Honest, personal account of mental illness and recovery
Shows how churches can respond
Offers insight into ongoing stigma around mental health
A guide for sufferers and carers to key means of healing
For many people, coming to faith is followed by an array of positive outcomes. But this was not the case for Lorraine Gibbard who could not have imagined the tumultuous journey that awaited her when she became a Christian. Just a short time after, she suffered a sudden onset of mental ill health which shattered her successful life and left her feeling lost in a foreign land.
Adventures in a Foreign Land recounts how, clinging to her new-found faith, Lorraine set off on a journey of recovery. As she grew in faith a vision of how Jesus sees people who live with mental distress developed. Seeing there were unmet needs among mental health sufferers in her church led her to found the Mental Health Fellowship, a mental health support group that offered key support to sixty people in her community. Now Lorraine’s passion is to see mental health issues better understood and supported in the church.
Her book draws on thirteen years of working with those in churches who experience mental illness. She outlines strategies which helped her cope with bipolar disorder and describes how she used her insight into mental health issues when supporting others who are experiencing or have experienced them.
Whilst acceptance of mental health issues is growing and more talked about, Lorraine discovered that even within the church, there is still stigma attached to mental health diagnosis and treatment, particularly anti-depressants. She found that to suffer from mental distress and then be misunderstood in your own church family can make the burden twice as difficult to bear, and lead to isolation.
However, this challenging situation can be an opportunity for churches and the wider community to become a valued part of mental health care for those needing support. The church forms the front line of God’s response to a hurting world. Where better to learn how to support those with mental health issues? A warm welcome, heart-felt care and accepting love could allow vulnerable people to find a safe space where they could grow in faith and in health.
This book will have something to say to those with an interest in letting the light into this hidden area of mental distress. Lorraine says, ‘Any hidden problem can encourage shame to grow. If we pray for God’s light to shine in these places, shame has nowhere to hide. Before diagnosis I knew nothing about mental health issues or the devastating effects it could have on people’s lives. I have written in layman’s terms, and hope to pass on what the Lord has taught me. I seek to encourage anyone who finds themselves lost in this foreign land, including those who experience mental distress now, or have done so in the past, and those who care for them. I hope to raise awareness of the needs of those with mental health issues and increase confidence within the church of its ability to support them through welcome, acceptance and love.’
Join Lorraine in discovering Jesus’ compassion towards the mentally ill and learn how to offer practical and spiritual support.
What reviewers say:
‘This is not, as you might imagine, an account of distant travels, but rather a very honest account of someone who has struggled deeply with mental illness , in particular bipolar affective disorder. Lorraine describes in detail the phases of her illness and points out the necessity and benefits of medical treatment and is open about the familial aspects of mental health. She is also a firm believer in the power of prayer and finds God’s help in a very real way in her difficulties. I believe this book will be very helpful for those who go through similar mental health problems. I also believe it will be a useful resource for carers and others helping those with mental health problems. It also shows how mental health services and church groups can work together for the benefit of individual sufferers. I highly recommend this book.’
Dr Stephen Critchlow, retired consultant psychiatrist and church pastor, and author of Mindful of the Light
‘Lorraine writes with genuine concern and passion about the effects, struggles and stigma of mental illness as she has experienced them, weaving in between and with golden thread, her journey of faith. Through the pages of the book she offers to fellow sufferers and carers a credible companionship and story of hope; and to the Church, a compendium of insights and guidance which will assist faith communities in creating safe space for those experiencing mental health difficulties. The book is a testimony of the author’s courage as she continues to adventure in what has probably become a less foreign and more familiar land for her. It will hopefully encourage and inspire those who feel they are in uncharted territory.’
Teresa Onions, former Pastoral Leader of St Thomas Church and former Director of Pastoral Care UK
‘I was a member of the Mental Health Fellowship and, through the group, I learned not to feel guilty about my mental health issues and found a place where I could be of value to others. Our meetings were the highlight of my week; we supported each other and were guided and encouraged by Lorraine’s leadership. I commend this book to anyone seeking to build an inclusive Christian family.’
Frances Price, a member of the Mental Health Fellowship for ten years
Adventures in a Foreign Land by Lorraine Gibbard (ISBN: 9781909728844) is published by Instant Apostle and is available now from Christian bookshops, bookstores and online retailers. Non-fiction,144pp, £8.99.