We interviewed Emma who run’s this award-winning site.
Can you give us a bit of background into the project? When was it established, what’s its purpose?
I started the Believer’s Brain blog in March 2012 so that I could share my thoughts on being a Christian with a mental illness. I write specifically about matters of faith and mental health, often drawing from my personal experience.
What’s the good news story (aka feedback received) that’s made you feel that it’s all worthwhile?
People don’t, for some reason, leave me many comments on the site! But I have appreciated other bloggers following me, both on the blog and on twitter, particularly some of the other mental health bloggers I admire.
We’d love to know a bit about the people behind the site, how has your journey put you where you are now?
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003, while at university. It was a really tough time, and it was when I was in a suicidally deep depression that I discovered a faith in Christ that I didn’t realise I had. That helped lighten the darkness, although it was some time before I recovered. Since then I have had recurrent bouts of illness, mostly of the depressive sort, which have disrupted my life and landed me in hospital. It was while I was in hospital I met a group of local Christians who had a specific ministry to the mentally ill, and whose church I attended for several years. It was they who made me think that I would really like to work in a similar way with people who also suffer mental ill-health. I thought about various issues to do with illness, healing, mental illness stigma and faith for quite some time, and decided to start the blog when I felt I was ready to talk about my thoughts.
Do you think it’s important for Christians to be online, and why so?
Yes. The internet is so important to people today – I can hardly imagine how I managed without it now! Everyone seems to be online, and every view represented. It presents a great way for people to learn about Christianity without having to go into a church, or meet another person. For a shy person like me it is great to get to understand about faith and the various issues Christians write about, without the risk of someone preaching to me! It is a great place for us to reach out to non-Christians in a very non-threatening way, to answer their questions and to share Christ with them in a creative way that they perhaps wouldn’t find in the offline world.
What digital media tools do you use to tell your (project) story?
I use WordPress to write my blog entries, and I have a Twitter profile and a Facebook page. I haven’t progressed into video blogging yet, but that is mostly because at the moment, I am staying anonymous.
How did you feel to be nominated for one of the Christian New Media Awards?
Absolutely delighted. Everyone likes to win things! Unfortunately I was not able to attend the awards, as I live far away from London, but it was lovely to be nominated. I’m aware that I write in a small niche, and that I probably get most of my visitors because it is a specialist subject – the awards to me mean that people from the wider world, not just those interested in mental health, liked my blog too.
We’re working on the @bigbible project: How do you think the (stories in the) Bible can inform what we do online, in whatever sense?
I use stories from the Bible all the time when I am writing, to draw upon to illustrate what I believe the Bible teaches that is particularly appropriate to people with mental health conditions. In a wider sense, although the Bible doesn’t specifically talk about the internet, it is a guide to behaviour that can help us in any situation. Plus, of course, we can tell the stories in the Bible in new ways, to show people who are increasingly Biblically illiterate what riches the Bible really does contain.
And finally, where do you see things going over the next few years – either for your project, or attempt some digital futurecasting!
I would like to continue blogging about mental health and faith, and I hope to expand my reach and write for other sites, or in the print media. I would like to produce more guides for Christians to different mental conditions, along the lines of a guide I wrote to self injury recently, and I also hope to cover some gritty issues such as the difficulties a child who has been abused may have calling God “Father”, but for those I will need to find some Christian writers who have had that experience.