In my roller coaster blog I wrote the following on November 8, 2011:

Tomorrow  I take part in Sharon Smith’s lecture at Regent College, speaking to upcoming pastors. Sharon is the founder of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries. I will tell them what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder. I will describe what my life is like now-a-days. Can I help them understand? Even a little bit? Enough so that they’ll be compassionate towards others who have bipolar disorder? Enough so that they’ll know how to offer support?

I remember a time not too many years ago, before I wrote A Firm Place to Stand before Living Room, and before Sanctuary, when I tried to interest various seminaries in town in having someone speak to their counselling students about mental illness. Nothing happened. There was no interest. Maybe I didn’t have the credentials. As a person with mental illness, it appeared I was not trusted to have my thoughts considered seriously.

But how things are changing, I wrote again on November 8th, 2011.

Tomorrow Dr. Sharon Smith will be presenting a three-hour lecture at Regent College in Vancouver on mental health recovery in the Church. Caroline Penhale and I will be speaking as well. I will tell my story and will talk about the Living Room support ministry.

The next day I reported the following:

Have to let you know that the talk at Regent went well. I felt calm—exceedingly calm. Not nervous, not shaking as I had been the couple of days before the talks. And I knew it was because people were praying for me and I prayed for myself. Trouble was—and I feel bad about this—I’m pretty sure I talked far longer than I should have. Sharon ran out of time and at the end had to cram an hour of material into half an hour. I feel bad about that.

My presentation at the very end of the lecture, where I talked about Living Room, went much better. I was able to fit everything into 5 minutes and yet feel I said all I needed to say. The note I ended on was that it would be wonderful if the whole church could be like Living Room. A place where people can be authentic and not have to hide painful things they live with because of shame.

And today, in 2023, I would add this: If the Church could only be a place where individuals with the unique needs of people with mental health challenges could be fed the kind of food they hunger for. Their need for spiritually rich support is a calling the Church should be responding to . . . if they only would.

In case you’re interested in the history of mental health and the Church, you might find this old blog an interesting read. It dates back from 2006 the year when Living Room was founded. Very casual with lots of comments from readers. It was a different world back then,