Pastor Brad Hoefs

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

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.

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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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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8 Simple Ideas for a Healthier Marriage with SMI By: Katie Dale

8 Simple Ideas for a Healthier Marriage with SMI By: Katie Dale

In any marriage, one plus one equals friction. Make one of those “ones” a ticking time-bomb or a lit bottle rocket, and if you haven’t had one yet, you have a problem coming to you. With a spouse who has a Severe Mental Illness diagnosis, an untreated or unrecognized episode can not only leave you in a state of chaos, but can lead to crisis and a multitude of other issues if not addressed and treated.

As someone with an SMI, I’ve been on the giving end of that relationship – in terms of giving my husband a huge shock when I went off my bipolar medications three years into our marriage. I unwittingly and somewhat due to Anosognosia (lack of insight) and also pride, decided to forego taking my medication. 

I denied I had the illness and requested my therapist redact my diagnosis. Thus the spiral, or rather escalation, up into manic psychosis blindsided my husband who had never seen me in an episode before.

For a while, he didn’t presume it was my mental illness but rather an emotionally unsettled wife who was (over)reacting to his absence for a month-long trip to Mongolia. Being a military family, my husband was not sure how to handle my mood swings. 

Long story short, it would have helped tremendously if we could first identify the problem. I had a clue, and asked him to take me to the psych hospital. After about a month of hysterics and outbursts at home and on vacation for our anniversary, he finally drove me to the psych hospital for treatment.

I would recommend the following to any couple who is experiencing the severity of a mental illness episode. By then it’s when you need the most help and direction. If you can have them agree to treatment, this is the best way they will be able to get well. And the sooner, the better. 

Things to keep in mind with Severe Mental Illness: In Severe Mental Illlnesses like bipolar disorder, schizo-affective disorder, and schizophrenia, there is a strong chance that Anosognosia can cloud your loved one’s judgment.

In these cases, it’s best to involve the help of a mental health professional like a licensed therapist and psychiatrist (doctor who prescribes psych medications) from the onset.

If they aren’t seeing a professional yet, it would behoove them and you to access one as soon as possible. If their symptoms are self-medicated and treated with little or no medication, it is always best to consult with a professional to help them and you identify their illness and recognize its facets. 

The practical, simplest (not easiest, but simplest) keys to having a successful marriage with someone with Severe Mental Illness are what I recommend that work in my marriage:

  1. Encourage your spouse with SMI to take their medications as prescribed. If they are at a point where they cannot manage this responsibility, you may very well need to step in a serve as a caregiver to help them help themselves with this task at this time. Simple, but as I said, not easy. They may resist. If so, try brainstorming ways with their mental health providers that you can work together to make sure this routine is established.
  2. Encourage them by pointing out the positives. This may seem like watered down positivity, but it’s not. When we’re in an episode, we need direction and guidance, and consistent building up. The negative depressed thinking can easily sway us, and we need you to help us see the brighter side of life, appreciate the little things, and notice when that silver lining is peeking out over the clouds.
  3. Take time and take care of yourself. This is again, simple, but not easy. The emotional tolls caring for a loved one with an SMI are exceedingly difficult to handle. That makes it harder to take care of yourself, but you must. Have a good support network of other close family and friends, and your own therapist if possible. Talk regularly with those support people to ensure your sanity and your loved one’s safety. Don’t forget your physical needs too – eat well and exercise as best you can. 
  4. In remission, draw up a GAMEPLAN. It is imperative that while they are in the good times and can reason and think clearly that you have a “game plan” to prepare for the worst. To find a template and receive a free copy of one I use that you can print out and fill in, go to bipolarbrave.com/resources. Have it handy in a folder or binder, just in case.
  5. Get on the same page. As best as possible, communicate with your spouse that you want to be able to have access to their health and medical records. HIPAA is a tricky thing and the nature of it can be detrimental in the case of mental illness. If you don’t have a POA (Power of Attorney), or Conservator, discuss this possible aspect of your relationship. It’s a serious thing, but so are Severe Mental Illnesses. I personally do not have one, but have been able to be of the mind in episodes to keep the communication and PHI (Personal Health Information) open and accessible to my family. 
  6. Take a break from caring and just be. In an episode this can be challenging. In a state of recovery and maintenance, you must be able to enjoy and relax with each other. Resist the temptation to control and just rest in the fact that God is. And if you’re not there yet, find resources to help you. You need to lighten up and let loose every now and then. Laughter is the best medicine by far, and if you’re at a pause or break in between episodes, savor the time and show you appreciate the person you married.
  7. Be each other’s safe place. Honor each other’s wishes for keeping things that are personal, private. You should want to have their trust, and so try to keep things between the two of you that aren’t unhealthy. If you’re dealing with a SMI spouse in paranoia, that will be a different story. But overall, as long as they are safe and not in danger or a threat to themselves or others, you can let them confide in you. You may have to get help if they are planning to do something dangerous or have already acted out physically. In that case, the safest thing to do is get help. 
  8. Pray together. If they are in hyper-religious state (mania or psychosis) this may be a trigger and irritate them or encourage more hyper-religious behaviors, but if they are not and are more grounded, offer to pray with them. Praying separately can be good too.

