Pastor Brad Hoefs

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

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.

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Managing Your Fears With The Help Of God by Stan Popovich

Managing Your Fears With The Help Of God by Stan Popovich

 

By

Dealing with fear and anxiety can be very difficult. As a result, using the help of God can be very effective in managing your fears. With this in mind, here are some suggestions on how a person can use the help of God in his or her own struggles.

The first step a person should do is to start talking and praying to God. A person can go to church or to a quiet place during the day to tell God that they are having a problem. They should tell God how they feel and ask God for some of his help. A person could also review the Bible and read some articles on trusting in God and then apply these concepts in their life. Each and every day, a person should make it up a habit to talk to God and ask for His help.

Remember that the one source that a person should use as a basis in managing their fears and anxieties is using God as a basis in dealing with their fears. Why? The power of God is the one power that is stronger than your fears and anxieties. Also, God loves each one of us and he is the one person who has the power to solve all of our problems. He will help you if you ask him to.

When using the help of God to manage your fears, a person needs to be aware of how God is working in their life. Most of the time God works in mysterious ways and the answers he provides might not be that obvious. A person must be aware of God being in their life even when they are dealing with their fears and anxieties.

A person must also be sensitive to the answers God gives them. Some people think that the answers that God provides must be religious in nature. That is not always the case. God may provide the answers in a way that might not be religious in nature. These answers could involve basic psychology and cognitive techniques that deals with how to manage fear and anxiety. The point to remember is that although a person may use these psychology methods, its important to use God as the center of everything in your life and in your struggle.

If you have trouble, talk to a member of the clergy or a professional counselor to help deal with your fears and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. By talking to a professional a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with their problems in the future. Remember that it never hurts to ask for help.

Finally, the most important thing is to continue praying and talking to God. Talk to God as if you were talking to a friend. Read the Bible and pray hard. Be persistent and be open in the avenues that God may provide to you in solving your problem. It is not always easy, however God is in control and he will help you if you ask Him.

 

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.

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How I Went From Surviving to Thriving: 3 Simple Steps By: Samantha Karraa

How I Went From Surviving to Thriving: 3 Simple Steps By: Samantha Karraa

By: Samantha Karraa

The long journey towards finding a diagnosis was over. The battle had rendered us
exhausted. I wished the symptoms, the relationship problems, the suicidal impulses, the
emotional pain, the appointments with so many doctors had all been a nightmare but I woke up to find it was my reality. I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The year before getting diagnosed had been like a hurricane that had gone by and not only had it destroyed almost everything that was already in my life but had also destroyed any hopes about the future. Led by my doctors, I started the trial and error process with meds until we found a combination that seemed to work for me. However, I was still under the weight of having to carry a mental health diagnosis. The secondary effects and the stigma around the topic were additional pains. My identity started getting attached to the illness’s  symptoms. I was merely surviving.

Nowadays my symptoms are in remission. I am living a full and rich life in spite of my
disorder. My relationships are better than they have ever been. A new love has covered my marriage. I’m being able to take care of and enjoy my parents and my children. I have new friends. New goals and dreams. I have taken on new projects. I am serving the Lord with gladness in my job and ministries at church. I am playing tennis, socializing, staying active and eating healthy.

Don’t get me wrong- I still have bad days. There are still days when it is hard to get up
and get moving. But even on bad days my hope tank is full. I manage my illness and it does not define me. I am thriving.

How did I get from surviving to thriving? To me, it happened in 3 simple but powerful steps.

1. I started attending a Fresh Hope group.

I live in El Salvador but, by an act of God’s providence, I ran into Fresh Hope’s online group. I started attending every Tuesday night. The topics were great, but more importantly the fact it was the face that I was accepted and understood. I was also exposed to stories of how the Lord had helped others in their recovery process and that filled me with hope. Right from the first meeting, I remember the impact it had on me to be able to be in a virtual room with 10 other people, all with different mental health issues, carrying on with hope in life..! They were graduating from a master’s degree, taking care of their families, getting married, helping others, serving at their churches. Hope is catchy.
If you haven’t yet attended a Fresh Hope group look for one in your area or connect to the online group. Here’s a useful link https://freshhope.us/find-a-group/

2. I read the Fresh Hope Workbook.

Written in a simple but powerful format, reading the workbook was easy in spite of my difficulties concentrating. It felt as though I was having a conversation with its author, Pastor Brad Hoefs.
I came to know the 6 tenets of recovery and each of them was a breakthrough for me.
These are not steps but rather blocks that compose the recovery process and, more
importantly, the solid ground where my recovery would stand.

