He says “I Am.” In Him we find a perfect match for our needs and emptiness. So we can cry, and shout, or blink silent tears, and wait for His peace to roll over us like a blanket and His grace to hum like a lullaby, “I Am here. I love you.”

“Stubborn cloud, I watch you rolling past
What would it take for you to cry at last
Don’t be afraid to let your feelings show
If we dry up, then we won’t grow”

Grow by J.J. Heller

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.

unnamed

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

 

Photograph by Priscilla Du Preez

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.

unnamed

 

Questions to Ask Yourself When Emotionally Stuck

Questions to Ask Yourself When Emotionally Stuck

Now and then you and I will hit a “speed bump” in life. I define a “speed bump” as those times in which I am troubled by something that happens or by what someone has done that I continue to ruminate over and over in my mind. And due to the ruminating, I get emotionally stuck.

Getting emotionally stuck happens to everyone; not just those of us with a mental health diagnosis. And when we get stuck emotionally; rehearsing something over and over it begins to impair our ability to move forward.

For an extended period in my journey of learning to live well in spite of having bipolar disorder, I was an expert at hitting emotional speed bumps only to find myself in a ruminating rut of despair about something that someone said or did. It impaired my ability to move forward in learning how to live. That is until I learned a few key questions to ask myself when this would happen.

The first key question I learned to ask myself: Is there anything I can do about what is bothering me? If the answer to this question is yes, then the next question that I ask myself is: What am I going do to resolve this issue? If there’s something I can do to resolve it, then I have to decide to do it. Because if I am unwilling to do it, I will stay emotionally stuck.

It’s way to easy to remain emotionally stuck and continue to ruminate about something over and over. But, that only makes one emotionally toxic within a short time. So, choose not to allow myself any excuses for not doing what I can do to resolve an issue that is bothering me. If I am not willing to change what I can change then, I will never move forward. In fact, I’ll get worse, not better.

Now, if I ask myself the initial key question (Is there anything I can do about what is bothering me?) and the answer to the question is “no.” Then the next question I ask myself is: So, what I am going to do about accepting the fact that I can do nothing about this issue? So, instead of rehearsing how unfair someone has been or continues to be, what am I going to do to accept that there is nothing I can do about it. Otherwise, I can not only expect to stay stuck emotionally but, I understand that I am going to move backward emotionally. But because I refuse to be the victim of things that I cannot change I choose to accept these things, and I move forward. Forward in my journey of learning to live well in spite of having mental health diagnosis.

Here’s a bit of a challenge for you: if this post has irritated you, then you just might be emotionally stuck. If you want to lash out at me, telling me how I don’t understand, then you most likely emotionally stuck. And if that’s the case, what are you going to do about it? Or how are you doing to accept that there is nothing you can do about it?

Here’s a short video about this topic or getting unstuck or as we call it “pushing through” in Fresh Hope:

Fresh Hope for Mental Health: Pushing Through/Recovery Principle #3 from Brad Hoefs on Vimeo.

Staying stuck emotionally hurts you. Pain is inevitable in this life. But, suffering because one is stuck is optional. It’s a choice. I choose to move forward. How about you?

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.

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.

unnamed

%d bloggers like this: