Mental Health Perceptions- Part 2

Yesterday, I posted part 1 of Mental Health Perceptions. (Today I am writing this as I am caring for my son with autism, so I hope you are able to overlook any spelling/grammatical errors I may make. 😊)

To quickly recap I listed the following three thoughts I had regarding the way mental health issues are treated by many (not all, of course.) Those three points are:

  1. not real, all in someone’s head
  2. not an illness or not having a physical/physiological cause
  3. indication of having a spiritual problem

I discussed point one yesterday, and today will explain my thoughts on the next which is that mental health issues are:

2.Not an “illness” having a physical/physiological cause.

I am not a doctor or by any means saying all mental illnesses have a physiological cause, but I believe many if not most do. Whether a psychological event caused the physical component of the mental illness or the mental illness caused a physiological issue within a person’s body, it is a real illness often with a physical component. Perhaps the correct tests, documentation have not been given. Even, if it can’t be seen or hasn’t been measured, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. A person’s words and behaviors prove otherwise. I was studying this topic several months ago and found the following regarding mood disorders such as clinical depression, bipolar disorder, indicating neural dysfunction within these illnesses. (Sorry, if the following is overboard on the medical jargon, just felt it really explains the physical/physiological nature of mental illnesses.)

“Several studies suggested the neural networks modulating aspects of emotional behaviour to be implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. These networks involve the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and closely related areas in the medial and caudolateral orbital cortex (medial prefrontal network), amygdala, hippocampus, and ventromedial parts of the basal ganglia, where alterations in grey matter volume and neurophysiological activity are found in cases with recurrent depressive episodes. Such findings hold major implications for models of the neurocircuits that underlie depression. In particular, evidence from lesion analysis studies suggests that MPFC and related limbic and striato-pallido-thalamic structures organize emotional expression. The aim of this paper is to review the contribution of the most relevant studies with single photon emission tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to the understanding of pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD), with particular focus on the reversibility of functional correlates with treatment.” (Anatomical and functional correlates in major depressive disorder: the contribution of neuroimaging studies Silvia Rigucci et al. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Mar.)

“Although mood disorders constitute leading causes of disability, until recently little was known about their pathogenesis. The delineation of anatomical networks that support emotional behavior (mainly derived from animal studies) and the development of neuroimaging technologies that allow in vivo characterization of anatomy, physiology, and neurochemistry in human subjects with mood disorders have enabled significant advances towards elucidating the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). In this review, we integrate insights from human and animal studies, which collectively suggest that MDD and BD involve dysfunction within an extended network including the medial prefrontal cortex and anatomically-related limbic, striatal, thalamic and basal forebrain structures.

(Abstract from Neural circuits underlying the pathophysiology of mood disorders Joseph L Price et al. Trends Cogn Sci. 2012 Jan.)

Again, medical jargon aside, the basic gist of the above sources indicate an actual, measurable dysfunction within different parts of the brain in certain mental/mood disorders….you know like an illness affecting any other organ of the body. 

I’m sure this is widely understood and known among doctors and those within the medical community and has been for some time. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a huge chasm in this understanding among the general public…at least from my point of view.  This understanding is so important for those who have a mental illness to get proper and effective treatment and for it to be classified by all as an illness like any other. 

I know that was a lot of info. 🙂 Next time I’ll wrap this whole discussion up with thoughts about spirituality/religion and mental illness.  

Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Mental Health Perceptions- Part 1

I was totally going to post something more light-hearted today about my “many forms of therapy.” I’ll definitely post about that later, however, the seriousness of mental health problems and the way these issues are so often dealt with often weigh heavy on my heart and mind. 

