Natural Disasters And The Mentally Ill

Psalm 9:10  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

This article is pretty much spur of the moment and I hope it in no way diminishes the importance of the topic I am seeking to address.  As I am considering the “practical” aspects of this topic in what follows, please realize I am in no way seeking to replace or even diminish the vital role that God plays in all of this.  In fact, I believe He may very well be involved in these “practical” things.    Allan

With the imminent arrival of Hurricane Gustav I have been thinking the same thoughts as I have in the past when some type of disaster takes place.  What we are seeing now in the Gulf Coast is the emergency evacuation of the residents of the areas threatened directly by the hurricane’s arrival.  We are all praying that the loss of life will be minimal and that the destruction the hurricane carries with it will not be as bad as it could be.

As a person who lives with Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia I worry about those in these soon to be stricken areas who are being forced to relocate.  The initial reaction from all of us is “thank God” these people are being removed from harms way.

The fact is that those who have Panic Disorder and /or Agoraphobia can be facing a very real and traumatic situation simply by being evacuated.  One of the things these people face is the idea of traveling.  They are quite often living a life of very restricted travel as they face the reality of having major panic attacks if they are removed from their “comfort zones.”  These same people can suffer deeply if they are in a vehicle that is in traffic that moves very slowly.  These are very real “life events” for those who are afflicted with these mental illnesses.

Quite often, you hear of the homeless who the authorities can’t get to leave.  They stay where they are in the face of almost certain catastrophic circumstances.  The fact is many of these homeless people are mentally ill.  They aren’t able to make sound decisions and as a result, put their lives at risk.  Pray for these people as Gustav approaches.  Pray that our nation can do more to get the homeless into a place where they might receive help.

I think about all of those who are in the Gulf Coast who suffer with mental illness.  How does an impending natural disaster impact them?  Those who are afflicted with Depression, OCD, Bi-Polar disorder, Schizophrenia, PTSD, and other illnesses. What happens if they lose their medication?  What must this be like for them?  How does our government take care of their unique needs?

These are things I honestly don’t understand or know the answers to.  So I have tried to find some information that might shed some light on these questions. What I have found isn’t real encouraging.  While these links are a few years old, they offer some insight into what the reality was, especially three years ago, when Hurricane Katrina struck.

Pray for those dear people who will be seeking to provide help to those with a Mental Illness as Gustav approaches, hits, and then moves away.  Pray for those with a Mental Illness who are being forced to face such an uncertain future.

If you have other information to share, please do.

The Psychological Effects Of Hurricane Katrina.  Click here.

The Needs Of People With Psychiatric Disabilities During And After Hurricane Katrina.   Click here.

Unprepared- The Red Cross And Katrina.   Click here.

Some beautiful Christian songs.

September 4th, 2010-  If you go through the blog you will find music posted every Saturday.  Hope you enjoy the songs that are posted.  Allan

I have a deep love for music and I am going to share some from time to time.  I hope you take a listen and if there’s a song you’d like to see, I’ll try to find it on Youtube and share it.  God bless!

Song List

1.  Beautiful-  Vineyard UK

2.  The Wonder Of Your Cross-  Robin Mark

3.  Waiting Here For You-  Christy Nockels

4.  You’re Beautiful-  Phil Wickham

5.  Sometimes By Step-  Rich Mullins

6.  Fall On Me (Set Me Free)-  Vineyard

7.  Breathe-  Kathryn Scott/Vineyard

8.  How He Loves Us-  Kim Walker/Jesus Culture

9.  My Soul Longs For You-  Misty Edwards/ Jesus Culture

10.  The World Needs Jesus-  Malcolm & Alwyn

11.  Revelation Song-  Kari Jobe

12.  I Will Rise-  Chris Tomlin

13.  With All I Am-  Hillsong

14.  Sweet Cherry Wine-  Tommy James & The Shondells

15.  Be Thou My Vision-  Van Morrison

Prayer Requests and Praise Reports- August 29

Psalm 19:1  How clearly the sky reveals God’s glory! How plainly it shows what he has done!
Psalm 19:2  Each day announces it to the following day; each night repeats it to the next.
Psalm 19:3  No speech or words are used, no sound is heard;
Psalm 19:4  yet their message goes out to all the world and is heard to the ends of the earth. God made a home in the sky for the sun;
Psalm 19:5  it comes out in the morning like a happy bridegroom, like an athlete eager to run a race.
Psalm 19:6  It starts at one end of the sky and goes across to the other. Nothing can hide from its heat.
Psalm 19:7  The law of the LORD is perfect; it gives new strength. The commands of the LORD are trustworthy, giving wisdom to those who lack it.
Psalm 19:8  The laws of the LORD are right, and those who obey them are happy. The commands of the LORD are just and give understanding to the mind.
Psalm 19:9  Reverence for the LORD is good; it will continue forever. The judgments of the LORD are just; they are always fair.
Psalm 19:10  They are more desirable than the finest gold; they are sweeter than the purest honey.
Psalm 19:11  They give knowledge to me, your servant; I am rewarded for obeying them.
Psalm 19:12  None of us can see our own errors; deliver me, LORD, from hidden faults!
Psalm 19:13  Keep me safe, also, from willful sins; don’t let them rule over me. Then I shall be perfect and free from the evil of sin.
Psalm 19:14  May my words and my thoughts be acceptable to you, O LORD, my refuge and my redeemer! ~Good News Bible

New Prayer Requests

kept-by-the-King- Thank you so much for praying, my brother sends me bizarre text messages about every other day…. he is so tormented….please pray for conversations I can have with him and that he would get the specific help he needs. Right now he is in a drug/alcohol rehab center …..

