Tag Archives: Bipolar

Imprisoned – part two

I guess I am still on the Paul and Silas idea – or God is – because I was led to the following scripture this morning:

Psalm 107:13-16 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

I wonder sometimes, when God breaks the chains, if we stand there unbelieving. Instead of just shaking our arms and legs, and watching the chains fall away, we shake our heads, like this horse, and calmly chew our oats. Or trail mix, or whatever the case may be. God has freed us! We aren’t even tied loosely, and lookit us!

Speakin da which – I am considering a major move. I suppose it’s part geographical cure, and yes, I know, we take ourselves with us (wry grin). But is there always something wrong with that?

Seriously, I have my reasons, one of which is to escape these stupid Maine winters, I think 56 years of them is enough to know I don’t like them. I don’t need one more!

But I have other reasons …(quirks left eyebrow) (if it was capable of quirking).

Anyyyway… stay tuned …

(Thank you B is for Blessed for the scripture!)

Paul and Silas were imprisoned … are you?

I get so frustrated sometimes, don’t you, by the way mental illness affects your life? I think about the impact it has on my work and relationships. My future plans. My physical health. Even my housework is affected! But that doesn’t bother me as much. But those other things – I do feel imprisoned sometimes!

I was reading in the Bible today in Acts 16, where Paul and Silas had been thrown into prison. Verse 25 shows us, however, that Paul and Silas were anything but thrown by their imprisonment. If anything, they were joyful, for “at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”

As I read this I thought, what am I but in prison? My bipolar and depression and anxiety lock me up soundly sometimes! The last thing I ever do is sing praises when I feel that way. Oh I will sing praises in church, and when I am thankful about something good, but do I truly praise God in all of my circumstances? And that made me think of another verse that makes me cringe. Ephesisans 5:20 says to give “thanks always for all things.” That’s even harder to swallow! How can I give thanks, when I’m all balled up, and feeling anything but thankful?

My experience today speaks to the wisdom of reading the Bible over and over. Because I’ve read that verse about Paul and Silas probably a hundred times. But I’d never really connected the fact that I am indeed imprisoned by my mental illness and its symptoms. Essentially all I ever do is moan about it. It never occurred to me to sing praises. And it’s not just a verse for everyone else; it’s for me.

But it’s also important not to just do it for the reward. Paul and Silas didn’t know that God was going to free them. They sang because that was what was in their hearts. The reason I need to do it is because God says so! Because it will please Him! And because I truly am thankful, despite my illness!

I can picture the ways I can give praise while I am in my bonds. I can smile more. I can learn to be calm, more grateful. I can exercise discipline in thanking God every day, and show my gratitude. I can be softer and gentler, and “act as if” I was thankful, until it was true. This is a skill I was taught in AA; and I can certainly apply it here.

I know people in my church who are like the above. You know they have a happy heart, despite their many challenges. Maybe I ought to hang out with them more; I already know how to be miserable!

Of course, I know it can benefit others, to hear me praise, and pray, in the midst of my woe. I know it helps me to be around it. And again, this will please God.

This doesn’t mean faking how things really are. I’ve done enough faking. That’s not what this is. This means a heart change. And guess Who can change my heart?

Not I! The Bible calls for us to pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) This means to come to God and confess sin, and ask Him to change this heart. I love Ezekiel 36:26, where God promises: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”

Hm, a stony heart. Sounds like a heart that can be stubborn.

But a heart of flesh?

That is what I want!

Luscious

 

When you’re depressed, “Luscious” is probably very low on your list of vocabulary words. But that’s what happened to me today!

Lemme ‘splain.

I was able to find freedom from my depression “just for today” by following the urge to do something, instead of just thinking about the effort it would take to do it.

Last night I started thinking about making one of my specialty cakes, and this morning I decided to do it! But there was a lot more to it than baking. For one thing, I had to go out in public and buy the ingredients! But, I was motivated! Because on occasion I give in to some sage advice that I’ve heard along the way:
“Life is uncertain – eat dessert first!

Needless to say, that means that Yes! I like cake! Are you kidding??

As I said in my previous post today, I have a habit of avoiding the holidays. But with the urge to bake something, I thought, it can’t hurt, and it might help! Not to mention, YUM!

A long time ago, one of our long-standing family recipes went missing, but lo and behold, apparently it was stolen by several cooks on the internet, and slightly varied so as to disguise it. But I am smart. Very smart to figure it out. And so, without further ado, I bring you — Hawaiian Dream Cake!

This recipe is almost guaranteed to earn you some ooh’s and ah’s! You will need:

  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 1 -20oz can of crushed pineapple, drained (Make sure that you reserve the juice and put it aside!)
  • 1 -8 oz package of cream cheese
  • 1 -3 oz package of instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup of cold milk
  • 1 -9 oz. container of whipped topping
  • nuts (optional)
  • coconut (optional)

Preparation (the basics)

  1. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, using the reserved pineapple juice. Add water, if necessary, to equal the amount of liquid called for in the directions. Bake as directed on the box (I use a 13×9 pan). Cool in pan (about 1.5 hours), set aside.
  2. Once it is cool, in a large bowl blend together softened cream cheese, pudding mix, and the milk until smooth. Fold in the well-drained pineapple, and spread the mixture over the top of the cake. Cover with whipped topping (unfrozen!), and sprinkle with nuts and coconut. Refrigerate.

Preparation (therapeutic style)

I noticed that while I was draining the pineapple I felt like a little kid “playing in the water.” There are several D.B.T. (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) skills that this involves. And so, “playing in the water” becomes a very adult thing to do. Well, let’s just say that it does. The neat thing about it is, no one is going to yell at you while you’re playing!

I know it sounds silly, but trust me, you can have fun while you bake! Just forget yourself and play!

So – cake all mixed up and poured into the pan, baking, and soon smelling dee-vine! Mm mm mm! Notice the sensations you are having – smell, sight, texture, and soooon – taste!

Once it’s cooled for 10 minutes, you have the option of taking the cake out of the pan to be frosted, or you can leave it in the pan, because it is quite messy to serve, and it also stands pretty high once it’s all dressed up.

One of the things I decided to do with the cake was divvy it up into portions for a couple of friends of mine. You know those plastic serving containers with lids you can buy at the supermarket? I bought some smaller square ones, and I used them upside down so that the lid became the platter, and the bottom became the cover.

But you can choose whatever size suits the occasion – individual sizes, or pot-luck-supper sizes. Don’t forget to write your name in permanent marker on both parts of your container if you don’t want to, ahem, “lose” them afterward.

O-tay! After the cake has cooled for about an hour, I’ve brought the cool whip and the cream cheese out of the fridge to defrost and soften. Once they have, and the cake has cooled enough, I mixed the “frosting,” which consists of the drained pineapple, cream cheese, milk, and pudding mix. Can you think of different DBT skills you can use while you are mixing the frosting? Me neither. I’m too busy salivating.

Supposedly there is a chocolate version of this cake that you can make. Now, I love chocolate. I can see using chocolate cake, and a frosting of cream cheese with chocolate pudding and milk. Maybe? You could use the whipped topping on top, or you could double how much of the chocolate frosting you make so you could … wait, I’m getting ahead of myself (wipes mouth on sleeve).

So, back to our original. After the frosting, add a generous layer of the whipped topping. Hopefully after mixing up the “frosting,” I’ll have made a gooey mess of the spoons and bowls and mixers so I can, um, take care of them (yum). Again, this is therapeutic only, using certain of the DBT skills you may have learned in class. If not, I’ve given you a free lesson in self-soothing, distraction, grounding, and whatever else skill you want to use. I think you could probably use all of the skills in the book, if you had enough frosting. Then again, you could remedy the not-enough situation quite easily if you wanted needed to.

Finally, we add the washed and dried berries and dress the top of the cake. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make it like an American flag (after all, that is the point of the whole thing), but by this point I’ve pretty much run out of steam, so I will randomly throw the berries on to the cake. I suppose you could also add a sparkler or two.

