Category Archives: Baptist

The Pahty’s ovahh…

Well I am safely back home from the Jubilee! I drove myself up and back, 690 miles round trip, which is a really big deal for me. But I just felt like God really wanted me to go (and at the very least, I wanted to go).

It strikes me at these things that very soon someday we will be having a “pahty” much like the Jubilee. Holy music, holy people, holy scripture, and, most of all, our Holy King, King Jesus! It will be the norm to feel at home, rather than feeling like we’re the exception to every rule, the odd ball out. And the shouting from the pulpit will be “HALLELUJAH!” not admonition.

Because sometimes at these meetings things get loud. We are reminded where we’re falling short. There’s a little pounding on the dais for emphasis (okay, sometimes a LOT!)

Will there even BE a podium in Heaven?

I personally can’t wait for every day to be a meeting, a gathering of like-minded souls, smiles all around, instant friendship and understanding!

Yep, that’s what I like about these meetings! I was sad to leave. But now that I’m home I get to go to another meeting – a prayer meeting at my own home church — a gathering of like-minded souls, smiles all around, instant friendship and understanding!

Now to choose between a nap and a shower ….  no time for both!

Artificial Christian  — The Hope Filled Addict

I’m cheating tonight, mostly because of a busy (but fulfilling) day, cold weather, a large supper, fun with a friend, the emotional release of undecorating the tree and forcing it out the door, and polishing off with some “really good meds” (sknxxx) – yeah, I can’t really come up with anything cohesive. I thought this would be a good read for those who, like me, want to be a true Christian and not an actress. The author belongs to a Bible-based support group called Reformers Unanimous, to which I also belong. It’s good. I’ll explain more later (unless I already did, in which case I will reblog myself, lol!)

 

Please Lord don’t let this be me. Keep me from judging people, remind me that is your job. Don’t let me be a prayer girl in public but not get on my knees in my home. If I’m ever able to do good for your name, please let that be only for you to shine, […]

via Artificial Christian  — The Hope Filled Addict

In all thy ways …

January 3. I was reading Proverbs 3 today (I aim to read the Proverb that corresponds to the day each day. For example, today being the 3rd, I read Proverbs 3).

I had only read the first two verses and became instantly discouraged:

“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”

It wasn’t the “forget not my law” that tripped me up. It was the length of days and long life that I objected to. I am all for the peace part of it, but not so much the other. I started to pray:

Lord, the days are long enough. Why would I want to add to them? And long life? I just want to come Home to you. [As someone with a long history of depression and suicidality, living longer just does not appeal to me]. I’m tired, I’m always messing up, and I just don’t feel like I am getting – or giving – much out of life. So this year, help me to want to prolong the days and live a long life, so that I will have more time to serve You. I know you have work for me to do, give me the courage to do it. Show me what to do, give me the oomph to do it!

I kept reading. There is so much richness in this chapter, I thought to myself. Verse 5 was very familiar to me:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

I nodded. Yep, I get that. I’d mess up a lot less if I gave that verse a little more heed.

Then verse 6 popped up, and it was one of those “aha” moments, as in, “Aha, I’ve never seen that verse before.”

But you know I have. I just never noticed it before. This is one way that God speaks to me. He brings the text alive as I am reading, and I may have seen it a hundred times, but the hundred and first time, God nudges me to pay attention: “Hey, Kat. This here is for you. Sit with this for a while.” It said:

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

In all my ways? Do I do that? And what does that mean, “acknowledge”?

Websters 1828 Dictionary says it is “To own or notice with particular regard.” So do I do that in all of my ways? Do I own or notice God with particular regard in my:

  • Family relationships
  • Work
  • Leisure
  • Driving
  • Church activities
  • Friendships
  • Service
  • Handling of money
  • Care of myself physically
  • Care of myself emotionally
  • Care of myself spiritually

In what ways could I improve?

To me, to acknowledge God means that I don’t just forge ahead with my life. I must “bring God along” in all my ways (paths). And I must also acknowledge that He is the author and the giver of it all. Kinda like at Christmas when you would rip into a present, and Mom would make me stop and acknowledge the giver. I didn’t even realize there was a giver, half the time. I was just so eager to get, get, get!

The verse says that if I do acknowledge God in all my ways, He will direct my paths. It is like what we were learning tonight in the lesson at church about David. He would ask God: Should I go here? or maybe here? Should I do battle with this people, or should I not? We also see plenty of examples in David’s life where he would fail to ask direction, fail to acknowledge God, and fail in his life. It was that simple for him.

Shouldn’t it be that simple for me?

I’m falling for you, Baby …

Ok, perhaps that’s a weak title, but I’m hoping it’s win-some enough to win-some readers. Besides, my original title was a mis-heard song lyric, and no one would have gotten it anyway. In my estimation, lame is better than “just plain wrong!”

But I digress (as always).

Much to my dismay, someone on Facebook posted a photo of the first Fall leaf they’d seen in New England this year, and it’s (checks watch) August 6th! Really??

“Heaven help us!” I thought. “Will Winter be soon upon us?”

And then I remembered. I don’t have to worry about Winter anymore. I live in the great State of Florida, where oranges grow and tourists flourish!

Back in Maine, the prospect of Winter had grown more and more dreadful to me each year. Emphasis on the dread. The previous two years had really outdone themselves, with record snowfalls and frigid temperatures.  So in the Summer of ’15 I said “Nevermore!” and got on a fast track of getting rid of my things, literally giving away most of what I had, and keeping just enough to fit into my Ford Focus. I just could not take another snowstorm, another head-itching hat, another “you’ll be towed if you don’t move your cah!”

And I had known for a while that God was moving me on. It wasn’t just the weather. It was my heart. So I started making plans for my escape. I was Florida bound! And here I am! I arrived in Jacksonville in October of last year, and have not had one regret.

Okay, maybe some. I miss my friends and family, my church, the Spring and Summer in Maine. Susan’s Fish and Chips. Amato’s Italian Sandwiches…

Doesn’t it always come down to food, lol.

Besides, Winter here in Florida is COLD! But it’s worth it, it’s worth it! Not bikini weather, but that’s okay; you won’t see me in a bikini this side of glory anyway! Ok, ever!

Then again, I’m not living in the Southern part of Florida. Some even tell me that Jacksonville isn’t Florida. It’s fine, I believe I’m where God wants me to be. I’ve found a good church, some writing buddies, and some good friends. God is good.

But having seen the picture of that red spotted leaf, I have mixed feelings. I have taken so many pictures of Fall colors; I adore the smell of those leaves, the proverbial crunch underfoot, and the first few nips of cold on my nose. I went through the same pangs of regret when I heard about the flowers up there this Spring, the many hikes and activities, and the Summertime blue of the ocean. Yes, there are beautiful beaches here, but they’re not like the rocky crags of Maine, her pebbled shores, and the ice ice cold of her waters. Here, there aren’t many white sails, lazy fishing boats, and lush green islands rising up against the horizon. It’s pretty, but it’s different.

So if I sound a little sappy, indulge me, if you will; it’s rare. Most of the time I’m really happy with being in Florida. I finally get my Florida Orange license plate! I get to be that irritating tourist behind the wheel! Finally I am where I’ve wanted to be for so many years, and God has been so good to me! I enjoy the adventure of “I’ve never been there! Let’s go!” And of finally giving in to God’s will.

But I don’t plan on getting over the things I’ve left behind. I miss my BFF beyond measure, and other friends. My church “Up North” cannot be duplicated; I wouldn’t even try.

And those Italian sandwiches…

xo

 

♪♫I’m goin’ to Jackson(ville)♪♫

That’s right. Leg One of my journey. Actually, leg two, but who’s counting.

Leg One was exploring via the internet:
I. Apartment rental sites,

A. Apartment Subsidy Sites

B. Regular apartment sites.

C. Roommate sites.

D. Can’t make the durn format format.

II. Churches.

A. Friend ‘A”s church

B. Friend “B’s” church.

C. Other churches.

III.Geography of Jacksonville sites

A. Blogs

B. Wiki

C. Educational sites

D. TMI sites.

E. Medical care

F. That does not go under “Geography,” start over!

G. No.

IV. History of Jacksonville sites.

A. I never did like history.

V. “Meet ups” sites

A. Writers.

VI. “Warnings for those moving to Jacksonville” sites.

A. Sinkholes

B. Weather

C. Unsavory characters.

VII. Speaking of warnings:

A. Bugs

B. Snakes.

LEG II:
A. I thought you said this was Leg 1.

B. Whatever.

A. Actually going there next month (um, you don’t really get the concept of an outline do you)

  1. Friend 1
  2. Friend 2
  3. Potential roommate
  4. Apartment hunting
  5. Food and amusement.
  6. Beach(es)
  7. B. Can’t make format behave.
  8. a. Whatever.
  9. Oh, the plane, the plane
  10. Weather
  11. a. Erika

B. Leg III

  1. Packing
  2. Staying w/ a friend hereup North.
  3. You didn’t know “hereup” was a word.
  4. Whereabouts and Howabouts unknown, but sometime mid November.
  5. OH – telling friends and leaving friends. That should be a little higher up.
  6. And so should praying for God’s will.
  7. “We got married in a fever…” lyrics stuck in head. Yeah, remember title? Hopefully your head will take over the lyrics so I can get rid of them!
  8. Oh and by the way, change can bring on symptoms of bipolar.

Imprisoned – part two

I guess I am still on the Paul and Silas idea – or God is – because I was led to the following scripture this morning:

Psalm 107:13-16 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

I wonder sometimes, when God breaks the chains, if we stand there unbelieving. Instead of just shaking our arms and legs, and watching the chains fall away, we shake our heads, like this horse, and calmly chew our oats. Or trail mix, or whatever the case may be. God has freed us! We aren’t even tied loosely, and lookit us!

Speakin da which – I am considering a major move. I suppose it’s part geographical cure, and yes, I know, we take ourselves with us (wry grin). But is there always something wrong with that?

Seriously, I have my reasons, one of which is to escape these stupid Maine winters, I think 56 years of them is enough to know I don’t like them. I don’t need one more!

But I have other reasons …(quirks left eyebrow) (if it was capable of quirking).

Anyyyway… stay tuned …

(Thank you B is for Blessed for the scripture!)

Paul and Silas were imprisoned … are you?

I get so frustrated sometimes, don’t you, by the way mental illness affects your life? I think about the impact it has on my work and relationships. My future plans. My physical health. Even my housework is affected! But that doesn’t bother me as much. But those other things – I do feel imprisoned sometimes!

I was reading in the Bible today in Acts 16, where Paul and Silas had been thrown into prison. Verse 25 shows us, however, that Paul and Silas were anything but thrown by their imprisonment. If anything, they were joyful, for “at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”

As I read this I thought, what am I but in prison? My bipolar and depression and anxiety lock me up soundly sometimes! The last thing I ever do is sing praises when I feel that way. Oh I will sing praises in church, and when I am thankful about something good, but do I truly praise God in all of my circumstances? And that made me think of another verse that makes me cringe. Ephesisans 5:20 says to give “thanks always for all things.” That’s even harder to swallow! How can I give thanks, when I’m all balled up, and feeling anything but thankful?

My experience today speaks to the wisdom of reading the Bible over and over. Because I’ve read that verse about Paul and Silas probably a hundred times. But I’d never really connected the fact that I am indeed imprisoned by my mental illness and its symptoms. Essentially all I ever do is moan about it. It never occurred to me to sing praises. And it’s not just a verse for everyone else; it’s for me.

But it’s also important not to just do it for the reward. Paul and Silas didn’t know that God was going to free them. They sang because that was what was in their hearts. The reason I need to do it is because God says so! Because it will please Him! And because I truly am thankful, despite my illness!

I can picture the ways I can give praise while I am in my bonds. I can smile more. I can learn to be calm, more grateful. I can exercise discipline in thanking God every day, and show my gratitude. I can be softer and gentler, and “act as if” I was thankful, until it was true. This is a skill I was taught in AA; and I can certainly apply it here.

I know people in my church who are like the above. You know they have a happy heart, despite their many challenges. Maybe I ought to hang out with them more; I already know how to be miserable!

Of course, I know it can benefit others, to hear me praise, and pray, in the midst of my woe. I know it helps me to be around it. And again, this will please God.

This doesn’t mean faking how things really are. I’ve done enough faking. That’s not what this is. This means a heart change. And guess Who can change my heart?

Not I! The Bible calls for us to pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) This means to come to God and confess sin, and ask Him to change this heart. I love Ezekiel 36:26, where God promises: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”

Hm, a stony heart. Sounds like a heart that can be stubborn.

But a heart of flesh?

That is what I want!

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not a single act, but a habit.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not a single act, but a habit.”

— Aristotle

(This is what I’m trying to do w/ my food and fitness. The hard part is continuing it after summer is over! Every. Single. Year. Sigh… kb)

Don Charisma


«We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not a single act, but a habit.»

— Aristotle


DonCharisma.com-logo-4Charisma quotes are sponsored by DonCharisma.com – you dream it we built it … because – “anything is possible with Charisma”



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Walking After Midnight Part II

The title of my blog, “Walking After Midnight,” may also refer to those of us with mental health issues. Our symptoms can separate us from the crowd, and leave us walking around in the dark, sometimes literally.

Many characters in the Bible felt the same despair that we feel. A few examples: “How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). “My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?” (Psalm 6:3) “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!” (Habakkuk 1:2). We feel like we are walking in the dark, alone and with no help. Even when we know that there is help – friends, care providers, clergy, God – we feel judged, misunderstood, alone.

Your own experience may differ, but my symptoms come from depression, anxiety, mania, psychosis. All of these contribute to losses I have had in my life: Relationships, jobs, money, esteem. A place in society. Courage. Confidence. I could go on, ad infinitum. But boy is that depressing!

There is help, but sometimes it’s the wrong kind. People who have not experienced our own form of “madness” don’t get it. When we are suffering, it’s truly rare to find “Earth people” who say the right things. If you do have people in your life who know how to help, who love you – treasure them! If you don’t have anyone to support you – find someone! I heard recently that we should all have about five “go-to” people in our lives.

And don’t continue to expose your heart to those who don’t understand, to those who hurt you. Such people can make you feel small, or defective, every time you go to them. You deserve better than that. Value yourself, and go elsewhere.

Ultimately, in self defense, we must advocate for ourselves. We are responsible for our own recovery, for being as stable as we can be. Here are some of the ways.

  • Remember that shame has no place in regard to your mental illness. It’s not your fault! You’re not any less valuable than anyone on the planet. This is my greatest struggle in my mental health recovery. I don’t fully accept that I have a mental illness, and I am always sabotaging my own progress. 😦 I mean always!
  • Educate yourself when your symptoms are stable. That way you can gather information on who you are, and that you are not your illness! We are people – not our disease. But we can learn about that part of ourselves when we are well.
  • Gather a support network. Not just groups, but people. People that know you, who understand you. People who will advocate for you in a way that works for you. This includes care providers, family, friends, and others who suffer. And yes, support groups are very helpful.
  • Make a list of things that give you joy, and do them. Art? writing? dancing? It doesn’t have to serve a particular purpose, other than to make you happy.
  • Maybe you find love in your work. Work is not necessarily paid-for employment. Maybe it’s helping others, or volunteering in some other way. Can you give someone rides to their appointments? Water their fish? Maybe you’d like to visit a nursing home with your dog or cat. There are actual programs for those who want to do pet therapy with their beloved animals. Animals have been known to help prolong life, lower blood pressure, relieve depression, and more.
  • Don’t go off your medications.
  • Don’t go off your medications. But if you’re determined, do it with medical supervision. Also, enlist a trusted friend or two to monitor your progress. They will tell you the truth, when no one else will.
  • Think of things that make you feel rich, and do them. I like to walk around taking photographs of flowers, snow, foliage, or other things in nature. Do you like to go to the beach, or to the forest? Collect things?
  • Make a short list of goals for yourself. I am finding it helpful to make a very small list of things to accomplish. We’re not talking twelve. By small I mean realistic and do-able. It may be as simple as taking a shower, or cooking breakfast. Maybe writing for fifteen minutes, or making a phone call.
  • Ask for help! That’s a category in itself. Take advantage of the days when you’re feeling well to practice this! It seems to be the hardest skill for us! And don’t feel you’re burdening someone when you ask for help. People have said they feel helpless when I’m having symptoms. It can be a great joy for them to bless you! Don’t you love it when you can bless someone? It can be something small, like running an errand, or even doing your dishes. Lord knows that even an empty sink can be a source of happiness when we’re depressed or overwhelmed.
  • How about having a support person go with you when you do something anxiety provoking? Maybe it’s going to therapy, or taking a walk. Some things are impossible, but possible with a friend.
  • Build a spiritual life, a spiritual practice. And notice that it says “practice.” It is a daily thing.
  • Write! Draw! Sing! or find some way to express your feelings and thoughts. Even if you keep the results to yourself, or throw them away, it’s healing to get them outside of your head. I used to spend many hours as a child expressing my sorrow in songs to the Lord. Just thinking of that makes me sad, but even the tears are healing, as in this scripture: “… [W]e know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)
  • Make a safety plan specific to your own needs and symptoms. Keep it current as much as you can. Here is a template of one such safety plan (pdf).
  • Don’t be embarrassed when you need to have more intensive therapy. The hospital or day treatment program is just another tool. It is not a judgment.

Can you think of other ways to help yourself? Other thoughts about “Walking After Midnight”? I would love to write a part 2a, or a part 2b (or not 2b lol).

So. That is “Walking After Midnight,” Part II. Part III will follow, eventually. Maybe.  🙂

“What does the Bible say about Bipolar Disorder/Manic Depression?

This post is quite good. It addresses the legitimate medical AND spiritual concerns that need to be addressed when helping a person who has bipolar illness. I agree with the Bible about sin and holiness. But the person with bipolar and other mental illnesses needs proper medical supervision and treatment. Going without that is extremely dangerous.

THE WALL: a blog of Baptist Voice Ministries

Note: as with many psychological issues, there are often both a physical and spiritual aspect of manic depression / bipolar disorder. While we believe psychologists often miss the true spiritual nature of the sickness, we strongly encourage anyone suffering with a mental illness to seek medical attention and counseling.

Answer:“Bipolar disorder” is a name that first appeared in 1957 for a severe mental illness. Before that, the same illness was called “manic depressive illness” or “manic depression,” though that name only dates back to 1921. Neither term appears in the Bible, but the Bible teaches us a number of lessons we can apply to bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness characterized by severe mood fluctuations. These fluctuations go far beyond simply being “happy” or “sad.” The “manic” symptoms can include feelings of extreme euphoria, marked increase in risk-taking, racing thoughts, forced speech, and increased energy. The…

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Be Not Afraid

One of the things I should have warned you about from the get-go (Ok, if you have read my “about” page, I did):

A lot of my posts, especially the ones with scripture, reflect something God has given ME to get through my day. I figure, if it helped me, why wouldn’t it help someone else?

Take it or leave it, this is one of those days, when I am walking with fear, discouragement, and confusion. And my depression is really kicking up. The funny thing about depression is that it’s a nice comfy pillow that somehow offers solace. A little bit and I am “unhappily” free falling into it. The more I have, the more I just surrender to it, and as any of you reading might guess, that is not a good thing.

But my spirit does not like that. Oh noes. My spirit craves freedom and peace. So after a while of that free falling feeling of doom and desire to “check out,” my spirit starts to grab for a hand hold, a foot hold.

And what it grabs at is God. Speaking of Satan, the Bible says in John 10:10: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal , and to kill, and to destroy:” But Jesus says, ” I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

That is a tall promise! And with bipolar, it’s real easy to disbelieve, because it does not seem that I have had anything near to an abundant life. Oh I can make a really long gratitude list, a valid one, but when I am in this place, I feel far from God and His love. And as I said in a recent post, I don’t want to invalidate my pain – it is real, and I am genuinely suffering. (Which makes it really hard to be around cheerful, spiritual people).

But as it often is with God – He will give me something to get through my day – not always in a wonderful big way but at least surviving for one more day, with the opportunity for things to get much better, to get back on higher ground.

Why did that happen today?

I think because I asked Him to, today. But sometimes I don’t even ask.

Next thing I know, after my prayer, somebody posts the following:

Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Well of course this verse grates across my very nerves. What do you mean be strong and have courage! Don’t you think I would, if I could?

And then the still small voice that returns me to a small degree of sanity reminds me of something I’ve come to know. And so my Facebook post went something like this:

Joshua 1:9 says, Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

I want to note that the expression, “God will not give you anything you can’t handle,” doesn’t mean you are supposed to go it alone. “I can do all things through Christ” means do the things He has given you, not what you think or what others think you are supposed to do. He also intends for you to handle it with Him, not alone. And, He has given you other people to help you – friends, family, medical people – He does not intend for you to go it alone! See verses below:

Deuteronomy 4:31
(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and of a good courage , fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Joshua 1:5
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
1 Kings 8:57
The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
1 Chronicles 28:20
And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage , and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed : for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.
Nehemiah 9:31
Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.
Hebrews 13:5
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for he hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Isaiah 41:10
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed ; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

This all reminded me of a song that comforts me:

Now, as I said, I am posting something that God gave me, for my comfort and help. I don’t know if it will help you, but you are welcome to it. Why not take a leap of faith, and see if it will?

My Jesus Addiction

I just read a blog post written by someone who struggles with pain management. See: Do you recognize your addictions? By: All Things Chronic. After I read it, I responded in the comment box provided, and as I thought, I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. And … well, you get the gist.

Then I realized that my thoughts would be better expressed in a blog post of my own. Never mind that my comments took up half a page! So, in that endeavor, my post blossomed into the eloquent mess below. And it growed and growed!

Now I’m just kinda thinking out loud and with no animosity, as far as I know. In response to the question, “Do you recognize your addictions?” I would answer that my greatest addiction is to the computer. And editing blog posts. And food. Honestly, food feels like pain relief sometimes. But I will address that in another post. Maybe.

In regard to pain management, that’s another story. I say, hopefully without pride, that I only take Tylenol®, and occasionally Ibuprofen, for relief of pain in my neck. (See my previous blog entry on Spasmodic Torticollis and Botox® treatments). This also helps with the various aches and pains of middle agedness. The decision to avoid anything stronger is due to my history of alcoholism. I was told early in my recovery that if I began to use tranquilizers and narcotics, I would likely become addicted to them, in the same way that I had been addicted to alcohol. Whether I would truly have this propensity, I don’t know, but understandably I am very cautious. Recovery from alcoholism was hard enough.

There are exceptions to my rule. I do take Xanax pre-procedure when I get my Botox shots every 3 months. I do love the feeling of sedation, I admit, and I often think, ohhh, if I could only feel this way all the time. Relaxed; “normal,” even. Which only tells me further that I could easily rely on it too much.

I haven’t really felt the same attraction to narcotics, however, because most often they will trigger a hypomanic episode. Weird, huh? And so, I use Tylenol®, even post-op. Even after dental work. Even after my C-section. Hypomania, which almost inevitably leads to a dangerous manic episode,  is not worth any amount of pain relief I might experience.

ANNNyway. That is neither here nor there. I wanted to answer the question about addictions, but I’m digressing from the primary thing that I wanted to discuss.

From a paragraph in the original blog post, written by All Things Chronic:

Since we seem to be in a never-ending political cycle, perhaps we should put more scrutiny on the addictions of our politicians.  I mean, if someone running for governor goes to church every day, ignoring the demands of the other areas of his life so he can worship his god, I think that would be an example of someone who is addicted to religion.

I bristled, because I would be considered by many to be a religious person. Perhaps I am even “addicted” to my religion. Because of my relationship with Jesus, I essentially attend church daily. I have even experienced withdrawal symptoms, so to speak, when I have backed off from practicing my faith for short periods of time. By that I mean that I experience more difficulty in my life, emotionally and even physically, and definitely, spiritually. My hands can even shake more (I have a tremor). I experience more anxiety, and I “need” my “fix.”

I rely on Jesus for many things – including my tolerance of pain. He helps me to bear it, to function, and even to bless other people when I am suffering. Whether it’s physical, spiritual, or emotional pain, He is there for me. He’s also provided a Book, the Bible, that gives me peace, and even – pain relief. “When all else fails,” there’s prayer. Of course, that should be my first defense, but I’m stubborn. .

Do I practice my “religion” to the exclusion of other areas in my life? Well, I suppose that depends upon your perspective. Matthew 6:33  says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” All these things, to me, means “the demands of the other areas of [my] life.” Without Jesus, I will have no victory in anything else I seek to accomplish.

And, far above sustenance, there is the knowledge that there will come a day when Jesus will take me out of all this. The pain, the suffering and anxiety, the discouragement, and those days of mania. The stigma, the lost relationships, the confusion. Ooh, how often I long for and pray for that day! My hope is in eternity, where I will live forever joyous and pain free (physically and emotionally) with Jesus!

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away .

I am reminded of the conversation that used to go around AA: “People say that I am brainwashed. So if that is true – that I’m brain washed – I am all for it – my brain NEEDED washing!” That’s even more true since I have come to know Jesus. My thinking process and behaviors as an alcoholic, and as the “natural man,” do not serve me any longer. And there are far more areas of my life that need work.
So I need a different way of thinking. And AA helped me with some of that change. But it did not provide for my eternity, and it was a different kind of dependence. For me, it was basically a band-aid. AA did start out as a program based upon Jesus and the Cross, called The Oxford Group. However, Alcoholics Anonymous became more secular, more humanistic, so that people would find it more palatable. A member in one of Maine’s local AA groups used to say that he would pray to a doorknob he named “George,” so that he was technically praying to “something.” Talk about idolatry! Apparently this “power greater than himself, as espoused in the AA program, kept him sober. He was unable to pray to a “god,” so this “god of his understanding” served him. How, I don’t know.
I think it’s a shame that the help so many desperately needed was dumbed down to the point of removing the hope of eternal salvation. Does AA serve any purpose? Oh yes – I was not ready for churchyness, and it kept me sober for a long time. Maybe God knew that I couldn’t stay sober and alive by conventional means. However, I shudder to think that I almost missed out on the whole point – Jesus!
I am still a whiny old brat sometimes in regard to my “hard life,” and I say that because in comparison to His suffering and dying on the cross for me, my angst and my pain are nothing. Isaiah 53:5  says: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Who can say that they have suffered like Him? I am not saying that I don’t have pain and suffering; I’m just saying that there are times when I do need to buck up and live. When I can’t, I can’t, but I can seek Him, and eventually I can crawl out of my misery. Or He drags me. Always. Suicide is not an option!
I’m certainly not saying I’m perfect, just because I am “religious.”  I’m not even wonderful, yet (lol). But I am better than I was, thanks be to God, and not by anything I have done! Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace are ye saved through faith;and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” And Romans 6:23. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It is a gift, not something I can earn.
I  have hope, even on my darkest days, even on those days when I push away all things “religion.” Thank God He never leaves me, even when I think I’m leaving Him!
And if that’s addiction, I’m all for it!

Mental Health: Promoting Good Stuart-Ship

Feel like giving up? Nothing’s working? Believe it or not, we’re still accomplishing something, even if the results are not what we want. Thomas A. Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

He also said that “many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

How about Babe Ruth? “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

Even the Bible says, “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13). And in Galatians 6:9, “… let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

I don’t know about you, but bipolar makes me weary. Trying to take good care of myself, and trying to do what God says. Meanwhile, ignoring the self-destructive part of myself. Those messages I collected growing up, and the ones I’ve created myself.

There’s this song that we sing at church:

Every work for Jesus will be blest,
But He asks from everyone his best.
Our talents may be few, these may be small,
But unto Him is due our best, our all.

My best? Oh Lord. I’d look around that church, with all those perfect people, and think, I don’t know that my best is worth all that much. But later, I realized, that’s not what the song is saying! The song says our talents may be small. Our best may not be what we think it “should” be. But God knows when we’re doing our best, regardless of what those stupid voices tell me! Besides – were those people really perfect? Most likely not.

Part of doing our best is taking care of what God has given us, what He calls “being a good steward.” Hm, even in regard to my health. Remember the slogan? “I eat right, I exercise and I take Geritol every day.” Ok, I’m dating myself. Well, I do go on a health kick now and then, but it only lasts so long. Exercise? Even the Chariots of Fire song drives me crazy. And Rocky, you can run up those steps all by yourself. I ain’t goin’.

Ok, how about hygiene? You know, shower, brush teeth, etc.

Not so easy sometimes, is it?

Contrary to popular belief, that’s not laziness. Where would somebody get that idea? If anything, that’s self-loathing at its worst. But at that point, we don’t even have the energy to hate ourselves.

How about taking care of our immediate environment? Making sure my place is not condemned? Generally, I do dishes before they get moldy, and I take out the trash before Stuart Little makes it his home. Ahh, you say. That’s where the Stuart Little reference comes in. Well, forgive the groaner, but even emptying the trash is good Stuart-ship.

Ok, I hear crickets chirping. I’ll just pretend you didn’t get the joke, and carry on.

Let’s move on to money. The Bible says that “… the love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10). Not that money itself is evil. In either case, I’m not a very good Stuart of it. Right now I have about $20. until the end of the month. True, those of us on disability are not living in the lap of luxury, but I get enough. I just don’t handle it well. So that $20. pretty much removes all possibility of overeating, overspending, and even over-helping. Besides, I’ve pretty much ruined my credit, so there goes that.

So what else? The Bible says that “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). But I can’t seem to to hold a job for very long. Well what is up with that! Doesn’t the Bible also say “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”? (Philippians 4:13) I must be a total failure! I mean, I won’t brush my teeth, I won’t go to work, what good am I?

Well, that’s what the voice in my head says. And that’s what you might say, if you don’t have experience with this thing.

Ok, you can’t brush your teeth? You can’t work? You can’t clean your toilet? What about breathing, then? Let’s start with the breathing. I know, I’ve already talked about breathing in another blogBut let’s say, theoretically, that you still have to breathe after all this time. So breathe already. Ok, now did you eat today? And, can you call someone today? Maybe it’s to be encouraged. But what about to encourage them? Maybe you can volunteer at church while you’re not able to work. Or you can take someone shopping. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. That, and don’t kill yourself today. That is sometimes necessary to add!

Speaking of “today,” I learned early on in my mental health recovery that alcohol and “recreational” drugs are not my friend. Especially where mood stabilization is concerned. So, one day at a time, I stay sober. So far, I have stayed sober for 10,623 days, but who’s counting? That, my friends, has to be the grace of God. On my own I wouldn’t put two days together!

Now, let’s flip it. How is my Stuart-ship when I’m in manic mode? No, not mood. Mode. Everyone pretty much has an idea of what depression is, but what of mania? Psych Central, a website with information about mental illness, defines it thusly: “A Manic Episode is defined by a distinct period during which there is an abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood…” (See: http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-a-manic-episode/000629.)

Some of us even experience a side of psychosis with our heaping helping of mania: “Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality, typically including delusions (false ideas about what is taking place or who one is) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things which aren’t there).”(See: http://psychcentral.com/lib/bipolar-disorder-with-psychotic-features/0001292.)

So what happens to my Stuart-ship when I’m revved up like I’ve mainlined caffeine, or even cocaine? What about when I’m seeing things? How can I possibly take care of what is mine?

Well, early on, during a phase of hypomania, my motives are good. When I start feeling that surge of happiness and energy, I think, “Yay! Time to make up for all I haven’t done for the past eight months!” Suddenly I’m cleaning, writing, doing, helping, coming up with brilliant ideas, why, it feels just marvelous! And it’s pretty well organized, in my head, anyway, and in most of my actions. It’s not particularly bizarre, except …

… then things start becoming confusing. My friends, and even some of the people outside of my circle, begin to see some disorganization in my activity. I begin to get reckless and impulsive, fresh, and maybe a bit aggressive. And no, I don’t have any clever jokes about that one. Because at this stage it is no longer funny – or fun. I don’t have time to shower. I don’t have a need for sleep, or eating. Yeah! You know I’m off when I don’t eat! I don’t have time to clean up after myself.

And then there’s that elevated sense of myself. Thinking I can do things that really, I have no business doing. After a certain point those things include driving, or taking care of patients. I’m telling people off. Walking into traffic expecting cars to understand that I’m on my way to something important. I begin acting out in ways that will make me cringe later on. Yeah. Those little things. Those things God has given me? Including modesty and humility? Self-control? Pretty much gone. As to stewardship? We are at a very basic level at this point. We are at survival mode and not much more. Since God has gotten hold of my life, or since I’ve gotten better hold of Him, I don’t get as bad as I used to. I might have to say, “yet.”

Where was I again?

Oh yes. Failure. Weariness. Lack of Stuart-ship. And the cycle repeats itself.

So how do I maintain that stability, that “meet me in the middle”-ness?

Well, let’s just throw our hat in the ring and say it: What about medication?

Oo (flinch), don’t say medication and Christian in the same sentence. Yipe!

I have to say it, though. It’s the rare bird who has bipolar and can manage without medications. If you can, God bless you, and that’s wonderful! I mean that.

Personally? I did the two year experiment without meds. I did pretty well for about a year and a half. But toward the end of that period, I was manic, and I didn’t even know how bad off I was. How dangerous.

So, medication. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t using it to get high. We are using it just to function. It’s not fun, by any means. But it is hard to find the right mix. It’s especially frustrating if you have found what works for you, and then it stops working. Again, and again. But that is part of the illness, I think.

And so, regardless of medication, we still struggle. Don’t we?

So how do we not grow weary? This thing called bipolar is not just a sometime thing. It takes continuous daily vigilance, and sometimes, despite that, we still experience the highs and lows.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I sure cannot manage it under my own power! Now here is something profound. I need Jesus! And I dare say you need Him, too! Isn’t it worth considering, when nothing else is working? I’m not saying life is a bowl of cupcakes. But it is better. I have strength, and I have faith, that I didn’t have before. It could be coincidence, but I have not been in the psych hospital since I started taking Him seriously, back in ’06. So what is the deal? Check out the link above, which will take you to another blog page.

God’s intention? That I become more like Jesus. No no no, not like that (manic). More like Jesus as He was when He walked here on Earth, and then to continue to grow: in my spirit, and in my life. Jesus did not want to be “all that” when He was here on Earth,”Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” (Philippians 2:5-6). 

Jesus was humble. During His time on Earth, Jesus served. He was not “up there,” like the God He really was. He was not “down there,” sitting on the floor feeling sorry for Himself. And please, don’t think I am judging anyone here because trust me, I have spent my time on the floor. And the ceiling. And I imagine I will again.

So can I just aim for that? Not too high, not too low?

Humble, by the way, does not mean groveling. Humble means, not thinking too much of myself. And, not thinking of myself too much. There is a difference.

So how do I aim there?

One way is by reading God’s word. It’s there that I learn how to be like Jesus, which includes being in prayer, and thinking on God’s word. That’s right, Jesus did that! Even He! In fact, He fought temptation by quoting scripture to combat the devil. Even He! Shouldn’t we?

And serving. Didn’t Jesus serve when He was here on Earth? “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

It is of note that Jesus did allow others to minister to Him, as well. There’s the woman with the alabaster box who anointed Jesus with precious oils. There’s John, who baptized Jesus in the Jordan river. Even in death, people served Him, like the rich man who donated his own tomb, and then those who prepared His body for burial. Why do you suppose He allowed that?

I think it was because He knew it was a blessing to be the giver. Doesn’t it bless you when you can give yourself to others, or when you serve the Lord? So let people help you and show that they care. This will bless them, as well as you. I mean, really, can we do all this by ourselves? God will not leave us nor forsake us. Isn’t part of His provision the people He’s given to us? People who help us to see ourselves? (YIPE!) What about our doctors and pastors and other providers? Yet, as people with bipolar, our number one problem is an inability to ask for help! We wait until our pants are on fire, and even then, we wait.

And what about Jesus Himself? Why do I wait to ask Him for help and direction? The one who answers me when I call, from wherever I happen to be? I think a big part of my problem is that little word, “I.” All by myself, I’m a mess! I freely admit it! But I am proud, very proud. I’m like the two year old who says, “Me do it. Me do myself.” And what can you do as a parent but let them do it.

And then they have the meltdown, and finally, you can help them! But why do we wait til then!

Jesus said that “… with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27). Now what “things” is He talking about? Sometimes, it is doing those stupid dishes. But I know that He has better things in mind. Given my history with Him, much better things!

So. ♫ ♪ Take, good, care of your-self ♪♫ … (I care about you).

And don’t forget the breathing part.

♪♫ If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life …

Well hullo. Sorry for not being in touch. But I am sharing my almost-everything with my son again, including the computer (sigh). He is trying yet again to find a job and a place to live and maybe a sugar mama (besides me) and and…

But that’s not what this story is about ..

“Juust sit right back and you’ll hear a tale..”

Sorry, this is gonna be one of those “I’ve imbibed one inch of coffee so far” posts.

The point of this story: Rating where you are on the bipolar scale.

My shrink once asked me where I was on the mood scale, between one and ten.

Well, I esplained (Lucy) that a person with bipolar cannot really rate themselves that way.

“How so, Dr. Bailey?” A pet name that he had for me, because I was always correcting him, or telling him how to treat me.

“Well, ya see, Dr. M, we are either really up there, or really down there. Ya can’t say one to ten, as if we are ever normal. Well, maybe for a nano second here and there. But still…”

He nods. Which means, tell me more. His pencil is poised.

It’s like the ocean, I explained. Maybe you’re at a two, where the living is easy. Treading water, but not as if in survival mode. You’re floating like you’re in the Dead Sea, no effort at all; relaxed, even. You’re just beyond competent. Juuust a little. Maybe happy, God forbid! Then maybe a four. You’re sort of walking on water, like Peter in the Bible. Soft, warm waves lapping at your toes, and then euphoria sets in; joy! So this is what normal people feel like! you think to yourself. You chance to dance. You still don’t sink. Definitely a five, six, but who’s counting? What can I do that I’ve been neglecting? You clean the whole house in like an hour. You start hanging out with people you haven’t seen for a while. “We need to have a party or something! Everything is greaaaat!” Your better friends quirk an eyebrow. “Everything okay?

But wait, there’s more! “It’s bigger than that! You’ve got special powers, maybe; uh… ” I look off to the side. Should I tell him this part? His pencil is moving furiously. He’s thinking he wants to lock me up; but he is patient.

Oh, we’re not egotistical enough to think that we’re God. But that euphoria, it gives you this wonderful energy! Prolific energy! The more you do, the more you have to do! And the more you do, the more it gives you fantastic abilities! If you can walk on water then by gor you can read minds. Leap tall buildings. See beyond reality, write a Pulitzerprizewinningnovelinfourminutesflat. And you don’t need mundane things like food, or sleep. Or concern for anyone but your own fine fascinating self or commas get outta my way you inferior human! Wewhoaremanic won’t settle for walking on water. Oh noes. We must fly! Hence, plus 10. Wheee!This is called ex-calating. Be quiet. I can spell it how I want.

Let’s get back to Peter. He didn’t just walk on water. Maybe for a very little while. But he is also known for looking down and realizing, there’s a storm, and by gor, I’m not supposed to be walking on water. He looked down and realized that by rights he should be drowning. Don’t forget, the boat was buffeted by wind so it was nowhere near calm. Have you been there? Things are going along fine, maybe even grand, but then things start to fall apart. We start being overwhelmed by stupid little things. Not even big things! We are not walking on water. On the contrary. Maybe we have even gotten to the stage where we are cowering in the bottom of the boat, eating chocolate covered bonbons while watching Oprah; and not in a fun way. More like in a have-to way. Go out? Exercise? Talk to people?

Fahgettaboudit.

And so, we have the opposite end of the scale. We may even end up on the bottom of the ocean, with all those scary looking fish, right next to Davy’s locker. We want to climb into Davy’s locker.That’s a minus 10, my friends.

For most of us, though, it’s more subtle than looking down while you’re walking on water. Or even while treading water. Think frog in the water, taking a bath, as the water is gradually turned up to boiling. We don’t see it coming.

With any luck, you will see plus 3 (and not want to chase it), or minus 3 (and not want to drown), and you’ll ask for help. A med adjustment here, an extra counseling appointment there, anything to ward off the insidious monster that is bipolar. Staying stable is a daily struggle, and if you ever lose vigilance, you’re dead (or its equivalent).

So, Dr. M. and I developed a new scale, just for moi. (After all, I am vewwy special). Normal is zero. That doesn’t sound right I know but remember, no coffee. And, no concept of normal. My normal? Minus two. And he’d write that in my chart, for real and for true.

Now that I think of it, though, I should have told him there is yet another category. I forgot. That one is wayyy beyond Peter. Way beyond plus five. It’s probably more like plus 100.

That stage is the one where you are in your space suit, and your life line has been cut. Never mind your fascination with looking at the Earth below. Although it is a little fascinating. But your space suit is running out of oxygen and your brain is doing flip-outs. 😦 FLIIIIPPP OUTS!

Yeah.

I have experienced all of those stages. (Not Stooges. Stages. Pay attention).

My normal stage is doing the dog paddle with my nose at the exact surface of the water, with the water entering my nose now and then. Tiring! This is most comfortable, because manic is scary! And drowning puts me right next to those disappearing planes, saying how-de-do to the pilot.

So – where are you today?

And how did I do without my full ration of coffee?

Wake up, Little Suzie … ♪♫

Ordinarily, I make sure I am awake enough to make sense: to write stellar prose, to present myself the way that I most want to … In other words, to be something I’m not? Wait wait wait, don’t say that out loud.

It is interesting being part of this blog world. I read things written by people I would never have met otherwise. I am alternately impressed, blessed, depressed, or stressed … (oh I don’t want to say “alternately.” What’s a better word? Help me out, guys…)

Now as part of recovery from being a person with bipolar, I am supposed to surround myself with positive people and energy. Stay in the Bible, instead of the World, be a helper bee… in other words, create a reality in which I do not necessarily exist?

Oh dear, I am not making a whole lot of sense, which is why I usually wait until I am awake … but no, this is me being real…

I read a lot of people who are very very depressed! And I find myself nodding my head a lot!

I want to sit next to them and cry.

Or, make them feel better.

And then someone wrote about faith, or a lack thereof.

And it made me think.

I am (quote) “a person of faith.” I “do” the things one is supposed to do if one is a person of faith. Either it demonstrates that I am, or it helps me to be one.

One of my favorite pictures I’ve posted is the one that says my track record for getting through days is 100% so far.

And really, I have to think that’s got to be God. Because if it was up to me, I probably wouldn’t be here. I would either have acted on those way-too-many urges to off myself, or I’d be drinking, or some such thing.

But God has protected me from that. And perhaps also from getting into the kinds of situations that might aggravate those feelings. (Cough: Relationships! Cough cough)..

(Pause)

One thing I do, here and on Facebook, is share the things that are helping me to get by. I don’t know that what I share is necessarily what I am feeling at the time. ie, victorious, or able to do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. But one thing that helps me, for example, is a scripture page for depression. Or maybe I am having a lot of anxiety. The great thing about looking at these pages is that there may be only one verse that helps me get through the day, or that I remember being helpful for something else. The point sometimes is just getting through the day!

(Edited to add:  My friends are instrumental! And I have one in particular who has been with me for for almost 25 years! She is not even one of “us,” but she gets it [and loves me anyway]).

Now as I explained, I haven’t been awake long enough, really, to know how I feel today, other than, clearly, I am confused, haha (there’s an “app” for that one, too, lol). Sigh….

Some might say that I can choose how I feel. Or, that I shouldn’t allow my feelings to determine how I, um, feel. (ha ha, I had no idea that page existed). 

The worst, as someone else pointed out today, is when someone tells me I “should” be happy (I am NOT going to link to that one, probably to your great and utter joy). Or, worse, there are people who, inevitably, will tell me of the various and sundry reasons why I “should” be happy. Well I know that I “should” be happy!!! Isn’t that what depression is?? Why do you think I’m so upset??? Yes I know there are people who have it worse, I know there are people who don’t have Christ, for example, or a home, or food, or or or… ERRR that ERRRRKS me (get it? irks/erks … aren’t I clever….)

Honestly? This is not what I planned for this page to say.

But, I figured I had to write something – after all, you might start to worry about me, as I sometimes do you.

And, this is what my brain came up with.

I’m still sleeping, but I am a bit less confused. There is progress.

*********

I tagged “morning pages” and Julia Cameron, partly because what I wrote here could be considered “morning pages.” (But no; I edited this post too much to call it that!) She has written several books, one of which is called The Artists’ Way. The Artists’ Way is a book for those of us who are creative (painters, writers, street sweepers, whatever you are), But we can’t seem to allow ourselves to express that creativity. I strongly recommend the book. One of her suggestions is to write 3 pages, or “morning pages,” as soon as you wake up, not worrying about flow or grammar, or whether it makes sense or not. It’s kind of like “bleeding the pipe” and getting rid of the sediment that’s been sitting there. Flush it out, and the true creativity begins to flow. Writing these pages is really helpful. I may or may not start doing them again.

Good for what ails ya …

My biggest struggle is with depression. I read a blog entry this morning from someone who has it pretty bad right now. Now normally I try not to give advice, but I broke my own rule this morning. Here is what I told her (and of course the editor in me had to put her two cents worth in since …):

Try making a list of 10 things that give you joy (besides TV) and then do them. And also think about what you would study if you went to school to change what you do for a living. My list of 10 things would be:
1. Go to the beach
2. Read
3. eat (lol)
4. Go out to eat (hmm)
5. Work on my novel
(boy this is hard to do! wow…)
6. Write a blog
7. Play a game (I’m cheating – that’s just what I do when there is nothing to do)
8. Take photos and then post the good ones
9. YIPES!

I guess I need to think on this a little better before I start doling out advice lol

As to what to study, I would finish my degree, preferably in creative writing (I don’t have too many credits left for my Bachelors degree)

Well anyway! Try to figure out something positive out of all that you wrote above. It seems like you are in a horribly negative “space” in your head and it’s easy to see why you are stuck.  😦

But some days it IS just as well to pretend you’re sick (one of the things she said she was thinking of doing). So I guess I have come up with some more:
9, SLEEP! and
10. Um, I do like to bake (and eat, if you hadn’t figured that out from above)

(edited to add: I should have also added, go to church, read the Bible, but I guess when I am depressed, I forget that these things give me joy. In fact sometimes they take a lot of effort when I’m depressed. But they do help)

I also have tried to get out of the all-I-can-see-is-myself mode of depression by thinking what I can do to help someone. If you are like me, though, you probably do too MUCH helping others! So sometimes for treating my depression I have to back OFF from helping!

We’ll try just 5 of those:
1. Make a call to someone who’s lonely, maybe an older person.
2. Write a note
3. Make something for somebody
4. (this one is easy) Say yes if someone asks for something ie a ride, or help with something
5. Volunteer at something (short or long term)

OK! I guess I just wrote my next blog entry!

♪♫ Good night sweet heart wellll it’s time to go … ♪♫

SANITY!

One of the first verses I studied in the Bible was this:

2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
It gave me so much hope because I had nothing but fear! And I wanted nothing more than to have a sound mind.
It took a while to figure out that it was God I needed to put my trust in, when all the while I’d put my trust in men and institutions who claimed to know Him. I came to know Him, personally. And that gave me peace.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Have a sweet sleep!

I make all things new …

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  — Revelation 21:5

“New Post, New Post!” My Gmail inbox is full of new posts, many of them from others who are taking the “Blogging 101” course offered by WordPress. Through no small miracle of technology, we are finding each other and it’s exciting!

And if I don’t allow the guilt feelings to reign, I am happy. I am always happy when I obey the voice that says, “Write.”

What is the alternative?

Giving in to the guilt and fear and, I admit, laziness, that says, don’t write. You’re not good enough anyway. You won’t finish anyway …

But are we still talking about blogging here?

No, I’m talking about my dream, to write novels and get published and live happily ever after.

Yeah well, I’m just being honest here, lol.

Anyway, it’s my hope that by writing this blog it will help me toward that dream.

For one thing, I think that by writing this blog it will clear out the cobwebs and make room for me to write, without all those other voices in my head. For another, I hope that by writing here frequently it will keep the wheels greased, so to speak. And last but certainly not least, I will be sharing Christ with people – my walk with Him, and what He’s teaching me.

And, no small matter, I will be walking along with other dreamers, many of them bipolar like me. We will support one another through our highs and lows, and even the drudgery of “ok.”

And we will be made new, in a way, by fulfilling the dream that God put in us: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” — Psalm 37:4. Not just granting my “wishes,” but putting them there in the first place.

I love it!  😀

 

(Now quit talking about it, and do it!)

 

 

Who am I? Blogging 101

I’m taking an online “course” on blogging and the first assignment is:  “write and publish a ‘who I am and why I’m here’ post.” If you’re going to read this, you will want to pour a cup of coffee and maybe get something to eat, because it is long.

All my life I have written this post (book) in my head and found it fascinating. I always thought I’d write an autobiography and sell it for millions. Who wouldn’t want to read it?

But now, I don’t even want to write it. What I once found fascinating about myself is either untrue or unremarkable. But, I’ll start it the way I always started it:  “I was born in New York …”

First fascinating fact. But really, it wasn’t “New York, New York,” it was upstate New York, and I only lived there til I was 6. 7. 8. I don’t know. First grade?

Then there is the what. For a time I was in therapy and had come to the conclusion that I’d been severely sexually abused, and in a Satanic cult.

Now I am not so convinced of that. I know some inappropriate touching went on, but pretty sure the rest of what I thought was the result of an overeager therapist who had her own agenda.

So where does that leave me?

Decidedly ordinary, is what.

But.

Well, let’s go back. I was very ordinary in grade school/ high school. Pretty much invisible. I almost wonder, if I’d been bullied, if it would have hurt less.

I did have some friends, fairly ordinary like me, and I know I would not have survived without them. My parents’ divorce. My inability to fit in. I did find a way to fit in. Alcohol fit the bill nicely.

So then! Post high school, I needed a job. Mom told me about a nurses’ aide training course. I really didn’t want to do it; I’d already done some candy striping (volunteering in the hospital), and wound up in the cafeteria and the laundry room. GLAMM-orous. I did not like the smells in the hospital, for sure. That smell of starch is still embedded in my brain. I suppose that is a better smell than the ones I smelled later.

But anyway, back to the training course. I’d already had two jobs in food service: one at McDonald’s, one at Howard Johnson’s as a counter girl. Both thankless – how could people be so rude? It was like they took everything out on you, and it wasn’t like you were getting paid enough to have to put up with that …

So I decided to take the course. It was very thorough and came with a guaranteed job at the end. They promised me I’d be on nights for only a little while, to cover someone else who was on leave. But I’d definitely go on day shift soon!

Well “soon” happened and I didn’t get changed to the day shift, so I took another job at a nursing home down the street.

I was never very efficient. I struggled as an aide to do the job. The time frame we had to work under was just about impossible. Some of the aides had time to set their patients’ hair and put jewelry on them. Not me! I was lucky just to keep them clean.

But at the same time, I took note of the nurses passing pills, in their starched (there’s that word again) white uniforms. I thought, I want to know why they do what they do? What are all those pills for? I decided to apply for nursing school, and got in to my second choice. In the end I was glad I didn’t get the first choice, which was a university program which did not offer much in the way of actual clinical patient care. My diploma program was more hands-on, and I was thankful for that.

But scared to death at the same time. I found out while in school that I had a familial tremor (think Katharine Hepburn) and hypoglycemia (think insulin shock, minus the insulin). You should have seen me trying to pull up medications into a syringe – let’s just say I didn’t have to shake the vial. I was terrified of the instructors, terrified of making a mistake. Somehow I made it through and did really well. Hardly even had to study, which I think was part of my confidence problem later on. I could cram for an exam and forget what I’d studied immediately after it.

I’d already had lots of practice with alcohol toward the end of my high school years, but perfected those skills while in nursing school. The skill of chasing boys, as well, since alcohol loosened my inhibitions. It was nice not to be invisible. That liquid courage …

But after nursing school, it became problematic. I was date-raped twice while under the influence. I was having blackouts. My “familial” tremors worsened after a night of drinking (hmm). Meanwhile I was really succeeding as a nurse, training to work in intensive care. What happened to the girl who was so afraid of failure? Still terrified, but alcohol helped me bury my fears.

After the second rape, I became more aware of my depression. I remember one night sitting on the porch steps thinking about how to take my life. Got up, drank some beers, and stifled that urge.

Soon after that I started going to Al-anon meetings, some of them especially for children of alcoholics. I don’t need to go into my family history, just, that’s what I needed to do. Out of principle I quit drinking. I had righteous indignation (“I’m not like them!”) to power my sobriety.

I also had gone on the Atkins diet and it was then I experienced my first hypomanic episode. I had no idea what was going on but I liked that feeling of power! More confidence, better recall of nursing knowledge, a superiority complex. And a feeling of being so sexy and irresistible! Did I tell you I liked it?

And then the depression came back, and worsened, and because I had stopped drinking I no longer had the liquid courage to get me through. I had started counseling, but when she’d asked me about suicidal thoughts, I’d said no. I made a plan to kill myself with razor blades and carried it out. At the last moment, when I know would have crossed over into death, I told God, “I want to die, but I don’t want to go to Hell!” Somehow I woke up in the bathtub 6 hours later, covered in blood and feces. I knew my attempt had failed, and I knew it was because of that prayer. I crawled to the phone and asked for help.

