10 Biblical Principles for Improving Your Mental Health (Part 1 of 2)

10 Biblical Principles for Improving Your Mental Health (Part 1 of 2)

The Bible is full of wisdom for living a successful, God-honoring life. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we want to address our personhood in full, we can’t overlook our mind and how we handle its health. The following principles are derived from passages in Scripture that can help us understand how God values our mental wellbeing and the spirit seated within.

Principle #1: Express your hurts and frustrations 

In numerous passages in the Psalms, we see David cry out to the Lord in his pain and troubles. Examples of his fears, doubts, hurts, and sorrow can be found throughout the book of Psalms. 

As a general interpretation, David’s example sometimes echoes and foreshadows the pain and trials Christ ends up enduring hundreds of years later. 

There is nothing unacceptable about letting God know exactly how we feel. Being authentic and identifying our true feelings is our first step in healing. 

This also deepens our relationship to Him as He can better minister to us once we’ve opened our heart to Him.

Principle #2: Seek and find

Jesus tells parables about seeking and finding in a few places in the New Testament:

  • The woman in her house looking for her missing coin (Luke 15:8)
  • The shepherd who goes out to find the sheep leaving ninety-nine behind to find one (Matthew 18:12)
  • The scripture in Proverbs 25:2, says it is “the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” 

God wants us to ask and seek and knock to get the answers and solutions we’re looking for. 

In a similar vein, medicine for our mental health and the best treatment methods are a trial-and-error search for the best concoction of medicines our minds will tolerate and that will help them perform to the best of their ability. 

Our mental wellbeing can need the chemicals our brains may not produce enough of. I tell many clients and those looking for peace of mind in their search for the best combination of dosage that it truly is a process. 

And asking the Lord to lead the way to find that best dosage is a prayer He will surely help answer. I know, because he has for me, and many others. 

And one of my favorite verses that assures we find when we seek is Jeremiah 29:13: “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” – what a promising promise!

Principle #3: Call on God’s name and cling to His promises

God wants us to call on His name and instructs us to in many places in the Bible (Acts 22:16, Romans 10:13, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 2 Timothy 2:22). It usually comes in the form of a promise too, assuring His children that when we call our God by name, He is faithful and able to meet us where we are at and help move us forward. 

In our mental health, sometimes there seems to be a dead-end or a huge roadblock. Perhaps we’re stuck in depression or continuing in a battle of anxiety. 

God challenges us that no matter the situation, when His name is called on, He will deliver. 

Sometimes that’s all a prayer has to be. 

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

Principle #4: Account for your thoughts

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6). 

This verse couldn’t be clearer. There are a few reasons why this order in practice can be helpful to our mental health. 

For one, accounting for what enters our mind, stays in our mind, visits our mind, and what we allow to entertain us in thoughts can directly influence our feelings and behaviors. 

This is a simple, known principle even in psychology: what and how we think will affect our feelings and behaviors. 

But God’s laws are as universal as the laws of science, so it would align with a science-based tenet, wouldn’t it? 

God knew what he was talking about when he gave this command through the Apostle Paul. 

You might of heard the saying, “Change your mind, change your life.” 

When we become alert and mindful of the thoughts in our head, we can identify what is true and of Christlikeness, and what is half-true or entirely false. 

Identify with the Truth, filtering each of our thoughts through God’s Word, and we’ll improve our outlook on life significantly.

Principle #5: Think good thoughts

Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things”.

What could be more straightforward than that? The author of this book tells us what kind of thoughts to dwell on. 

But, easier said than done, right? 

I encourage you to filter the thoughts through these descriptors as you’re taking them captive like the principle (account for your thoughts) above suggests. 

Ask yourself, is that thought true? Noble? Just? Pure? Lovely? Good news? Praiseworthy? Virtuous? 

If any answers are no, kick it to the curb.

Your mind doesn’t need to stay on that channel. 

In fact, to prevent your mind from absorbing that condition of thoughts, be on guard against what you’re letting your eyes and ears see and hear.

Limiting television and social media by instituting blocked channels or types of content can be a real mind-saver. And limiting your time on them is possible with apps that you can download to your phone and computer.

For the five remaining Biblical principles that will help your mental health, see my post on my site, Part 2 of 2 here.
About the author: Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at KatieRDale.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale.

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

October – Attention Deficit Disorder Awareness and Mobilization Month (ADHD) By Christian Coleman-Jones

October – Attention Deficit Disorder Awareness and Mobilization Month (ADHD) By Christian Coleman-Jones

Every year in October, ADHD Awareness Month is celebrated. The function of this month is to promote awareness among the public of what ADHD is, its causes, symptoms and treatments. 

I’ll be honest with you, before writing this blog, I didn’t really know what I wanted to say. Perhaps the pressures and push and pull of my life led me to think that it was not a topic of much interest among you. But I was wrong. I had the wrong topic. I was so busy with my own ADHD care, of understanding where it comes from in terms of neuroscience, that I had been distracted from what was most important. The issue is not ADHD awareness, the issue is the awareness that we must have day to day, that our lives are governed by Christ, if we are in Him. The main theme is Christ.

Yes, definitely the main theme, the preeminent theme in our complete and whole lives, is Christ. Once we have the main theme defined, we can then go back to what we thought was the main theme and let all the truths be filtered through Christ.

It is important that we know scientifically how the symptoms we suffer from are understood. We are used to use in our conversations, among ourselves and among family or friends, words like: deficiency, ailment, disease, disorder, among others, that do not really help in our growth or recovery process. For example, we use the word “disorder” before “deficit” as part of the acronym ADHD.

The most recent and most credible studies among first world scientists suggest, in some cases, that there is not a disorder or a deficiency, but a difference between those of us who are neurodivergent and those who are neurotypical. The word neurodivergent is used to describe the mind that is neurologically atypical or different from the mind that is seen in greater proportions in neuroscience. The word neurotypical describes the mind that falls on the typical spectrum. I will use these words to avoid having to adopt the terms: deficiency, disorder or irregular – although it is important to note that there are neurological deficiencies that require treatment, as we will see below. However, the words are important. Let us use those that are edifying and let us not use those that do not edify us, within the truth given by the Word and science.

In society in general, historically and culturally, ADHD has been known as a neurodivergence of children with inattention or hyperactivity. It had not been recognized, until recently, that these symptoms could persist into their 40s or 50s, undiagnosed. In addition, it is beginning to be recognized that the real and characteristic symptoms of ADHD are:

  1. Poor emotional regulation.
  2. Impairment of executive functions.
  3. Dysphoria sensitive to rejection.

You may have noticed that none of these three characteristics mentions inattention or hyperactivity. It is being recognized that the ADHD sufferer has a unique ability to pay attention to things, to things that are rewarding. In fact, I can be in front of the computer for 4 hours non-stop dedicated to a subject that gives me a lot of satisfaction to explore. On the other hand, it costs me horrors to start a task and finish it, if it does not satisfy me. It is not as easy as saying: “if you were more dedicated, you could do it” or, “give it your best shot”, you get the point. No, the mind that does not respond to the lack of gratification will not generate enough motivation to start and sometimes finish a boring task. This is not a matter of behavioral motivation that can be modified with personal effort, any more than a person with a broken leg can alter the pace of his recovery with words.

Lack of emotional regulation is a hallmark among people with ADHD. Have you noticed it? Perhaps you know someone with this diagnosis who has difficulty controlling their anger or controlling their impulsivity. In addition to the lack of emotional control, we feel all emotions intensely. If something gives us joy, we feel it very intensely, to such a degree that sometimes we do not know when it is time to stop. When we feel or perceive that someone may have rejected us, we feel that rejection with great intensity, immediately and for a long time. 

The executive function of the brain is what regulates organization, timing, the ability to prioritize, determine the consequences of our actions, and the list goes on. When the executive function is impaired, it can lead to procrastination, procrastination, procrastination, failure to recognize the importance of tasks, in short, it is an extremely important function that can determine the course of any neurodivergent person’s life.

The brain is also no longer recognized as an organ that places its functions in separate compartments, but rather operates in a manner similar to the way networks function in computing. When one network cannot transmit information to another network, all the associated networks may fail. In a very general way, this is how it is beginning to be recognized that our brain works. It is a network of networks, working in an integrated way, so much so that when one network fails, the others can be affected in the same way.

¿Observaron cuánta información puede haber en tres simples características? ¿Pensaron que el TDAH sería más complejo de lo que se imaginaron? No soy científico, ni médico, ni psiquiatra, ni psicólogo. Solo me interesa saber qué es lo que está pasando. Por favor, tomen lo que he descrito arriba como un ejemplo de la cantidad de información que se puede obtener con dedicación. No es mi intención reemplazar la opinión médica y profesional que tengan, no se apoyen en mis observaciones como verdades absolutas. Ustedes también pueden recopilar información para poder entender y para poder explicar. 

Did you notice how much information can be contained in three simple characteristics? Did you think that ADHD would be more complex than you imagined? I am not a scientist, not a doctor, not a psychiatrist, not a psychologist. I am just interested in knowing what is going on. Please take what I have described above as an example of the amount of information that can be obtained with dedication. It is not my intention to replace whatever medical and professional opinion you have, do not rely on my observations as absolute truths. You too can gather information to understand and to explain. 

Perhaps you do not suffer from ADHD, but you will have personal questions that could be clarified if a little more research were done, or perhaps you want to break down the cultural barriers that exist in our societies about mental health. The key is in the study. 

This brings us now to the main topic of this blog – Christ. For by Him, for Him and through Him all things were created (Colossians 1:16-18). No exceptions, no compartments, everything was created by and for Him. That includes our minds. He is the one who governs and controls the functions of our brain. Every one of those functions, millions of them, occurring simultaneously in fractions of a second, respond to the sovereignty of Christ. 

Yes, we believe that God is good and that He does everything for a good purpose. That our God is a God of love (1 John 4), is our peace (John 14:27), who commands all things to work for our good (Romans 8:28) and our hope (1 John 5:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3-6; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; John 4:13-14).

We place our hope every day in Christ, not in science as an autonomous and sufficient solution. We need science to understand, we need medicine to heal, and we need understanding to converse with others. 

God is sovereign. He uses the means necessary for His purpose to be fulfilled (Isaiah 43 and 46), not a word He utters flies back to Him void. God’s purpose is always fulfilled. Therefore, it is important to study and know what we suffer from, for that is where we can begin to see what God’s purpose is in the condition of our mental health. God does not make mistakes.

