Hi lovelies, happy new week! For today’s #MentalHealthMonday post I’m happy to share with you a very insightful message I received by way of a WhatsApp broadcast that was forwarded to me by a friend, and a short interview with its author, Gerard ‘Gerry’ McDaniel— lecturer, consultant and host and producer of RJR 94 FM’s Palav programme. The message contains wise words (his own perspective) on mental health, the stigma around mental illnesses (and how nonsensical it is) and, most interestingly, what The Bible has to say about it all — I was happy to see it’s quite a bit.
Since he’s a Christian, I found his take on the matter particularly enlightening and refreshing, considering that many other Christians do not share the same sentiments and, due to ignorance, discredit mental illness. Some are known for telling challenged individuals to simply ‘pray harder’ and step up their faith, so his thoughts were a welcome difference. Scroll down to read the excerpt and get acquainted with the wise man who said it all. At the very least, I think you’ll find it interesting too.
Tell me sumpn. What is it about mental health that mix up people brains so?
We seem to have no idea what to do with a strong person in reasonable to great physical health, but does not quite conform to the social norms – such as they are. This just preoccupied my mind for a couple of hours yesterday after catching up with a friend and colleague at that ‘stoosh drug dealership’ in Liguanea. (Calm yourself. Remember my hard drug is processed caffeine from beans very high in the hills of St. Andrew)
Anyhoo… she and I had a moment when the name of a popular shrink came up and she just threw out there “You know I was once his patient”. No, I was not shocked. I just countered with the name of my own shrink and we swapped stories about the important yet misunderstood work. Pick your response from the buffet of inappropriateness and tell me what’s really up with that.
– outright ridicule, disparaging comments
– physical violence and abuse (nobody publicly admits to this … and me sure a no duppy a dweet)
– Nervous giggles and/or decidedly ‘unfunny’ jokes
– Awkward silence followed by rapid disappearance
– The grand cover up and conspiracy of silence
– Flat out denial
– aggressive defensiveness
Mental health layman that I am, surely this list must be found wanting, but you get the idea. After that brief, unfiltered exchange over filtered Blue Mountain dark roast, our friendship was now steeped in a little more authenticity… it was anything but awkward. Just unvarnished truth. Whew!
Funny how we choose to forget that the brain requires maintenance like any other human asset, and like any other organ, it can be treated and nurtured back to wellness with various degrees of success, yet our overindulgent diet of American sitcoms has hard wired in our brains cavalier references to Prozac, Paxil or other brands of antidepressants to explain unbridled crankiness. Perhaps this is only rivaled as a put down by the Ben Gay rub down for geriatric limbs.
Nuance does not matter, it seems. There are ‘those freaks’ over there and the severely sober and straight majority on the near shore. What’s that about though?
Tell you the truth. Or if you are more of a King James kinda peep – ‘verily, verily, I say into you’ (sounds really wise – huh?) Real talk now: Not a single one a we not full. It’s much deeper than just sane or crazy. The bar is much much higher.
That is why our transformation to the lifestyle of a disciple must be preceded with a mental renewal. (Good old Romans 12:2) And be very clear…Even after life changing encounters with Christ, the process of mental transformation is ongoing. Never forget that the mind is the battleground between sin and salvation.
2 Corinthians 10:3. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Why therefore should we quibble about worldly, and sometimes limited cultural interpretations of what constitutes a sound mind? Outside of Christ we are all mentally ill – in a life and death/light and darkness kind of way. #SameSo
Maybe that’s why we consider the mind as almost like a conjoined twin with the heart. Heart of course in this context is not the physical organ – the blood pump, but the core of who we are. That place can be seriously contaminated, even for high functioning and ‘sharp’ human beings.
Watch dis now.
Jeremiah 17:9. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 10. “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
Still feel like we have anything over someone with an ailment that modern medicine can cure, while we ourselves might be teetering on the edge of spiritual death due to a sin-sick mind? My resolution is to make a conscious decision to feed my mind spiritual brain food rather than empty calories.
Philippians 4:8. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
That way I will no longer be so concerned about somebody else’s (often curable or treatable) mental illness … but rather tend to my own ‘heart healthy’ diet that brings incomprehensible peace in this life, and salvation in the next.
Gerry…On Mental Health, Stigma, The Bible & Self-Evaluation
When did you start writing these inspirational messages?
GM: Just before my 53rd birthday in January of this year.
What made you decide, first to write and then to share them with the world?
GM: I have had many spiritual struggles. Last year on Valentine’s Day I was officially restored to the body of Christ. Since then I have had highs and lows, and one recent ‘low’ was an inability to vocalise my thoughts in prayer. I decided to get radical and write what was on my mind without filters. This found new purpose when a childhood friend ran into some deep trouble, including the law. Serving him with morsels from the Word became a priority… just to keep him encouraged and strengthened. It started to expand in both length and depth, then in regularity. I also shared them with a few select members of my church family. This snowballed and now there are about 300 recipients daily.
Awesome! Do you write them in advance or is this something you do every morning?
GM: I write them every morning as part of my daily quiet time devoted to my God. Before the sun rises, before any worldly distractions.
Let’s talk for a bit about the particular piece I’m publishing on the relationship between mental health and spirituality, what was the motivation behind that one?
GM: I have had many instances of suspect mental health in my life. I have struggles with severe clinical depression, fits of rage and terribly anti-social behaviour. The younger of my two sisters was also left with chronic mental instability after a serious car accident when she was only 13-years-old.
Also, many personal encounters with even high-profile and successful executives have revealed that there are varying degrees of mental maladies. I have come to accept that our collective response to mental illness feeds further dysfunctions and ultimately marginalises or excludes many valuable citizens. My personal testimony is that the effectiveness and quality of life for every man, woman and child can be enhanced or even fully restored through the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. In the meantime, we need to get over ourselves and just treat everyone with love and respect. Ain’t none better than the other, even though we all have various weaknesses and strengths. The mental dimension is just one.
So what do you plan on doing with all these daily messages you write? Is there an end goal?
GM: God has given me a voice and blessed me with the ability to remain real and unpretentious. I think, therefore, that I have a responsibility to share it. There is now a collection in the making. The working title is @3:45 Inside, because I typically wake up at about 3:30 and start the process by 3:45. It is a mental and spiritual, personal map. So it is a look ‘Inside’ me. At the moment, the thought is an eBook covering up to the end of May. Then a hard copy gift edition for 2017, released by November this year. I trust God to reveal clearly whether or not this is what he is calling me to do and just submit to His will accordingly.
That devotional sounds great, Gerry! What has the response to your messages been like so far?
GM: The response has been largely positive. I did have a couple of Christians refer to it as ‘annoying spam’, so I stopped sending it to them. No hard feelings. Some people only regard formal Anglo Saxon language as worthy forms of expression to God. I believe God meets us where we are and helps us to become our best selves. I’m grateful that God has chosen to elevate my virtually incoherent and childlike babbling to be used as a tool of ministry. To Him be the glory.
There you have it… wise words from the man himself. I hope they inspire you to look into self, love more, judge less and build on your own spirituality, even if you’re not a Christian. It really does make for a much more mentally healthy and balanced you. Love, light & blessings… all ways. — Tami