Pastor Brad Hoefs

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

Choosing to Live “As If” By: Jamie Meyer

Choosing to Live “As If” By: Jamie Meyer

By: Jamie Meyer

Who could have imagined that a tiny virus could bring the world to its knees?  Every day brought more shocking news as the coronavirus spread like wildfire.  When we didn’t think it could get any worse, it did.  Like so many of us, my anxiety level ramped up.  Daily routines that help me manage my mental health were suddenly interrupted.  Having to socially distance from friends and family has been painful. Honestly, I can’t wait until life gets back to normal.

 

But what if it doesn’t?  I don’t want to think about that.  What if mask-wearing becomes the norm?  What if kids can’t go back to school in the fall?  What if, what if.  I want to get back to my normal, everyday life.  It feels like I’m living in a state of pause, like pausing a movie I’m watching to grab a snack from the kitchen.  Hit Play on the remote and pick up where the movie left off. But wait. What if a different movie came on?  I’m sure I’d be terribly confused.  Me and technology don’t get along very well, so I know I’d be frustrated and pushing all the buttons on the remote.  At this point I’m angry because I can’t see the rest of my movie. 

 

Right now, we’re all cast members in an unfamiliar movie.  Try as we might to bow out, there’s no escaping the story we’re living in at present.  This begs the question:  Am I going to be angry and frustrated until things get back to normal or will I accept life as it is right now?  Can I learn to live as if things may never go back to the normal I once knew?

 

I believe there are a few things all of us can do to stay fully engaged in the here and now, rather than putting our lives on hold until sometime in the future. As I see it, an important key is trusting in God’s unwavering faithfulness.  Looking back on my own life I can see that He’s brought me through many painful situations where the future was uncertain.  Whatever challenges lie ahead in your own life, God’s got you.  In fact, his Word tells us we have “hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Heb.6:19).  I definitely need an anchor right now.

 

My mind believes this is true, but to be honest, sometimes my heart is slow to feel it’s true.  I have difficulty sitting still with my feelings, especially the uncomfortable ones like fear, anxiety and helplessness.  I tend to look for distractions and a big one right now is food.  When the overwhelming craving for junk food hits, I can’t say no even though I’m not physically hungry.  The reality is that it’s a numbing escape from the uncertainties and losses I’d rather not think about.

 

Another way we can anchor ourselves to the present is to consciously look for what’s beautiful and good around us.  When you find it in people, express your gratitude to them.  Be intentional in looking for the beauty around you, whether in nature or in the kindness of others.  Take time to reflect on what you’re grateful for.  Jot those thoughts down in a journal or share them with the people you love.  Bring hope and kindness to others by finding little ways to help.  

 

The real danger of putting our lives on hold until the old and familiar returns is that it may never happen.  Today is here and gone.  There are no do-overs.  That reminder humbles me and brings to mind a book written by Pastor Joel Osteen.  It’s entitled “Your Best Life Now.”  There’s a lot of wisdom in those words, encouraging us to live our best every day in this age of coronavirus.   

 

We of course continue will continue to offer our online Fresh Hope support groups and most of our local groups that used to meet in person are now meeting online also.  People can register for our regular weekly online group meeting by going to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com
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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.

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6 Tips On Discussing Your Mental Health Issues With Your Friends By: Stan Popovich

6 Tips On Discussing Your Mental Health Issues With Your Friends By: Stan Popovich

6 Tips On Discussing Your Mental Health Issues With Your Friends

By: Stan Popovich

Do you have a difficult time explaining your mental health issues to your family and friends?

If so, here are six suggestions on how to discuss your mental health issues with your friends and relatives.

  1. Talk to a counselor: The most important thing that you need to do is to talk to a counselor about your mental health problems. Seeking professional will go a long way in overcoming your current issues. In addition, a counselor will be able to give you additional advice on how to deal with your friends and peers.
  2. Don’t argue with others: It is important that you do not get into arguments with those who are giving you a hard time. Your number one priority is getting your life back on track. Your health is more important than what other people may think.
  3. Watch who you hang out with: It is important to surround yourself with positive people. Try to keep your distance from those people who are giving you a difficult time. Remember that your goal is to remain positive and hopeful. Do not let the negative people in your life bring you down.
  4. You are not alone: It can be very frustrating to deal with your mental health issues when your friends and relatives are on your case. Remember, you are not alone. There are millions of people around the world who struggle with their fears, anxieties, and depression. The key is to find those people who can relate to you.
  5. Stand your ground: It is important to stand your ground when dealing with family members and friends who are giving you a hard time. Explain your situation and your feelings to the people in your life, however don’t let them hassle you. Your number one priority is to get better and not to please everyone that you know.
  6. Join a support group: There are many mental health support groups in your area that can help you. Many hospitals, churches, and counselors in your area will be able to provide you with a list of groups. These support groups will be supportive of your situation and can give you additional advice regarding your problems.

