Pastor Brad Hoefs

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

Helpful Tips When Dealing With No Support System

Helpful Tips When Dealing With No Support System

What do you when you have no positive and encouraging support your family and/or friends?

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Research shows that when those of us with mental health challenges have a good support system of family and friends, we actually do better than those who do not have a support system. It only makes sense. After all, as it is with any challenges in life, we all do better with the support of family and friends. The support of my wife, family, and close friends was key in encouraging me and helping me to learning to live well in spite of having a bipolar disorder.

So, what do you when you have no positive and encouraging support your family and/or friends?

  1. Choose to work through your hurt from the lack of support from your family and/or friends. You can’t change people. Sometimes we have to just accept the fact that family and friends do not understand nor are they helpful; and you resenting it won’t change them and will only end up holding you back.
  1. Choose to find and establish the type of encouraging positive support system that you need. How?

a. Look for a positive, helpful, principled mental health recovery peer support group, in person or online. A support group is a great place to find friends who can be positive and supportive to whom you can be accountable on a regular basis. (For example, Fresh Hopenow has support group meetings online so no matter where you live you can find a positive and encouraging mental health support group.)

b. Finding a local peer support specialist is also another possibility for a positive support system.

c.Other places to find good friends are at church, a health club, the gym, and with special interests groups.

Remember, you and I become like the five people we spend the most time with; therefore choose friends carefully.

In spite of having a great support group of spouse, family, and friends, I’ve also had an accountability group of peers who have held me accountable for my mental health recovery and doing the things that are best for me and for my family.   This accountability group has been key in my recovery support system. They have had access to my doctor and my wife. My wife and doctor have also had access to them and to one another. I call it my “circle of accountability” which hems me in and keeps me honest.

While it’s not always been comfortable; my accountability group has empowered me to live well in the long run. Let’s be honest, too often you and I can easily tell the doctor one thing and our spouse or friends something else; only telling people what we want them to know. And while it took a lot of trust initially in the individuals who have made up my accountability group, it has served me very well.

From my perspective, it imperative for you and me to have a positive and encouraging support system and accountability. And as disappointing and hurtful as it is to have a lack of support from friends and/or family members, you can’t let that keep you from finding the support system you need. Yes, it will take effort to do so. But the effort will pay off.

What about you? Do you have the support of family and friends? If not, have you been able to establish a support system for yourself? If so, where? How?

Check out Brad’s weekly podcast: www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

Check out Fresh Hope’s online meetings: www.FreshHopeMeeting.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.

https://freshhope.us/donate/

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Real Hope Has Gotten Me Through My Hopelessness

Real Hope Has Gotten Me Through My Hopelessness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings my friend,

Brad

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

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

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A Tool of Hope in the Palm of My Hands – The Spanish Fresh Hope Book

A Tool of Hope in the Palm of My Hands – The Spanish Fresh Hope Book

 By: Samanta Karraa

I am so glad to announce to all my Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters that                   the Fresh Hope book is now available in Spanish!

   Prior to reading the Fresh Hope Book, I was merely surviving. I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and my whole world was falling apart. On top of the discomfort, the heartache, the apathy towards life, I was experiencing a lot of guilt because of things I had done and said during a manic episode right before having been diagnosed. I had lost all confidence in myself and felt like I was never going to be able to work or to serve my family again. I was hiding behind a curtain of shame, feeing trapped between a rock and a hard place between symptoms and the medicines’ secondary effects. I felt alone and misunderstood. And frankly, I could see no way into the future.

   Totally by an act of God’s grace I happened to find Pastor Brad’s book online: Fresh Hope: Living Well in spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis. Although the title was very promising and compelling, and I was excited to find a Christian resource that spoke bluntly about Mental Health, at first I wasn’t convinced I wanted to read it. It was so hard for me to concentrate – how was I going to be able to read a whole book! But I did go ahead and order the book, only to find it was God´s gift to me during the worst moments of my life! In the book I found so many blessings, but here are the Top 11 Blessings Received by reading Fresh Hope: Living Well in spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis (because the Top 10 wasn’t enough!):

  1. Ability to accept my diagnosis. Denial was no longer necessary. First, I was able to see where exactly I was in denial and how denial works. Secondly, I was able to overcome denial and peacefully accept my diagnosis without succumbing to it.
  2. Freedom from the power that the symptoms had to define my life. Before reading the Fresh Hope book, whenever I heard or read about a symptom of bipolar disorder, I would immediately magnify it in my mind and let it start dictating my behavior. Anxiety would creep in as I heard or read stories of others who were always beat up by their diagnosis and reached unthinkable levels of desperation, shame, and even tragedy. But after reading the book, I stopped identifying with the illness and started enjoying my true identity – as a child of God. 
  3. Empowerment to manage my illness as opposed to it managing me. I was no longer helpless. I understood I had to own my recovery and have a protagonist role in it. I learned to identify when I was making excuses and I learned to push through and overcome.
  4. Answers to my many questions. Had I been to blame for the things I had done and said during the manic episode, or was the illness to blame? Was I ever going to be able to live a productive life again? Could a Christian be depressed? Did God still love me? Was God still with me? Did I need to tell others about my diagnosis? And if so, how was I going to tell them? Was it a sin to take medicine? How could my husband support me? All of these questions found their answers in this book.
  5. Connection to others. An end to feeling lonely!! Pastor Brad´s story, as well as other stories that appear in the book, made me feel welcome into a community of overcomers in the name of Jesus!
  6. Principles on which to base my life. The 6 Tenets of Recovery did not only provide answers to my questions – they also gave me a new perspective, a fresh world view, and new criteria to live by.
  7. A renewed mind. Tenet 5 specifically deals with the fact that while medication is a key part of recovery, it is not the only answer. We need to work on our recovery, and one of the most effective ways to do that is to renew our minds with the Word of God. This book taught me how.
  8. Detachment of victim mentality. I finally admitted that there were actually worse things and worse situations than mine, and that I needn´t allow my diagnosis to reduce me to a defeated, helpless woman walking around with her head down and her eyes to the ground. 
  9. Encouragement and strength to love those around me. Specially my family. The book provided me a perspective on how my illness affected everyone else around me and hence provided me a way to love them as a motive to make the effort to recover.
  10. Healing from my past. I was now able to be honest about it. I was now able to forgive myself as well as others. I could finally stop asking “why?”.  I was now able to turn the page and walk into a brighter future, with the assurance in my heart that God is a God who Redeems. 
  11. Hope like I had never known or understood before! I now felt it was possible to live a full and rich life in spite of my disorder. I now did not only hope to be the mother, daughter, and wife I used to be, but I actually expected to be an even better mother, daughter, and wife than I used to be! I no longer only hoped to continue serving the Lord like I used to do, but I actually expected to have an even better relationship with Him and to serve Him a lot more! Now I had a way forward; a future and a hope just like Jeremiah 29:11 promises.

To my surprise, the entire book was easy to read, and it had such a comforting tone. It felt familiar. It felt like I was having a candid conversation with someone more experienced and wise than I was in hope and recovery matters. After reading the book, I was no longer surviving but thriving. I had a Wellness Plan. A circle of accountability, a new perspective, and an entire future had opened wide ahead of me, ready to be conquered. Romans 8:28 took on a whole new meaning. 

If you haven’t read Pastor Brad’s book, I would strongly recommend that you do. I am thrilled to know that now my Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters have the opportunity to read it!! No other book exists with this unique peer-to-peer, faith-based focus. You can order yours through Amazon (both in digital or paperback editions), or write to samantha@freshhope.us to order one straight from the office. But beware – your life might undergo strong positive changes after you read it! 

You can purchase the Kindle version at the link here: Purchase Kindle Edition!  

Or your can pre-order a paperback copy that will be available June 1st at the link here: Pre-Order PaperBack Edition! 

 

Times like this can be a challenge to our mental health. Navigating all of the life altering changes that are coming at us can not only cause anxiety, but the anxiety can lead to a sense of fear; which can lead us to shutting down or finding unhealthy ways of coping.

We are committed to guiding you through this unprecedented time in our history. We are willing to walk along side of you and empower you practical ways to navigate this time of social distancing and isolation through our weekly Mental Health Mondays on Facebook Live!

 

Each Monday for the foreseeable future Pastor Brad will host a Mental Health Monday gathering on Fresh Hope for Mental Health’s Facebook page. The gathering will begin at 8.30 p.m. Central Time Zone. If you’d like to receive reminders about the gathering, please click the link below and we’ll send a reminder each week about it along with other practical tools for emotionally managing a time such as this.

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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Questions to Ask Yourself When Emotionally Stuck

Questions to Ask Yourself When Emotionally Stuck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

 

5 Insights on Forgiving Yourself

5 Insights on Forgiving Yourself

By Brad Hoefs:

When your brain is not functioning properly, it certainly affects your behavior, which then affects your relationship with others. Those of us with a mental health issue can end up hurting a lot of people that we love. Whether it’s through our words or because of something we have done, those closest to us are left wounded.

Those who have been hurt will either forgive us and give us another chance, forgive us but no longer be in the relationship or choose not to forgive us and leave us. And we end up feeling the deep pain our behavior(s) have caused for them and ourselves. It is at this point that we have a critical choice to make; whether we will forgive ourselves or not.

Even if others will not forgive us, it is important for us to take responsibility for any of our hurtful behaviors; asking for forgiveness and then choosing to forgive ourselves. If we do not, we end up getting stuck and unable to move forward in living well. Everyone gets stuck at times. But, staying stuck is not okay. Thus, being able to forgive yourself is an essential component of living well in spite of having a mood disorder.

These are some of the insights I offer to you about “how” to forgive yourself so that you can move forward in living well:

1. Come to this realization: no matter how hard you try, you cannot change what has happened. You can only learn from it, grow from it and move forward. Accept what happened.

2. Take responsibility for what you did and the pain it caused others, asking them for forgiveness. Even if they choose not to forgive you; you must forgive yourself. Forgiving yourself cannot be contingent upon them forgiving you. Remember, them forgiving you is going to be a process, it’s not like switching on or off a light switch, just as forgiving yourself is going to be a process.

3. If you are a person of faith, then ask God, your higher power, for forgiveness. If it is within your faith tradition to go to the clergy and confess to him or her what has happened, then I would encourage you to consider doing that. Sometimes we need to hear out loud from someone in spiritual authority that God has forgiven us.

If God forgives us (and He does), who are we to refuse to forgive ourselves? God sets the example for us. So be kind to yourself, just as you would be to a close friend.

4. Decide to stop rehearsing over and over in your head what has happened. Rehearsing it will not change it. Rehearsing over and over is a way abusing yourself for what you did or didn’t do. Decide that you will stop allowing the rehearsal of it in your head. Yes, it’s tough to do. But, it is possible. You and I can be in charge of what we think about in our thought life. At first, it will feel as though it is next to impossible to do. With time, it will get a bit easier.

To stop rehearsing over and over what I had done that had hurt so many people in my life, I disciplined myself to have two times a day where I would think about it and grieve it. I promised myself that I would only spend 20 minutes each time. During this period, I wrote what I was thinking down in a journal. At the end of that time, I always spent time in prayer and reading some carefully selected scriptures from the Bible.

Wallowing in what happened will get you nowhere. Allow those few times a day to do this and then get on with your day. Don’t sit around letting your mind “wander around” on its own. Take charge. As you do this, it will get easier.

5. With my therapist, I began to work through any emotional issues that I had that were being exacerbated by my mood disorder, that I could work through in the hopes that it would give me a breakthrough in any of my dysfunctional behaviors that were harmful to my relationships with others. Too often you and I think we behave a “certain way” because of our mood disorder. However, more times than not, much of our behaviors happen due to emotional issues that we have yet to resolve, and the mood disorder merely intensifies those issues. Plus, if you and I are not stable, we can have great difficulties with impulse control. So, in my thinking, it is imperative for you and me to be working through as many emotional issues and any of the dysfunctional ways of being in relationships as possible.

One of the emotional issues that I had to work through was not to hate myself. I did not like myself at all. I had a very critical parent tape playing over and over in my head. I had to erase that tape. And create a new healthy adult tape. It took time. It was a process. And even yet today, some 20 years later, that critical parent tape plays just a bit here and there, but I stop listening to it rather quickly.

These things helped me to forgive myself. I hope that some of them might be helpful to you. It is a day- by-day process, but you can do it. Remember, if you tell yourself, “I can’t forgive myself for that,” then you won’t forgive yourself, and you will stay stuck at that point. If you choose not to forgive yourself, then you will not move forward in living well. Without forgiving one another, where would we all be? We live in a broken world that necessitates forgiving one another and forgiving ourselves.

How about you? Do you need to forgive yourself? Have you forgiven yourself? If so, how did you go about it?  (We encourage you to leave a comment or question!)

Check out Brad’s podcast: Fresh Hope for Mental Health

For more information about Fresh Hope go to: FreshHope.us

 

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

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

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How to Empower Yourself in Living Well in Spite of Your Mental Health Diagnosis

How to Empower Yourself in Living Well in Spite of Your Mental Health Diagnosis

When Thomas “melted-down” in the small town of only 600 people he felt as though everyone was talking about him and that he had become the town “monster.” So, following his move back to his parents’ home in a metro area, he began a remarkable journey of healing that led him to find hope through Fresh Hope.

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Thomas talks about his various diagnoses, which include schizoaffective disorder and borderline personality disorder. He discloses the importance of researching and understanding your diagnosis and how medicine does 50% of the work, but you have to do the other 50% of it. Through researching his diagnoses, he became empowered to live well in spite of them.

Anyone facing a serious mental health diagnosis will be greatly encouraged in hearing Thomas’ journey to living well in spite of a mental health diagnosis. You don’t want to miss this interview!

After listening to this podcast, we encourage you to email us at info@FreshHope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.

To listen to the podcast you can click on the icon below and it will take you to our podcast website.  (Or if you want, you can listen on iTunes/ApplePodcasts by clicking on the second icon below.)FH PodCastArt (160dpi) 02_Splash 480x854

To listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts/iTunes- click on this icon:

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If you listen to this podcast on iTunes, we encourage you to leave a comment regarding the podcast. Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site:  www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.comPastor Brad Hoefs, host of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, is the founder of Fresh Hope Ministries, a network of Christian mental health support groups for those who have a diagnosis and their loved ones. In other words, Fresh Hope is a Christian mental health support group.

 

 

 

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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Getting Hopeful: Seven Reasons to Start a Fresh Hope Group in Your Church By: Katie Dale

Getting Hopeful: Seven Reasons to Start a Fresh Hope Group in Your Church By: Katie Dale

 By: Katie Dale

  1. The first place Christians with mental health issues go for help is to their church

Think about 25% of your church. One in four Americans suffers from a mental health challenge in their lifetime. If the staggering number of 1 in 4 doesn’t quite hit home, think about times in your life you have had a meltdown, a breakdown or an experience of large enough proportion that you couldn’t function 100% because of an emotionally and mentally challenging time. Then think about the guidance many of us seek out from our pastor or other church member who appears to have it more “together.” According to a Lifeway Research poll, the percentage of churches that are actually equipped to respond to such distress is 3%.

The church is a beautiful body of redeemed souls, yet our minds are still subject to the effects of sin in our fallen world. This is a truth we can’t ignore. Which is why it is so crucial that the church proactively and appropriately responds to hurting members that are in need of attention and proper treatment of their mental health conditions.

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is such a way to assist in the healing process. Having a Fresh Hope group in place in your church will empower participants to live a full, rich and faith-filled life in spite of their mental health challenges.

2. Fresh Hope empowers your church to reach out and minister many at one time

Fresh Hope groups are offered through local churches and online mental health support groups sponsored by local churches and ministries. As part of their mission, Fresh Hope also supports and encourages faith leaders to help their faith community through resources for pastors such as webinars.

Churches that facilitate these groups are trained and certified by Fresh Hope in a 8-hour online training course with quizzes followed by a personal interview. They also offer free phone and online support and a facilitator website to help troubleshoot problems and receive peer advice on leading a group. They provide promotional materials (videos, press releases, sample articles) and curriculum for facilitators and participants. New content is offered regularly to help empower group participants in their recoveries.

Groups usually meet weekly for up to an hour and half each session and are not limited to a specific number of participants. Both those with a diagnosis as well as their loved ones attend the group together for the first half of the meeting.