Rachel- thank you all so much for your prayers. i can’t tell you how much they mean to me.

please continue to pray. my family is really under attack right now, and i’m having a hard time coping with it. i feel it starting to drag me down, just the stress of it and the emotional upheaval of everything. i’m worn out!

may God bless all of you richly.

Rachel- finally, i can make this public: i am moving to oklahoma at the end of september!!! )

please pray for me as i try to make all the logistics work, etc. also, for a good job up there and wisdom.

Okie Preacher- Just so you understand what is going on, I have resigned as pastor of Fellowship Bible Church; continued and ongoing problems with the board. Looking for a job, starting a new church, and moving have overwhelmed Rachel. Please pray for us all. Thanks for being there…

Past Prayer Requests

Linnea-  Could I ask a prayer of you all?

My sons, ages 16 and 18, are now both in residence at schools away from home. I am confident that they both have a better understanding of the gospel and of who they are in the Lord, but I worry that they will not make time for the Word and for fellowship with other Christians. Would you pray that God would move their hearts to make time with Him each day and to seek out the fellowship of other Christians? Thanks

Sandy-  Sandy left this post in response to an article Rachel had written.  Pray that Sandy would see God work powerfully in her life.   “I have spent many hours in the last weeks on the web and stumbled across this site yesterday. Trust me when I say it was a Godsend for a Christian who has suffered bouts of panic, PTSD and sometimes agoraphobia while trying to be a single parent for many years. Well meaning family members have consistently equated my problems with some sin or other they see in my life – to the point that I now just hide my problems from Christians to avoid the guilt trips. It only makes someone suffer more to keep hearing that it’s their own fault for not being somehow holy enough. Thanks for your message.”

Rachel-  please pray for my dad, okiepreacher, and his wife. i can’t say why, but they could use wisdom right now and a real intervention from the Lord.

Erunner-  Our nephew’s wife has multiple sclerosis. She has been on the prayer list for some time. She is in her 20’s and has two young children (11and 8.) This past Friday she had an MRI and the results showed the disease is very aggressive. She has new lesions on her brain and spine and will be receiving medicine at home via infusion. We will have the kids beginning tomorrow, through Saturday.

Linnea-  Would you all pray for my friend, Rebecca, who is ending her marriage. Her 16 year old son has been diagnosed with primary pulmonary hypertension and she has a genetic predisposition for schizophrenia. Please pray that she get the help she needs, that her son be made whole and that their marriage be healed.

BrianD-  There are going to be layoffs at his place of employment.  He doesn’t know if his job will be part of those layoffs and is asking for prayer that ” God will show me what I need to do to prepare for the day I leave the company – voluntarily or involuntarily.”

Linnea- Could you pray for my doctor, his son Patrick and his wife? They are struggling with him and they need prayer for their marriage.

Linnea- Pray that feelings of sadness would lift completely.

Cash- Hello, friends. I am not doing well at all. Please pray for me and my family. Thanks.

Okie Preacher-  Please pray for my friend Ralph and his wife Carolyn. She has been diagnosed with cancer again and this time it appears to have spread throughout her body.

Philbert-  “I am a 58 year old man and have suffered from depression and Borderline Personality Disorder all of my life. I cannot remember anytime that I did not have suicidal thoughts, it continues even today. I visualize how and where I would do “it” never frees me.”

Jan- Has been extremely depressed with thoughts of dying entering her mind.  Pray that God would bring her to a place of peace and that these thoughts would become a thing of the past.

Jesus Freak 4 Real- Prayer for her mental health and for God to lead and guide as she and her husband  seek to serve Him.

kept-by-the-king –  Please pray for my brother who suffers deeply from Mental Illness, he is suffering so much, he does not know the Lord… my heart aches for him.

Anne – To overcome the “ feeling like it is my lack of faith or not being the “right” kind of Christian or believer that prevents my having “victory” or even immunity from depression. I also struggle with maintaining prayer when in the deepest parts of depression and grief.”

Nene - Prayer for her father to be saved and to come to a place of peace. Father and brother have been  estranged 27 years.

Dusty – Prayer as she battles Depression.

Una – Boyfriend on third tour of Iraq displaying symptoms of PTSD. Pray that God would protect him and that he can get the help he may need upon completing this tour. Pray that Una would receive wisdom from God as to her role in this situation.

Erunner - Our nephew is serving his second tour in Iraq. Pray for his safety and emotional state as he serves our nation.

Our brother-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4, non-small cell Lung Cancer on March 18,

Our nephew’s wife has MS and has also been diagnosed with epilepsy. She is in her 20’s with two small children.

Cash – That God would continue to heal and lead him as he battles PTSD.

Maryellen – Please pray for my daughter Jennifer and her daughter Avery, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. Strengthen the family as they enter into therapy for Avery that is very demanding. Pray also for their 2 and a half year old son during this time. Pray that the family will not be overwhelmed and that God will strengthen and guide them.

Praise Reports-

Rachel- it only took 2 months, e, but i’ve finally posted a new entry at http://notesfromthewell.wordpress.com

it’s short, but hopefully there will be more to come quickly on its heels!!

now we are up to TWO new posts.  2 months without any and then 2 in one day!! crazy!!

don’t want to “advertise,” per se, but i know some of you read and i’d have given up looking if two months had gone by with nothing! sorry for the delay

Rachel- PRAISE REPORT: i am finally feeling better. i thought it might just be a fluke but it seems to be lasting and to be more than just a swing into hypomania. ) praise the LORD! He is good beyond measure and expression. and i’m off all of my meds, which is really odd. my therapy helped more than all the meds put together and in a fraction of the time. thank you all so much for your prayers.

i am still coveting your prayers on the oklahoma situation. there’s more to say, but i can’t make it public now. i do still need prayers though that things will fall into place and that God would shut any and all doors that He doesn’t want me walking through.

