Tag Archives: AA

Day 2 of Nano Camp

Day 2 of NanoCamp means I should have (according to my self-selected goal) reached about 1600 words so far toward my novel but combined with words in my blog posts. Well guess what? I am writing a few words for you tonight because I haven’t written any in my novel.

That is supposedly ok, I was told it was ok, and I thought it was ok, so it’s ok.

But tomorrow, after I finish my outpatient mental health treatment program, I will get at my novel, I promise (who am I promising? Myself, I guess).

I have been thinking more about not being able to talk about my mental health issues, especially at church. Tonight we had one of many missionaries we have had this year. This one was a missionary to the Navajo Indians. It seemed really incongruent, though I believe we all need Christ. But I am also thinking of all that has been stolen from the Indians; I’m sure they are not too keen on having their religion stolen as well. At least, that might be how they see it.

And then I started thinking about my own situation. But it’s not just mine. It’s yours. It’s your cousin’s. So many of us have mental illness, and spirituality is maybe one piece that is missing.

And so, I want to learn more. I want to learn more about how to help people with mental illness. I have been blessed with a lot of good health, though I have also suffered relapse. Why shouldn’t I share my experience, strength, and hope with those who are still suffering?

I know that sounds rather AA’esque. That’s ok. A lot of the same principles can apply. So can principles of Christianity. I believe Jesus loves each and every person who has a mental health issue. Why not offer Him to others? And so it dawned on me. I’ve always wanted to be a missionary to other countries. Why not to my own? The land of mental illness. The land of stigma. The land of alone-ness, fear, and rejection?

I guess while I am fighting for what I need, I want to help others to fight for what they need, too.

So anyway, along with the Great American Christian Novel, I want to be a help to those I love; those like me; those who need a hug, or an understanding gaze.

Anyone else on board?

Ok, to those of you who are holding out…

Yes, you people who think we don’t notice …

You think you have nothing to say. You have had a few bad days. You want to have the time for it to all come out nice, or brilliant maybe, or thoughtful.

Yeah, you people.

You people who collect makeup, or maybe you are angry and afraid you will offend. Or maybe you think you always talk about the saaaame thing. It’s okay. Say it anyway. Say it if it won’t come out right. Say it if you don’t know what will come out. We miss you, and we care.

Link back to me, so I know you took this to heart! ūüôā You’re important to me!

Did you forget already?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

xo

There’s no place like home …

Two [are] better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him [that is] alone when he falleth; for [he hath] not another to help him up.  Ecclesiastes 2:9-12 

Many of us with mental illness are good at isolating. We tell ourselves that we are better off alone, that no one understands us anyway, that we don’t need people, and any number of things that shame us into believing we are defective

The Bible has a lot to say about friendship. There’s a reason for this. You’ve heard the expression, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” Well, I think God meant for us to handle what He gives us. but not to handle it alone!

Why am I talking about this? Well, today I am going to meet a friend for lunch. I woke up at 6:30 a.m, and at 6:35 the negative voices started:

  • Everyone else in the world is getting ready for work, and here you are going to lunch? Well aren’t we special!
  • She doesn’t get you anyways. Why don’t you stay home?
  • You know you are too tired. You could take a nap.
  • Friends have hurt you in the past.
  • It’s supposed to snow.

So how do I counteract these voices?

  • You have a mental illness. Going to lunch with a friend is therapeutic.
  • She does get you. Anything she doesn’t get, you haven’t told her. She loves you, and even on Sunday she said she wants to be a good friend to you.
  • So what if you’re tired. You’d sleep all day if I let you! Staying up will help you to sleep better at night!
  • You live in New England. It snows! Remember that blizzard you braved when you used to drink?

Etc.

Why am I writing this post?

  • To counteract the thought that I have nothing to say
  • Because I am ashamed of having a mental illness.
  • I love bullet posts

Hope you guys have a lovely day, and if there is a friend or two that you could call, why don’t you? Maybe you could blog about it. I don’t know if you’ve heard it as often as I have, but having support is one of the¬†most important¬†principles when we talk about recovery from mental illness and substance abuse.

If all else fails, you could write a comment here, and let go of the negative voices that are running through your mind even now. It helps to write it down!

Hear my prayer …

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

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.

My Jesus Addiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help!

Whoever would have thought Johnny Cash would have a song like this? But actually the guy I consider “The King Of Country” is a really deep guy. This song shows that really we need help with pretty much everything.

Here are the things that I need help with

1. Not ending a sentence with a preposition (haha)

Ok let’s start over. These are things with which I need help:

1. Saying no

2. Deciding whom I should help, and to what degree!(Those two things cause me no end of frustration!!!)

3. How to deal with anger, anxiety, and depression.

4. Pressing on even when it feels like I am getting nowhere.

5. Even taking my meds! Although with resignation I take them.

6. Asking people for help

7. Not spending all my money (besides on bills) at the beginning of the month

8. Keeping a positive attitude

9. Investing in the future – my health, my education, my daily tasks

10. Asking God for help with all these things and more.

It’s funny because when I was listening to the song I thought of several things so maybe I will try again while listening:

1. To walk another mile

2. Smiling

3. “Taking it” (life) for one more day

4. Asking God to be with me

5. Releasing the chains that bind me

6. Following God’s plan

7. Being humble

8. Praying

9. Doing all of the above with God’s wisdom, not my own

Maybe, dear Reader, it seems like I do most of these things, but really, some of the things I write are actually me being a cheerleader for myself. For example if I say it is necessary to read the Bible, I’m reminding myself, read your Bible. I may say, ask for help, but I am the worst at it lol… Maybe I suggest you pray about things, but honestly I need to make myself do those things.

Annnnnyway, I really like this song. It made me tearful, because I forget that God will help me with the simplest things, if I ask. And sometimes He will when I don’t, lol…

THANK YOU to¬†http://addictionplace.net/ — I like his blogs. He is just an ordinary guy trying to stay sober and help other people to do the same. He’s not a religious nut like me (lol) just straightforward about his recovery. Here is what it says about his “About” page:

Addiction Place is a place to research and learn about mental health and addiction.

I’m a father, husband, brother and a son who lives a successful life with Bipolar and Addiction Disorder. I’ve been a special education teacher for 13 years and a high school baseball coach for 6 of those years.

Twelve years ago, I went to Hazelden Treatment Center for the first time to face my alcohol addition.

After a year and a half, I relapsed and 6 years later, I was back in rehab at La Hacienda Treatment Center.

I have now been in active recovery for almost 4 years and I aspire to be an addiction counselor and a writer.

Addiction Place has a website called Self Help Survival Store.

Procrastinations are a must …

Well, I thought I should veer off talking about bipolar and religion and just talk about something that most people enjoy discussing:

Now what would that be?

One thing I have noticed is that blogging has become just one more thing to distract me from working on my novel!

Meh – let’s just look at a pretty picture and call it good. I have other more pressing procrastinations to do today – I am even going to do some housework! (She says). Now that is desperation!

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: ‚ÄúI have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.‚ÄĚ

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.‚ÄĚ

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 blog.¬†But¬†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‚Äôt 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. ‚ôꬆ‚ô™ Take, good, care of your-self¬†‚ô™‚ôę … (I care about you).

And don’t forget the breathing part.

‚ô™‚ôę There goes my baby …

Good morning friends and fiends, I’m off to church, a little weirdly colored: Purple and black, w/ bright green accessories lol. Got to have some color to wake me up.

A GREAT quote one of you wonderful bloggers posted recently, wish I could credit you (feel free to out yourself in the comments below)

‚ÄúCourage isn’t having the strength to go on, it is going on when you don’t have the strength.‚ÄĚ – Napoleon Bonaparte

Have a wonniful day…

Blogging 101: Way Behind (but where I should be?)

Well, I am still doing the Blogging 101 class but now I am feeling wayyy behind. One assignment, to make nice with the neighbors – look up in my reader about topics that interest me and interact with bloggers who are writing about them. I thought, welllll I’m already doing that so check! Done.

The next assignment, to write to my ideal reader. Well, my friends, I have so many! lol… (by the way I had asked you guys to help me increase my followers and they went from 45 to 79 in a week! Don’t know if you had anything to do w/ that but thank you!)

Anyway – I will write to my ideal reader but then …

There came another assignment, but wait … do I have more than one blogging course going on? This is what I do. I start small and suddenly, POOF, I am overwhelmed.

I do this IRL (in real life) as well. I start small and manageable, as in jobs, as in volunteering/ helping others, and POOF, all of a sudden life is way too big and overwhelming.

As I have said ad nauseam, GUILT GUILT GUILT!!! is my greatest derailer.

Now why would I feel so guilty all the time!

Number one, I grew up Catholic.

Ok, I hear crickets, especially from the Catholic corner lol… I know it’s a cliche … But I want you to know, I’ve heard a lot of Baptist preachers, and they do their own share of guilting people, for not doing enough, or for not doing the right things, or for feeling the wrong way … you get my drift, sigh. This is the faith I have chosen – or God has chosen. AA says, take what you like, and leave the rest. Well, as a Christian, it has to be more like, Take what GOD says, and leave the rest! And some of the legalism I hear is not from God! And here I am, a sitting duck. Vulnerable, seeking truth and support and “the right way,” and there I am feeling guilty again!

Yes, we all know what we are supposed to do with guilt. Throw it out the window.

Some guilt, of course, is warranted! When you do something wrong, you SHOULD feel bad. You SHOULD rectify it.

Shame is another thing. I learned in recovery group circles that guilt is for what you’ve done, shame is for what you are.

And I had my share of THAT growing up. I don’t want to tell you – ok I will tell you. Parents and older siblings who said “You’re stupid, you should know better, you’re not enough, you never do anything right,” does that all sound beneficial to the soul of a child? But guess what, I bet there are few children who didn’t suffer that to some degree. So why did my psyche take it in more than those of you who don’t carry that stuff around?

That makes me tear up… ¬†ūüė• ¬†But I try not to “go there.” It’s in the past and I have learned a LOT since then.

But I am still struggling. Is it my diagnosis of bipolar, my anxiety, that are making me less and less able to function?

Ok, rewind… the Church inflicted a lot of guilt, family … what about friends and lovers?

Now I admit that in my younger years I was not exactly chaste. And my choices of partners were not the best… Again with the¬†“You’re stupid, you should know better, you’re not enough, you never do anything right,” how about we add some more … you’re not pretty enough, you aren’t enough to earn my loyalty, my fidelity, you aren’t worth my efforts to treat you better…

Ok I’m getting maudlin here.

Now there is the fourth villain: My own head. Yes, I have taken all those messages, stirred them up, added some sugar, some alcohol, some bad behaviors, some misunderstood theology, baked them for an hour at 350* … um, ok, more like 55 years, at 800* …

(Ok Kat quit whining about guilt, could you please write about something else???)

And there I come to the ideal reader. The one who is reading this. Someone who can listen, maybe nod and say “I hear you,” or even, “BTDT (been there done that).” The one maybe who is having a good day when I’m not. And vice versa! Because my favorite thing to do is help you have a good day! Or, especially, make you laugh!

So, I guess I completed another assignment. Unless … you would rather not listen to my whining. In which case you have two choices:

1. Read another of my blogs that is not so negative.

2. Hang up the phone. After all, no one is forcing you to stay here, lol…

(even though it will break my heart if you leave, pout, grin …)

Contentment=Peace

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
‚Äď 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‚Äôs-ease [a common European wild flower, growing as an annual or short-lived perennial], he found its bright face lifted as cheery as ever. ‚ÄúWell, heart‚Äôs-ease, I‚Äôm glad, amidst all this discouragement, to find one brave little flower. You do not seem to be the least disheartened.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúNo, 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‚Äôs-ease, I am determined to be the best little heart‚Äôs-ease that I can.‚ÄĚ
“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.‚ÄĚ
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

I make all things new …

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

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

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

What is the alternative?

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

But are we still talking about blogging here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love it! ¬†ūüėÄ

 

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

 

 

Who am I? Blogging 101

I’m taking an online “course” on blogging and the first assignment is: ¬†“write and publish a ‘who I am and why I‚Äôm 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


¬ęIf you hear a voice within you say ‚Äėyou cannot paint,‚Äô then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.¬Ľ

‚ÄĒ Vincent Van Gogh


DonCharisma.com-logo-4Charisma quotes are sponsored by DonCharisma.com ‚Äď you dream it we built it ‚Ķ because ‚Äď ‚Äúanything is possible with Charisma‚ÄĚ



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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

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 me.¬†Never 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 Рto the God of the universe Рthat 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:

 

‚ô™‚ôę Someday Lady You’ll Enable Me … ‚ôę‚ô™

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much do I do for them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where does that come from?

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

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

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

Again, I have to go back to the Bible.

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

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

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

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

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

And then, the hardest part: Wait.

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

So, uh, where were I?

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

Why else did I avoid and dread it?

Well, there’s the depression thing. That.

That’s probably the biggest thing.

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

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

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

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

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

I’m good at that last one.

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

But anyway! I keep digressing!

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

I am actually feeling some of that!

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

WOW!

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

Yes I am undigressing a little, sorry.

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

But I survived!

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

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

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

(and the other stuff on the list)

 

Run in the Right Direction

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

Run in the right direction!

 

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

Along the lines of “Don’t fix it” …

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

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

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

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

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

One with Cristy Lane

and one with Lynda Randle

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