Tag Archives: addiction

Walking On Egg Whites

Who here enjoys tapping the “back” button with their pinkie finger to delete part of a sentence? Delete-delete-delete-delete … Why, it’s almost like exercise. And I do have a delightfully slender pinkie, don’t you think?

Speaking of exercise, that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Because tomorrow marks yet another attempt at the dreaded “E” word, as my friend Peggy calls it.

Yes, Working out, another bad word for it. And at a gym, no less!

But this is no small feat. My history of exercise is illustrious. To summarize:

  1. Hating gym class in grade and high school. Y’all been there and you know the list. I don’t have to tell you. Ok, I’ll tell you: Nakedness in the shower. Poorly fitting gym clothes. Unsleekness, self-consciousness, and immobility of body, compared to the rest of the world. A strong desire to throw up. Shall we stop there?
  2. Exercising at home: Mother outpacing you as you attempt to run. Brother following on bicycle laughing.
  3. Aerobics with a friend at local disco. I mean, gym. Fun, private, and on the short term very effective. Body at that time 105 pounds and unconcerned, just realllly want a boyfriend.
  4. Repeat ad infinitum as prices go up and momentum goes down until current weight and form achieved.

However, now that I’m old, gym is free, and I have no excuse. Besides which, my doctor has  “requested” that I start seriously exercising and dieting. Relax; I will not go into my history of dieting. It’s just slightly more embarrassing than my exercise history.

There’s a reason he’s recommending this so strongly. It’s not just because I’ve hired him as a doctor, and he wants to hear himself talk. No, the problem is I have a number of risk factors for heart attack, also known as “M.I.,” or Myocardial Infarction. These risk factors may also lead to stroke and other illnesses. And keep in mind, heart attack is not the only heart disease there is.

The list is is impressive, to say the least:

  1. My obesity  (don’t I just adore that word): I am at least 50 pounds overweight. And my BMI (body mass index) does fit into the “obese” category, so you don’t have to be nice, punch my arm, and say “ohh, come on… have a brownie …” I might say yes! Go here if you want to see how you measure up.
  2. My high blood pressure (also known as hypertension): Your blood pressure does not even have to be super high to put you in this category. Please go here for more information.
  3. My high cholesterol: This is a little more complicated, because some kinds are good, and some kinds are bad. Let’s just say that mine is bad, and call it good. Bad. Oh, you know what I mean. For more information, go here.
  4. My high blood sugar. This is the primary sign of diabetes. And diabetes is one of the more common risk factors for heart attack and other illnesses. For more information, see here, and here.
  5. My age: Although 56 is not ancient, women age 55 or older, and men age 45 or older, are more likely to have a heart attack than their younger counterparts. Of course, the risk grows every year.
  6. My family history of heart attack: I am fortunate that my family history doesn’t include stroke and diabetes, but I am sad to say that one family member has added this particular risk factor to my chance of heart attack. I am more sad for them than for myself, but yes, it does add color to this already fabulous (?) list.
  7. My sex (Man, does this list ever end??): Men are more likely to suffer heart attack, but after a woman reaches menopause, her risk is greater than it was.
  8. My tobacco history: I no longer smoke, but 30+ years did not do my body any favors. Unfortunately, long term second-hand exposure also adds to that risk.
  9. My lack of physical activity: We have already pretty much covered that.
  10. My stress level (Rolls on floor laughing): Have you read this blog?? And I have held back, trust me!

There are three other risk factors listed at the mayoclinic.org site that I should mention, ones that I do not have (and thank you to the site for helping me to flesh out this information):

10. Illegal drug use
11. History of pre-eclampsia (a condition which may occur during pregnancy)
12. History of an autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus

Anyone here think that I should dismiss the advice my doctor is giving me? (Searches among the audience). Oh, I see that hand! Wait. That hand belongs to me.

Speaking of God, have I forgotten Him in all of this? Of course not. I have always been conscious of the fact that God requires me to be a good steward of all He has given me, including my body. We could all improve our stewardship of what God has given us, I’m sure. But this area has always been particularly difficult for me. Obviously, I can serve Him better with more stamina, more years, and even with the happiness that comes from doing what is right. Not to mention the happiness that comes from exercise, which produces endorphins!

And I have always believed that better fitness is a better witness. Wouldn’t it say a lot about what God is capable of doing? I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13). Which is exactly my point. He is the One Who can enable me to do this. He is the One Who will sustain me. If I forget all of this, I will surely be lost in this endeavor.

SO, tomorrow’s the day, the gym is the place. Attractive clothing will be donned, and self-esteem will be firmly (somewhat firmly) tucked into my waistband…

Someone remind me. What is a waistband again?

ANYhow – won’t you come with? Because I really would like to have someone with whom I can commiserate. (You see the word “misery” buried in there?)

And maybe it will be like it was so many years ago. Right, Beth?

♫ ♪ Call me a relic, call me what you will
Say I’m old-fashioned, say I’m over the hill
Today’s music ain’t got the same soul
I like that old time rock ‘n’ roll ♫ ♪
[Read more: Bob Seger – Old Time Rock Roll Lyrics | MetroLyrics]

 

Hear my prayer …

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

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®, and occasionally Ibuprofen, for relief of pain in my neck. (See my previous blog entry on Spasmodic Torticollis and Botox® 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®, 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!

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…  😥  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.”
– 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

Who am I? Blogging 101

I’m taking an online “course” on blogging and the first assignment is:  “write and publish a ‘who I am and why I’m here’ post.” If you’re going to read this, you will want to pour a cup of coffee and maybe get something to eat, because it is long.

All my life I have written this post (book) in my head and found it fascinating. I always thought I’d write an autobiography and sell it for millions. Who wouldn’t want to read it?

But now, I don’t even want to write it. What I once found fascinating about myself is either untrue or unremarkable. But, I’ll start it the way I always started it:  “I was born in New York …”

First fascinating fact. But really, it wasn’t “New York, New York,” it was upstate New York, and I only lived there til I was 6. 7. 8. I don’t know. First grade?

Then there is the what. For a time I was in therapy and had come to the conclusion that I’d been severely sexually abused, and in a Satanic cult.

Now I am not so convinced of that. I know some inappropriate touching went on, but pretty sure the rest of what I thought was the result of an overeager therapist who had her own agenda.

So where does that leave me?

Decidedly ordinary, is what.

But.

Well, let’s go back. I was very ordinary in grade school/ high school. Pretty much invisible. I almost wonder, if I’d been bullied, if it would have hurt less.

I did have some friends, fairly ordinary like me, and I know I would not have survived without them. My parents’ divorce. My inability to fit in. I did find a way to fit in. Alcohol fit the bill nicely.

So then! Post high school, I needed a job. Mom told me about a nurses’ aide training course. I really didn’t want to do it; I’d already done some candy striping (volunteering in the hospital), and wound up in the cafeteria and the laundry room. GLAMM-orous. I did not like the smells in the hospital, for sure. That smell of starch is still embedded in my brain. I suppose that is a better smell than the ones I smelled later.

But anyway, back to the training course. I’d already had two jobs in food service: one at McDonald’s, one at Howard Johnson’s as a counter girl. Both thankless – how could people be so rude? It was like they took everything out on you, and it wasn’t like you were getting paid enough to have to put up with that …

So I decided to take the course. It was very thorough and came with a guaranteed job at the end. They promised me I’d be on nights for only a little while, to cover someone else who was on leave. But I’d definitely go on day shift soon!

Well “soon” happened and I didn’t get changed to the day shift, so I took another job at a nursing home down the street.

I was never very efficient. I struggled as an aide to do the job. The time frame we had to work under was just about impossible. Some of the aides had time to set their patients’ hair and put jewelry on them. Not me! I was lucky just to keep them clean.

But at the same time, I took note of the nurses passing pills, in their starched (there’s that word again) white uniforms. I thought, I want to know why they do what they do? What are all those pills for? I decided to apply for nursing school, and got in to my second choice. In the end I was glad I didn’t get the first choice, which was a university program which did not offer much in the way of actual clinical patient care. My diploma program was more hands-on, and I was thankful for that.

But scared to death at the same time. I found out while in school that I had a familial tremor (think Katharine Hepburn) and hypoglycemia (think insulin shock, minus the insulin). You should have seen me trying to pull up medications into a syringe – let’s just say I didn’t have to shake the vial. I was terrified of the instructors, terrified of making a mistake. Somehow I made it through and did really well. Hardly even had to study, which I think was part of my confidence problem later on. I could cram for an exam and forget what I’d studied immediately after it.

