Mental Illness

CJMentalIllnessToo often, stigma, isolation, loneliness and shame follow a diagnosis of mental illness. But not here. Here we offer resources steeped in love and grounded in faith. Here you are among friends, welcome just as you are.

BLOG POSTS:

The Shame of Chronic Illness and Pain

CJIfWeSpeakShame“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable…. If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we’ve basically cut it off at the knees. Shame hates having words wrapped around it. If we speak shame, it begins to wither.” Read more…

Lost at Sea

CJWorstWeaknessStrongDEPRESSION ISN’T ALWAYS EASY TO UNDERSTAND, BUT WE CAN OFFER COMPANIONSHIP TO THOSE ADRIFT ON ITS TURBULENT WATERS.

Six years ago, my sister, Rachel, drifted out to sea—not a body of water, but the dark depths of depression. Looking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Family crises, chronic health problems, and other factors combined for… Read more…

Trauma’s Not a Sin

CJContextofGrace2After years of feeling ashamed, misunderstood, and trapped in a body that seemingly resisted prayers, Bible verses, and Christian counsel, I understood that treating these reactions as sin did not help. It made everything worse.  Read more…

The Common Cold of the Emotional Life

CJDontSufferAloneDuring depression you might feel like the worst of sinners, worthless to God and others. When you read your Bible the wrath of God may be exaggerated in your mind, and you may have difficulty grasping His grace. You might feel far from God or find it difficult to experience His love or joy, yet it may be a time more than any other in your life when you need to cry out to God, as David did in the Psalms, for God’s help and presence. Read more…

Where Do Butterflies Go At Night?

Pcabbagebutterfly50eople with chronic illnesses can simply be overlooked. They are sometimes people with invisible diseases so it can easily slip your mind that they are suffering in some way –  emotionally, physically, or mentally. When they were first diagnosed it got your attention – like the colorful butterfly on the flower. Read more…

A Reason Not To Take My Own Life

CJStrugglesWithDepressionI pleaded with him.

To no avail, as it turned out.

Ronnie * (not his real name) and I were on the patio behind my house. He was a 31-year-old divorcee with two young girls who adored him. Chronically depressed, he had tried a couple times to take his own life. Read more…

Treasures in Darkness

cjtreasuresindarknessWe never think, especially at the time, of treasures or riches coming out of the dark places in our lives, but they do. God uniquely desires to use the darkness in our lives to make something extraordinarily beautiful. In fact, it is in these various dark places of brokenness, heartbreak, and loss that God brings forth His light so that even the darkness is illuminated. And it’s not only illuminated, it’s full of treasures and riches – in abundance. Read more…

I Have a Secret

cjhehealsthebrokenheartedI hope you never need to rely on people to remind you to be asleep or awake. I hope you don’t ever have to have people force feed you because you are too depressed to eat on your own. I hope you never feel alone in a room full of people. Read more…

Stand on Truth

dhmygraceissufficientIt often starts slow with a thought or two: “No one understands.” “I’m just weak.” Yet if we don’t counter those thoughts with truth then those thoughts become habitual, holding us captive: “I’ll always feel this way.” “I’ll never feel better.” “I’m just joy immune.”  Read more…

ARTICLES:

The Shalom of Neurochemistry, Krispin Mayfield, Christianity Today: The Behemoth

What Christians Need to Know About Mental Health, Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

Suffering and the Heart of God: Interview with Diane Langberg, PhD, Richard Doster, byFaith, May, 2016

Reaching Out to the Mentally Ill, Susan Fikse, byFaith Online

Can Churches Separate Mental Illness and Shame? Christine Scheller, Christianity Today

Loving the 26 Percent, Amy Simpson, Christianity Today

SERMON:

Sacred Sorrow, by Pastor Lawrence Bowlin

WEBSITE:

Not Alone: Finding Faith and Friendship for the Special Needs Journey

BOOKS:

51bnkmwfobl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission, Amy Simpson
In Troubled Minds, Amy Simpson, whose family knows the trauma and bewilderment of mental illness, reminds us that people with mental illness are our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ, and she shows us the path to loving them well and becoming a church that loves God with whole hearts and whole souls, with the strength we have and with minds that are whole as well as minds that are troubled.

519gcurdeyl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression, Michelle Bengtson
Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion, blending her training and faith, to offer readers a hope grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is an approach that offers the hope of release, not just the management of symptoms.

41nfn1ji3yl-_sx331_bo1204203200_The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David BrainerdJohn Piper
John Piper invites you into the lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd to discover how God takes the privilege of faith and strengthens it with trials so that we experience a greater hunger for him. The perseverance of these godly servants exemplifies the essential fruit that affliction can produce in your own life.

41i84h622bll-_sx319_bo1204203200_When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God, John Piper
“It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him.” John Piper

 

51gfjkbt2kl-_sx326_bo1204203200_A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament, Christina Fox

How often do you look to God in His Word for help and hope? How often do you turn to Him when you feel anxious, distraught, or abandoned? How often do you bring your burdens to your Savior? Take a journey of hope through the Psalms of lament with Christina Fox.

519scn9f3el-_sx334_bo1204203200_Fight Back with Joy: Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears, Margaret Feinberg
Although written about her journey through breast cancer, we can discover that joy is a far more dynamic force than most of us realize. It has the power to reignite our passion for laughter and celebration. It can free us to rise above endless demands as we become more content and thankful. It can change unchangeable circumstances and bring a peace rooted in the remarkable love of God.

Audio:

CJChristUnderstandsWHAT I’VE SEEN IN THE DARK: A Story of Depression and Faith

“Nobody can help you in your pain unless you are willing to open open up.”

Audio of Dr. Powell’s testimony at Columbia International University on September 22, 2014. Used with permission.

SCRIPTURE: (EVS)

  • Joshua 21:45: Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
  • 1 Samuel 12:16: Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes.
  • 1 Samuel 12:23: Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lordby ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.
  • Nehemiah 9:6: You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.
  • Psalm 4:1: Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
  • Psalm 4:8: In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
  • Psalm 5:1-2; 11: Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.
  • Psalm 13:5, 6: But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
  • Psalm 20:1-5: May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices!  May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!
  • Psalm 31:7: I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,
  • Psalm 34:8, 18-19: Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
  • Psalm 62:8: Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. 
  • Psalm 68:3-4: But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!
  • Psalm 68:28: Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.
  • Psalm 71:20: You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
  • Psalm 94:19: When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
  • Psalm 116:10: I believed, even when I spoke: “I am greatly afflicted”
  • Psalm 119:28: My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
  • Psalm 138:8: The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
  • Psalm 143:8: Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
  • Isaiah 30:18, 20-21: Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
  • Isaiah 33:2: O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.
  • Isaiah 43:2: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
  • Jeremiah 31:4, 13-14: Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord.
  • Jeremiah 31:25: For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.
  • Jeremiah 32:27: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?
  • Habakkuk 3:18: yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
  • Philippians 1:6: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

 WHAT TO SAY/TEXT/WRITE:

  • Know that you are loved and prayed for today.
  • My heart aches with you and for you today.
  • I have experienced loss, and I am so sorry for what you are going through.
  • If you have a specific prayer request, I’d be honored to pray for you. But in the meantime, know that I’m praying for you and asking God how to pray for you best.
  • You are so loved! What specific thing can I do and/or provide that would help you right now? Let me know – and if you don’t have any ideas, I have suggestions.

Taken from Fight Back with Joy, Margaret Feinberg, pp. 180 – 182.

 POETRY: 

41rvxw6pxal-_sx311_bo1204203200_The Joy of Poetry: How to Keep, Save & Make Your Life with Poems, Megan Willome
Part memoir, part humorous and poignant defense of poetry, this is a book that shows you what it is to live a life with poems at your side. Megan’s story is one you won’t want to put down; meanwhile, her uncanny ability to reveal the why’s and how’s of poetry keeps calling—to even the biggest poetry doubter.

 MUSIC:

Indelible Grace: Joy Beyond the Sorrow: These are songs of lament. It’s crucial for the church to reclaim the lament as a form of worship, recognizing that sadness is not the same as unbelief. Lament is an acknowledgement that this world is not as it should be and a cry for God to continue his redemptive work in making all things new.

Psalm 62:8: Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

NANCY’S PLAYLIST:

Scripture tells us that when King Saul was troubled by a harmful spirit from God, he would send for David to play music for him. As he did, Saul was refreshed and became well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.

During certain seasons of battling depression, I could barely form words of prayer. These songs became my cries in the dark when the enemy was troubling my soul.

Now, for the most part, I have a deep and abiding love for old gospel hymns. For many years, I thought contemporary Christian music was too simplistic and repetitive to be of much value.

But when I needed songs in the night, the simplicity and repetition were just what I needed to stand up against the assaults of the evil one.

*Note: If you’re considering putting a playlist together for a friend, please be sure to honor licensing agreements by purchasing songs and not simply sharing your personal downloads. Not only is it illegal, but it’s important that artists and musicians get paid for the efforts.

  • The Valley, Ellie Holcomb
  • Praise You in This Storm, Casting Crowns
  • Our God, Chris Tomlin
  • Beautiful Things, Gungor
  • How Great is Our God, Chris Tomlin
  • Mighty to Save, Jeremy Camp
  • Come as You Are, Crowder
  • 10,000 Reasons, Rend Collective Experiment
  • Bring on the Wonder, Sarah McLachlan
  • Be Still, The Fray
  • Healing Begins, Tenth Avenue North
  • You Are More, Tenth Avenue North
  • My Help Comes from the Lord, The Museum
  • Lift Up Your Face, Third Day
  • Grace Like Rain, Todd Agnew
  • Good, Good Father, Chris Tomlin

EXERCISE:


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Once upon a time, NANCY FRANSON blogged at a place called Out of My Alleged Mind, an indirect reference to her personal and family experiences with mental health. She currently works as a digital copywriter for a company that creates training programs for health and mental health practitioners.

Nancy lives in Mansfield, CT with the beloved Swede, her husband and best friend for more than 30 years, but her heart remains tied to Pittsburgh, PA, home of the royal grandchildren, Patrick and Marta (who she is confident descend from Narnian royalty).

*Special thanks to Nancy for providing most of the content on this page.

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