From my own experiences in life, it seems as though mental health disorders are treated by many (not by all) as one or more of the following:

  1. not real, all in someone’s head
  2. not an illness or not having a physical/physiological cause
  3. indication of having a spiritual problem


Not real/all in someone’s head

I’m sure I’m leaving out some points, but the thoughts listed above came to mind first. Why would the average person say that they had a mental illness? They know stating this could possibly cause others to label them with all sort of hurtful words. They know it could cause some ostracism. Yet, they admit they have a mental health problem. (This is not referring to someone who might claim a mental health illness to receive financial compensation or to “get off the hook” for a crime, but just the average person.) Why would they admit to a mental health illness? Probably because they have one.

On the other end of the spectrum, some individuals with a mental illness may never admit to or discuss it for the very same reasons-ostracism, labels, avoiding negative reactions from others.

I’d rather take someone seriously about this issue than not, and have a tragedy occur. I would rather believe them and offer support or point them in the right direction for help, than to disregard a mental health issue. I would hope those I know would feel comfortable knowing they could come to me to discuss mental health without negative reactions.

If a mental illness was a different form of illness, how would it be treated? If, for example, someone stated that they had an ongoing heart condition and weren’t feeling well, that person would be taken seriously by most. They would be offered medical assistance/support. Prescribed medicine, sympathized with, helped, comforted. They would not be given labels. They would be taken seriously. So why the difference? 

To me, Christians, should be the first on the list at offering support and love regardless of the illness. This isn’t always the case. (Again, not saying this goes for all.) We aren’t called to judge or determine what is “real,” we are called to love, regardless. To be like Christ, we should care and extend love and grace.

Some groups of people are excellent at providing this type of support and others, not so much. I pray I’m always one to offer support, love and help, judgement free to those I know who are struggling in this way. This world can be harsh, hard, and cold. To me, those who have an illness of any sort need extra compassion and kindness shown to them on the regular. I hope to sow the qualities St. Francis so beautifully described: love, pardon, faith, hope, light, and joy. You just never know if the kindness you extend is exactly what someone needs at a certain moment in time.

I plan to most more on this soon! Hope your day is blessed. 💕

Your friend,

Tiffany

Walking With A Limp

The following is hard for me to completely understand at times, however, it is very heartening. I hope the following encourages you, also.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Your weaknesses and vulnerabilities do not stop God using you. In fact, God often uses our weaknesses more than our strengths. God did not remove Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Rather he said, ‘my power is made perfect in weakness’ (v.8).

Perhaps you feel you have a ‘thorn in the flesh’ or you seem to be ‘walking with a limp’: you have some vulnerability or apparent handicap. Jackie Pullinger says she never trusts anyone who doesn’t walk with a limp!

~Excerpt from Devotion Day 16, Bible In One Year 2020 with Nicky Gumble

My January Tree (Part 2)

My goldendoodle and youngest son must have wanted me to redo my January tree. Both kept pulling off ornaments and the faux pearls nonstop. I finally removed the pearls and replaced with some mesh ribbon. It turned out okay, but I do wonder how long the decorations will last this time. 😂

I have totally enjoyed having the tree up despite my boys keeping me on my toes with the decorations. It rains so much where we live and the bright warmth from the tree is very uplifting. I love writing there, near the tree and just thinking while I stare at it. It’s almost like watching a fire- the way it’s mesmerizing and relaxing. I often find myself replaying memories and great conversations in my mind while I’m looking at it.

As strange as a year round tree might seem to some, I’m very glad that I left it up! I’ve already started gathering ideas for the Valentine Tree next month.

Hope your day is full of light and warmth! Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Personality, Purpose, and “More”

I love studying personality types. I know there are a variety of personality typing systems- MBTI, DISC, Enneagram- but my favorite is probably MBTI. I know this topic is soooo boring to some, but I find it truly fascinating especially because I have legitimately seen my personality type shift over the years. I was always an ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judge)…like every time I took the test. (I know, I know some of you may be thinking why in the world would you take tests like that, but I enjoy understanding humans- myself and others- what can I say?) So autism enters my life and my “J” quickly became a “P.” My “S” became more “N.” I will always be an Introvert (think 90%) and a Feeler (about 85%)…but my personality type is INFP now. My point in saying all this is to say life circumstances really can change you. I don’t stress now if plans change! 😂 I almost expect them to.

