Category Archives: Christian counseling

“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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New Plan (“… If you want to make God laugh…”)

Stupid depression.

Stupid laryngitis.

Have y’all ever had laryngitis? I don’t know about you but it makes me so mad! I want to communicate to my therapist, for example, and I say, “I’m so mad that I can’t talk and tell you how I feel!” He says, “What?”

I know. Funny. HAHA – except it’s not. I am not a big talker, mind you. I am happy sitting in a room full of people for 2 hours not saying a word, trust me. But when I can’t? GRRR! I want to throw things. It has been about 5 weeks now. I’ll get to that.

So anyway back to the depression. It had gotten increasingly worse (continued suicidality, hopelessness, anhedonia, lack of motivation, irritability, insomnia, isolation, etc etc), so finally a little more than a month ago my shrink increased my Abilify. Currently on Lamictal 200 mg, Trileptal 400 mg, Abilify 2.5 mg, among other non- psych drugs.

The med change still has not helped, so she has increased it again, to 3 mg. We are leery because I have gotten manic on it before; but other med adjustments/changes have either not helped or have had bad side effects. I wish I had a list of all the stupid meds I have been on.

I am also on the wait list to start outpatient hospitalization or intensive outpatient or however you want to call it. It has often helped before. I hate to have to do it but … (shrug) it is what it is.

Now the laryngitis. I’ve had it going on five weeks now. From the get-go the only symptoms have been the laryngitis and a dry cough. Barely productive of sputum (if you are a nurse and taking notes). I have also had an increase in my reflux (food and liquid backing up into my throat). My doctor and I discussed it and decided I should have an EGD (tube that goes down the throat and looks at the esophagus and stomach and etc – they can take pictures, take biopsies, etc). Still waiting on that appointment.

Oh, and the maintenance guy helped me to elevate the head of my bed on blocks, and my Nexium (medication for reflux) has been increased.

 

I think that’s about it.

Oh and just in case anyone wanted an explanation:

If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” – Woody Allen

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 God is a Mountain Mover *

I’m waiting outside for a friend to get done grocery shopping, and doing some “homework” (a Bible study) that I can’t seem to make myself to do at home. Yes, I’m referring to the “D” word, discipline! The book is called Too Busy Not To Pray, by Bill Hybels, and it was chosen by a friend of mine for three of us to study together.. We weren’t able to finish the study, but I determined that I wanted to finish the book. As I said, I am not good at disciplining myself to do a number of things, including Bible study and prayer. So this book is perfect for me!

So, I was reading along in the chapter called “Mountain Moving Prayer,” and I had a number of “EUREKA!” moments. Now a EUREKA! is “a cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something.” (For its origin, see Wikipedia, Eureka. LOVE that word!)

One of my “Eureka!” moments was when I was reading a story Mr. Hybels related about speaking to a ginormous group of people in India. We’re talking twenty or thirty thousand. Hybels had been a secondary speaker on previous nights. But this time, he was the main speaker, responsible for leading the group to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The enormity of the task hit him right where he lived, and a tremendous fear overtook him. I sure could relate to some of his feelings. With my anxiety, I’m overwhelmed with having to talk to one person at a time, never mind 30,000!

Hybels was praying, but in his terror, he could not focus his thoughts beyond his panic.

In the midst of his trying to get hold of himself, a song was sung, just before he was to go on stage. It was (“coincidentally”) my favorite song. And God used it to change his heart:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNZS5H9aNlY

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever will be.

Refrain:
Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me …(Words: Thomas O. Chisholm; Music: William M. Runyan)                                                                                                               

God used the song to change Hybels’ heart, and he was moved to pray in a very different way. This time, recognizing his own insufficiency, he remembered the sufficiency of the One of Whom he was asked to preach!

His prayer:

I’m praying to the Creator of the world, the King of the universe, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-faithful God. I’m praying to the God who made the mountains and who can move them if necessary. I’m praying to the God who has always been faithful to me, who has never let me down no matter how frightened I was or how difficult the situation looked. I’m praying to a God who wants to bear fruit through me, and I am going to trust that he is going to use me tonight. Not because of who I am, but because of who he is. He is faithful. (p. 81)

How powerful a prayer! How mightily God answered his prayer! After he spoke, thousands came forward to receive Christ! And Hybels knew it was not because of anything he’d done. It was the Lord working through him, to Whom, and of Whom, he had prayed!

This chapter was tremendous. Hybels also pointed out the story in Joshua Chapter 3, where the priests’ obedience led to their stepping out in faith, to cross the Jordan when it was high and raging. The priests stepped out first. The fruit of their faith was manifested by that first step – and everyone walked across dry ground to the other side.

That phrase, “dry ground,” kind of grabbed my attention. Here the priests and the Israelites crossed the Jordan over dry ground. In the same way, the Red Sea was parted for Moses and the children of Israel. Just think of the 40 years in the desert! Talk about dry ground! You think God wasn’t working on their hearts? Even Jonah was spit out of a big fish, and onto dry ground!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRxLhwUsvVk

Are you in the big fish
Are you sitting in the belly of a world gone mad
Have you turned your back on His wish,
His will for your life, have you made Him sad
Do you want to get out of the big fish
Listen to God and follow His plan
And you won’t be part of the main dish
He’ll spit you out on to dry land(FFH, “Big Fish”)

There are so many more examples of faith in the Bible! There’s the story of David and Goliath, where David’s faith in God is bigger than that of all the great warriors! There’s the faith and courage of Caleb and Joshua, when God sends them to investigate the promised land. “WHAT giants?” they said. “WHAT cities? Let’s go!” And they knew that God was the one Who would have the victory!

I don’t know about you, but my faith is nowhere near that strong. Talk about dry land! Some of us think if we’re Christian, we must be doing something wrong if we suffer from certain conditions. We aren’t praying right, we’ve made God mad, we’re more sinful than the next guy. But we can suffer any number of human conditions: pain, mental illness, diseases of the body that are seen and unseen. And these can be aggravated by the devil’s desire to to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. We’re tapped out, and vulnerable. Our pain is so great. We have exhausted our strength. What if we’re in need of material things? What of next week, when there’s no paycheck? These are the days we want to give up. And sometimes, we do need to root out sin. It can seem overwhelming. These are the days we can see God’s desires for us, and we cower, saying, “I just can’t do this anymore!” 

But that’s the problem, I guess. My faith is in my own self. My strength. My resources. But as the song says, all I have needed thy hand hath provided. Strength. Resources for another day. Hope. A friend who shows up at just the right moment. As Hybels prayed, my faith needs to be in the mountain mover.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vy0XJoxoYmE

Chorus:
My God is a mountain mover
My God’s gonna make a way
Can’t count all the time He’s proven
We can trust him just have faith
Take a hopeless situation
Watch Him turn it all around
Nothing is impossible
I can’t hold back I’ve gotta shout
My God, My God, My God
Is a mountain mover …

Does this mean instant victory? Does this mean my troubles just vanish like a puff of smoke? How I wish! But victory can take a number of forms. Can I say no to the things that will hurt me? Do I have the courage to ask for help? Can I venture out where God wants me today? Can I just plain be obedient and read my Bible? It may not seem like much, but even getting dressed and showing up is a huge victory on some days.

So I can’t use my illness as an excuse. But I also can’t compare myself and the tasks before me to those of other people. God made me the way that I am, gave me what I have. He knows the reason for all of it. So “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14)

♪♫ 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!

♪♫ 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.

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:

Along the lines of “Don’t fix it” …

Just know that the holidays can really mess with your moods! Decide right now that you aren’t going to make any major decisions til they are over: Don’t move, don’t start a new job, don’t kill yourself, don’t drink, don’t sleep around, just focus on one day at a time, one holiday at a time. You will get through. And don’t worry about being weird, there are a lot of weirdos like you, like me, just surviving these days. They will pass!

And pretty soon after these tough times, the days on the calendar will progress, and spring will soon appear, in your heart and in your mind! Meanwile, find ways to survive, and thrive.

Now see, I’m not telling you to be grateful (you should be), I’m not telling you to lean on the Lord (you should be), just keep it simple!! And when you can, reach out and bless somebody!

Chorus:
One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you.
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.

Did you know that Kris Kristofferson helped write this song? Check out some Wiki facts about “One Day At A Time” – and here are a couple of versions you might like:

One with Cristy Lane

and one with Lynda Randle

There now. You’ve gotten through a few more minutes!

Are you 100% sure …

… that if you died today, you would go to Heaven?

I know a lot of religions that say that you can never be sure! But can you imagine knowing that you are saved from Hell for all eternity? God says in His word:

 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. – 1 John 5:13

 It’s so exciting for me to know you’ve sought out this page! It means you’re willing to suspend your disbelief for just a few moments, and deal with who you are in the sight of God. Now that is courage! Take heart,

 

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage , and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait , I say, on the LORD. — Psalm 27:14

Now let’s dive in, and see what the Bible says about our spiritual condition:

 

We Have All Sinned

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23

We are all sinners by nature and by choice. God sees all – our actions, thoughts, motives, and places we go. We all feel guilty and ashamed of things in our lives. 

We have a penalty for our sin

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 6:23

Sin must be paid for. God says the payment is death. The Bible says that there are two deaths.

Physical Death God already knows the day we will die. We can’t avoid it – only prepare for it.

Spiritual Death When a soul dies unforgiven and pays for his own sins, he goes to Hell and then is cast into the lake of fire forever. Hell was not created for people, but for the Devil and demons. God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell.

A gift can’t be bought or earned. It can only be received. Forgiveness does not come through baptism, church, or good deeds. It only comes through receiving Jesus once and for all as a GIFT into our hearts by faith.

Yes, Jesus did die for everyone – but not every person is going to Heaven – only those who receive Jesus Christ. We can either receive or reject Him; there is no in between. No one is born with Him in their lives. He is a gentleman, and won’t come into our heart unless invited.

We can have the Saviour

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

God chose to let Jesus pay for our sin by taking our place on the cross. He was spat upon, whipped, beaten, and crucified. He loves you. He died, was buried, and arose after three days. He is in Heaven making room for you. If you were the only sinner in the world, Jesus would have died just for you. He loves you!

To be honest, most people have never had a definite time, place, and day to accept Jesus once and for all into their hearts. If this has ever happened to you, you would remember it! If you were to die unforgiven as you are, where does the Bible say you would go? Is that what you want?

You can be forgiven now.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. – Romans 10:13

If Jesus was willing to take you just as you are, wouldn’t you be willing to take Him, “just as He is”? Just ask Him now.

Right now, in your own words, pray and ask God to forgive you for being a sinner and to save you from Hell in Jesus’name.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. – 1 John 5:13 KJV

What a promise!

Please let me know about your decision to receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour so I can pray for you and help you from here!

Your relationship with God is actually the most important thing about you. That relationship will determine just about everything else in your life, even more than your education and occupation. Because your relationship with God must be right, you need to be in the right church to grow in Christ. Straight-from-the-Bible preaching is essential! It will instruct, guide, encourage, and challenge you to be all you can for the Lord! If you need help finding such a church, please send me a message and I will do what I can!

Whosoever means Whooo-Soooo-Ever!

(This is from a 2011 blog that still applies.)

A friend of mine asked me today to remember her in prayer. Of course, I am always happy to do so, but she implies that God’s ear is more inclined

(or should I say, declined)

to hear my prayers.

Her request reminded me of a conversation I had with another friend, Donna, just yesterday. I’m pretty sure Donna won’t mind if I share it with you:

DDH: Good Morning, Friends! Hope each of you are happy and have a deep settled peace and joy within you today~~ if not, please allow me to pray for you, I am no one special, but any of us can go to God in prayer, the Word says He hears the sincere cries of our hearts – and that means ANY of us 🙂 ~ know that Jesus will fill the difficult places of your life with His peace, and yes, even with His joy~~ Blessings and love to each of you~~ ♥ 🙂

Here is my reply to Donna:

KCB: Love this! So many people ask me to pray for them, as if I have a special connection to God. Well, I do! But so does anyone who calls upon the Lord!

There are many many many verses that support what I said to her, including:

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I’m not special! But yet, you and I are both special to God! So SPEAK UP! God hears you!

