Pastor Brad Hoefs

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

Children and Mental Health from a Doctor’s Perspective

Children and Mental Health from a Doctor’s Perspective

Do you have a child whose behavior(s) are causing you concern? Have you ever felt like a failure as a parent? Possibly you feel like you have a child who becomes a very angry “Incredible-Hulk” periodically? If so, then this is a podcast you won’t want to miss!

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Pastor Brad Hoefs interviews Dr. Brian Lubberstedt who is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist. They discuss how potential mental health issues manifest in a child’s life, parenting children who have mental health issues and much more.

This podcast is 45 minutes long. 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

To listen to this podcast click on the icon below and it will take you to the podcast:FH PodCastArt (160dpi) 02_Splash 480x854

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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Leave “Flat-Lined” Emotions Behind & Overcome The Fear Of ‘Feeling’

Leave “Flat-Lined” Emotions Behind & Overcome The Fear Of ‘Feeling’

By Brad Hoefs

It’s called a “decrescendo” in music: a gradual reduction in force or loudness. It’s part of what creates the beauty of music, crescendos and decrescendos, softness, loudness, intensity, fast and slow beats. Without these things and a beautiful melody line music would be lifeless. Well, that’s how I was feeling just months after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and adjusting to my medicines.

My doctor heard me loud and clear when I kept saying that I didn’t know if I could live feeling so lifeless. He kept telling me at each of my appointments that I needed to give it time. But, I felt as though I was a medicated zombie- just blah. I missed the ups, downs, intensity, the fast and slow beats yet, I was scared to death to feel anything of an up or down, sad or happy feeling. I feared that feeling nothing would be the permanent “music of my life”.

The doctor kept assuring me that he needed to get my mood stabilized. Stabilized? I felt so stabilized that it was as though I had emotional rigor mortis! At about four months into being medicated my doctor thought it was time to adjust the initial doses of mood stabilizer. He adjusted it just a bit. And I began to feel a little. And the little that I felt was extreme sadness and regret. It was awful. I told him if this was all I was going to feel, I’d rather not feel. He encouraged me to work through my grief and sadness and disruption my last manic episode had caused in my life and the life of my family.

For months I worked on the toxic remorse I had regarding what had happened during my manic episode. My loved ones forgave and began to move forward. I was stuck. All I felt was toxic remorse and depression. I was scared to death to feel happy; that it would trigger an onset of mania. It seemed as though my emotions and feelings had flat-lined. My feelings and emotions had descended to no longer blah, but now nothing but a pounding sadness. So, the doctor introduced a bit more of antidepressant into my “medicine-cocktail” and I continued to work with my therapist regarding my remorse, shame and sadness regarding all that had happened during my mania. But, the little new pill seemed to help just a bit.

It was approximately a year into my recovery that I was still feeling quite emotionally flat-lined and complaining about it to my doctor. I would tell him at each my brief visits with him that the range of my feelings and emotions was so narrow that I was not sure that I had a pulse anymore. His response shocked me! He said, “Brad, it’s time for you to stop fearing your feelings and emotions. You are a human being. You are going to have feelings and emotions, ups and downs. You’re going to feel sad and happy and blah. Get out of your head and start feeling! Start living! And no, you won’t handle all of your feelings and emotions perfectly. You’ll be like the rest of us, human. Allow yourself to laugh. Stop taking yourself so seriously!” And with that “gust” of advice he told me to lighten up, take my medicine and live.

The doctor was right. At first I maybe had just a little too much mood stabilizer and not enough anti-depressant. But, my shame and regret became toxic remorse and began to emotionally flat-line me to the point where I was frozen emotionally; at best I was barely coping. I certainly was not thriving. I feared becoming too happy; too sad; too mad; too anything! I was emotionally constipated. So, I took my doctor’s advice. I stopped trying to think my way through everything. I began to live, allowing myself to feel again. I began to feel like a human being again. In fact, today I thrive. Yes, I have some ups and downs, like everyone has. And no, I’m not perfect in how I always handle my emotions. After all, I’m human. But, my emotions and feelings do not interrupt my ability to live.

Throughout the last six and half years of facilitating a Fresh Hope support group I have seen a lot of folks who are emotionally flat-lined. Sometimes it’s due to being over medicated and other times it is because they are like I, fearing to feel too much at the risk of an escalating mood. And many times it is due to them getting stuck in toxic remorse or toxic grief over having a mental health issue. Of course, there’s a host of many other reasons that emotions and feelings can flat-line.

If you are feeling emotionally flat-lined, not feeling, no emotions (emotionally constipated) I’d suggest a couple of things to consider:

  • Are you over medicated? Talk with your doctor about it. If your doctor is not willing to listen to what is going on…do you need a second opinion? Sometimes doctors simply listen to “key” words that the patient uses without ever exploring with the patient what those “key” words mean to the patient.
  • Are you keeping yourself from feeling too much of anything out of fear that your loved ones expect you to perfectly handle your emotions and feelings at all times; otherwise you are just being “bipolar”? If so talk with your therapist about this, begin to work through it. Your loved ones may need some help in understanding what issues are due to having bipolar disorder and what issues are due to being a human!
  • If you do not have a supportive home environment I would strongly recommend that you find a positive, wellness focused and driven mental health support group either in person or online.
  • Set goals for your life. Without goals we become hopeless. When you and I have no place to move to in life we loose our hope. You need to have goals, what do you want out of your life?

I suspect that you can help me with this list of suggestions. How have you moved from flat-lined emotions and feelings to living again? What are your frustrated with? Let’s help one another!

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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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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30 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love is Clinically Depressed

30 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love is Clinically Depressed

When you love someone that is experiencing deep depression it can be exhausting and melanie-wasser-233297frustrating.  You want to encourage your loved one but don’t want to push them too much. Encouraging them to “push through” but knowing when not to do so is a delicate balance.  You might even find yourself feeling the depression emotionally.  No doubt caring for someone who is in the depths of depression can feel as though life is being sucked out of you.  You can end up having no idea as to how to help or encourage your loved one.

Here’s somethings my wife did for me and/or encouraged me to do when I was in the depths of depression:

  1. Encourage them to do something that they usually have enjoyed doing and do it with them.
  2. Watch an uplifting movie with them.
  3. Make them their favorite meal.
  4. Sit quietly with them. Hold their hand.
  5. Take a walk with them.
  6. Take care of yourself!
  7. Help them establish and stick to a schedule if possible.
  8. Have some expectations of them.
  9. Assure them of your unconditional love.
  10. Assure them that this will pass sooner or later.
  11. Give them a back rub.
  12. Listen to soothing, spiritually uplifting music with them.
  13. Ask them to help you make or do something.
  14. Encourage them to talk and listen carefully.
  15. Encourage them to see a doctor if they have not done so.
  16. Assure them you don’t believe that they are weak or lack faith, but that you know their brain chemistry is experiencing imbalance.
  17. Ask them to promise you that if they ever begin to feel like they begin to feel suicidal that they will tell you. If they tell you, consult with their doctor as soon as possible or contact the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If the situation is an emergency, dial 911.
  18. Ask them what might bring them comfort.
  19. Talk about the future. Help them see there is a future.
  20. Encourage them to exercise with you.
  21. Turn on the lights, open the windows.
  22. Find out as much as you can about depression. This is a great website: https://www.lighterblue.com/#lighter-blue
  23. Change your light bulbs to full spectrum light bulbs.
  24. Give your loved one a mood light. Northern Light Technologies has a wide variety of options.  http://northernlighttechnologies.com/  (Before purchasing these you’ll want to check with the doctor.)
  25. Get them vitamin D and B12.
  26. Remind them of times when they have overcome adversity so they know it is possible for them to do so again.
  27. Encourage them to get outside for a walk and some natural sunlight.
  28. Turn off news programs and other negative media. Control negative inputs.
  29. Where possible, encourage them to connect with friends.
  30. Pray.  Every time you find yourself worrying about your loved one, pray instead.

Please know, as a loved one it is SO important that you do take care of yourself too. Stay balanced and do somethings that you enjoy.  Take care of yourself spiritually and emotionally.  Also, know this, the Lord is with you too!  He will see you through this valley. Stay in His word. Hold to His hope. And when you can, laugh a little!  You are not alone. There is hope.  And there is healing.

Cover photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash

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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Advice from a King in Managing Depression by Rick Qualls

Advice from a King in Managing Depression by Rick Qualls

You are not alone in your struggle with depression.

Even David, the shepherd boy who became the great king of Israel, struggled with depression.

In Psalm 37 David teaches us ways of managing depression.

David practices dealing with his enemies with the spiritual tool of meekness. Meekness is not weakness. Meekness is strength under control. Here are some ways we can use meekness to manage depression.

What was  David’s enemy? We are not sure, but our enemy is depression. You will encounter those who say unkind things. Meekness is not concerned about people who make hurtful remarks or who just don’t understand the path you travel through depression. Psalms 37:1 says, “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong.” Don’t be overly concerned with those who say cutting remarks. Many do so out of ignorance.

There is power in letting hurtful remarks go. Many don’t understand depression but think they do and give advice that is not helpful.

Meekness places trust in God. The season of depression will end. Meekness practices day by day the things we can do to manage our symptoms and trust God with the things we cannot. ”For like the grass they [your enemy depression] will soon wither, like green plants they will die away.” (Ps 37:2.)  There will be a time when this episode of depression will ease. Imagine what it will be like when it lifts.

Meekness fills the mind with positive words from God. God’s promises combat negative self-talk. The tapes of our mind have phrases we use over and over. Phrases like, ”I’m broken.” “There is no hope.” I don’t have anything to give.” infect our mind with hopelessness.

Instead, follow David’s advice in Psalms 37:5-6, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” Replay God’s promises in your mind to counter negative rumination.

Meekness seeks a quiet heart. It learns how to be still before the Lord, how to keep silence in his presence. “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Ps 37:7)

For me, the practice of contemplative prayer was a life-saver during a deep depressive episode. Learning to quiet my heart, I could feel God’s grace overwhelming me and relieving the dark moment. Being still before the Lord takes time to learn but it may be helpful for you.

With meekness don’t let your anger take control. Sometimes anger is a coping method, a natural result of depression. Some have defined depression as “anger turned inward.” Psalm 37:8 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it only leads to evil.”

And don’t miss the promise, “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”

May practicing meekness bring peace to you, my friend.

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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You Are Here to Make a Difference

You Are Here to Make a Difference

It is not easy for me to take a compliment or say something good about myself.  I was in counseling for quite some time before I could even say out loud “I matter”.  The first time my counselor had me say it, I cried.  I didn’t believe it.  I did not feel like I mattered to myself or anyone else.  It wasn’t because someone was mean to me or bad things had happened to me. It was what I believed of myself.  Many people, do not think good things of themselves. Here are just 4 things God says you are:

Loved/Chosen – I am greatly loved by God. Col. 3:12

Forgiven – I am forgiven of all my sins & washed in the Blood. Eph 1:17

Fearless – For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Warrior – I can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one with my shield of faith. Eph 6:16

There are so many more things God says we are. I chose these 4 words because most of us do not feel this way at all. Even on a good day, I struggle with believing what God says about me. I don’t doubt God; it is me who has a hard time believing any one feels that way about me. But God said it in His Word that we are each of these things.

My friends, let this soak into your soul. You ARE chosen by the Almighty God because He loves you. He made you ON PURPOSE. He FORGIVES you of all your sins if you ask Him to. He has also made you a FEARLESS WARRIOR.

Another very important reason you matter because we have a purpose. Even though we have a diagnosis of a mental disorder or a lable of some kind, Romans 8:28 (NASB) says, “And we know God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

He will work things out for good. I believe with my whole heart that the things we go through are to help others when they go through them. We have felt alone at times, ashamed, or embarrassed but there is someone out there who feels the same way and needs help just like we did and do. That’s our purpose. That’s how we make a difference.

2 Corinthians 1:4 (The Message) says “He comes along side us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us along side someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

That verse also says YOU MATTER. He has given us a purpose. Let’s use all the tools, ideas, and help others and God has given us to help someone else.

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 “Elephant” in the Sanctuary

The “Elephant” in the Sanctuary

In this video Katie R. Dale from http://www.BipolarBrave.com reads the letter that she wrote to the pastor who misguided her regarding taking medicine for bipolar disorder.  Pastors need to see this video to help them realize how serious their lack of understanding is regarding mental illness.  Why?  Because more people go first to a clergy than to their doctor, a therapist, a psychologist and/or psychiatrist combined!  Pastors are on the front lines of the mental health crisis!

Please watch this video and share it on social media, it’s one way to begin to address the “elephant” in the sanctuary!

Letter to a Misguiding Pastor by Katie R. Dale from Brad Hoefs on Vimeo.

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