I totally planned to post recently but with things being a little chaotic at home lately, I haven’t had the chance. Unfortunately I succumbed to the stomach virus which lasted several days. 🥴🥴🥴 If I have learned anything in this life, especially since my son with autism has been in our lives it is the following

~Go with the flow

When things change, I just adapt and go with it. I don’t stress about the change. I just ride the waves of life now. Enter “perceiver” component of my personality and goodbye “judger/planner/organizer.”

~Take one day at a time. 

Now I rarely plan beyond a day or two. I mean I might tentatively plan things, but I am fully aware of the very real possibility of a long term plan changing so I’m ready for it! I’m totally ready for plans to change in a moment! 😂

~Have faith in the future and what I can’t see. 

I guess before autism entered my world I relied more on myself and life was honestly pretty perfect or I guess I should say pretty perfect in the “normal” sense. But when something enters your life that you have no power to change, to control, sometimes to even understand, you have to rely on what you can’t see. You have to trust that an unseen God is truly omniscient (all knowing) omnipotent (all powerful) omnipresent (present everywhere) and has a plan and purpose for the difficult circumstances that enter our life. I have to believe and dream and just know there is purpose in everything I face. I totally believe in this universe and beyond in the future in all that isn’t seen in the here in now, there is a much larger plan at work! So enter “Intuitive” or N into my personality type. 😊

I read the following today, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s an excerpt from Brian Houston’s “There is More.”

Today’s Scripture (Ephesians 3:14-21) is the same as on Day 1 because the promise that is embedded within this passage is so important in daily causing us to lift our eyes higher and dream bigger and go deeper into the unending capacity of the one who saved us and set us free.

No matter what you have experienced or are experiencing, I want to declare to you…

On the other side of this triumph, there is more.

On the other side of that failure, there is more.

On the other side of this sickness, there is more.

On the other side of your mountain, there is more.

On the other side of this heartache, there is more.

On the other side of this earth, there is so much more. 

Nothing gets lost. If you feel unsure or unsteady, lost or overlooked, or you simply need to be reminded again, let me be the one to do that. He sees you. He knows you—better than you could know yourself—and He waits with open arms, available with anything you need. Today, let me assure you that you are adopted into the family of God and an heir to an unending throne and an inheritance that will outlast space and time. Your portion is exceedingly, abundantly above anything you can think, ask, or imagine. 

So here’s the challenge. Live with expectancy. Steep yourself in His promises and travel the road of obedience to Christ with your eyes wide open to every facet of His faithfulness. Make more room for others, make more space for God, and watch Him make more of your dreams—the ones you dared to pray and the ones you never have—come to life.

Thank you for the privilege of speaking into your life these past five days. I pray that as you go on from here you will feel encouraged and victorious. That you will be more aware of God’s deep love for you and the adventure that is life with Christ. There is immeasurable potential within—plans and purposes beyond your wildest dreams. There is more.

Today, how are you going to make room for God’s more in your life?

Obviously one personality type is not better than the other. We all have strengths, weaknesses, and always grow and change. Hopefully we grow and change for the better. Be gentle with yourself as you grow. Remember God totally understands that we are human and imperfect and that we live in a very imperfect world full of viruses and even disabilities. However never lose sight of the fact that there is a much bigger plan at work. We are just a tiny part of the gigantic puzzle that will all make sense one day. If we go missing even as a seemingly tiny insignificant piece, the puzzle won’t be complete. 

In this sometimes crazy world you are needed and seen…whatever your personality type, no matter your life’s circumstance. There is more. Blessings today and every day.

Your friend,

Tiffany

43 Nuggets Of Truth

Tomorrow is my birthday. 43 years. Seems like such a big number, although as a kid I thought 30 was old. 😂 Here are 43 nuggets of truth that came to mind today as I was thinking about what 43 years have taught me. What nuggets of truth have your years taught you? 

Your friend,

Tiffany

  1. Laugh.
  2. Ask questions.
  3. Don’t worry about what others think.
  4. Trust my gut feeling.
  5. Get lost in the music.
  6. Worship-get lost in God.
  7. Play board games often with the kids.
  8. Read…a lot.
  9. Let go of perfection.
  10. Smile anyway.
  11. Cry sometimes too.
  12. Enjoy hugs.
  13. Understand that others are life long learners too.
  14. Forgive others, but don’t let them take advantage of my kindness.
  15. Always look for the good, but admit when it’s hard.
  16. Sing on long drives.
  17. Pray too.
  18. Accept those magical little moments in life as God blowing me a kiss, not write them off as just coincidences.
  19. Let the puppy lick my entire face.
  20. Let the dirty dishes pile up sometimes.
  21. Let the laundry pile up, too 😂
  22. Sleep in…if I’m able to.
  23. Snuggle in a soft bed filled with pillows under piles of blankets.
  24. Take regular walks and turn my face up towards the sky and sun.
  25. Appreciate who I am and how far I’ve come.
  26. Hold my kids a little tighter for a little longer.
  27. Encourage others when the opportunity arises.
  28. Keep being sincere.
  29. Read the Bible more.
  30. Don’t worry about what the mirror says about my age. 😂
  31. Pray that my heart shines in my eyes.
  32. Love people more, even the hard people.
  33. Go on more cruises.
  34. Visit the beach as often as possible and get in the water.
  35. Build the sandcastles.
  36. Destroy the sandcastles.
  37. Jump in the leaves.
  38. Take the picture.
  39. Let them take the picture of you.
  40. Give more.
  41. Ask for help.
  42. Have less expectations.
  43. Never stop believing even when it seems impossible.

Inspirational Quotes

I ran across the following this morning from Inspiring Quotes and it really spoke to me. Then I backtracked and found some other cool quotes. 😊 Hope you enjoy! Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

An often overlooked English poet of the mid-19th century, Sarah Williams is best known for her poem “The Old Astronomer,” in which a dying astronomer offers his last words to his student. Grappling with mortality is a prominent theme in Williams’ writing, and in particular this poem, which she wrote while battling cancer not long before her own death. In this line from the poem, she urges us to value the bright spots in our lives, and to make peace — however we each can — with the impermanent nature of living.

A Healthy, Realistic Balance

A patient man is better than one strong; and he that can rule himself, has more worth than he that winneth a city.

Proverbs 16:32

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,”

Hebrews 3:13

Have you ever been around a person who was completely negative? I don’t mean they had a bad day or were going through something hard and venting about it. I mean an Eeyore type of person. (Eeyore, was the fictional character, a donkey, in Winnie-the-Pooh.) These type of people can never find anything good to talk about in life, and are constantly moping or complaining. I’ll be honest, sometimes I’m drawn to these types. I want to be a friend to them, to encourage them. While I can be a friend to them, encourage and help them, etc., it’s ultimately up to the person, with God’s help, to become a healthy, balanced person.

(Note: I am not referring to someone who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. These are very real health issues and should ALWAYS be addressed with compassion, love, and by  those who are trained in this area. I hope to write some on mental health and Christians at some point in the future. It is an issue I feel strongly about).

So, being an Eeyore type is one end of the spectrum, but what about the other end? The people who are sickeningly sweet. The ones who you can’t talk to without getting a three point sermon on why your life is awesome. These types almost sing a musical for you every time you encounter them! This well-meaning type tends to lecture you, all in a positive way of course, about all the wonderful aspects of life. This seems good, but the problem is this type can never ever mention anything that is not positive! For example, if you called this type to say you were sick with Covid and couldn’t make it to dinner, they would reply “How wonderful! I just know you’ll be fine and it’s actually good that you have Covid to naturally boost your immunities!” 

Their favorite phrases are probably “HOW WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!” and “AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!”

This type can never acknowledge a negative occurrence in life. They can never admit “well this stinks.” While this person sounds “positive”, the problem with this is in refusing to acknowledge the negative circumstance, they can never really empathize or even sympathize with others. They are out of touch with the reality that negatives happen and need to be acknowledged.

Of course I will not name names, but I have actually encountered both of these kinds of people in life- the Eeyores,  and the Mary Poppins of the world. If each of these types would move more toward the middle of the continuum, they would be so much more palatable! They would honestly be effective, loving and lovable friends. But unless they get a grip on their attitude, they will remain completely detached from reality! The reality that life is filled with positives and negatives. (For those that are Christians- I know that in the end, in Heaven, life will be free from ALL negatives, but if we can’t be in touch with the reality of the present and the problems/blessings others experience right here and now how can we expect to be an effective friend or example?)

I love those in life who are just real, you know? They experience the full range of emotions as situations in life occur and they share it- the good and the bad- and remain strong, humble, resilient, far from perfect, beautiful souls! I hope to be that way. I want to be that way- relatable- on the good and bad days. I hope to be able to understand what others are going through (in the hard times), yet be a source of encouragement and positivity. Realistic and never fake. In the middle of the continuum. Always. Like the Velveteen Rabbit. (Except maybe not with my eyes dropping out and getting too loose in the joints. 😊)

Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. 

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ 

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ 

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

Blessings today and every day.

Your friend,

Tiffany

My January Tree

I posted a few days ago about ”The Year-Round Christmas Club” and just wanted to share my “January” tree. We have had a number of viruses spread through our house since November. That combined with seemingly unending ”gray days” along with the reminder to be a light for Jesus, nudged me into keeping my tree up all year! 😊 In February I’ll post my Valentine tree ❤️❤️❤️🥰.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Talk As You Walk

The following is an excerpt taken from Bible In One Year 2020, Nicky Gumble, You  Version Bible App. It resonated with me because so often I forget communing with God is easy and enjoyable. Sometimes I forget that He loves me, imperfections and all. Just as we long to be around those we love, God simply longs to be with us. Many times in the past, I’ve experienced a feeling of condemnation or that I was never living up to all God expected of me.  I pray you experience God’s true love minus any condemnation/negativity you may have felt in the past from religious experiences or other sources. You are totally loved just as you are!

Your friend,

Tiffany

Talk As You Walk

I love walking. Apparently, it is one of the best forms of physical exercise. Of course, walking is also a means, and for some people their only means, of transport.

Walking for whatever reason is more enjoyable with someone else. Walking and talking is a great way to communicate with family, friends and also with God.

The point is that we are doing two things at the same time. We are not just taking exercise or travelling. As we walk together we are in communion with one another. Both Enoch and Noah ‘walked with God’ (Genesis 5:24; 6:9). They didn’t just sit, kneel or stand with God (the kind of actions we would often associate with spending time with God), but they were also in communion with God when doing something else. While you are doing other things – working, eating, exercising or relaxing – you can be in communion with God at the same time.

Psalm 3:1-8

Walk with your head held high

Matthew 2:19-3:17

Walk in step with the Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit will come like a refining fire to bring power and purity in your life.
  • Be filled with peace
  • The Holy Spirit himself testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God (see Romans 8:15–16)
  • Know that you are loved by God
    The voice from heaven said ‘… whom I love…’ (Matthew 3:17).
  • Feel His pleasure. 
    The voice from heaven says, ‘with him I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17). Again, it was supremely true of Jesus but as you walk in step with the Spirit, you too can experience this sense of God’s delight and pleasure. I love the moment in the film Chariots of Fire when the Olympic runner Eric Liddell says, ‘When I run I feel his pleasure.’ 

Walk in relationship with God

Genesis 4:17-6:22

-Human beings are the pinnacle of God’s creation. God created us to walk in relationship with him.