I wound up in a psychiatric unit where they started me on antidepressants. Very soon after that I began to experience the euphoria I’d had before, only bigger! I felt like I could leap tall buildings in a single bound, like I could read minds (I was sure!) and like I could personally talk to God in the sky. The sun was His all-powerful eye. I was Mary the mother of Jesus who had been raped by God and thus conceived her Son. The smoke alarms went off one day and I was sure that was because I had started a fire somewhere with my rage.

I remember my mother coming in to help me pay bills, and I had to have my Walkman playing in my ears in order to shut my brain off to concentrate. The doctors started quizzing me about my visitors, whether they had brought drugs in. When I told them about the ex-boyfriend and how we had smoked pot, they nodded their heads. It had to have been the pot, then, that made me go kablooey. It never occurred to them that their drugs and my dysfunctional brain had caused the mania and the delusions.

Eventually the mania simmered down, the antidepressant having been replaced with some other medication. I was still having brief episodes but had a prn (“as often as necessary”) medication which helped a lot.

I remember my father coming in to visit and that I started crying on purpose, just to make him feel bad. I was all about “it’s everyone’s fault,” and nowhere near to looking at myself. I was discharged with a diagnosis of depression.

I continued going to Al-anon, but I was also going to AA now because I had figured out the role alcohol had played in my life. I met my son’s father and we won’t go into that. Suffice it to say that between my inability to say no, and my lack of self-esteem, it did not take much for him to bowl me over.

After I gave birth to our son by C-section, the doctor ordered Tylenol #3 (regular Tylenol, plus codeine). I felt that euphoria beginning, and I got scared, and took myself off it. I was scared that I could hurt my son if I was under that kind of influence.

I was not a great mother. For one thing, I was with a man who seemed to thrive on rage (and later I found out was drinking). I stayed with him a lot longer than I should have. For another thing, I struggled a lot with depression, and my son’s days with me should have been filled with a lot more joy than I could muster. My work history was sketchy. At one point we lived in a transitional housing program which helped tremendously, but it was no match for my depressions and my continuing to choose, shall we say, men with problems.

I kept trying to get back to church, having been raised Catholic, but it just did not fit, nor did it fix anything, and that’s what I was looking for: a fix. I was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital several times, both inpatient and outpatient.

I did eventually find a Christian church (non-denominational) and “got saved,” and by that I mean I raised my hand when the preacher asked who wanted to get saved. My understanding was that I was a sinner, and of that I had no doubt. I knew that Jesus died for sinners, to take our sin upon Himself, He who knew no sin!

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die : yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. — Romans 5:6-9

And so I knew I was a sinner, I knew I needed a Saviour from the wrath of God. I asked Jesus to “come into my heart” and save me.

I had another major manic episode, can’t remember any specific triggers, but again I was hospitalized. It became clear to me almost immediately that though I had accepted Christ as my Saviour, I’d never “deigned” to have Him as my Lord. And that meant following the Bible. I surrendered at that time, telling God that if He wanted to use me in that psychiatric hospital for the rest of my life, that was fine with me. But I wanted him to use me, wherever He might want me to be. I was rather surprised to find that I was discharged and I have never been hospitalized since. I started going to a church in ’06 that teaches from the Bible. It’s a lot more fundamentalist than the other church, and I believe it’s where God wants me to be right now.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been well this whole time. I have still struggled with depression and hypomania, still struggled to maintain my ability to work. In fact, presently I am “retired” from even doing a cashier job. It was too overwhelming to me. It’s very sad that as time has gone on I have become less and less able to function as a “normal” human being. I have been on disability for several years, but I have a hard time accepting that. I am very involved with my church, and it seems that doing volunteer work for God does not stress me in the same way. I do have to be careful not to overdo. Sometimes it is my guilt that makes me take on too much. Guilt for being mentally ill, guilt for not earning my keep. My counselor has said more than once that if I didn’t feel so guilty,  if I wasn’t so much in denial of having a mental illness, I could probably have a happy life and function better. I think he is right, but it is hard to just erase that voice in my head that says I am bad, and wrong, and lazy, etc.

My dream? If I had no shame for who I am, if I truly celebrated those gifts that God has given me, and used them only as much as He desired, I’d be a working novelist. I wouldn’t just dabble and play at it. I’m good at it, really. I also do have Spiritual gifts of mercy and hospitality, gifts He has given me to use for Him, but not for my ego, and not to be used under my own power. I used to dream of having a big foster home, with horses, and a long haired husband (lol). Now I just dream of being able to function, without feeling like I’m not enough.

 

And so I come to the real answer to the question:”Who Am I?” I leave you with this song by Casting Crowns:

________New Year

Suppose I could just ask you, since the stupid poll will not attach to this blog … What kind of New Year’s Day are you having?

Happy

Tolerable

Don’t ask …

Ask me tomorrow

 

I was having a pretty good day til I tried attaching that stupid poll! Argh!!! lol…

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

Don Charisma


«If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.»

— Vincent Van Gogh


DonCharisma.com-logo-4Charisma quotes are sponsored by DonCharisma.com – you dream it we built it … because – “anything is possible with Charisma”



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Keep Breathing!

 

With all the talk of suicide I thought I would submit this link and the lyrics to the song. Sometimes it is as simple as to Keep Breathing! 

 

You wait in darkness for answers that you can’t see
You know what you deserve
And you’re wondering why your life is
Not what you thought it should be

When the night breaks, your heart still aches
How can you face the day?

Just keep breathing, you’ll make it
Don’t give in, you’re not done yet
Sometimes all that you can do is
Keep breathing and believing
Don’t let go, just hang on tighter a little longer

When you feel like you’re dying, keep breathing
Don’t give up, don’t give in, don’t let go
No, you’re not done
Don’t give up, don’t give in, don’t let go

When every moment is almost more than you can take
You’ve got to know some tomorrow will bring you a breakthrough
It’s the reason why you got to get through today
When the night’s gone you will be strong

Keep breathing, you’ll make it
Don’t give in, you’re not done yet
Sometimes all that you can do is
Keep breathing and believing
Don’t let go, just hang on tighter a little longer

With every breath you’re bringing hope
You’re letting go of all your doubts
When nothing is easy, you got to keep going
Even when you don’t know how
You don’t have to know how, no

Keep breathing, you’ll make it
Don’t give in, you’re not done yet
Sometimes all that you can do is
Keep breathing and believing
And don’t let go, just hang on tighter a little longer, whoa

Keep breathing, you’ll make it
Don’t give in, you’re not done yet
Sometimes all that you can do is
Keep breathing and believing
And don’t let go, just hang on tighter a little longer

Keep breathing, don’t give up
No, you’re not done
Don’t give up, don’t give in
Don’t let go, no, you are not done yet

Don’t give up, don’t give in
Don’t let go, no, you are not done
Don’t give up, don’t give in
Don’t let go, no, you are not done

Don’t give up, don’t give in
Don’t let go, no, you are not done

Keep Breathing!  by Kerrie Roberts

♪ ♫ Here come those tears, again … ♩ ♬

Yep, survived. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you know what I’m talkin’ about. And I have hardly told you ANYthing! (I’ll work on that).

It’s a sad commentary. But this year has been super hard for me. I have not grown, I don’t think; I’ve gone backwards. But that is a miracle. The treadmill was going backwards, and I didn’t fall off the end. And that, my friends, is victory. If that’s you, too, pat yourself on the back.

 

Happy New Year! May 2015 be a lit-tle easier on us, lol…

Your Worth is Beyond Measure

How does that title make you feel? Your Worth is Beyond Measure.

I don’t know about you, but even typing that makes my heart skip a beat and my spirit feel stronger.

You see, God gives you what you need.

I tend to live with a low level of depression most of the time. I say “live with” because really it is my preferred state of mind. Preferable to mania, anyway.

But I don’t want to go off topic.

Your Worth is Beyond Measure.

When I pray (and I admit that I don’t do it often enough), sometimes the answer to prayer is not all that clear. But in this situation it was.

I was feeling really down, and I have this friend who has said to me, more than once, that if you truly know your value to God, you won’t be depressed.

Well, I get it. At least, in my head I do. I know God loves me. He loved me enough to die for meNever would I say that’s not enough. I know I’m just a measly sinner, still am. The only difference is, I believed in Christ and asked Him to forgive me. Now I am forgiven. I have a home in Heaven.

But still I get depressed. Oh you don’t know how it irks me when people tell me I shouldn’t! That doesn’t change the fact!

So anyway, back to my friend. I remembered what she’d said, and as always, I started arguing with her in my head. And that led to my prayer. Show me, God. I get it, on one level, but change my heart! If I’m really of any value to you, show me! Change that part of me that says I would be better off dead. Sure, I do things for people. But no one knows what goes on in my head. What I actually feel. Show, me, Lord.

And very shortly after that, I opened my email account.

There, in black and white, the subject line of one email stood out. It said, Your Worth is Beyond Measure.

Now, I don’t believe God said, at the moment I prayed, “Ooh! Ooh! I know what will convince her! I’ll get hold of her email account and send her THIS! Then she’ll believe Me!”

