The Backyard Preacher Podcast # 169 (Depression)

Depression is real.  Nate gets honest about his own depression and struggles associated with it.  


Depression is real.  Nate gets honest about his own depression and struggles associated with it.  
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Why do I feel unfulfilled?

Trying to fill the absent feeling? Most of us go through times in which we feel empty inside; that everything is meaningless.  We think about the mistakes we made, we wish somehow to force ourselves into the prime example of what we feel is a pinnacle life.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  Can we use these feelings to create a catalyst for happier days?

We do this to ourselves because we lack acceptance.  It honestly is that simple.  If you can accept who you are, your situation, and understand that it is very improbable to instantly become the person in your dreams, you are then on the steps to mental health success.  Acceptance does not have to mean settling.  In fact acceptance is a starting point for growth.  Acceptance allows your mind to grasp what is going on, right now.  When we flood our brains with wants and desires before we can figure out ourselves we become depressed.  We then become empty.

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Acknowledging our positon in life as it currently is.  Deciding that, I am ok with who I am today.  This can bring about change.  A free mind without “wants” is a mind not wanting.  When you say you want something or wish you were someone else you then are nothing but wants and wishes and what are wants and wishes?  They are always going to be unfulfilled.  You have a good chance at achieving your dreams, becoming who you want to be; yet even if you are to make it to the land of milk and honey, without knowing yourself you will still be lost.  The ancient sages proclaimed “know thyself.”  The first step to knowing yourself is to realize that you know nothing.  Admit this and you can receive anything.

The Community Mental Health Crisis

Today we have a serious problem with community mental health services. I am speaking of non-profit mental health organizations who treat mental health patients with a mindset of a factory manager. This is beneficial if you are Ford Motors not to treat people with serious diseases.  But that is exactly what is taking place.

Our health care system is not motivated by patient care rather it is a money motivated system ran by chief financial officers who are not practitioners. Most mental health practitioners within community mental health centers care for their patients. They have spent at the minimum 6 years of formal education 2 years of graduate work involving internships and supervision. Providers need another 2 years under direct supervision before receiving a independent license.

Burn Out!

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We always hear of the burn out rate with mental health care counselors. Why is this? I have first hand knowledge of this field, so I will explain why burnout takes place. A new graduate of a master’s program in mental health takes a job at a mental health care facility with a mission to help people. They know the pay is not great, the job is a public service. Yet to receive a full license to practice you need 2 years of supervision. Mental health care facilities take advantage of this necessity. They can bring on fresh graduates and pay them under market rates because they know that they need the supervision.

The day in the life of a therapist who work at community mental health care facilities is that of a production line. They even call it “productivity.” In an 8 hour shift the therapist is scheduled with 10 clients who will see the therapist for 45-minute sessions. That is seeing people back to back without a break. These therapists are lucky to get a lunch and employers can get away with it because they are salary. Of course, they try to account for cancellations. God forbid that the therapist can get caught up on paperwork.  Patient care which is touted as the highest of goals is the last thing the leadership, if they like it or not cares about.

Patients are not getting adequate care because they are seeing burnt out therapist who are trying there best to survive in a system that is money driven. Ask anyone who has ever worked in community mental health; the work load verses compensation is greatly unbalanced. Yet these warriors will continue for the love of their patients even if they become patients themselves.

It is time for a change in community mental health services. People need quality mental health services, and this will not happen when the providers are burnt out. Counselors can’t wait till they can land a job outside of the non-profit world. I understand that these organizations need money to survive, the problem is much deeper than the organizations. The major problem involves lack of funding and support for mental health in general.

How do we fix this problem? We need to find a way to place patient care above money. We need to give mental health counselors a break between patients to decompress from intense sessions which takes a toll on the provider. Mental health organizations should not be running like a factory.

Mental Heal Crisis!

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The United States has a serious mental health crisis and within this crisis is the ones who provide the counseling services. Without change we will not be able to better help those who spent years of their lives to learn to serve those in need. Our mental health care providers are heroes who go into the worst of the worst scenarios with patients. These unsung heroes deserve a life. They deserve adequate pay without the slave labor.

I know my answer to the problem will not be beneficial because there is not enough funding for this change. I propose that a counselor see only 5 patients per day. Providers should be required to take breaks and lunches. Providers should receive adequate pay for the services they provide. Counselors should never have to do paperwork at home. Seems simple, but if this was put in place the community mental health centers would close their doors for lack of funds. How do we fix this problem?

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The Backyard Preacher Podcast #128 (Guns in America)

Another school shooting leaving 17 dead. As we try to wrap our minds once again around another tragedy, the question is continually raised, why? and what can we do? Faith without works is dead. James tells us if you give someone a blessing without helping them physically, what good is that? I do not have the answers, but we need to work together to bring about a reduction in the violence in our society.

The Backyard Preacher Podcast #116 (You Are Invited. Come On In!)

Nate puts a interesting twist on the parable of the wedding feast.  Nate also talks about our mental health and gun control issues.

Panic Attacks and the Christian

o-PANIC-ATTACKS-facebookI have been going to church for most of my life and have not heard a lot of teachings on mental illness. This article will focus on my own personal story of anxiety, panic attacks, and substance abuse. First I am a Christian who has a mental illness. Know it is not demon possession or oppression. I am not lacking in faith, and I have a good prayer life. The point is that just as people suffer from other disorders that attack other parts of the body those of us with mental illness suffer in the mind. I remember when I was a teenager I would witness my grandmother suffer from terrible depression and anxiety. I would ignorantly think that it must all be in her mind. Well I was partially right it is in the mind, yet I did not know or understand the suffering in which she endured. That is till I started suffering from anxiety and panic disorder at the age of 25. For those of you out there readings this and also suffer in some form or another with a mental illness, and are also a professing Christian realize that you are not alone.

I also mentioned that I suffer from substance abuse as well, I currently have my substance abuse in remission, yet for many years I would use alcohol to self-medicate my symptoms. I do not want to focus so much on my substance abuse in this article I am not ashamed of it, I just want to take one thing at a time. This way I may be able to give some sort of spiritual insight in order to help my readers.

So what are panic attacks?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) gives guidelines to mental health care professionals to better diagnose their patients. I Know the V has come out but many of us are more familiar with the IV-TR so I will use its definition. If a person has four or more of the following

  1. palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  2. sweating
  3. trembling or shaking
  4. sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  5. feeling of choking
  6. chest pain or discomfort
  7. nausea or abdominal distress
  8. feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  9. feelings of unreality (derealization) or being detached from oneself (depersonalization)
  10. fear of losing control or going crazy
  11. fear of dying
  12. numbness or tingling sensations
  13. chills or hot flushes

You may have experienced a panic attack. Yes these are very scary symptoms that is why many of us get to know the emergency room doctor very well.

Panic disorder is basically reoccurring panic attacks. Remember that in the United States only a professional can diagnose and treat panic disorder. I am not a professional I am a sufferer writing an opinion. If you have these symptoms there is help. Seek out a local psychiatrist and or a therapist who is professionally licensed to treat mental health disorders.

Being a Christian with a disorder such as panic can be a troublesome. These attacks lead many people including myself to an overconsumption of alcohol in order to self-medicate the disease. In the Christian world that can leave another stain on our Christian walk to outsiders.  Sure we shouldn’t worry about what others think of us, but we are human and we do. So we may prefer not to talk about it with our brothers and sisters in Christ, for fear of criticism. It is difficult when one can bring up verses in scripture such as

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:25-27, NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

And

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalms 55:22, NIV)

There are many more great verses that talk about anxiety and I truly appreciate them, I also absolutely believe in them.  Yet when your frontal lobe shuts down and common sense goes out the window many times the first response is to run to the medicine cabinet for your prescribed benzodiazepine.  After the drugs have kicked in, you can read the soothing verses and find peace. Obviously this is not how I want it.  I want to be able to truly trust and believe in the scriptures and allow the Spirit of God to bring peace to my heart that will calm me down and take away all of the irrational fears that I am facing. It just never seems to happen that way. I have been a Christian along time, I have come to realize that I have a disorder and I am learning to accept it and not fight it. In my opinion when we fight a disorder like panic we may be creating more friction and cause the panic to enhance.

I personally would like more teachings about mental illness to take place within the church. I don’t want to hear “just pray” “have faith” or “Christians don’t suffer from these things.” I know one thing if those that believe you can just pray or have faith started suffering from panic attacks they would be changing their tune. This is why knowledge of mental illness needs to be taught from the pulpit. Believers need insight in order to understand and help their brothers and sisters. If the church elder, priest or pastor doesn’t have training in the area of mental illness have a person speak once in a while who does. Have a sufferer give their testimony. In this article I am talking about my own panic disorder but there are numerous others disorders that Christians suffer from and may feel like they cannot turn to those who share their same faith.

Is there any advantage to having panic disorder? Well as a sufferer for 10 years I think the answer can be yes. I will explain.

I believe that many of us who suffer from panic disorder have a great possibility to be empaths. An empath is a naturally giving, spiritually attuned, good listener. Empaths can feel where you are coming from, and have the uncanny ability to relate to another person and understand their heart. A verse that reminds me of what an empath does is Romans 12:15-16 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. (NIV)

We are sensitive people and while that can trigger emotional instability if we learn how to transmute this quality we can use it for amazing good.

Second, if we take action to treat our condition we can understand and learn humility and surrender of self. Our ego and selfish nature will tell us to hold on to our life. Our ego says we are dying and have not accomplished such and such, or we are scared of the future so our unconscious self sends us into a panic. Our amygdala goes out of order and the flight or fight feelings take over.  These issues can be worked through with a professional who possess many techniques to help us. After we have been given some insight into our panic we can understand that life is short, it is just a brief moment of time, and then we are on to the next life. God has given us this short life, we must learn to surrender this life to God and to our fellows. I am still working on this but it is where I am currently at in my Christian walk. The scriptures say to take up our cross, die to ourselves daily, it is not me who lives but Christ who lives in me. After going through hundreds of attacks and feeling like I have been near death many times, in a strange way it becomes easier to allow God to take control because nothing else seems to work. We become dependent on God almost in a manner that I cannot describe. You almost have to go through this disorder or something similar to understand.

Also we with panic disorders can become great inner workers. In other words we gravitate to prayer, meditation, exercise, and seek out inner peace.  We read and gain knowledge in the arts and sciences. We do these things in order to help our condition, this brings about great knowledge and ultimately can lead us to a great and profound level of life.  Our disorder creates a need to seek out holistic tools that many people wish they had the motivation to practice, while we are forced to master.  We then can use these mastered abilities to help others and change the world.

Most importantly as a Christian with panic disorder we are forced to rely on Christ. Jesus the great teacher starts to become a part of our lives more and more through our sufferings. Paul was forced to have a thorn in his side. God would not remove this thorn but assured him that his grace was sufficient. Our panic disorder is truly a thorn in the side yet as above mentioned it can bring about a good life if treated properly. Our panic disorder can bring about an awakening in our lives that can open up a new world in every way imaginable. I am still seeking these outcomes, but I believe it to be true. The verses mentioned above are true, Christ does not want us to worry or fear but to totally trust him.

Now I understand that is all well and good till your next panic attack. Believe me I know. Run for the medicine cabinet! Yet I do believe in what I am saying, and I am progressing toward the goal to not only live out a more productive life because of my panic disorder.  I also want to use it to help others live out a better lives also.