Category Archives: mental health

Does not play well with others …

 

You know, I don’t know how to be friends with more than one friend at a time. Same as having more than one boyfriend at a time; they get jealous and they expect you to tell them the truth, which will inevitably hurt them.

But some people insist on being your friend anyway and (here is where I get vague) I just can’t deal with being liked that much. Why don’t you just make it like when I was in Junior High School and nobody liked me and I was imbisible. Yes I know I said that funny but it’s because that’s how childish I feel when these particular issues come up. Honestly, it was torture being imbisible, too, but what I go through now is not fun either. I really can’t say much about the people and the issues because then I will be talking not-nice about someone and I’m not allowed to be not-nice.

Sigh.

I just want to play by myself. I want to read my book and that’s all.

Boundaries? What’s that?

 

 

 

 

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:

 

 

Decisions, Decisions…

So much to do, so little time.

Well really all I have is time.

So it’s not so much that. But definitely, so many decisions to make. Who will my friends be? Where will I go to church? Where will I shop, how much shall I buy? And can I afford all this???

Ok that last bit is a topic for a whole nother conversation lol.

This week, I tried crabs! Oh my! I did not think I would like them but as I said, Oh my! I always liked lobster, fish, scallops. Crabs? Those were the playthings on a sunny Maine summer day, little mean-looking creatures climbing in and out of tidepools.

But yeah, them’s good eatin, too!

But that time thing – I am very conscious of time. I should not be wasting it. I should be recreating, and meeting people, and making decisions, and getting on with it! Oh, and writing. There’s that.

But really, I don’t want to decide anything at all.

Great Expectations?

Happy Sunday!

I came across a quote this morning that I really liked:

“Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.”

– Michael Landon 

I like that quote, don’t you?

Speaking of “do it now,” my bucket list is real simple: Get through the day, and go to Paris. That’s not asking much, right?

This morning as I was cooking up some scrambled eggs, I noticed that I was also cooking the lid of the plastic (!!!) container I use for butter!

Sadness! Quickly I grabbed the lid and moved the pan of eggs, then checked to see if any of the melted plastic had adhered to the pan.

Nope. Thank You God! Yes, that was a prayer of thanksgiving, because, had it melted onto the pan, I’d have been more sad. 😦

The lid of the butter thing was quickly repaired (the hole covered with a piece of shipping tape), and put back in the fridge. I did not say it was well repaired. Just repaired. Anyway …

I also want to share another thought I read this morning from La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin

Noooo I have not taken up drinking wine, but I do like reading the different accounts of his travels, and looking at his photos.

His quote today:

It doesn’t matter how tatty your wings are… If you can fly… FLY!

The word “tatty” makes me think of the word “tattered,” or “damaged.” Check out the page and you’ll see the tattered butterfly that goes with the quote. Funnily enough, there is a French phrase, “Quelle dommage,” which sounds like the word “damage,” and can mean “What a shame!” or “What a pity!” But way down on the list of translations is the phrase, “How damaged!” So, let’s say that it means that… ok? And let’s fly!

Don’t mind me. It’s morning, which means, before noon, which means (speaking of flying) flight of ideas! It means you’ve got to expect a little less. Not only is it morning! Worse, it’s before 7 a.m! So you really need to expect less!

So, let’s fly! We may have tattered wings, as in the photo, but we can fly!

(Looks at the clock). No, really, let’s fly! It’s time for church!

(Flies off, flapping wings …)

* Michael Landon quote from Ritu at BUT I SMILE ANYWAY — Thank you Ritu!]

Walking After Midnight Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WALL: a blog of Baptist Voice Ministries

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

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

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

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♪♫Doo bee dee bee teeeee!!! ♪♫

Not the greatest title, is it?

But it got your attention, because here you are, reading my post!

So. The title. Does this help? Doo bee D.B.T.

It refers to D.B.T., which stands for “D.ialectical B.ehavioral T.herapy:

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a research-based, cognitive-behavioral treatment originally developed by Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington, to help clients with the suicidal and self-harm behaviors often seen in Borderline Personality Disorder … DBT has since then been modified as a treatment for other complex and challenging mental disorders that involve emotional dysregulation. (from: http://mindfulnesstherapy.org/dbt/)

D.B.T. is not entirely new to me. I vaguely remember being in a DBT group about 5 years ago. I suppose if I’d had more presence of mind at the time it would have “taken” better, but I didn’t, and it didn’t. I’m not even sure I finished the course. Typically, a round of DBT requires about a year of group work and education.

That seems pretty overwhelming to me, even after all this time. But I’ve decided to try again. And here is where my AA training leaps to the rescue and reminds me:  “One Day At A Time, Sweet Jesus.” (ok, the “Sweet Jesus” comes from a great song, and was ad-libbed into the phrase; I need Him more than any of this!).

Why am I returning to DBT? Well, there have been times since attending the group the first time that my therapist has referred to a DBT skill. Almost every time, my response is, “Huh?” And I really think that reviewing all of the skills could be really useful. Having gone through a recent intensive program of recovery, I have decided that it is time.

I am disgusted with myself, honestly, that I have needed more help. But I forget one thing: the nature of my illness is that I have no control over it. I can advocate for myself, I can comply with treatment, and I can seek out what I need. But as to the underlying condition, I am not responsible. Shame has no place. I will say that again: shame has no place. For those of us with mental health issues, we must remember:

We have a mental illness. It is not our fault.

Fortunately, I have a really good therapist that I’ve had since ’03. I am also in a great DBT group now. Maybe next week I’ll do better with the homework.

And I believe that we are all doing the very best that we can.

That goes for me, too.

I’ll keep you posted!

♪♫ 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 need Thee every hour ♪♫

This is not going to be a preachy thing. I just want you to know that I do need God all the time! I may have my issues, but not with God. And “I need Thee every hour” is not just a song. I really do need Him.

Yet, I don’t always realize it. I step out in faith in myself – and I don’t always do so hot.

But when I lean on God, and pray that I will walk more closely with Him – when I remember to pray for my friends instead of just trying to help them all by myself – I am more sane. I am more free!

But when I forget to pray, or when I think it won’t really matter – when I forget to read the Bible and find the peace that comes from God – I’m a mess. Ok, I mean more of a mess that I already am, lol. I truly know that I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Jesus. He gives me pause. He gives me peace. He gave me eternal Life! Yes, as the scripture says, He gives me rest. Psalm 23 is not a funeral psalm. It’s a song for us, the living!

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

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.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

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.

There are many verses that remind me of His peace. One of my favorites is Isaiah 26:3: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

That’s not the only reference to peace in the Bible; there are 400 more, according to the concordance! And that is only regarding the word peace. I wonder how many more in regard to the concept of peace!

And why should I seek peace in the Bible?

Because the Bible is the living Word, not just a printed word! It has been my experience that when I seek God’s hand, or His peace, I can find it in His Word.

But doesn’t the devil hate when I do that! Doesn’t he distract me and whisper at me that there are other, more important things to do.

But as a child of God – I have every right to hear from Him! Personally!

Ok, I said I would not preach. I lied. I didn’t mean to lie, but I lied. Forgive me.

Anyway – here are the lyrics to the song, and below that, a you tube video of the song, done by Fernando Ortego. If you continue to listen, there are many other songs that follow. More peace!

1. I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine can peace afford.
Refrain:
I need thee, O I need thee;
every hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.

2. I need thee every hour; stay thou nearby;
temptations lose their power when thou art nigh.
(Refrain)

3. I need thee every hour, in joy or pain;
come quickly and abide, or life is vain.
(Refrain)

4. I need thee every hour; teach me thy will;
and thy rich promises in me fulfill.
(Refrain)

5. I need thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me thine indeed, thou blessed Son.
(Refrain)

The song is based upon Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

Something which I sometimes have a habit of doing, but it is so easy to get out of that. Like I said, to lean only upon myself.

Doesn’t work.

(If you would like more history behind the song, go to: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/i/n/e/ineedteh.htm … )

Fiddling with my whoosiewhatses

First off, as I keep telling you, I love you guys, my blogging friends!: My readers, and those I read. I truly do. But I am not getting anything done here, and I may as well eliminate one of my excuses right now, so that I can move on to a newer, or truer, one.

I have almost 250 followers, hallelujah! And I have a policy of following those who follow me. I try to follow those who “like” me. Who comment on me. Who even blink at me. It’s only fair.

Soooo when I open my gmail I am amazed/happy/overwhelmed. And I open my gmail many times a day.

Before you jump up and say it let me tell you that I just did what most of you were going to say: I changed the notification whoosiewhatses on my reader.

So, from now on, I will go to my dashboard, go to my reader, and read.

(Sounds good, anyway).

At least that way my email account will be less intimidating!

I really want to follow/read every single one of you! Every time you post! I do! But for now I will have to just do what I can.

Your mission, then, is to jostle your way into the proper position, so that you are within reach before I open my reader, and before the clock says “STOP! You have this, this, this, and this to accomplish before you finish your day!”

Namely:

  1. Read and study the Bible
  2. Pray
  3. Restore/maintain some kind of order in your, I mean my, apartment.
  4. Which should maybe be 3: WRITE at least 1000 words or EDIT at least 2000 words or EVEN both.
  5. Which means I need to get organized and USE the spreadsheet one of my writer friends sent me that will help me to do so.
  6. I am sure there is something else I am forgetting, well, I suppose, my other “work,” my hygienic pursuits, maintain my IRL friendships, oh you know… the other not so important stuff.
  7. Am I through yet? I’ve got to pee.

Um, yeah. That is a lot more “thises” than I listed; sorry.

Anyway. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I really have gotten disorganized since I started blogging, and I need to get back into life! As June Allyson would say…

And hey! You all need to too! So don’t you be pointing no finners at me! After all, if I was writing as much as I was apposed to, I wouldn’t be talking dis … er, this way!

I Don’t Wanna, Talk About It, Part II

Part of the reason I don’t wanna talk about it is I have awful laryngitis.

But also I am doing the censoring thing; I am depressed and I don’t wanna talk about it.  I really don’t want to hear myself whiiiiine … oh my gosh! Enough!

I have been thinking the last few days what I wanted to blog about and there are plenty of ideas but I don’t have the energy to write anything.

Sorry I haven’t been replying to your posts very much!

What was your favorite age to be and why?

I just read another blog talking about ages 4-10 and I said that was a very lonely time for me; I felt very unloved. I would prefer being in my early 20’s. I was free from my parents, very competent as a nurse, and I was pretty popular with the boys! The mental illness and alcoholism had not really hit yet and I think (if I remember right) I was pretty happy.

I put up the picture of Stuart Little because one of the things I loved between ages 4-10 was being read to. LOVED Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web!

What about you? What age did you love the most and why?

♪♫ My God is a Mountain Mover *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His prayer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good for what ails ya …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contentment=Peace

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
– Phil 4:11
Paul, denied of every comfort, wrote the above words in his dungeon. A story is told of a king who went into his garden one morning, and found everything withered and dying. He asked the oak that stood near the gate what the trouble was. He found it was sick of life and determined to die because it was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine was all out of heart because it could not bear grapes, like the vine. The vine was going to throw its life away because it could not stand erect and have as fine fruit as the peach tree. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac; and so on all through the garden. Coming to a heart’s-ease [a common European wild flower, growing as an annual or short-lived perennial], he found its bright face lifted as cheery as ever. “Well, heart’s-ease, I’m glad, amidst all this discouragement, to find one brave little flower. You do not seem to be the least disheartened.” “No, I am not of much account, but I thought that if you wanted an oak, or a pine, or a peach tree, or a lilac, you would have planted one; but as I knew you wanted a heart’s-ease, I am determined to be the best little heart’s-ease that I can.”
“Others may do a greater work,
But you have your part to do;
And no one in all God’s heritage
Can do it so well as you.”
They who are God’s without reserve, are in every state content; for they will only what He wills, and desire to do for Him whatever He desires them to do; they strip themselves of everything, and in this nakedness find all things restored an hundredfold.

from “Streams in the Desert with Mrs. Charles Cowman” Devotionals

________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…

♪ ♫ 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…

How do you maintain your grip on reality?

Great blog on what to trust when you’re depressed. I know it’s not my own thoughts and opinions of myself! Those are warped. (The reblogs don’t mean I’ve given up – but see “It’s Nice To Share” at https://kbailey373.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/its-nice-to-share/

Under Reconstruction

About a year ago, I wrote a letter to my future self. It was barely three months after what had been my debilitating bout of depression to date, and I was a little nervous. To realize that for eight out of twelve months I could have been so wrong about so many things, so blind to so many truths, so caught up in the half-lies of my distorted reality — it was a world-shattering realization. (In my previous post, I write in greater detail about the distorted thought patterns of a depressed person.)

I say world-shattering because most of us grew up being told to believe in ourselves, that if we believed something about ourselves then that’s true. Or at least, that what we see in ourselves is supposed to be more valid than what others see in us. Never let anyone else have the final say. They are but naysayers. Trust your heart. 

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“A Christian Bipolar”: Say what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A lot to be said for courage …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 31:24 KJV

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

Land of Confusion Part Deux

Maya God is not the author of confusion

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 God is the author

Land of Confusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

You wait in darkness
For answers that you can’t see
You know what you deserve and
You’re wondering why your life is
Not what you thought it should be
When the night breaks, your heart still aches
How can you face the day, you just

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

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

Keep breathing, you’ll make it
Don’t give in, you’re not done yet
Sometimes all that you can do is
Keep breathing and believing
Don’t let go, just hang on tighter, a little longer
When you feel like you’re dying.
With every breath you bring in hope
You’re letting go of all your doubt
When nothing is easy, you’ve got to keep going
Even when you don’t know how
You don’t have to know how, no

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

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

And keep breathing

From “Keep Breathing” by Kerri Roberts