You can make this cake for many holidays and occasions, using colored sugar, candies, pretzels (yes, I used pretzels for Easter one year, making a cross on the cake), or whatever you like. You can color the coconut …

OH! I almost forgot the coconut!

And you can use nuts…just be careful if you are going to a group activity because many people seem to have developed allergies to nuts. Maybe you could put them on the side in a little container.

One year I used red and green colored sugar for Christmas, and added maraschino cherries (make sure you’ve dried them well!). In this photo you can’t see the red sugar very well, but it’s there. Sorry it’s kind of messy. I must have been in a hurry.

One Christmas, on one side of the cake I put nuts and coconut, and on the other side no nuts or coconut, so that my guests could choose their preference. Again, I used a pretzel – one of those big giant ones – to separate the two sides.

Pretzels actually taste GOOD with “frosting” etc. Sweet and salty. It’s not so odd. You take care of two cravings at once. One of my sister-in-laws serves cake and ice cream with chips. Now it is almost “normal” for me to have them all together.

Do you get the idea? This is what I mean by playing.  🙂 Use your imagination! You can even use food coloring in the whipped topping if you want!

Et Voilà! Ze cake, ze cake!


I kind of ran out of steam here, so the berries are scattered, and I messed up on portioning pieces of cake first. But – whatever. It

still

tasted

luscious!

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

The bottom line here, friends, is this  … This is not just about baking, or eating, or my voracious appetite because of my stupid meds. If you get an urge to do something, there is a possibility it will get you out of that brown funk (never mind the blues!). When you’re depressed and you don’t want to do anything … do SOMEthing! It will make you feel better, and if you share the results, it will bless others! A win, win, win, and we aren’t talking Charlie Sheen!

Why did I say win 3 times? 1. You are less depressed, 2. You get to bless others, and 3. The best win? You get to eat cake! 🙂

Jesus, please pray for us to the Father!

For those who believe

I have been thinking a lot of the fact that Jesus prays for us, not prayed. I often think of where Jesus said He prayed for Peter: Luke 22:32: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren

So, I am offering up a prayer, for those who believe, that Jesus pray to the Father, that our faith fail not! And you see also that as He restores us, He expects us to strengthen each other. There are many forms that that can take, and I am mindful of prayer, but also of more concrete things as well. Something to think about. And, Jesus prayed for all of us, including the world, in other spots in the Bible. What are your thoughts?

Isaiah 53:12
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors ; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Romans 8:34
Who is he that condemneth ? It is Christ that died , yea rather , that is risen again , who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

John 17:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am ; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Th’Abuse …

I don’t like talking about it, remembering it, thinking about it. I thought I was all done with all that. You know, years of therapy, lost time, ruined relationships, spotty employment… oh sure, the depression, the manias, hospitalizations, ok I was willing to say, yeah, that’s the reason. But, there were the years I spent in therapy recounting what happened…

And years unrecounting what happened.

To the point that I don’t honestly know what happened. And I suppose that is fine, if you close yourself into a hidey hole and you never talk to anyone or open your eyes…

Yeah. Like that’s gonna happen.

So anyway yeah, I am very sensitive to sex talk and four letter words, and it is nice that as a Christian I am not exposed to a lot of that.

But out in the real world, I am. And it triggers me.

Now who’s to say triggering is bad? If it makes you face your demons and heal, that’s good, right?

But if it makes you go backwards, is it so good?

Well, truth be told, I am not sure what is good for me sometimes. I do know I like stability.

But right now stability means I’m not able to work.

GREAT.

Not sure I will be able to, again. Well, I’m fine w/ that, if I can continue to write, and function – you know, take showers, talk to people …

SMH … that means “Shaking My Head” right?

Cuz that is what I’m doing. Shaking … mah … head….

Anyway I had to put that out there. Not sure what to do w/ it but thought it would be helpful to get it out before bedtime.

Hyeaaahhh…

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.  🙂

♪♫Doo bee dee bee teeeee!!! ♪♫

Not the greatest title, is it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That goes for me, too.

I’ll keep you posted!

Day 2 of Nano Camp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone else on board?

Ok, to those of you who are holding out…

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

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

Yeah, you people.

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

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

“The Spoon Theory”

Have you read about “The Spoon Theory,” which helps us to answer a very difficult question: How is it to be chronically ill, how do we cope, how can we?

How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try. — Christina Miserandino

Please click on the link for her explanation.

http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

There’s no place like home …

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

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

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

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

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

So how do I counteract these voices?

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

Etc.

Why am I writing this post?

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

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

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

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.”

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.

How do you measure a good day?

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

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

Paid a couple bills?

Spent time with a friend?

Oh – took a shower!

I guess it does mean I had a good day.

It doesn’t necessarily mean I felt happy.

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

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

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

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

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

“Could be worse.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

********

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

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

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

True.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strength – Defined

Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he [it is] that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Deuteronomy 20:4 – For the LORD your God [is] he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].

Matthew 11:28 – Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Isaiah 40:31 – But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

Psalms 31:24 – Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

1 Corinthians 16:13 – Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

Psalms 39:7 – And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope [is] in thee.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-13 – Two [are] better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him [that is] alone when he falleth; for [he hath] not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm [alone]? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Better [is] a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

James 5:16 – Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Meet Up – Before

Hi guys!

Tomorrow night I am going to a Meet Up. What this means is I have connected through a website called “Meetup.com”

Yeah, you had already figured that out, I’m sure. Anyway Meetup.com is a website that is helpful for people who want to find activities and people with their own interests. Let’s say that you jog, or write, or you’re a cat person, or you speak a foreign language, or you want to travel, or learn how to manage your money, etc. You enter your information at the site and select your interests, and, voilà! (French for “see this,” or “see that”) They send you a list of activities in your area that you may want to attend.

Then, every now and then, you receive updates in your email that tell you of new activities that are coming up soon in your area. Today I received a notice that a Word Press talk would be taking place in my area tomorrow. I know, short notice, but I may well have ignored previous notices; always possible.

So, I read the list through. WordPress. Hmm, that sounds fami… HEY! I have a WordPress blog! And I still need to learn a few stuffs!

And so, with only a few moments’ hesitation, I invited myself.

It’s that easy; the hard part is to go.

One thing that I have learned, in my years of recovery from alcoholism and mental illness, is that it’s important to occupy my time with things that are of personal interest to me. When my illness is active, all I can think about is the symptoms, or, in the case of alcoholism, my next drink.I have not had that problem for a long time so basically it is depression, along with its lethargy and lack of motivation, that cause my paralysis. It is rare for something to pique my interest when I’m feeling like I do lately.

So, we’ll see how it goes. I’ll let you know  😀

C’mon baby, do the locomotion… ♪♫

I don’t know about you, but Mondays are not deserving of my attention. I mean, are you kidding me? Locomote???

(You just might notice that the word locomote starts with the prefix “loco-“) 

Psh! Fughetaboutit! 

So I’ve found a way to cope.

Think about it. Sunday is a day of rest, right? so why does it take all of Monday and part of Tuesday to recover?

Well, I have 3 church services to go to, plus 2 choir practices, plus now 3 people to pick up early for said practices.

We’re talking 8:30 in the morning, man!

Not that I’m complaining …

Now to some who work 9-5, 8:30 is not a big deal. But if you are like me, you wake up already feeling and looking like burnt toast.

This is a struggle. Because I have what is known as Early Bird syndrome.   I mean, not everyone gets the worm. Right? Some of us have to settle for coffee.

At the mo, I am not able to work. Now I have been told by various authorities that, for good mental health, it’s best to find, and adhere to, a routine.

