Monday, October 08, 2007


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A PLACE TO FIND GRACE /October 8, 2007

Folks called to say that Oprah was doing a show on bipolar disorder. My first thought was what more do I need to know about the subject? I have been living with the disorder since I was a young man, but I watched part of her second show. Patty Duke made an appearance on it along with a family obviously in much pain from the fact one of the family members is a person with a bipolar disorder. The show to me was more sad than informative and certainly was not entertaining.

Over the years I have caused the people who loved me a great deal of pain. My parents both died still wondering if I would ever get my life together. My two sisters have spent endless hours worrying about me. My wife worries when I don’t get enough rest if I am headed into another manic episode. Mental illness takes a toll on the family of the people with mental illnesses. That is simply the fact of the matter.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness has support groups for family members all across this country, but too many families still suffer alone and in silence. Some faith communities have outreach programs to families and to people with mental illnesses, but far too few. The truth is most families and most people with mental illnesses do not know where to go to for support.

Peer support is wonderful because you are with people who have the same issues as you do, but it is also limiting. A natural recovery path also includes what I call chronically normal folks. When building a support system one can’t look only to peers or to mental health professionals or even to family. The support system must be broader.

A lot of us and our family members look for spiritual support. Building a spiritual support system can’t be done in a vacuum. It takes a community. A faith community. Each week my church becomes more important to me in my recovery journey. The people at the Glen Alpine United Methodist Church have welcomed me. Their Pastor, David Duncan, has gone beyond what any pastor or minister has ever done to make me feel welcome and wanted in their fellowship and it feels good to be part of a faith community. I wish that as we begin Mental Illness Awareness Week all my fellow sojourners had what I have. A place to find grace.
You can reach me directly at
ORDER NOW: You can now order the 2007 Special Edition of the 136 page book “When Even the Devil Deserts You” by going to the ORDER NOW page at
The review in the NAMI Advocate in 1993 said this about the book "Living with and caring for a person with a mental illness does not necessarily lead to a direct understanding of the experience of mental illness itself. It does not automatically tell you what to say or what to do that would be kind or helpful. For this reason I find the new book, When Even The Devil Deserts You, invaluable. The book features many vivid descriptions and an occasional touch of humor. The author has a remarkable ability to understand and describe not only his own experience, but its impact on family members."
[From the book review done by Carol Rees]

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