 

Kneeeeee Mail!

I don’t know about you, but I tend to save things in my inbox to prompt me to remember stuff. Of course, it gets cumbersome after a while and I end up deleting the whole pile, wondering why I saved it in the first place.

One such email came from Dayspring.com, which is where I used to get and send a lot of email cards to friends – encouragement, birthday cards, and the like. Well, on a particularly stressful, sad day I received one with the subject line, “Your Worth Is Beyond Measure.”

Wow.

I received that on July 27, and it still gives me chills.

See, I have a friend who says that she lived with depression for most of her life. And the difference for her was discovering her value to God. “More than rubies!” She says.

And shortly before I got that email, she’d reminded me of that. “More than rubies!”

Only, I can’t seem to get that from my head to my heart.

And just writing that makes me cry.

So, I’ve kept the email, and as many emails as I’ve deleted, that one stays. Lord, help me to “get” that. I know You love me. But man… life is really hard sometimes.

My depression is more an energy thing, than a sadness thing. I am not “sad.” I’m frozen.

But, at times, yes I am sad.

Take this email:

Hello,

We’re the __________ a caring facility that provides specialized diagnosis and treatment services for children, adolescents and adults suffering from a wide range of psychiatric and addiction challenges. We’re contacting you regarding a challenging career opportunity for a very special, compassionate Registered Nurse who wants to work in our _______________ location where he or she can dramatically impact the lives of those in need.

Yes, I am an RN, and that advertisement came out of the blue to my inbox.

It made me sad.

I saved it until I could write this blog without tears.

Yea, nice try. (sniff)

You see, years ago, that ad would have been one to make me leap up with joy, and send off my resume without hesitation.

Today, not so much, because I know I can’t do that anymore.

There was a time I might have been able to.

But ironically my own “psychiatric and addiction challenge” makes it so I can’t accept “a challenging career.”

Even working in retail is too much of a challenge. (Not that retail is easy. No no no).

But I must remember: “My worth is greater than rubies.”

Sure. But it’s hard to believe that when you can’t “even” work.

But what I can do is enjoy my life.

So “they” say, lol.

Now I’ve been through many years of therapy, hospitalizations, outpatient programs, etc.

My greatest challenge is “accepting that I have a mental illness.”

I put that in quotes, because I can hear my therapist saying that to me (as he has, over and over and over. YUCK).

One of the things that all these programs recommend is to find those things that I enjoy, and do them. That’s supposed to help me enjoy my life.

Well, on a good day, a day when I thought to challenge myself (there’s that word again), I told myself, “enjoy your life!” and went to an arts and crafts store. Ironically, that’s the kind of retail store I last tried to work at, and failed.

Anyway, on that good day I signed up to take a crocheting class.

I am actually looking forward to it.

And trying to block my mind from the fact that “a challenging career opportunity for a very special, compassionate Registered Nurse” is not in my future.

But “Your Worth Is Beyond Measure.” That is something I could put my teeth around.

(Is that an expression? lol)

Well, in the immortal words of Elvis Presley: I need “Only Believe.” (Click the link)

I have to chuckle. Elvis, who died from drugs and alcohol, telling me to “Only Believe.”

But I think, even from the grave, it speaks to me.

One of the AA stories I used to hear is “How to become an old-timer,” a person with years and years of sobriety. They’d say, “Don’t Drink and Don’t Die.”

Pretty simple.

Meanwhile, as long as we have breath, there’s a chance (praise the Lord). So don’t drink. And don’t die.

It helps to send a knee mail, too. Because when I send a “knee mail” to God, praying on my knees, things happen.

Unfortunately, when I’m depressed, I forget. That’s when my friends kick in, and pray for me. Thank God! I’d never make it through without those prayers!

Mark 10:27 KJV

And Jesus looking upon them saith , With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

A lot to be said for courage …

I’d say that, as people with bipolar, one of the most difficult things we have to face is fear. We fear ramping up, we fear getting down, after a little experience with this thing we’re afraid to even feel happy, in case it’s a symptom! What’s wrong with having a little joy, for Pete’s sake! Well, because it’s gotten us into trouble sometimes.