Well, I have one! (did I say it was a good one?)  I get OOB when I have had qs of sleep,; an amount equal to and equivalent to 6-8 hours. I try to get to bed by midnight, which I do pretty well, but lately i have been waking up at 4:30! Whyyyyy(nnnne!!) By the way, today is one of those 4:30 mornings…

See, I get up early enough, that’s true, but God forbid I should have to be somewhere! Therein lies the problem!

After I, “”quote,” wake up, I then spend 2 hours on the computer drinking coffee and moaning. I must! This is based upon the same principle that applies to starting your car and not running off before it warms up a little. At least until I hear the idle come down. Putt putt.

Wellll, unfortunately, my idle is already on “down,” enough so that it stalls sometimes. And it’s still pretty low when I finally concede to eating breakfast.

Hey, I only want to give those “before breakfast” pills time to absorb! What can I say … wink wink

After breakfast, why, it’s time for my nap!

(Unless it’s Sunday. Then it’s called a “Baptist nap.” Which comes wayyyy too late, in my opinion.)

So how do I cope with my Monday?

I call it my “Saturday.”.

(Do what now?)

And Saturdays are sacred!

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………….

.

Mental Health: Promoting Good Stuart-Ship

Feel like giving up? Nothing’s working? Believe it or not, we’re still accomplishing something, even if the results are not what we want. Thomas A. Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

He also said that “many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

How about Babe Ruth? “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

Even the Bible says, “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13). And in Galatians 6:9, “… let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

I don’t know about you, but bipolar makes me weary. Trying to take good care of myself, and trying to do what God says. Meanwhile, ignoring the self-destructive part of myself. Those messages I collected growing up, and the ones I’ve created myself.

There’s this song that we sing at church:

Every work for Jesus will be blest,
But He asks from everyone his best.
Our talents may be few, these may be small,
But unto Him is due our best, our all.

My best? Oh Lord. I’d look around that church, with all those perfect people, and think, I don’t know that my best is worth all that much. But later, I realized, that’s not what the song is saying! The song says our talents may be small. Our best may not be what we think it “should” be. But God knows when we’re doing our best, regardless of what those stupid voices tell me! Besides – were those people really perfect? Most likely not.

Part of doing our best is taking care of what God has given us, what He calls “being a good steward.” Hm, even in regard to my health. Remember the slogan? “I eat right, I exercise and I take Geritol every day.” Ok, I’m dating myself. Well, I do go on a health kick now and then, but it only lasts so long. Exercise? Even the Chariots of Fire song drives me crazy. And Rocky, you can run up those steps all by yourself. I ain’t goin’.

Ok, how about hygiene? You know, shower, brush teeth, etc.

Not so easy sometimes, is it?

Contrary to popular belief, that’s not laziness. Where would somebody get that idea? If anything, that’s self-loathing at its worst. But at that point, we don’t even have the energy to hate ourselves.

How about taking care of our immediate environment? Making sure my place is not condemned? Generally, I do dishes before they get moldy, and I take out the trash before Stuart Little makes it his home. Ahh, you say. That’s where the Stuart Little reference comes in. Well, forgive the groaner, but even emptying the trash is good Stuart-ship.

Ok, I hear crickets chirping. I’ll just pretend you didn’t get the joke, and carry on.

Let’s move on to money. The Bible says that “… the love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10). Not that money itself is evil. In either case, I’m not a very good Stuart of it. Right now I have about $20. until the end of the month. True, those of us on disability are not living in the lap of luxury, but I get enough. I just don’t handle it well. So that $20. pretty much removes all possibility of overeating, overspending, and even over-helping. Besides, I’ve pretty much ruined my credit, so there goes that.

So what else? The Bible says that “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). But I can’t seem to to hold a job for very long. Well what is up with that! Doesn’t the Bible also say “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”? (Philippians 4:13) I must be a total failure! I mean, I won’t brush my teeth, I won’t go to work, what good am I?

Well, that’s what the voice in my head says. And that’s what you might say, if you don’t have experience with this thing.

