• One of the Best Things Churches Can Do for People With Mental Illness by A. Simpson

One of the Best Things Churches Can Do for People With Mental Illness

“Please don’t tell anyone,” she pleaded. “They won’t let me serve anymore.”

by Amy Simpson

…After all, I have heard countless stories of exactly that. From Bible study leaders to Sunday school teachers to ministry coordinators to senior pastors, people have been asked to step away from ministry because they face mental health challenges.

…It is tragic to think how many people have been stripped of ministry opportunities because they have depression, anxiety sometimes overwhelms them, or occasionally they aren’t sure what’s real.

Essentially, churches find people among them who need the structure and purpose of serving in ministry and immediately take it away. Then we ask people to get better without one of the most helpful things they could have in their lives.

Perhaps among the cruelest ways we regularly respond to mental illness is by implying that people with mental illness have no purpose in the church or God’s kingdom.

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• How To Navigate Social Anxiety at Christmas by Lucy Dimbylow

How To Navigate Social Anxiety at Christmas by Lucy Dimbylow

…Social anxiety is defined as an overwhelming fear of social situations, with symptoms ranging from a sense of dread about socialising to terrifying panic attacks.

For me, it’s tied in with my other mental health issues (I become increasingly phobic about socialising when I’m depressed); for others, it’s a standalone condition that can be extremely debilitating.

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• WoeBot, The Chatbot Therapist, Will See You Now – The Rise of Chatbot Therapy

On Wired:

The Chatbot Therapist Will See You Now

On Washington Post:

‘The Woebot will see you now’ — the rise of chatbot therapy

by Amy Ellis Nutt

Dec 3, 2017

…It wasn’t a surprise, of course. I’d downloaded “Woebot,” a chatbot recently created by researchers, and it was trying to establish our therapeutic relationship.

“Part of the value of Woebot is you can get things off your chest without worrying what the other person thinks, without that fear of judgment,” said Alison Darcy, founder and chief executive of Woebot Labs. “We wanted it to make an emotional connection.”

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• A Rescue Plan For The Anxious Child by Andrea Petersen

This article from The Wall Street Journal, which I include further below in this post, reminds me of my childhood.

I had social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. I still struggle with some of these things, but I don’t think it’s as severe in some ways now for me.

When I was a kid, and even into my 20s, I was usually too afraid to make eye contact with waiters in restaurants, or talk to waiters to give them my order – I sometimes forced myself to do those things, however.

None of the mental health professionals I saw for over two decades diagnosed me with anxiety, though I had a severe case of anxiety since childhood. I had to do research on my own to figure out that is what it was called – anxiety.

When I got older and brought this up with a psychiatrist I was seeing, and described it to her, she agreed I had anxiety disorders, as did the next doctor I saw, and they both prescribed anti-anxiety medications for me (the medications did not work. Yes, we tried using the meds at different dosages. Yes, I tried different meds. None of that worked.)

One odd thing about this 2017 article I link you to below is that there is one quite similar to it from 2008 by the same author, also on the same news site.

I have some comments below this:

The Right Way for Parents to Help Anxious Children


Anxiety disorders are common in childhood, and many parents naturally want to shield their youngsters from distress. But that is often the exact opposite of what they should do

December 8, 2017

By Andrea Petersen

…Anxiety becomes a disorder… when it impairs a child’s basic functioning – preventing her from going to school or making friends, for example – or causes serious distress. Anxious kids tend to have physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomachaches, which don’t have a medical cause.

Anxiety disorders are remarkably common among children in the U.S.: nearly one-third of them will have an anxiety disorder by age 18, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry – and girls are more at risk.
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• For Some of Us Running Is the Key To Managing Depression And Anxiety by Scott Douglas

For Some of Us Running Is the Key To Managing Depression And Anxiety by Scott Douglas

Running puts everyone in a better mood. But for some of us, our miles are key to managing depression and anxiety.

[Author discusses his depression and his friend Meredith’s anxiety]

…We do have one key thing in common: Meredith and I run primarily to bolster our mental health. Like all runners, we relish the short-term experience of finishing our run feeling like we’ve hit reset and can better handle the rest of the day.

What’s not universal is our recognition that, without regular running, the underlying fabric of our lives—our friendships, our marriages, our careers, our odds of being something other than miserable most of the time—will fray. For those of us with depression or anxiety, we need running like a diabetic needs insulin.

Meredith and I discovered this decades ago, and now researchers and practitioners are starting to catch up. Studies show that aerobic exercise can be as effective as anti-depressants in treating mild to moderate depression (and with side effects like improved health and weight management rather than bloating and sexual dysfunction).

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• A Day In the Life With Social Anxiety by Helena Bala, as told by Frank

I used to have severe social anxiety. All of this is very familiar.

(Although, in my case, unlike the guy in this interview, I forced myself to do certain things in spite of my fear of people, such as attend and graduate from college.)

A Day In the Life With Social Anxiety

by Helena Bala

This story is part of a series called Craigslist Confessional. Writer Helena Bala has been meeting people via Craigslist and documenting their stories for over two years. Each story is written as it was told to her

Frank, 30s

…That night’s bathroom episode brought me back to middle school.

I was bullied mercilessly. Kids would take my backpack and put it in the girl’s bathroom, and then I’d have to go and ask the teacher to retrieve it for me. It was humiliating.

…The more difficult it became to interact with my peers and the more fearful I became of them, the more I withdrew into myself. I eventually started spending my lunch hour in the bathroom stall.

I ate whatever my grandma packed for me and listened to the conversations of kids who seemed such naturals at navigating a world that, to me, felt so scary.

Eventually, they found out that I ate my lunch in the bathroom and started teasing me about that, so I moved to the library. And people mostly left me alone there.

Because of what happened to me as a kid, the idea of talking to or trusting people seems ridiculous.

…My life today is completely structured around my social anxiety.

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• My Father Raised My Sister and Me To Act and Think Like Men

My Father Raised My Sister and Me To Act and Think Like Men

This post may be confusing to anyone who’s been to my blog before.

I’m writing this because it sort of ties into a post I have in Draft Stage right now about another topic.

It’s true that my mother was a very feminine, traditional values holding, devout Christian woman who raised me to be that way as well. (I may have mentioned all that in this post.)

My mother was also very codependent, because she grew up in an abusive, alcoholic home, and, as a Christian brought up under traditional gender role type views within Baptist churches, she really felt that girls and women being sweet,  delicate, compliant little doormats was God’s will.

Therefore, my mother strongly conditioned me to be a stereotypical feminine girly girl (the very sort which many of my fellow conservatives value and prize), which I hated for many reasons, one of which is that I was a tom boy as a kid.

As a girl growing up, I was not interested in being my mother’s version of feminine, or what passes for womanly and feminine among today’s conservatives, Christians, and Republicans.

I was not interested in dolls, or wearing frilly dresses when I was a girl, or always just sitting quietly reading books.

One of my mother’s biggest “hang ups” around girlhood and womanhood was that, in her view, girls and women should not feel anger and should above all never, ever express anger.

It would be mean, wrong, un-lady-like or un-Christ-like, my mother believed, for a girl or woman to be hostile, be assertive, show anger, be out-spoken, or have boundaries.

Those traits were the province of ‘Men Only’ and forbidden to girls and women, my mother believed, and it’s a view that is often supported in and among the churches we went to as I was growing up, and I sadly see a lot of conservatives today holding this view, as well.

In my family, because my mother was the warm and fuzzy parent, I felt closer to her. I felt safer around her. Mom was approachable. Mom was non-judgmental, non-critical.

So, I strove to emulate my Mom, which meant I tried very hard to stifle my anger if I felt anger, not be so out-spoken, and to be quiet, sweet, compliant, and deferential to all. I tried to be like Mom and usually succeeded.

My father, though, was the total opposite to my mother, and so he emphasized different values and qualities in both my sister and myself.

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