Monthly Archives: February 2014

When Dad is Mad

Some dads get mad. They have short tempers. They shout and make angry faces. Mad dads sometimes spank to get their point across. Mad dads don’t like to be crossed.

Some dads get mad (as in angry) while they are also mad (as in crazy.) This would be my dad.

The thing is, to be fair, my dad is dead. So he can’t defend himself. And in my effort to uphold the Ten Commandments, I will honor my father by saying that he did the best he could with what he had.

And that last part is critical because what he had was multiple mental health diseases.

My dad’s being mad made him even madder. And he was like this my whole life.

It wasn’t until I was away from home and a freshman in college that I realized my dad was mad because he was sick. One sibling (who shall remain nameless) says that our dad was just an a**hole on top of being crazy.

Twenty years ago people didn’t talk openly about mental health. Not understanding the way that his brain worked (or didn’t work), I thought my dad was mad because he didn’t love us. I thought he was mad because it was so hard for us to love him back.

Somehow as a kid, I thought it was my fault.

How does the happiness of a parent become the responsibility of the child?

Looking back, through the years and tears, there is healing that comes with understanding that dads (or moms) with untreated mental health diseases have a hard time showing love. They are so broken by their own untreated disease that they are often unable to be in loving and healthy relationships with others.

Kids of mad dads are like kids of alcoholics, there is the same uncertainty and instability. We never know “who” is going to show up or how. It’s unpredictable, often painful and disappointing.

Yet healing is possible, even if the mad dad refuses to get help, as my dad refused to seek medical treatment. He denied he had a mental health problem.

Healing comes when the wounded child hears and believes that she *is* loved and that she *is* lovable.

Healing comes when the child experiences healthy relationships where she can love and be loved in return.

My mad dad died while I was still a newlywed. I now know that he loved me the best that his broken mind let him.

I know that I loved him the best my broken heart let me.

One of the most painful parts of being the adult child of a parent who has a mental health disease is coming to terms with how the illness impacted our childhood and with it, our understanding and experience of human love.

It is a brave person who opens her broken heart to love. And it’s by God’s grace that love comes, like the morning sun, love comes.

5 Ways Depression is Like Facebook

5 ways Depression is like Facebook:

1. It is everywhere. It is common and pervasive in our society. We haven’t yet understood the full and long term impact it is having on us, but growing numbers of children and youth are living with it.

2. It takes up an enormous amount of our time and energy. It interferes with our daily life: our ability to work, sleep, study and eat.

3. It can hide behind a mask…the image we portray to the world is not always how we feel inside. Most people cannot tell by just looking at our face. This is a coping mechanism that is sometimes necessary.

4. It was once more pleasurable. Activities no longer bring the joy or happiness they once did.

5. It can make us feel worse about ourselves because we are not as (fill in the blank) as our “friends.” It can be isolating and amplify feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.

I’ve seen friends use Facebook as a way to reach out and get help when they are experiencing depression.

Facebook can be a tool to offer support to friends who are depressed. It helps to be intentional when browsing your newsfeed and notice status updates that convey a person is struggling.

Take a moment to respond and comment. You never know when your response might be the thing that helps a person get through the day.

The Great Spiritual Depression

Do the declining numbers of church goers have anything to do with the increasing numbers of people on anti-depressants?

As more and more people turn away from the church as their source of hope and spiritual inspiration, then where are they going to get inspired and find hope to get by day-to-day?

Could low church attendance be a contributing factor to increasing numbers of people experiencing depression?

If faith is not only a belief system, but a community of support, then how might decreasing numbers of people in church contribute to growing numbers of people socially isolated, feeling lonely and depressed?

One of the under-valued benefits of being part of a loving faith community is the positive impact it has on mental health.

Churches can provide encouragement, support, friendship, hope, meaning, and connection to people living with depression.

Yet as more and more congregations close their doors for good, nobody is talking about the impact this will have on public mental health.

We’ve seen what happens during a Great Depression and a Great Recession.

But what happens when our country goes through a Great Spiritual Depression?

What stimulus package can faith communities come up with to boost our collective spiritual well-being?

How will the death of mainline Protestantism impact the mental health of the nation?

What new way of being church will take its place? And how can this new way of being church meet the needs of our spiritually depressed society?