“In our family “whim-wham” is code, a defanged reference to any number of moods and psychological disorders, be they depressive, manic, or schizoaffective. Back in the 1970s and ’80s – when they were all straight depression – we called them “dark nights of the soul.” St. John of the Cross’s phrase ennobled our sickness, spiritualized it. We cut God out of it after the manic breaks started in 1986, the year my dad, brother, and I were all committed. Call it manic depression or by its new, polite name, bipolar disorder. Whichever you wish. We stick to our folklore and call it the whim-whams.”

— David LovelaceScattershot: My Bipolar Family


Speaking in code is often our way of communicating to those who are curious. We seldom tell anyone we have bipolar disorder outright. Some of us tried, and failed; we fall back to “I’m just a little blue today,” or the classic, “I’m just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” We really can be somewhat disingenuous.

All too often these are half-truths that deflect the sticky issues of a mental breakdown. We seek to salvage some kind of dignity, or evade the inevitable stigma that would certainly come if we told the truth. We choose to evade, but at a cost.

I struggle with the stigma of both bipolar disorder and epilepsy. I’m still uncomfortable when others seem uncomfortable with me. So, I have developed a general rule:

Bryan’s Rule #14, “Never reveal your illness, except to qualified people.”

I suppose this adds a layer of personal security. The occasions I have violated this rule have resulted in awkward pauses and odd looks. Afterwards, the relationship changed. It was as if I suddenly sprouted a second head, or something.

As Christian believers, I know we are supposed to walk in the truth. But exactly how truthful am I supposed to be? I’ve always had an iconoclastic streak, and I love stretching the social boundaries of others. Bipolar disorder has been an illness made-to-order for people like me.

Bryan’s Rule #15, “Openness can be a true step toward my healing.”

But it take truth to change. We really need to be honest by bringing things into the light. Obscuring the truth keeps us isolated and distant from others. Will speaking forthrightly about my bipolar disorder be a challenge? Of course. But necessary if I want to heal and cope.

I’m not advocating making a big sign and parading down Main Street. Just to be a bit more honest with others, and ultimately with ourselves. Let’s be comfortable with our own personal “whim-whams.”



Memories Haunt in the Light


For many who have struggled with depression, as I have, often suffer from an underlying brokenness that stems from past tragedies that we can’t seem to completely forget. We try to understand why and pray for forgetfulness that never seems to come. But even so, when we know Jesus as our Savior the Light is never extinguished.


Memories Haunt in the Light

I stand upon the solid Rock
I’ve found my firm foundation
Living each day in the Light
Being sure of my salvation

I know His words of grace are true
‘Cause I feel them deep in my heart
I rise each day, out into the world
And that’s when the memories start

The sky is blue, the sun is bright
A chill wind stings my face
I should be happy and light, but cold
Triggers thoughts I seem to chase

Like Paul with his thorn, I pray the Lord
Would remove the pain today
“My grace is sufficient,” He replies
As over and over I cry and pray

But what if grace is not enough
As this memory haunts the light
This is when I must trust and believe
To escape the darkness of night

He uses this memory of pain
To teach me compassion and grace
For the bruised and the broken
Haunted by memories of disgrace

He’s made me merciful and kind
This lesson is not meant to destroy
But some days I’d rather be less caring
And remember only love and joy

My Rock remains firm beneath me
In spite of my doubt and fury
His grace will suffice, I rest in His Light
One day this memory He’ll bury


How Does It Effect You?


There are four areas that chronic depression will effect you.

  1. Emotions
  2. Thoughts
  3. Physical
  4. Behavior

We need to really visualize the areas in order to understand. This grasp of the facts will not change a thing, but will only give you a sense of what depression is doing to you, or your loved ones.

Some will emphasize one or another. But all four areas play a part in this disease. We may think we can twist around these, but we’ll find we are still trapped by the evil ogre of depression. (And he takes all the prisoners he can.)

We are hostages to this sickness. Depression truly destroys lives and hopes. It comes uninvited, and springs its trap on us. It can immobilize us in an instant.

David knew what it was like to be a hostage of depression. In Psalm 32:3-4 he wrote:

“For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up[b] as by the heat of summer.”

Many readers will relate. It carries with it an authenticity of a man that is a dear struggler. His experience, and his willingness to write openly provides us with comfort and understanding.

Paul knew all about depression. He wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:6:

 “But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus;”

Ancient writers called it “the Noonday Demon.” Winston Churchill called his depression, “the black dog.” Both definitions seem spot on.

Christians will ask me whether depression is caused by an evil spirit, or is it biological? I usually answer both. There is strong evidence that it is a mental illness; an illness like any other (e.g. diabetes, or migraines). It can be treated, to a degree, with meds. But there is a spiritual dimension as well requiring “spiritual warfare” on an serious level.

My own meds have helped me greatly. But strong prayer and worship have assisted me just as much. Reading the Psalms are really helpful. I have made the personal discovery that the presence of God is a great way to walk free.

When you’re truly desperate, you will find a way. Of that I’m convinced. I leave with Philippians 1:6:

” And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”


Jump Me! The Vital Ministry of an Encourager

We, more than others, should carry jumper and tow cables not only in our cars, but also in our hearts, by which means we can send the needed boost or charge of encouragement or the added momentum to mortal neighbors.

        — Neal A. Maxwell

“One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. …It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others.  The world is full of discouragers.  We have a Christian duty to encourage one another.  Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet.  Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”

 —William Barclay

 “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 1:7


Living in Alaska, jumper cables are crucial necessities.  The winters here are challenging on cars, and I’ve pretty much determined to have the best just in case.  Whether I need a jump or can give one, they have already paid for themselves.

For the non-initiated, jumper cables are used to essentially replace a dead battery.  A car that is running can hook up and provide current to a car that is not running so it can start.  It just takes a couple minutes with the cables and it is fairly easy to do.

The ministry of encouragement has been key in my life.  There are several people who have been used by God to encourage me.  A Christian brother named John Yokela, who is in his 90’s, comes to mind.  He is a solid stalwart of faith, and has helped me on my way many times.  I don’t know where I would be without his caring words.

The ministry of encouragement is similar to jumping a car.  There are people in God’s Kingdom that intervene in our lives.  They are equipped with spiritual jumper cables, and just seem to come along when we are dead and are unable to make it work.  They come alongside, eager to help and not inclined to judge.  They are there to get you moving again, and they seldom will show irritation.

We need to learn how to connect with the discouraged brother or sister.  Some of our issues are deadening, they frustrate us to the point that we just want to walk away.  Our hearts start to toughen and get hard.  Life is full of futility and coarseness.  But along comes someone with cables, and in just a few moments our situation has completely turned around.  What they’ve done seems miraculous, and the grace they carry with them is profound.

Father, send to your Church gifts of encouragement.  We are needy and we could use a jump from time-to-time.  Please provide what we need, and help us to bless others.  Give us wisdom, power and grace to reach out and connect others to your Presence.  Amen.

ybic, Bryan


FYI. How to Jump Start a Car:




Take the Ministry of Encouragement a step further:


%d bloggers like this: