A network of faith-based support groups sprung up, starting in 2008, only a couple of years after I founded Living Room in 2006 at Brentwood Park Alliance Church in Burnaby. It had the potential to be a huge ministry, but I could not carry it forward.

I was glad to have the support of a team to guide me and pray for me, but I was alone with work that included giving spiritual care to the founding group, extensive speaking and writing to raise church awareness, support to individuals in crisis, and giving support in the planting of new groups. The stress of all this, in the midst of great mental health struggles, was unimaginable.

I asked many times for help, but no one came forward. I felt let down by my church family and it hurt. Living Room needed to have the opportunity to grow into the movement I had thought it should be. It needed to reach far and wide, beyond what a single church could have the resources for. In October 2013, I realized that my church simply was not able to move it forward, and neither did I personally have the resources.

In July 2014, I gave up the Living Room ministry, relieved that it would be merging with Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, hopeful it would have a better future with them. Tears of regret flowed over having to let it go. Living Room had been my calling, a vibrant ministry since 2006. But there had been no indication that help would be forthcoming. I felt guilty for not being able to continue.

Four years later, in 2018, I was crushed to hear Sanctuary’s announcement that Living Room would no longer be part of their mandate. I did all I personally could to try and change their minds, but in effect the ministry drew to a halt. At the time of writing, only three small groups remain that I know of.

The book I’m working on, will tell the never-before-told story of how mental health awareness was introduced to the Christian Church from the perspective of a person with lived experience. Readers will see how a person was able to accomplish much, thanks to her dedication to God, and despite great mental health challenges.

Her far-reaching work took place between the years 2000 to 2014 and made a big difference to Christians’ understanding. They heard how faith in God and believing in Jesus and his love can offer healing to those who are being rejected by the world.  It brought acceptance and compassion for those suffering from mental health issues in a way never before seen.

Living Room was central to this work. It prepared the soil for those who came after.