Ok, you can’t brush your teeth? You can’t work? You can’t clean your toilet? What about breathing, then? Let’s start with the breathing. I know, I’ve already talked about breathing in another blogBut let’s say, theoretically, that you still have to breathe after all this time. So breathe already. Ok, now did you eat today? And, can you call someone today? Maybe it’s to be encouraged. But what about to encourage them? Maybe you can volunteer at church while you’re not able to work. Or you can take someone shopping. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. That, and don’t kill yourself today. That is sometimes necessary to add!

Speaking of “today,” I learned early on in my mental health recovery that alcohol and “recreational” drugs are not my friend. Especially where mood stabilization is concerned. So, one day at a time, I stay sober. So far, I have stayed sober for 10,623 days, but who’s counting? That, my friends, has to be the grace of God. On my own I wouldn’t put two days together!

Now, let’s flip it. How is my Stuart-ship when I’m in manic mode? No, not mood. Mode. Everyone pretty much has an idea of what depression is, but what of mania? Psych Central, a website with information about mental illness, defines it thusly: “A Manic Episode is defined by a distinct period during which there is an abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood…” (See: http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-a-manic-episode/000629.)

Some of us even experience a side of psychosis with our heaping helping of mania: “Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality, typically including delusions (false ideas about what is taking place or who one is) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things which aren’t there).”(See: http://psychcentral.com/lib/bipolar-disorder-with-psychotic-features/0001292.)

So what happens to my Stuart-ship when I’m revved up like I’ve mainlined caffeine, or even cocaine? What about when I’m seeing things? How can I possibly take care of what is mine?

Well, early on, during a phase of hypomania, my motives are good. When I start feeling that surge of happiness and energy, I think, “Yay! Time to make up for all I haven’t done for the past eight months!” Suddenly I’m cleaning, writing, doing, helping, coming up with brilliant ideas, why, it feels just marvelous! And it’s pretty well organized, in my head, anyway, and in most of my actions. It’s not particularly bizarre, except …

… then things start becoming confusing. My friends, and even some of the people outside of my circle, begin to see some disorganization in my activity. I begin to get reckless and impulsive, fresh, and maybe a bit aggressive. And no, I don’t have any clever jokes about that one. Because at this stage it is no longer funny – or fun. I don’t have time to shower. I don’t have a need for sleep, or eating. Yeah! You know I’m off when I don’t eat! I don’t have time to clean up after myself.

And then there’s that elevated sense of myself. Thinking I can do things that really, I have no business doing. After a certain point those things include driving, or taking care of patients. I’m telling people off. Walking into traffic expecting cars to understand that I’m on my way to something important. I begin acting out in ways that will make me cringe later on. Yeah. Those little things. Those things God has given me? Including modesty and humility? Self-control? Pretty much gone. As to stewardship? We are at a very basic level at this point. We are at survival mode and not much more. Since God has gotten hold of my life, or since I’ve gotten better hold of Him, I don’t get as bad as I used to. I might have to say, “yet.”

Where was I again?

Oh yes. Failure. Weariness. Lack of Stuart-ship. And the cycle repeats itself.

So how do I maintain that stability, that “meet me in the middle”-ness?

Well, let’s just throw our hat in the ring and say it: What about medication?

Oo (flinch), don’t say medication and Christian in the same sentence. Yipe!

I have to say it, though. It’s the rare bird who has bipolar and can manage without medications. If you can, God bless you, and that’s wonderful! I mean that.

Personally? I did the two year experiment without meds. I did pretty well for about a year and a half. But toward the end of that period, I was manic, and I didn’t even know how bad off I was. How dangerous.

So, medication. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t using it to get high. We are using it just to function. It’s not fun, by any means. But it is hard to find the right mix. It’s especially frustrating if you have found what works for you, and then it stops working. Again, and again. But that is part of the illness, I think.

And so, regardless of medication, we still struggle. Don’t we?