BIOGRAPHY

Stan Popovich is the author of the popular managing fear book, “A Layman’s Guide To Managing Fear”. For more information about Stan’s book and to get some free mental health advice, please visit Stan’s website at http://www.managingfear.com

 

Relaxation Tips to Calm Anxiety

Relaxation Tips to Calm Anxiety

Are you feeling anxious lately?   Times are so uncertain now and trying to stay current on the latest COVID-19 news, working from home or keeping up with your child’s homeschooling is enough to make any person anxious.  Maybe your anxious about your safety or what the future holds. Whatever the reason, it is important to find a way to calm that anxiety. Below are some helpful techniques to relax:

 

  1. Controlled Breathing*: 

 

Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth.  Breathe from your diaphragm, not your chest. It helps to stay focused if you think a word upon inhaling/exhaling, such as peace/calm.  Also try counting 1-2-3-4 as you inhale, 1-2-3-4 as you hold your breath, and 1-2-3-4 as you exhale. 

 

2.  Sounds/Music*: 

 

Play relaxing music or calming sounds such as nature, ocean, or rain.  Close your eyes and repeat a meaningful word or scripture.  There are lots of videos on Youtube, channels on Pandora or Spotify full of inspirational and relaxing music.

 

3. Do Something You Enjoy:

 

Take time to do something you enjoy, whether baking, painting, gardening, knitting, reading or whatever.  Focusing your attention on doing something you enjoy or have enjoyed doing in the past, will help you clear your mind and ease anxiety.

 

4. God’s Word*:

 

Find peace in the following scripture verses: John 14:27, Phil. 4:7, Gal. 5:22, Matt. 11:28, Psalm 103:1, Zeph 3:17.

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Take some time today to do something calming to ease your anxiety.  You’ll feel better and will better equipped to face the day.

We pray these tips help you.  Remember, we are all in this together and God is with us!  

© Fresh Hope for Mental Health

*(1) Borchard, Therese J. 12 Best Anxiety Busters, belifnet.com, last accessed 8-22-2010, (2) Lucado, Max, Max Lucado on How to Overcome Fear, beliefnet.com, last accessed 8-22-2010.

 

How To Survive A Panic Attack When It Strikes

How To Survive A Panic Attack When It Strikes

By: Stan Popovich

Do you experience panic attacks and do not know what to do? A person can experience a panic attack when they least expect it. This can cause a great deal of fear and anxiety for the person.

As a result, here are six easy steps a person can follow when a panic attack strikes unexpectedly and how to overcome anxiety.

1.Take A Break: The first thing a person must do when experiencing a panic attack is to stop whatever they are doing. A panic attack can be very uncomfortable and can affect a person’s everyday thinking. Take a break to help regain your sense of comfort.

2.Take Deep Breaths: A person should take some deep breaths to help feel better and to get rid of some of the excessive fear and anxiety. There are also many kinds of breathing exercises a person can learn to follow with the help of a mental health counselor. Taking some deep breaths can help a person relax right away.

3.Distract Yourself: A person should try to distract themselves from the panic they are experiencing. A person could get some fresh air, listen to some music, take a brisk walk, read the newspaper, or do something relaxing that will give them a fresh perspective on things.

4.Get The Facts Of Your Situation: Many people feel like they are going to die when they experience a panic attack for the first time. The fact is that you will be ok and that it takes a few minutes for the anxiety to go away. Talk to a counselor and get the facts of what a panic attack is and what you can do when a panic attack occurs.

5.Don’t Dwell on Your Thoughts: A person must not dwell or focus on their thoughts during a panic attack. The more a person tries to reason out their thoughts the longer a panic attack will last. Read some positive statements from your favorite self-help book to help overcome your negative thoughts during a panic attack.

6.Get Help: It is important to talk to a qualified professional in order to learn how to survive a panic attack. By talking to a professional, a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with any panic attacks that may occur in the future.

 

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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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.

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A to Z: Basic Terms Everyone in Church Leadership Should Know About Mental Illness By: Katie Dale

A to Z: Basic Terms Everyone in Church Leadership Should Know About Mental Illness By: Katie Dale

By: Katie Dale

This is not an exhaustive list of terms, but it’s a start. I don’t know that theological seminaries prepare soon-to-be pastors and clergy to recognize mental illness and symptoms of mental health conditions. I do know that referencing a list of terms like these could help shed light on what church members and church leadership may be struggling with, in addition to spiritual warfare or physical illness. 

