Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lithium for Lent

Hi folks,

As you probably know if we're friends on Facebook, last month I had a bit of a rough time, mental health wise. One of the effects of that was that I stopped updating the podcast, so I wanted to do a quick recording and share it with folks who follow the podcast, just explaining what was going on and talking a bit about my plans for the podcast. If you're interested in that, check out this short episode of Fooling with Scripture:
  Here's the gist of what's been going on with me:

I lost track of the basics.

By "the basics" I mean, I wasn't sleeping right, I wasn't eating regularly, and because I wasn't eating regularly, I stopped taking my medication regularly. I wasn't doing the Mental Illness 101 stuff that I know I need to do to keep myself healthy and on my feet.

And so I crashed. And it sucked. And it meant canceling things, and backing out of commitments, and not being able to help Leigh out with things, and every time something like this happens, I worry that I will lose friends, or colleagues, or jobs, or trust. And to some extent, some of those things might be true. And the anxiety that comes with that makes the mental health issues I struggle with even worse.

(It is, by the way, entirely appropriate for you to point out the irony that the post before this one on my blog is about self-care.)

I've gotten back on my feet, and things are getting better. I'm back to the basics. And what I've decided to do for Lent is to focus on my mental health, not as a selfish thing, but as a way to contribute to the health of my community and to keep myself in a space where I can hopefully do some work for the common good.

I'm calling this effort "Lithium for Lent," because who doesn't love a good alliteration? I'm going to be focusing on the basics. I'm also going to start going to a support group, something I haven't done in a long time. And I'm going to be using Monica Coleman's book Not Alone as a daily devotional.

I'm also going to be sharing some blog reflections about mental health and mental illness. Not every day. I'm not going to force it. Some of these might even be previews of my book, or at least things I'm working out for my book. But I will share what reflections come up in this time, if any.

So that's where I am right now. Today is Ash Wednesday. In the Ash Wednesday service, while people are receiving ashes, we usually say something like: "Remember from dust you've come, and to dust you'll return. Repent and believe the gospel."

Which is sort of like saying;

"Remember you are human, mortal, limited. You've come from dirt and you'll return there, so return to that, and believe the good news."

The good news here isn't, "You're more than human." It's "You're human. You're limited. That's exactly where God's grace meets you, in your mortality and your flesh and your dustiness and your limits."

So I'm entering a season of remembering my limits, remembering my humanity, my mortality. Honoring my limits. Re-seeing them as holy, as exactly the place where God's grace meets me.

If I have let you down or disappointed you or strained your trust over the past month, I pray you will forgive me. But more than that, I am praying for the remembrance of dust, and limits, and good, good news.

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