Denver Seminary

Engage Magazine - Fall 2013

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TAKE IT FROM HERE SINE WAVES ILLUSTRATE MEASURED PATTERNS OF MOTION THAT OCCUR IN NATURE—FOR EXAMPLE, WAVES OF WATER, SOUND, OR LIGHT. AMPLITUDE INDICATES THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE WAVES' HIGH AND LOW POINTS. WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER, THE AMPLITUDE OF BRAIN CHEMISTRY IS EXTREME, AS BRANDON APPELHANS AND STEPHEN ALBI KNOW FROM THEIR STRUGGLES WITH THE MENTAL ILLNESS. BUT THEY KNOW, TOO, THE VOICE OF THE SAVIOR WHO SPEAKS PEACE TO THE WAVES. If we keep our stories to ourselves, they die there," says Brandon. "Other people think they are going through things that nobody else has been through. People aren't willing to share their successes because nobody wants to admit that they've had a struggle in the first place—like a porn addiction or a mental illness." He has faced both. "With bipolar disorder, it's a matter of amplitude," he says of the extreme high and low emotional waves that come with this mental illness. Brandon was diagnosed at 14 and went through a two-year phase of suicidal depression before finding a livable degree of stability through medication and psychological treatment. Through the pain, he found two ways to cope. Through his friendship with Will, Brandon became a Christian during his sophomore year in college. "I'd been in the dark for so long, and coming to Christ was like a light. I came to Him because I'd been through hell and back." A FRIEND WHO UNDERSTANDS When Brandon met Stephen on their first day of class at Denver Seminary in January 2009, he found a friend on common ground. Stephen has bipolar, too, and understands what it means to live with a disorder in which "wrath and joy are constantly intertwined and constantly switching." He struggled with symptoms of mental illness beginning in middle school. He was given several different diagnoses and prescribed various medications. Finally, as a young adult, he was identified as having bipolar disorder. "I said to myself, 'Life sucks, so what can I do to make life not suck for a while?' I'm a drummer, so one of the avenues was drumming, and the other was porn." A REDEMPTIVE WAY When his best friend Will's parents went through a messy divorce, Brandon observed a new way of coping—a redemptive way. "My friend Will had an advocate, Christ, who helped him get through it. We were friends in high school, and then went to college together, and what I saw in him was real faith." As a believer, Stephen sees God's hand of protection and direction in his life. Shannon Stent/ "God spared me from self-medicating with alcohol or other drugs. ENGAGE  17

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