Dusty- Thanks for keeping me on the list. Still not quite myself, but I think I am starting to see some improvement.

I think the medicine is starting to kick in . The counseling is helping a lot though it has been only a few weeks. I am surprised at all the things I did not know how to deal with…I just stuffed it deep down so I would not have to feel it or think about it…

Still not sleeping well but am managing with that for now.Still keeping to myself a lot but working on overcoming that as well.

Thanks for the prayers.

Nene-  My dad brought up the name of Christ today, with a positve tone. It was as if was hearing things. He has been befriended by a trucker/preacher. This man has been telling my dad about “being saved.”
I really am in a more skeptical mindset as to who this man is. There are many “characters” out there in his area. I hope I am not sounding as I am not trusting. I am only being honest. I pray this is a normal preacher. May Gods word go forth, and into my dads soul.

Note….. As I compile this list I am eliminating those requests or praise reports that have been answered. I am also shortening the requests that are not new while trying to keep the essence of the request intact.

Being Re-parented by Abba

By Pastor Larry Taylor


February 9, 2001


Professional counselors often are in contact with individuals whose home life was sufficiently negative as to require a process sometimes dubbed “re-parenting”, which involves helping the individual relearn the lessons of childhood with a more positive parental role model.

Negatively inspired families are usually classified “dysfunctional” – a term I do not care for because it implies that the family should be measured and defined in terms of function, that its value lies in what it does, what it accomplishes, what it produces – a supposition that derives from the consumerist society in which we live that defines value in terms of what we produce or accomplish rather than in terms of who we are.

Be that as it may, however, the fact remains that some, perhaps most, families contribute to the negative experiences we have as adults. Most depression, negativity, anger, hostility, rage, addiction, abuse, and anxiety (indeed much of what we call “sin”) finds its roots in the family of origin – something went wrong in the formative years, there was some negative influence that occurred that contributed to the development of the problem that now plagues the adult.

Sometimes those contributions are obvious – an alcoholic or physically abusive parent, for example; but at other times, the negative influence is more subtle – an emotionally distant or cold parent, for instance. Sometimes poor parenting involves sinful (or even criminal) behavior.  At other times it simply involves failure or inadequacy which is no one’s fault; and of course, these problems are often inter-generational – the emotionally distant parent was frequently raised by another emotionally distant parent, the abusive parent was often the victim of abuse, and the addicted parent is often the adult child of an addict.

Nevertheless, it is scripturally clear that God wants to help us break the bonds of the past, snap the negative cycles that weigh us down, and set us free.  Yet it is equally clear that doing so involves a gradual process, that it does not come quickly, or easily, much less magically, as a response to a sudden miraculous touch. It is not that God could not choose to so heal His children, it is that He knows better because it is the very process of slowly evolving change that draws us upward into His heart, that actualizes us, and that makes us fully human and fully alive.

Once we face the scriptural promises, we are confronted with a dilemma of sorts – God wants me to be free of the negative influences of the past, but how can I actually appropriate that manumission into my individual life?

First, I must determine whether I truly want to be free.  Jesus’ poignant question to the paralytic hits us where we live – “Do you want to be healed, or have you grown so accustomed to and comfortable with your disability and the attention it brings you that you would prefer it to health?” Health for the paralytic meant not only assuming gainful employment and responsibility, but also giving up his very identity as a dependant to be pitied.

Similarly, we must honestly ask ourselves what our particular psychological infirmities are accomplishing for us. Have they come to define who we are so that without them we would be nonexistent; do we fear annihilation if the defining characteristic – negativity, depression, anxiety, etc. – was removed? Does the infirmity of heart or mind bring us needed attention or sympathy; are we afraid that without it we might not be loved?  Would the giving up of an inter-generational family trait somehow be subconsciously viewed as a betrayal of our mothers and fathers.  Are we abandoning them if we refuse to join their dance?

Family loyalty grips us in our very essence – many of us would rather live lives of bondage and abuse than feel we have betrayed the family, even when the family is sick. Mafia dons spawn organized criminals loyal only to the family; Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizards spawn skinhead racists. These are deep-seated emotions. we cannot bear to not be loved; betrayal is a fierce crime aimed at generations gone by; the fear of nonexistence is the deepest fear known to humankind.

Often, our honest response to Jesus is negative – no, we would rather not be free of depression, anxiety, addiction, even cycles of violence and abuse, if being free means facing the feelings of nonexistence, betrayal or being unloved; and when we respond negatively, the Lord who loves us so much that He will never impose His will on ours’ or force us into anything with which we disagree, condescends to deal with us at the lower level we have chosen.

We see this in the Bible several times – God’s perfect will was for the Israelites to be ruled directly by Him, but they insisted upon a king like the surrounding nations, so he gave them one and loved them and helped them at that level. Originally, God intended for the first-born son of every household to be His priests – He wanted a whole kingdom of priests – but the people were not able to live up to that standard.  So the tribe of Levi was substituted. If we choose a lower path, God will deal with us on that lower level, but the higher path is always superior.  Israel would have been better off a theocracy with a priest in every home.

The fact that so few of us really want to change, really want to be free of the bonds of childhood, is the reason why it is often said of addicts that they must “hit bottom” before the desire to change is greater than the threats of imagined nonexistence, familial betrayal and the perceived loss of love.  Additionally, desiring to be free may involve the facing of truths about ourselves we would rather avoid.

