Monthly Archives: October 2014

“A Christian Bipolar”: Say what?

I’ve been looking at the new title of my blog that refers to me as “A Christian Bipolar,” and I’m just not crazy about it. It fits, but I don’t like it. It sounds awkward, stilted. It fits .. but I don’t like it.

Well, let’s address the Christian part. I grew up Catholic, but when I was 13 and my parents divorced, we quit the church. I still tried a few times as an adult to go back, but it never really fit. (There’s that word again. Now I’m going to start talking about clothes, haha… but that’s a whole nother story).

Then in 2000 I met a lady who was a fellow employee at a nursing home. Pat was a CMT (Certified Med Tech) and I never understood how she could get all those meds into all those people and still be happy. But she was. One day, I asked her why, and she told me about the Lord Jesus Christ, and about this church where she went.

I didn’t go right away. But one day I was working at another facility (I was an agency nurse), and a lady and her 8 year old son came in to play music and sing to the patients. As I passed medications, they went room to room singing hymns. I kept trying to catch up with them; I really hungered to hear what they were singing. And by the time my shift was ended, I really really needed what they had, what Pat had, and what I didn’t. Now I don’t understand why I had this need. It had been building for a while, I guess, but this particular morning it felt really urgent.

The day that this mother and son came to the nursing home, it just happened to be a Sunday, and I just happened to have to drive by the church Pat had told me about. I’ve heard that referred to as a “God-Incidence” (as opposed to “coincidence”). Anyway, I got to the church between their early and late morning services.

It was like a party! There was rock-ish Christian music playing, and people were milling about drinking coffee and eating pastries. I felt at home right away, and began to go from person to person, asking after Pat. “Do you know Pat ___?” “Have you seen Pat ___?”

No one seemed to know her, but I knew in my heart that God had brought me to this place – literally, to this church, as well as spiritually. It was the perfect time.

The late morning service started, and people tucked their cups of coffee under their chairs and stood, facing the front. The music changed to a slower tempo. Some closed their eyes, and their bodies began to sway. I thought, hmm, this is different. The words to the song appeared on a screen in front, and people started singing. The words reached into my heart and ministered to my soul. It is hard to explain, but again, it was just what I needed, at the time that I needed it.

After a couple of songs, the pastor went up onto the stage and began to preach a message. An outline to the sermon appeared on the screen, along with different verses from the Bible.

I can’t say I remember what the sermon was that day, but I did start going to the church on a regular basis. I began to hear things like “Born Again,” and “Being Saved,” things about Jesus, and why He came, but I didn’t begin to understand until around Easter, when the pastor really addressed it. The scriptures spoke to my heart and convinced me that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. There is more here about that and it would be worth your while to read it. This was really the beginning of my Christian walk, and quite different from my Catholic background in a lot of ways. I’m not saying that if you’re Catholic you are on the wrong path, but I will say there are things I learned growing up that are not in the Bible. Say no more, say no more.

Since then, my chief aim in life has been to walk closer with the Lord and to be more like Him every day. I just have this extra “spice” of being bipolar that makes that really difficult sometimes.

Sounds like a very ordinary story, and really it is. I do know God brought me to that place and has accompanied me ever since – though there are places I truly wish He’d walked me around, instead of through. It’s worth it, though. I know where I am going when I die. The Bible says that “… the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.” (1 Samuel 12:22). Elsewhere, the Bible says, “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: (Jeremiah 32:38) That gives me so much peace! To know I am His; to know He is mine.

Do read the page I referenced above, about salvation. You may not be ready now, but there may come a day when something happens that reminds you of “that place,” and you too need to go there, with some urgency in your heart. It is nice to know where to go, when you need to go Home, and never be alone again.

Like I said, it was not to my parents’ God I fled. It was to my own. I’ve never regretted it.

Depression is a funny thing.

Haha, very funny.

My brother’s yearbook photo has his favorite expression: “Funny haha? or Funny peculiar?”

I’d say depression is funny peculiar.

First off, there are a lot of “shoulds” in the world about depression.

You “should” be grateful, you “shouldn’t” be sad, you have every reason in the world to be happy, just pull yourself up by the bootstraps, yada yada to the nth degree.

Obviously the people who say such things have never HAD depression.

Maybe they have BEEN depressed, but that is not the same thing.

Well, here is an example. I am wandering the internet trying to research this new novel I’m going to be working on, and somehow I land on a blog written by parents who lost their baby daughter at 4 months of age.

Now THAT is something to be depressed about, right?

And, I have no right to be depressed; I’ve never gone through anything like THAT!

So buck up, kiddo. SMILE.

Ugh, that was Dad’s pet peeve, he was always after me to SMILE.

Well, I don’t believe in being dishonest. I remember talking to a friend at church about it. If I am not happy, I’m not going to be standing around smiling like a blooming idiot.

For one thing, people who do that depress the heck out of me lol…

But seriously, when I’m at church, for example, depressed, looking around me, I think I’m the only one who is struggling here, “everyone” else is happy therefore there is something wrong with me.

But if people would tell the truth about how they were feeling, wouldn’t we be better able to help each other? I don’t understand… 😦

Mind you, I’m not depressed today. I am happily alone in my apartment (yay!) raided the candy machine downstairs, took a nap, working on my book, all is right in the world.

But on some days I could have identical conditions and feel entirely different. The best definition I found online: Depression is “a psychiatric disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, anhedonia, feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness, and thoughts of death. Also called clinical depression.” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/depression).

For me, it isn’t even a feeling of sadness. It is a feeling of nothingness: no joy, no energy, nothing. The word “anhedonia” above means “the absence of pleasure, or the inability to experience it,” and that pretty much sums it up.

“But what about the God thing?”

Yes, as a Christian, I am often told, I should be one of the happiest people on earth. I have salvation, I have Christ living in me, I have the Holy Spirit as my guide .. oh dear… another “should.”

And hearing that I “should” be one of the happiest people on earth makes me feel very sad. No, beyond sad. Ashamed.

And that is probably the more pervasive of anything I feel when I’m depressed. 😦

Elsewhere in the blog, I will talk about ways that scripture can help with depression, and specific actions you can take that will help.

But for now, I just want to say that if you want to “should” on me, that’s probably the best way to assure that I will 1. stay depressed, 2. feel ashamed, and 3. avoid your counsel altogether.

Just so’s you know.

NANO NANO – no, not a Robin Williams reference…

November First begins what’s called “National Novel Writing Month.” I think it is 3 times that I have “won” – which means that I have challenged myself to write 50,000 words in 30 days, and made it! There are other years that I have made an attempt but for some reason – distraction, depression, distraction … yes I said it twice – have not been successful.

If you want more information go to http://www.nanowrimo.org.

This is really good for those of us whose internal editor is grossly overpaid. I think I am going to participate this year but I haven’t come up w/ a potential plot. I really haven’t tried yet. I think it would be fun to use my 27 year old as the main character. Who know? I might work out some conflicts that we have not discussed yet lol…

It’s interesting that I say I am so “into” writing but I still have difficulty writing this blog. Maybe if I write it as a “fictional” (wink wink nudge nudge) account I will be more active.

I appreciate everyone who has been following, making comments, and “liking” my blog so far!

On Praises and Storms

I know, it’s cheating when I “just” reblog, but this is so good (thanks Leah!)

Isaiah 43:1

flowers-in-the-rain-randy-heath

We’ve all seen our fair share of storms. Sometimes, these seasons seem to last forever and sometimes they are brief whirlwinds. But pretty much all of us at some point ask the question ‘Why?’

I’m in the midst of my own storm and I’m very familiar with that question. It’s one that’s haunted my path and taunted me with doubts. The search for an answer has not only consumed my thoughts, it’s swallowed my praise.  

My search led me to the book of Job this morning and it was there that I had an epiphany.

Job never read the book of Job.

Ok, I know. Duh. But seriously, from Job chapter 1, verse 6 we are privy to God’s reasons. We know that God was pleased with Job and when the devil asked permission to tempt Job, God granted it.

We see clearly throughout the book…

View original post 447 more words

Sorry.

I keep editing my blogs shortly after I publish them, so the version you get in email may not be the same version I have in my blog. I don’t mean to keep picking at them but it happens. Act accordingly. Have a supah day!

Finding Support

I stole this and am adapting this from comments I wrote on another blog. This person’s blog seems to prompt thoughts that I can express and then process … I know it is supposed to be the opposite but I am strange …

One way to get through, day after day, is to have support in recovering from mental illness – or even just hovering around stability. God gifted me with a BFF when my son was 3 and he’s 27 now. She is always there, always understanding and accepting. Such a blessing! But, on my part, I had to learn to trust her, and to tell her everything that was going on with me. Almost everything. 😉

I also am in a church that is as close to the Bible as any I’ve found, and has good teaching I can use. The pastor has required a lot of teaching about mental illness and I have done what I can lol. When he preaches however there are a few things he says that make my jaw drop – I know he has to speak to the crowd as a whole but REALLY?? People with MI might get the impression that there’s no help “there.” But, 95% of the time, the preaching and God’s word help me to stay on course and pointed to the Lord.

And when I do meet with the preacher (and my mentor, because he won’t counsel women alone, which is wise), there is a lot of support 1:1, and He points to particular scriptures that help me. He has a lot of compassion and understanding.

There are a few (very few) people within the church that I can talk to. I have stood and testified to the church as a whole a few times that I have a history of mental illness (no specifics) and how much God has helped me. I figure that tells people that God is good, and it also says “you can talk to me.”

Support groups have been minimally helpful to me (other than my 20 years in AA which was invaluable to my keeping sober). Support groups for mental illness however not so much. I’d already had much education and guidance in hospitals and out patient programs so I didn’t feel that the a-b-c’s the support groups offered were of help to me. Finding friends there also not so much, it is hard to find people who are functioning well enough to be of support. I know, support groups are also there for me to help THEM, but I don’t have that extra energy/time/stability to offer it.

I almost forgot! Medications and a good psychiatrist to help you tweak them. Compliance once you find that concoction that works. My old shrink used to call me “Dr. Bailey,” and for good reason. He was a tool that worked in treating my illness.

So to summarize it is really really hard to find support, even though hospitals/outpatient seem to think that is the primary thing that will help us to function. We’re kind of alone, y’all. I’ve found the primary help is ME – knowing what I need, knowing what helps and doesn’t help, trying to have good boundaries. But I can’t do that without God. He’s in it all. He allowed me the illness – He allows the experiences I have – He gives me the people (helpful OR not) – He gives me His Word. He gave me my brain (I mean the intelligence as well as the warped-ness). He has given me grace and faith – the ability to trust and believe. Sometimes I can’t pull up that trusting and believing –  but (I believe) He’s there anyway. Clear as mud?

Praying that you will find at least that ONE person, or a total of persons, to whom you can divulge everything. Writing is a great tool. Talking to yourself, when you need an intelligent ear (lol).

Thanks to Blahpolar (a fellow blogger) for always prompting me to think and share.