2 Ingredients For Leading Ministry Leaders With Mental Illness

Taken from Christianity Today  which is found   HERE.

How can people with mental illness serve in ministry leadership in their local churches? Heather Palacios shares.

Recently, I was being interviewed about my bipolarity and the interview took a turn in the conversation that it never had before. When the interviewer asked, “How are you able to be in ministry with mental illness?” I had to really think about it. Before I let words unpreparedly and awkwardly stumble out of my mouth, I paused and did one of my quick “arrow-prayer,” “God, please give me the words to say, amen.” And with that, I proceeded to answer. I thought I would take a minute to share with what I learned to say that day during that interview.

It almost sounds like a contradiction of terms “ministry leadership” and “mental illness.” And I suppose in some circles, it is. But for me, where I lead and who I lead for, two ingredients have organically combined to create a mixology that supports these terms. At Church by the Glades, the way I am able to lead with a bipolar diagnosis consists of two ingredients: I have leaders who believe in me yet don’t baby me. My lead pastors, Pastor David and Lisa and Raul, our executive pastor (also my sexy Cuban spouse of sixteen years) have been amazing at doing both. Allow me to elaborate on these ingredients.

Ingredient #1: Loving Support

Pastor David, Lisa, and Raul believe in me. If bipolarity is an illness in the brain, and the brain is an organ in the body, then it shouldn’t be distinguished from having a ministry leader who has any other kind of illness in the body: asthma, diabetes, paralysis, etc. My leaders have never shoved me in some church corner, lest it be too risky to let me out. They have identified my area of gifting (communication) and have placed me in places in the church where I can use it.

My leaders take a chance and they give me a chance. However, (and this disclaimer goes out to all my mentally-ill brothers and sisters) I have earned these chances. As a professionally and medically diagnosed bipolar person, I have a responsibility with my illness. Just like I would have a responsibility with my illness if I had diabetes and needed insulin. Hear me, I’m always asking God to “take this cup from me,” but until He does, I have to accept its reality and be a good steward with it.

My leaders know I am in regular counseling and take medication daily. At Church by the Glades, things would be different if I was disobeying doctor’s order, self-medicating or in self-denial. But that is not the case. So they believe in me, and continue to use me as part of the Body despite the weakness in my body, and together, we are taking turf for the Kingdom!

Ingredient #2: No Babying

The second ingredient in our mixology is my leaders don’t baby me. They don’t give exception, such that, I am given special treatment that God would not allow. They don’t withhold constructive criticism, when it is biblical, healthy and warranted! In my earlier years of ministry, I am embarrassed to say I wanted extra concession for my mental illness.

Shame on me! How dare I take a weakness God has allowed and abuse it for personal gain or attention. When I had this sharp-convicting epiphany a several years ago, I confessed it, and asked God to help me be a leader of integrity with the bipolarity. There have been wonderful honest conversations with Pastor David, Lisa and Raul on how I (and anyone else who may join our team) need to be held accountable for our contribution to the vision. My leaders know that I have limits, but now they can trust me when I need to impose them. And I know my leaders need to be able to course-correct me and hold me accountable, but I receive that because I know they believe in me.

This is just my personal experience, and by no means to I mean to generalize mental illness and ministry leadership for the masses. But I do hope that what I have shared here encourages someone else with where they’re at.

Can Kale Kick The Blues

Originally posted on Schizophrenia. Christianity. Hope.  which is located  HERE.

Be sure to visit I. Holgers blog.  She is a gifted writer whose writings will benefit ALL who drop by.  Allan

Author: I. Holger

People will ask if they can simply swap out their Prozac for kale, and that’s of course impossible to answer.

Dr. Drew Ramsey, author of Fifty Shades of Kale

Is food the cure for what ails us?  Back in the 70s the book Sugar Blues, by William Dufty, indicted sugar as a major source of physical and mental illness. At the same time, orthomolecular psychiatry emphasized the role of nutrition and biochemistry in the healing of schizophrenia. Regardless, traditional doctors continued prescribing pharmaceuticals.  Health food “nuts” ran for the granola.  Now, over thirty years later, mainstream psychiatrists are taking a serious look at food, too.


Recent studies show that inflammation in the brain plays a major role in Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, and multiple sclerosis. Newer studies1also show inflammation affects treatment-resistant major depression.  Helpful strategies to combat inflammation include weight loss, exercise, and meditation.  Food selection is another. Consider these studies:

  • How the brain-gut connection works is not yet fully understood, but researcher Emeran Mayer, MD, said “the knowledge that signals are sent from the intestine to the brain and that they can be modulated by a dietary change”² could lead to new treatments for mental disorders.
  • Dr. Shaheen Lakhan, executive director of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, points to inflammation caused by fructose  and “gut dysfunction” (imbalance of microbiota in the stomach), as playing a negative role in mental health.  Fructose is a form of sugar.  “The emerging evidence,” he said in a Medscape interview, “suggests the pathway to be: diet-microbiota-inflammation-mental health.”³
  • The term “psychobiotic” was created during recent studies at University College Cork in Ireland, according to a Psychiatric Times article about treatment-resistant major depression.  Researchers noted a connection between probiotics (as found in yogurt and supplements) and behavioral disorders. Presumably, a pathway to the brain comes as a result of an “anti-inflammatory mechanism that may itself be influenced by probiotics”4 in the stomach. Perhaps, the researchers say, “diet itself might catalyse bacterial communication with the brain.”


Rigid diet.  Time consuming preparation.  Odd foods.  Obsessive focus.  I think those images come to mind when a physician mentions dietary changes for health reasons.  Along with the negative images, there are doubts.  How will someone with major depression or schizophrenia maintain such a regimen?  Especially someone in a group home or institution? Where will he or she get the money for those expensive special foods?

“There is no one food that should be eaten or not eaten to reduce the risk for mental disorders or any other health disorder,”3 said Dr. Felice Jacka in aMedscape Medical News article.  Looking at the whole diet makes more sense than picking a few items only. Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, found that refined carbohydrates, sugar, and trans fats have been linked to inflammation, which is linked to sickness of the brain.

Reducing intake of those types of foods would improve overall health, but maintaining such a drastic dietary change might be a challenge for many patients.  Drew Ramsey, author of Fifty Shades of Kale, details a more moderate approach. Dr. Ramsey, who also wrote The Happiness Diet: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood and Lean, Energized Body, suggests swapping food items.

As an example, he suggests swapping whole wheat or quinoa pasta for white pasta, “or choose less pasta and more vegetables.”3  Instead of a chocolate covered pretzel, he suggests a dark chocolate-covered almond. “All of a sudden,” he said, that person would be “eating 2 of the most healthy brain foods ― nuts and dark chocolate.”  The author of Fifty Shades of Kale also suggests swapping nutrient-rich kale for iceberg lettuce.


I’ll admit, popping a pill is easier than making a kale smoothie.  Healthier foods also cost more than a cart load of canned and boxed products, but fruits and vegetables don’t have the potent side effects that accompany many psychiatric medications. Rather than suppress symptoms, healthy food improves mental and physical health. As for family members living in group homes, maybe you won’t convince the cook to make any dietary switches on their behalf, yet you might.

None of the physicians or researchers quoted in this post suggested discontinuing medication.  “People will ask if they can simply swap out their Prozac for kale,” said Dr. Ramsey,” and that’s of course impossible to answer.” The doctors interviewed acknowledged a positive effect from certain food choices and believed patients would benefit mentally as well as physically from dietary changes.  Ramsey did not promise results from kale alone, but he believes psychiatrists should discuss diet with their patients.  “It’s a very easy intervention,” he says.

1 “Inflammation and Treatment Resistance in Major Depression: The Perfect Storm,” by Charles L. Raison, MD, Jennifer C. Felger, PhD, and Andrew H. Miller, MD, Psychiatric Times online, September 12, 2013,http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/cme/inflammation-and-treatment-resistance-major-depression-perfect-storm .

2 “Probiotics Affect Brain Activity,” by Megan Brooks, Medscape online, May 30, 2013, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle /805012.

3 “Culinary Culprits:  Foods That May Harm the Brain,” by Nancy A. Melville, Medscape online, Jan. 30, 2014,http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/819974#1.

4 “Probiotics a Potential Treatment for Mental Illness,” by Deborah Brauser, Medscape online, November 19, 2013,http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/814672 .


I’ve been watching a lot of the news recently as so much is going on in the world.

We have rioting in Baltimore. Two volcanoes have erupted in Chile. A huge earthquake struck Nepal killing thousands. ISIS and other Islamic extremists are killing people in hideous and steady fashion.  Many of these victims are Christians who are dying simply because of their faith.

In concert with the above people die daily from disease, accidents, murder, and various types of drugs. I could go on but you already knew these things.

Each of the things I’ve listed above have one thing in common. Survivors. We tend to forget about them as we focus on the bigger picture.

I live with panic disorder and agoraphobia. I think about others like me when bad things happen. What do I think you might wonder.

I think about people that are displaced due to a natural disaster or evacuation. Specifically those who can’t go far from home or might even be housebound. I think about what a nightmare they face as they are forced to do something they can’t conceive of doing.

Maybe a child has lost their parents to some terrorist group and they find themselves alone and thrust into a new living situation. Imagine the impact this will have on them for the rest of their lives even if they receive professional help. Sadly many won’t receive that help.

Think of the person who lives with schizophrenia but is in prison instead of getting the help they need.

Mental illness in the best of times around the world is still a monster that needs to be slain. When things get bad the light that has been focused on mental illness becomes very dim. And sadly for a time the victims are forgotten.

As time moves on we need the support of one another. Those who are so less fortunate need our support as well.

As hard as it can be to grasp, God is always at work when things are darkest. If you would remember those who come to your mind the next time you pray. God bless and keep you.

1Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Peter 1:4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in Heaven for you
1Peter 1:5 by the power of God, having been kept through faith to a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time;
1Peter 1:6 in which you greatly rejoice, yet a little while, if need be, grieving in manifold temptations;
1Pe 1:7 so that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, but being proven through fire) might be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
1Peter 1:8 whom having not seen, you love; in whom not yet seeing, but believing in Him you exult with unspeakable joy, and having been glorified,
1Peter 1:9 obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


How Mental Illness Is Misrepresented In The Media

Taken from  U.S. News Health which is found   HERE.

Unless you majored in psychology or attended medical school, chances are the bulk of your knowledge about mental illness comes from the newspapers you read, the television shows you watch and the movies you see. Studies indicate that mass media is one of the public’s primary sources of information about disorders such as bipolar, schizophrenia and depression.

The catch? Research also suggests most media portrayals of mental illness are stereotypical, negative or flat-out wrong – meaning many people gain an unfavorable or inaccurate view of those with psychological disorders simply by skimming a few sentences or picking up a remote control.

“The worst stereotypes come out in such depictions: mentally ill individuals as incompetent, dangerous, slovenly, undeserving,” says Stephen Hinshaw, a professor of psychology at the University of California–Berkeley. “The portrayals serve to distance ‘them’ from the rest of ‘us.’”

Over time, the media has slowly become conscious of these harmful portrayals, experts say. In 2013, the Associated Press added an entry on mental illness to its Style Book to help journalists write about mental illness fairly and accurately. And in recent years, Hinshaw notes, screenwriters have made an effort to portray more humanized characterizations of individuals with mental illness – for example, Carrie Mathison on Showtime’s “Homeland,” who has bipolar disorder; Bradley Cooper’s character in “Silver Linings Playbook;” and John Nash, the Nobel Prize-winning economist with schizophrenia in “A Beautiful Mind.”

Still needed, Hinshaw says, are more realistic portrayals of the everyday struggles associated with mental illness. And despite new scientific advances in the understanding and treatment of mental illness, recent studies indicate that media depictions of mental illness are as outdated and harmful as ever, says Dr. Otto Wahl, director of the graduate institute of professional psychology at Connecticut’s University of Hartford and author of “Media Madness: Public Images of Mental Illness.”

If media representations of mental illness aren’t improving, individuals can at least become aware of the insidious portrayals that shape their perceptions of real-life people with psychological disorders. That way, they can distinguish between fact and fiction, stereotype and reality and the characters onscreen vs. their real life peers.

Here are a few common, inaccurate and misleading media stereotypes of people with mental illness:

People with mental illnesses are criminal or violent. Studies show that not only are individuals with mental illness less likely to commit violent crimes, they’re actually more likely to be victimized. Still, Wahl points out, many news outlets conflate mental illness with violence. A common news account of mental illness, for instance, involves a sensationalized and violent crime in which an innocent person is killed by a mental health patient. The article is laced with graphic descriptions, emotional diction and a glaring headline. It also depicts the mentally ill person as devoid of social identity and dangerous, capricious, aggressive and irrational.

This goes for fictional media, too. For instance, TV characters who’ve been identified as having a mental illness are typically shown as violent, says Don Diefenbach, professor and chair of mass communications at University of North Carolina–Asheville, who researches media portrayals of mental health issues.

Diefenbach analyzed the portrayals of psychological disorders on prime time television. He found that characters who were identified through behavior or label as having a mental illness were 10 times more likely than other TV characters to commit a violent crime – and between 10 to 20 times more likely to commit a violent crime than someone with a mental illness would be in real life.

People with mental illness look different than others. Maybe it’s the disheveled hair. Maybe it’s the rumpled clothes. Maybe it’s the wild eyes. Whatever it is, Wahl notes, there’s usually something “different” about the appearances of people with mental illnesses – be it on TV shows or in video games, movies or comics. These traits serve as visual signifiers to cast these characters – who are often threatening or evil – as the “other.”

Many homeless people – who often lack the resources or wherewithal to take care of their appearances – are mentally ill. “But there are also a huge number of people with mental illnesses who are getting up – showering every day, going to work, etc.,” Wahl says.

In short? People with mental illness look like, well, everyone else – not like their media stereotypes.

People with mental illnesses are childish and silly. Many movies and TV shows – for example, “Me, Myself and Irene,” starring Jim Carrey as a patient with dissociative identity disorder, or “Monk,” the show about a detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder – make light of mental illnesses. They portray otherwise serious psychological conditions as mere quirks, or those who have them as silly, funny and childlike.

These portrayals don’t “convey the way most people with serious mental illnesses are in pain,” Wahl says. In reality, he says, “they hurt. They’re struggling.”

Mental illnesses are all severe – or all alike. According to Diefenbach’s research, depression only accounted for 7 percent of the psychiatric disorders shown on TV. However, 12 percent of the characters suffered from some form of psychosis – experiencing delusions or voices, or losing touch with reality.

In reality, depression is much more common than mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. “The real-world relationship is going to be that depression outnumbers the family of psychotic disorders by about 6 or 7 percent to one,” Diefenbach says. Yet on TV, the most extreme cases – and the most rare disorders – tend to be disproportionately represented.

Individuals with mental illness also note that various conditions tend to get lumped together. “Mental illness” is used as a catch-all phrase to describe someone’s condition, as opposed to specific medical terminologies such as “schizophrenia” or “anxiety disorder.” And even then, little variation is shown from patient to patient; one movie portrayal of bipolar disorder tends to resemble another.

“There’s no discussion that each disease is different in each person, because each person is unique,” notes Nikki Marks, 46, who has bipolar disorder. “In real life, mental illness shows up differently in everybody. The media does not represent the complexity of mental illness in general. There’s this sense that it’s just a one-name-fits-everybody, or one-title-fits-everybody.”

Psychiatric hospitals cause more harm than good. Hospitals for the mentally ill have come a long way since 17th century Europe, when cold, dark facilities housed hoards of physically and mentally disabled patients, along with prostitutes, alcoholics and other social outcasts. Those mental institutions resembled a prison more than a place of healing – an image that’s still perpetuated by cinema, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Salamanca in Spain.

Despite sweeping reforms that occurred over the past half-century, many films and television shows continue to portray psychiatric hospitals as bereft of comfort or care – empty corridors, bare walls and intimidating wings filled with manipulative doctors whose treatments cause more harm than good. And patients are often shown as committed against their will, or psychotic and out-of-control.

While all medical facilities differ in quality and care, today’s psychiatric wards and treatments are different – even if the public’s perception of them isn’t, experts say. And despite the common television or movie theme of a patient being sent to a psychiatric hospital against his or her will, that’s often not the case.

“In reality, a great number of people elect to go to [psychiatric wards],” says Wahl, dispelling the notion that most patients are involuntarily committed. Laws differ from state to state, but on average it’s very difficult to send patients to a psychiatric ward against their will.

People with mental illnesses can’t recover. “Recovery is seldom shown” in the media, Wahl notes. “When people [are shown seeking] therapy, when they go to psychiatric hospitals – rarely do they get better.” And if they do get better, he adds, “it’s enough that they’re stabilized, but not enough so that … they’re integrated with the world, and have friends and jobs.” The resulting message, he says, is that individuals with mental illnesses have no hope for a “normal” life.

The reality is that this isn’t true: Experts say not only do patients often recover from psychiatric illnesses, but they can live health lives with the help of medications, therapy and support networks.

Pamela, a 57-year-old who lives in the District of Columbia who did not wish to use her last name, cites her story as proof. Pamela has bipolar disorder, and spent years dropping in and out of college and shuffling between doctors. But 10 years ago, she finally found a medication that stabilized her moods. She moved out of a group home, purchased a condo, held down a job and recently retired from her job as an office assistant.

“My recovery,” Pamela says, “was like a phoenix rising out of an abyss.”

Streams In The Desert: April 25th, 2015

And there was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre  Matthew 27:61

How strangely stupid is grief. It neither learns nor knows nor wishes to learn or know. When the sor rowing sisters sat over against the door of God’s  sepulchre, did they see the two thousand years that have passed triumphing away? Did they see any thing but this: “Our Christ is gone!”

Your Christ and my Christ came from their loss; Myriad mourning hearts have had resurrection in the midst of their grief; and yet the sorrowing watchers looked at the seed-form of this result, and saw nothing. What they regarded as the end of life was the very preparation for coronation; for Christ was silent that He might live again in tenfold power.

They saw it not. They mourned, they wept, and went away, and came again, driven by their hearts to the sepulchre. Still it was a sepulchre, unprophetic, voiceless, lusterless.

So with us. Every man sits over against the sepulchre in his garden, in the first instance, and says, “This woe is irremediable. I see no benefit in it. I will take no comfort in it.” And yet, right in our deepest and worst mishaps, often, our Christ is lying, waiting for resurrection.

Where our death seems to be, there our Saviour is. Where the end of hope is, there is the brightest beginning of fruition. Where the darkness is thickest, there the bright beaming light that never is set is about to emerge. When the whole experience is consummated, then we find that a garden is not disfigured by a sepulchre.

Our joys are made better if there be sorrow in the midst of them. And our sorrows are made bright by the joys that God has planted around about them. The flowers may not be pleasing to us, they may not be such as we are fond of plucking, but they are heart-flowers, love, hope, faith, joy, peace–these are flowers which are planted around about every grave that is sunk in the Christian heart.

‘Twas by a path of sorrows drear
Christ entered into rest;
And shall I look for roses here,
Or think that earth is blessed?
Heaven’s whitest lilies blow
From earth’s sharp crown of woe.
Who here his cross can meekly bear,
Shall wear the kingly purple there.

Praise & Worship: April 24th, 2015

1.  O Come, O Come, Emmanuel-  Enya

2.  Light Up The Sky-  The Afters

3.  We Won’t Be Shaken-  Building 429

4.  Mountaintop-  The City Harmonic

5.  Steady My Heart-  Kari Jobe

6.  The Misfit-  Erick Nelson & Michelle Pillar

7.  All Things Possible-  Mark Schultz

8.  Yearn-  Shane & Shane

9.  The Lord Is Gracious & Compassionate-  Vineyard

10.  Only You-  Vineyard

11.  One Thing Remains-  Jesus Culture

Ban On Anorexic Models In France

Taken from  CBS News  which is found   HERE.

France’s Parliament has moved to make it a crime to use anorexic models or encourage anorexia, as authorities try to crack down on the glorification of dangerously thin women.

Other countries including Israel and Spain have taken similar action. The French measure would only apply within France, but could have symbolic impact beyond, because of the country’s outsized influence in setting style and image trends around the world.

The lower house of Parliament adopted the amendment on models Friday, as part of a larger public health bill working its way through the legislature. The bill goes to a full vote next week, and then goes to the Senate.

The amendment forbids anyone with a body mass index below a certain level from earning money as a model. The level – based on height and weight – has not yet been defined.

Any modeling agency or person who pays a model below that index would face up to six months in prison and 75,000 euros in fines if convicted.

Lawmakers adopted a related amendment earlier this week targeting those who run pro-anorexia websites, and another that would require publications to publish a note telling readers when they have altered a picture to make a model look thinner – or less anorexic.

Similar anti-anorexia measures in 2008 failed to get final approval in the French legislature, and this effort has also met resistance, including from health professionals who fear it will further stigmatize anorexic youth and make it harder to diagnose and treat them.

An estimated up to 40,000 people have anorexia in France, 90 percent of them women, according to the health ministry.

In 2007, Spain banned models from the catwalks whose body mass-to-height ratio (known as the body-mass index, or BMI) was below 18. In Israel, a law in 2013 banned underweight models. A number of fashion events around the world have also taken voluntary steps to avoid use of overly skinny models.

Concerns about anorexia in the modeling industry gained widespread attention in 2010 with the death of French model Isabelle Caro at the age of 28. Caro had spoken publicly about her struggle with the eating disorder, which began at the age of 13. In an interview on the VH1 show “The Price of Beauty” shortly before her death, Caro said a fashion designer once told her she had to lose weight to be a model — even though she only weighed 86 pounds at the time.