I have been very anxious lately although a good deal of what I feel is excitement. Combined they have made me less than completely functional lately.
Over a year ago, I asked the director of Disciples Home Missions if the Disciples of Christ could put information about mental health challenges on their website. He said he couldn’t do anything unless the General Assembly authorized it with a resolution. I had never even seen a resolution before, but I did some research and found one I could use as a template for what I wanted. I wrote the resolution and, after stating the reasons why the denomination should be welcoming and supportive of people affected by a mental health challenge, the resolution ends by saying:
Therefore, be it resolved that the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, meeting in Columbus, Ohio, July 18-22. 2015, calls upon all expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada to strive to become a people of welcome and support to all God’s children despite their mental health status; and
Be it further resolved that church leaders become more knowledgeable so they can fight stigma, be supportive of recovery, and provide information about mental health, recovery and available resources for treatment; and
Finally, be it resolved that the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, meeting in Columbus, Ohio, July 18-22, 2015, calls upon the Disciples Home Missions to encourage and help enable the education of church leaders (lay and clergy) by putting on its website and in print information to enable regions and congregational leaders to fight stigma, be supportive of recovery, educate church members about mental health, and provide information on available resources in order that people affected by a mental illness, their loved ones, and caregivers will experience welcome, support and recovery.
After I wrote it, I had to get my own congregation to support it, and then I had to get it approved by the Arizona Regional Assembly. I then sent it to the general offices and it was accepted to be presented at the General Assembly with representatives there from many of our congregations. I am very excited about this happening in just a few days. In fact, by the time you read this, I hope the resolution has been approved. I get to speak first about the resolution at the General Assembly. It is difficult to boil down what I usually talk about for an hour into only three minutes but I think I have the essential pieces.
However, I am also anxious about making the trip. I worry that something will happen to make me unable to participate. I know these thoughts are irrational but they are present.
I have been doing several things to deal with the anxiety/excitement (they feel about the same). I have been talking about it with my therapist and I let my psychiatrist know so I could get some anti-anxiety medication. I am also only doing things that I need to do, and I spend a lot of time practicing mindfulness by listening to meditative music and doing guided meditations. I exercise by swimming 2/3 of a mile three times a week, playing with my dog and taking her on daily walks. I also am trying not to isolate – every day I call at least two people. Fortunately, I have a good support system. A woman from church has brought me food because I find it difficult to make dinner and many people are keeping me in their thoughts and prayers. I will come through this okay and hopefully the resolution will be approved!
On August 6, 2-15: This blog was written at the beginning of July. At the end of July, after the blog was written, I presented the resolution to the General Assembly and it was unanimously approved by 3,700 people. Now begins the work of educating church leaders and widening the welcome at churches in the U.S. and Canada.
Rev. Mary Alice Do, who has bipolar disorder, is a retired Disciples of Christ minister and has worked 16 years in the mental health community providing recovery information and advocacy. Read the rest of her posts for IBPF here, or watch her webinar on How Churches Can Promote Recovery. She also has a blog of her life story called Journey Towards Wellness.