Tag Archives: adult children

Walking After Midnight Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYTimes: It’s Not Always Depression

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

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

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

BluChickenNinja, and my teen self…

How’s that for a title!

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

BluChickenNinja

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now I meet The Teenager.

Ew, lol…

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

She’s kinda mean.

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

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

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

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

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…

Your Worth is Beyond Measure

How does that title make you feel? Your Worth is Beyond Measure.

I don’t know about you, but even typing that makes my heart skip a beat and my spirit feel stronger.

You see, God gives you what you need.

I tend to live with a low level of depression most of the time. I say “live with” because really it is my preferred state of mind. Preferable to mania, anyway.

But I don’t want to go off topic.

Your Worth is Beyond Measure.

When I pray (and I admit that I don’t do it often enough), sometimes the answer to prayer is not all that clear. But in this situation it was.

I was feeling really down, and I have this friend who has said to me, more than once, that if you truly know your value to God, you won’t be depressed.

Well, I get it. At least, in my head I do. I know God loves me. He loved me enough to die for meNever would I say that’s not enough. I know I’m just a measly sinner, still am. The only difference is, I believed in Christ and asked Him to forgive me. Now I am forgiven. I have a home in Heaven.

But still I get depressed. Oh you don’t know how it irks me when people tell me I shouldn’t! That doesn’t change the fact!

So anyway, back to my friend. I remembered what she’d said, and as always, I started arguing with her in my head. And that led to my prayer. Show me, God. I get it, on one level, but change my heart! If I’m really of any value to you, show me! Change that part of me that says I would be better off dead. Sure, I do things for people. But no one knows what goes on in my head. What I actually feel. Show, me, Lord.

And very shortly after that, I opened my email account.

There, in black and white, the subject line of one email stood out. It said, Your Worth is Beyond Measure.

Now, I don’t believe God said, at the moment I prayed, “Ooh! Ooh! I know what will convince her! I’ll get hold of her email account and send her THIS! Then she’ll believe Me!”

What I do believe, though, is that God goes ahead of me, knowing what I need. Matthew 6:8 says, “… your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” And oh thank God for that! I wouldn’t be here!

The email came, randomly, from a website from which I send email cards to friends. Reluctantly, I had checked the option, “Ok, if you must,” when they’d asked if I wanted to receive email offers from them.

Now this particular email came in July of this year. But I have never deleted it. So each time I clean out my inbox,  what’s left stands out – and I get a little lurch in my belly. Your Worth is Beyond Measure.

And it’s an affirmation more powerful than anything I could whisper to myself in the mirror.

Why does it affect me so much?

Because it was an answer to prayer. And because I know it’s true. I knew it was true when my friend said it.

But seeing it there in black and white does something to me.

I know I am of value to certain people. I do for them or I love them or I am just there for them.

But to think My Worth is Beyond Measure – to the God of the universe – that there is powerful.

More powerful than the depression that is always salting my wounds.

Because I know it’s true.

Do you?

 

Read about your value to God:

 

♪♫ 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)

 

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’t move, don’t start a new job, don’t 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’t 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!

It’s nice to share!

Let me talk to you about sharing.

There are a couple of uses of the word, with which most are familiar. There’s the “half and half” sharing we learn as toddlers, wherein you get a cookie, I get two. You get a cookie – never mind, I get all the cookies. Let’s talk about blocks…

Then there’s the “sharing from the heart” that I will attempt on this page.

The origin of the word “share” (see Websters) is the Middle English word schare, from Old English scear; akin to Old High German scaro plowshare, Old English scieran to cut — hmm, cut. Seems appropriate and I’ll tell you why …

Since last December my son has been staying with me for “a while.” (His definition, not mine). Life had taken its toll and he needed some Mommy time (my definition, not his). And so, not having had the wisdom to take pen and paper and notary seal in hand, I said, “sure.”

I was thrilled. A mom lives to hear that her children need her. Many, of us do, anyway. In my case, I had hungered to even hear from him. The ole, is he dead and did he wear clean underwear kind of thing.

Yeah. Torture.

He had spent time in the Army, and though he was always Stateside, I worried. Especially since apparently they’d broken his fingers and he couldn’t even text. My goodness.

And so, I drove the million (less than 200) miles to get him, and his few paltry boxes, with joy.

Now, I’m not saying I had no reservations. I also own a few paltry boxes, ok, a few more than his, but not many. Pretty Spartan. I live in an efficiency apartment: Small, in other words, and not in a cute tiny houses way like you see in magazines. It is strictly functional, and may I emphasize, intended for one person.

The pay (disability) check, also intended for one.

The energy of the lessee, also limited to one. I had worked hard to reach this stage of my life: That stage of knowing my limits, having experienced the ups and downs of bipolar that reinforce those limits.

Ok, I guess you probably get my drift.

Now let us get down to the nitty gritty. The most painful part of this process, going on a year later? Sharing my computer.

Now I admit, my computer’s chief function is my amusement. Yes, it’s been a lifeline at times. Yes, I have made fast friends that I hope to have for a lifetime. But mostly, it’s for fun. And I resent having to curb my amusement. There is only so much I can stand of reading in bed. (No offense to the authors). I know, DS [Dear Son] requires more amusement than I, after all, I am more mature, but waaaah! I want my computer!

And now I have something semi-productive that I need to do with it. I need to write my 50,000 worrrrds for Nano! And though I can say what I mean on Facebook or in my blog, there are conditions that have to be met when I am seriously writing, and Nano qualifies:

1. I need to be alone. Someone waiting his turn or sleeping on the couch does not meet this criterion.

2. I need to be able to pound on the keyboard or tippie-toe on it, according to the emotion I’m trying to convey. Again, trying not to wake the giant does not meet this requirement.

3. I need to be inspired, and not harboring ideas of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I mean couch. Again, this does not achieve my goal.

There are more things I could add to this list. For example, my sugar and caffeine levels must be exquisitely balanced. The humidity and temperature must meet certain requirements. My pencils must be 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

But an actual excuse? I don’t like it.

That said, let me tell you about the bathroom…