Monthly Archives: September 2011

Mission Statement

Who are we?

We are a group of people passionate about supporting and caring for those affected by mental illness. We are dedicated to raising awareness of the key issues within our society, confronting stigmas and stereotypes and changing attitudes towards those suffering from these conditions.

What do we do?

We meet regularly in Northwood, Middlesex and, through media publications via email, Facebook, twitter and local churches we aim to increase awareness of the mental health issues.

ThinkTwice also runs awareness events, aimed at educating young adults about current mental health issues within our society. Our first event was in 2011 and has established the foundation for further future events.

Vision

Our vision is for a society, led by the church, which understands and supports those affected by ill mental health without judgement, condemnation, stigma or stereotype.

In the future it is our aim to establish a group of multi-disciplinary professionals- including theologians, psychiatrists and counsellors- to be actively involved in offering support to those affected by mental illness Furthermore, ThinkTwice aims to offer increasingly high quality mental health awareness resources for churches and local charities.

What this means…

It’s happened. ThinkTwice has made me cry.

Earlier this week the ThinkTwice Facebook page was ‘liked’ by the former chaplain of my secondary school.

Not a big deal, in and of itself.

Except, he was one of those people who believed in me before I was ever able to believe in myself. When I had big dreams but even bigger fears – he reminded me that we have a God who makes painful pasts into future hopes. He (quite rightly) reminded me that God is in the business of transformation – He doesn’t wait until we are all sorted to use us for His Kingdom. He works through our darkest days, not in spite of them.

As we chatted about it, I found tears in my eyes. Tears because I was reminded how far God has brought me. Tears because I am beginning to make a dream into a reality. Tears because God is using my darkest days to bring hope. Tears because it means so much to me – to be able to use what I have been through to help others. In the words of Emily Dickinson:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

The wonderful thing is God does that – He uses tears.  Our tears and the tears of His Son to show us that we are not alone, that in everything we have a Saviour who has felt all the pains of humanity. Who did so for our sake.

I think that deserves a few happy tears – don’t you?

Suicide Prevention Day

You may not have known it, but today is Suicide Prevention Day. According to the World Health Organisation every year, one million people die by suicide. That means every 40 seconds – someone dies by their own hand.

It’s a terrifying statistic. It is not just the number of lives lost in the act, but the families and friends left behind. The questions that are left forever unanswerable, the grief and the guilt that weigh upon the bereaved.

And yet for some, the plight of the suicidal just calls for shove in the right direction. I was disturbed when I googled the topic. The links were not only numerous – but a frightening number were websites with instructions on how to kill oneself ‘successfully’ with different options for those who wanted either a quick and painless death – or a long and drawn out affair.

Reading the pages made me feel sick. Not only because (according to the news reports surrounding these websites) the instructions have led to people’s deaths. It scared me because a google search can take you from the life-saving realms of The Samaritans – to the sites that give step-by-step instructions on how to end life.

A study in America found that 5.8 million adults had thought of suicide without making any specific plans. And Young adults aged 18 to 25 were far more likely to have considered suicide in the past year than those aged 26-49. (1)

And it is this vulnerable age group that a possibly most likely to search for an answer from the Internet.

And while, considering suicide does not mean that a person will go on to die by suicide. Some may experience suicidal thoughts as a result of a mental illness such as depression or bipolar, others because of a traumatic event or bereavement. A suicidal thought does not have to end in suicide.

How do I know when someone is suicidal?

Someone with suicidal thoughts may not be explicit in their wish to die. Signs can range from a sudden decision to make a will, or take out life insurance, to taking less general care of themselves either by not eating, or not taking an interest in personal hygiene. Others will talk specifically about their suicidal thoughts to a friend, relative or counsellor. It is important to take all signs of suicidal thoughts seriously – whether or not you believe they will actually take that final step. (2)

How can I help someone who is suicidal?

One of the most important things you can do is to be available to listen without trying to ‘jolly’ them out of it or dismiss their thoughts. Secondly, encouraging them to get help; either from a GP or the Samaritans is a really good first step – your GP may then be able to source other, more long-term help.

It is also very important that you care for yourself – you may need your own support as it can be a very distressing time for you, as well. Try not to deal with it alone and do not guarantee confidentiality if you believe a life is at risk.(3)

As you can imagine, this was not a particularly easy post to write. To inform without lecturing, offering compassion without condescension – I hope that at least on some level I will have managed this.

As a Christian a whole new set of questions can arise about the perceived sinfulness, which can add guilt to an already heavy load of grief.

Yet there were a surprising number of biblical figures who seem to have expressed a desire for life to end; from the desolation Elijah at Mt Horeb, to the despair of Job. The feelings were not something that a person would be damned for – but they can be brought to God, to the foot of the cross. It is not a ‘quick-fix’ solution for anyone – but there is hope. Hope in the God of Heaven who descended to the depths for our sake.

I’m going to end with one of my favourite Psalms – given to me in one of my darkest hours in the hope that it may give hope to someone else:

Psalm 40

“I waited patiently for the LORD, he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

(1)http://www.samhsa.gov/samhsanewsletter/Volume_17_Number_5/SuicidalThoughtsBehaviors.aspx

(2)http://www.mind.org.uk/help/medical_and_alternative_care/how_to_help_someone_who_is_suicidal

(3)http://www.mind.org.uk/help/medical_and_alternative_care/how_to_help_someone_who_is_suicidal

Passions

It’s been an exciting time. Ideas and plans that have been bubbling away in my head are finally coming to fruition in various ways. ThinkTwice has a proper logo, its’ own Facebook page, an email address and a twitter feed. Meetings are lined up and my graphic designer friend, Steve, is producing posters and new ideas by the minute!

It made me think about the different passions people have. Throughout my two years at LST, I have heard about the passions of many different people; from social justice to overhauling the church; from rehabilitating prostitutes to hospital chaplaincy.

I have no doubt that the people I know will pursue their God-given passions and go onto make a difference in the world we live in. I was drawn to Psalm 37:4 and wondered how often it is mis-read and mis-quoted. It reads; ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart’. I for one, used to believe that He would give me anything I wanted – it didn’t take long for me to realise that this isn’t what the verse means. For if we are delighting in the Lord, and following Him, our delights will flow from the relationship we have with God – and our delights will be in line with God’s will.

God has given everyone desires and passions – things that make our hearts beat a little faster and bring tears to our eyes.

I remember a time when I was at my lowest, I was scared that my illness and my weaknesses, the depths I had reached for, would prevent me from following the call I thought God had placed on my life. I believed myself to be too broken, too exhausted and too damaged to be of any use to God. (Or anyone else for that matter.)

It was not until a very wise man said the following words that I began to believe that I could be of use.

“Those things that could break you, those things that you think will prevent you from having a ministry – it is those things that will enhance your ministry the most.”

I am sure that there are countless people suffering with mental illness who fear that they can be of no use to God, no use to the world in which we live. People who feel too battered and beaten to be able to make any kind of difference in the world.

Once again I am drawn back to the scriptures, and I will finish with the following verse – which speaks of the weaknesses in us and what the power of God can do with them:

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’

2 Corinthians 12:9.