Let us celebrate World Mental Health Day and ADHD Awareness Month, knowing that Christ rules all and that, therefore, with or without knowledge, we are guaranteed our hope, the only hope that, like His mercy, is new every morning.

Christian F. Coleman-Jones

Note: This blog contains information about suffering from ADHD. It is a personal experience and should not be taken as scientific or medical observation nor should it replace the opinions and recommendations of a physician. Seek the advice of your physician or professional at all times.
Information compiled from various documents issued on www.additudemag.com.

Advice For Me When My Loved One is Struggling with Serious Mental Illness

Advice For Me When My Loved One is Struggling with Serious Mental Illness

We all need natural supports to get better when things like psychosis and mania get the upper hand, and caring for your friends and loved ones struggling with serious/severe mental illness (SMI) is imperative to a good prognosis. Here’s advice I would give anyone who’s wondering what to do for that friend in an acute episode, with or without insight into their SMI.

If They Seem to Not Realize They’re Sick

The number one thing to remember, if you take anything from this post, is to not insult the person with an SMI diagnosis. By that I mean, if they are sick and don’t realize it (known as lack of insight, or “Anosognosia“), do not try to convince them or persuade them to take their medication, make them believe they are sick or give them grief for resisting treatment.

Like Alzheimer’s and dementia, the general rule of thumb is to “live in their world.” Unless they are in imminent danger or a risk to themselves or others, be aware they may not realize their sickness, and talk to you as if you understand them, or should understand them.

Sometimes, it’s not so clear whether they understand they’re sick or not. When I was sick, I believed I was healed. I even had my therapist in agreement. But when I became stable, I realized I was sick and needed the medication to remain well. So in my own personal opinion, I think Anosognosia doesn’t have to be a permanent thing.

If They Have Insight

If your loved one recognizes and accepts their diagnosis, this is half the battle. When we are in denial or lack insight and have “Anosognosia” about it, it makes it that much harder to seek treatment. However, if it sounds like they are willing to go the distance to be successful in getting better and back to functioning within normal limits, that is half the battle.

As someone who had anosognosia/lack of insight at one time, I was too proud to admit I had bipolar and then realized the hard way that medication and therapy are answers to the prayers I prayed. God brought me through the chaos and confusion.

I believe God allows hardships and suffering in life because He wants us to be closer to Him through it and after it.

Here are a few practical tips for you to apply in order to help your loved one see as much success and progress as possible:

  1. Pray about how to express your concerns to your loved one/friend. It can be a tender or volatile thing to approach them, especially when they’re in an episode of mania or psychosis. If they’re not in an acute state and you’re not sure how to address how they’re doing in a face-to-face or phone conversation, you may consider writing a letter to them. You might say something like “It seems like you’re going through a tough spot, but I want you to know I’m thinking of you and here for you.” If you write it though, you have to mean it. You can’t write “I’m here for you” and not be. Make sure you mean what you say, but also say what you mean! 
  2. If they’re not hospitalized, depending on how close your friendship/relationship is, you may monitor their behaviors, check in on them every day, or every other day. Before you do, offer to them that you would like to check back with them daily, or however often. If they’re okay with it, then go ahead. If they’re not okay with it, attempt to be in communication with their caregivers/family/roommates on a regular basis. If they are suspicious, try to explain that you simply want to show you care and are there for them. If you simply cannot or they will not allow you to be in contact with them, pray for them in the meantime.
  3. Be there to keep them accountable. If they’re especially depressed and suicidal, you may ask them about their thoughts and if they’re planning or thinking of killing themselves. If they are, and you are comfortable talking about that, find out in-depth to what degree they’re thinking/planning. If they have a date and/or method, always contact their mental health provider with them. If they are exhibiting extreme behaviors, call 911. If you’re not comfortable approaching this topic with them, learn more about the ways to talk to someone who is suicidal and help them.
  4. Remind them of the good times. Putting too much focus and emphasis on the negative or the extreme of an episode can be too overwhelming for anyone. Definitely include talk about positive, happy memories, or great character traits you like and respect in them. Give them room to be themselves, but also try to encourage them that there are more good times to be had in the future. 
  5. If you are a guardian/spouse/close family member, try to see their psychiatrist with this loved one if possible. Let them speak with the doctor first. Never dominate the conversation, but if the doctor asks your opinion, share it. Likewise, if you have concerns, which you probably do because you’re there, ask if you may share them. Be brief, succinct, and factual from your observations alone. No one wants to feel ganged up on because “a lot of the family and others who know so-and-so are concerned.” Don’t speak for anyone but yourself.

Did I leave some out? What other ways have been helpful to someone you know in an acute episode of Serious Mental Illness?

Here are some other posts on my BipolarBrave blog that may give you answers surrounding this topic:

Staying Sane While Loving Someone with a Mental Illness

You Can’t Change Your Loved One with Mental Illness, but Here’s What You CAN Do

Talk Bipolar To Me – Part 1: A Series for Engaging Those with Mental Illness

Talk Bipolar To Me – Part 2: A Series for Engaging Those with Mental Illness

Talk Bipolar To Me – Part 3: A Series for Engaging Those with Mental Illness

Suicide Prevention Tools & Tips

About the Author: Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at KatieRDale.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale.

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

Experience a New, Hope-Filled Reality in Your Life

Experience a New, Hope-Filled Reality in Your Life

In 1995, the trajectory of Brad and Donna’s Hoefs life changed dramatically. Due to Brad’s mental illness, which was undiagnosed at the time, he had an excruciatingly public episode of uncontrolled manic behavior. As a senior pastor of a large church, Brad was smeared in the news, received condemning letters from pastors across the country, many friendships ceased, and the church asked him to resign. In the aftermath, Donna remembers sitting in her backyard weeping and pleading to God – “My husband is not well. I have no job. I’ve got two children to care for. What am I going to do?” 

Seven years later, Brad’s recovery hit a low point when he relapsed. In addition to losing more friends, they lost their dream home and moved into an apartment. Donna later describes the inner pain of being married to someone with a mental illness: “confusing… devastating… terrifying… alone… forgotten… grief… anguish…”.  

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. 

In their newly published book, Holding to Hope: Staying Sane While Loving Someone with a Mental Illness, Brad and Donna courageously share their story together. Being the loved one of someone with a diagnosis can be as difficult as having the illness itself. The book focuses on empowering people to live well in spite of the roller coaster ride of a loved one’s mental illness.  

“Now we can say, 20 years after the first diagnosis, these words:  

Relief 

Light 

Laughter 

Joy 

Future  

and Hope.” 

~ Brad and Donna Hoefs 

When I finished reading Holding to Hope, I found myself thanking God for keeping His promises to the Hoefs. When their hearts were broken, He drew near to them. During their struggle, He was working all things together for good. They have never been alone on this difficult journey together, and now they are sharing over 20 years of powerful insights and practical steps that can produce relief, light, laughter, joy, future and hope in others. 

For many people who love someone with a mental illness, those words may seem impossible and out of reach. If that’s you, I pray you will read this book and experience a new, hope-filled reality in your life. 

In Hope,

Jonathan Nielson

To order your copy of Holding to Hope: Staying Sane While Loving Someone with a Mental Illness, you can go to the Fresh Hope Store or Amazon using the links below:

Amazon 
Fresh Hope Store 

To download free chapters visit linktr.ee/holdingtohope

Holding to Hope: Staying Sane While Loving Someone with a Mental Illness centers around the 7 Fresh Hope Recovery Principles for Loved Ones. It’s filled with a transparent look and learned insights into the Hoefs’ lives as they navigated through the darkest days following Pastor Brad’s first major bipolar episode in 1995. Holding to Hope is not only for individuals to read but can also be used in a group setting for a group to process together. 

Facing a Psych Hospitalization or Incarceration with Grace

Facing a Psych Hospitalization or Incarceration with Grace

When we’re sick, we need medicine, and we need treatment. As with any physical ailment, mental ailments have their medicine and treatment too. Sometimes, when handling an acute mental illness episode, hospitalization can be necessary, and unfortunately, incarceration may be a reality (for some). Based on my own experiences in these kinds of situations, I give you the following advice to hang on to while you’re undergoing an inpatient stay or incarceration:

  1. Pray.

Ask God to grant wisdom to the medical staff before you meet with the psychiatrist, therapist, social workers, etc. Pray for God to give you favor and rapport with other patients/inmates/staff – everyone you come into contact with through your time there. Ask for healing and resolution through the right people, medication, and therapies.

  1. Be honest with your symptoms.

The medical providers treat you for what you need, so being transparent and honest is the best way to get the best treatment for you. Tell them how the mania, psychosis, depression, symptoms are, and try to be as clear as possible. They should have information from YOU on how bad it really is, in order to have a chance to find the right medication and therapy.

  1. Express yourself.

Be diligent to journal your feelings and thoughts through this time. It’s part of the healing process to understanding your heart and soul. Even if the words don’t make sense on paper, continue to write prayers or lamentations out. If you are prone to manic symptoms, I would also advise being more reserved with your expression in your worship.

If you are inclined to have manic symptoms like thoughts of grandeur, hyper-religiosity, or inflated sense of self, this can be tempting to lose control. But one of the fruits of God’s spirit is a sound mind/self-control. Be wise as a serpent because mania can easily elevate the mood to euphoria when singing.

  1. Read and listen to the Bible.

If you can, spend time in Bible study, church services, and if they have a chaplain in the building, take advantage of their services to gain godly counsel. If you are particularly sorrowful, depressed, the books of Psalms, Job and Lamentations are particularly comforting. If in mania or psychosis, stay away from Revelation for now and spend time in the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, or the epistles (New Testament letters to the church). Proverbs is a sensible book to read when manic as well.

  1. Take your medications as prescribed.

If you are faithful to do what the doctor prescribes, and symptoms are not alleviated or don’t improve in 2 -3 months, be honest and let the doctor know. They can adjust to a different dosage or medication to help find the right one. It’s going to be mostly trial and error. And NEVER adjust medication on your own. Always talk to the psychiatrist first.

