Week 12 Uni Brain Dump

In the future, I hope to feel confident enough in my work to attempt multiple exposure photography. Looking back at my work, I find it hard to give a balanced critique because I can’t help but compare my work to not only others but what I can see with my own eye. Comparison and the fear of never doing well enough is perhaps the very reason I don’t put 100% of my effort into any creative outlet, there is and always will be someone who does a better job. This unit has certainly been one of self-discovery through each assignment, and I have definitely got to know my process better. I constantly leave things to the last minute, if I don’t I do it impulsively. Rarely do I take photos at the right time of day, I do it when I feel like it. I don’t like to change settings too much at the risk of missing the moment (if I can help it).

My motivation and creativity have spikes, and if I don’t jump at the chance I tend to miss it. I know that by now I’ve gone well over my word count, but I think I’ve missed capturing my thoughts as running commentary. Its been a while since I’ve done any writing for a purely therapeutic cause – I wonder why. I mean I know it takes a lot of energy, but isn’t it worth getting the words out of your head to see where they take you? Self-discovery is a marvellous thing. Perhaps I should do this more often to find answers within myself???

Is Mental Illness Actually Biblical?

I came across this article today, and I’ve never read anything so neatly written about mental illness and the Church. Originally posted here by Stephen Altrogge, pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA


I recently read two articles by a well known Christian author who is also closely connected to a Christian counseling foundation. The articles essentially argued that mental illness was a social construct created by secular doctors and psychiatrists, and therefore, is not biblical. So, when a person is depressed, he is really just experiencing sadness, and to try to treat it medically is to short circuit the power of God. When a person is anxious, she is really just experiencing worry, and to treat it medically is a secular answer to a spiritual problem. You get the idea.

The desire behind the article was good: the author was trying to demonstrate that Jesus is sufficient for every facet of life. However, I believe that treating mental illness as only (or even primarily) a spiritual problem is both profoundly unbiblical and incredibly hurtful to those who struggle with mental illness.

TOTAL DEPRAVITY REALLY MEANS TOTAL DEPRAVITY

The Bible teaches that every human being is totally depraved. This doesn’t mean that every person is as absolutely wicked and evil as they could possibly be. That would be utter depravity. Total depravity simply means that sin has affected every facet of my being, including both my soul and my body. Total depravity means that nothing works as God originally intended. My spiritual desires are affected and distorted by sin. My intellect is distorted by and affected by sin. And, most importantly (for this discussion), my body has been affected and distorted by sin.

Why do I get colds and headaches and backaches and indigestion and infections? Why do you have migraines and heart problems and kidney stones and glaucoma? We experience these things because we inhabit bodies which have been marked and marred by sin. Paul spoke directly to this when he said:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Our outer self is wasting away. Our bodies don’t work correctly. They fall apart and fail us at the worst times. While we live in this fallen world, we live in bodies that are wasting away.

In Romans 8:22–23, Paul wrote:

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Along with the rest of creation, we eagerly await for the day when Christ will return and we will receive our new, redeemed, resurrection bodies.

Until the day Jesus returns, I will live in a body which does not function as God originally intended. My brain, which is a key, central, integral part of my body, will not function correctly. Chemicals will become imbalanced. Serotonin will not be properly absorbed. Norepinephrine will be unevenly distributed. Synapses won’t fire correctly. My brain, just like every other part of my body, is prone to illness.

I would argue that if we truly believe in total depravity, then we must accept mental illness as a biblical category. If I believe that sin has affected every part of my body, including my brain, then it shouldn’t surprise me when my brain doesn’t work correctly. I’m not surprised when I get a cold; why should I be surprised if I experience mental illness? To say that depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar, and every other disorder, are purely spiritual disorders is to ignore the fact that we are both body and soul.

Mental illness is not something invented by secular psychiatrists. Rather, it is part and parcel with living in fallen, sinful world.

MENTAL ILLNESS IN THE CHURCH

Treating mental illness as purely a spiritual disorder is very hurtful to those who struggle with mental illness because it points them to the wrong solution. Let me explain. For many years I’ve dealt with chronic physical anxiety. I regularly experience a clutching sensation in my chest, shortness of breath, adrenaline surges, and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. On rare occasions, the anxiety is tied to something I’m worried about, but 90% of the time the physical symptoms I experience aren’t at all connected to worry. I’ll be working away on my computer, not thinking about anything, when a feeling of anxiety suddenly descends upon me.

In those moments, I don’t need to be told not to worry. I don’t need to be told to exercise more faith in the promises of God. I don’t need to be told to snap out of it. What I need is encouragement to persevere. I need to be reminded that, even in the midst of suffering, Jesus is near. I need to be reminded that my light and momentary afflictions are producing an eternal weight of glory. I need to be encouraged to press into Jesus.

And… I need to be connected to someone who can help me deal with the physical aspects of anxiety.

Here’s the unfortunate reality: even if my thinking is biblical, faith-filled, and God-honoring, my physical symptoms of anxiety probably won’t go away. Why? Because most of the time the problem is primarily physical. Something isn’t working correctly in my brain, which in turn causes me to experience the physical symptoms of anxiety.

When interacting with Christians who experience anxiety, depression, PTSD, or any other form of mental illness, we need to treat them as whole people. We need to treat people as both body and soul. Do they need to exercise faith in the wonderful promises of God? Sure. But they also need to deal with the physical aspects of mental illness as well. Doctors are a wonderful gift from God who can offer help to those who struggle with mental illness.

We need to place mental illness in the same category as every other form of illness. When a person experiences chronic migraines, they most certainly will be tempted to doubt the goodness of God. We can serve them by encouraging them that God is good, and that he cares for them. But we also can serve them by taking them to the best migraine specialists in the country.

If we’re going to effectively care for fellow Christians who struggle with mental illness, we need to recognize that mental illness is a real thing. We aren’t only souls. Rather, we are a complex composition of soul and body. Let’s make sure we address both the soul and the body.


Find out more when you visit his blog, The Blazing Center.

Currently

At the moment, life is messy. When I get down, I get ‘busy’ and need to take a bit of brain space. If I took my own advice, things mightn’t get so ‘busy’.

Thanks to the lovely Tash over at La Chascona, I am going to take stock of my mind and get back to basics.

Making: A wall hanging for my bedroom
Reading: “Psychology: An International Discipline in Context” – uni of course. This session I’m studying  ‘Social Psychology’, ‘Motivation and Emotion’, ‘Personality’ and ‘Writing and Scholarship for Psychology’.
Wanting: A new handbag, why is it so hard to get the right size?! (Edit: thanks Colette!)546106
Looking: at party ideas on Pinterest. Birthdays are very hard to plan, especially when the bestie isn’t going to be there
Deciding: on what to do about uni. Uni is hard, and I don’t seem to like it at the moment – do I stick with it? Well, what else would I be doing? I guess I could find an office job. Maybe drop psychology and become an astronomer? Maybe I should invest in a social life at the same time?
Enjoying: The warmth of the hot water bottle on my lap!
Waiting: For motivation to study, it’s not like exams are close – it can wait
Liking: Marc Jacobs’ Dot Perfumes1450592-main-zoom
Loving: Family time
Pondering: If a new haircut is a wise idea
Watching: The 5pm news
Marvelling: At the world God has created for us to enjoy
Cringing: Demi Lovato’s new song ‘Cool for the Summer’
Needing: A blood test, why must it be so hard to find blood?
Smelling: The smoke from our fireplace
Following: the newly wed Mrs Telban
Noticing: How much energy I use in a single day
Knowing: That God has a plan for my life
Thinking: I wish I knew if I’m on the right track
Admiring: The beauty of a clean office deskmac-glasses Sorting: Uni paperwork
Bookmarking: New blogs to follow, most recently Jacky
Coveting: Independence
Disliking: the smell of B.O.
Giggling: Over ‘Kid Theater with Channing Tatum’ on the The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Feeling: Hot, sore, tired
Snacking: Tim tams! Aussie favourite over here!
Hearing: The washing machine on ‘spin’

If you are interested in seeing the original version of this post go here.

Be Still

Be Still As God’s people, we are commended to “Be still” (Psalm 46:10). Psalm 46:10 (ESV) 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Every trial or major decision that arises, I recall these words and seek comfort. I can’t help but wonder what it actually means to ‘be still’ and how to make that happen. Initially I typed in ‘define still’ to the Google search bar, the Merriam Webster Dictionary returned:

“Free of turbulence”

Scrolling further down the page, ‘still’ has many related words which we can learn from. Calm: a peaceful mental or emotional state Peaceful: untroubled by conflict, agitation, or commotion Placid: serenely free of interruption or disturbance Quiet: gentle, easy going Tranquil: free from agitation of mind or spirit “Be still, and know that I am God.” Is not merely a saying, it’s a command and a state of being. To be still is to be free of turmoil or confusion. Being still is to trust in God’s plan and his ability to care for you and I. To be still is to be fully dependent on God! Isn’t it a relief to know that we are never alone or forgotten? All it takes is for us to be still.

Winter and Soup

It’s that time of year again, here in Australia where the sun still shines and your bones rattle in the breeze. Because of these awful events I turn to comfort food, namely soup. Because of my successful adventures last week I am going to share my favourite soup for the winter, adapted from Jaclyn at Cooking Classy. Behold, the Roasted Cauliflower and Cheese soup! Serves: About 4 Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cored and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped brown onion
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp plain flour
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups milk
  • 400ml low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cooking cream
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp (slightly heaping) dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheese, plus more for serving if desired
  • ¼ cup packed grated parmesan cheese

Method

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place cauliflower on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toss to evenly coat, then spread into an even layer and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake in preheated oven until golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  • In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add in onion and saute until tender. Add in flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1&1/2 minutes, adding in garlic during last 30 seconds.
  • While whisking, slowly pour in milk followed by chicken broth and cream. Add in parsley, thyme, bay leaf, roasted cauliflower and season soup with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to low.
  • Puree the soup in a blender (being careful as your working with hot liquids) and return to soup in pot. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.

Serve warm garnished with additional shredded cheese and serve with fresh bread or croutons if desired.