So how do we not grow weary? This thing called bipolar is not just a sometime thing. It takes continuous daily vigilance, and sometimes, despite that, we still experience the highs and lows.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I sure cannot manage it under my own power! Now here is something profound. I need Jesus! And I dare say you need Him, too! Isn’t it worth considering, when nothing else is working? I’m not saying life is a bowl of cupcakes. But it is better. I have strength, and I have faith, that I didn’t have before. It could be coincidence, but I have not been in the psych hospital since I started taking Him seriously, back in ’06. So what is the deal? Check out the link above, which will take you to another blog page.

God’s intention? That I become more like Jesus. No no no, not like that (manic). More like Jesus as He was when He walked here on Earth, and then to continue to grow: in my spirit, and in my life. Jesus did not want to be “all that” when He was here on Earth,”Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” (Philippians 2:5-6). 

Jesus was humble. During His time on Earth, Jesus served. He was not “up there,” like the God He really was. He was not “down there,” sitting on the floor feeling sorry for Himself. And please, don’t think I am judging anyone here because trust me, I have spent my time on the floor. And the ceiling. And I imagine I will again.

So can I just aim for that? Not too high, not too low?

Humble, by the way, does not mean groveling. Humble means, not thinking too much of myself. And, not thinking of myself too much. There is a difference.

So how do I aim there?

One way is by reading God’s word. It’s there that I learn how to be like Jesus, which includes being in prayer, and thinking on God’s word. That’s right, Jesus did that! Even He! In fact, He fought temptation by quoting scripture to combat the devil. Even He! Shouldn’t we?

And serving. Didn’t Jesus serve when He was here on Earth? “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

It is of note that Jesus did allow others to minister to Him, as well. There’s the woman with the alabaster box who anointed Jesus with precious oils. There’s John, who baptized Jesus in the Jordan river. Even in death, people served Him, like the rich man who donated his own tomb, and then those who prepared His body for burial. Why do you suppose He allowed that?

I think it was because He knew it was a blessing to be the giver. Doesn’t it bless you when you can give yourself to others, or when you serve the Lord? So let people help you and show that they care. This will bless them, as well as you. I mean, really, can we do all this by ourselves? God will not leave us nor forsake us. Isn’t part of His provision the people He’s given to us? People who help us to see ourselves? (YIPE!) What about our doctors and pastors and other providers? Yet, as people with bipolar, our number one problem is an inability to ask for help! We wait until our pants are on fire, and even then, we wait.

And what about Jesus Himself? Why do I wait to ask Him for help and direction? The one who answers me when I call, from wherever I happen to be? I think a big part of my problem is that little word, “I.” All by myself, I’m a mess! I freely admit it! But I am proud, very proud. I’m like the two year old who says, “Me do it. Me do myself.” And what can you do as a parent but let them do it.

And then they have the meltdown, and finally, you can help them! But why do we wait til then!

Jesus said that “… with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27). Now what “things” is He talking about? Sometimes, it is doing those stupid dishes. But I know that He has better things in mind. Given my history with Him, much better things!

So. ♫ ♪ Take, good, care of your-self ♪♫ … (I care about you).

And don’t forget the breathing part.

♪♫ If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life …

Well hullo. Sorry for not being in touch. But I am sharing my almost-everything with my son again, including the computer (sigh). He is trying yet again to find a job and a place to live and maybe a sugar mama (besides me) and and…

But that’s not what this story is about ..

“Juust sit right back and you’ll hear a tale..”

Sorry, this is gonna be one of those “I’ve imbibed one inch of coffee so far” posts.

The point of this story: Rating where you are on the bipolar scale.

My shrink once asked me where I was on the mood scale, between one and ten.

Well, I esplained (Lucy) that a person with bipolar cannot really rate themselves that way.

“How so, Dr. Bailey?” A pet name that he had for me, because I was always correcting him, or telling him how to treat me.

“Well, ya see, Dr. M, we are either really up there, or really down there. Ya can’t say one to ten, as if we are ever normal. Well, maybe for a nano second here and there. But still…”

He nods. Which means, tell me more. His pencil is poised.

