You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘mental illness’ tag.

The ministry rise of Brad Hoefs was meteoric, and his collapse was just as sudden. In one confusing episode, he went from successful pastor at one of the fastest growing churches in his denomination to a public disgrace. From family man to family embarrassment. He didn’t understand why, and neither did they.

Growing up, Brad had watched his father deal with symptoms of manic-depression. His dad took medication, but the family wasn’t supposed to talk about it. Not understanding his family history, Brad, as an adult, spent months taking steroids prescribed by his doctor for a medical condition, not knowing that these steroids could have unfortunate side effects.

Soon after, he began to have times of surging energy, creativity, and nonstop drive. It paid off. King of Kings Lutheran Church in Omaha, Nebraska, rode this wave right along with him, growing from 800 to 3,000 in seven years.

He lived under tremendous stress as pastor of a large church, and he had just endured a long and taxing fight with the city to purchase property that would allow his church to expand.

Ironically, he had never felt more alive. He was invigorated by the challenges. At times he was so inspired, he would go away to a hotel and work day and night, barely sleeping, for four or five days at a time. He would come home with months’ worth of work done in five days.

He was riding a wave of enthusiasm and productivity most people could only dream of.

But with this soaring mood came something darker he couldn’t name—a sense that he was out of control. He needed grounding, to manage his racing thoughts and emotional flights. So without understanding why, he engaged in bizarre behaviors that seemed to help ground him.

I can’t ‘cope.’ I’ve got to live! – Brad Hoefs

He sped at 80 mph along country roads at night, opened the car door, and touched his foot to the pavement passing by underneath. He visited places where people had been murdered. He went to dangerous locations late at night. The effect of these experiences? “I would feel bad. The guilt would bring me down so I could manage,” he said.

Sometimes he drove all night and found himself eating breakfast in another city, with no idea of how he’d arrived, no memory of the previous eight hours.

One night, driving around the city, he stopped to use the bathroom at a public park with a bad reputation. Here, in an incident he remembers too dimly for true recall, his dream life turned to a nightmare in the form of a citation for indecent exposure. Sitting in his car, with a ticket from a police officer in his hand, he felt something he’d never experienced before: a crushing and desperate depression that made him want to end his life. “I was ready to kill myself. I had a plan,” he said.

Local media reported on the story of his citation, and his church and the community were shocked.

“For the next three months we basically bled to death,” Hoefs says. No one could understand what had happened. Church leaders privately asked him to resign. Under his therapist’s direction, he told them he would deal with that issue later, and he went to a hospital in Michigan to get help.

For the rest of the post…

Advertisements
Sunday April 7, 2013   

BBLOG.pngMost churches (and Christians) seem unprepared to deal with mental illness.

As a young believer, I heard so many say that mental illness was just a lack of faith, demonic oppression, or something else. Those can be real issues, but so is mental illness– and they are just not the same thing.

I’ve seen the impact of mental illness both in the church and in my own family. I’ve seen the shame that families felt and the scared or confused responses from churches.

When Matthew Warren committed suicide, and it became a topic of national conversation, I decided to share a few thoughts to encourage churches minister in a more caring way– much like Saddleback did– and I decided to include some personal experiences. So, last night, with help from Amy Whitfield, Jonathan Howe, and Carol Pipes, I wrote an article to share a few thoughts.

In that article, I shared four things that churches need to do right now.

1. We need to stop hiding mental illness.
2. The congregation should be a safe place for those who struggle.
3. We should not be afraid of medicine.
4. We need to end the shame.

I fleshed out these points in an article that ran on CNN.com today. For me, we have to remember:

  • There are people in the pews every week – ministers, too – struggling with mental illness or depression.
  • People of faith know that God has freed them to love others, and that love extends to everyone, even (and sometimes especially) those we don’t understand.
  • Christians need to affirm the value of medical treatment for mental illness.
  • Compassion and care can go a long way in helping people know they don’t have to hide.
  • Mental illness has nothing to do with you or your family’s beliefs. It can impact anyone.

These things seem, well, so obvious. Yet, they are not. We need to be reminded again and again.I encourage you to read the article and reflect on how your church can help those who are in your congregation and your community who might be struggling with mental illness. Later this week, I will share some resources to help– perhaps some that you recommend in the comments.

Let me also say that I have suspended the comment rules here and you are welcome to post anonymously if that is helpful. Also, feel free to add links using html if you’d like to suggest other blogs or resources. Since my blog is now at the CNN home page, I imagine that I will moderate out some comments. If yours does not post, my apologies– you can see the comment rules for possibilities, but note that I am not able to debate comment moderation.

I’d encourage you to share the article at CNN.com with others. I’d really like to get the word out while people are open to addressing the issue.

For the rest of the post…

September 2017
S M T W T F S
« Aug    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Twitter Updates

Error: Please make sure the Twitter account is public.