Brett.Ullman

Tag - mental health

Instagram’s Newest Feature Is Incredibly Important

Social media is getting more and more isolating. Really excited to see this sort of positive engagement by a social media company. (Thanks Jeff Smyth for sending it)

We use Instagram to share photos of the beauty around us, the delicious meals we’ve eaten or created, and our personal highs. But it is a social network, and we also use it to share our feelings when we’re sad, upset, or when we need some moral support. Today, Instagram made some subtle but important changes to its app. Now, if you see a friend post something that feels like a cry for help, you can do something about it — without being confrontational.
Click here to read the entire article.
Another great article on Instagram’s #perfectlyme campaign  – Click here

Guest Blogger | How To Minister To A Person Battling An Anxiety Disorder – by Sarah E. Ball

When you have an anxiety disorder you quickly learn to avoid asking for prayer because there is a huge chance that you are going to be told to cast all your fears upon Him. The trouble with an anxiety disorder is, you don’t even know what you’re afraid of. You tremble, stutter, have heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating and racing thoughts and a million other symptoms for no reason at all. So the idea of casting all of your troubles on Him is an overwhelming ambiguous thought, kind of like if I told you to lose weight by just casting all your carvings upon Him. All good and all, until someone orders a pizza!

An anxiety disorder is not just worrying about your bills, or extreme nervousness. It’s a clinical disorder that causes your brain and your body to continually fire off panic and anxious thoughts against your will. For me, panic attacks happened 5-10 times a day, leading me to complete exhaustion and despair. Living with an anxiety disorder was such a shock to me, my family, my friends and my church because I was your good Christian woman, capable, dependable and strong. You can read my full story here

More often than not I received well intentioned advice from Christians that were trying to help me but sometimes it made my anxiety worse. As I talk and meet with many people who suffer with mental illness, I have heard countless similar stories of mental health advice gone bad. As a survivor of mental illness, I really want to help Christians know how to effectively minster to someone struggling with a panic disorder.

The 4 Worst Things You can do when ministering to someone with severe anxiety…

  1. Over Spiritualizing a Mental Health Issue – There are spiritual causes to some mental issues, to deny that, is to deny all the scriptures that teach us how to guard our minds. However, when you take a mental health issue, like anxiety, and mentor the sufferer through generational curses or demonic deliverances, you can add to the terror and confusion that happens when you are going through a breakdown. God did lead out of crippling anxiety through addressing some spiritual issues in my life, but not until I was mentally and physically taken care of.
    When a person feels like they are one breath away from sanity, which is a major symptom of battling an anxiety disorder (the fear of going crazy) you run a huge risk of confirming their unfounded phobias.Be gentle with you words and your spiritual rationalizations, or you can run the risk of severely harming a person with mental illness.
  2. Blaming them for their mental health – Maybe you’re not reading your bible enough, or if you only spent more time in prayer, or worse, perhaps there is sin in your life. Listen, when I went through my breakdown it was so severe that it escalated to OCD and suicidal despair. I was very ill. However, at the time that I had my breakdown I had NEVER been so close to God. I prayed continuously, worship music always played in my home, I did bible studies, and was the Sunday School Coordinator and Worship singer. I was a mom of 5 kids, and had a great marriage. I spiritually did not deserve to break down, but I did, because sometimes, just like our kidneys fail, and our hearts fail, so do our minds.When you blame a person, or ask them what part they have to play in their breakdown you bring shame. Shame, in my opinion, is one of the most destructive mindsets a person can own and when you add that to a mental illness diagnosis you have just possibly opened a door to despair. Would you punish your child for their sins by inflicting torment, terror and panic? I don’t think our Heavenly Father would either.
  3. Don’t give too much spiritual home work – In my healing, it took a lot of work on my part. It was my persistence to get out of the house, exercise, create healthier boundaries, rest and spend time with God that led me to freedom. So I absolutely believe that it takes work to get better. However, when you are exhausted fighting endless fear all day long, and often into the evenings, you need rest. Added pressure to be more, or do more can really rob a mentally ill person of the rest they need to recover.
  4. Give Pat Answers & Scriptures – Jesus rarely threw scripture at the sick and mentally tortured, but he threw a lot at the Pharisees. If you don’t have anything realistic to say, don’t say anything at all. Meaning, if you cannot explain to a person battling fear how to tangibly take their thoughts captive, or how to let God’s love cast out fear, then just don’t. God personally took me on a powerful journey through the bible. They weren’t effective until I had a deeper understanding into the well-known fear scriptures. Before you pass on an encouraging scripture to a trembling sufferer, make sure you pass it on with full knowledge of how it applies.

The 4 Amazing Things You can do when ministering to someone with severe anxiety…

  1. Offer rest and help them guard it – REST. The first thing God led me to when I was in the midst of a raging mental assault was rest. Did you know that A type personalities, those ‘getter done’ people, the reliable ones, the ‘how do they do it all’ people are the most susceptible to a breakdown? Why? Because rest is for weaklings, in their opinion. I quote often on my blog, “lack of rest got me into this mess, so rest is what will get me out.” I was and still am a very driven woman. Rest is now my first defense against relapsing. Any moment I begin to feel any anxiety creeping in or negative thoughts, I make sure to pull back and find some time to rest. In churches we often preach about doing more, being more for Christ. Many church pastors display a culture of exhaustion for the work of Christ, leading to embarrassing amounts of Christians spiritually dying from burnout. Jesus did all of his ministry from a place of stillness, rest and time with God.
  2. Encourage them to seek a medical doctor – I won’t argue this point for long with facts, and stories and pleading, but an anxiety disorder, is a mental and PHYSICAL issue that needs the guidance of a doctor. There are many physical reasons for panic. Something as simple as an elevated thyroid issue can cause severe anxiety. When counselling a person with mental illness encourage them to seek a doctor first before any other treatment, and if they are prescribed medication- good! It will give them enough stability to work on the other causes.
  3. Ask them what you can pray for specifically – The prayers that helped me the most were specific prayers. Like my sleep. I slept sitting up for 4 months, I suffered panic attacks in the middle of the night. Sleep was torment for me. Specific prayers for me to be able to sleep was huge. Ask the person suffering with panic for specific prayers. They may need enough courage to go to a public event they have been avoiding, or to help with a specific fear. Giving them grace to share specific prayers will also help the sufferer speak out their concerns, and that leads to my last point.
  4. Let them share their experiences and don’t over react to crazy thoughts – I couldn’t even use a knife to prepare dinner for my family of 7. I loved to cook and now the thought of holding a knife brought me to tears as I ran to my room in terror. I was afraid of hurting myself or someone else. Would I have? Looking back now, of course not, but I was plagued with awful harm thoughts, also known as intrusive thoughts or the onset of Harm OCD. I was hesitant to tell my husband how bad I was, how insane my thoughts were, and how irrational my fears had become. When I finally shared with him, I felt such a weight lift off my shoulder, and my husband was able to truly understand why I was so tormented. Giving a person who has a raging battle going on in their mind a safe, non-reactive, and non- judgmental place to share can be life saving for them.

We may never know, in each case, what is spiritual, what is mental or what is physical. I believe that we cannot have one without the other, because that is how God designed us, body, mind and spirit. So I believe when it comes to treating the mind we should treat the whole self. If you have someone in your life that is struggling, I hope these suggestions help you to navigate your response to their captivity, they really need you. If you yourself are battling mental illness, know that you are not alone and there is a lot of help for you, find the courage to seek it out.

Sarah E Ball is a blogger, speaker and author of The Shame Project and the online series and book, Fearless in 21 Days- A Survivors Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (coming in 2017). Sarah lives in a small town in Southern Alberta with her bearded hubby and five children. Sarah is a passionate advocate for those bound in mental torment and is passionate to help them find hope, and freedom, because she is a survivor. You can follow her blog here and help her figure out where to put all those commas, because she still has no clue!

sarah

New Book: The Forgotten – looking for 100 stories from caregivers

As most of you know my life changed back in March 2012 when I had a breakdown. 4 1/2 years later I have had 15 medical specialists, 3 Psychologists, 1 Psychiatrist, 2 Naturopaths. On top of this I have had churches and individuals around the world praying for my health and the support of numerous friends and family.

Something I have heard a few hundred times in the past few years is people asking me how my wife and children are coping with my struggles. These people are asking because it is not them who is struggling but their loved one. I hear terms like these people are floundering or drowning and they don’t know what to do. For the most part the people who have been forgotten in my journey are my wife and children. They have to deal with the ramifications of my anxiety, sleep struggles etc but they don’t have the support around them that I do. I have felt a growing desire to help these forgotten people. My problem with this is that I am not a caregiver to my spouse, child or parent, I am the one struggling. What I have decided to do is to collect stories from caregivers so that their stories can help others.

I am looking for stories if your spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, child, parents or a close friend is struggling with any of the following mental health issues:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • bi poloar
  • schizophrenia
  • OCD
  • other emotional issues

I would also love to hear from caregivers whose loved ones are struggling with:

  • cancer or other disease
  • diabetes
  • chronic pain
  • death of loved ones
  • loss of job
  • or anything else that you think might help others

I would love to hear how you are surviving. This is not how you are helping someone dealing with their struggle. It is you letting people know the boundaries, strategies, thoughts, supports that you have in place for you and/or your family to survive in these tough seasons of your life.

I will then collect these stories. package them up in a book (physical and digital) and we can then get a resource out for people who are caregivers.

FAQ (Frequently asked questions)

  1. When do I have to have the stories in by? Dec 1st, 2016
  2. Do I have to use my or my loved ones real name? No. Feel free to use a fake name but if you (and the person you are writing about) are willing to share your story you can also use your real names.
  3. How much should I write? I am not looking for a large chapter from each person. Maybe 500 words or less on what you are doing. I am flexible here.
  4. When will this book be out? As soon as I get the stories out and put the book together. Hopefully Spring/Summer 2017
  5. Will all stories be published? Once all the stories come in I will be able to see how many we have in each category (ie anxiety, cancer etc) I will pick (with the help of some caregiver friends) the stories that have the best strategies for other caregivers for each section.

All stories can be sent to my email at brett@brettullman.com

If you are thinking of writing a story if you could send me your name and email that would be great. That way I can keep track of how many people are involved.

If you know of someone who might be able to help in this project please forward them this blog.

Thanks

Brett

Doing These Two Simple Activities Together Can Reduce Depression by 40% in Two Months

I am always scared when any article says you can fix/reduce depression or anxiety by doing certain things. I began reading this article being sceptical. I ended up really liking this article. If you have seen my talk on mental health I talk about a body, mind and soul approach. We need to look at all of these areas. This article looks at meditation (breathing exercises) and exercise. Cannot go wrong with these 2 things.

The connection between our minds and our bodies is profound. Increasingly, it is becoming clear that the way to strong mental health involves bringing our physical selves on board. Recent research has made this strikingly clear, showing how the symptoms of depression can be reduced by 40% with an easy mind/body activity combination.

Click here for entire article.

What’s So Funny About Mental Illness? | Ruby Wax | TED Talks

Fun talk on mental health. Note: Not a faith based perspective.

Diseases of the body garner sympathy, says comedian Ruby Wax — except those of the brain. Why is that? With dazzling energy and humor, Wax, diagnosed a decade ago with clinical depression, urges us to put an end to the stigma of mental illness.

We’re in a constant state of alarm

What once made you safe now drives you insane.

Your Pets are happier than you are.

Stupid Phrases for People in Crisis

First off: I completely dislike this title but I think the article has some great value to it. The question is about what we say to people who are struggling. What people usually take from a title like this is that they are calling the people saying the phrases stupid and then we argue about that statement instead of the content. For some people these statements are all you know and you say them with a heart that is trying to help. What people struggling would like you to know is that for the most part these statements are more hurtful then helpful.  Lets look at how we can better support people struggling.

They suggest changing this from “God will never give you more than you can handle” to “Let me come over and help you do some laundry.” This strikes me as even more theologically correct.

They have some great thoughts on a framework for how to respond.

The first is the emergent or resuscitative stage. At this stage priority is given to removing the person from the source of the burn and stopping the burning process. The big things to think about are fluid replacement, nutrition, and pain management. Translated into crisis care, this means we’ll bring meals, coffee money, and pick up children from day care.

The second stage is the acute or wound healing stage. At this stage, the body is trying to reach a state of balance, while remaining free from infection. During this stage, patients can become withdrawn, combative, or agitated. This stage can be a lengthy and unpredictable stage. Burn victims, like people in crisis, often lash out at those closest to them. Translate this into listening, listening, and listening some more.

The final stage is the rehabilitative or restorative stage. The goal at this stage is for a patient to resume a functional role within their family and community. Reconstruction surgery may be needed. Encouragement and reassurance are critical to the person at this stage. This would translate into going on walks with the person, taking them out to a movie or dinner, having them over for coffee or a meal.

Click here for the entire article

The Unexpected Gift of Burnout

Some great thoughts here. I am seeing burnout everywhere I travel.

I prefer saying in burnout—present tense. It is a season in the valley of shadows, but the journey is far from ending. There is no defeat here, only a period of spiritual exile, where the exhaustion runs more deeply than simply being tired. Hope lies on the horizon.

Burnout is an overwhelming and all-encompassing exhaustion due to prolonged stress. It is pervasive, affecting the physical, mental, emotional and social aspects of a person. In its wake lies depression, low energy, lack of immune system defenses, emotional numbness, and a sense of spiritual discouragement or defeat. The deep cynicism, the lack of desire to be around anyone, the brooding frustration and anger—this wasn’t what I signed up for when I got into youth ministry.

Click here for the entire article.

 

10 Thoughts on the Deafening Silence of Parents Today!

In the last month I have had over 2 dozen (24 conversations) with students, family members, youth workers, teachers and others all talking about students in crisis. You would then ask what kind of crisis am I talking about. I am talking about students in Grades 3-12 struggling with:

  1. Eating disorders
  2. Physically harming themselves (cutting)
  3. Suicidal thoughts including suicide attempts
  4. Depression
  5. Anxiety
  6. Panic attacks
  7. Burnout and breakdown

In every single one of these conversations the problem people are talking to me about is not with the desperate struggle the student is having but what to do when the parent(s) refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong and/or will to do nothing about the problem.

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Martin Luther King Jr.’s

So where do we go from here. First I would say we need to advocate for the people around us. Advocate means to speak up or stand up for people. We, as friends, family and leaders, need to have conversations with the parents who are not addressing these issues.

For some people you may need to sit for a second and question if maybe you are the silent parent. If so, here are some thoughts for you:

  1. How are you presently helping your child in their struggle? You should be able to answer this.
  2. How are you hindering your child in their struggle? There are always areas we can improve on.
  3. Have you created a safe environment where you child feels comfortable talking about their struggles?
  4. Are you perpetuating the stigma of mental health but not talking openly about the struggle in your home?
  5. I understand that you might feel completely overwhelmed but the situation. That is ok. How about booking a counselling appointment for you. Tell the counsellor what is going on in your child’s life and get some strategies to begin to come along side them and support them in this struggle. If you feel overwhelmed as an adult picture being a young student dealing with these issue and how much more overwhelming it must be for them.
  6. I read a quote once that said something along the lines of many parents today are so focused on the downward spiral of their own lives it is hard to think of anything beyond their own situation. Maybe some of you need to work on your own struggles first. I also think that we can be working on our own struggles while at the same time advocating for our own children.
  7. I love the book by Robert Munsch that says “I love you forever and always”. We need to let our kids know that we are always there for them and even if they struggle we will still love them. Many students say to me that they could never tell their parents about their struggles as they hear the comments their parents make about other people with similar struggles. Be careful what critical comments you say about others. You might have people in your own home dealing with the same issues.
  8. Even if you have no idea what to do or say you can say this “I don’t know what you are going through but I love you, I will be here through this journey and I will look at getting you some help.”
  9. Say something. Say anything. Just don’t ignore the problem and assume it will get better. It will not.
  10. As a parent, who has a child struggling, talk to your friends at work, church, school, sports etc. You will probably find that many of your friends have kids who have gone through similar journey’s.  Be vulnerable enough to not be ok. I have heard this quote by many people “Its ok to not be ok, its just not ok to stay that way.”

If you have any other thoughts please add them in a comment. Thanks

An Answer to Suffering and Evil / DR. RAVI ZACHARIAS

Great interview with Dr. Ravi Zacharias by Carey Nieuwhof on the topic of suffering and evil.

Dr. Ravi Zacharias is Founder and President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and he has spoken all over the world for 43 years in scores of universities, notably Harvard, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and Cambridge. Dr. Zacharias is well versed in the fields of comparative religions, cults and secular philosophies.

As Carey Nieuwhof mentioned above, he could ask any question he like and Dr. Zacharias would be able to give a satisfactory answer due to his extensive knowledge. So for the purpose of keeping this interview concise, they have decided to tackle the problem of evil and suffering.

In Dr. Zacharias’ latest book, “Why suffering?”, he presents what the secular philosophers call a “trilemma”.

Click here for the entire video.

Understanding Anxiety

Great simple article.

Do you feel anxious from time to time? We all do – and it’s perfectly normal. Whether it’s work, personal life, parenthood or school, life can be overwhelming. But there’s an important difference between feeling anxious and struggling with a diagnosable anxiety disorder. This Psychology Month, let’s consider anxiety in greater depth to provide clarity on when and if you need to seek professional help.

Click here for the entire article.