  1. Make Peace with Yourself, Others, and God.

If you have burned bridges with anyone, make amends. Ask the Lord to give you the foresight to make the most of the time while you’re inside the hospital or jail and to be as fruitful and productive as possible in Him. And listen to His spirit in your heart for the answer. When it aligns with the Bible, it’s probably His voice talking to you, but if it doesn’t align, throw it out.

Beyond this, once you get out into the world and are adjusting to life – a few things that come to me:

  • Stay on the medication NO MATTER WHAT. Medication is one very big key to recovery.
  • Get involved in a local church. Pray and search for a Biblically-based, gospel-centered, sound theological and mental-health friendly congregation.
  • Try to find a job or volunteer activity. You must find a purpose to fulfill your time and spend it with rewarding work that you enjoy and are compensated for, either monetarily and/or morally/emotionally.
  • Exercise. Find a practical sort of physical fitness you enjoy and can progress at. Begin a routine by setting a SMART Goal to follow through. Have a trusted, reliable friend or family member to keep you accountable and join you in staying healthy physically.
  • Continue therapy. If you have trouble finding a Christian counselor in your area, try searching on aacc.net, therapyforchristians.com, or christiantherapistnetwork.org.

One Last Thing

1 Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

It will be a season, and because you love Him and follow Him, He will meet you where you are. He will provide strength and light at each step. You are not alone, ever! He is with you and has seen everything past, present, and future, and has every intention to give you the desires of your heart – for your good and His glory.

Stay brave and bold,

Katie

About the author:

Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at KatieRDale.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Since my former profession of case manager at a behavioral clinic, I’ve stepped into the role of stay-at-home mommy to Kylie. And I get to travel the world with Chris, my man in uniform. Aside from that, I could live off mac ‘n cheese, and I still hold onto my aspiration to run a sub-20-minute 5k. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale. Stay bold, brave, and real.

“Breaking the Ice” By Christian Coleman-Jones

“Breaking the Ice” By Christian Coleman-Jones

I’m going to break the ice with this post…

We protect our identity so much, spend so much time devising strategies to keep “them” from finding out, that we end our days exhausted, blaming it on work or the heavy day.

I’m not going to make excuses for who I am anymore. This is what it is, and I plan to live it with those who appreciate it, from now on.

I am a person who has great difficulty concentrating on work I don’t enjoy, nor on conversations that are not stimulating. I am easily distracted, which may suggest that I am superficial and not interested in what the other person has to say. I avoid mistakes in social situations, for fear of not being seen as perfect. I have always had difficulty associating with people I don’t know. If I feel that I have been or will be rejected, I can feel sad and angry for hours or days. I don’t have a great ability to control my emotions, therefore, I give the impression of being very intense. I feel everything in excess, there is no in-between.

All of this has a medical name. It is called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This is how I was born and even though I am working on ways to improve that, I still maintain the patterns. This is who I am, by the grace of God.

Many of you reading this haven’t seen me for years. Perhaps they were left with ideas, estimates of who I really am. Well, this is it.

What’s more, my 30 years of corporate experience were years I could have devoted to my true passions: Christ, above all things and people, giving myself to those in need of compassion and understanding, writing, music and anything that involves creativity.

But, with the best of intentions, I was instructed that being a businessman would bring financial and emotional stability. The truth is that there is no financial stability that brings emotional stability. I reached my goals and when I was at the top, there was nothing, everything was empty. I found full and permanent satisfaction in the name of Jesus. It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. It’s who I am and I don’t make excuses for it.

The man with the short hair, suit, tie, and everything else has been a big mask. That’s not Christian, that’s an image of what society expected of me.

Today, I am a man free from the chains that bound me to an electrified cell. I have found that freedom in Christ. With Him I don’t have to pretend, or dress well, or have good relationships, or be efficient in my work, or be excellent in my career, no, I just need to believe, and He takes me as I am, without prejudice or conditions.

This authentic Christian was awakened 6 months ago when I was drastically diagnosed with ADHD. The first day of treatment changed my life completely. But am I the ADHD diagnosis? Not at all, that is one of several adjectives that define who I am. I am different, very different from what the social norm expects by that diagnosis, but it is what it is and that is not going to change unless God has other plans for me.

The invitation to you, who appreciate me, and I appreciate very much, have that pure and authentic freedom. Be genuine, be transparent, put yourselves at risk to love those you do not know, just as we have been loved infinitely.

My great life experience is that when I identify and understand what God created me for, and I carry it out, I find infinite and permanent satisfaction and joy. He wants me to be who I am and what I was created to be. And I find that that is precisely who I am – I am not ashamed of my eccentricities or my controversial ideas (which I always hope to convey gently), and above all, I … am … not … ashamed … of … the … name … of … Jesus!!!

I hope you are not ashamed of me, just the way I am.

I love you all very much.

The Secrets to Worship Your Way Out of Sorrow

The Secrets to Worship Your Way Out of Sorrow

During pain-plagued tragedies, when one must endure long days and late nights, sorrow threatens to overshadow any sense of hope. It’s a universal experience for sure…that jerk of reality and jumping lightyears into a realm of sorrow. It can appear inescapable, and last far longer than you’d have expected.

This new paradigm shift brings the strongest prayer warrior to their knees, but the wisest know the secret to finding the way out.

Already on their knees, they worship. And when it gets better, or worse, they worship.