It’s like the ocean, I explained. Maybe you’re at a two, where the living is easy. Treading water, but not as if in survival mode. You’re floating like you’re in the Dead Sea, no effort at all; relaxed, even. You’re just beyond competent. Juuust a little. Maybe happy, God forbid! Then maybe a four. You’re sort of walking on water, like Peter in the Bible. Soft, warm waves lapping at your toes, and then euphoria sets in; joy! So this is what normal people feel like! you think to yourself. You chance to dance. You still don’t sink. Definitely a five, six, but who’s counting? What can I do that I’ve been neglecting? You clean the whole house in like an hour. You start hanging out with people you haven’t seen for a while. “We need to have a party or something! Everything is greaaaat!” Your better friends quirk an eyebrow. “Everything okay?

But wait, there’s more! “It’s bigger than that! You’ve got special powers, maybe; uh… ” I look off to the side. Should I tell him this part? His pencil is moving furiously. He’s thinking he wants to lock me up; but he is patient.

Oh, we’re not egotistical enough to think that we’re God. But that euphoria, it gives you this wonderful energy! Prolific energy! The more you do, the more you have to do! And the more you do, the more it gives you fantastic abilities! If you can walk on water then by gor you can read minds. Leap tall buildings. See beyond reality, write a Pulitzerprizewinningnovelinfourminutesflat. And you don’t need mundane things like food, or sleep. Or concern for anyone but your own fine fascinating self or commas get outta my way you inferior human! Wewhoaremanic won’t settle for walking on water. Oh noes. We must fly! Hence, plus 10. Wheee!This is called ex-calating. Be quiet. I can spell it how I want.

Let’s get back to Peter. He didn’t just walk on water. Maybe for a very little while. But he is also known for looking down and realizing, there’s a storm, and by gor, I’m not supposed to be walking on water. He looked down and realized that by rights he should be drowning. Don’t forget, the boat was buffeted by wind so it was nowhere near calm. Have you been there? Things are going along fine, maybe even grand, but then things start to fall apart. We start being overwhelmed by stupid little things. Not even big things! We are not walking on water. On the contrary. Maybe we have even gotten to the stage where we are cowering in the bottom of the boat, eating chocolate covered bonbons while watching Oprah; and not in a fun way. More like in a have-to way. Go out? Exercise? Talk to people?

Fahgettaboudit.

And so, we have the opposite end of the scale. We may even end up on the bottom of the ocean, with all those scary looking fish, right next to Davy’s locker. We want to climb into Davy’s locker.That’s a minus 10, my friends.

For most of us, though, it’s more subtle than looking down while you’re walking on water. Or even while treading water. Think frog in the water, taking a bath, as the water is gradually turned up to boiling. We don’t see it coming.

With any luck, you will see plus 3 (and not want to chase it), or minus 3 (and not want to drown), and you’ll ask for help. A med adjustment here, an extra counseling appointment there, anything to ward off the insidious monster that is bipolar. Staying stable is a daily struggle, and if you ever lose vigilance, you’re dead (or its equivalent).

So, Dr. M. and I developed a new scale, just for moi. (After all, I am vewwy special). Normal is zero. That doesn’t sound right I know but remember, no coffee. And, no concept of normal. My normal? Minus two. And he’d write that in my chart, for real and for true.

Now that I think of it, though, I should have told him there is yet another category. I forgot. That one is wayyy beyond Peter. Way beyond plus five. It’s probably more like plus 100.

That stage is the one where you are in your space suit, and your life line has been cut. Never mind your fascination with looking at the Earth below. Although it is a little fascinating. But your space suit is running out of oxygen and your brain is doing flip-outs. 😦 FLIIIIPPP OUTS!

Yeah.

I have experienced all of those stages. (Not Stooges. Stages. Pay attention).

My normal stage is doing the dog paddle with my nose at the exact surface of the water, with the water entering my nose now and then. Tiring! This is most comfortable, because manic is scary! And drowning puts me right next to those disappearing planes, saying how-de-do to the pilot.

So – where are you today?

And how did I do without my full ration of coffee?

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

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:

 

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)