3. Fresh Hope leads to healing and a better quality of life

The proven track record of Fresh Hope groups’ success is shown in that:

  • 96% of weekly participants attribute their participation as the reason they now feel more hopeful than prior to their participation in Fresh Hope
  • 92% who have attended other mental health support groups say that Fresh Hope has been more positive and helpful in their recovery than any previous groups
  • 86% of those who were suicidal prior to coming to Fresh Hope report that they have not been suicidal since participating
  • 88% say that Fresh Hope has been extremely important in their recovery
  • 71% who have been hospitalized prior to attending Fresh Hope have had no returns to hospitals since attending the support groups

 

4. Fresh Hope is created by a pastor who has been there, experienced that

Pastor Brad Hoefs was diagnosed with Bipolar I himself, and drawing on his first-hand experiences, has been able to relate to lead others to a place of healing through six tenets that he has composited based on Scripture that have been foundational for living well in spite of a mental health diagnosis.

The tenets are for both the person who has the diagnosis and the loved ones of those who have a diagnosis. Each tenet is based upon a Scripture, read at the beginning of each meeting. They are not “steps,” but rather building blocks of wellness. They have not been created by a doctor or therapist but by Pastor Brad Hoefs who “discovered” these faith-based principles on his road to wellness.

5. Fresh Hope is facilitated by peers who have mental health issues

Fresh hope support groups are peer-led, where members encourage one another under the guidance of a facilitator, and have up to 4 facilitators, with at least one with a mental health diagnosis. The meeting format includes both a large and small group experience, where members can share as little or as much of their “journey” as they desire.

6. Fresh Hope is more than just a peer support group – they are not a constant vent session

Fresh Hope has a high regard for the processing that goes on in a support group that is not curriculum-driven (considered as short-term interventions which research shows is only helpful in the short term) but rather is an ongoing peer-to-peer support which allows people to actually process together mental health recovery approaches as adults truly learn through interaction, not being taught. (If recovery could be taught in 12 weeks, A. A. would have been doing that years ago).

They also have a high regard for how the majority of adults learn and that is by them interacting, which is what happens in an authentic safe support group setting. While venting is a necessary thing in recovery, it cannot be the only thing; otherwise those in the group simply get worse and not better.

7. Fresh Hope has proven success

Self-reported results of those who attend Fresh Hope groups meetings for six weeks showed that:

  • 78% of the participants say they are extremely hopeful about being able to live a full and rich life in spite of their mental health diagnosis since coming to Fresh Hope. Another 22% say they are “becoming” more hopeful about living a full and rich life. 0% say they don’t feel hopeful since attending.
  • 97% say that the fact that Fresh Hope is faith-based is extremely important to them
  • 94% report they have a better understanding of their diagnosis since attending Fresh Hope
  • 96% report being more compliant to their medical treatment and using wellness skills in their recovery since attending Fresh Hope

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the types of groups offered?

  • Fresh Hope for Mental Health groups
      • Churches or local ministries start and sponsor these groups
      • Facilitators are trained and certified by Fresh Hope
      • Local and online groups are offered
  • Fresh Hope for Teens (FreshHope4Teens.com)
      • Churches or local ministries start and sponsor these groups
      • Facilitators (usually young adults) are trained and certified by Fresh Hope
      • Parents meet in a separate group
      • Teens may bring their friends with them
  • Fresh Hope for Living Free (FreshHope4LivingFree.com)
    • Fresh Hope for Living Free is both a curriculum that can be taught within the correctional setting and also includes a group that is on the “outside” for when inmate/prison is out of jail/prison
    • Chaplains in local jails, prisons, correctional facilities may use the curriculum and a local ministry or church starts the “outside” support group for those getting out of jail/prison along with their loved ones

Who can start groups?

Local churches, ministries (homeless shelters, half-way houses, etc.) start our groups

How to start a group?

Email us at info@FreshHope.us

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

Relaxation Tips to Calm Anxiety

Relaxation Tips to Calm Anxiety

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

 

  1. Controlled Breathing*: 

 

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

 

2.  Sounds/Music*: 

 

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

 

3. Do Something You Enjoy:

 

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

 

4. God’s Word*:

 

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

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

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

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

© Fresh Hope for Mental Health

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

 

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