Circumstances come and go, but praise is due to our God forever. And in a sorrowful state, we are being shaped. God is still using the bad to cause good to come from it. Surely, we can worship in the midst of any frame of mind.

Here are the secrets to worshipping your way out of sorrow, depression, and constant misery:

  1. Recognize what you’ve lost. Define it. Identify that it’s gone. That’s the first step in processing the trauma of the loss. If you need to express your grief and depression, look into talking with a counselor.
  2. Humble yourself. God opposes a proud heart, but a broken one can welcome Him into the pain. A mentor of mine once taught me that the fear of God is keeping in the front of your mind that He is with you at all times. Keep reminding yourself of His presence. It’s helpful to practice the next step in order to do that.
  3. Call on Him. Say the name: Jesus. That precious, powerful name. The only name. It’s the answer to every fear, every doubt, every weakness. And calling on him out of your pain will light the flame you need to see out of the darkness of your sorrow.
  4. Praise Him! I can’t stress his enough – if there was a way to highlight, bold, underline and italicize – this point is most important. Lifting our praise in song or voice to God is where the tables are turned. Demons flee, Satan cowers, situations change, and the whole spiritual environment quakes at the praise of His glory. Give Him credit, glory, a great name! He is for us! What isn’t to praise? Turning our eyes onto Jesus in the darkest of nights will cause “the things of this world [to] grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace,” as the old hymn goes.

If that’s true, then after you’ve recognized the loss, humbled yourself, called on Jesus, and essentially done all you could do to put the sorrow to rest, you find the victory comes. Maybe not right away, but in discipline and earnest prayers and supplications and praise, we can eventually rest in victory.

Acting on a command like “rejoice always” is not dependent on our feelings or emotional state. The scriptures don’t tell us to “let your feelings dictate your actions” – but rather, the action changes that scripture commands bring about emotion and spirit changes. Don’t believe me? Try it. Apply it. And then come back and let me know how it went for you. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Disclaimer: For someone dealing with excessive sorrow and depression for more than a month, you should consider talking to a certified counselor and even a psychiatrist for medication management. The effects of clinical depression can be long, lingering and debilitating, and unnoticed can cause more harm than good. Take counsel and medications as prescribed by a certified clinician. Always consult with a doctor for appropriate mental health treatment and care.

About the author:

Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at BipolarBrave.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Since my former profession of case manager at a behavioral clinic, I’ve stepped into the role of stay-at-home mommy to Kylie. And I get to travel the world with Chris, my man in uniform. Aside from that, I could live off mac ‘n cheese, and I still hold onto my aspiration to run a sub-20-minute 5k. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale. Stay bold, brave, and real.

“Broken Cisterns: Food” By Eli González

“Broken Cisterns: Food” By Eli González

“… and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)

Fresh Hope has taught me that recovery is work, something that in the 25+ years I have been battling my mental health diagnosis I had not done. In the past, wellness was reduced to a period without depressive symptoms, and even, those periods of hypomania where I acted uninhibited and thought everything would be fine, periods that I tried to enjoy as much as possible because they were few and far between compared to the dark times of depression.

I must confess that during all this time there was a victim mentality in me, focused on what I was losing because of my illness, friendships, relationships, money, university courses and I was looking for guilty parties for what had happened to me.

My first diagnosis was depression, later, dysthymia, and when they came together “double depression”, and I lived believing the lies I was told about these diagnoses: “you will never recover, because there isn’t a treatment that is truly effective”, “if you can’t overcome depression, it’s because you are weak”, “suicide attempts are just attention seeking”; and since I developed a drug resistant depression in my youth, I even thought it was a divine punishment or some sort of demon that was chasing me.

Having no real hopeful answer for myself, I began to look for ways to fill my emotional voids and alleviate the “pain” that filled me to the soul. A relief for me was food, a false way to escape the pain, a broken cistern that never held water (Jeremiah 2.13).

In my 20’s and 30’s, eating mindlessly for a few weeks, gaining weight, but losing it quickly was not a problem. Now, in my 40’s the situation has changed, along with hormonal changes and my reluctance to do any exercise has caused me to gain almost 25 kg of weight. That undermines my self-esteem. Frustrated at not being able to control what I eat, I refuse to look at myself in the mirror and my self-confidence has diminished, which, in turn, affects my relationships with others and especially my relationship with my husband.

What does food mean to me? An escape. A mask. A disguise. Underneath those extra pounds I exist, but for some reason I hide deep inside myself. I run away from my pain, my denial of diagnosis, my anguish, and my fear of life.  I look in the mirror and it’s not really me. It’s a kind of surrealism, because I don’t accept myself, I don’t accept my body and my inability to do anything to change it.

But now I know that I CAN do things to recover my well-being, something that before was reduced to not feeling depressive symptoms, nothing more. Just waiting for the next episode. As one of the diagnoses that has accompanied me most of my life was Dysthymia, a mild but chronic depression, I had sentenced myself to live depressed all the time. Feeling good was short-lived because my own thinking reminded me to live according to my diagnosis.

