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My wife reads good stuff, too

My wife wanted me to read this chapter because it made her think of me because it’s about a preacher who decides to be a counselor.

One significant quote that most preachers can relate to:

“How many religious leaders go into ministry with the idea that they’re going to be really great administrators?” -Rick Rittmaster

He had gone through depression and burnout as a preacher.

After getting his Masters in Counseling, he became a chaplain the US Army. He says, “There’s great sadness in the world, and being a chaplain, my role, my journey, is no to deny it or to resist it, but to accept it and to mourn with those who mourn.”

I like that statement.

 

Taken from Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of your Life by Jane Pauley

 

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National Mental Health Awareness Week

Well, even though I am in school to be a Mental Health Professional some day, I am also in grad school and busy, so I neglected the calendar.

And as someone who is occasionally mental, well, that would also explain why I forgot….

I have written about my personal experiences and shared some resources on this blog over the last few years, here are some if you are interested or need them. Let’s not wait for a family member or a celebrity death to make us aware of this problem.

My Depression

My Depression, part 2

Last Time About my Depression

Afraid of Bad News

State of the Brian Address

Book Recommendations:

Unholy Ghost

Lincoln’s Melancholy

What I been Reading

 

 

 

Unholy Ghost: writers on depression

I just finished this amazing collection of personal stories of depression by professional writers. Some were siblings or spouses of those suffering, but most of the writings were by people who have suffered a great deal.

When you are depressed, you don’t write. But these people, after the fact, sometimes with help from family and journals, recount their lowest points and what they learned.

One chapter is a woman in her thirties who talks about being pregnant while on medication. An African-American woman talks about how depression is viewed by the black community. A man survives overdosing on 65 pills then finds another pill in a jacket pocket and wonders if that would have finished him off.

They write about suicide attempts, long hospitalizations, and many more sad events. Grab a used copy at McKays or Amazon.

Unholy Ghost: writers on depression edited by Nell Casey, includes excerpt from Styron’s Darkness Visible; Styron’s wife, Rose; Larry McMurtry (western author, Brokeback Mountain); Susanna Keyson (Girl,Interrupted); Jane Kenyon’s Husband; Nell and Maud Casey, sisters, both giving an account of Maud’s struggle.

I highly recommend reading it. It provides a great balance to some of the textbooks I have for school.

Here are some of the quotes that struck me:

“I think depression and despair are reasonable reactions to the nature of life.”   -Susanan Kaysen

“The raw nub of my soul bobbed up to the surface, ugly and ungainly, and I was suddenly pierced with panicky malaise.” -Darcy Steinke

“my own view….is that depression arises out of an enormously complicated, constantly shifting, elusive concatenation of circumstance, temperament, and biochemistry.”   -David Karp

“You do not cheer up depressives; the worst thing you can do is to count their blessings for them.”  -Donald Hall (husband of Jane Kenyon)

“My failure was not in perceiving reality; I perceived it full well, and despised it.”  “I was nearly paralyzed by dread of my inadequacy.”  -Nancy Mairs

“My heart pumped dread. It was an actual substance I could feel coursing through my bloodstream–some days a barely-there awareness, other days a carbonated liquid that seemed to have replaced my blood.” -Lesley Dormen

“Depression is a place that teems with nightmarish activity. It’s a one-industry town, a psychic megalopolis devoted to a single twenty-four-hour-we-never-close product. You work misery as a teeth-grinding muscle-straining job (is that why it’s so physically exhausting?), proving your shameful failures to yourself over and over again.”  -Lesley Dormen

“I don’t know where depression comes from or where it goes. I do know that it was the crucible, the rite of passage, that allowed me to create my life.”  -Lesley Dormen

“…one thing people always say about depression is that stubborn, consistent support helps even when it seems like it doesn’t..” -Nell Casey

“…to be depressed is not to have words to describe it, is not to have words at all, but to live in the gray world of the inarticulate, where nothing takes shape, nothing has edges or clarity.”   “Being depressed felt like living in a corpse, so being dead seemed like ‘a better place to live.'”  -Maud Casey

Still More from Scazzero’s “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”

Continuing the list of unhealthy behaviors:

8. Covering over Brokenness, Weakness, Failure

The Bible is full of examples of God using sinners, of sinners glorifying in the grace of God. Scazzero points out that David wrote a hymn about his sin with Bathsheba to be used in corporate worship.

Why do we still feel the need to wear masks and pretend we have it all together?

“We are all deeply flawed and broken. There are no exceptions.”

9. Living without Limits

Guilt for never doing enough. No boundaries. Unrealistic expectations.

“Few Christians make the connection between love of self and love of others. Sadly, many believe that taking care of themselves is a sin, a “psychologizing” of the gospel taken from our self-centered culture. I believed that myself for years.”

Jesus didn’t heal every sick person. He didn’t feed every beggar. Why do we feel we have to fix and save every single person to the neglect of our selves.

10. Judging Other People’s Spiritual Journey

“If you are occupied with your own faults, you have no time to see those of your neighbor.”

“We judge the Presbyterians for being too structure. We judge the Pentecostals for lacking structure. We judge Episcopalians for their candles and their written prayers. We judge Roman Catholics for their view of the Lord’s Supper and Orthodox Christians from the eastern part of the world for their strange culture and love of icons.
“By failing to let others be themselves before God and move at their own pace, we inevitably project onto them our own discomfort with their choice to live life differently than we do”

Are we commanded to teach and correct? Sure!

Do you know people churches who are only and constantly correcting, rebuking, fixing other people and churches? Yes. And how do we feel about them? Okay, you say feelings shouldn’t matter.  How EFFECTIVE are they in helping people grow and change??

Books for the Transition

As I pack up my library, I am getting to the point where I need to decide which books are more important.

And it’s a lot easier to purge the library when I have to decide if I am going to put it in a box or give it way it.

But I have been thinking about which books would be good to read in the interim.  Not necessarily books about transition, travel, and moving;  but what should I be reading?  What’s important right now?  I definitely don’t expect to have time to read all of them but these are at the top of my list.

Here are some I will probably keep in a backpack to have on hand for the next 2 months:

50 Psychology Classics:  This gives a synopsis of books from Sigmund Freud to Malcolm Gladwell. Had it in my Amazon cart until I saw it marked down at B&N.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality:  Peter Scazzero combines Contemplative Spirituality and Mental Health.  He serves a church in Queens, wish I had a chance to visit.  His devotional book, “The Daily Office” is fantastic.  Get it!

Savoring God’s Word by Jan Johnson.  Already read it once.  Need to read it again slowly and do all the exercises.

No Cross, No Crown by William Penn.  Penn is the only founding father I truly respect from a spiritual perspective.  Devotional classic.

Repenting of Religion.  Gregory Boyd is always challenging.  Heard interesting things about this book.

Breathing Under Water:  I really wish I had been introduced to Richard Rohr sooner.  This is currently in my Amazon cart but is probably worth buying before we pack and move.