I’d already had lots of practice with alcohol toward the end of my high school years, but perfected those skills while in nursing school. The skill of chasing boys, as well, since alcohol loosened my inhibitions. It was nice not to be invisible. That liquid courage …

But after nursing school, it became problematic. I was date-raped twice while under the influence. I was having blackouts. My “familial” tremors worsened after a night of drinking (hmm). Meanwhile I was really succeeding as a nurse, training to work in intensive care. What happened to the girl who was so afraid of failure? Still terrified, but alcohol helped me bury my fears.

After the second rape, I became more aware of my depression. I remember one night sitting on the porch steps thinking about how to take my life. Got up, drank some beers, and stifled that urge.

Soon after that I started going to Al-anon meetings, some of them especially for children of alcoholics. I don’t need to go into my family history, just, that’s what I needed to do. Out of principle I quit drinking. I had righteous indignation (“I’m not like them!”) to power my sobriety.

I also had gone on the Atkins diet and it was then I experienced my first hypomanic episode. I had no idea what was going on but I liked that feeling of power! More confidence, better recall of nursing knowledge, a superiority complex. And a feeling of being so sexy and irresistible! Did I tell you I liked it?

And then the depression came back, and worsened, and because I had stopped drinking I no longer had the liquid courage to get me through. I had started counseling, but when she’d asked me about suicidal thoughts, I’d said no. I made a plan to kill myself with razor blades and carried it out. At the last moment, when I know would have crossed over into death, I told God, “I want to die, but I don’t want to go to Hell!” Somehow I woke up in the bathtub 6 hours later, covered in blood and feces. I knew my attempt had failed, and I knew it was because of that prayer. I crawled to the phone and asked for help.

I wound up in a psychiatric unit where they started me on antidepressants. Very soon after that I began to experience the euphoria I’d had before, only bigger! I felt like I could leap tall buildings in a single bound, like I could read minds (I was sure!) and like I could personally talk to God in the sky. The sun was His all-powerful eye. I was Mary the mother of Jesus who had been raped by God and thus conceived her Son. The smoke alarms went off one day and I was sure that was because I had started a fire somewhere with my rage.

I remember my mother coming in to help me pay bills, and I had to have my Walkman playing in my ears in order to shut my brain off to concentrate. The doctors started quizzing me about my visitors, whether they had brought drugs in. When I told them about the ex-boyfriend and how we had smoked pot, they nodded their heads. It had to have been the pot, then, that made me go kablooey. It never occurred to them that their drugs and my dysfunctional brain had caused the mania and the delusions.

Eventually the mania simmered down, the antidepressant having been replaced with some other medication. I was still having brief episodes but had a prn (“as often as necessary”) medication which helped a lot.

I remember my father coming in to visit and that I started crying on purpose, just to make him feel bad. I was all about “it’s everyone’s fault,” and nowhere near to looking at myself. I was discharged with a diagnosis of depression.

I continued going to Al-anon, but I was also going to AA now because I had figured out the role alcohol had played in my life. I met my son’s father and we won’t go into that. Suffice it to say that between my inability to say no, and my lack of self-esteem, it did not take much for him to bowl me over.

After I gave birth to our son by C-section, the doctor ordered Tylenol #3 (regular Tylenol, plus codeine). I felt that euphoria beginning, and I got scared, and took myself off it. I was scared that I could hurt my son if I was under that kind of influence.

I was not a great mother. For one thing, I was with a man who seemed to thrive on rage (and later I found out was drinking). I stayed with him a lot longer than I should have. For another thing, I struggled a lot with depression, and my son’s days with me should have been filled with a lot more joy than I could muster. My work history was sketchy. At one point we lived in a transitional housing program which helped tremendously, but it was no match for my depressions and my continuing to choose, shall we say, men with problems.

I kept trying to get back to church, having been raised Catholic, but it just did not fit, nor did it fix anything, and that’s what I was looking for: a fix. I was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital several times, both inpatient and outpatient.

I did eventually find a Christian church (non-denominational) and “got saved,” and by that I mean I raised my hand when the preacher asked who wanted to get saved. My understanding was that I was a sinner, and of that I had no doubt. I knew that Jesus died for sinners, to take our sin upon Himself, He who knew no sin!

