Mental Illness

Guns are a touchy subject in America.  So is mental illness.  It’s hard to talk about either one in polite company.  That being said, watching people suddenly characterize *all* mass  shootings as  a mental illness problem is disconcerting, to say the least.  It unfairly stigmatizes those of us with diagnosable mental illness as  murderers-in-waiting, just biding our time until we find a “reason” to go out and shoot up the Wal-Mart.

Background checks won’t find out who has a mental illness and who doesn’t.  That information is in our medical records, protected by HIPPA.  Background checks may find out if someone has a history of interactions with law enforcement. They may also find out who has a civil commitment to a mental hospital in their records, but not all of us with mental illness have been committed by a court.

After my second hospitalization for suicidal thinking, my husband removed  all his guns from the house.  After my first one, he had locked them all away, but it was easy for me to find the key.  So they all were sent to my in-laws’ house, and there as far as I know they stay.  That was hard on my husband, who had been brought up with guns all his life and loved to hunt.  But once he realized that they were  too easy for me to access, he did the smart thing and got them out of my reach.  But he was protecting me from hurting myself, not other people.

What needs to change in America are people’s hearts. That is not a cop-out statement.  It’s not hard to ignore God when you’ve never heard of him.  It’s not hard to shoot children when you’ve been taught that human life is worthless.  And it’s not hard to lash out in anger in truly horrific ways when you believe that you will not encounter  any kind of final judgement.  I pray we will have a spiritual revival in America that changes us as individuals and as a society.

Unusual Posting

I know I usually don’t post on Sundays, but today was unusual enough that I feel a need to. I have truly been struggling as of late as to what my path is supposed to look like.  Longtime readers of this blog know that I have tried for a long time just to focus on the day in front of me,  to survive it, because it felt like all I could do.

Now I am in a better place with my diagnosis.  I felt like I could try to plan for the future, figure out where I needed to be and what I needed to be doing.  Part of that was getting my MFA.  I knew that was the next thing.  But now I’m getting close to finishing, and I’ve felt a leading to go ahead and plan what the NEXT next thing would be.

I still have that “nice maybe” opportunity glistening out there for me, but I’m having to wait for some dominoes to fall into place for it to happen.  I am having to wait on God for that to happen, and I am getting terribly impatient with it.  So impatient that I’ve spent the past week praying silently for something, anything to happen to show me that I was on the right track. That I haven’t wasted my entire life trying to write and help others through that writing.  ALmost to the point of unhealthy fixation I have been praying for a sign.

So today’s sermon really hit me between the eyes.  It was about what to do when you feel like giving up. And I was on the edge of my seat, listening for the answers.  Because this week I have considered giving up, in more ways that one.  I had worried myself literally sick, mentally and physically.  SO I listened.

I got the answer I was looking for–God is in charge.  Don’t give up.  Get back to work. And know that God is working his plan, not yours.  So I am back to focusing on just every single day trying to do the next thing to be done that day.  Because I can’t be trusted to look beyond that.  I end up just like Elijah in the text today, wanting to quit everything because it’s not being done on my timetable.  My stability seems to depend on not looking too far ahead and not focusing on what could come about as the result of my own strength.  But on working on God’s timetable and being patient.

So I went down and asked for prayer for clarity and for patience for God to work out whatever he wants to work out in my life.  If my weakness is impatience, I’m certainly aware of it, and know I need for God to work on it  every single day.  So pray for me to be 1) patient and 2) obedient to whatever I am called to do.

I feel a peace today that I haven’t felt in months.  I need patience and obedience. I know that God knows my heart and how I feel about my calling to write and how frustrated I have been.  But I can’t keep building castles in the air about my life.  I need to focus on the simplicity of every day as I go through it, doing whatever I am called to that day.  God has his hand on it all–today and tomorrow and the time to come.  Pray for this peace to continue and for me to continue to pray through my frustrations and spiritual aches and pains.  Thank you for your prayers.


A bit of background. My knees have been giving me trouble for about two and a half years. I had an MRI done on my right one and it showed weakness in the kneecap. I started favoring it and naturally, the other one started giving me trouble. I haven’t been able to do stairs naturally without pain for this long. My knees would creak on every stair I took.

Yesterday I went to church and suddenly during worshipping Jesus, BAM! my right knee completely cuts out. I have to sit down. I started praying to Jesus for it to stop hurting. It did somewhat, but I stayed sitting for a while. Brother David Jett started preaching about miracles. I felt the pain completely dissipate. I told Bob at the invitation that I was going to go pray–I didn’t tell him what about.

As I started down the steps I went down them naturally. A little clicking, no pain. I kept going. The clicking stopped. I went and spoke with Brother Jon Graef and told him I had been healed in my knees on my way down to pray. We praised God right there and I told Brother David Jett after service.

I am completely pain free with no clicking of the knee joints at all with no medical intervention. PRAISE THE ONE WHO PAID MY DEBT AND RAISED THIS LIFE UP FROM THE DEAD!

(Check out my vlog on YouTube un the channel “Julie Whitehead” where I fill in more details.  Thanks to all who read and walk away praising God!)

Answered Prayer

“I’ve seen you move!  You move the mountains! And I believe I’ll see you do it again! You made a way where there was no way, and I believe I’ll see you do it again!  I’ll see you do it again!”

–“Do It Again”, Elevation Worship



Went to church last night and got a really good sermon on just the issue I have uncovered in therapy–about trusting God when you’re in a trial.  I prayed that God can take what’s been uncovered in my life and change it to where I trust in him, not in a person, whether it’s Bob or just whoever is handy.  I really hope I can make this trust a reality in my life, which likely means some trials are coming my way soon.  I’m not looking forward to that, but if it takes that to put trust in God and not a man, then I suppose I’ll just have to go through it to thoroughly learn the lesson.

I don’t know what this means for the fiction I write. ALl my stories have heroines that have followed the same pattern as I have, falling into a trial or temptation and getting involved with a man or looking for validation in a man the same way I have been. I’ve always been puzzled at the reactions that my heroines get when people read my fiction, but it’s because I was programmed that way as a child and didn’t know that other people don’t think that way.  Now that I know what kind of impulse I have been writing out of, I don’t know if I can find other subjects for my fiction and create more believable characters.  I will have to pray about that as well.

Please pray for me that I can make this faith journey without putting other people in my life into jeopardy.   That I can make it real in my life in the small things to be prepared for bigger things likely down the road,

Last Night

I feel like ever since the sermon last night about going through a storm in your life, I have been locked in a spiritual battle.  I couldn’t go to sleep last night so I prayed so hard until I finally did pass out.  I know what I believe God’s will for my life is.  I’m just impatient to start realizing it.  I need to get small things published in order to get big things published.  I need to write what God tells me to write, just like the prophets in the Bible did.  But I feel stuck in a rut of a) self-determination and b) unbelief that I can’t get out of.

Old habits die hard.  I’m used to pushing, moving, and shaking to make things happen in my life.  This waiting is driving me straight up the wall.  I prayed so hard last night for clarity–some kind of light in the darkness.  It hasn’t come yet. I know everything I write here reaches somebody that needs to  hear it. I am doing really, really well considering my diagnosis of bipolar disorder and my history of it.  Maybe I should be satisfied with that.

But I’m so restless.  And bored. And tired of feeling like a parasite.  I want to somehow earn my way back into a productive life. I feel like God wouldn’t have given me the desire to do more if I didn’t have the ability and the fortitude to do it.  But the impatience is starting to get the better of me.  I’m scared that in my desire to do SOMETHING I’ll end up doing the wrong thing.

All this to say–pray for me.  I need a breakthrough to confirm I’m on the right path, however winding it is. Or I might just lose faith in the path altogether.  I don’t want to drop out of the Christian life.  I want to do God’s will.  But I need clarity of how to do it.


Right Back Up. . .

Back to high energy, which started last night.  TOok me forever to fall asleep last night, and I am awake this morning.  I’ve finished decorating for the Christmas Party and have started on my Christmas cards–I did all of Bob’s work cards and am about to start on my Sunday School class cards. WE’re going to need new cards–these  I bought on sale last year at the Hallmark Store and I’m almost out already.   They’re Snoopy cards! 🙂  Hopefully I can find some more like them for my family.

Last night’s sermon was so applicable to what I’ve been going through.  I went and accused the pastor of reading my blog :).  He talked about how Rachel and Leah, Jacob’s wives, competed for him and his love by having children and how their identity got bound up in that, which was the only status symbols available to them in that time.   Leah wanted Jacob’s love but didn’t get it no matter how many children she had, so God brought her to where she finally realized God was what she needed.  Rachel had Jacob’s love but it wasn’t enough–she wanted children like Leah had. And God had to bring her to a place of brokenness to where she realized all she had was GOd–and he was what she needed.

What this tells me is that I’m not going to find my identity anywhere but in Jesus and be satisfied.  Not in publishing or in motherhood competition or anywhere else.  I need to keep reminding myself of that and doing what I can operating out of that truth. So.  We will see what GOd does with this truth in my life.



Another Good Day

Today went fairly well considering how tired I’ve been. I got all my laundry cleaned up yesterday and will work on Bob’s tomorrow.  I  worked up dinner, nothing very complicated tonight after doing something fairly complex last night.  BUt I’m trying.

That is the most frustrating thing–I keep trying and trying and feel like I am getting nowhere in  my life.  I just asked God flat out this afternoon what was I supposed to be doing RIGHT NOW.   And I got the scripture from Ecclesiastes 3 1-8.  “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die.  A time to plant and a time to uproot.  A time to kill and a time to heal.  A time to tear down and a time to build.  A time to weep and a time to laugh.  A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to scatter stone and a time to gather them.  A time to embrace and a time to refrain.  A time to search and a time to give up.  a time to keep and a time to throw away.  A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

So okay. I know that. l get that.  But what is it you want me to do now?  What season am I in?  I still don’t know the answer.  All I know is how to put one foot in front of the other and  do the best I can.



That summer, on our anniversary, I game Bob the gift I had bought him in March—a Swiss watch with his initials and our twentieth anniversary date engraved on the back of it. I told him I had bought it was a symbol of all our time together, but now that I knew we had been unequally yoked for so long, I wanted it to be a symbol of the future where we would truly be one united in marriage with God as the head of our household.

I’m not going to say everything has been easy after that. I still at times made snap decisions without consulting with God first.  But I knew now to ask forgiveness and go back to God and ask him what to do.  Most often the answer I got to most questions was “wait.”  In March 2014 I fell into another depression, where I again started to question God’s presence in my life. But there were crucial differences in this depression and others—I had no desire to kill myself, and I had the strength to keep functioning day after day without resorting to sleep or other means of escape. Instead, I wrote an essay about how I was doing, day to day, living with bipolar disorder the best I could. I sent it to a secular journal to see what they had to say about it.

I stayed out of the hospital even though I was simply plodding along now, waiting for the depression to lift. I changed medications again, and finally in May I woke up one morning feeling decent for the first time in many, many days.  I thanked God for bringing me through it and went on about my life—again with the awareness that something was different, and that something was Jesus. In early September, I got a personal response from the journal that said the piece I had written about bipolar disorder was very good but too narrow in focus for their publication.

I read over it, and although I was initially a little upset, I saw that the audience for this piece really wasn’t the ordinary reader—it was for people who suffered from bipolar disorder who needed some hope that life could somehow be better for them than mania on one end and depression on the other. So I started on this story and the blog, praying and hoping to possibly reach that audience somehow, somewhere. . Within two weeks, I had over 100 page views on the new blog and comments from people on how reading my story was helping them.  I felt had found an audience that wanted to read what I had to say.

My Decision

After about six months of wondering about that, after sermon after sermon hammering away at my ideas about spirituality and God, I finally decided I had to come to terms with my life once and for all.

In service, my pastor was talking about people who thought they knew God but didn’t, who held to a “form” of godliness that was all in their own minds. One of my arguments with God was that I had lived my life “right”—I went to church and tithed, I didn’t drink or smoke or cuss out loud, I didn’t gamble or spend money wildly, I listened to Christian music most of the time,  I took care of my husband and my kids and tried to work when I was able to, I wasn’t an irresponsible person, I lived and played by “the rules” and wondered why God wasn’t rewarding me for any of that with the kind of success I craved.

It came to me that I was asking the wrong question. What if God loved me too much to give me what I thought I wanted?  What I wanted was for people to notice me and tell me what a good girl I was—much like I had when I was younger and wanted my mom’s approval. I wanted worldly acclaim for my talents and was acting just like someone who wasn’t a Christian might do when that didn’t happen.  I was all the time strategizing and trying to bring success my own way because I wasn’t asking God what he wanted me to do—I was all the time asking God to bless what I wanted to do.

I felt that the fight I was having with God was actually very simple—who was going to be in charge of my life? God or me?  My pastor had preached often about people professing God but living however they wanted to, and he started pointing out that even if what you wanted wasn’t morally wrong, if it wasn’t what God wanted, you were still in rebellion.  You could spend your life doing good, but if it was all for your own self-aggrandizement and not following what God wanted to you do, it was all for naught.  Those were the people who would ask God, “Did we not prophesy and cast out demons in your name?” and he would say, “Depart from me; I never knew you.”

So that Sunday in May, I just asked Jesus to come into my heart and clean it all out and take it for himself. I told him my life was a mess, and I couldn’t fix it.  I said I needed him to come in and take over.  And I began to cry at the peace I finally felt knowing I was making the right decision, to let God be God in my life and that I no longer was going to live in rebellion against his will. If he wanted me to be bipolar, so be it. I was going to trust him to protect me and my mind through both the good times and the bad.

I went home that day a free woman. Bob hadn’t been able to come to church that day, and when I got home, I went into the bedroom where he was sitting at the computer. I whispered to him, “You know, I think I finally got saved today” in his ear.

He turned and stared up at me. I don’t know what look was on my face, but whatever it was, the truth was evident.  He pulled me into his lap and said. “Oh, my precious.  I’m so glad.”

We talked for a while. I told him what I had said to God.  I told him I believed I needed to be baptized again to show that I was really coming under God’s power and needed to testify that I was finally going to live in God’s strength.  I went down front and explained my decision to my pastor a few weeks later, and that night, I was baptized in front of the whole Sunday night crowd, who had seen me in that church now for two decades.