The ‘Annex’ is an out-patient facility providing support for the mentally ill in our community right here in Homer, Alaska. It is one of the service components of ‘the Center’ which oversees psychiatric services to our peninsula. There are full services for just about anything that might arise. This includes crisis issues that may happen on occasion. An on-call therapist is available 24/7.
The Annex is primarily a day ‘clinic’ that shuttles clients into a therapeutic environment. Therapy groups and ‘providers’ are available for almost 30 people who come in, (or not, as attendance is voluntary). But can become quite busy. A daily lunch is prepared, and activities are numerous. Each client has a case manager for counseling. (They are overworked in my humble opinion).
I’ve been attending for quite some time now, coming in two or three times a week. I’ve learned a lot by going. Socially, mental illness can be terrible, as you can imagine. I find I isolate myself; lapsing into bouts of bipolar depression.
The Annex is a means of ‘common grace’ for my beleaguered soul. People understand my quirkiness there. And although it is not a ‘Christian’ ministry, it often acts like one. I frequently feel more sensitivity and care from those who understand the ‘ins and outs’ of having a mental disorder than those in the Church. Now, I’m not bashing the ‘fellowship of the saints,’ I just know my time spent at the Annex connects with my specific personal needs.
I regard my time there as my ministry.
Very few of my ‘friends’ have met a Christian believer who has a mental illness, much less a former pastor. I’m aware of being watched, or evaluated all the time. I endeavor to be both ‘salt and light‘ to these who have become ‘my ministry.’
I still have issues: Bipolar, Epilepsy, HCV. These are each in themselves significant, but together can make life a real challenge at times. But they make me aware of who is weak (me) and who is strong (God). I’m also learning that He loves “tax-collectors and notorious sinners.” Jesus welcomed these whom society scorned. If we follow him, won’t we do the same?
You matter. You matter very much to Him. Nothing you face “can separate you from the love of God“, (Romans 8). Stop fretting about the things you can’t change, you are His intense concern. He fully intends to show ‘His strength in your weakness,‘ whatever that might be.