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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christian F. Coleman-Jones

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

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

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

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

If They Seem to Not Realize They’re Sick

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

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

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

If They Have Insight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staying Sane While Loving Someone with a Mental Illness

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

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

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

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

Suicide Prevention Tools & Tips

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

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

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

unnamed

No Place Like Church

No Place Like Church

Not In Kansas Anymore

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

But what about getting back home, to church?

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

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

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

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

Something Like a Twister

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Forget Who Has The Answers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Glinda the Good Witch, The Wizard of Oz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the author:

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

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

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

Now is the Time

May is Mental Health Awareness month.

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow is Coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Inventory Today

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

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

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

Recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Healthy Churches Foster Hope

Our current view of the church in our world of post-Christian culture may be one of dismay. After all, church attendance in the last 40+ years has dropped by 10% . Let alone the past year of the pandemic – a world-wide threat to the global church in 2020 and beyond.

However, churches that are to survive and thrive will recognize it takes more than abiding by the status quo. To cultivate a healthy community of members, especially at a time like this, our churches need to be encouraged on a personal level.

How Does the Message of Hope Get Across?

Some may think the leadership team is responsible for cultivating the health of their church, which is true in many ways. However, it takes a vision embraced by the entire church – from pastorate to parishioner – to grow in meaning, purpose, and hope.

Capturing this kind of focus on even the least of these (those with severe mental illness or mental health conditions, young and old), may be challenging if leadership cannot engage on their level.

Which is why every church needs to address purpose in their individual members, before they can see a hopeful future realized.

The needs of the church are quite discouraging if you’re not prepared or equipped to provide help for them.

To successfully instill purpose in individual members, leadership must be trained on meeting those basic needs “the least of these” are hurting for.

This is where the communication and focus on mental health can be instrumental in catapulting your church’s overall health and wellbeing forward into a hopeful promising outlook.

A Quick Review of the Church’s Influence in History

The church has been known for many generations, in fact centuries, and one may argue millennia, for the healing role in this world to meet physical needs. A glance through history will tell you the story of the church’s influence in the world’s spheres of science, art, politics, and medicine.

Medicine, however, has been the church’s main approach to the physical health of those it has ministered to. Since the last century, where technology in science and pharmacology and psychology has advanced, there are discoveries in this field that have begged the question:

where is God in mental illness?

And so, enter the church’s response to mental health and wellness. Where has that been? Unfortunately, not on the radar, let alone on the frontlines.

Until now. Now the church is awakening to the cries and light God has graciously shone on the final frontier of the arguably most vital organ: the brain.

Knowing what the world of science, medicine and pharmacology knows about mental illness, the church can benefit tremendously. If properly and vastly equipped, soon the church can be a lighthouse for the mentally ill in ways no faithless, secular organization or industry can be.

Now What?

The good news: this is already happening.

Out of churches and church-bred faith-based organizations like Fresh Hope, Grace Alliance and various other grassroots efforts for support groups based on Biblical principles, a movement has been stirring.

This is the answer to many lost and saved churchgoers’ mental duress.

This is growing hope for coping with the pandemic.

Realistic solutions are here to address the mind’s disorders.

Recovery and healing can be found in community and support, established by the church.

This is the answer that the secular brain disease advocacy organizations aren’t going to acknowledge, or believe.

But because of this hope, hope found in Christ, the church is already at an advantage.

Already, the support group Fresh Hope for Mental Health cites numbers that are astonishingly encouraging and hopeful:

  • 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

As sure as the church has been the body of Jesus for the last 2,000 years, it will continue to serve His hurting body and the minds therein. The path to wholeness is not just through ministries and programs. As we see, programs and ministries to serve the church are blessings and excellent purposeful activities within the church.

But take it a step further, and deeper, and the same kind of idea – worship through service to others hurting – will propel the church as a forerunner to contend in the battle of suicidality amidst salvation.

To learn more about starting a support group in your church or community, check out these resources:

  1. Fresh Hope for Mental Health support groups, founded by peer and pastor Brad Hoefs
  2. Grace Alliance support groups
  3. Fellow sufferer and former pastor, Tony Roberts’ book When Despair Meets Delight
  4. Pastor’s daughter and advocate Amy Simpson’s book Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission
  5. Dr. Steven Grcevich’s book Mental Health and the Church
  6. Co-sufferer, counselor, and clergyman Ryan Casey Waller’s book Depression, Anxiety and Other Things We Don’t Talk About

About Katie R. Dale: Raised in a Christian home, mental illness wasn’t mentioned until after it reared its ugly head when had turned 16. Instead of a sweet 16 year, it turned out to be a bitter taste of our fallen nature as I became diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type I with psychotic features. Now a caseworker and mental health advocate, I’ve written my memoir chronicling the journey through the psych wards, and blog regularly about my lessons on life, faith and mental illness at BipolarBrave.com. You can reach me on social media using handle @KatieRDale or email me, katie@bipolarbrave.com.

Depression in Men – Symptoms, triggers, and how to cope with it

Guest Blog By Ralph Macey

People become disheartened, irritable, or tired and experience issues with a good night’s sleep when they face severe emotional turmoil. These are some of the common reactions of human beings when they are going through stress, anxiety, or mostly…depression issues within a few days.

Lots of men struggle with depression throughout their lives which may harm their normal life cycle in many ways. Men may have a greater tendency to feel anger, show aggressiveness, and engage in substance abuse, compared to women.

Most men hesitate to discuss their feelings or seek help for depression. This is because men believe that depression is an emotional sign of weakness or a failing of masculinity. That’s why discussing this weakness can make them weaker. As a result, their depression gets worse with time.

How common is depression?

Both men and women may experience severe depression issues, but the signs and symptoms in both cases can be much different.

Depression can affect millions of men all over the world, of all ages and cultures. But one thing we must also consider is that not only the men but people around them are also getting affected. For loved ones such as spouses, kids, parents, friends, and other family members, neighbors, everyone’s life is more or less faces an impact.

When men are having depression, sudden changes might be seen in their thinking, feelings, and functions in their daily life. Those rapid changes may also affect their productivity at the workplace or schools and harm their relationships, sleep habits, diet, and overall lifestyle. Severe depression can be intense and may cause physical and mental damage.

Men suffering from depression can harm themselves mortally and the count is four times more than women. So, it is necessary that men should take help regarding depression before it is too late. They should discuss their issues honestly with a friend, or a doctor and clearly open up about what’s going on in their mind, along with their body. For a perfect diagnosis, the signs and symptoms should be carefully noticed in the patient.

Signs and symptoms

Depression signs and symptoms are much different in men compared to women. Men sometimes use different coping skills just as women do.  Normally men show different signs and symptoms while experiencing depression, due to their brain chemistry, hormones, and life experiences.

Practically, men may show the following symptoms of depression:

●        Sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness

●        Feel extremely tired

●        Insomnia or sleeping too much

●        Less interest in regular activities.

●        Lack of concentration

●        Headaches

●        Tightness in the chest

●        Joint, limb, or back pain

●     Digestive problems

Apart from these symptoms, there are a few behavioral signs that may be considered depression in men:

●        Spending too much time alone.

●        Spending a lot more time at work.

●        Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive problems, and pain

●        Losing interest in sex and experiencing sexual issues

●        Avoiding family or social situations

●        Irritability

●        Taking unnecessary risks while driving

●        Drinking more or taking drugs.

●        Controlling, violent or abusive behavior

●     Attempting suicide

Triggers

As per the experts, there might be multiple reasons for depression in men such as Biological, psychological, and social. Apart from that lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills also play a serious part in this issue.

So, men who suffer from severe depression, might encounter the following triggers or risk factors that make the situation worse:

●        Loneliness and lack of social support

●        Early childhood trauma or abuse

●        Anxiety and stress

●        A past record of alcohol consumption or substance abuse

●        Having a divorce, job loss, or bereavement

●        Having serious physical health problems

●        Family history of depression or other mental health issues

●     Experiencing sexual dysfunction

Coping strategies

  1. Some unique lifestyle changes and coping strategies can help men to manage depression to a certain level.
  2. Creating a daily routine and maintaining it may help a person to avoid all the hassle every day.
  3. Speed walking or running can help to produce endorphins which can boost a person’s mood and heal depression.
  4. If big tasks look unmanageable and confusing, people may divide them into smaller tasks. It will help them to achieve their goal and remove depression.
  5. Meditation and yoga may help a lot to reduce stress and support well-being. As a result, the sense of depressiveness will be reduced.
  6. Connecting to your dear ones, sharing feelings with friends, may make people feel less overwhelmed. As much as people keep away from loneliness, the depressive mood will also recover faster.
  7. Reducing alcohol intake can boost mood. Apart from that, it will also keep the body toxin-free and healthy.
  8. Have a pet and start taking care of it. The sense of responsibility sometimes removes stress and boosts your concentration.
  9. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits. At Least 7 to 8 hours of sleep can help to charge the mood and reduce depression.
  10. Spending time in nature may also boost the mind and bring positivity.
  11. Think twice before making important decisions, such as shifting jobs, until you get over with depression symptoms.

Connect with God

It’s important to convey the message to the men who are suffering from depression that – if you believe in god, know the fact that He comes close to those who suffer. So keep your eyes open for Him.

Believe the truth that the almighty God is not silent when people suffer. On every page of Scripture, God’s depressed children can find hope and a reason to endure. For example, take 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV):

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

In your darkest days, you may follow the guidelines of the Bible. Here are a few suggestions for Bible passages that you may find helpful.

●        Read about Jesus’ suffering in Isaiah 53 and Mark 14.

●        Depression could make you weak and easy prey for Satan’s. Jesus’ death on the cross proves God’s love for you. (Romans 5:6-8, 1 John 4:9,10)

●        Know about persevering and enduring. Read on (Romans 5:3, Hebrews 12:1, James 1:2-4)

●        Read Hebrews 11 and 12. You’ll know that many before you have walked this path and they will assure you that God did not fail them.

●        Know your purpose for being a human. Read (Matthew 22:37-39, 1 Corinthians 6:20,  2 Corinthians 5:15, Galatians 5:6)

●        Use Psalm 88 and Psalm 86 as your personal prayers to God.

Author Bio: Ralph Macey, a professional writer since 2008 and medical health/patient care coordinator at savantcare.com since 2014, writes articles on all mental health-related subjects. He holds a degree and two professional certifications in his field and continues to upgrade his knowledge with additional classes and seminars. He has provided mental health consultations and private fitness instructions for free in his local community. To connect with him, go to his Facebook or follow him on Twitter.