I wrote the following in April 2009: “Maybe I’ve reached the limit and God wants to open new paths for me to follow. I’ll have to see and be open to his leading. Would I ever like to be stable and strong again!”

But it was not until five years later, in early 2014, when help arrived. I was thankful that Living Room merged with Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries. It was high time. My mental health was deteriorating. In 2015, suspecting dementia, I resigned from the group I had led for nine years. Giving up work that had been so meaningful left me feeling empty and worthless.

In looking over journal entries for 2015 I could see that my pastor and my upcoming replacement must have had a hard time dealing with me. I believe I’m starting to understand the way things were from their points of view.

In March 2015 I wrote, “But Lord, when who you are goes out of control. When – in essence – you lose your sanity. And when people have no understanding and judge you. When your emotional pain is so severe you want to die…”

Also in March, after a meeting with a couple of church members: “Half the time I couldn’t make myself understood. The severity of my illness sank in.”

In June, “Please understand me! I’ve never been an angry-type person. My husband will tell you. Please don’t think ill of me. Please don’t stop respecting me!”

In July, “The symptoms of my illness – my thoughts and behavior – break my heart with shame and guilt.”

In spite of being in this state, the hard work of finding a successor for my group was left to me. When I wasn’t able to do so in a way that satisfied I was given a hard time – blamed for making a poor choice. I wish they’d had some compassion and recognized I wasn’t up to it.