Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mental Illness - My Story

In hindsight now at the age of 65, I can look back to my teen years and begin to see the early beginning of my story, although there were probably subtle indications even before then?  My father, a very good man, suffered with his own mental illness throughout my childhood.  I am the oldest of four children who grew up in a loving home despite my father's bipolar illness and PTSD associated with his WW2 experiences.  The depression, anxiety, nightmares and hallucinations would eventually cause him to end his life in 1986, and coincidentally trigger a new season of illness for me after a period of wellness.  On to my own story then . . .

The first symptoms of depression (pervading sadness and loss of direction) began in my junior year of high school, increasing in my senior year.  My grades suffered and I lost interest in athletics, which had been a passion.  I did however make the effort to attend college in the Pacific Northwest, but grey weather added to my depression, then self-medicating with alcohol worsened things.  I returned home to Sacramento after a 1.0 semester, my life had fallen apart.

I enrolled at community college, got a job and tried to piece things back together.  During this time I had a "psychotic break" that led to worsened anxiety and panic disorder, yet still I did not seek medical treatment.  At 21, a high school friend and I decided it would be good to get married and move out together.  We graduated college, started careers, and bought a home, all the while I continued to suffer with depression and anxiety, including sleeplessness and now panic attacks too.  She "hung in there" with me for seven years before it became too much.  One evening over dinner she informed me she was moving out to a friend's home.  I begin to panic, went for a walk, and pondered having a "breakdown" and/or ending my life.

I must say at this point that I never sought medical help for my illness.  Not so much due to stigma, as to the fear that meds and treatment would  Only see me get worse as in my father's case.  Having a job and understanding co-workers and bosses saved me, literally.  I begin running (hadn't done that since junior year track season in high school).  I took to running as my therapy, becoming obsessed with it to the point of logging about 100 miles a week.  Then I added cycling (200-250 miles), and swimming (6-7 miles a week).  I competed in ultramarathons and Ironman triathlons, and slowly, subtly I got better?  After over a decade of severe clinical depression I honestly thought it was all behind me.  (Later, my psychiatrist would suggest that all that exercise "normalized' my brain chemistry, but you can't keep that up forever and have a family life too.)

By now, my first marriage had officially ended, during two years of separation, my wife had refused counseling and most contact.  And I had met someone who would eventually become my best friend and soul mate for life.  I would be severely remiss if I didn't stop here to thank my Creator for this Providence in LOVE.  So, life goes on in a new relationship, including the children I had always wanted, but my first wife not.  A few years in, after the birth of our second child, my father committed suicide, and I began to slowly slide back into depression.  My wife noticed my irritability and temper around home and suggested seeing a counselor, which I did.  My intuitive counselor detected immediately the classic symptoms of depression in men.  I did a lot of "work" with her in the area of cognitive therapy, but she really wanted me to see a psychiatrist and consider medicine in addition to therapy.  I was afraid of the medicine route mostly based on my father's experiences with the older treatments.  Persistence by my counselor, prayers and encouragement from my wife and friends, and a lot of research on my own part led me to relenting and scheduling my first appointment with a psychiatrist who would become my meds manager for the next 12 years.  We recently parted ways, both to "retirement", but healthy, happy and me confident in my ability to seek proper ongoing care via my family practice physician.

For those who may be curious about details, I continue to take an SSRI daily (lifetime), and have a couple anti-anxiety Rx's that usually expire in their bottles before I use them.  The SSRI handles my depression, GAD and panic quite well thank you.  I now meet with people to encourage and support them in their own journeys in this season of being a "wounded healer".  Life still has its challenges and trials, but I'm able now to "embrace" them by applying all the tools I've been given over the years.  I am grateful.

Patrick Watters, aka the anonemoose monk ����

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Throughout our seasons, if we have chosen to follow Christ Jesus, we will experience a "call" or time in at least one area of the Church's "five fold ministry", the simple, organic nature of the Body of Christ in the world.
If our churches are obedient, they will be training and sending us as God empowers us in these ways.
A - apostle; sent ones wherever God has us (the heart or meat of disciple making).
P - prophets; simply sharing God's Word as guided by the Spirit (often "in trouble" with the "religious")
E - evangelists; passionate proclaimers of the Gospel (in word and deed)
S - shepherds; most often the pastors of churches as Christ leads them, but others too imitating the Good Shepherd (anam cara, caring, relational)
T - teachers; expositors of the Word (also often our pastors, but all should teach, as Frank Laubach said "each one teach one".)
In our "second halves" we may find ourselves in all those roles at once, only by the Grace and strength of God.


In the first half of life we cannot understand it. In the second half we will find wisdom in, and even be able to embrace pain and suffering in light of the greater things of eternity. }:-

ODB this Dec. 1 and my thoughts away from Facebook

My own thoughts (away from Facebook) on Jesus's teachings throughout Mathew's gospel:

Jesus & Mohammed - the difference is that of Light vs darkness.

"What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."  Matthew 10:27-31 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Go - sent - apostolic migration:  Make no mistake, if your church is not training and sending out disciple makers, it is not Jesus's Church, or at most a poor example.

}:- ��~��

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Church or church?

Somewhere along the way while trying to follow Jesus I came to the realization that what church was doing, and what I was doing as part of the church didn't look much like what I saw Jesus doing?!

Though I claimed Jesus Christ as my Lord and Master, things just didn't jibe with His Way?  I had to accept that I needed to embrace a paradigm shift (a holy shift) of monumental, life-changing proportion.

It has not been an easy change to say the least.  Fortunately, the trail has been blazed by others before me.  They have become my new "community in Christ", and I see them as the true Church, the Body of Christ, organically manifested in the world at large.

I have tried with love and Grace to remain in fellowship with Brethren who call the institutional, traditional church their home.  However, I am seen as a rebel, a threat to the status quo, one who "stirs the pot" so to speak.  Some relationships remain strong in the Lord, but others are strained by my passion and willingness to speak up when I sense a wandering from Jesus's "Narrow Way".

I know this is frightening stuff for some, but I've also seen many step out in faith.  The Verge Network and its many collaborators (individuals and groups) are a constant source of encouragement, as well as accountability.  They are not afraid to "question authority" (I'm a "child of the 60's"), and yet submit themselves to God and one another.

When we feel alone and rejected by the status quo church, this community sustains us in Christ Jesus.  The Psalms become our prayer book, as like David, we feel the persecution and oppression of religious authority pressing down on us.  Then too, we recall Paul's "prayer" to the Philippians (4:4-13), and always the Lord's own encouragement recorded in John's gospel.

I sense the church religious is beginning to change, and many within are embracing God's recreation in spite of opposition.  Many pastors and leaders are risking loss of employment and family financial stability to follow Jesus out into the world of "missional communities".  The church is slowly beginning to look like the Church, the Body Christ Jesus had in mind and heart at the beginning.  It may take years of small steps, but as Caesar Kalinowski says, "small is big, slow is fast".

I'm in for the long haul, "a long obedience in the same direction" toward my true Home in God by the Grace of Christ Jesus.  Surrendered and submitted to His "unforced rhythms of Grace"; daily life as a disciple of Jesus Christ, an apprentice in training and training others as He makes more disciples and "builds His Church", one person at a time.  You see, we are not "just another brick in the wall".

}:- ����

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

There IS an answer

There IS an answer to all the brokenness, hatred and violence in our lives and the world.

It is found in God, Who is LOVE, and the Lover of our souls.

Know Jesus, know God - LOVE

It's really that simple, but it requires an intentional and long obedience. Firstly, meet the historical Jesus in the Bible. Study who he was and what he did, what he taught and modeled consistently.
If you follow his lead and leading, the rest of your journey will unfold before you as you do. You will discover next that this human Jesus is mysteriously yet lovingly also the One called the Christ of God; the "second person" of the Holy Trinity that is God (Three in One, One in Three). Yes, much of this journey and its knowledge will seem mysterious and elusive, but I guarantee you that more and more LOVE will be revealed to you as you practice the "long obedience in the same direction" toward God, toward your true Home and identity in the Creator and Lover of your soul.

As you come to know this Christ Jesus more intimately, you will "see" the Father more intimately and clearly as well. Then, you will experience the greatest gift that a human being in this world can receive, the Holy Spirit, the "third person" of the Trinity. When the Spirit "indwells" you, takes up residence within your heart and soul, you now have God within you! (Perhaps the greatest mystery of LOVE that is God.) You are now fully equipped for the rest of your journey. It still requires intentionality on your part, but somehow the way becomes easier, even when great obstacles are encountered, because God has become your strength.

Let me simply recap;
>seek Jesus of the Bible,
>he will reveal God the Father to you,
>they will impart the Spirit to you, within you.
>then continue the journey* throughout all the seasons of life

Do this and you will experience the "abundant life" Jesus promised. You will discover your true identity in God. Though you may still experience the struggles and suffering of a broken world, you will also partner with God in making all things new, heaven and earth. And best of all, that ultimate HOME awaits you at the end of your journey of faith and life.

* The journey involves many different practices, or so-called "spiritual disciplines". Like training for athletics, the disciplines are given us by God to enable us to persevere in the long obedience. Others further along the Way can and will be your personal trainers, we all will or should have them as we journey. As you experience community in the journey, many of these disciplines and trainers will become evident to you. Each person's journey will be a bit different than others in disciplines and experiences, but all have the same goal in mind and heart, HOME in God.

#‎dailyquiettimeislife - Perhaps the most important discipline of all, a daily "quiet time" where you connect and commune with the Source of all life, the Lover of your soul. Patti and I have found this to be the energy, strength, motivation, yes indeed the Source of life for making the journey. This discipline drives all the rest in LOVE.

#‎lukejohnactsromans - "starting blocks" for the journey; Luke, John, Acts & Romans . . .
PnP on the road - a ministry, a life

Monday, June 15, 2015

My life with depression & GAD -

For family's sake and others who may be helped, here is a simple summary of my life living with depression and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder):

> First signs of depression appeared in my senior year of high school (at least that's when I noticed something, but wasn't sure what it was?)  I know my family history of mental illness played a part, I think high school coming to an end and the unknowns of college, etc had an effect on me emotionally.

> I didn't seek treatment, instead turned to alcohol and marijuana while away at college.  Failed out and came home to attend community college.  Had a horrible paranoid anxiety attack, which triggered heightened GAD and associated panic attacks and phobias I had never had before; heights, flying, elevators, claustrophobia.  I continued to struggle with life but did maintain a job and school.  Also got married to a high school friend during this time (a mistake for both us in retrospect).

> During the next several years I graduated and got decent jobs, but still never sought treatment for my illness.  I don't know if it was denial, fear or what?  My father's experiences with bipolar and ptsd probably made me hesitant too?  Eventually the marriage failed, she moved out and I thought I would have a nervous breakdown, "go crazy" and kill myself?!  Instead though some friends got me into running.  I was 28 by now.

> The running turned into an obsessive triathlon and ultramarathon lifestyle.  If I wasn't working, I was training; running about 100 miles a week, cycling about 250, and swimming about 6-7 miles a week.  [The psychiatrist I would later see for my illness said all that exercise must have normalized my brain chemistry?  Apparently, exercise is good for maintaining serotonin levels in the brain?]

> Healthy and happy now at 32 I met my future and current wife and soul mate.  The training curtailed and family life began, but we both continued to run and workout, even with kids.  Eventually though the stress of career and raising family caused some depression symptoms to appear.  My wife convinced me to see a counselor about my anger and irritability.  That wise woman saw the typical symptoms of depression in a man.  She worked with me in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), but also convinced me to see a psychiatrist (MD).  I was resistant (again the fear of being my dad's illness), but the prayers of my wife and others prevailed.

> I'm still seeing my psychiatrist over 20 years later.  We have managed my meds together over that time, with a few adjustments here and there.  I have other things I do to help myself too; walking, faith disciplines, etc.  I have learned much about my illness and how to embrace it as a small part of who I am.  I expect I will continue taking medicine for depression and anxiety for the rest of my life, but I'm totally okay with that, we all should be okay with that.

> I am a happy, content, mostly calm old grandpa these days.  I love my life and family.  I am a man of ever deeply growing faith as well.  My heart overflows with gratefulness and love these days, and my passion is simply to share it with others.

Patrick Watters, aka da Moose, anonemoose, Pops, Papa, Pat