Aside from these 8 suggestions, you can see there are probably numerous other ideas for helping your marriage with your spouse with SMI, but these are a start and basic suggestions. For more info on helping you or your loved one in a marriage with SMI, visit my resources page on bipolarbrave.com/resources. 

 

Katie Dale is the author of But Deliver Me from Crazy: A Memoir and the mind behind the blog BipolarBrave.com. She is wife to an Air Force officer and a mom to Jaxon and cat Anna. They live in rural Missouri and wherever the US Air Force takes them. She enjoys long walks, runs and naps to help keep her bipolar in remission.

 

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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Fear and Anxiety Do Not Have To Rule Your Life By: Stan Popovich

Fear and Anxiety Do Not Have To Rule Your Life By: Stan Popovich

By: Stan Popovich

 

Many people have a difficult time in living a normal life when they have to battle with anxiety and other fear related issues. Dealing with anxiety on a daily basis can be very challenging and frustrating.

Here are 7 suggestions on how to live a happy life when you have a mental health disorder.

1. Educate yourself regarding your mental health issues: It is important to learn as much as you can about your mental health disorder so you can better manage your situation. Talk to a professional who can give you advice on how to manage your situation.

2. Use the services of a counselor: Take advantage of the help that is available around you. If possible, talk to a counselor 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.

3. Learn from your experiences: In every anxiety-related situation you experience, begin to learn what works, what doesn’t work, and what you need to improve on in managing your fears and anxieties. Use what you have learned when you experience another similar situation.

4. Know where to go for help: Your family doctor is a great source in getting help for your mental health issues. Your local hospital is another place you can visit to find treatment. Hospitals know a lot of good counselors and mental health programs in your area and they can lead you in the right direction.

5. Surround yourself with supportive friends: You need to surround yourself with positive and supportive people. A person can always go to a support group where they can meet people who are also struggling with their mental health.

6. Be patient with yourself: Do not be hard on yourself when things do not go as planned. Dealing with anxiety and fear can be challenging so be patient. Do not be in a rush to get things done. Go at a pace that you feel comfortable with when accomplishing your regular activities.

7. Your Goal Is To Get Better: Your goal is to get your life back on track. Don’t waste your time arguing with your friends or relatives who are giving you a difficult time. This isn’t a public relations event where you need to get everyone’s approval. Your main focus is for you to live a happy life without anxiety and fear.

 

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 Joyful People Think: 8 Ways of Thinking That Lead to a Better Life”: Pastor Jamie Rasmussen

On this episode of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Pastor Brad Hoefs talks with Author and Senior Pastor of Scottsdale Bible Church, Jamie Rasmussen about his book; “How Joyful People Think: 8 Ways of Thinking That Lead to a Better Life.” Why is it important that we change our thinking? How does the Bible tell us to think? Is it possible to have joy when your depressed?

To listen to the podcast click here!

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We encourage you to share this podcast with your friends via your social media connections.

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.

If you are listening 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.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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