But we also do develop a lot of strength after a while. We have to! We have to have a thick skin to tolerate all the extra lengths we have to go to to stay healthy! In my case, to deal with some of the strange looks I get, how about you? Lol…

I love words, you’ll get to know that about me if you follow me for very long. And there is something about the word courage that is really interesting to me. The online etymology (word root) website says regarding the word:
:courage (n.) Look up courage at Dictionary.comc.1300, from Old French corage (12c., Modern French courage) “heart, innermost feelings; temper,” from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanishcoraje), from Latin cor “heart” (see heart) which remains a common metaphor for inner strength.

In Middle English, used broadly for “what is in one’s mind or thoughts,” hence “bravery,” but also “wrath, pride, confidence, lustiness,” or any sort of inclination. Replaced Old English ellen, which also meant “zeal, strength.”

The French word for “heart” is “le coeur.”

So basically, when someone tells us to “take heart,” they’re telling us, “be courageous!” Like the cowardly lion:

Cowardly Lion: Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?
Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman: Courage!
Cowardly Lion: You can say that again! Huh?

I always did have a “heart” for that lion. That little song of his:

If I were King of the Forest, Not queen, not duke, not prince.
My regal robes of the forest, would be satin, not cotton, not chintz.
I’d command each thing, be it fish or fowl.
With a woof and a woof and a royal growl – woof.
As I’d click my heel, all the trees would kneel.
And the mountains bow and the bulls kowtow.
And the sparrow would take wing – If I – If I – were King!
Each rabbit would show respect to me.
The chipmunks genuflect to me.
Though my tail would lash, I would show compash
For every underling!
If I – If I – were King!
Just King!
http://www.metrolyrics.com/if-i-were-king-of-the-forest-lyrics-wizard-of-oz.html

But we don’t need to be King – we have a King! Do you know there are 365 different references to “Fear not” in the Bible? I read that somewhere. I believe it’s true (I’ll back it up later lol). This one here is one of my favorites, and helps me to “Fear Not”:

Psalm 31:24 KJV

Be of good courage , and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.
What I love about that is it reminds me that God strengthens my heart! Not me all by my own bitty lonesome. He will help me and make my heart strong! Because that’s what’s wrong with me, when I fear. And that’s what gets broken and torn apart – my heart! So, take heart! Do you realize what all we have survived already? And we don’t have to do it alone, oh thank God! I thank God for those of you who’ve been there, who share with me!
And of course, I thank God for God. I don’t think I’d be here if it weren’t for Him…

Land of Confusion Part Deux

Maya God is not the author of confusion

 

This picture was the first thing I saw on my facebook this morning, so perhaps I am doing something right. The last line of my first blog was:

1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

So I kind of wonder if this is God’s way of confirming that I’m doing something right.

 

(Continuing from the description in part one)
This time the car veers sharply to the right, into a ditch, and halfway into a field. The car stalls out and will not start up again. Dust is flying around in front of the headlights, a la “Back to the Future,” like a mysterious fog. Or is that the engine smoking? I throw open the car door and leap out,.thinking the car might explode. Then, forgetting about the danger, I panic at the next thought. Wasn’t my son in the car? Did I just hit him? I throw myself to the ground, trying to see under the car. Where is he? Then I remember. He’s at work and his father is picking him up.

Relieved, and catching my breath, I notice there are lights on at the house across the street. It looks like there may be a party going on. I cross the road, hearing multiple voices, some of which are familiar to me. They’re waiting for me behind the house! It’s the marriage supper of the Lamb! I begin to run toward them, nearly falling on my face. I hear Todd, a man from the church I’d attended before. I hear the pastor of the church I now attend. I run behind the house, excited beyond belief. I am stunned when I reach the back patio and find that no one is there.

I go around to the front of the house and knock on the door. A man answers the door, and I beg to use the phone to call my son, a friend, anyone. While I am using his cell phone, he appears to be doing something. He seems rather nervous. I notice a strong smell of pot. It overwhelms me and I am afraid. I had never considered that I could be in danger by knocking on a stranger’s door. I thank the man for his help and leave quickly, thinking he could have a knife or something behind his back. I start back to the car and see that there is a police car and an ambulance parked behind it. I wonder why they are there. I begin to cry, relieved that once again I am safe from harm. As I ride to the hospital, the ambulance attendant’s voice alternates between Todd’s voice and the pastor’s. The attendant prays with me at my request, and I start crying afresh.

Hallucinations (experiencing things that are not real through the five senses) and delusions (holding beliefs that are not true) are often experienced in the manic phases of bipolar. You can see in the example above that I was hearing, seeing, and thinking things that seemed real to me at the time. During another episode, I believed that I was Mary, Jesus’ mother. God was speaking to me personally from out of the clouds. The clouds undulated and had colors, shapes, and very realistic human features. No one could have convinced me these things were not real.

After the car incident, I was in a psychiatric hospital for the better part of a month. The psychiatric hospital, to me, is a safe place that I know will bring me back to health. Whenever I’ve landed there, I’ve always known it was for my good. I don’t know why I have never fought it. I suppose it’s because by that point what’s going on with me is not fun. Besides, the staff is nice, the food is good, my needs are met, my medications are managed, and in short order I’m usually able to return home and care for myself. The hardest part, I think, is the long wait in the emergency room before one is transferred to the facility.

One area of patient care that can be neglected is spirituality. In the emergency room one time, I was (I think) acting in a safe manner, but really needing spiritual help. A chaplain was called, and I asked him to pray with me for a little while as I was waiting to be seen. The best he could come up with was a pat on the shoulder every few minutes and a “there, there.” I kept telling him, “No, I need you to pray with me, say a prayer.” I grew desperate and frustrated that he wouldn’t listen to me. How could a person wearing a priest’s collar in a religious facility not pray with someone who obviously needed it? I had the impression that he was afraid of me. He could not make eye contact at all. And I’m pretty sure I was not doing anything inappropriate that would give him pause.

There are different modalities of treatment used in the hospital once a person is admitted. Besides the locked door, medication, and adequately trained staff, there is an individualized treatment plan to meet the patient’s needs. I have a social worker who coordinates my therapies: group meetings, a psychiatrist who sees and evaluates me daily, different kinds of recreation, and occupational therapy. There is very little free time. Inevitably there is a patient or two with whom I can relate. There is nothing like a friend who knows what you are going through who can commiserate. Again, I have found that spiritual needs are not addressed. Other than that, the treatment provided helps me to develop skills I can use on the “outside.”

Funny, that term “on the outside” is reminiscent of prison vocabulary! And I suppose that is one reason some patients object to being put in the hospital. Some are admitted against their will, once it’s determined that they are a danger to themselves or others. Once there, a patient has few choices. They cannot leave the building unsupervised and without being approved to do so. The doors are locked, and if a person becomes violent, they are restrained and placed in a padded room. But all of the above is for their safety. They may react to these interventions with anger, yelling and even throwing things. That is the one thing that’s difficult for me when I’m in the hospital. I react very strongly to loud noises and anger, and some patients who are ill do act out angrily and I feel threatened. But the staff is trained to deal with that and can usually keep everyone safe.

There are patient advocates in most communities who actively work on passing legislation to protect patients’ rights. These rights must be respected whether a person is in the hospital, and/or when law enforcement becomes involved on the outside. I agree that patients should not be restrained or medicated unnecessarily, but there are times when this is necessary. This will protect them, other patients, and the staff, who have a right to be safe as well. In fact, I briefly worked as a nurse in a combination psychiatric and chemical dependency unit. I enjoyed it tremendously, but there were times that I felt very threatened. I also had to take care of people who were on the wrong side of the law, including pedophiles, and it really traumatized me sometimes. The final straw was the time I was standing between two patients who were about to come to blows. I tried to intervene by talking them out of it, and one punched the other in the nose, right above my head (yes, I am vertically challenged, lol).

There are times, I know, when law enforcement or staff overreacts to a person having symptoms of mental illness when they are a threat to themselves or others. Advanced training is continually enabling them to work with the mentally ill, to be more sensitive to our issues, and to better know how to help us. Certainly there is a lot more to learn, and the care of those with mental illness can be improved all the time.

 

In the next blog I will be talking a bit about the effect of psychiatric disorders on family and friends, and also about the importance of having support when you have a mental illness.

 

PS: This image was on my Facebook after I finished this blog entry. Doo doo doo doo …

 God is the author

Land of Confusion

     The lights of the city are mere streaks of color. At the moment, I have no idea I’m in trouble. Every thought I’m having is brilliant. Every word, succinct. My mind is well-oiled, superior, efficient. Part of me is irritated at having to pay attention to the road, as I chase squirrels in my mind, enchanted with myself. Why can’t I feel this way all the time? If only I could write all of this down, I mutter, my fingers itching for a pen. Must remember. Remember what? I’ve forgotten already.

     On the car radio, Carrie Underwood is singing “Jesus Take The Wheel.” I sing along for a while, then cock my head. “You mean it, Lord? You want me to let go?” Of course! Why didn’t I see it before! What freedom to trust God! I slowly let go of the steering wheel, my hands hovering an inch above it, not quite daring to put them in my lap. I smile knowingly, honored by this test. Whatever happens is fine by me. God knows best. 

     Gradually, the car drifts to the right. The dirt crunches beneath the tires and the car rolls slowly to a stop. I smile. See? Nothing happened. I knew I could trust God. He kept me safe. I beam, humbled by His love. But I must not underestimate myself! Oh, the things that I can do!

     I pull the car back onto the road. The sky is blacker than ink. I don’t know where I am. But it doesn’t matter. God will take me where He wants me to go. Humming, I proceed down the winding road, oblivious to the speed limit, and let go of the wheel …

     What’s described above happened to me in 2006, one of several manic episodes I’ve had. About 2.6 percent of American adults suffer from bipolar disorder, characterized by periods of mania and depression. 1 in 4 adults have a mental illness of some sort. That means that if you’re in a room with 3 other people, and they’re ok, you’re the one.

      Ok, so that’s not funny, but you get the idea.

     Most people know that Robin Williams died by hanging on August 11, 2014. I suspect that he had bipolar illness; the highs and lows of his life seemed only to confirm my suspicions. It was interesting, over the next few days, to hear the various comments people made about why he did it. What he was thinking. And how selfish of him to do it. How people could know such intimate details I have no idea, but they were saying it. And then going on with their lives,  unaffected.

      But a number of my friends and I found ourselves comforting each other. It was as if one of our own had lost the battle. I have lost dear ones to mental illness, and said nothing, out of shame, or wanting to protect them. There are lots of euphemisms that can be used on a death certificate. But those close to them probably know the true cause of death. And yet, I said nothing about the disease, about my own struggle. I protected myself, but I also protected the illness. In a way, I contributed to its power, by saying nothing.

 

     I’ve had it better than some, I know. At one point I thought I’d live out the rest of my days in an institution. At other times I’ve been “this close” to being homeless.  But I’ve also been able to work as a nurse, raise a great kid, enjoy many aspects of life.

 

     In the past I have admitted freely, to anyone who will listen, that I’m alcoholic, that I have depression, that I suffer from anxiety. But to tell them I have bipolar is to risk rejection, misunderstanding, even mistrust. And I like being able to function in society without prejudice.

 

     However, I wonder if some of my anxiety is because I’ve hidden this part of me.

 

     So, again, my fingers are itching for a pen, a keyboard, a way to explain. And maybe, to help someone.

 

   And I’ll definitely be talking about God. Because God is not a delusion, nor the author of confusion …  He is my Rock, and the only reason, I believe, that I’m still here. He’s given me work to do, and one of these jobs is to help others who may be limping along. We may be doing a 3-legged race sometimes, but we’re still moving forward. Just keep breathing, and don’t quit.

 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
 
 

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, you 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

When every moment
Is almost more than you can take
You’ve got to know some tomorrow
Will bring you a breakthrough
That’s the reason why
You’ve 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
When you feel like you’re dying.
With every breath you bring in hope
You’re letting go of all your doubt
When nothing is easy, you’ve 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
And 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
When you feel like you’re dying
And keep breathing.

Don’t give up,
Cause you are not done yet

And keep breathing

From “Keep Breathing” by Kerri Roberts