All Posts Tagged: anxiety

Mental Health Monday – An African’s Perspective on Mental Health


Please, God, no more yelling,
    no more trips to the woodshed.
Have pity on me and heal my feeble body.
    I’m so starved for affection.

Can’t you see I’m black-and-blue,
    beat up badly in bones and soul?
God, how long will it take
    for you to let up?

Break in, God, and break up this fight;
    if you love me at all, get me out of here.
I’m no good to you dead, am I?
    I can’t sing in your choir if I’m buried in some tomb!

I’m tired of all this—so tired. My bed
    has been floating forty days and nights
On the flood of my tears.
    My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears.
The sockets of my eyes are black holes;
    nearly blind, I squint and grope.
Psalm 6:1-7


When stress got to be too much for Sangu Delle,
he had to confront his own deep prejudice:
that men shouldn’t take care of their mental health.
In a personal talk, Delle shares how he learned to handle anxiety
in a society that’s uncomfortable with emotions.
As he says: “Being honest about how we feel doesn’t make us weak.
It makes us human.”



Sangu graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Highest Honors) in African Studies and Economics from Harvard College, a Doctor of Law from Harvard Law School, and a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Mental Health Monday – Define Your Fears not Your Goals


Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness,
everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.
It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Philippians 4:6-7


Note Paul’s formula for dealing with worrying! It’s purpose is to allow “Jesus to displace worry at the center of your life.” The first step is: “Instead of worrying, pray,“; that is, change the activity of your mind. How? “Let praises shape your worries” and so alter the center of gravity in your mind. Once this process is commenced, one is positioned in a more positive mental framework to “make known to God your concerns,” those things that are at the root of  ones anxiety.

In the following Tim Ferris explores a practical method by which the self-paralysis of fear can be immensely lessened or absolute eliminated. It somewhat parallels what Paul suggested. Tim “discovered” this tool as he dealt with severe bi-polar condition and several suicide attempts. He encourages us to fully envision and write down our fears in detail, in a simple but powerful exercise he calls “fear-setting.”






Mental Health Monday—the deadly consequences of unforgiveness

Forgive our sins, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us. (Matthew 6:11)

“God is the original, master forgiver.”  (Lewis B. Smedes)

doctorUNforgiveness is classified in medical books as a disease. According to Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way.

“Harboring these negative emotions, this anger and hatred, creates a state of chronic anxiety,” Dr. Michael Barry said. “Chronic anxiety very predictably produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells, which is your body’s foot soldier in the fight against cancer.”

With that in mind, forgiveness therapy is now being used to help treat diseases, such as cancer. “It’s important to treat emotional wounds or disorders because they really can hinder someone’s reactions to the treatments, even someone’s willingness to pursue treatment,” Standiford explained.

Of all cancer patients, 61 percent have forgiveness issues, and of those, more than half are severe, according to research by Dr. Michael Barry, a pastor and the author of the book, The Forgiveness Project.

Dr. Barry said the first step in learning to forgive is to realize how much we have been forgiven by God. “When a person forgives from the heart – which is the gold standard we see in Matthew 18, we find that they are able to find a sense of peacefulness. Quite often our patients refer to that as a feeling of lightness,” he said.

Dr. Barry said most people don’t realize what a burden anger and hatred were until they let them go.

Mental Health Monday—not so “full disclosure”

My God, my God, why have You abandoned me? Why are You so far away from helping me, so far away from the words of my groaning? My God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer—also at night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1-2)

KeithHere are two men that I knew—

  • Keith was rather young while the other, well, George was as old as me … and that’s ancient!
  • Both were energetic extroverts!
  • Both were enormously talented!
  • Both were extremely industrious!
  • Both suffered with chronic depression!
  • Both walked the wasteland of despair never to return!

george 1Sometimes reporters will offer a “full disclosure” statement before relating a story, acknowledging their personal relatedness to the news. So, here’s my disclosure … though perhaps not so “full.” Shortly after I retired from pastoral ministry I had a psychotic break; or, as Archie Bunker might say, I “cracked up!” Diagnosis: acute anxiety and chronic depression. I spent five days in lockdown at Pine Rest, a wonderful psych joint (I mean that sincerely!). I’ll spare you all the other details. Suffice it to say—I often wander in the wasteland of despair.

So, when I began the Basics of Life blog, I determined to do a little part in mental illness / health awareness via Mental Health Monday. My intention is to connect with those who identify with the words of the Apostle Paul: “We do not want you to be unaware the trouble that happened in Asia. We were under great pressure—so far beyond our strength that we despaired even of living.”

Secondly, I hope to shed a glimmer of light in the devastating darkness that hovers over mental illness. C.S. Lewis wrote: “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and more difficult to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’”

By the way, the young man is Keith. From early childhood he was a part of our church fellowship. He became a talented carpenter. George was a seminary classmate and ministerial colleague for 25 years. Without exaggeration he was one of the most influential leaders in our denomination.

Tomorrow I will share both an inspiring testimony and positive news about mental illness research that the National Institute of Health is finding. Stay tuned! In the meantime note this word from Henri Nouwen: “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.”

With deep empathy I offer this post to Gary, Camille, Dale and Bonnie.

Why forgiveness is critical for your health

Some thoughts from Dr. Stephani Yorges

Stefani-Yorges-google-headshot-300x284The process of forgiving is one of the most exhausting struggles you will face, because the battle will involve both your mind and emotions. Maybe you have been mentally replaying the hurt for days, months, or even years. So you repeatedly experience the same anxiety, anger, and frustration. These are among the most toxic emotions a person can have, draining your energy and resources. Your heart cannot rest in this state and you suffer physical and emotional problems. (Check out this article from Dr. Gayle Reed on forgiveness, too.)

Medical professionals agree that many of our long-term illnesses come as a result of bitterness, unforgiveness, and emotional stress. Pent-up hostility and anger produce depression and anxiety along with a host of physical problems. Nearly 20 years of research on the Forgiveness Project at the University of Wisconsin showed that people who forgave had better psychological health. The studies revealed significant improvements in depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, self-esteem, and coping skills among those who were able to forgive.

One of the most tragic consequences of unforgiveness is an inability to give and receive love. If you can’t risk being hurt again, you can’t love unconditionally. Those who harbor unforgiveness never fully and completely open their hearts to others. They build up walls to protect themselves and prevent any future wounds. They carefully guard their relationships, letting very few people in. Without realizing it, those walls of protection become a prison.

Wounded people only feel safe in the controlled environment they set up for themselves. But the life of an unforgiving person can soon become stagnant, like the Dead Sea in Israel. The Dead Sea receives water in, but does not release any water out. As a result, there are no living plants or fish in it. Life must flow freely in order to be sustained. You may need to pour out some of the negative contents in your heart – like hurt, anger, despair, bitterness, unforgiveness, and confusion—before God can pour in His fresh, living water. Be honest and tell Him exactly how you feel about what happened. God is aware of every painful experience you have encountered. He understands that you need to grieve, heal, and be restored.

Psychologists and medical doctors do not have the adequate tools to repair your broken heart and shattered trust. Only Jesus can reach deep into your soul and heal this type of damage. Once your heart becomes hardened from hurt, it is nearly impossible to fix it on your own. It requires a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit. He alone can restore you to the joy and peace you felt prior to the injury.

The healing process takes time. By forgiving the other person, you “clean and disinfect the wound.” But you cannot actually heal it. Jesus is the Healer. Let Him tend it properly. Sometimes a deep physical wound appears to be healed on the outside, but is still painful on the inside. It’s the same with emotional wounds. Wait for Him to heal your tender feelings at a deeper level.