Recovering my well-being implies a participation on my part, recognizing those behaviors that are not healthy, but that I repeat constantly because they have helped me to “hide” my pain. One of these behaviors has to do with my eating and I must accept it: I have an addictive relationship with food. If I am feeling sad, disappointed, tired, anxious, or facing a difficulty that I am struggling to overcome, I usually turn to food: soda, chips, snacks, desserts, and other things that contain a high degree of sugars or saturated fats.

In the past, I used to tell myself that I was happy with a soda and a bag of snacks (sweet and salty) with me, in front of the TV watching my favorite series. There was no such thing, it was the best way to hide my frustration or pain. This contributed to my already weakened self-confidence being an even bigger problem. I have already blamed the meds, the pandemic, anything but holding myself accountable for this behavior. “Diet” has been a bad word, because in the face of it I feel more anxious, I would start the diet Monday and break it the same Monday, because I felt anxious and would immediately go back to eating.

However, if I explore deeper, I know that the problem is not only the food, but the negative feelings of pain and frustration that I still struggle with inside me.

In the face of this, and thanks to Fresh Hope, I have delved into my irrational thoughts that come from my past, my emotions, and the wounds I carry. If I want a life of wellness, I must let go of those self-defeating patterns and be intentional about making changes in my life. My decision now is to eat healthier and start exercise routines. Also, exercise is scientifically proven to help improve depressive symptoms and give us more energy.

It may take time to get back to my ideal weight, but if I decide to “push through” my indiscipline and busy schedule, I know that I will, with the help of God’s grace, reach the goal I have set for my physical and emotional health.

No Place Like Church

No Place Like Church

Not In Kansas Anymore

Amidst the pandemic of COVID-19, it isn’t news that the mental health of many has suffered. For those of us in the tradition of gathering in the church, it has been a struggle in many ways. We are in unfamiliar territory, as if we were Dorothy transported to the land of Oz.

But what about getting back home, to church?

Whether your church took a reserved approach during 2020 with remote online services and virtual gatherings, or continued to meet in-person despite local jurisdictions’ mandates, church has not been the same. Not only has our routine to meet to worship and fellowship in person been unexpectedly interrupted, our minds have been strained.

The introduction of this new virus put unprecedented pressure on our minds to stay isolated to try to “flatten the curve” as the world health officials encouraged. All of the media voices concertedly stoking fear came at the cost of mental health because of socially isolating and suffering “alone together.”

During these times, the consequences of our choices haven’t always been straightforward, predictable, or easy to handle. We can probably agree, there hasn’t been much of anything “easy” about how to respond to the pandemic.

If anything, we’ve all had to reorient and adjust to the changes, akin to how Dorothy had to adjust to Technicolor!

Something Like a Twister

COVID-19 put the burden on each of our plates individually and corporately to make those choices to either meet together or stay home and isolate. Most of us stayed home, I believe, to the detriment of our mental health and the church’s wellbeing.

The question of how to respond as the body of Christ has not been easy to answer.

Many have returned to the sanctuary in the past few months as mandates loosened only to find an emptier, sparser congregation, or be the victim of the virus like my family and I were in January 2021.

While our own church stayed open for in-person services throughout the pandemic, many parishioners did not mask up. As a result, even though my family wore masks, we came down with the Coronavirus. Thankfully, we survived. I had a mild case of symptoms of slight congestion and loss of sense of smell and flavor. Nothing over-the-counter medicine couldn’t handle.

However, for all of us yearning to return to our church families, normal has left the building.

Don’t Forget Who Has The Answers

No matter how confusing, intimidating, infuriating, stressful, or risky these times have been, let’s remind ourselves of what has not changed.

There remains the constant, never-changing goodness of the one we gather for — God. His sovereign nature is to shepherd His sheep as He leads us through the valley of the shadow, into green pastures.

If we should follow our Good Shepherd who calls each of us by name, we will find ourselves where the Bible promises us: anointed by God, who prepares a feast for us in the presence of our enemies.

Since “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind,” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV), let us employ that manifestation in our gatherings.

In doing so, we should see that the church will rise to worship her groom, Christ, “to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word” (Ephesians 5:26, NLT).

When we continue to walk in the ways He is leading – together — we will find healing. The healing that comes from a spirit of unity, love, and peace between God and His children.

Can any of us be careful enough around a pandemic’s invisible virus that God foreknew would take many frail and vulnerable lives?

Neither our cautious efforts, nor the virus, can diminish or dissolve God’s goodness and mercy.

God remains the same, even though it would figure that such a strategy would be the Enemy’s attempt to steal the power of our gatherings and the ability to experience God’s omnipotent presence.

“You Always Had the Power My Dear, You Just Had To Learn It for Yourself”

-Glinda the Good Witch, The Wizard of Oz

Similar to Dorothy asking Glinda how she could have gone home all along, frankly, we as the church could have gone home all along. But for many of us, this tornado of a pandemic threw us for a loop and we became bewildered. It’s as if the CDC recently declared like Glinda, “You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

Let’s guard our minds against the fear of gathering in person when there is so much at stake. If “nothing can wholly replace the benefits of positive human touch,” as this article explains, then we are sorely in need of some long overdue contact. We are struggling alone at home, and even in the fabricated ways we try to connect as we do like in video calls and social media.

If anything, the church needs to return to fellowship and share our burdens with one another in the spirit of Christ – who suffered and yet “He was beaten so we could be whole.  He was whipped so we could be healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NLT).