A man captivated by pornography may feel ashamed of his lust, but would rather live with it than face the deep-seated misogamy that lies at the root of his need to dominate and control women. To avoid the embarrassment of hard truth, we often continue in bondage – our honest answer to Christ’s desire to heal us is “no thank you, health is far too painful to face.”

Our first task towards becoming free indeed, towards embracing the manumission offered by the Lord, is the difficult task, one which often requires outside help, of facing who we would be without the bondage, and being willing to pay the price freedom brings. Freedom may involve betraying an unworthy family tradition – “the one who follows Me must hate mother, father, sisters and brothers”, said Jesus, i.e., must hate the negative dance of the dysfunctional family, must be willing to sacrifice aloofness, coldness, depression, abuse, addiction, emotional distancing, and other negative family traits in the name of embracing the new family – the family of God.

Freedom may involve a shift in our basic perceptions of who we are.  No longer can we be defined as the weak one, the irritated one, the lonely one, the depressed one, the nervous one, or the addicted one who needs everyone’s help. That may feel like annihilation, nonexistence, unless it is replaced with a new and richer definition of self as a child of God.

Freedom may involve sacrificing the need to be needy, the need to be loved, and replacing it with the need to love others – “deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Me.” Freedom may involve squarely facing very unpleasant truths about ourselves – deep seated hatred of women, homosexual tendencies, the sick need to manipulate and control others, fundamental esteem issues, for example.  Nevertheless, knowing the truth is the precursor to freedom – “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.

We must face ourselves honestly and truly want to be free even if freedom brings with it hard responsibilities and the reality of unpleasant sensations with which we will have to deal, we must look Jesus in the eye and say, “yes, I want to be healed”, or at a minimum, look Him in the eye and say “I want to want to be healed, help my unbelief and conquer my fear of nonexistence.  Help me to trust that you will replace the life I perceive to be losing with one far richer and greater, exchanging my narrow hemmed in bondage for the expanse of age-abiding life in the fullest.

Help me to face the hard truths about who I am, knowing that I do so in the shadow of your unconditional love.  Help me to be willing to betray that which deserves to be betrayed because it is unworthy of loyalty, and accept my adoption into your family; and, Lord, if I do not mean this prayer, make me mean it.” Once we do, the process of healing can truly begin.

The healing process continues with the psychological replacement of our parents with Jesus. What I mean by that is that, unless our up-bringing was entirely healthy and godly, we must be re-parented by God, our loving Abba. That process begins with learning whom God really is, not based on early experiences with our own fathers, nor our encounters with church officials or ecclesiastical rules, but by stripping away all our preconceived ideas and approaching the scriptures with a blank slate. That in itself is a formidable task. As we do, however, we discover that God, unlike the false god presented by many a religious person, entirely loves, unconditionally forgives and accepts, never condemns, but always understands, ever embraces, and is kind, compassionate, wise and wonderful.

It is as we steep ourselves in the reality of the true and living God, the God of the Scriptures, whose very Book is a love letter to us, that we come to trust Him enough to let go of our fears of personal annihilation, our habits of low self esteem and our need to be loyal to that which is subhuman.  Convinced at our core that God loves us unconditionally and eternally, we can then allow Him to become the parents we need.

Being re-parented by Abba then involves literally picturing our childhood experiences, especially our early childhood experiences, as they would be if Jesus had been our mom or dad. We literally replay the tape of our memories, slowly, one at a time, substituting Jesus in our imaginations for our parents. Now, rather than the parent who yelled, “you can’t do anything right, you’re worthless”, we see Poppa or Momma Jesus smiling, we feel His warm embrace and hear our Abba say, “don’t worry, we all make mistakes, it’s no big deal.  I love you and I always will, no matter what.”

We bask in the newly created memory, then at our leisure.  These things must not be rushed.  We conjure up another memory, replacing the negative with Jesus.   We see ourselves introducing Him to our friends. “This is my dad, Yeshua, he’s a carpenter and cabinet maker, he attends all my events, recitals and sports and cheers me on, he takes me places and spends time with me, and never has a harsh word to say, I love him so much because he loves me more than I can imagine.”

For some, this all sounds like so much psychological nonsense, but it only appears that way to those who refuse to face the stark realities of who they really are and what things in them need to be changed, insisting they are without need of transformation, they become modern Pharisees, quick to bind on others burdens they themselves would never attempt to bear. However, for the rest of us, the slow wonderful process of being re-parented by Abba transforms us, little by little, systematically, from fearful, depressed, addicted, abusive, angry people into women and men alive with the love of God.

Anorexia Nervosa

We have all seen stories on television that have featured a person(s) who is pretty much skin and bones.  Many times that is our introduction to Anorexia Nervosa.  I first learned of this illness because of two celebrities who were its victims.  Karen Carpenter was a famous singer through the 60’s and 70’s and tragically, she died as a result of her illness.

The other person was Cherry Boone O’Neil, the daughter of Pat Boone.  She recovered and wrote a book telling her story. The title is “Starving For Attention” and can be found in most libraries.

The death of Karen Carpenter seemed to propel the topic of Anorexia Nervosa into the public spotlight.  Much has been learned about this illness since then.  As I was a huge fan of The Carpenters, I’m ending this article with a video of one of their hits.  Once again, courtesy of NAMI, I am posting their article that is an excellent introduction to the topic.

What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is a serious, occasionally chronic, and potentially life-threatening eating disorder defined by a refusal to maintain minimal body weight within 15 percent of an individual’s normal weight. Other essential features of this disorder include an intense fear of gaining weight, a distorted body image, denial of the seriousness of the illness, and amenorrhea (absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles when they are otherwise expected to occur).

There are two subtypes of anorexia nervosa. In the restricting subtype, people maintain their low body weight purely by restricting their food intake and, possibly, by excessive exercise. Individuals with the binge eating/purging subtype also restrict their food intake, but also regularly engage in binge eating and/or purging behaviors such as self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas. Many people move back and forth between subtypes during the course of their illness. Starvation, weight loss, and related medical complications are quite serious and can result in death. People who have an ongoing preoccupation with food and weight even when they are thin would benefit from exploring their thoughts and relationships with a therapist. The term anorexia literally means loss of appetite, but this is a misnomer. In fact, people with anorexia nervosa often ignore hunger signals and thus control their desire to eat. Often they may cook for others and be preoccupied with food and recipes, yet they will not eat themselves. Obsessive exercise that may accompany the starving behavior can cause others to assume falsely that the person must be healthy.

Who develops anorexia nervosa?

Like all eating disorders, anorexia nervosa tends to occur in pre- or post-puberty, but can develop at any time throughout the lifespan. Anorexia nervosa predominately affects adolescent girls and young adult women, although it also occurs in boys, men, older women and younger girls. One reason younger women are particularly vulnerable to eating disorders is their tendency to go on strict diets to achieve an “ideal” figure. This obsessive dieting behavior reflects today’s societal pressure to be thin, which is seen in advertising and the media. Others especially at risk for eating disorders include athletes, actors, dancers, models, and TV personalities for whom thinness has become a professional requirement. People with anorexia nervosa will often mention that the sense of control they develop over eating and weight helps them feel as if other aspects of their life are under control. The presence of depression and anxiety disorders may increase the risk of developing anorexia nervosa.

How many people suffer from anorexia nervosa?

Conservative estimates suggest that one-half to one percent of females in the U.S. develop anorexia nervosa. Because more than 90 percent of all those who are affected are adolescent and young women, the disorder has been characterized as primarily a woman’s illness. It should be noted, however, that males and children as young as seven years old have been diagnosed; and women 50, 60, 70, and even 80 years of age have fit the diagnosis. Some of these individuals will have struggled with eating, shape or weight in the past but new onset cases can also occur.

How is the weight lost?

People with anorexia nervosa usually lose weight by reducing their total food intake and exercising excessively. Many persons with this disorder restrict their intake to fewer than 1,000 calories per day. Most avoid fattening, high-calorie foods, and often eliminate meats. The diet of persons with anorexia nervosa may consist almost completely of low-calorie foods and or beverages like lettuce and carrots, popcorn, and diet soft drinks.

What are the common signs of anorexia nervosa?

The hallmark of anorexia nervosa is a preoccupation with food and a refusal to maintain minimally normal body weight. One of the most frightening aspects of the disorder is that people with anorexia nervosa continue to think they look fat even when they are bone-thin. Their nails and hair become brittle, and their skin may become dry and yellow. People with anorexia nervosa often complain of feeling cold (hypothermia) because their body temperature drops. They may develop lanugo (a term used to describe the fine hair on a new born) on their body.

Persons with anorexia nervosa develop odd and ritualistic eating habits such as cutting their food into tiny pieces, refusing to eat in front of others, or fixing elaborate meals for others that they themselves don’t eat. Food and weight become obsessions as people with this disorder constantly think about their next encounter with food. Generally, if a person or their family fears he or she has anorexia nervosa, a doctor knowledgeable about eating disorders should make a diagnosis and rule out other physical disorders. Other psychiatric disorders can occur together with anorexia nervosa, such as depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders.

What are the causes of anorexia nervosa?

Although the precise causes of anorexia nervosa are unknown, we do know that it is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Scientists have studied the role of personality, genetics, environment, and biochemistry of people with these illnesses. Certain personality traits common in persons with anorexia nervosa are perfectionism, neuroticism (anxiety-proneness), low self-esteem, and social isolation (which usually occurs after the behavior associated with anorexia nervosa begins). Many people who develop anorexia nervosa had been good students and athletes.

Eating disorders also tend to run in families, with female relatives most often affected. Relatives of someone with anorexia nervosa are over 10 times more likely to have an eating disorder themselves than relatives of someone without anorexia nervosa. The heritability of anorexia nervosa has been estimated to be over 50%. Behavioral and environmental influences also play a role in vulnerability to the illness. Stressful life events or transitions may precipitate the illness. In studies of the biochemical functions of people with eating disorders, scientists have found that the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine are decreased in those with anorexia nervosa who are at a low weight. People with anorexia nervosa also tend to have higher than normal levels of cortisol (a brain hormone released in response to stress) and vasopressin (a brain chemical found to be abnormal in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder).

Are there medical complications?

The starvation experienced by persons with anorexia nervosa can cause damage to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, and brain. Pulse rate and blood pressure drop, and people suffering from this illness may experience irregular heart rhythms or heart failure. Nutritional deprivation along with purging causes electrolyte abnormalities such as low potassium and low sodium. Nutritional deprivation also leads to calcium loss from bones, which can become brittle and prone to breakage (osteoporosis). Nutritional deprivation also leads to decreased brain volume. In the worst-case scenario, people with anorexia can starve themselves to death. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. The most frequent causes of death are suicide and complications of the malnutrition associated with the disorder.

Is treatment available?

Recovery from anorexia nervosa is possible. In long term follow-up studies, about half of individuals fully recover from the illness, a small percentage continued to suffer from anorexia, and the remainder continue to have other eating disorders. For some, anorexia nervosa can be relatively short-lived, whereas for others it can become a chronic and debilitating illness. We do not yet know predictors of clinical course.

Luckily, most of the complications experienced by persons with anorexia nervosa are reversible when they restore their weight. People with this disorder should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible because eating disorders are most successfully treated when diagnosed early. Some patients can be treated as outpatients, but some may need hospitalization to stabilize their dangerously low weight. Weight gain of one to three pounds per week is considered safe and desirable. The most effective strategies for treating a patient include weight restoration, individual, family, and group therapies along with psychiatric medications as needed.

To help people with anorexia nervosa overcome their disorder, a variety of approaches are used. Some form of psychotherapy is needed to deal with underlying emotional issues. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is sometimes used to change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Group therapy is often advised so people can share their experiences with others. Family therapy is important particularly if the individual is living at home and is a child or young adolescent. A physician or advanced-practice nurse is needed to prescribe medications that may be useful in treating the disorder or associated depression or anxiety. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any psychiatric medications as they can impact weight and have varied risks and benefits. Finally, a nutritionist is necessary to advise the patient about proper diet and eating regimens. Where support groups are available, they can be beneficial to both patients and families. It is also important to realize that some people require a coordinated team of professionals from many disciplines to maximize their chance of recovery.

What about prevention?

New research findings are showing that some of the “traits” in individuals who develop anorexia nervosa are actual “risk factors” that might be treated early on. For example, anxiety, low self esteem, body dissatisfaction, and dieting may be identified and interventions instituted before an eating disorder develops. Advocacy groups have also been effective in reducing dangerous media stories, such as teen magazine articles on “being thin” and pro-anorexia (pro-ana) websites that may glamorize such risk factors as dieting.

Please take a look at our new link for Anorexia Nervosa.

Darrell Mansfield- An eye opening testimony of mental illness

On April 3, 1976 I became a Christian as the result of hearing the Gospel preached after music was shared by Eric Nelson and Gentle Faith.  The lead singer for Gentle Faith was Darrell Mansfield.  I recall Darrell sharing about how he had attempted suicide five years earlier.

In the last several years, there was a lot of talk that Darrell was in jail.  Nobody I knew seemed to know what had exactly happened.  Following is an interview with Darrell, as he was interviewed by Dan Wooding, founder of Assist Ministries.  The interview is probably a few years old but as you read it you will see how mental illness so greatly impacted Darrell through the years.  He is now doing concerts and touring and if I am able, I will seek to get in touch with him for an update since this interview was done.  Pray for Darrell. Being a Christian musician gives him a unique platform to share about the Christian and mental illness.  He has been through much, but God has sustained him.

Check out Darrell’s web site here.

Also take a look at the ministry founded by Dan wooding. They are doing much work in the name of the Lord.

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA (ANS) — Christian blues singer, Darrell Mansfield, is emerging from a nightmare that saw him try to commit suicide on several occasions and spend a two-year spell in the Atascadero State Hospital in central California.

In an extraordinary interview, Darrell issued a message to Christians in which he said, Don’t be ashamed if you have a mental illness. You are not a second rate soldier for Christ. It’s an illness; it’s a disease, just like diabetes, and it needs to be treated. People need to know that when they get to a state of depression like that, there is help. I didn’t know that at the time. (Pictured: Darrell Mansfield in concert).

Your illness is not a lack of faith or spirituality or commitment. It’s a chemical, medical problem and I think that society, the church especially, has got their head buried in the sand.

There were too many pastors who came to see patients when I was at Atascadero State Hospital and who said to them that they were depressed because they were not praying or trusting God enough. That is just total ignorance. When you are chemically imbalanced, you need to get medication and therapy to get back on track. We know all about the physical and spiritual things, but we don’t seem to know much about the mental things.

Mansfield revealed that he comes from a family with many mental health problems and that his first suicide attempt took place in 1971 when he was 21 years old. I went to a Catholic church, St. Mary’s Church in Fullerton, California and took a butchers knife. I went up to the altar, knelt and took off my jacket and slit my wrists. I cut my right wrist right to the bone.

Fortunately, he was found by a priest and rushed to the hospital, where prompt action by the medical staff saved his life. He eventually gave his life to Christ and married Cheryl, and they have seven children.

GENTLE FAITH

In 1974, he joined the band Gentle Faith as lead vocalist and two years later they released their first album, Gentle Faith. In 1977 he formed the Darrell Mansfield Band which released four albums: Higher Power, Get Ready, Darrell Mansfield Band Live,  and Vision. That was only the beginning. Over the years Darrell has performed on so many projects that he himself finds it hard to count them all. (Pictured: Darrell with his harmonica).

He has also recorded over 30 albums and done lives shows and recordings with artists and bands like Billy Idol, Bon Jovi, Lover Boy and the late Joe Turner.

But as his popularity grew, he found himself in a Catch 22 situation. I am one of these guys who could never say no to a ministry opportunity, he said. I got so busy for God and having seven children to support didn’t help, because you have the responsibility of those kids and you want to be with them too. And if you are not, you feel guilty.

So it was really bad because I was always gone on the road and when I was home I was on the phone talking to people about the next tour or the next gig and getting ready for the next outreach. It was all legitimate, but being independent as I was on staff somewhere or could not afford to take a vacation. I was on the staff of one church seven years, and during that time I never took a vacation. (Pictured: Time out).

I didn’t have any set fees or honorariums and so I could go anywhere. That’s the way I’ll always been. But now that I know, I have to pace myself. I have realized that I have the vulnerability of an illness that was in my family. I have to get proper sleep and rest, and take my time and be careful. I have to pace myself and stop being a Martha and be more like Mary who sat at Jesus. Feet.

DARK SECRET THAT NO ONE SPOKE ABOUT

Depression ran on my father’s side, which I didn’t know until I went into the hospital and got into the system. I had five cousins that suffered from depression and three were bi-polar. One of them, Dean, become so depressed that he shot himself and his brother attempted suicide twice. I also had two uncles, who I didn’t know, who spent time in a mental hospital and also a great uncle who died in a mental hospital. That was a dark family secret that no one spoke about.

Darrell’s troubles began to mount up and they came to a head when his young daughter accidentally spoiled boiling hot soup on his feet while he was sick in bed and he suffered second and third degree burns. He was in such pain that he went to see a local doctor who treated the wounds and then gave him pain killers and sleeping pills to cope with the situation.

It was while the doctor was examining him, that he found four cancerous growths on his body. They were surgically removed, and then followed a difficult tour back east when he missed flights because of the snow and, over five or six day period, had hardly any sleep. This was made worse because his sleeping pills ran out and he was suffering withdrawal symptoms.

When he go back, he went straight out to take part in a missions conference and said that part way through his message, he became so disorientated that he stopped speaking and walked off the platform. Staff at the church tried to help him, but he was now in serious mental trouble and feeling suicidal again.

It wasn’t long after this that result in the dramatic incident that ended in his second suicide attempt back in March 2000.

I was driving along on the way to my home in Cambria and I lost it, he said. I knew I couldn’t continue to do this. I knew I should be in bed and sleeping. So all of a sudden the thought came to me again that I should end it. I took my seat belt off and went off the road into a field. I put my foot right down and was going at about 80 miles and hour and I cleared the barbed wire fence. The car went over several times and I went through the roof. It is a convertible with the roof, but it was not down.

It was winter time and I landed in the field, and there was about a foot of water there. I landed face down in the water. An ambulance happened to be driving by and the driver saw the whole thing and stopped the ambulance and rushed to save my life. Ironically, I knew the guy because he lived at the gas station in Cambria, which is located 240 miles north of Los Angeles and 240 miles south of San Francisco on U.S. Highway 1.

So they took me to the hospital and they stitched my forehead where I had a bad laceration. I was then taken to the Intensive Care Unit. The reality of it really hit me when the nurse said, “This was an accident, wasn;t it?” I said, “No,” and she said “Oh, my God.”

They then transferred me to another unit and put me on a 24 hour suicide watch in front of a nursing station. They shot me full of morphine, which felt great. It took the pain away and I went to sleep. When I woke up, there was a psychiatrist there and he interviewed me. I was then taken to a mental health facility for a 72 hour observation. This was a lock down facility. I had never been in a mental ward before and there were people walking around talking to themselves. The doctor wanted to hold me for another 72 hours, but I insisted on leaving. He gave me several bottles of medication and I went home.

But soon the suicidal thoughts were coming back again, but I knew I didn’t want to go back to the mental hospital. I told Cheryl that I needed to go and see the doctor at a mental health hospital in San Lois Obispo because. I had taken the wrong dose of medication. She was driving and the closer to the doctors we got to the city, the more freaked out I got. I’m thinking that they were going to lock me up for ever. I am going out of my mind, and thinking suicidal thoughts. So I began to think that I would just open the door and roll out of the car and someone would run over me. Well that would be okay, if I had normal passenger seat belts, but the passenger seatbelt didn’t work.

So when we get into the car, Cheryl had to put her seatbelt around mine and lock it in on her side. I knew if I unlocked the seatbelt she would wonder what I was trying to do, but still I knew I didn’t want to see the doctor and I knew I was all done with this. I’m getting closer to this. Then all of a sudden, I saw this large truck coming the other way and I could see it about 100 yards away. I thought I would just time it, grab the steering wheel in our Mercedes wagon, maneuvering it so it would hit me right on my door and it will kill me right away, and Cheryl would be okay.

HEAD ON CRASH

I grabbed the steering wheel and I didn’t calculate how fast he was going. We ended up hitting his door instead of him hitting my door, it broke the driver’s arm, but the guy who was riding shotgun had no injuries at all. Cheryl’s seat went forward and she messed up her foot. The front of the car was totaled and the front windshield was shattered, but thank God nobody had been killed.

All of a sudden the police and the ambulance were there. We were taken to the emergency ward of the hospital and I was told my wife was going to be fine. So I ran out of the back of the hospital about two blocks to the 100 freeway right to the bridge and I’m looking at the traffic. I was going to jump off the bridge, and then I thought that if I did that, I could cause an accident and hurt more people. So I decided to hide in some bushes by the side of the freeway and thought I would just roll myself out in front of a semi and just be a speed bump.

I waited until it got dark and then I went to a phone booth by a little taco restaurant where I used to eat about a block away I called home and my son Ryan answered the phone and he said, “Dad, where are you? They are looking for you.”  I told him, “I can’t tell you. I just called to see how you and Mum were and say goodbye.” He started crying and said, “Dad, don’t do anything. Tell me where you are?” I said, “I can’t do that.” He said, “Dad, let me pray with you.”

He started crying and I started crying. He talked to me until the sun came up and then I said that I had to get out of there. It was now daylight and I went back into the bushes. I went ahead and wrote a suicide note and then I realized that I couldn’t do this and so I decided to turn myself in. I walked to the police station, but first I decided to go to a restaurant and had something to eat and some coffee. Then I called Ryan back and told him that I was turning myself in. I then saw a sheriff’s truck and they saw me and arrested me.

