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Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health’

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By my early-40’s I’d earned a few certificates and degrees, four children, two dogs–and the unenviable position of being diagnosed with several disorders. Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. PMDD. Even a penchant toward dissociation.

As a young woman, I’d been certain I could shed the shame of my childhood and embrace happiness. Peace. Living. But I didn’t realize that old, unhealed wounds fester and leach. That anxiety wasn’t something I could dust off like a farmer’s pair of worn cowboy boots.

I didn't realize that old, unhealed wounds fester and leach.That anxiety wasn't something I could dust off like a farmer's pair of worn cowboy boots.#mentalillness#hope#letsgetrealseries Click To Tweet

Time clicked by and, ever so gently, God nurtured and healed. Provided wise counsel and tools to help manage the tumult of soul-sucking pain. Gifted me with a husband who loved through it all. Sustained me when I wanted nothing more than to inhale the last of earth and the first of heaven.

Have you been there? Are you there now? Or, does a loved one bear the burden of mental illness?

I know the pain and I'm sorry you're hurting.#depression#ptsd#hope Click To Tweet

I know the pain and I’m sorry you’re hurting, friend. I’m sorry you don’t share openly because you fear being judged. I’m sorry you weep, cry, and grieve for the person you thought you’d become. I’m sorry that just getting out of bed or making it through one more day makes you feel as though you’re an overloaded cargo ship sinking beneath the weight of its cargo.

Whether you are the one desperate for relief, a mama longing to take her child’s struggle, or a wife desperate for the husband she once knew, you are not alone.

One in five adults understand.

One in five women with successful careers. One in five stay-at-home moms with dinners made by scratch and dessert in the oven. One in five grandmothers living the golden years. One in five women in every church pew on any given Sunday understand.

One in five women in every church pew on any given Sunday understand. #mentalillness#1in5#hope Click To Tweet

Not only are you surrounded by others who empathize, but there is something even better. It’s the four-letter word we forget in the midst of the hard.

Hope.

We have hope because of Christ, in Christ and through Christ.

We have hope because the end of our story was rewritten on the cross. Sin exchanged for restoration, tears for celebration, and death for liberation. Neither depression, anxiety, or any other illness can wrest these from your grasp because you are held tightly in His.

When you’re tempted to believe there is nothing better than what is right now, remind yourself of what you know to be true. There will be more to your story.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 MSG)

 Peace and grace, Tammy

Mental Health Pain Hack Image

Mental Health Pain Hack Printable

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The Lord will fight for you. Just stay calm.

Fear tracks my steps like a hunter. It knows my habits, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Fear launches arrows of trepidation and dread when I linger too long in the wasteland of what-if-outcomes and this-seems-impossible probability.

Fear launches arrows of trepidation and dread when I linger too long in the wasteland of what-if-outcomes.#fightingfear#letsgetrealseries#donotbeafraid Click To Tweet

Like any predator, fear longs to cripple its prey, rendering her useless. Spent. Afraid to take action. As its presence draws close, it grows ever larger; assuming power over thought and imagination. Casting its shadow over hope, possibility, and a truth-based view of God’s matchless love and strength.

Fear leads to worry and worry, when coddled, leads to anxiety.#fightingfear#letsgetrealseries#donotbeafraid Click To Tweet

Fear leads to worry and worry, when coddled, leads to anxiety.  Right now? I’m precariously balanced on the line between worry and anxiety. Perhaps you are, as well. You, too, may feel as though any circumstance that confirms your fear will catapult you into the hunter’s trap and once there, you’ll live out that which you’d dreaded in the first place. Every fear realized. Every dream obliterated.

An opportunist, fear resides in different areas of your life and mine. Some of us fear abandonment, loss of security, or being unloved and unseen. Others of us struggle with the fear of never being enough, failing as a wife or mother, or being without purpose. Still others fear what might become of a loved one who struggles with prodigal living, mental illness, or addiction.

God knows our hearts tremble and quake.He understands that our knees knock in the face of real situation.Maybe the reason He sprinkled the phrase 'do not be afraid' in scripture 70 times is because He knows us so… Click To Tweet

Friend, God knows our hearts tremble and quake. He understands that our knees knock in the face of real situations or circumstances and that our imaginations run wild with what-if scenarios and I-can’t-imagine-anything-good-coming-of-this myopia.

Maybe the reason He sprinkled the phrase “do not be afraid” in scripture 70 times (along with abundant variations) is because He knows us so well. He realizes we need to be reminded again and again and again of His power, strength and faithfulness because we lose sight of who He is.

We forget His promises.

We flounder in our faith and mistake it for abandonment.

We presume that our weakness equates to a similar weakness in God and we become discouraged or distraught.

But, we can engage fear and overcome it when we wage the battle on our knees and in our minds. The steps I’ve listed below are those that have proven most to helpful to me as I’ve managed my own fear fighting. I pray they encourage your heart as you stand up against fear in your own life.