Jesus risked his life touching lepers, healing the sick, delivering those serious about his call to the kingdom at hand. If the shadow of Paul could heal, what would keep us from the power of God by fellowshipping in person?

God clearly mandates his family to meet together, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV).

Fortunately, we can gather safely, guarding against the spread of infectious diseases by

wearing masks, physically distancing, spacing pews farther apart. Most churches provide hand sanitizers and sinks with soap and water. If you want, you can get a vaccine.

In moving forward into the freedom of God’s healing presence at church, I encourage us to remember and apply the following thoughts:

  • Let us not be ignorant of our Enemy’s schemes to “steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10)
  • Let us not forget our First Love, as the reason we gather together as the church (Revelation 2:4)
  • Let us gather to worship, and we will find we are stronger together (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
  • Let us not be short-sighted: if we die, we die; our security and peace of mind is ultimately locked up in Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven (Philippians 1:21)

May God lead you back to your church family in a safe way and may you return to a healthy state of mind in the spirit of Christ’s peace. After, all, there’s no place like church.

About the author:

Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at BipolarBrave.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Since my former profession of case manager at a behavioral clinic, I’ve stepped into the role of stay-at-home mommy to Kylie. And I get to travel the world with Chris, my man in uniform. Aside from that, I could live off mac ‘n cheese, and I still hold onto my aspiration to run a sub-20-minute 5k. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale. Stay bold, brave, and real.

Why Now is the Time to Explore Your Mental Health Katie R. Dale for Fresh Hope For Mental Health, PastorBrad.blog

Why Now is the Time to Explore Your Mental Health                                           Katie R. Dale for Fresh Hope For Mental Health, PastorBrad.blog

Now is the Time

May is Mental Health Awareness month.

With so many of us in isolated status with COVID 19, the affects on our mental health have been evident.

Just take one look at your news feed in social media accounts to see what the mentality of our world has come to.

It should be no shocker that a lot of us have been emotionally taxed throughout the past year (plus) of lockdowns and weakened markets.

Certainly the world hasn’t seen such a shadow cast from stormy clouds of a pandemic in a long time.

Tomorrow is Coming

There is no better time than now to explore the way your mind has been working.

Before the world gets back on track, give your brain the time and knowledge to understand why it’s been so challenging to live in lockdowns.

When things start to open up again, it will not only be more “business as usual,” but some people might struggle a bit to return to “usual.”

Once most people get vaccinated, and governments lift all the mandates, things will inevitably pick up in pace and pressure.

People’s state of isolation and suppressed energy levels without outlet will dump us out into the freeway of life at the speed of life.

Unless you’re calibrated to a healthy mental state of being beforehand, life may get tough in the adjustment process.

I predict that returning to the world as we knew it won’t happen. The world as we knew it will never be that way, at least, not for a long time. We’ll be straddling to walk in the comfort of how things used to be, and how things have become. The new normal.

Take Inventory Today

We can’t afford to miss the opportunity to tune into our mental health in this window of time.

Not only have attempts on taking one’s life become more prevalent, but depression and anxiety aren’t such taboo notions to most anymore because of the indirect social effects of COVID-19.

If you’ve been unable to function to a relatively normal degree of output (which is skewed with all of us because, what is “normal” anymore?), I’d encourage you to grow your knowledge about your mind and its state of well-being.

Recommendations

I would strongly suggest looking at resources for your mental health, if you’re:

  • tempted to go to sleep at a new day, instead of waking up and being productive
  • not as social as you once were and you avoid going out or connecting with a friend virtually
  • making impulsive, unhealthy choices
  • overloaded with expectations and demands on you, and need healthy ways to cope
  • having low moods of depression
  • moving and/or speaking slower or quicker than usual
  • eating and/or sleeping more or less than usual
  • believing you’re a burden to others or not wanted
  • considering unhealthy ways to end your internal pain and discomfort
  • having thoughts that you would be better off dead
  • overreacting or irritable in response to others
  • having unexplained changes in thoughts, emotions, and/or behaviors

After seeking out a trusted friend or family member to talk about these things, here are a few places to help guide your journey back to a healthier state-of-mind:

  1. Pastor Brad’s blog as a peer and pastor: Fresh Hope blog
  2. A Game Plan Resource Guide as a road map to wellness: BipolarBrave.com/resources
  3. A couple good books to read: I Love Jesus But I Want to Die by Sarah J. Robinson; Depression, Anxiety and other Things We Don’t Talk About by Ryan Casey Waller
  4. Some websites on all-things-mental-health: PsychCentral.com, Psycom.net
  5. Places to find a good Christian counselor: aacc.net, christiantherapistnetwork.org

As always, if you are experiencing a crisis and need emergency care, call 9-1-1

If you are wanting to talk to someone urgently 24/7, call the suicide prevention hotline at 800-273-8255 –     or text the suicide prevention text line at 741741

Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at BipolarBrave.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Since my former profession of case manager at a behavioral clinic, I’ve stepped into the role of stay-at-home mommy to Kylie. And I get to travel the world with Chris, my man in uniform. Aside from that, I could live off mac ‘n cheese, and I still hold onto my aspiration to run a sub-20-minute 5k. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale. Stay bold, brave, and real.