Familiarizing yourself with mental illness is vital to helping your members and yourself. Many problems arise and can appear as “sin,” but underneath can be rooted in mental illness. 

If you are careful to know your members, yourself, and some basics of mental health hygiene and illness, you can be another step ahead and that much closer to solutions for shepherding your mentally ill flock.

Recognizing no one is immune to sickness, whether physical, or psychological, is step number one in humbling ourselves to think of and treat others as we would want to be treated. After all, Jesus came for the sick, not the well.

(All definitions were taken from Wikipedia.org. unless otherwise specified)

Agoraphobia:  an anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms of anxiety in situations where the person perceives their environment to be unsafe with no easy way to escape.

Anosognosia: a deficit of self-awareness, a condition in which a person with a disability is unaware of having it.

Antidepressants: medications used to treat major depressive disorder, some anxiety disorders, some chronic pain conditions, and to help manage some addictions.

Antipsychotics: also known as neuroleptics or major tranquilizers, are a class of medication primarily used to manage psychosis (including delusions, hallucinations, paranoia or disordered thought), principally in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Anxiety disorders:  a group of mental disorders characterized by significant feelings of anxiety and fear.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental type. It is characterized by difficulty paying attention, excessive activity and acting without regards to consequences, which are otherwise not appropriate for a person’s age. 

Bipolar disorder: a mental disorder that causes periods of depression and abnormally elevated moods.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): a mental illness characterized by a long-term pattern of unstable relationships, a distorted sense of self, and strong emotional reactions. 

Catatonia: a state of psycho-motor immobility and behavioral abnormality manifested by stupor.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health. CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes) and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems.

Cyclothymic Disorder: a mental disorder that involves numerous periods of symptoms of depression and periods of symptoms of hypomania. These symptoms, however, are not sufficient to be a major depressive episode or a hypomanic episode.

Delusion: a firm and fixed belief based on inadequate grounds not amenable to rational argument or evidence to contrary, not in sync with regional, cultural and educational background. 

Depression: a state of low mood and aversion to activity. It can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, motivation, feelings, and sense of well-being. It may feature sadness, difficulty in thinking and concentration and a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping. People experiencing depression may have feelings of dejection, hopelessness and, sometimes, suicidal thoughts. It can either be short term or long term.

Depressive Disorders: commonly called major depression, unipolar depression, or clinical depression, wherein a person has one or more major depressive episodes. After a single episode, Major Depressive Disorder (single episode) would be diagnosed. After more than one episode, the diagnosis becomes Major Depressive Disorder (Recurrent). Depression without periods of mania is sometimes referred to as unipolar depression because the mood remains at the bottom “pole” and does not climb to the higher, manic “pole” as in bipolar disorder.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): evidence-based psychotherapy that began with efforts to treat borderline personality disorder (also known as Emotional Instability Disorder). There is evidence that DBT can be useful in treating mood disorders, suicidal ideation, and for change in behavioral patterns such as self-harm, and substance abuse.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): a publication for the classification of mental disorders using a common language and standard criteria. It is used by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, the legal system, and policy makers.

Dual-Diagnosis:  (also called co-occurring disorders, COD, or dual pathology) is the condition of suffering from a mental illness and a comorbid substance abuse problem. 

Eating Disorder:  a mental disorder defined by abnormal eating habits that negatively affect a person’s physical or mental health.

Evidence Based Practice: any practice that relies on scientific evidence for guidance and decision-making.

Grandiose Delusion: a subtype of delusion…characterized by fantastical beliefs that one is famous, omnipotent, wealthy, or otherwise very powerful. The delusions are generally fantastic and typically have a religious, science fictional, or supernatural theme. 

Hallucination: a perception in the absence of external stimulus that has qualities of real perception. Hallucinations can occur in any sensory modality – visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, proprioceptive, equilibrioceptive, nociceptive, thermoceptive, and chronoceptive. 

Hypomania: (literally “under mania” or “less than mania”) is a mood state characterized by persistent disinhibition and mood elevation (euphoria), with behavior that is noticeably different from the person’s typical behavior when in a non-depressed state.

Mania: a state of abnormally elevated arousal, affect, and energy level, or “a state of heightened overall activation with enhanced affective expression together with lability of affect.” The symptoms of mania include heightened mood (either euphoric or irritable); flight of ideas and pressure of speech; and increased energy, decreased need for sleep, and hyperactivity.

Mental disorder: (also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder), is a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. Such features may be persistent, relapsing and remitting, or occur as a single episode. 

Mood stabilizer: is a psychiatric pharmaceutical drug used to treat mood disorders characterized by intense and sustained mood shifts, such as bipolar disorder type I or type II and schizoaffective disorder.

Mood swing: an extreme or rapid change in mood. Such mood swings can play a positive part in promoting problem solving and in producing flexible forward planning. However, when mood swings are so strong that they are disruptive, they may be the main part of a bipolar disorder.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: a personality disorder characterized by a long-term pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy toward other people.

Neuroticism: one of the Big Five higher-order personality traits in the study of psychology. Individuals who score high on neuroticism are more likely than average to be moody and to experience such feelings as anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, guilt, depressed mood, and loneliness. People who are neurotic respond worse to stressors and are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. They are often self-conscious and shy, and they may have trouble controlling urges and delaying gratification.

Neurotransmitters:  are endogenous chemicals that enable neurotransmission. It is a type of chemical messenger which transmits signals across a chemical synapse, such as a neuromuscular junction, from one neuron (nerve cell) to another “target” neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD):  a mental disorder in which a person feels the need to perform certain routines repeatedly (called “compulsions”), or has certain thoughts repeatedly (called “obsessions”). The person is unable to control either the thoughts or activities for more than a short period of time.

Paranoia: an instinct or thought process which is believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself (e.g. the American colloquial phrase, “Everyone is out to get me.”) Paranoia is a central symptom of psychosis.

Personality Disorders: are a class of mental disorders characterized by enduring maladaptive patterns of behavior, cognition, and inner experience, exhibited across many contexts and deviating from those accepted by the individual’s culture. These patterns develop early, are inflexible, and are associated with significant distress or disability.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, child abuse, or other threats on a person’s life. Symptoms may include disturbing thoughts, feelings, or dreams related to the events, mental or physical distress to trauma-related cues, attempts to avoid trauma-related cues, alterations in how a person thinks and feels, and an increase in the fight-or-flight response.

Psych Hospital/Unit: hospitals or wards specializing in the treatment of serious mental disorders, such as major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Psychiatric hospitals may also be referred to as psychiatric wards or units (or “psych” wards/units) when they are a subunit of a regular hospital.

Psyche: is the totality of the human mind, conscious and unconscious. Psychology is the scientific or objective study of the psyche. The English word soul is sometimes used synonymously, especially in older texts.

Psychiatrist: a physician who specializes in psychiatry, the branch of medicine devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, study, and treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists are medical doctors, unlike psychologists, and must evaluate patients to determine whether their symptoms are the result of a physical illness, a combination of physical and mental ailments, or strictly psychiatric. Psychiatrists prescribe medicine, and may also use psychotherapy.

Psychologist: studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by experimenting with, and observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments.[

Psychosis: an abnormal condition of the mind that results in difficulties determining what is real and what is not. Symptoms may include false beliefs (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear (hallucinations). Other symptoms may include incoherent speech and behavior that is inappropriate for the situation. There may also be sleep problems, social withdrawal, lack of motivation, and difficulties carrying out daily activities.

Psychotropics: psychoactive drug, psychopharmaceutical, or psychotropic drug is a chemical substance that changes brain function and results in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior.

Schizoaffective disorder (SZA, SZD or SAD): is a mental disorder characterized by abnormal thought processes and an unstable mood. The diagnosis is made when the person has symptoms of both schizophrenia (usually psychosis) and a mood disorder—either bipolar disorder or depression—but does not meet the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia or a mood disorder individually.

Schizophrenia: a mental illness characterized by hearing voices, delusions (false beliefs), disordered thinking, social withdrawal, decreased emotional expression, and lack of motivation. Symptoms typically come on gradually, begin in young adulthood, and in many cases never resolve.

Self-Medicate:  a human behavior in which an individual uses a substance or any exogenous influence to self-administer treatment for physical or psychological ailments.

Severe/Serious Mental Illness (SMI): someone over 18 having (within the past year) a diagnosable mental, behavior, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. (Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are examples). (Source: SAMSHA.gov)

Suicidal Ideations: also known as suicidal thoughts, is thinking about, considering, or planning suicide. The range of suicidal ideation varies from fleeting thoughts, to extensive thoughts, to detailed planning.

Suicidal Intent: to have suicide or deliberate self-killing as one’s purpose. Intent refers to the aim, purpose, or goal of the behavior rather than the behavior itself. The term connotes a conscious desire or wish to leave or escape from life, and also connotes a resolve to act. This is contrasted with suicidal motivation, or the driving force behind ideation or intent, which need not be conscious. 

Trauma (psychological): damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a distressing event. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience.

Treatment Plan: versatile, multi-faceted documents that allow mental health care practitioners and those they are treating to design and monitor therapeutic treatment. These plans are typically used by psychiatrists, psychologists, professional counselors, therapists, and social workers in most levels of care. (Source: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/treatment-plan)

 

Katie Dale is the mind behind BipolarBrave.com and the e-book GAMEPLAN: A Mental Health Resource Guide. She works full time at a behavioral outpatient clinic, ministering to those with mental illness. She can be found on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

Handling Conflict

Handling Conflict

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Prov. 13:10

All of us are spending a lot of time at home.  For most of us, it means spending a lot of time with our loved ones.  This and the new restrictions and stresses we have in our lives due to the COVID-19 virus, can cause a breeding ground for conflict.  Conflict is inevitable and isn’t always bad.  In fact, it can help you learn new things, set boundaries and help you have more honest relationships.  Keep in mind the following the next time a conflict arises:

When you need to confront someone:

  1. Don’t assume.  Don’t assume their intentions or that you fully understand the situation.  Pray!

  2. Ask questions.   Find out facts.  Ask: “What was your intention in saying/doing that?”  “What did you mean when you said…”

  3. State your perception; how you feel, rather than what they did.

  4. Deal with one issue at a time.  The other person may bring up something that’s bothering them but stick on one subject.

When someone is confronting you:

  1. Don’t take it personally.

  2. Don’t counterattack.

  3. Ask for time to give it objective reflection. Our natural tendency is to fight.

  4. Set a time to re-discuss the issue.

  5. Pray!  Honestly evaluate your actions.

Either way:

  1. Keep focused on the big picture – the main issue.

  2. Always respect the other person as a person.

  3. Be solution oriented.

We pray these tips help you.  Remember, we are all in this together and God is with us!  

* Adapted from:  Widener, Chris. Don’t let conflict keep you from success. Beliefnet.com, August 30, 2010.   

What Kind of Noise Do You Hear?

What Kind of Noise Do You Hear?

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Noise. It’s ALWAYS going on. Even if you have all the electronic items off, there is still noise. You still hear cars, the refrigerator running, the air conditioner/heater, etc. I asked my husband what sounds he hears at night when he is hunting in Colorado; he said the wind or coyotes. In the mornings when he’s hunting, he will hear ground squirrels and birds. He said the most quiet it gets is when a storm is coming.

Wherever we go in our day-to-day lives, there are noises. When we are shopping, we hear overhead music, announcements, or people talking while waiting in line. You may be at a sporting event where people might not be happy about what’s going on and maybe they are yelling bad things, possibly cussing. You could be at home with your family watching a TV show, but the commercial shows things you don’t want your children to see.

However, we hear good things too! Riding in the car we put on Christian music. At some type of tournament or competition, you might hear people around you talk about how good a particular child did or how kind they are. At work, you might hear someone tell another person how nice someone is or they enjoy working with them.

So that brings me to the next thought…do you have “noise” inside your own head? I believe we all do; some good and bad; some positive and some negative. This noise can be anything from planning your day, deciding what you’re going to wear, accomplishments you want to achieve in the future or maybe things you didn’t achieve in the past.

In the morning, as soon as I wake up, even before me eyes open, my mind starts moving/making noise. I sometimes wonder where the thoughts come from. I’ve been paying more attention to the noises in my head. It’s almost like a conversation going on; me talking to myself back and forth. I may think “I’m going to go to the gym tonight, but then I hear myself say no you’re not. You’ll be too tired and lazy. You know you’ll give up.” And there are many other noises just like this one. There is not a time during our waking hours when the noise stops. I wish there was an off button so I could turn off all the noise.

In the Bible, even David had problems with noise/thoughts in his head. In Psalm 13:2 NIV he writes “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”

I/We need to work on the kind of noises we have in our heads. The fact is we all face these problems. The majority of the time we do not realize what we are saying to ourselves. Here are some helpful things we can practice so the noises in our heads change from negative to positive:

1) Pay attention to what you are thinking about.
2) Ask yourself if it is positive. If not change the thought. Hebrews 3:1 says “fix your thoughts on Jesus”
3) Every time you think a bad or negative thought, do what Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Think of what God says about that particular thought. As an example: You might say to yourself I’m so unattractive, but that is not what God thinks about us. In Psalm 139:14 God says “you are fearfully and wonderfully made.”
4) Replace the bad with good and negative with positive.

What are the noises/thoughts in your head?

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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A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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