3. I became a Fresh Hope group facilitator.

This is when I started really thriving. One night the facilitator in my group asked me if I
would like to become a facilitator myself. Eventually I signed up for the facilitator’s training program which turned out not only to be filled with really useful information but also very inspiring.
Simultaneously, the facilitator of my group started delegating small bits of the meeting to
me. One day I would lead the check-in process. The other one I would lead prayer. And
another day I would lead the topic! Eventually I completed the training program and I was ready to lead a group. My hope level was overflowing.

I thought about all the people in the world who speak Spanish but don’t speak English and their great need for a program like Fresh Hope. Eventually I translated the tenets and some topic cards and started an online group in Spanish on Wednesday nights. Being a facilitator has definitely been key to my recovery. They say that in spiritual matters the more you give something out, the more you receive. The more I share hope in every meeting, the more I am filled by it. In addition, I stay in touch with recovery material which propels me in the recovery direction. Seeing how the Lord gave purpose to all the pain I went through as I lead the group is a powerful healing component!… He is redeeming my past as I serve him every week and for this I am so grateful. If you want to up your level in your recovery I strongly urge you to consider stepping up and becoming a Fresh Hope facilitator..!

Check out this link https://freshhope.us/start-a-group/ to find out more about how to do this. I guarantee it will be a blessing, not only for your own recovery but for the people around you.

So how about you- where are you in your journey from surviving to thriving? I encourage you, if you still haven’t, to take one of these simple steps today.

 

Fresh Hope needs your help! At the core of Fresh Hope is the belief that it is possible to live well in spite of having a mental health challenge; that no matter how one feels, it is possible to still have hope and live a good life.

The need for all of the Fresh Hope materials to be translated into Spanish is a necessary next step. We are asking for your financial contribution to help us make this happen! Check out how you can make a difference HERE!

Bipolar & Creating Mini Habits For Positive Change

Bipolar & Creating Mini Habits For Positive Change

To change our default setting it must be done one mini habit at a time.

If you are like me, there have been numerous times you were highly motivated to make BIG changes in your mental health journey. One of those times for me was deciding that I needed to exercise at least three times a week. That was a big change to make since I wasn’t even exercising once a week. So I exercised three times that first week, but by the next week I had given it up. I just couldn’t do it. It was too big of a change.

I’ve done this over and over throughout the years since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. I would be highly motivated to make a healthy change regarding my sleep, eating, exercising, thinking, or working. It seemed that the motivation to make the change would last a short time before I would revert to my “default settings.” And each time I would feel like a bigger failure. I began to believe that my inability to stay motivated to make a healthy change had to be connected in some way to having bipolar disorder. After all, I could easily become “laser-beamed-focused” on something I wanted or liked to do, so I became convinced that my repeated failures had to have something to do with having bipolar.

It was as though any unhealthy “default settings” I had or any changes that I wasn’t allyousef-al-nasser-261164 that interested in – even though they would be good for me – could only be made little by little because I just didn’t have enough self-motivation to do them all at once. I figured I just didn’t have the self-discipline necessary, or somehow there was a flaw in my character. Those beliefs changed recently when someone introduced me to a book that they had found very helpful in making changes in their life. The title of the book is Mini Habits by Stephen Guise. I discovered that if I began making small changes for extended periods of time, the changes would stick.

In the book, Guise clarifies the difference between motivation and self-will. He says that motivation is short-lived, and to make real change you have to begin doing small things that can be done via pure self-will, and not depend on motivation to do it.

He started to change his health by doing one push-up daily. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But think about it. Had he decided to do 50 per day, that would have required ongoing motivation, and he would have given up when the motivation to do the 50 push-ups had passed. (Which would have been on the first day for me! lol) So his first mini habit was to do a single push-up. Doing just the one push-up, he could make himself do it via self-will power. What he found was that once he would do one push-up, he always did a few more, but no matter what, he always did at least one. He changed his brain’s default setting slowly, over time, and it stuck.

I’ve got to tell you that this little book on mini habits is changing my life!

I’ve stopped beating up on myself for not being able to make sweeping changes in my life. It makes total sense to me. There are small things I can choose to do whether I feel motivated to do them or not. For example, I know I need to drink more water, especially with the meds that I take. But, the thought of drinking eight full glasses of water overwhelms me, and I end up drinking nothing. So, I started with the mini habit of drinking one large full glass of water with my meds first thing in the morning, and I’ve found myself drinking more water throughout the day and enjoying it! I know, it’s not an earth-shattering change, but earth-shattering changes won’t work. Most of us do not have that kind of motivation with or without bipolar disorder.

