Category Archives: Christians and mental health

Dear Day of Off

Dear Day of Off,
I have been looking forward to you all week, but here I am, not as thrilled as I was, because suddenly you have become a Day of Obligation. Oh sure, I have a Meeting of Friends scheduled for 12 noon, but I also have a number of chores and errands that need to be accomplished.
And a visit to an Office of Government.
Really?
It all started when I woke up.
First of all, I had planned to Sleep In, which, in case you did not know this, means, “not getting up at the usual (or earlier) time.” Did you not realize this? Of course, you and Bladder colluded on this matter and I am quite Put Out.
Next, there is this matter of Clothes Not Washed. Now, I realize that you and I have a deal, that I will keep up on the laundry, enabling me to have said Day of Off available for Other Things. So explain to me where these Clothes Not Washed came from?? And where goeth these Other Things? I have Books awaiting perusal! I have friends awaiting phone calls! I have windows awaiting the Staring of Out!
But instead? Bladder, as previously discussed. Then, the Surrender to Coffee (required regardless of Day).
And Clothes Not Washed, which took precedence. Because of another phenomenon which I call, CRS: Can’t Remember Stuff. Yes, I have come to forget essential things (including the washing of uniforms), and even with a List, I forget the List. Hence, the 12th Commandment: Thou shalt do the Thing, whilst one is thinking the Thing. (The 11th Commandment being, Thy mother worketh not here: Clean Up After Thyself.)
So I am breaking cardinal rule number 1: Thou shalt do nothing before coffee. And here I am, doing something before coffee!
There is also this matter of Vacuuming, Dusting, General Cleaning, and the like. Answer me this: Why have you not kept up these things as much as you have Clothes Not Washed? Why have you eaten up my day with such foolishness? Don’t you know I have other things I would like to have done with my Day of Off? Leisurely Bible reading, perhaps? Correspondence? Extending Meeting with Friends? Daydreaming?
(SMH)
(Which stands for, Shaking My Head)

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“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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♪♫ Fly me to da moon…

Let’s get it over with: Happy Monday. Ok, I said it. No explanation point. (Ha ha, I got cha there, didn’t I?) And no, I did not really mean it. (The happy Monday! Pay attention y’all!) Because hey, who really puts “happy” and “Monday” together? It was purely obligatory at best. You are paying attention aren’t you? I meant the Happy Monday!

Anyway, this morning I noticed myself kind of singing the song, “Fly Me To The Moon,” in my head (Frank Sinatra sings this best IMHO. I would post a link to a video but gee you guys are distractible).

I most often sing this song, alternating with “Smile, though your heart is aching …” as a distraction, when I am somewhere or doing something that I would rather not do or be. Most commonly this setting and situation would have been in the medication room by the butler with a knife.

URGH! You guys are driving me MAD!

Back to the whole point! Distraction! I would sing that song, “Fly Me To The Moon” whenever I did not want to be or do whatever it was I was being or doing. Not that “where I’m at” today is so horrible. Although, Monday would be right up there with horrible, I really don’t mind helping my friend, or doing the writing, it’s just that my Monday is not purely my Saturday today, and I don’t like that.

If all that makes sense to you, here’s a banana. You don’t need to listen to any more.

Er, not that the rest of you lot have to. Listen. Again, pay attention. Not that the rest of you have to listen. Except, by now, you are a captive audience due to the fact that my stellar writing has already reeeeled you in… muahhh haaa haaa…

HO-kay… where was I.

The explanation point (Heh):

Most times, my Monday is my Saturday. I make no appointments, have no obligations, really don’t even make myself get dressed, if I don’t want to.

Um, I rarely make myself get dressed most days but that is beside the point. Pyjaminators unite! Rawwrrr!

Gee I’m acting like it is my Saturday! The brain feels like it … tonk tonk …

So what do I have scheduled today that that has me in a state of upheaval?

Well, not much. I have an older friend who has to go to the doctor’s. And I have to make up some writing words, about 2000 today.

Now, notice, it’s not like I am straight out.

Nor do I resent my friend. I want to help her. She sounds torrible! When you can hear someone wheezing in church from one row up and one aisle over, they really need to be seen!

Ok, let’s be honest! It’s the words that I resent.

I don’ waaannna… Pffhh… surprise surprise.

Ok, let’s start visualizing. You finish the book. It is halfway decent (and I am pretty sure it would be, if I finished the dang thing!) You finish writing the book, and even editing it!

You send it off to an editor, a friend-of-a-successful-friend maybe even …

It gets published! and read by many many, who beg the publishing company for the next book in the series! Which is (theoretically) already written, edited, and ready for publication! (even more theoretically)

Mm hmm… (picture wry Madea-like look)

Ok, that’s not the look I was going for. Try this.

haha. That’s not the look either. Well, trust me, Madea gets skeptical. Okay?!

Now I am suitably distracted, even more so than I was by my mental “Fly me to the moon.”

And so – “Get to work, Kathleeeen…”

Off I go.

But first, breakfast. Ha ha ha!

Did you forget already?

Yes, you. You are loved, no matter what. And you matter! Things that I heard over and over this week as I attended my partial hospital treatment program for mental illness.

I had determined that I was going to write you this brilliant summary of things I had learned that you might also find useful, but dang! I had too much fun today, and tomorrow will be very busy. So, I will just say that the program is helping, I’m learning a lot, and, I matter.

I did write a post on Facebook for my Christian brothers and sisters:

Many Christians who have depression, anxiety, OCD, or other mental health issues are silent about it. We may feel embarrassed or stigmatized, but these issues are real, medical problems, with emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual effects. It doesn’t mean “Boo hoo I broke a fingernail,” or “I don’t have enough chairs for Christmas dinner.” It doesn’t refer to the natural sadness we feel when we lose a loved one, or experience other life situations, although mental illness may also be involved. These diagnoses can be prolonged and even deadly when left untreated (For an example, see http://www.actlocallywaco.org/2015/03/24/hope-and-healing-regaining-life-from-major-depression/).

One thing that helps me with all of my struggles, including mental health issues, is the Word of God. In Psalm 23, the Bible speaks of the valley of the shadow of death. Those of us with mental illness walk that fine line all the time, between life and hope, and discouragement and even suicide. But God walks with us. We may not be aware, but He is there all the time, and ready to help and guide us.

There are also many people who can help us return to good health and a closer walk with God. It may be our pastor or a counselor, and sometimes a doctor is needed when we need medication and other treatment modalities. I believe that God has provided these resources, and we need not be ashamed if they are needed. This doesn’t mean we just go off on our own; we are still guided by the Word of God in our daily lives.

Psalm 23, as referred to above, is a great scripture to meditate upon:
1 The LORD is my shepherd ; I shall not want .
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies : thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

****

It seemed like what I wrote was going to promote a firestorm, and the first commenter did start out that way. It seemed she was saying that you don’t need medications, and said the whole usual blah blah … but in a later comment she started talking about oils and what not, and I’m like, wait a minute, that doesn’t jive with what you said initially. But I didn’t want to argue, so I just let it go. There were several other comments that were supportive and echoed what I had written.

So, kids, this is all you are going to get out of me this weekend, lol. Unless I can’t sleep later…

xo

Hear my prayer …

Our church participates in hosting a Baptist youth camp at Camp Wilmot, in New Hampshire, each summer. There is nothing like the mountains and greenery of this part of New England to satisfy your soul. The clouds are closer, the wind is sweeter, and the voice of God is in your ear.
One morning I took the photo above, and once I downloaded it, I realized something. The cloud almost took the shape of a heart held out by someone’s hand. I have since used the photo quite often on my blog, when speaking of God’s love, of hope, and of happiness. 
As a person with bipolar illness, well, even as a human being, I have a special need to be in touch with God as much as possible. Whether that means seeing God in the clouds, or elsewhere in nature, it doesn’t matter. Or maybe God speaks through a friend, or through something I’ve read somewhere. There are other, more obvious ways, of course. There is direct prayer (speaking with God), and reading the Bible (listening to God).
These are all ways I can grow in my relationship to the Lord. I have not always found this to be easy. I look at the people around me who seem to find their relationship with Jesus to be so matter-of-fact, so natural, and I have to admit that I’m jealous. I think some have this easy friendship by virtue of the length of time they have been saved, but I also think that my bipolar illness makes it difficult for me to maintain that consistent prayer life and walk with God.
I have known God since I was a little girl growing up in the Catholic church. I remember back when I had my first communion, kneeling at the altar, praying earnestly to a God who seemed so real. I almost remember being bathed in a soft, heavenly light, and love. Of course, I am pretty creative, so I may not be remembering that “just so.” But what I do know is that there was and is a God Who loves me.
Life after that childhood memory, of course, happened, along with its stormy seas. I was in and out of relationship with God as I grew older, perhaps more jaded, and by the time my parents divorced, it was more of a habit and duty to go to church. It did not seem to do a whole lot for me, and I was not all that interested in what I could give back. I was quite relieved when my mother stopped making us go to church. There had been no point to it anyway, in my mind.
Having balked at God being the ultimate authority, I continued to resist other rules; mainly, those of my parents. I pushed aside the values and expectations I had learned growing up. If I had ever feared God, I no longer did. I lived my life for me, myself, and I. Alcohol, boys, money – all of that seemed the chief end and aim of life.
Unfortunately, that life started getting more and more difficult, and I soon wound up in AA, wondering what on earth had happened.
But still, even though I’d gotten sober, I had no peace. I had tried to go back to church several times after my parents split up, and again when I stopped drinking, but there was a wall there. It seemed like God was no longer there. I had a brief experience with Him, so I thought, during my first manic episode in 1985, but that did not cause a lasting change. Most likely that was just the chemicals in my brain, messing with me.
And so, fifteen years later, I was no further along than I had been. Sober, but miserable. It was then that I met Christ and got saved, and found out that He wasn’t a church, He wasn’t tradition. I’d been right the first time. He was Someone who cared about me. I was 40 years old, and I had a lot yet to learn. I began to build this relationship, or, more accurately, God began to change my heart.
As a person with bipolar, however, I do not always find this relationship to be very smooth, or even, at times, satisfying. When I’m depressed it’s hard to read my Bible or to want to serve the Lord. When I’m hypomanic, I feel like I have a straight line to God and don’t need the Bible or preaching. I really envy those who can be consistent. I am not one of them. I do know deep down, however, that the basis of my relationship with God has got to be reading the Bible and prayer His love. No matter what I do or don’t do, by virtue of my relationship with Him, He loves me. And He wants to have a relationship with me!
One of the things that will prompt me to turn to my Bible is when a friend will post a scripture verse on Facebook, as one man did this morning. He wrote:
Psalm 143:8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust : cause me to know the way wherein I should walk ; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
That verse alone was very comforting to me. It was as if I could read it and have it be my prayer to God. The words of that scripture are similar to words I have used many times in speaking to God of my troubles. The rich detail spoke straight to my heart; God, speaking to me personally, through His word. Oh, He doesn’t literally speak, deep voice and all. But the written word and the response of my soul told me that it was meant for me at that particular time.
I went further. I looked up the verse in my Bible and read the whole chapter. “Wow,” I said, “is that my depression or what??” And within the text, God’s answer: Read me, hear me, follow me.
Here is the psalm. If you would like, you can also take a listen (Click here, then hit the speaker button). Romans 10:17 says that “… faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” so listening is a good practice.
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.
2 And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified .
3 For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead .
4Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate .
5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.
6 I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.
7 Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit failethhide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust : cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
9 Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies : I flee unto thee to hide me.
10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
11 Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
12 And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies , and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.