While I was developing plans for the Living Room ministry, I was hard at work writing my book, A Firm Place to Stand: Finding Meaning in a Life with Bipolar Disorder. I hoped that this would contribute to raising mental health awareness in the Church. With this autobiographical account I tried to demonstrate that even a person with a major mental health disorder could be a strong Christian. I showed how God was able to turn my weakness into strength, transforming me into a leader, an activist, and the founder of Living Room.

The book dispelled the stigma of mental illness and encouraged Christians to lovingly welcome sufferers into congregations by understanding them and supporting them in practical ways. It showed that it is possible to have a mental disorder yet be close to God and derive strong support from a growing relationship with Christ.

I believe this must have been the most difficult book I’ve written. There was so much to discuss and I wanted to do a thorough job of it. Work on the book became an ongoing struggle as I was constantly distracted by articles and emails I needed to write as I reached out in numerous ways to have my message—God’s message—heard. So much to cover! At the same time, I was starting Living Room and all that entailed and supporting individuals who came my way. Not least was the correspondence I initiated with the many whom I hoped would promote the concept of faith and its importance to our mental well-being.

The story I tell in the book is how a very sick young person found faith in God and was gradually transformed into a person who is—for the most part—joyful and grateful to be alive. It is truly amazing where God has taken me since those early years when I spent nine months in a mental hospital. For twenty-five years I was thought to be schizophrenic and received only anti-psychotic drugs—no mood stabilizers.

I’ve been through a lot, but am not sorry for it. God is the great Potter and I am the clay. I believe he had a reason for making me the way he did. And he carries on shaping me into the kind of person he wants me to be. I am willing to do what he calls me to do—to be soft clay in his great and loving hands.

I tried hard to find a publisher, but in the end had to self-publish in 2008 using Word Alive Press.

I’ve been reading Come Be My Light, the writings of Mother Teresa. What really impresses me is how she so strongly gives all the credit to God for what she does. There is no “I” or “my work.” It’s all God’s. She gives all she has to God.

I have a lot to learn from her. I too believe the work I’m doing is all his and not mine at all. I’ve often said how I’m only God’s foot soldier. But all too often I forget to give him the credit. I’ve been feeling proud when people compliment me about the work I’m doing.

“I’m so very sorry. God, please change me and take that pride away. The work you’ve done in me, preparing me for this role could almost be considered a miracle.”

On August 24, 2007, I wrote:

I’m healthy, but—I think quite understandably—feeling overwhelmed about all the things I have on my plate. I feel as though I’m trying to live the lives of half a dozen people, all at one time. And I don’t know how I’m going to manage to do all I need to do. In fact, I don’t think I will manage. What I need to do is figure out what is most important and be efficient with my time.

I’ve been studying how to publicize and market books . . . and wow! All the things I should be doing! No wonder publicists are so costly. They have a huge job to do. And not being able to afford one, I will have to do that myself. And I need to try to do this as well as I can, because I believe A Firm Place to Stand is a book that will help fight stigma. I want the book to be out there and read by many people.

The Vancouver Sun had a series of pieces about mental illness last week, pointing out the effects of stigma on the welfare of people with mental illness. It’s a terrible situation. I believe my book and the things I have to say can be a building block in helping change come about. I want to speak to the media. I want people to learn more. I want to help compassion grow.

But I also have a 94-year-old mom who needs me. And I have Living Room and its people. Not just my group, but the other groups I’d like to help grow. I want to keep time for the people that come to me for support. I want to write articles. I want to blog.

“Please, God, lead me in the best way to go. I know I’m not on my own with this. This is, after all, your work and not my own. I shouldn’t worry so much. I should realize that the burden is not all mine to carry. Help me to take aim with my writing tools and publicity in a way that will do the most good.”