Fighting Fear Power Plan

  • Prepare for Battle Read, recite and record Bible verses that address fear. These  are a few of my favorites and serve as a starting point. (Isaiah 41:13, Joshua 1:9, Psalm 34:4) As you consider the Father’s words, notice how He is personally involved in the struggle against fear.
  • Dress for Battle Fear fighting encompasses mind and spirit, therefore, we must be clothed accordingly or we’ll be vulnerable to the assaults of the enemy. Ephesians 6:10-18 provides the strategy for us to put on God’s holy power and strength.
  • Engage in Battle Pray. Get real with God about your fear and allow Him to work in your heart and situation. Journal your prayers and pray scripture back to God. You might start with Psalm 27 ,David’s response to fear.

 

Peace and grace,                                                                                                                                      Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve experienced this struggle often enough and long enough to realize this is a battle won on two fronts–in my mind and on my knees.

 

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He will give you strength to endure this moment. This hour. This day.

The elderly man posted mournful adoption ads and flyers in bus stops and places about town.

“Lonely old man in his 80s. Strong-bodied. Can shop, cook and take care of himself. No chronic illness. I retired from a scientific research institute in Tianjin, with a monthly pension of 6,000 RMB (USD1344) a month. I won’t go to a nursing home. My hope is that a kindhearted person or family will adopt me, nourish me through old age and bury my body when I’m dead.”

Struck by the man’s plight, I wondered how many of us can relate to this man and his heart’s cry.

I’m worth something. I’m willing to work for love and acceptance. I’ll give all that I have for just a crumb of kindness. An ounce of approval. Won’t someone love me? Just a little?

 Have you, too, experienced loneliness? Felt isolated?

Most of us recognize the sense of abandonment that invades a needy soul during such times. Once in a while, these are the difficult feelings that remind us of our need for others. The importance of connection rather than Facebook pretension. The value of friendship rather than selfish ambition.

At other times, the Father may lead us to a lonely place where we’ll be reminded of the One who extends beyond the human longing for relationship and leads us toward spiritual fulfillment. Away from loneliness into the arms of a loving Father. Out from under the shadow of rejection into the everlasting promise of holy adoption.

Consider these words from scripture,

I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughter to me, says the Lord Almighty. Click To Tweet

“I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18) Oh, the relief and joy of total acceptance and complete love!

Sometimes, though, instead of clinging to the words of scripture, we settle into our emotions and hide in the shadows. Messages birthed by the Enemy are given shape in our darkest imagination.

You are unwanted. Unworthy. Unlovable.

 Rather than guiding us toward hope, the taunts of the Deceiver grow ever larger—filling the space once occupied by living. Laughter. Love. And we begin to despair as depression assumes headship.

Like the pounding of a hammer against a nail, the thought rings loud, “Isn’t there more than this hurt? This grief? This aching, incessant pain?” And we scoff at the familiar Sunday school song, ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’, doubting happiness even exists.

 If you are hiding in the shadows, Friend, convinced that life is purposeless and that pain is your lot, please know:

You are loved. (Psalm 86:5)

You are seen. (Genesis 16:7-12)

You are heard. (1 Peter 3:12)

 

You are chosen. (Col. 3:12)

You are treasured. (Duet. 7:6)

You are a delight to God. (Zeph. 3:17)

Loneliness has a cruel habit of cloaking truth while depression obscures hope.  Click To Tweet

Loneliness has a cruel habit of cloaking truth while depression obscures hope. This is the position in which the Liar of old wants us to reside. Unlike our Eternal Hope, he comes to “kill, steal, and destroy”.

Raise your hands to heaven, dear one, and cry out to the God who bends low to hear even unuttered prayers. He will give you strength to endure this moment. This hour. This day.

Loneliness is a silent soul killer and depression crouches next door. If you struggle with depression and its neighbor, I encourage you to take the If You're (Not) Happy and You Know It Challenge.  Click To Tweet

 

If You’re (Not) Happy and You Know It Challenge-Day 4                                          Loneliness is a silent soul killer and depression crouches next door. If you struggle with depression and its neighbor, I encourage you to take the If You’re (Not) Happy and You Know It Challenge.

  1. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, pastor or counselor. Clinical depression requires a network of people who will provide support and prayer.
  2. Schedule one or two proactive, depression busting activities each day. For example, set and hold to a regular sleep schedule, exercise regimen, or healthy eating cycle. Add one more positive habit to your “to-do” list every few days to aid in eliminating unhealthy choices (i.e. not eating enough, eating too much, spending hours in front of the screen, avoiding interaction with others).
  3. Volunteer Offering to help others boosts the feel-good centers in our brains and boosts our ability to meaningfully connect with others.
  4. Seek medical assistance. If you’re consumed with thoughts of self-harm or have a plan to hurt yourself, call the suicide hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255. Give yourself the opportunity to rediscover happiness. You are worth it!