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die : yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. — Romans 5:6-9

And so I knew I was a sinner, I knew I needed a Saviour from the wrath of God. I asked Jesus to “come into my heart” and save me.

I had another major manic episode, can’t remember any specific triggers, but again I was hospitalized. It became clear to me almost immediately that though I had accepted Christ as my Saviour, I’d never “deigned” to have Him as my Lord. And that meant following the Bible. I surrendered at that time, telling God that if He wanted to use me in that psychiatric hospital for the rest of my life, that was fine with me. But I wanted him to use me, wherever He might want me to be. I was rather surprised to find that I was discharged and I have never been hospitalized since. I started going to a church in ’06 that teaches from the Bible. It’s a lot more fundamentalist than the other church, and I believe it’s where God wants me to be right now.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been well this whole time. I have still struggled with depression and hypomania, still struggled to maintain my ability to work. In fact, presently I am “retired” from even doing a cashier job. It was too overwhelming to me. It’s very sad that as time has gone on I have become less and less able to function as a “normal” human being. I have been on disability for several years, but I have a hard time accepting that. I am very involved with my church, and it seems that doing volunteer work for God does not stress me in the same way. I do have to be careful not to overdo. Sometimes it is my guilt that makes me take on too much. Guilt for being mentally ill, guilt for not earning my keep. My counselor has said more than once that if I didn’t feel so guilty,  if I wasn’t so much in denial of having a mental illness, I could probably have a happy life and function better. I think he is right, but it is hard to just erase that voice in my head that says I am bad, and wrong, and lazy, etc.

My dream? If I had no shame for who I am, if I truly celebrated those gifts that God has given me, and used them only as much as He desired, I’d be a working novelist. I wouldn’t just dabble and play at it. I’m good at it, really. I also do have Spiritual gifts of mercy and hospitality, gifts He has given me to use for Him, but not for my ego, and not to be used under my own power. I used to dream of having a big foster home, with horses, and a long haired husband (lol). Now I just dream of being able to function, without feeling like I’m not enough.

 

And so I come to the real answer to the question:”Who Am I?” I leave you with this song by Casting Crowns:

________New Year

Suppose I could just ask you, since the stupid poll will not attach to this blog … What kind of New Year’s Day are you having?

Happy

Tolerable

Don’t ask …

Ask me tomorrow

 

I was having a pretty good day til I tried attaching that stupid poll! Argh!!! lol…

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

Don Charisma


«If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.»

— Vincent Van Gogh


DonCharisma.com-logo-4Charisma quotes are sponsored by DonCharisma.com – you dream it we built it … because – “anything is possible with Charisma”



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Keep Breathing!

 

With all the talk of suicide I thought I would submit this link and the lyrics to the song. Sometimes it is as simple as to Keep Breathing! 

 

You wait in darkness for answers that you can’t see
You know what you deserve
And you’re wondering why your life is
Not what you thought it should be

When the night breaks, your heart still aches
How can you face the day?

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

When you feel like you’re dying, keep breathing
Don’t give up, don’t give in, don’t let go
No, you’re not done
Don’t give up, don’t give in, don’t let go

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

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

With every breath you’re bringing hope
You’re letting go of all your doubts
When nothing is easy, you got to keep going
Even when you don’t know how
You don’t have to know how, no

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

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

Keep breathing, don’t give up
No, you’re not done
Don’t give up, don’t give in
Don’t let go, no, you are not done yet

Don’t give up, don’t give in
Don’t let go, no, you are not done
Don’t give up, don’t give in
Don’t let go, no, you are not done

Don’t give up, don’t give in
Don’t let go, no, you are not done

Keep Breathing!  by Kerrie Roberts

♪ ♫ Here come those tears, again … ♩ ♬

Yep, survived. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you know what I’m talkin’ about. And I have hardly told you ANYthing! (I’ll work on that).

It’s a sad commentary. But this year has been super hard for me. I have not grown, I don’t think; I’ve gone backwards. But that is a miracle. The treadmill was going backwards, and I didn’t fall off the end. And that, my friends, is victory. If that’s you, too, pat yourself on the back.

 

Happy New Year! May 2015 be a lit-tle easier on us, lol…

♪♫ Someday Lady You’ll Enable Me … ♫♪

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much do I do for them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where does that come from?

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

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

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

Again, I have to go back to the Bible.

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

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

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

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

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

And then, the hardest part: Wait.

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: