Blankets, Tea & Crazy People
by Sandra Heidi Anne
Reviewed by Brian K. Kravec
We can learn only so much about war from a text book, back lot paintball or a computer simulation game. In the air, on the ground or on the water, the battlefield produces the most skilled soldiers. Strong opponents in the ring produce the best boxers. The best police officers are formed by the communities they police. Emergency room physicians are sharpened by the most tragic events. Chosen or not – like it or not – adversity teaches and adversity strengthens. With God’s grace, our adversities can enable us to strengthen, encourage and bless others journeying along the same way – even if the way is as mysterious as mental illness.
There is no easy way to navigate the tumultuous seas of mental illness. The sun rarely shines and the night sky is often starless. The nearest safe harbor is never near enough and wind-shredded sails are useless as your tiny vessel is slammed and tossed by wave after wave of endless perfect storms.
For years, Sandra Heidi Anne, devoted mother and loving, cherished wife of Christian recording artist, Michael O’Brien, suffered under the crippling weight of anxiety, panic, depression and bi-polar disorder. She recorded her journey of struggle and grace in a personal journal now published as Blankets, Tea and Crazy People – The Unveiling of a Bipolar Devotional Life.
This is not a how-to, self help manual. Sandra does not propose answers or presume to offer advice. Keep in mind, this work began as a journal – a private, literary place to stretch out and be exposed at no risk of being rejected. Journals are vulnerable, raw, unfiltered, unapologetic and politically incorrect. For instance, in Tubby Troubles, during one day of a nearly six year climb out of the pit of depression, when Sandra was feeling admittedly shallow, vain and spiritually adolescent, she throws all falsehood to the wind and proclaims (brace yourself for the f-bomb) “I am thankful I am not fat!”
Understandably, those who suffer the afflictions of mental illness often feel like social outcasts. They believe that they defile everything and everyone around them like the lepers in Leviticus shouting unclean, unclean! As indelicate as Sandra’s proclamation may be to other persons, Tubby Troubles is indicative of a critical passage in a process of self-examination and revelation. Sandra shines a light on society’s tendencies to quietly sit in judgment. She becomes acutely aware of how ostracizing our self righteous ridicule and criticism can be. Sandra cites Psalm 139 and praises God for her being fearfully and wonderfully made. She is grateful on this particular day that fighting to maintain a healthy weight is not one of the many crosses she carries.
“Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.” Michael O’Brien – Be Still My Soul
Blankets, Tea and Crazy People is Sandra’s proclamation of the glory of the Lord. It is the courageous unveiling of her way of the cross. This is her thorny way. It is the good and the bad. It is the right and the not-so-right. It is a way by way of tender doubt and steadfast faith, through darkness to light, from self-loathing to self-forgiveness and acceptance, and from sickness to wellness. It is a beacon of hope and healing for those who are ill of mind and for those who love and suffer with them. Hang On! You are not alone!
Copyright 2011 Brian Kravec