Originally created 09/08/01

Speaker hopes her story will help others



The first time Renee Coates Scheidt heard the term manic-depressive she was sitting in a counseling class at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and knew instantly who the teacher was profiling - her minister-husband, Chuck.

But her husband just laughed it off when she told him. "We were clueless," she said.

He admitted himself to a hospital when he finished his doctorate at the seminary. "He had learned to hide (his illness) and to project the image he and everyone else thought he should have. But inside he was really struggling," she said.

In 1987, he killed himself. She thinks he lasted as long as he did "only because of his faith." She will be the guest speaker at a women's dinner at Abilene Baptist Church, 3917 Washington Road in Martinez, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Doors open at 6:15.

The cost is $10. A nursery for children 5 and younger is available. For dinner or nursery reservations, call 738-0671 by noon Monday.

Ms. Scheidt, who was suddenly faced with raising an infant and a toddler alone, now lives in China Grove, N.C., with daughters Nicole, 16, and Tara, 14, and her second husband, Mel Melton.

She speaks at conferences and retreats across the country between 50 and 60 times a year, waiting until she walks into a room to sense what she believes God wants her to say, she said. "I have so much that I can pull out, that I wait."

Ms. Scheidt, 46, a trained vocalist with a master's degree in church music, interlaces her presentations with song. Singing was all she ever wanted to do, but God had other ideas, she said.

Music is now the framework for her speaking, said Ms. Scheidt, host of a weekly half-hour TV talk show, Hearts of Hope, broadcast in the Charlotte, N.C., market and over 28 cable stations.

Christians have really dropped the ball in the area of true mental illness, telling others to have more faith and get sin out of their lives, she said. "We Christians will bring you a casserole if we are really spiritual."

Her first husband experienced an episode of depression four months after their wedding, but they did not realize the problem was physiological. They sought counseling, but professionals pegged his mood to a poor self-image, bottled up emotions or some other cause, she said. "They always had the wrong answers."

Only recently have people begun to see that brains can be "sick" or "broken" like other parts of the body, she said. "And when they (are), it is exhibited in the nervous and emotional systems of the body."

The mood swings common in manic-depressive illness are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, one that is treatable with medication. "It didn't have to be this way," she said.

For more information, call 738-0671.

Words of inspiration

Who: Renee Coates Scheidt

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, doors open 6:15

Where: Abiline Baptist Church, 3917 Washington Road, Martinez

Admission: Dinner is $10. A nursery for children age 5 and younger is available. For dinner reservations or nursery care, call 738-0671 by noon Monday.

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or vanorton@augustachronicle.com.