A Message of Hope for the Millennials on Addressing Mental Illness

Here is today's message!

Here are the Songs I Mentioned

See You Again by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth

This website has the lyrics and the description of how it it was written after Paul Walker's car crash. Although this song doesn't necessarily deal with mental illness it does address feelings out of a loss that can be a struggle for those who have mental illness.

The Fray, How to Save a Life

This is the official video above and I think it pretty much says it all about our youngsters struggles. I also found this video interview of Isaac Slade sharing about when they wrote the song. This is a link to his inspiration for writing it and interestingly enough how it's translated to others who've been inspired by it.

I've added one last song because it was playing in my mind as I wrote this message. It's from a favorite old band of mind called "The Hooters" who I used to love. They wrote this song and funny I looked up the inspiration behind these lyrics? Linked to teen suicide. The article was written after one of the band members read an article in the paper about three teens committing suicide. That was 1986! Here's a link if you are interested. Oh and here is the video. Get ready for some serious 80s hair action...Oh and here's the lyrics.

Where do the Children Go, The Hooters

A Life Lost

And the last thing I want to share is the obituary of a young girl at my stepdaughter's high school who took her life this past week. There's been controversy about her death not being acknowledged like some other kids who were star athletes, known by many that got a lot of attention for their deaths. Theirs wasn't suicide but overdose. Another student died last year I think and there was a vigil for his passing. 

All of these deaths at such a young age are tragic. The overdose was actually two brothers. I wouldn't wish this on any family. But I will say, no one who dies at a young age by suicide or drug overdose should be ignored. Kids need to know about it because it feels like they lost one of their own and you never know who might make a different choice just by hearing about it. 

The girls name is Adriana Wolkiewicz. Here is her obit. She was just a few days shy of her 17th birthday.

Say a prayer for her family, as well as the other families who lost their loved ones I mentioned and ANY person or family going through mental illness. Don't keep it inside! Get the help! 


A National Mental Illness Awareness Week Blog for College Kids, Children and the Faithful

Arcadia Bluffs, MI

Arcadia Bluffs, MI

It's Mental Illness Awareness Week so I'm just going to call out the issue and give it the attention it needs. Mental illness is not something that can be treated with willpower or positive thinking alone. It must be confronted. The struggle must be addressed with the individual and professionals that know what they are doing. Being stuck in our minds is a dangerous place to be and those of us who struggle need to know that a little help navigating our way through it is a good thing. We must not let the judgement of people who don't know stop us from getting the help we need.

First of all, a shout out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for the work they are doing. I love that they've got a page specifically for advising college students on how to address mental health issues. It is not an easy thing to work on when everything is about having it all together, i.e. grades, social life and future aspirations. I had no idea that I struggled in college with my mental health until I went back for grad school and started to confront my mental health and addiction head on. But I had to go away to get help and a lot of schools don't support offsite treatment. Mental health is not an easy issue to tackle so kudos to any student and/or leader that is wiling to do so. It's worth it. College kids are under a lot of pressure and need this to be one of their top priorities in college. I found a great article last night on the issue of the mental health crisis on college campuses. Click here to read.

Speaking of students, today also happens to be National Child Health Day, as recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services. Why is this important? Because children need attention for their mental health. Their minds are just as much a part of them that needs to be healthy as their bodies. Many people don't address their mental health until the adult years when it becomes too much to bear, or they hit a bottom with an addiction of life circumstance. What we need to do is show kids that it's okay if your mind doesn't feel like it's working right and more importantly, recognize that if they've got other issues with their health, i.e. weight - that maybe there is something way more to it than what you see. Also today kids go through so much - trauma is very present in their lives sadly. Whether it's something at home like broken families, death of a loved one, or abuse or at school like bullying - there are many things that can traumatize a kid. The sooner we throw the mental health into the mix, the better off we'll be. Believe me, if I had realized when I was trying to get to the bottom of obesity working at Health and Human Services for the Secretary, that mental health played such a huge factor in the whole picture I would have focused more on that, than how we're addressing obesity. Obesity - inside job - including mental and emotional health.

Finally I give much kudos to Pastor Rick Warren, his wife Kay and Saddleback Church for hosting the "Gathering on Mental Health and the Church" this week from October 7-9th. I'm hoping to catch the free live webcast on the 8th at 8:30 am PST. They are truly using the tragic loss of their child to suicide to change the landscape on how we address mental health in the church. That is powerful. In no way was their tragedy a good thing, but they are letting God use it for good and that is a good thing. (Speaking of powerful - today was supposed to be a post on the Pope (lol). It is done but this seemed to be more crucial timing for today/week. Check back tomorrow.)

Mental health is an issue SO unaddressed in our society, it's sad. Many people think, "Get over it," simply because they can't see your struggle on the outside. In a way, it's much like obesity. People say, "Just don't eat it," not realizing how much goes on the inside that leads them to make those food choices. Those of us that have to treat our mental health - willingly I might add (big difference from those who don't), know that it's not easy and probably takes more work than anything we've had to do in our lives. But if you address it - you know it's worth the work.

More importantly, I can say the single thing that has transformed my mental health is the power of God in my life. He has come into my heart and through the process of spiritual transformation - began to heal my soul. The Bible says in Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." It is the Word that give me that renewal. Addressing my mental health, treating it, and maintaining it are a part of my life today. Walking the road of recovery from addiction is how I walk towards God. It keeps me going. It's where he meets me every day in my willingness. It's where my relationship with Him begins, because he is the one who has the power to renew my mind. The people that have come into my life to help me professionally and relationally have been absolute gifts, and reminders that God wants what is best for me.

Mental Illness must be taken just as seriously as physical illness. It doesn't matter that we can't see it. What we must not do is judge it when we see it. For none of us know the struggles that someone goes through inside their mind. I pray for all of those who are on the road to recovery from mental illness and all those still suffering in resistance or lack of knowledge, to know that there is hope. May we all find a way to look towards the light.

P.S. For those college kids who will be connecting with me on Friday, this is what we're talking about!!

Have a great week you all. Check back for the pope blog and a message on Wednesday about why it's okay to feel our feelings!!!

A Healthy Voice Message: Why I'm a Sinner Changed and Saved by Grace

Here's a message reflection on the arrival of Pope Francis to the states and God's healing power in my life.

Here's a message reflection on the arrival of Pope Francis to the states and God's healing power in my life.

These pretty ones were out front on my lawn. Yes, I arranged them ;)

These pretty ones were out front on my lawn. Yes, I arranged them ;)

And here is your bonus. These are the songs that played while I was running just now and thought instead of a powerful video, you could use a playlist to add a few new songs to your own...but you gotta get it off my Facebook page cause I'm not so great with links sometimes. It's not working! 

Oh and check out THIS leaf I found on my walk. Does anyone else see the shape of the heart?! I didn't change it ONE bit!!! I love the signs of His love - everywhere! 

A Podcast for College Kids on "Performance Anxiety"

Freedom from Labels: A Reflection on National Stepfamily Day from Someone who Get's It!

Here you go. A delayed message for your week and day. Happy National Stepfamily Day! Hope the message helps and instead of music for extra inspiration, you've got images! One is a new thing I'm trying called #healthyvoicetakeaway. A lot of times I'll take a note on a card while I'm preparing the message, when I'm cooking or something as it comes to me so today I just thought I'd post it for you! 

A Healthy Voice Message on Navigating Through Loss and Trauma in Life

Here is a link to all of Psalm 107 (NIV), and here is the section I spoke on the message, verses 13-20.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away the chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for her breaks down the gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron. Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he saved them from distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. 

And one more video that I'm prompted to share:

Let's Talk about College Party Life: Problems and Solutions

My friends my friends. I'm posting this picture from the Notre Dame Football locker room to spare you an image of my drinking time at Notre Dame. Boy was it fun, but it's not who this girl is anymore. 

This blog post, video and song are a major shout out to all you college students out there - Notre Dame or elsewhere who may do something stupid (and your friends) (and the alumni who go back and still do something stupid).

This is here to encourage you and remind you that you are NOT alone if you mess up, and that no matter what happens or what you do, you ARE completely embraced by a loving God.

Now, why do I say this....well, I was one of those kids in just about this first week of school starting for many - who ended up in a hospital on my very first weekend at Notre Dame. I was walking in the halls of our classroom building DeBartolo when a guy shouted to me while I was still in the third day of a hangover, "Hey! How you feeling? I took you to the hospital!" Yeah, not so cool. My roommates, who I barely knew had to pick me up at the old St. Joe Hospital so I could go back to the dorm in the middle of the night. All I remember is walking out to my friend's Volvo station wagon, her dropping me off at Main Circle and handing me a plastic bag while I said, "Oh My Gosh they dry cleaned this for me?!!!!" We laughed about it for ages, and it's still funny to think about my drunken escapades. But how I felt DURING those drunken escapades? Was not so funny. That wasn't the only incident in college. There were others and with each one I felt a little more shame. But I had nowhere to put it. 

If you didn't drink at Notre Dame, you didn't fit in. That's at least how I felt. People wonder why you are trying not to drink. You feel like the major odd-man out and nobody wants to be that when you are trying to make it in college. SO! I took my drinking skills and used them to make friends (nobody does that, right?!).

 On top of that, my eating got out of control and with each occasion I seemed to feel worse about myself not just physically but mentally and emotionally. Looking back, I know I was drowning fears and insecurity that I was too blind to see. But even more powerfully, I can see a girl that was missing something huge.

I was missing a spiritual solution - a relationship with a God who loved me, not one I had to hide from by drowning in fears. This did not come by performance or behaviors or anything I could do myself. It came when I had enough of myself, and I needed to reach out to God for help. That moment happened when I was back at Notre Dame as a grad student over 7 years ago. It was not easy, but it was absolutely life changing. My life was transformed not by some degree, or workout or diet, or earthly solution - but by finally finding that spiritual solution. I needed to find that God wasn't who I'd known. He was completely the opposite, and the journey ahead would show me that.

Why do I say all this?

Because it's the first week of school for many. In three days, here in South Bend there is about to be one of the biggest games of the century, Notre Dame vs. Texas. I don't even know if I'm going, but what I do know is there will be a lot of kids who do something really stupid. Things will happen. Kids will get hurt either physically or emotionally. Crazy stuff will happen as a result of behaviors with drinking, drugs, and sexual assault and none of us will be able to stop it. The idea of that completely stinks and I am continually praying for minimal casualties. 

But the more important thing to realize - is that this will keep happening if we don't do something, if we don't change the course of history on college campuses and literally PIVOT. When I say pivot, I mean stop blaming the establishment for not sanctioning this or that, but focus on what we can do. We can be real. We can share our pain and our hope, for those of us who've overcome that world. We can reach out for help. Sometimes reaching out for help doesn't come in the form of campus police, friends, campus counseling or even our parents. It comes from turning to that loving God who's like, "Hey, I love you and I've never stopped loving you. You don't have to do this to yourself. Let's get help." I promise. He WILL show you the way. But it won't come through works, it will come through something so beautiful as GRACE. 

So if you come to this point with yourself as a student either this week or in the coming weeks, months or years in college - know this: You're NOT alone. God is WITH you. All you've got to do is reach out to Him. Not only that, there ARE people who can show you a different way. You just gotta pray for Him to put them in your path. In the meantime, come back to this post. Read the blog with a little caption of my story. Watch the video. Watch the music video. Read the Word. Whatever you do, don't let the enemy keep you in His grasp.

The solution DOES NOT have to come from outside of you or through what you do. It CAN come from a spiritual place, just trust that God wants you to know He is RIGHT there next to you and wants to show you a better way.

THIS is the song I was jamming to while I was getting ready for this message. It will be on repeat. I hope it helps you!