I also started the year anxious. Anxious to take what most people consider the hardest class in my major—Human Anatomy. By Maddy Preston
Tag: Body Image
[Guest post by Kunbi Ayo-Okanlawon: I found Kunbi’s post about the unhealthy fitness trends on social media very timely and extremely important for our readers. Remember, take good care of yourself!]
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)
I love fitness and I’ve been called a fitness fanatic a number of times. More importantly, I love encouraging and inspiring people on their health and fitness journey. Being fit and healthy is a good thing, and Apostle Paul alluded to that fact in 1 Timothy 4:8. Eating healthy (and within reason) and staying physically fit ensures that we can easily carry out our day-to-day tasks whilst also doing the tasks God has set for us to do.
In recent months, I have noticed a growing trend in the world of fitness where people are deeply involved in physical fitness but neglect other aspects of their health. A lot of people are suffering from eating disorders in the name of fitness and some aspects of fitspiration (fitness inspiration) on social media do not help matters.
Many people get carried away by what they see and do not take the time to assess and pull in the reins when they are overloaded with pictures of people with 6-pack abs, “thigh gaps”, ripped muscles, etc. So many people in the fitness community are suffering from depression and a number of suicides have been reported.
Orthorexia and anorexia appear to be a mainstay nowadays, and it is heart breaking to read stories of women who started out trying to lose weight and got completely obsessed with it; next thing they know, they are suffering from orthorexia, bulimia or anorexia! Orthorexia, bulimia and anorexia are all eating disorders. In the United Kingdom, bulimia and anorexia are considered serious mental health conditions.
Orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with otherwise healthy eating, which can easily spiral out of control. Bulimia is characterised by binge eating followed by intentional purging. People with anorexia intentionally restrict the amount of food they eat in the bid to keep their body weight as low as possible.
Much as I love fitness, I am very particular about other aspects of my life that need attention – my physical, mental and spiritual health. Fitness is not worth it if we develop a mental illness from it.
It’s not worth it if by working out and trying to be fit or lose weight, we are letting go of our spiritual and mental health.
Apostle Paul says in that 1 Timothy 4 verse that training for godliness is much better than physical training. Why? Because it promises benefits in this life and in the life to come. What’s the point of building our physical muscles when our spiritual muscles are soft and flabby? What’s the use of being able to flex our physical muscles when we cannot flex our spiritual muscles?
As we spend time doing our workouts and keeping fit, let us spend even more time in God’s word and in His presence in order to grow our spiritual muscles.
Exercising is awesome and it’s something we should all do BUT while we work at keeping fit and looking good, let us not neglect other more important aspects of our lives. It’s easy to obsess with food and fitness; I have been in that situation myself where I was becoming obsessed with logging and tracking every single kilogram of my food. But, I have always had a rule in life and it’s this:
The moment I notice that I am getting a little obsessed about something, I cut it out of my life, no questions asked and no mulling over it.
This has worked for me in many ways over the years and it is something that you can give a try too. More importantly, hand it over to God by praying about it.
God is an amazing God and we can turn to Him for help and direction in EVERY area of our lives. You can also talk to someone you trust and be accountable to them. Please do not suffer in silence and please, take good care of yourself.
My name is Kunbi Ayo-Okanlawon. I am a medical writer, serial blogger, wife and mama of a boisterous 3+ year old girl. I have a passion for writing and I love encouraging people with what I have learnt, what I am still learning and what God lays on my heart. I blog at www.kunbibalogun.com and www.natsandfitness.com
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Recently, I attended the Mental Health and the Church Conference at Saddleback Church (#Hope4MH).
The good news is that they just posted ALL the videos from the plenary and breakout sessions. You can watch them on YouTube here. If you struggle with mental health or know someone who does, please watch and share!
It was hosted by the Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, Bishop Kevin Vann of Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, and Steve Pitman of NAMI-OC. You can download the conference workbook for free here.
According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), 60 million Americans experience a mental health condition every year — that’s one in four adults and one in ten children. People of every race, age, religion or economic status are affected.
One in four adults.
I know because I am one of them.
From the age of 10, I experienced signs of anxiety. In my 20s, I was officially diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Now in my early 30’s, I am on medication (Lexapro) to help control my anxiety and panic attacks. It wasn’t until July of last year that I felt comfortable enough to blog about my mental illness, anxiety diagnosis, and which medication I’m taking. I wrote about it here and here.
Maybe it’s because I felt the freedom to share or maybe it’s because I felt that no one else was sharing about mental illness that I finally spoke out.
When I heard about the Mental Health and the Church Conference at Saddleback Church I knew I had to go! I knew, however, that this conference did not come without a cost. My sympathies go out to Rick and Kay Warren in the loss of their son — and I don’t want people to miss this. Through their pain they are helping others navigate their pain.
If you struggle or suffer from mental illness or know and love someone who does, this conference is revolutionary and I hope you will feel the freedom to get the help you need!
The Conference Main Sessions included below WITH video links:
+ The Role of the Church in Mental Health with Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, J.C.D., D.D. and Pastor Rick Warren, D.Min. – WATCH HERE
+ Integrating Physical, Spiritual, and Mental Health with Aaron Kheriary, M.D., Father Luke Dysinger, M.D., D.Phil., and Eric L. Johnson, Ph.D. – WATCH HERE
+ Helping the Helpers: Crisis Management for Church Staff with Tom Okamoto, M.D., Louise Dunn, D.Min., Chuck Hannaford, Ph.D., and Teresa “Tita” Smith, MSW, LCSW. – WATCH HERE
+ Resourcing the Church with Matthew S. Stanford, Ph.D., Pastor Brad Hoefs, M.Div., Pastor Tommy Hilliker, M.Div., Steve Pitman, and Tom Lambert. – WATCH HERE
+ Standing Together in Suffering with Kay Warren, Amy Simpson, MBA, Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, J.C.D., D.D., and Pastor Rick Warren, D.Min. – WATCH HERE
The Workshops included:
+ The Lay-Person’s Faith-Based Response to People in Crisis by Louise Dunn, D.Min. – WATCH HERE
+ How to Launch a Support Group and Counseling Ministry in Your Church by Pastor Tommy Hilliker, M.Div. – WATCH HERE
+ Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis by Pastor Brad Hoefs, M.Div. – WATCH HERE
+ Stigma or Stigmata: Helping the Church Rethink Mental Illness by Eric L. Johnson, Ph.D. – WATCH HERE
+ Christianity and Depression by Aaron Kheriaty, M.D. – WATCH HERE
+ Understanding Women’s Mental Health: Is There Really a Difference? by Shari Muis, M.D. – WATCH HERE
+ Living With Bipolar Illness by Tom Okamoto, M.D. – WATCH HERE
+ El Papel De La Iglesia Sobre La Salud by Hermina Shea-Martinez, Ph.D. – WATCH HERE
+ The Spiritual and Emotional Roots and Treatment of Addiction by John Townsend, Ph.D. – WATCH HERE
+ Saving Lives One Community at a Time by Jessica Van Der Stad – WATCH HERE
+ The Most Important Lesson Learned from 87,000 Brain Scans by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. – WATCH HERE
+ Celebrate Recovery and Dual Diagnosis by Pastor John Baker – WATCH HERE
+ Helping Helpers Manage Crisis in the Church: Building a Bridge With Professionals by Chuck Hannaford, Ph.D. – WATCH HERE
+ Understanding and Helping Loved Ones With Borderline Personality Disorder by Robin L. Kissell, M.D. – WATCH HERE
+ Welcomed and Valued: Building Faith Communities of Hope and Support by Tom Lambert – WATCH HERE
+ Abogando Por Personas Que Tienen un Diagnostico De Salud Mental Y Equipando La Iglesia, Las Families, La Comunidad Y A Los Profesionales Que Trabajan Con Ellos by Cecilia Mercado – WATCH HERE
+ Therapeutic Partnerships For Recovery by Steve Pitman – WATCH HERE
+ Food and the Body: 3 Steps to Healing Eating Disorders Through Community by Constance Rhodes – WATCH HERE
+ Troubled Families: Support for Loved Ones Affected by Mental Illness by Amy Simpson, MBA – WATCH HERE
+ Re-Think Mental Illness: The Role of the Church in Recovery by Matthew S. Stanford, Ph.D. – WATCH HERE
I took a lot of notes during the sessions and attended two of the breakout sessions listed (we were only allowed two). Here are some of the most impacting bits I wanted to pass along:
“The Church is supposed to be a place of hope. I’m not okay, you’re not okay, but God’s okay so we’re okay.” – Rick Warren
“Your chemistry is not your character. Your illness is not your identity.” – Rick Warren
“Our faith does not promise life without suffering, but it does offer hope. Science alone can’t provide us with all the answers.” – Aaron Kheriaty, M.D.
“We need to make a mess. Roll up our sleeves in the lives of others. The shepherds need to smell like the sheep.” – Father Luke Dysinger, M.D., D.Phil
“Hope brings healing to my brokenness. If you’re struggling I urge you to reach out. Revealing you’re feeling is the beginning of healing.” – Rick Warren
“Do your own recovery.” – Tom Okamoto, M.D.
“Compassion plus resiliency = model of active listening.” – Louise Dunn, D.Min
“Don’t say, ‘you just need to pray more to get over your mental illness’ to someone because it is hurtful.” – Matthew S. Stanford, Ph.D.
“Create a culture of openness in your church. Give testimonies every week as part of your sermon.” – Rick Warren
” The issue is never the issue. Start with the easiest change first. It gives you hope for the next win.” – Rick Warren
“26% over 18 year olds will have a diagnosable illness this year.” – Matthew S. Stanford, Ph.D.
“I have bipolar disorder. I am not biopolar. There is a big difference.” – Pastor Brad Hoefs, M.Div.
“The most courageous thing I’ve done in my life was continue to live when I wanted to die.” Pastor Brad Hoefs, M.Div.
“You can borrow hope. The more hope you have, you can give away. If you’re in hell right now, don’t stop — you’re in hell. Keep going!” – Pastor Brad Hoefs, M.Div.
“You need a safety net of ‘CARE.’ C stands for Community (Galatians 6:2). A stands for Assistance (James 2:15, 16). R stands for recovery. E stands for Education.” – Pastor Tommy Hilliker, M.Div.
“Turn your anger into advocacy.” Tom Lambert
“Women are twice as likely to attempt suicide more than men, but men complete suicide more than women.” – Shari Muir, M.D.
“Weight gain (besides pregnancy) is the second most likely reason women stop taking psychiatric meds against their doctors advice.” – Shari Muir, M.D.
“The person with a mental illness is not the only one who needs help or needs to change.” – Amy Simpson, MBA
“40% of homeless people have mental illness and 20% of homeless people have a serious mental illness.” – Amy Simpson, MBA
So what’s your story? There are pastors, authors, speakers, professors, and volunteers who were willing to come forward to admit things they’ve never said before. I appreciate their honesty and willingness to do so. Because of their bravery — I will continue to be brave and share my story.
“My brain doesn’t always work right but God always works right.” – David Mandani
Resources to Get Help:
+ Get Help Now! – Call 2-1-1 to find a Mental Health Practitioner
+ Saddleback Church Support Groups – (949) 609-8392 or saddleback.com/care/supportgroups
+ Celebrate Recovery – www.celebraterecovery.com
+ New Hope Crisis Counseling – (714) NEW-HOPE or www.newhopenow.org
+ NAMI National – (800) 950-6264 or www.nami.org
+ County Behavioral Health Information and Referral – (855) 625-4657
+ 24-Hour Crisis Prevention Hotline – (877) 727-4747
+ National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – (800) SUICIDE
+ Veterans’ Crisis Line – (800) 273-8255
“The art of medicine [has been granted us] as a pattern for the healing of the soul, to guide us in the removal of excess and in the augmentation of what is deficient: it has been granted us by the God who directs our whole life.” – Basil of Caesarea (ca 330-379)
Prayer in Times of Despair (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
O Christ Jesus,
when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
in Your protecting love
and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us,
for, living close to You,
we shall see Your hand,
Your purpose, Your will through all things
Wherever you are on the journey to mental health, I pray that God be with you.
*Thanks to Saddleback Church for allowing me to be a blogger for this event. I am in their debt!
*To see what others are saying about #Hope4MH go here.
[Guest Post by Heather Von St. James – When Cameron, Heather’s husband, reached out to me asking if he could help share his wife’s story — I was inspired. I wish all husbands were excited to celebrate life with their wives. Today, if you are struggling with life — why not celebrate? Don’t wait for tragedy to strike! Celebrate today.]
Fear – we’ve all faced a form of it at some point in our lives.
I’ve learned that your fears don’t define the person you are, but rather how you deal with them. Humor is the way that my husband Cameron and I handled one of the most terrifying and trying times in our lives.
In November of 2005, after a series of biopsies and other tests, I was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. I was a candidate for a risky procedure called an extrapleural pneumonectomy – this was no routine surgery. It required the removal of my left lung, the pleura (the lining around the lung), the left half of my diaphragm, and the lining of my heart.
I was already overwhelmed and what made it worse was the fact that I was a new mom.
My daughter Lily would be turning six months old two days after my surgery. When I found out my surgery date was February 2nd, I nicknamed my tumor Punxsutawney Phil, or just Phil for short. I joked about when they removed the tumor, asking if it saw its shadow, would I have six more weeks of recovery? It took the seriousness of the procedure and made it not as scary.
Throughout all of this, my sister kept me laughing. Her and I share the same weird sense of humor and we can always make each other laugh with just a silly phrase or sound. My husband and sister started talking about how we should celebrate such a day.
If it was going to save my life, why not celebrate?
Now, we refer to February 2nd not as Groundhog Day, but LungLeavin’ Day — the day my lung left.
The basic idea of writing fears on a plate and smashing them into a fire during LungLeavin’ Day came from my sister, who had done firewalking. In firewalking, you write your fears on a plank of wood, throw it in the fire, and walk across it – very symbolic. We wanted to take a similar approach, but instead of wood, my husband came up with the idea of plate, and instead of actually walking through the fire, we would smash the plate.
From that moment a tradition was born.
On February 2nd, 2007, one year to the day since my surgery, my husband went out and bought two stoneware plates and a sharpie. We spent a few minutes writing our fears on them before venturing outside. It was bitterly cold that evening, but that didn’t stop us. Cams cleaned out the fire pit, and got a nice little fire going. We bundled up and went out to the fire and smashed our fears in the fire. It felt GOOD! We decided right then and there that we needed to share this with our friends and family.
The following year, we made it an official celebration, and every year since then our little party has grown to include over 75 friends and family who come to celebrate life with us.
Within these past few years, Cams and I felt the need to make a difference by using the occasion as a fundraiser for mesothelioma cancer. We donate all the money raised to the three organizations that have been such an important part of our lives. The International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization all played an important role of who we are and what we do.
LungLeavin’ Day is not just for cancer survivors or warriors, but also for everyone.
This year, we wanted to reach out to an even broader base of people, and besides webcasting the event live via my Facebook page, we’ve also created an interactive page where you can go write your fear and smash your own plate virtually.
We hope that you take a moment to be thankful for the simple things, and all that life offers. Even in the face of adversity, something good can come of it, and our LungLeavin’ Day celebration is how we took something tragic, and made it a positive in our lives.
Heather Von St. James is a seven-year mesothelioma cancer survivor and continues to provide unending inspiration to mesothelioma victims around the globe. She carries out her mission to be a beacon of hope for those afflicted with mesothelioma by sharing her story of faith, love and courage both as a keynote speaker at conferences and through social media. Read more about her and LungLeavin’ Day at http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday/.