We are two men with a firm faith who live with bipolar disorder (bios below). We first met when I (Tony) was launching my book, Delight in Disorder. We had both fallen on hard times and agreed to meet weekly for prayer and walks, tears and laughter. Out of these gatherings, a mission was conceived. We developed a faith-based, peer-led mental health support group. "Faithful Friends" is still growing strong after three years, without skipping a beat (or a week).
Now, we sense a new mission emerging...
Many people with mental illness feel alienated from faith communities. Many faith communities fail to understand the value of mental health care. We have lived in both worlds and found both to promote healing. Prayer and pills. Worship and therapy. Bible study and support groups. Revealing Voices (the podcast and website) will build a community where people listen to and dialogue with others who have been impacted by mental illness and struggle with faith. We don't pretend to have the answer, but we will raise your questions and share your prayers.
As important as it is to share our struggles with mental health, prevailing stigma discourages us from doing so. People both within and beyond faith communities often see it as an excuse rather than an explanation; a lack of faith, not a chemical reaction; a crime, not an illness.
Eric and I are uniquely positioned to tackle this stigma head-on. We have both revealed our diagnoses to friends, family, co-workers, and the community at large. At times our method of doing this has lacked good judgement, but we have learned even from these trials. We understand the need for wise discretion for when and how you talk about mental health issues.
We need your financial support for the equipment needed to produce a quality podcast, including:
* MacBook Pro
* (2) Shure SM-58 microphones
* Cables, stands, accessories
* (2) Headsets
* Equipment for broadcasting phone calls
* Marketing to make a greater impact in a broader area.
* A portion of donations exceeding our goal will go to NAMI-Faith Net.
Studies show that at least 20% of the US population struggles with a mental health issue. Research also suggests that very few pastors and churches are equipped to address the needs of persons with mental illness. Your contribution will foster dialogue that offers hope for people who have troubled minds. Hope. Compassion. With your gifts, you can invest in this vital mission.
If you are not in a position to make a financial gift at this time, we get it. There are other valued ways you can support our mission:
* Pray. Prayer is not a magical panacea to manipulate giving. Yet, through prayer, needs are met.
* Share. Tell others about our project. We'd be delighted if you'd put it on your social media.
We want to express our gratitude for your support, so we are offering a wide variety of bonuses, from a "Making of Revealing Voices" audio recording to signed copies of Delight in Disorder and Watershed. Up to an opportunity to dialogue with us on the show.
In her New York Times best-selling memoir An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, writes this:
“I am tired of hiding, tired of misspent and knotted energies, tired of the hypocrisy, and tired of acting as though I have something to hide.”
We grow tired of not being transparent. We want to share our stories.
Together, let's reveal our voices. Raise unanswered questions. Share unanswered prayers.
More about Eric & Tony:Eric was born in Detroit, MI, grew up in Owensboro, KY, and moved to Columbus, IN in 1996. Eric received a Hoosier education with a BA in History and MBA in Social Entrepreneurship from Indiana University. Currently, he works as a full-time product developer while supporting non-profits through his organization, Watershed Philanthropy.
His life took an unexpected turn in 2008 when a devastating flood led him to become a volunteer case manager. After the experience, he wrote a book called Watershed: Service in the Wake of Disaster.
The lessons in recovery that he learned during that time continue to inspire him today. To honor the 10 year flood anniversary, Eric is currently working to create a park in a residential area devastated by the flood.
In 2017, Eric accomplished 2 milestone goals. First, he hiked a marathon distance in one day in Hoosier National Forest. He also completed his goal of writing 1 haiku per day over a full year.
Eric’s supports mental health peer recovery through involvement in th National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI,) The Stability Network, and Faithful Friends ministry.
On a final note, Eric listens to some podcasts at 1.5x speed, so he is more than happy if you listen to Tony and him in chipmunk mode.
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Tony grew up near Indianapolis, Indiana worshiping basketball, with delusions of playing for the Pacers. He went to Hanover College where he obtained a B.A. in English and theology. He then graduated with a Master's of Divinity from Louisville Presbyterian Seminary.
He went on to serve 20 years in pastoral ministry while living with bipolar disorder. In 2014, he published a spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission . He has written for a variety of magazines and journals, including Leadership, Presbyterians Today, and Upper Room.
Tony was a keynote speaker at the first "Shattering Stigma with Stories" conference in Lake Oswego (OR), and the co-founder (along with Eric Riddle) of the "Faithful Friends" mental health support group. He is inspired by Americana music; John Prine is his muse.