They took me to the county jail where detectives interrogated me. They then put me in a rubber room which they call “The Hole”, for 72 hours. There was no chair and no pillow to lie on. They would feed me through a slot and I had to eat with my hands. I didn’t know at this time that Rob Glickman of Horizon Park Chapel, San Diego, CA, was looking for me. Rob drove all the way up. He had heard about the two crashes and ironically, he had seen me because he is a chaplain for the sheriff’s department. He came onto the grounds and saw me being walked over to the jail. He went to Mike MacIntosh and hired a lawyer, Praise the Lord, and then they took me to the hospital because they realized that I wasn’t a criminal. They realized that I had a chronic illness.

I was charged with attempted murder at first, but they dropped that right away. Then I was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. That was dropped as a plea for Not Guilty by reason of insanity.

Now Darrell out on a conditional release program. “I am living in an apartment in San Lois Obispo and their concern for me is that I don’t get burned out again,” he said. But I now know my warning signs and coping skills and I took a 12-week dual diagnosis class at the hospital. I am the only one in the program here who leaves the county and the state all of the time. There is tremendous support for me. They allow me to leave the country and the state all the time to minister, but monitor my progress on a weekly basis and I really appreciate their flexibility and tremendous support. My yearly review comes up soon.

At first I was diagnosed as bi-polar, but then they dropped it to just a depressive disorder. They thought I was bi polar at first because I am a candidate for it due to my family mental health history.

ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY

Darrell is well on the road to recovery. “I am still doing concerts and preaching, but now I’m learning to say no and I am not overextending myself. Now when I do teach and preach, I preach mental health along with spiritual and physical health,” he said. “We are a three-fold being and if one gets imbalanced, it affects the other and we can’t be effective for Christ if we are not spiritually, physically and mentally sound. We need to know those things and keep those things, and be in tune. So I am just thankful and praise God.”

When I minister now, I get people who come up to me and hug me in tears who say, “Thank you for making me feel that I am not a second-rate citizen of heaven because I suffer from mental problems. You’ve encouraged me.” I’ve had people who have come up to me and told me that they are suicidal at that moment and said that they need prayer. I’ll pray with them and then I’ll tell them to go and see a doctor.

I then asked Darrell if he thought that mental illness the “dirty little secret of the church” because people are desperately afraid to be honest about it.

“Yes, I really do,” he said. “I would say to pastors that you need to wake up and realize that we are in a body of sin and death and depression is part of the curse. Mental illness is just like physical illness; it needs to be treated by a doctor. There are great doctors out there and there are good medications out there that don’t have a lot of horrible side effects. You also need fellowship in group therapy. It’s important. Shame on them if they think they can just pray it away.

Michael Ireland, chief correspondent of ASSIST News Service (ANS), concurs with Mansfield. Ireland was also diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, but is now considered to be ‘in remission.’

“In my experience, the Christian church is full of people with mental and emotional problems resulting from an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. It’s no different than having a physical illness such as diabetes, and has nothing to do with the quality of their spiritual life. Many of these people, among them true and faithful believers, are treated as social pariahs because they haven’t ‘got it all together’ like others — without the disorder — seem to have. These folks are often misunderstood and many times shunned because they are ‘different’ and do not readily fit in”

“Our Bible colleges and Seminaries need to train future pastors on how to recognize the causes behind these mental disorders — they are not always spiritual in nature, but most often have a biochemical component that can be helped with proper medication and counseling. Sufferers from emotional and mental disorders, which also occur among solid, Bible-believing Christians and other church-going people, need friendship, love, acceptance and understanding — just like ‘ordinary’ people. It is time the Church came clean and started treating the mentally ill within its walls with friendship and compassion, instead of rejecting them as misfits.

“There should be no shame in having a mental illness, because it is a ‘no-fault’ disorder — there is no rhyme or reason for whom it attacks. Do you feel shame when you have a broken leg, heart disease or high cholesterol? In the same way, Christians shouldn’t feel ashamed at having what amounts to a ‘broken emotional system’. Just because you have a mental illness doesn’t mean that you cannot be a believer. And it doesn’t make you any less of a Christian, either.”

ASSIST News Service is brought to you in part by Open Doors USA, a ministry that has served the Suffering Church around the world for nearly 50 years.  You can get more information by logging onto their website at <http://www.opendoorsusa.org/>

Our Dependency on Christ

This is taken from the devotional “Streams In The Desert.”

“We are troubled on every side” (2 Cor. 7:5).

Why should God have to lead us thus, and allow

the pressure to be so hard and constant? Well, in

the first place, it shows His all-sufficient

strength and grace much better than if we were

exempt from pressure and trial. “The treasure is

in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the

power may be of God, and not of us.”

It makes us more conscious of our dependence upon

Him. God is constantly trying to teach us our

dependence, and to hold us absolutely in His hand

and hanging upon His care.

This was the place where Jesus Himself stood and

where He wants us to stand, not with

self-constituted strength, but with a hand ever

leaning upon His, and a trust that dare not take

one step alone. It teaches us trust.

There is no way of learning faith except by

trial. It is God’s school of faith, and it is far

better for us to learn to trust God than to enjoy

life.

The lesson of faith once learned, is an

everlasting acquisition and an eternal fortune

made; and without trust even riches will leave us

poor. –Days of Heaven upon Earth

“Why must I weep when others sing?

‘To test the deeps of suffering.’

Why must I work while others rest?

‘To spend my strength at God’s request.’

Why must I lose while others gain?

‘To understand defeat’s sharp pain.’

Why must this lot of life be mine

When that which fairer seems is thine?

‘Because God knows what plans for me

Shall blossom in eternity.'”

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