What I do believe, though, is that God goes ahead of me, knowing what I need. Matthew 6:8 says, “… your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” And oh thank God for that! I wouldn’t be here!

The email came, randomly, from a website from which I send email cards to friends. Reluctantly, I had checked the option, “Ok, if you must,” when they’d asked if I wanted to receive email offers from them.

Now this particular email came in July of this year. But I have never deleted it. So each time I clean out my inbox,  what’s left stands out – and I get a little lurch in my belly. Your Worth is Beyond Measure.

And it’s an affirmation more powerful than anything I could whisper to myself in the mirror.

Why does it affect me so much?

Because it was an answer to prayer. And because I know it’s true. I knew it was true when my friend said it.

But seeing it there in black and white does something to me.

I know I am of value to certain people. I do for them or I love them or I am just there for them.

But to think My Worth is Beyond Measure – to the God of the universe – that there is powerful.

More powerful than the depression that is always salting my wounds.

Because I know it’s true.

Do you?

 

Read about your value to God:

 

♪♫ Someday Lady You’ll Enable Me … ♫♪

I’m hearing a lot about Al-anon and enabling and detachment and suchlike lately.

Why? Well, it’s the holidays and if anybody (including ourselves) is going to act up, it’s then.

Why is it so hard to set boundaries which are both healthy for me, and helpful for the alcoholic or other-type folk? Cuz the person doesn’t necessarily have to be addicted for me to walk all over myself, in trying to help where I may or may not be needed.

It’s been said that the alcoholic (or whatever) is addicted to his/her substance, and that, in a way, those of us who love them are addicted to them. Why, and how, do we turn ourselves inside out in order to help a person who may not even want to be helped? At the very least, they’re not ready. And in the meantime, I’m a mess! Somebody help ME make a decision! Because I can’t, anymore!

And really, that’s what Al-anon is about. Making healthy decisions for yourself.

Applying the principles to my situation, it’s the friend who’s so angry at the world that they take it out on everyone, even those who love and try to help them (as in, me). It’s the guy who just got out of the ER after a suicide attempt who is already drinking again – and their family wants me to fix them. It’s the loved one to whom I will never be enough, no matter how I try. It’s the son that I love dearly, who said he needed to stay with me for “a while,” and it’s now going on to a year.

Meanwhile, I have the idea that I “can’t” say anything, “can’t” set limits, and, most of all, “can’t” say no. Because what if … (and it’s there that I can come up with many many reasons, ad infinitum).

How much do I do for them?

First off, I have to be in touch with God enough to be able to hear His guidance, that still small voice that says, “No no no no no,” or, “You’ve had enough.” Some call it a red flag. In my case, I wait so long that it ends up being a white flag. “I give up! I surrender!” And I’m ready for the white coats!

Secondly, I cannot be “it” for any one person. When I start thinking I’m “the only one” who can help a certain person, I am in trouble, and I am not likely to help that person very much. Especially if the load does get too big and I start resenting them.

Thinking I’m “the only one” reminds me of Elijah of the Bible, who was so depressed in the desert, and spoke to God about it (1 Kings 19:14-18):

… I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left ; and they seek my life, to take it away 

Wow, I can almost hear the whining voice. God, how come I’m the only one who can help, here? Why am I in this position? If I’m being honest, I will say, How did I get myself in this position? Can’t someone else do it? And God reminded Elijah:

… Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

God reminded Elijah that he was not indispensable, nor was he the only one serving Him “so well.” Ugh, a little ego deflating. I’m not the only one who knows how to help. I’m not indispensable. But I sure do lead people to believe I am. 

And what do I get out of leading people to think I’m “all that”? Oh I’m not consciously seeking kudos. I honestly want to help. But where do I get the idea that I can help everyone, and that I am the only one who can?

One thing that happens with me is I’m  unbelievably attracted to people who feel unlovable (or I perceive that they do). Maybe they have had some injustice done, and I want to make it up to them. Life has treated them horribly. Someone has hurt them, over and over. And I think, if I just love them enough, I can fix them. If I show them the world is not all bad, I can fix them; they’ll be happy. Then, when I can’t convince them, I am furious! “After all I did for them!” I, I, I!

Where does that come from?

Is it as simple as “do unto others as you wish they would do unto you?” Or is it, I’m looking for some payback, some undying love and gratitude?

Well, it may well be. I have come a long way from the days of my early adulthood where I felt like there was nothing to love about me.

But though I have since learned that I have a lot of good qualities, I still have the idea that I have to earn that love.

Again, I have to go back to the Bible.

Romans 5:8 KJV, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

and, Ephesians 2:8 KJV, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

If you’ll notice, in neither scripture does it say I have to do anything to be loved. I just have to seek God, and His love is there. No earning, no being indispensable, no putting Band-aids on everybody.

God did give me the capacity to love, and to love greatly, but He did not make me God. And He did give me His Holy Spirit to guide me in what I should do for others.

I just have to stop long enough, be humble enough, to ask Him, “What wilt Thou have me to do?”

And then, the hardest part: Wait.

Approaching goodness (at least, that’s the title I started out with)

I’m doing a lot of reading of blogs, surfing around Facebook, nodding my head a lot, reblogging some … but in spite of all that, Christmas is still coming, lol…

I actually am feeling a kind of happy about it, which is unusual for me, because usually I am all about avoiding it, and dreading it.

Why?

Well, one reason is the lack of funds, but that’s not primary. When I can, I give my son some money, and give to the Christmas offering at church. Never could afford much more than that.

Well, that’s not true. I remember the first Christmas, as a kid with a paper route, when I was able to buy “something” for every of my then-9 siblings, for Mom, and for Dad. SO EXCITING! Maybe each item was under $5., but every gift was special, and thought through.

Over time, as I made more money, I was able to give more than a token gift. REAL exciting!

And then further along in time, as my illness has progressed, back to not being able to buy for anyone at all (I have bipolar, folks, which usually means depression and anxiety, which usually means, I am either between jobs, beginning one, or ending one. None of these phases lasts very long).

I can’t just blame the lack of gifting on the money. I went for five years not having contact with my family at all. My fault, the fault of the therapists, the fault, again, of the illness. [One of these days I will talk about “the fault of the therapists,” but not now. Not when I’ve digressed so well already].

So, uh, where were I?

Avoiding and dreading. Well, after the no contact thing, I started finding the whole Christmas thing very depressing. No family to sit around a table with, and a blatant refusal to enjoy it otherwise.

Why else did I avoid and dread it?

Well, there’s the depression thing. That.

That’s probably the biggest thing.

But wait, there is something even bigger than the depression. It’s the expectation that it will be depression. And even, the choice that it will be depressing.

How could that BE? Aren’t I just a victim of my illness?

Not quite. Really, I do have choices. Ok, not always, but sometimes.

Like, the last few years, I chose to attend a community dinner and bring along friends who don’t celebrate with THEIR families, for various and sundry reasons of their own.

It made me feel a part of, under the guise of being helpful to others.

I’m good at that last one.

So anyway, this year, I’m doing the same, the community dinner. Last year, my son came along, so that was really cool. Not sure what he is doing this year.

But anyway! I keep digressing!

What I want to say is, this year I am not just “supposed” to feel (here comes the list): Grateful, happy, excited, spiritual, close to the Lord, close to people …

I am actually feeling some of that!

And not in a manic-y scary sort of way. Just, kind of a normal feeling of happiness and anticipation.

WOW!

Oh did I fail to mention another reason I dread Christmas?

Yes I am undigressing a little, sorry.

I had a suicide attempt in December of 1985. Due to some of the reasons I listed above.

But I survived!

And every year I seemed to think I had to pay homage to the Anniversary of the Failed Suicide!

This year, nah, I don’t think I will do that.

I think I will be happy. And just allow that.

(and the other stuff on the list)

 

Run in the Right Direction

This video (click the word “video,” here) comes from a church in Hooksett, New Hampshire, called Emmanuel Baptist Church. I don’t go there but I’ve been there, and the message is so timely. How many of us are running in the wrong direction, away from God, or into things that will in no way help our situation? I don’t even need to name them – you know what they are. What is the right direction? You know what it is. I know you don’t want to hear it. Listen anyway.

Run in the right direction!

 

Here is a song that might help you find that direction:

The Christmas Scandal

WOW. You have got to read this and watch the video. My eyes are still puffed up from crying after watching the video. The blog itself is so insightful. Good way to start the month! Thank you Leah!

Isaiah 43:1

sainsburys-christmas-advert-first-world-war-534812

A scandal as arisen in the UK over the release of a Christmas commercial by Sainsbury Grocery. The commercial spends about 3 minutes depicting the Christmas Truce of 1914, with the end goal of selling chocolate.

Apparently, people are upset that such an extraordinary event should be used for advertising purposes. I find this hilariously ironic.

Every year, people all over the world see their largest boost in profit because of the advertisement advantage given to them by the celebration of the birth of our Savior.

I’m very grateful to this ad and its controversy because it stopped me dead in my tracks and caused me to look at the birth of Christ in a way I never had before.

We all know (some have experience) the trauma of childbirth for the mother, but I think few of us really reflect on the trauma the child goes through.

Everything the baby…

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