bipolar disorder

HAIKAST II – Magical Words

Do you ever feel like you are in the need of some elusive, magical words to resolve a situation?

I know I do.

That feeling often comes when I am convinced that there are no words designed to communicate my heartfelt intention.

I don’t mean to make that sound like a bad thing.

Biblically speaking, this feeling is summed up by the classic Romans 8:26 verse: “…. the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Words are tools of communication. There are times when words, like a prayer of great conviction, have broken through doubt, depression, or confusion to steady me. But there are times when words are not enough… When words are not the right tools for the job.

I’ve spent most of my life thinking that words should be able to solve any problem. That there are magical words that strike the anvil of reconciliation and wield a power to make everything better. I’ve found this to not be true.

In a similar vein, in my personal thought life, I get caught in cycles of wondering what words I can tell myself that will alleviate mental anguish.

When I have persistent negative feelings, my thoughts are a nebulous mass of words. It is a duel of irrationally created words wrapped in strong emotions being countered by my forced, internal, rational responses.

I have learned that words spoken or thought can not make feelings go away.

For loved ones with years of familiarity with me and genuine care for my mental well being, the same hopes for word solutions may be equally dashed. That is ok.

My wife and I have talked about the magical words. Beyond dealing with mental health alleviation, we also want magical words to gain relief from grieving death, finding forgiveness with friends, resolving cultural conflicts that never seem to cease. The desire for such magic goes on and on.

We all have situations in our lives that we want to go away AND we want them to go away by our commitment to finding the solution. It’s not that we want to evade, forget, or defer responsibility, we want to do the work and use the words and make the plan and have it all fixed.

I want magical words that conquer bipolar illness. To read the top 10 tips and execute them expertly. To hear the prayer, believe the hope, and feel the healing. To remember my therapist’s words the last time I turned the corner and do it once again, to stand firm in the encouragement of my friends. That has all helped in the past. But maybe the magic is not working today.

There are days when words are not what I need. Acknowledging that can actually be the beginning of the relief.

It is a funny sort of liberation to give up on words. The groaning of the Spirit may simply be a matter of breathing through the anxiety, feeling the crisp winter air at the edge of my nostrils. Deep breathing. Completely emptying my lungs. Groaning.

Or watching my cats nestled together on the couch, giving me the slow blink before nodding back off. They have no words for me, but they are communicating something worth considering. It is ok to rest. It is ok to just find the warmth of another for some time. Cats don’t need magic.

Deferring to that spiritual state of groaning doesn’t need to be a last resort. I would do well to think of it as a solid first option anytime I begin wrestling with words.

My wife is much better than me at knowing when to give up on attempting the magic tricks. I thank her for those times when we are beyond wordcraft.

Toe touch, shoulder nook
Her body language pep talk
Warmth without the words

Episode 49 – Dr. Bruce and Sally Riddle in Studio E

Eric’s parents, Dr. Bruce and Sally Riddle, join us in Studio E in this penultimate episode of Eric hosting the podcast. Bruce shares his story living with bipolar disorder, discussing the struggle getting through his med school internship and residency. Sally talks through the decision not to share the diagnosis with friends and work contacts for over 40 years. After Bruce’s hospitalization in 2020, they made the decision to share the diagnosis publicly. In this episode, they talk through the experience of 5 decades of marriage and the benefits of finally being able to share with friends and their church.

Some questions explored on this episode:

When did Bruce first start experiencing bipolar symptoms?

How did he navigate the journey to becoming a doctor while struggling through depressive and manic episodes?

How have their relationships with friends changed since deciding to share his diagnosis?

How did their experience prepare them for supporting Eric when he first experienced depression in high school?

What does healing mean to them?

Episode 17- Bob Mills, President of

Want to join a consortium of 12,000 mental health advocates?  Listen to Bob Mills, Founder of Minds Renewed, discuss the mission of his ambitious organization.  The goal of the organization is to become the most valuable web platform for evaluating, curating, and communicating the best mental health information on the web.

The origins began in 2001 in a mental health ministry that Bob started at 1st Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Bob’s desire to honor God through serving the suffering grew out of his own experience with bouts of depression and bipolar disorder.

Some topics include:

What is the leadership structure of his mental health group ministry?

What has led to the growth of Minds Renewed?

What are some good models that he has identified through his networking?

What does healing mean to you?


Mental Health Grace Alliance – ministry that provides mental health resources for families and individuals suffering with mental health struggles

Fresh Hope for Mental Health – Pastor Brad Hoefs is a podcast host and developer of a mental health group ministry model

The Stability Network – Mental health advocacy organization that helps employers, communities, and the public recognize that people with mental health conditions are their friends, neighbors and colleagues who canand dolead successful lives.

Chris Cole – What Healing Means

Healing means to me that I am in congruence with myself and my world, that I am able to maintain relationships in love and devotion, and that I am continually aware of and attempting to return to a state of holistic harmony. Healing, or true recovery, is not necessarily the absence of symptoms but rather an awareness of symptoms and a humble responsiveness to such maladaptive responses to pain, knowing that I want to be healthy for myself and the people I love. Healing requires some connection to a deep meaning and purpose, which I hold as a spiritual vision of love beyond my own small life and circumstances. By healing, I am moving toward the ability to love myself and my world with a growing expansiveness. Healing is a surrender to the dynamics of life and the intimate understanding of continued trials and tribulations on the infinite and mysterious unfold of my own humanity and that of those graciously placed in my life.
I have a strong desire to contribute positively to the world, to love all people, and that has to be an overflow of the love I have for myself. I hold my healing in the highest regard, because I am unable to give without being resourced enough to give. It is like the modern metaphor of oxygen masks on an airplane: I have to put my oxygen mask on before helping another with their oxygen mask, or else I run the risk of being incapacitated and incapable of living in alignment with my values. Such an inability to show love to myself is a sort of spiritual death in itself.
Perhaps most pertinent to the intersection of social justice, neurodiversity, and mental health is the healing required to hold the goodness of humanity in all people located in societal systems of stigmatization, prejudice, and oppression. I believe that people are doing the best they can with the tools they have. Any inability to see their goodness is a reflection of my refusal to see my own shortcomings and capacity to heal. People are fundamentally good, sane, and whole. I believe that wholeheartedly and have come to know this truth intimately within myself. Providing tools—whether in language, models of thinking, or more skillful treatment reform—must be an expression of the ways in which we all long to love and also need better vehicles to more fully express and articulate that love for us all.

Episode 7 – Eric Riddle Revealed

On this episode, Tony interviews co-host, Eric Riddle.  In this interview, Eric and Tony discuss unconditional love, haiku, “bipolar order”, wearing a banana suit, Faithful Friends ministry, and many other topics.

Some of the questions include:

What is peer recovery?

How did you disclose your diagnosis to your children?

What does it mean to have a mood disorder?

Why did you wear a banana suit?

What does healing mean to you?

As always, you can find much more at

Eric is currently participating in #the100dayproject on Instagram. During the project, he is writing daily haikus that can be found at #hundredhaiku

Author of Watershed: Service in the Wake of Disaster, a book about the 2008 flood in his hometown of Columbus, IN.

Member of The Stability Network:

LinkedIn Profile link


Bipolar Too

At age 17, I was given a clinical depression diagnosis. At age 22, it changed to hypomania.  At age 27, it changed to Bipolar II.  Over the course of the last 20 years, I have been hospitalized 4 times. The first time for mania and the last three for depression. For 13 years, I was in talk therapy 1x/month.  My most recent hospitalization was Spring 2013. I currently take one medicine for sleeping and one for mood stabilization.  Those are the facts of my psychiatric care.

Tony did flippantly call me “bipolar lite” on a recent show. The facts above indicate that the level of treatment I have received is substantial.  His statement was meant as a comparison to the reality of his tumultuous cycles to my relatively less turbulent experience since meeting him in 2014. He has never seen me in a period leading to an inpatient stay.

I am thankful that a listener sent us a comment about Tony’s use of the word “lite”.  The listener pointed out that “its not accurate or helpful to think of Bipolar II as begin a less severe bipolar sub-type.”  This is correct.

Tony and I need to be held accountable to our language. Receiving feedback is precisely what we encourage from our listeners as we reveal our voices and our guests on the podcast.

I am currently in the best period of health since being diagnosed with Bipolar II in 2007.  I thank God, my family, my church, my friends, and my community for the support, encouragement, and love they provide on a daily basis.  My relationship with Tony is a part of that stabilization.  He knows that my diagnosis can lead to serious symptoms, but he also knows that sharing the burden together can lighten the load.

We will be releasing an episode on May 24 with Tony interviewing me about my mental health history and ministry.  Knowing my darkness has helped me know the light.  I hope to share this with you through Revealing Voices.

Episode 4 – Katie Dale is Bipolar Brave

Here on episode 4, we welcome Katie R. Dale. Katie shares her unique blend of passion for recovery and humor over episodes in her past. She reveals joys and frustrations, and still comes to affirm the value of both faith and mental healthcare.
Katie addresses such questions as:
Who were your early faith inspirations?
What experiences do you have in psychiatric hospitals?
What is your view of pregnancy and mental health?
Why did you entitle your blog Bipolar Brave?
Katie currently serves as a caseworker at a behavioral non-profit to assist and facilitate change and growth in those with mental illness. As a former behavioral inpatient and proud bipolar, she has a unique first-hand perspective on the mental healthcare system and the symptoms of mental illness.

Katie has written a memoir and maintains a website on her disorder and faith at Bipolar Brave . Her speaking engagements include guest appearances on: Psych CentralFresh Hope For Mental Health; and, Counterpoint! With Gary Jenkins.

Katie’s writing and story has been featured in such places as: BP MagazineThe Mighty; and, Delight in Disorder.

You can also read Katie’s Allegorical poem, “The Plight of Lady Manic” in our blog.