It only makes sense that our brains have default settings. Those are the settings that our brains default to when we are stressed or things we can do with little to no thought. For example, my default setting for when to eat is when I’m sad, happy, tired, stressed, or when I’m awake! This eating default setting has been a well-worn patterned default in my brain for many years. Unfortunately, unlike being able to go into your computer default settings, make a change and click “save,” we cannot do that with our brains. Instead, if we want to make changes to our default settings, we must make them bit by bit, by starting a mini habit that we can do without one ounce of motivation on our part; a simple thing that can be done by sheer self-willpower.

Discovering these things have become the single greatest key to making change happen in my life.

Your inability to not make sweeping health changes in your life is not a character flaw. It’s called being human!

So, what mini habit can you do by sheer self-willpower that will bring about a simple, healthy change in your life?

 

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.

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25 Inspirational and Insightful Quotes for Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis

25 Inspirational and Insightful Quotes for Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis

One of my favorite things to do is to collect inspirational sayings that resonate with me. I find short inspirational quotes to be simple ways to remember important truths in learning and remembering how to live well in spite of having a mental health diagnosis.

So, I thought I would share with you some new quotes that I have found to be helpful:

  • “To get somewhere new, you must first decide that you are tired of being where you are.” Unknown
  • “You can’t change someone who doesn’t see an issue with his or her actions.” Unknown
  • “A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves you a hundred moments of regret.” Unknown
  • Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys. Rita Schiano
  • “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” J.K. Rowling
  • “Busy is a drug that a lot of people are addicted to in their lives.” Unknown
  • “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” Unknown
  • “What defines is not our past. Rather, how well we rise after falling.” Unknown
  • “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change: I am changing the things I cannot accept.” Unknown
  • “Two things prevent us from happiness; living in the past and observing others.” Unknown
  • “Your past does not determine who you are. Your past prepares you for who you are to become.” Unknown
  • “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” Unknown
  • “Never trust your tongue when your heart is bitter.” Unknown
  • “Failure isn’t final unless you quit.” Unknown
  • “Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to or expected it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you ever imagined.” Unknown
  • “Let’s stop believing that our differences make us superior or inferior to one another.” Unknown
  • “Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.” Unknown
  • “I refuse to please others at the expense of my emotional well-being. Even if it means saying no to people who are used to hearing yes.”
  • “Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.” C.S. Lewis
  • “You don’t protect your heart by acting like you don’t have one.” Unknown
  • “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” Winston Churchill
  • “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill
  • “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
  • “Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.” Unknown
  • “No one can go back and make a brand new start. However, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” Unknown

Do any of these quotes speak to you? If so, why? Do you have any favorite inspirational quotes that have been helpful to you in learning how to live well in spite of a mental health diagnosis?

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.

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Managing The Fear Of Loneliness: By Stanley Popovich

Managing The Fear Of Loneliness: By Stanley Popovich

By: Stanley Popovich

Many people deal with the fear of living alone. Loneliness can make someone feel depressed and unhappy so its important to not let being alone be a factor in your life.

Here is a list of techniques that a person can use so that the fear of being alone doesn’t become a major issue in their lives.

 

  1. The first step is to find an activity that you enjoy and where you can meet a lot of people.For instance, joining a group activity such as a volleyball group, women’s club, or making crafts can be a great way to meet people. Doing something that you like to do will make you happy and will increase your chances of making friends.

 

  1. Spending time with animals can be a great source of companionship.Whether you have a dog or you go to your local shelter, spending time with an animal or pet can help us to feel better. Animals can be of good company to all of us whether we are alone or not.

 

  1. Helping others through community service can be of some help.There are many people out there who could benefit from your time and talents. Helping others can give you a source of pride and accomplishment and also can lead to friendships.

 

  1. It isn’t fun being alone, but sometimes there are worse things.For instance, imagine that you are married or stuck in a relationship that you can’t get out of and also makes you miserable. Not only do you have to live with this person, it would be difficult to get out of the relationship because of various financial or personal reasons. As a result, you are stuck living with someone that you can’t stand and makes you depressed every single day of your life. With this viewpoint, being alone doesn’t sound that bad.

 

  1. Spending time with God can help.Spending time with God and asking God for help in your time of loneliness can be of great comfort. You never know how God will work in your life. Including God in your every day living can help reduce your loneliness. Talk to a priest or minister if you are unsure on what to do.

 

  1. The important thing is to do something constructive.Sitting around and doing nothing will not make things any better whether it is dealing with the fear of being alone or something else. Take it one day at a time and stay committed in trying to solve your problem.

 

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.

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When Choosing Joy Is Not That Easy By: Katie Dale

When Choosing Joy Is Not That Easy By: Katie Dale

By: Katie Dale

Understanding the Phrase, “Choose Joy”

Let’s be real for a second. When I hear “choose joy” I think of denying my current emotions.

I also think it’s a blanket statement that could confuse people, especially Christians with mental illness. We could easily start thinking we must feel happy and choose to think positively all the time, despite our chemical imbalances and episodes of severe depression.

I don’t want to get rid of the phrase, but I’d like to provide what I feel is some much-needed context, much like when we consider the Lord’s command that “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, ESV) The Lord knows we can’t simply be perfect, otherwise we wouldn’t have needed Jesus’ sacrifice; but He does command us to strive for perfection, and just as we are commanded to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4, ESV), the Lord want us to consistently rely on and choose His joy as our strength, especially during tough times, when we don’t have joy inside ourselves.

What Is Joy?

So let’s define “joy”:

(According to Merriam Webster Dictionary)

“a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : DELIGHT
b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : GAIETY
c : a state of happiness or felicity : BLISS
d: a source or cause of delight”

In the context of the Christian life, joy is when our saved souls rejoice and take comfort in knowing we’re given the promises of God. It’s also a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), a quality of contentment, preceded by love, followed by peace. It’s liberating. It gives us strength when we come to the tough times in life.

You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, joy is great, and I want the joy of the Lord. But, come on, it’s not that easy!”  And you’d be right. But while it may seem incredibly difficult during our darkest moments, joy is always there for the taking.

However, it’s not a light switch we can just turn on and off.

When Feeling Joyful Isn’t An Option

In clinical depression, our joy can be stolen. We can lose our confidence. We can forget the contented feelings and state of peace. As our brains become more chemically imbalanced, and we’re drowning in an almost debilitating excess of sadness, “choosing joy” can become what feels impossible. I’m not saying that there is a point of no return, or that once you lose your joy it’s gone forever…on the contrary, it is up to us to seek out help for our condition that impairs our livelihood and wellbeing.

Feeling the emotion of joy may be all that a clinically depressed person wants. When we focus instead on the source of joy – namely, Jesus – things are put into perspective.

We can, we should, look to Jesus for healing and rejoice in the sense of “I’m standing on His promises to redeem my mind and restore my joy.” Though, there is a distinct difference between “choosing” to believe God’s promises, and recognizing our feelings when they are influenced by an illness of the mind. In mental illness, the feeling of joy can be stolen and its presence forgotten. It’s at these times we have to focus less on the feeling we can’t attain, and re-focus on the source of true Joy.

Sometimes, the feeling of joy is not an option because severe depression has beaten our minds to a pulp.

Often we simply resign ourselves to letting depression take its course, i.e. believing the enemy’s lies about ourselves (“you’re worthless”), choosing to live unwisely and making foolish choices in life (reaping behaviors and feelings sown by negative thoughts). In these cases, we forfeit joy.

How To Tap Into The Source Of Joy

It can be impossible to choose the feeling of joy in severe depression, but that’s when we need to focus less on the feeling aspect of joy, and focus on the source aspect of joy.

Philippians 4:4-7 ESV, tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

How Paul continues this passage hints at how to rejoice, and find that peace:

 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV) 

The key to rejoicing is to think on those virtues.

Notice how in John 16:24 (ESV), Jesus said, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Again, God is encouraging an inquiring, a petitioning stance from His children.

A Process, Not A Light Switch

In the darkest times we need to focus not on feeling joy, but on the Lord. Through focusing on the promises of God, the blessings of God, the victory of God, that peace and joy will be sown back into your heart.  But it will still be striving, as the verses above say, “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving” and “ask”…it’s not a light switch, it’s a process in the hard times, but the Lord promises He’ll bring you through it and restore your joy.

So instead of telling yourself or others to “choose joy,” consider the implications of this message, and reconsider. As with any feelings of happiness or contentment, these don’t originate from the pursuit of them in and of themselves. Rather, feelings of joy and happiness follow a thought life that dwells on the richness of the goodness of God. Feelings follow thoughts, so redirect “choose joy” to, may I suggest, “think Jesus.” May that be your path to finding joy. That’s certainly our choice to make: we do or don’t dwell on Jesus.

 

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

-Helen Howarth Lemmel

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.

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