I had been an innovative leader in 2006, with the help of God doing much to help people with mental health problems. But a few years ago I left the church, shunned by people who used to be friends. I’ve been reviewing my old journals and blog posts, trying to make sense of what happened.

This morning I think I’ve started to understand.

When I founded the Living Room ministry, and even before, there were a few who befriended me and gave great support. I was so thankful for them – the closest friends I’d ever had. With them behind me I managed to make great headway in raising awareness in the church as well as starting faith-based support groups.

But I made a big mistake. I contacted these giving individuals far too much. Many phone calls and emails.

Although I did an incredible amount of work for the ministry, my bipolar symptoms kept appearing – depression in particular. I leaned heavily on my friends. Thanks to them and despite the depression, I was able to keep leadership of my Living Room group for nine years and did much one on one work with those who needed extra care.

But I couldn’t keep up the part of the ministry that planted Living Room groups elsewhere. In 2013 I was suffering more and more instability. I was relieved when Sanctuary Mental Health Ministry offered to take over.

Around 2013/14 I noticed troubling feelings of friends pulling away. There was less and less support. Losing the closeness of friends hurt badly. The less support I received, the sicker I became. And the sicker I became, the harder it was for people to be around me.

I don’t think anyone realized the severity of my bipolar type 1 disorder. I myself thought I could do anything I wanted to, forgetting that I had limitations.

You must understand that God was in this in a big way. I couldn’t have gotten off the ground without his big presence. But even with God we need to respect what he made us to be. Maybe the large ministry I, on  behalf of my church, had undertaken was too much for one such as me.

I’m ashamed when I read through my 2015 journal from March to July. Ashamed of my sick responses to people. Ashamed of how much I was expecting from them.

A big part of the pain I experienced, and subsequent poor mental health, came because I remembered how warm my friendships had been in 2006. How I loved them! And I had felt loved in a way I had never been loved before.

The way things turned out in the end is a tragedy. And not only for me.

Is there something to be learned from all this, God? Can we help people learn from what happened here?

marja