Category Archives: depression

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?

Just another stinkin’ resolution post …

January 1. Would it surprise you if I committed suicide? Look around at your friends. Would it surprise you if any one of them tried to commit suicide? Do you know that suicides are at an all-time high, especially among women? It could be anyone. And it’s sad that when I think about starting out my 2018 blogs, that’s the first thing that I think of talking about.

So THAT was abrupt, wasn’t it? Sorry. ANYway … I really would like to write a blog entry every day in the year 2018. Seems like a pretty good resolution. Much more likely than “lose weight” or “save money.” Could I? Would I? Do I have enough to say? Do I think anyone would even want to hear it? But that doesn’t really matter. It’s the writing that I need to do, that’s therapeutic.
Know that anything I say cannot be used against me! or be considered gospel just because I have written it down. Writing is a process, and things change as soon as they are written.
It’s a good thing God doesn’t think that way. His Word is true, period. It doesn’t change as soon as it’s written down. And I like that.

The Sound of Silence

Silence like a cancer grows …” Paul Simon

Well, I suppose that is true. I don’t speak (= don’t write), therefore it leads to not speaking, and then it is harder to speak again. The silence grows and the cancer is the self- talk that goes on – “No one wants to hear what you have to say.” Or, “You don’t want them to know what you are thinking.” I don’t know which cancer is worse, and I really didn’t think of it as a cancer until those lyrics occurred to me …

The impetus for this blog post is one by a blogging friend, who says that her silence comes from a need to recover. I suppose that is partly true in my case (Recover from what, though? But I feel broken).

But unlike her, the recovery comes when I do write. When I am silent, i.e., not writing, but I suppose this includes not confiding verbally, I am withdrawing into myself, more depressed.

I did ask my NP (Nurse Practitioner) to help me deal with the increase in depression, which I am experiencing “a little bit,” and she upped my Abilify (which I have to be very gentle with – it can be very touchy!)

The other song that came to mind in reflecting about the quiet is a hymn we often sing during the altar invitation time at church:

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit Divine!

So, silence is not so great, haha, if it means that the Holy Spirit will tell me what to do next (“Write, Kathleen!“). I don’t want to hear. La la la la … (index fingers firmly planted in both ears…). I am living a spiritual life, praying, reading my Bible, spending time with other Christian friends, but I am guarded somehow, lately.

Eh, and I thought my not blogging was just a laziness thing, but maybe not. And I do know you don’t mind hearing from me, at least, a number of you have said so. Somehow, that thought makes me feel tearful.

I had no idea, really, that I was feeling this melancholy. I’m really not! But apparently, it’s in there! (“Ragu: It’s In There!”)

So, I suppose I should keep writing.

I am toying with the idea of participating in July’s Nano Camp (see link if you are unfamiliar). Since we are allowed to set our own goals for it, I think I will work on my old work- in- progress one day, and alternate the next with a new work (featuring Vernon and Maggie Burke, an older couple who have an illustrious past …).

So, I guess I’ll see ya.

 

The Sound of Silence,” Written by Paul Simon.

Open My Eyes That I May See,” Words and Music by Clara H. Scott

(Okay, the song really does touch my heart, sigh …)

Do Wha Diddy Diddy Dumb Diddy Doo …

Well there’s an eye catching little title. Nothing to do with this post.

Except for that first word, “do.”

And perhaps, the “Wha.”.

(Leave it to me to get something obscure from a song lyric).

The “do” and the “wha” refers to the “do what?” of my life.  Because so often I’m questioning what I do or don’t do. Am I doing right? And if I’m doing right, am I doing right?

Let me explain. And I’d better hurry up, before I lose you. One of my primary issues is keeping boundaries. And it’s not just the fact that people can take advantage of me. I volunteer myself and my resources. Nobody asked! It’s “What do YOU need?” versus “What do I need?” Then, when everybody’s happy, and I do mean ev.er.y.body, then  I’ll sit down and do my stuff. Complaining all the while, don’tcha know. But to do otherwise, to ignore someone’s need, to leave someone unsatisfied, feels very selfish, and just plain wrong. Sound familiar? (Cough: Martha)

This hurts me. Because after a while I’m feeling disjointed, disoriented, disorganized, and dissatisfied. It’s feeling like life is out of control. My laundry is weeks overdue, I haven’t made that phone call or done my writing, and I’m neglecting my job search and exploration. But maybe that’s the point. In seeing to someone else’s needs, I get to put off the things I need to do, or face, or feel. But that only works for so long. Soon I am in dire straits, and worse, blaming you.

So what is my business? How do I know? What is my responsibility, to you, or to me?

To know this, it starts with prayer. A common prayer of mine is the prayer Paul prayed at the time he was converted to Christianity (and isn’t that putting it mildly?). Having persecuted Jesus and His followers,, and having just condoned the stoning of Stephen, Paul (as Saul) meets Jesus on the road to Damascus.

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord,what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (Acts 9:6)

Simple, huh? Just ask God, and He will lead.

So why don’t I do it? Why don’t I make a habit of taking the time, first thing in the morning, to ask what He’d like me to do during my day? Why don’t I pause, before I say “yes,” or volunteer myself? It only takes a moment. Is it because I think I know better what’s best? Is it because I enjoy that adrenaline rush that says “Ooh, what have I gotten myself into?” “It sure has gotten hot in here.” Or, “Where’s the fire extinguisher?”

But there are concrete things He’s asked of me. I don’t need to pause and wait to be told; it’s in the Book. I can pray for others, one of the finest things that can be done for another human being. I can study and meditate upon God’s word. I can serve in my local church. I can spend time with other people the Lord has given me. And I can do my laundry.

Ok, perhaps that last was my mother talking. But you get the gist. There are many things I don’t make time for, and end up a mess. And if you’re like me, you’re spending time recuperating from time with others as much as you’re actually spending time with them (see: introvert). Maybe more. So you still don’t get things done.

It doesn’t mean I can’t drop everything in the event of an emergency, but it does mean that God has specific tasks for me. He has helped me, through a long history of anxiety, depression, and bipolar illness, to figure out what I need to do to take care of myself. He has helped me to know when it’s time to take steps forward in my recovery, and when I’ve taken on too much. He’s given me specific people, family and friends who know me well. They can see if I am “off,” they can give me that refreshing of the spirit that only a true friend can give, and it is mutual, I hope. If I’m neglecting all of that, or ignoring red flags, a lot of sour notes will ensue. And it’s not just me on the piano, or the Mexican food I just ate.

This is not to mention the fact that if my “good deeds” do proceed from my flesh, and not from the Spirit’s call, it’s not worth a whole lot. I am thoughtful of the following scripture in Romans 8:5-8:

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

There is a whole lot in that there little portion of scripture! Among other things, it makes me evaluate things: Is my motive selfish, even when I appear to be focused on others? Am I looking to be comfortable, to be honored, to be liked? Am I trying, in my flesh, to make others happy? Maybe God’s intent is for that person to seek their own solution, or to sit with their own discomfort. Or, more than likely, for them to turn to Him, rather than to this friend who wants to make “aw better.” Sometimes, making it easier on someone else is not making it easier. It’s not just the two-year-old who needs to know they can do it themselves. And sometimes the attempt to “mother” someone does more harm than good. After all, “mother” and “smother” are pretty close.

Of course, there is such a thing as analyzing something to death. Sometimes I am procrastinating. Sometimes I am “enabling.”

But sometimes, I’m just loving.

And isn’t that what Christ has begged for us to do all along? As it is written:

And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 2 John 5:

 

 

Ulla – Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

I hate to write this. And after many revisions, trying to articulate this clearly, I am just going to click “Publish,” and call it good. After one more read, then I will. And then one more.

Our Dear Ulla, a fellow bipolar blogger known as “Blahpolar,” who entertained us, saddened us, instructed us, inflamed us, embarrassed us, left us. She took her life, and now she’s gone.

I loved you right away, Ulla, loved reading your irreverent prose. The F bombs, the rants, the things we all want to say but can’t. The extremes of anger and sadness. I wanted to loosen my lips, but not THAT much. Being around it, I started to think it. I have no way to explain, only that it wasn’t good for me and the life I was trying to live. So I left off reading your daily blog. I tried reading you once a week, but I couldn’t. I tried to help, but my solution being God and godly things made you REALLY mad. You had your reasons, and I understood, but that was all I had to offer. So I popped in now and then, said hi, reminded you I still cared, but was it enough?

