Pastor Brad Hoefs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, keep looking for those golden nuggets!

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

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

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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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5 Ways to Develop a Healthy Church Culture In Regards to Mental Illness By: Katie Dale

5 Ways to Develop a Healthy Church Culture In Regards to Mental Illness By: Katie Dale
  1. Talk About It

Start with the preaching from the pulpit (that’s you, pastors!) Include stories about those who have personally experienced mental illness as testimonies, to how they have experienced hope and healing in practical mental health treatment and results. Normalize its reality from the pastor’s perspective. Have a guest subject matter expert or success story from a church member who’s managed their illness to come in and speak to the congregation on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night. Hold a panel discussion inviting multiple field experts and host a talk on what the church can do to help those with mental illness. Make these events open to the church and the community.

 

2. Learn About It

If you are church leadership, look into material on mental illness and ways the church can help. Read books like Mental Health and the Church, Grace for the Afflicted, Troubled Minds, and Fresh Hope. Make these resources available and recommended for your ministry leaders to read and learn from. Invite a guest speaker to teach on it for a church leadership program or open it up to the congregation and invite the outside community for a conference.

 

3. Hold a Support Group

There are support groups like Fresh Hope for Mental Health, and Grace Alliance that can help your congregation and church members who struggle. The groups are usually member-initiated, pastor-approved, and peer-led. That means the ones facilitating must have a diagnosis and be maintaining a healthy functioning lifestyle. The support group curriculums are provided in the programs. If you are going to start your own group without a pre-existing organization’s curriculum program, research those that have done this before like Dr. Stanford’s, Dr. Grcevich’s, and Tony Roberts’ ministries found in this post on BipolarBrave.com

 

4. Advertise and Share about the Success of the Group

Make sure your congregation and community find out about the group and you have the resources to advertise and spread the word. You might advertise by investing in Facebook ads, a vinyl banner in front of the church, a blurb in the Sunday bulletin, an ad in the local newspaper, and through your denomination’s communications/newsletter. Get the word out.

 

5. Love and Support Each Other Practically

Be the hands and feet of Jesus and personally get to know other people who have mental illness. Form friendships, cultivate relationships, forgive when necessary, come alongside for practical needs when there are barriers to care. Practical ways you can help may range from providing transportation to medical appointments or hospitals, to a meal train for the family while a loved one with a diagnosis is away, to sending the member a card in the hospital, to sitting with and praying for them, and listening. These may seem like minor ways, but to the ones struggling, they make a huge difference.

 

Katie Dale is the mind behind BipolarBrave.com and GAMEPLAN: Mental Health Resource Guide. She anticipates the release of her first book, a memoir of her psych hospitalizations entitled But Deliver Me from Crazy, due March 2020. She enjoys her long runs and long naps to keep her bipolar in remission and resides in central Missouri with her husband and cat. You can follow her activity on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

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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A Review Of Techniques In Managing Your Depression

A Review Of Techniques In Managing Your Depression

By: Stanley Popovich

Some people have a difficult time in managing their depression. Sometimes, their depression and fears can get the best of them. When your in this situation, it is important to know what to do so that your depression doesn’t overwhelm you.

Here is a short list of techniques that a person can use to help manage their depression.

  1. Challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking. When encountering thoughts that make you fearful or anxious, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense.  Changing your thinking can help you manage your fears.

 

  1. Take a break. Some people get depressed and have a difficult time getting out of bed in the mornings. When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do to get their mind off of the problem. A person could take a walk, listen to some music, read the newspaper, or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things. Doing something will get your mind off of the problem and give you confidence to do other things.

 

  1. Use Self-Visualization. Sometimes, we can get depressed over a task that we will have to perform in the near future. When this happens, visualize yourself doing the task in your mind. For instance, you and your team have to play in the championship volleyball game in front of a large group of people in the next few days. Before the big day comes, imagine yourself playing the game in your mind.  By playing the game in your mind, you will be better prepared to perform for real when the time comes. Self-Visualization is a great way to reduce the fear and stress of a coming situation.

 

  1. Carry a  small notebook of positive statements with you. Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you feel good, write it down in a small notebook that you can carry around with you in your pocket. Whenever you feel depressed, open up your small notebook and read those statements.

 

  1. Take advantage of the help that is available around you. If possible, talk to a professional who can help you manage your fears and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem.

 

  1. Learn to take it one day at a time. Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week or coming month, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems.

 

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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The Internet and Social Media: Friend or Foe? By: Jamie Meyer

The Internet and Social Media: Friend or Foe? By: Jamie Meyer

By: Jamie Meyer

I did it again.  Checked my email and Facebook notifications before my morning coffee has even finished brewing.  Before I know it I’m on my Facebook feed to see who has posted since I last checked. Next thing I know, two hours have passed and I haven’t moved from my comfy chair.  As a person who lives with mental health challenges I have to ask myself: Is this a good thing or bad? The answer I’ve arrived at after much contemplation is this: It all depends on what I use social media and the Internet for, how often, and if I’m able to control my use of it.  

No doubt, there are good things to be found on the Internet such as reputable websites to learn about specific diagnoses and options for treatment.  Websites I’ve found helpful include Mental Health America, the National Institute of Mental Health and Psych Central. Diagnosis-specific websites are also available such as DBSA for depression and bipolar, and the ADAA for anxiety and depression.

You can also find topic-specific forums or message boards online where people can have conversations via posted messages.  These are useful for mutual support, especially if you’re isolated at home or it’s 3am. Many people benefit from online support groups.  An online search of “mental health online support groups” will give you several options to check out. Fresh Hope offers both online support groups and mental health forums.

Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat can be both helpful and hurtful.  While I enjoy keeping up with the lives of family and friends and seeing their pictures, it eats up a big chunk of my day. For many people, being on social media can cause feelings of inadequacy, shame and envy.  It helps to keep in mind that we tend to compare our insides to other people’s outsides. What some people project on social media is really a mask to make others think their life is full of fun and adventure, when in reality their life lacks meaning or enjoyment.

To make social media and the Internet safe, healthy and helpful for those of us with mental health issues, I’ve come up with a few suggestions:

  1. Set a daily allowance for the amount of time you spend online. Use an alarm if necessary.
  2. When doing an Internet search, stick to well-known medical or mental health organizations (such as WebMD or NAMI).  A safe website will have an https:// before the address. Avoid websites hosted by individuals who are simply looking for an audience for their opinions.
  3. It’s ok to not “Like” or comment on everyone’s Facebook post or send birthday wishes to every “friend.”  Sending a text, email or card is more personal and meaningful to the receiver.
  4. When you post, don’t obsess over the number of “Likes” you receive.  It sets you up for feeling inadequate.
  5. Avoid going online when you’re experiencing a severe episode.  You’re less likely to think clearly and may end up more depressed or risk the chance of sharing something you’ll regret later.
  6. Check in with yourself.  Am I online to numb out or escape real life?  Am I using it to avoid responsibilities or get adequate sleep?

 

If you’re unsure if the Internet and social media has become an obsession, why not try going cold turkey for 24 hours?  It’s not easy, I know, but it helped me see how much time my computer use cut into each day. And the bonus? It feels pretty darn good to be free.

 

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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Forgiveness: The Power to Heal by Jamie Meyer

Forgiveness: The Power to Heal by Jamie Meyer

By: Jamie Meyer

Holding a grudge and refusing to forgive hurts you more than it hurts the other person. I liken it to being held captive by a ball and chain. Unable to move forward in life we remain stuck in the past, continually ruminating on what someone did to us. Unforgiveness makes it more difficult to “live well” in spite of having a mental health diagnosis.

It’s human nature to want justice. We want the other person to pay for what they did. At the very least we want an apology. Deep down we even question whether the way we were treated contributed to triggering our mental illness or worsened it.

How were you hurt at the hands of another? Were you bullied, made fun of, or stigmatized because you were different from your peers? Maybe you were hurt, or continue to be, in a relationship. They didn’t understand so they said hurtful things, ignored you, or walked away, leaving you feeling abandoned and alone. I’ll let you fill in the blank.

As is true of all things in God’s kingdom, hope for healing is found in Christ alone. Are you thinking that there’s no way you can possibly forgive your enemy? Jesus tells us “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27). I think that pretty much covers everything, no matter how grievous the violation. If we invite God into the process, then forgiveness is possible.

Refusal to forgive is often the result of not understanding what it means to forgive a person. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to forget what the person did or tell yourself the hurtful experience didn’t matter. As much as you might want to, you can never erase those painful experiences from your memory.

Forgiveness does not mean you let the other person off the hook either. They are still responsible for what they did. The person who hurt you may never come to you and say they’re sorry. In fact, they may have already passed away. Regardless, it’s comforting to know they’re accountable to someone greater than you: “Never take your own revenge….’Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19).

Probably the greatest misunderstanding about forgiveness is that it involves reconciliation with the offender. That’s wonderful if it’s something you want but in most cases there’s no desire to restore the relationship. Why risk the chance of being hurt again? Part of caring for ourselves and maintaining stability requires choosing healthy relationships.

Forgiveness is a process, one that takes time. You don’t wake up one morning and decide you’re going to forgive someone. Telling yourself “I forgive ___” won’t take away the hurt and resentment you feel.

A better place to start is by asking yourself some questions: Do I honestly believe the person who hurt me will someday tell me they’re sorry for their actions? What if they did apologize and beg for my forgiveness? Would that make up for the damage it caused in my life, the happiness and peace of mind I could have had, or how my life may have turned out differently? If that day came, it honestly wouldn’t be enough.

The process of forgiveness begins with accepting the reality that in all likelihood there will be no admittance of guilt, no apology, nor will they have become a better person over time. Letting go of those expectations and the need to get even will enable you to break free of the ball and chain.

The past and its memories will always be a part of you but you’ll no longer be weighed down by them emotionally. Although the length of time it takes to heal varies from person to person, forgiveness is something you do for you. In return you receive freedom, joy, inner peace, and the ability to move forward with 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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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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Finding Emotional Satisfaction

Finding Emotional Satisfaction

Having a mental health issue can be and usually is life altering.  So often after coming to terms with the diagnosis and the side effects of medicine can leave you asking, “Is this as good as it gets?  Really??”  This can lead us to believe that life is “over” as we knew it.  In fact, it can lead us to actually feeling lifeless.

In the edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Pastor Brad and Jason Petersen discuss how Jason found his emotional satisfaction, his “sweet spot” for living after being diagnosed.  Jason talks opening about his journey to finding his passion for life once again.

Jason is a husband, dad, business owner and video blogger.  Be sure to check out his website at: www.JasonPetersen.com

After listening to this podcast we encourage you to email us at Podcast@FreshHope4MentalHealth.com with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.  Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site: www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

To listen to the podcast click on the icon below:

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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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Perfection Versus Imperfect Progress

Perfection Versus Imperfect Progress

While waiting to weigh in at a Weight Watchers meeting many years ago, the woman in front of me stepped on the scale and began to cry. The leader, who was the person weighing her in, asked her why she was crying. Between her sobbing and trying to catch her breath, she said that she didn’t have a good week. The leader, of course, asked her why. And she replied that she had eaten some peanut M&Ms. The leader then asked her a very important question: “Did you eat as many of them as you would have consumed before coming to our group?” And the woman between her tears and sobbing chuckled and said,”Ohhhh NO! I only ate a small bag of them. Before group, I would have a huge family size bag!” The leader simply looked at her and said, “Good! See, that’s progress!”

The memory of that lady weighing in has been forever etched in my mind. It was at that moment I learned a life lesson about recovery; recovery is not about perfection, rather it is about imperfect progress.

If you’re like me when you step back into old patterns or are triggered by a situation and react in old ways you can easily believe that you have failed at recovery. And when this happensbrad-and-donna and old feelings come back like someone unleashed Hoover Dam: guilt, shame, anger, sadness, confusion, hurt and much more. And the overriding feeling is one of total failure. But, the truth is that it is not a total failure. It is imperfect progress if you recognize it and learn from it. See, it’s only failure if you don’t learn from it if you don’t recognize it. It’s only failure if you decide not to get back and remain “there.”

Again, this “journey of wellness” is not one of perfection. It is a journey of imperfect progress. To make this journey you and I must be willing to accept the fact that we are never going to be perfect. No one is perfect. Recovery, which I define as taking back one’s life in a new way, is built upon failures in which we learn from them, get back up and continue to move forward. Shaming ourselves and believing that a failure constitutes us as complete failures simply is a lie straight from the pits of hell! Everybody fails. Everyone falls short of the mark. What makes the difference between those who decide to give up and believe the lie that they are total failures versus those who succeed? It’s simple; understanding that moving forward is one of imperfect progress versus perfection.

Note: it is never too late to get back up and dust yourself off after failing, even after years of failures. No matter how long you might have been stuck believing the lie that you will never be able to change or move forward, it’s not too late to get back up, dust yourself off, learn from what has happened and begin to move forward. It is NEVER too late. When getting back up, it is important to take full responsibility for your issues. Make amends if necessary and decide to learn from it.

When failures involve others that we are in a relationship with it can be difficult to get out of the “stuck spot” of believing the lie of never being able to move forward when the other person doesn’t let it go. This type of situation is very challenging. When someone is “stuck” and not letting go of the past it can trigger you. It is at that point that you have to know that you’ve done what you can about the past (reconciling, taking responsibility, apologizing, asking for forgiveness, etc.), and you need to recognize that it is no longer your issue, it is theirs. I’m learning that when this happens within my relationships with others that I absolutely must have a loving response to their reminders of the past instead of getting triggered and repeating the same things over and over.

I want to encourage you. You are not a failure. Yes, sometimes you fail. So, does everyone else. But, failing does not make you a failure. Failing is a sign of moving forward and learning from it. Wellness does not require perfection at all. It is made up of imperfect progress that is simply handling one’s failures in a healthy and appropriate way.

How about you? Do you want to give up because you “slipped up”? Do you want to give up because this journey of wellness is hard work? Are you learning from your imperfect progress?

Check out Brad’s weekly podcast: Fresh Hope for Mental Health (www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com)

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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