Download or share my gift to you, an ebook (also available on Kindle), Moving From Pain to Peace–A Journey Toward Hope.

Moving from Pain to Peace-A Journey toward Hope1From Pain to Peace-Journey Toward Hope

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

 

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I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.He put a new song in my mouth. Psalm 40_1,3.png

The high-pitched whirring of the car matched the acceleration of my heart, a rapid ta-tunk, ta-tunk, ta-tunk as I pressed the accelerator. Thoughts ricocheted in my mind, rapid-fire like a motorized, ball-pitching machine.

They’d be better off without me.

This hurting wasn’t part of my plan.

I don’t think God knew what He was doing when He gave me life.

The messages repeated again and again as I rounded the edge of a mountain. Temptation rose large, whispering its poison as I imagined what it might feel like to launch off the earth at 13,000 feet.

You can stop it all. Right here. Right now.

2 Corinthians 10:5 joined the panoply of others.

Take every thought captive. Take every thought captive. Take every thought captive.

And God’s word, sharper than a two-edged sword, guided me home. Safe. Settled. Soothed.

Still, depression held on.

Depression. Even the word sounds threatening, doesn’t it? Like so many others I’ve lived it. I’ve walked through depression with friends and family. And I’ve discovered that depression is no respecter of persons.

Age? Irrelevant. Gender? Immaterial. Status? Insignificant. Faith? Unrelated. Time? Inconsequential.

Depression disguises itself as disinterest. Detachment. Despair. It swallows hope in its black, gaping mouth and casts its shadow on even the happiest moments. You feel alone. Alone in the pain. Alone without purpose. Alone without… Click To Tweet

If you aren’t that woman, you know someone who is struggling right now. She may not tell you. She may not share the pain. But, you do know at least one dear soul who–in living with depression feels lifeless inside.

Oh, how the chains of depression drag and pull like a treacherous rip current at low tide. Its power seems overwhelming and the thought of catching a breath grows ever dimmer.

Is there any hope?

Sweet friend, Jesus can shatter the chains of depression. He'll walk through the deep valley with you now--shoulder to shoulder--and lead you to an open space where you inhale deeply of life and laugh in delight. Click To Tweet

In the Bible, our Father provides examples of other people who loved Him and struggled with depression.  Job. David. Solomon. Elijah. Naomi. Most of these people were spiritual giants, yet they experienced hopelessness. They also provide us with insight as we take up our scriptural sledge hammer and prepare to destroy depression.

Depression and Spiritual Warfare

As with Job, depression can be a result of trauma and grief. After all, the enemy knows our vulnerabilities and, while restricted, he seeks to steal, kill and destroy anything of promise in our lives.

Job’s story (Job 1-3; 38-42) teaches us:

  • that the Enemy targets those who love the Lord and live out their faith.
  • God was with Job–even when Job was angry and accusatory.

Depression and the Importance of Community

Naomi’s husband and two sons died, leaving her a penniless, bitter refugee. Still, her daughter-in-law, Ruth, remained a faithful companion.

Naomi’s story teaches us:

  • even when we feel as if God has abandoned us, He remains near.
  • not to isolate ourselves. We all need a ‘Ruth’ to speak words of truth and encouragement.

 

Depression and the Challenge of Ministry

Regardless of our circle of influence, we are vessels through which God’s love is meant to flow. But, ministry–whether to our husband, children, colleagues, or women’s group–is challenging. Elijah was depleted and depressed because his ministry seemed ineffective and there was a price on his head.

Elijah’s story teaches us:

  • we must care for the needs of our body by resting and eating well.
  • that we are never alone. It’s important to seek community and trust in His faithfulness despite circumstances.

Depression and the Importance of Prayer and Thanksgiving

David might have been a man after God’s own heart, but he understood the suffering of betrayal and the heartache of losing a child. Honest and vulnerable, David’s prayers typically end in praise and thanksgiving.

David’s story teaches us:

  • God doesn’t expect us to recite pithy, sanitized prayers. We can be honest about our situation. Honest about how we are feeling. Honest about the pain.
  • praising and thanking God reminds us of the truths we know about His goodness and love.

 

These scriptures provide us with wonderful, encouraging truths. However, depression is a form of illness. If you struggle with depression, you need support and treatment for that sickness just as you would any other. Beyond addressing your spiritual needs, please seek help for your depression in other important ways. Click To Tweet

These include meeting with a counselor or therapist, sharing your struggle with a few trustworthy friends who can pray for and minister to you, caring for your body with a healthy diet and exercise, and possibly considering the use of medication for a time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with self-destructive thoughts as I had been, seek help immediately. Call a hotline or go to the hospital.

The enemy is a great deceiver and he is adept at convincing us life will never get better. He is lying. Jesus came that we might have life and live it abundantly. Click To Tweet

With prayers for peace and holy strength,

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The mountains are yearning.Schloop!

Did you just hear it?  That was the sound of the last bit of energy being sucked from my body. Too-early-mornings punctuated by spilled Cheerios and staff meetings with coffee that slides down the back of the mouth as thick and distasteful as oil have merged with post-Spring Break study marathons held in honor of my reluctant-to-participate pubescent children. And the time in between? Appointment-aligned and hard scheduled on three different calendars. The optimistic hope is that multiple postings of orthodontist appointments and sports events will keep me organized…on top of things…able to manage the time crunch.

Do you ever feel the same way?  Are you running in circles just trying to keep up with life’s business when you realize you’ve lost sight of the most important things?

The verse God keeps whispering in my ear is, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  My answer, “Lord, how can I be still?  There is so much to do!”

But, life’s obligations will always encroach on quiet moments…peaceful moments…moments of  reflection…moments of being in God’s presence.  So, dear friend, wherever you are today—take a breath.  Inhale the freshness of God’s spirit.  Consider the One who created you for His glory.

Be still.  Just be–if only for a moment.

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“What do you dream about doing? What are your hopes for the future?” When I asked the questions, the young man looked at me—his dark glasses framing serious blue eyes.

“I don’t have a dream,” he said, shrugging with something like resignation.

“Then I’m going to pray God gives you a dream,” I responded—sounding more certain than I felt.

Shouldn’t everyone have a dream? The idea of something that inspires hope? Excitement? Possibility?

psalm 73

I think so…but this dear one—and many others—struggle with such joy killers as depression and anxiety. I’m not talking about the blues or generic concerns, but the sort of life-altering conditions that overwhelm with their intensity and duration. If you’ve experienced these types of struggles, you understand what it is to feel as if the future holds no promise…no hope.

 

The Church tends to throw Bible verses in the direction of those who experience the pain and loneliness of mental illness. Other believers—even the wise and well meaning—spiritualize the situation or question their fellow-Christians faith. You just need to pray more!

 

Fortunately, awareness is growing and more people are sharing their stories—reminding those in the middle of the storm that it will end. The rains may rage for a time, but one morning you will awaken feeling the sunshine on your face! Your hopelessness will be replaced by promise and your joylessness with laughter. Friend…you will release your burdens and dream again!

 

In the meantime—remain under your doctor’s care, seek wise counsel, and develop a support network. And, continue to rely on the truth of God’s love for you despite how you may feel.

 

Friends and family of those living through the hard of mental illness? Listen. Ask how you can help. Pray that your friend, child, husband, or other hurting one will soon be able to dream again.

 

Recommended Books/Resources:

Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengston

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (www.bdsalliance.org)

 

 

 

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He does not cast away, nor crush, nor condemn the wounded in conscience, those
who are terrified in view of their sins; the weak in faith and practice, but
watches over and cherishes them, makes them whole, and affectionately embraces them.   –Luther

Each tear that pours from her eyes fills a place in my heart that once brimmed with pain like hers.  Why?  She asks as if I can answer.  How could a loving God allow it?  But I don’t know.  There is no way to explain away the heartache.  The pain.  The desolate feeling of isolation.  I don’t know, but I understand.

Am I unlovable?  Not worth a moment’s tenderness?  Each syllable bursts from her mouth in pronounced confusion.  I hear her cries for help.  The need for mercy.  Etchings of the past press themselves on her features.  And I feel my insides twist as she shouts out fear…loss…hopelessness.  From deep within I hear His voice.  You are loved–more than you could ever know.  I am your true Father.  Your Heavenly Husband.  The Balm of Gilead. 

I know the words are meant for me, too.  Our human stories are alike–joys, sorrows, fears.  Celebrations, grief, betrayal.  Love, hate, reconciliation.  Maybe He came to live with us–and live this way–because we can relate to the All-God-All-Man who lived an everyday life .

Loved.  Hated.  Reviled. Laughing.  Crying.  Caring.

His human story is like ours.  He understands. He knows our heartache.

Now, the Healer’s hands are held out–nail marks in plain view–waiting to touch our feeble, broken places.  Those crushed, down-trodden areas we thought meant sure death.  The breath of Life kneels down and exhales–filling the thirsty places with hope.  His mercy was revealed that day on the cross when the gaping, weeping wound in His side foretold of the festering, needy places in our own souls.  Of our need for Him.

If you are wounded–like her, like me–why not turn to the One who was wounded for us?  He understands.  He loved us that much.  We are worth more than a moment’s tenderness.  We were worth the cost of His perfect and holy life.

Verse for Reflection

A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.  (
Isaiah 42:3  NIV)

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