Ulla was as out there as anyone with bipolar could be. She called herself the bipolar dyke. I know some of my Christian friends would wonder, how can you love someone like that, who is out and proud and loud and bipolar and gay and “heathen,”and what if you catch it? Funny, huh? Not really. After all, there but for the grace of God my desire and passion could be for a woman. It can’t be an easy road. My response is more a tilt of the head, and then, so, what else are you about?

As everyone, I was shocked to find out you had left us, Ulla. Let’s just say it right out, you killed yourself. Why? I am so surprised at your choice. You were so strong, so determined! You had a purpose and that purpose was keeping US alive. Oh Ulla. What tipped you over the edge? But I understand, too. When you’re that depressed, you DON’T have a choice over your thoughts, your morbidity, and yes, your choices. And you, my friend, I am sure you looked at the whole thing practically, logically. I don’t believe you were one bit impulsive or emotional about it.

Where are you now? According to my faith, once you are gone you are gone, and if you’ve not chosen Jesus, you are really gone, to Hell, with no way back. But how could I tell you that? Besides, you knew, right? You’d been steeped in religion at one point in your life. I think. Am I remembering right? And shouldn’t I have said something, directly to you, sooner, more emphatically, more empathetically? I had my blogs about salvation, did you read them? But I should have said, Ulla, please, listen to ME. I should have begged, or at least, been a bother.

Then again, maybe you did know the Lord. Maybe you didn’t land in Hell. I believe that those of us who commit suicide ARE ill, and God takes that into account. Oh Lord. Oh Ulla.

And in some religions, it is GOOD to pray you into that good place. It is believed that you can take someone ordinarily destined for Hell, and pray for them, and they will go to Heaven. I know God can do anything, does do miracles. So I pray. Lord, have mercy. Lord, the ones I love, they didn’t understand. Lord, have mercy. It can’t hurt to pray, God wants us to pray, so I pray, Lord, have mercy.

Ulla, I am just so sorry I didn’t continue to be your friend. Survivor’s guilt, they call it. But not just that. I shoulda coulda woulda. You would now be telling me, F___ guilt. But there are some things I am actually guilty of. And you really were a friend to me. You did reach out to me. Or did I you? Regardless, we hit it off. And nothing I said was unacceptable, I was in a bad spot and you were my friend. And vice versa. I really should have done more. I’m so sorry Ulla. We are all asking, is there anything we could have done differently? Something that would have made you stay for one more day, a day things might have turned around for you? Oh yes I know this is totally self-centered of me, but would you please come back?

Ulla Ulla it just seems that if you had held on a little longer, you might have been okay. ECT does not work right away, you know that.  😦 What was it that tipped you over the edge? And was it the best decision? But how could it be?

That is one thing that haunts me. Whenever I find out that someone has committed suicide, I am so sad and horrified, but a part of me is envious, because I have what you have. And that thing that I have is the occasional hatred of life, so strong it can be overwhelming,  it can be all I can think of. The desire to leave, so strong.

But what you didn’t have is what I do have. The hope that no matter how bad things get, I have a future. A future in Heaven. I have Someone Who loves me, will love me forever. No matter who or what happens in my life, I have an assurance that is real enough that nothing else matters. Not my pain, not my misery, nor the endless days. And eventually those days change, and I am happy again, and can move forward. Write again, smile again, hope again. See that I matter.

I pray, as I said, that your endless days ended in Heaven. I pray that I can be a better friend.

But more than that, I wish you were here Ulla. You are so missed. I wish you were here.

 

 

 

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

Hope you have a wonderful day today my friends! Independence Day whether far or near, freedom from lack and freedom from fear. Big hugs! I have had so much discouragement lately, and so hungry, and blowing up like a balloon! Time to take the doctor by the neck and say ok, my Friend, time to get me off this stuff and onto something that works! And preferably something that makes me LOSE weight! THAT would make me “happy,” lol…

As usual wanting to avoid holidays, partly habit, partly just so dog-gone depressed. Lord please help me! Here’s to a good rest-of-the-year, whattaya think? And no I am not toasting with alcohol. Been “independent” of that since December 1985, all glory to God!

For those who have freedom in Christ, a wonderful song today. God bless you! For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind! 2 Timothy 1:7

“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!

I told you …

I said that when the crocuses appeared my depression would magically disappear. Well … here go.

I’m waiiiiting …

BY the way, I am very pleased that I am still working on my novel for Nano Camp and it’s going pretty well! Last night I did some prompts with a friend via some youtube videos put up by Nano Camp. Unfortunately, for the first prompt, I wound up coming up with the video for 2014, not 2015. Also, I heard the word “thoughts” when they said “box.” But the prompt caused me to have a very interesting conversation between my characters, so it’s all good. I would share it with you but I am bashful about sharing my work until I have a chance to pick it all to bits.

All in all, I am so happy with my progress. Happy that when I get behind, I don’t quit. Happy that when I don’t feel like writing, I do it anyway. It’s pretty cool how much writing you can produce when you write!

On that profound note, I bid you adieu as I go back to waiting for my depression to lift. 😀

Will Attend …

Well I respectfully decline, once again, to live half a life/existence and wait until the hour of my death amen.

I want my life back! Well, I want that part of my life that is filled with joy, with ability for my body to obey my will to want and to do.

I just started an outpatient program yesterday to help me with my depression. It’s from 9-3 daily and consists of group therapy, education, occupational therapy, and just in general hanging out with someone other than my own fine depressed self. Means up and bathed and dressed and there by 9 which is a huge stretch all by itself, lol… but it’s good for me.

I’ve been through it before when I was really depressed, and a few times when I was manic too. The staff is really great and many of them have worked there for years, so it is almost comforting to need help (lol)

I enjoyed reading your blogs tonight. 🙂 Keep going!

I will be back at it when I can

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

Good morning!*

*Phew, it’s 11:59 and I made it in time to say “good morning,” lol…

Ah the little things that give us joy, or at least, a little frisson of delight. Ok, a mere sigh of relief, then; whattaya want for nothing? lol

Anyway I wanted to apologize for the lack of comments and “likes” on your blog posts lately. I do care! It’s just been a busy week that has challenged my level of depression a little more than it would normally. This week was our annual missions conference which I usually adore! This year it was more like I had to force myself to go and to be around people; although it did lift me up some and renew my faith and my spirits: PHEW!

Well anyway, enjoy your week. If you are of the prayerful persuasion, pray that I will get motivated to work on my novel this week. It is not like I don’t have time!!

xo

*Rats. It’s 12:01 and I am just now finishing. Oh well, c’est la vie…

NYTimes: It’s Not Always Depression

These were my comments after reading the article. What do you think?

“I don’t know, I get the impression that shame and guilt partly manifest themselves AS depression. And in PTSD which it sounds like is an aspect of this person’s illness – one of the symptoms of that being depression. It IS complicated. I don’t know that shame/guilt should be separated out. I do think of course that part of this person’s treatment plan would be as described in the article.

I have a HUGE component of shame and guilt as part of my depression. Most of that shame and guilt due to having a mental illness (I am bipolar and have general anxiety disorder as well) My depression HAS been intractable 😦 Of course, some of it incurred as a child; I related so much to the client’s issues with that, part of the fallout of being one of 8 kids. My therapist sadly says that, were it not for my lack of acceptance and guilt for having my illnesses, I would not struggle so much, and I think he’s right.”

Psych Circus

I would love to hear your views on this interesting piece by a therapist: It’s Not Always Depression

What if we’re sometimes treating, diagnosing the wrong problem?

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Now that I’m no longer depressed …

I was “this close” to posting a picture of myself (I’m too shy!) from back in Autumn, when I was actually doing pretty good. In fact, I was kind of bragging about it, that my meds were pretty stable and, yeah right. Well, anyway, if you took a picture of me this morning, I would be wearing the same clothes as yesterday, sort of, and I would be jonesing to go back to bed.

But still, yesterday I woke up in a fairly good mood, and I am cautiously optimistically looking forward to a few things. SPRING (pic from 5 years ago), in case you did not get the memo in the last few posts I’ve written. Lunch with a friend today. Saturday I got through Dad’s birthday (he’s been gone 7 years. 7 YEARS??). And I am pretty sure I will get through the anniversary of Mom’s death (March 12, will be 2 years). Oh sure no sweat  😦

Today I already chalked off something I wanted to accomplish (it’s only 8 a.m!). And I found a phone number I’ve been looking for for two weeks! Kyule!

So what else is going on this fine cloudy Maine morning? I don’t know but I do know that I was happy to be happy yesterday even for a few moments.

I don’t want to kid myself that being happy yesterday means that I am cured. I’m pretty much sure I am not, lol. I don’t want to kid myself that this uptick in mood necessarily won’t change to hypomania, sigh.

Oh I had so much to say when I clicked on the “+” sign for a new post.

I do want to thank you guys for posting your posts and for commenting your comments! Sa-WEET!

Ok, now that I’ve had my coffee (one of my favorite things) I think I’ll go back to bed for a while … oh what’s that on my Facebook?

How do you measure a good day?

Does a good day mean that you had a pretty good night’s sleep the night before?

That you did some simple chores? Whoa WAY more many chores than usual … um, to be frank, there’s 2 months worth of laundry on the floor, now, in bags. I did one load … and did the dishes …

Paid a couple bills?

Spent time with a friend?

Oh – took a shower!

I guess it does mean I had a good day.

It doesn’t necessarily mean I felt happy.

Or that I didn’t have some of “those” thoughts – ok I will say it – my first thoughts this morning were, how to commit suicide and not leave a mess.

Oh I did have thoughts of God, of gratitude, I read some scripture. I prayed a little, for myself, and for some other people.

Maybe my pastor thinks we all should be all gung ho sharing about Jesus but in my current and recurring mental health status, not much of a sales woman … I’m really sorry about that. I’d do better if I could be better.

Sometimes even a good day is described as one in which I didn’t drink, or smoke. So I guess yeah, I had a good day.

Maybe my new answer, when someone asks how I am, should be:

“Could be worse.”

Cuz it is true. It could be worse. Has been.

(“What?? Who you callin’ a has been?”)

Ok, and maybe I made you laugh, just then. If so, then I really did have a good day.

Love Potion Number NI – YE – YI – E – Yine …

For the uninitiated (or forgetful)
I have been publishing a series of posts from a list of writing prompts, whereby my guests choose a corresponding number, to which I will respond.
One of these guests was OUTOFAGREATNEED, who said:

“They (the writing prompts) all sound great, but very interested in 9 and 28.”

#9    Reads: “I have more depression since I started blogging – is it the reading or the writing?”

# 28 Reads: “My mother worked on a Fisherman knit sweater for my stepfather – a gesture of love.”

********

First, #9. “I have more depression since I started blogging – is it the reading or the writing?”

Somehow this question reminds me of a verse in the Bible out of John Chapter 9 that asks, regarding a blind man, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

Ah, Dear Reader, you are most likely saying: “K, you will use any excuse to post something from the Bible.”

True.

Anyway, about the depression and the blogging, I am not sure which came first. I do know it is not my sin that causes depression! Certainly sin can aggravate it, even trigger it sometimes. But depression is a physical, medical condition. In my case, it is just one aspect of my bipolar disorder.

I did kind of wonder, after I had started my blog and written for a while, was the blogging responsible? Or even the reading of other people’s blogs? The material I was reading was heavily laced with stories about the challenge of mental illness, and many of the writers were filled with discouragement and sorrow.

Then too were the posts written by people who did not follow my Christian faith. Were these writings bothering me?

The main reason I started blogging was that I was angry that I was unable to be “out there” with my bipolar. Pretty much my entire social and work life has to do with the church. I do have a few good friends with whom I can be more genuine, but I was frustrated; it was almost like I had to be two different people.

The Bible itself was not shaming me (although at times my interpretation was). But most of the people I go to church with do not talk about mental illness, and don’t encourage me to, either. So I was feeling bottled up about that, and decided to talk about it. Blogging was a no-brainer. Where else can you bear your soul in such a way?

However, much of what I was writing had to do with bringing up the past. I have tried really hard to work through those issues, in therapy and in groups, but I had gotten to the point where I had decided, “Enough!” I didn’t want to be there anymore. It was holding me back and I needed to focus on the present, and my goals.

But was it really healthy to bury all that, and not deal with issues and memories as they came up?

Surely dredging through these memories as I wrote was aggravating my depression.

And what about the stuff I was reading? There are a lot of people in my blogosphere who are struggling with their mental illness right now – some are in absolute agony. Was it wise to read about that? And many are bringing up issues I had decided to put to bed. Was this causing my depression? Ultimately, were they reminding me what an awful thing it is to have bipolar disorder?

And what about the difference in lifestyle? There are people I’m reading who are ok with drinking, with sex outside of marriage, and other things that I know are sin for me. Things that had caused me to have Godly sorrow, and had to let go of in my life. Was reading about these things prompting me to long for my old life? Or reminding me of the guilt?

I was torn. If this was the case, should I let go of the blogging, or at least stop reading other people’s blogs?

Then I noticed that the depression started to lift, the more I wrote. It seemed that writing and processing these thoughts and feelings was giving me some freedom. I had been stifling myself, and it had been causing me distress. As it is with lancing a boil, there is pain, there is redness, there is infection, but afterward, there is healing. Sometimes slow healing, but healing nonetheless.

What about the reading of other people’s blogs? Was this harmful? At first, it was totally triggering. But two things began to happen. I received affirmation and support from those I met. I could be real. And also, I was able to give the same back to them, something which gave me great joy.

I’m not saying I am out of the woods yet. And even when I am, that doesn’t mean I am going to stop writing. Writing is something that early on God gave me as a means of expressing myself, explaining myself, and giving of myself. Sharing my faith, sharing my love, sharing my struggles. Writing is something I have tossed on and off like a loose garment, but it is part of my identity. And I’m learning that denying parts of myself is not a healthy thing.

So, sorry folks. I am going to keep on keeping on, and being what I am. I’m a writah, and I am heah. My style and my purpose may evolve as I continue, as I return to my true self, and gain knowledge – and support. Thank you guys for being here, for your support, and for being on the journey with me. Keep writing!

***************

# 28:  “My mother worked on a Fisherman knit sweater for my stepfather – a gesture of love.”

This is a cute story, and one I mentioned I think in a comment somewhere.

My mother had recently remarried, and wanted to give something of herself to her new husband, Mr. B. She was a very busy woman who balanced raising her remaining five children, and attending college for her teaching degree, Now she had to add spending time with new husband.

It was a tough act. She enjoyed doing all three, but time away from one area of her life obviously caused it to suffer. She managed well, and by the way, achieved a magna cum laude with her degree when she graduated from college. She never did anything half way.

Christmas was coming soon, and she wanted to give him, not just a material object or two, but a piece of herself, a token of how she truly felt about him. She was not much of a crafts person, but she did basically know how to knit. So she decided to knit him a nice soft fisherman knit sweater.

This was not an easy task. First off, she had to work on the sweater when her husband was not around. Second of all, a fisherman knit sweater is not something you can mindlessly do while watching TV and chewing gum. It takes a great deal of concentration, counting and changing stitches, approximating the size, and, for Mom, keeping all her supplies hidden when her husband was around.

It’s a wonder she didn’t poke our eyes out with those knitting needles. When one has five children at home, some of them at that nagging, needy age, concentration and time are costly commodities. As Christmas came nearer and nearer, she realized she wasn’t going to finish her project. Putting all else on a back burner, she was making great progress, but it was just not going to be done in time.

And so, with a great deal of disappointment, she wrapped the sweater, knitting needles and all, with a note and great care, and placed it under the tree. Come Christmas morning, Mr. B. unwrapped her gift, puzzlement written across his face. But, a smile, a kiss, and a thank you were her reward, and her joy was almost complete.

I don’t know how much longer it took for her to finish the project. Obviously, it was done with much less urgency, but soon he was wearing the sweater at every opportunity. He, wearing it with pride, and her, wearing her handsome husband on her arm.

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?

How can you mend a broken heart …

Never heard this by Al Green but he really nails it …

Other than that, I’m “fine.”

I can think of younger days when living for my life
Was everything a man could want to do
I could never see tomorrow, but I was never told about the sorrow

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend a this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again

I can still feel the breeze that rustles through the trees
And misty memories of days gone by
We could never see tomorrow, no one said a word about the sorrow

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again

Dawn will break

The photo shows an African proverb as follows: However long the night, The dawn will break.

It reminds me of some verses in Psalm 30 (highlighting mine)

1 I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up , and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. 2 O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. 3 O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive , that I should not go down to the pit. 4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. 6 And in my prosperity I said , I shall never be moved . 7 LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled . 8 I cried to thee, OLORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication . 9 What profit is there in my blood, when I go downto the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? 10 Hear , O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper . 11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent . O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

Hoping you guys have a wonderful day., or at least a tolerable one! I know some of you are experiencing the “night,” but joy cometh in the morning. Just hold tight, and love one another,

Deuteronomy 4:29 

But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

BluChickenNinja, and my teen self…

How’s that for a title!

Well, I was reading another blog about the origin of the author’s user name,

BluChickenNinja

She said, “I don’t know what my teenage self would think about all of this, she would probably be horrified.”

Immediately upon her saying that I started wondering, what would my teenage self think of me, and the things I do?

First off, we know she would be horrified, humiliated, period. It wouldn’t matter if I was tall, slender, famous, or what. Teenagers are just horrified, as in not impressed at all, by their adults, period. So I think what she’d do is look at my short, pudgy, not famous, bipolar, Christian self, shake her head, and say, “PSH.”

And the dialogue would go like this. She’d confront me with anger: “You’re still not married? You still haven’t written any books? Not even one? And look how fat you got! How come you never got a handle on that? What a loser!” and she’d make that “L” sign on her forehead, even though it had not been invented yet …

And then she would despair: “You know, I’m depressed enough as it is. It doesn’t get any better? Are you serious? It gets worse?? Why should I even try? I should just get it over with now!” And she’d curl up in a ball.

And then she’d reconsider, she’d get that look on her face she’d learned from all the snooty girls at school. The look that says, “You’re dead to me.”

I have known for a long long time that I often fall victim to the voices in my head. I’ve identified then as my mother, my sister, my dad, that teacher, that girl, you know, just about everybody I ever came across.

I’ve heard it said that all of us have at least one person who is the reason we are still alive. I’ve had a few that, were it not for them, I’d be dead. These were the teachers who said I was a good writer, or, by the way they listened, that I was a person of value.

I never realized, though, how much of that destructive voice in my head was me. Which also makes me remember all the therapy sessions where I loved on my “little girl,” told her how much I loved her and how she wasn’t a failure, and she did the best she could, and she was pretty and smart and important …

And now I meet The Teenager.

Ew, lol…

Can I love her? tell her she’s pretty and smart and important?

She’s kinda mean.

But I guess probably by that age she had already learned to be defensive and closed, with that false bravado I have come to cherish. You know, the person who walks into a room and with what appears to be great confidence shakes hands with everyone, and then seeks out the broken one who needs a friend to talk with and make her feel less lonely. All because she is the one who is lonely and needs a friend. But God forbid she would ever say so.

Anyway … teen self meet present self, I am sorry you are disappointed and closed and defended … I’m sorry you didn’t get to be one of the cool girls. I’m sorry you are still waiting for the day when all your dreams will come true.

But let me tell you what is real about your life and what is good about your life. Did you know you have a son? And that you have made a difference in a lot of people’s lives? How even though your body is bigger you don’t hate it so much? You even have a best best friend who buys chocolate cake and rolls her eyes with you. May I make one suggestion? Maybe take that cigarette out of your mouth now before you have to try to quit after thirty years.

And I do love you. You are amazingly pretty, and smart. It is too worth it, most of the time. Oh, and come meet God. And not the one you grew up with. Come see.

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?

♪♫ 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!

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: