Tag Archives: blogging101

Walking After Midnight, Part I

Some of you may be wondering, what’s with that title, “Walking After Midnight”?

Well, there are two, maybe three, reasons behind it.

One reason is the most obvious to most of us of a certain age: The song “Walking After Midnight” by Patsy Cline:

I go out walking after midnight
Out in the moonlight just like we used to do
I’m always walking after midnight, searching for you

I walk for miles along the highway
Well, that’s just my way of saying, I love you
I’m always walking after midnight, searching for you

Ok, let’s just call this part one, lol… I’m too tired to finish! Any of you bloggers ever done that?

It’s A Title Wave!

Does anyone else find themselves thinking of clever blog post titles while using the bathroom?

Yeah I do too. Unfortunately, some of them are too long like:

“There’s a name for that: Stress Incontinence.”

And in the same vein: “There’s a Nap for that … ”

Ok, stress incontinence, since you asked:

Urinary incontinence is the unintentional loss of urine. Stress incontinence happens when physical movement or activity — such as coughing, sneezing, running or heavy lifting — puts pressure (stress) on your bladder. Stress incontinence is not related to psychological stress.

Stress incontinence differs from urge incontinence, which is the unintentional loss of urine caused by the bladder muscle contracting, usually associated with a sense of urgency. Stress incontinence is much more common in women than men [Is that fair??? – kb].

If you have stress incontinence, you may feel embarrassed, isolate yourself, or limit your work and social life, especially exercise and leisure activities. With treatment, you’ll likely be able to manage stress incontinence and improve your overall well-being. [Um, no kidding… ]

Ok, kids, carrion …

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.

The Versatile Blogger Award!

Oh Wow! 2 people nominated me for The Versatile Bloggers award! One was  jillypopmusic 

and the other was The Elephant in the Room

Thank you so much you guys!

There are rules to follow to accept this award:

Show the award on your blog.
Thank the person who nominated you.
Share seven facts about yourself.
Nominate 15 blogs.
Link your nominees’ blogs, and let them know.

About me (since I had 2 nominations I’m going to see if I can come up with 14):

  1. I got sober in 1985, I was 25 years old and realized I was an alcoholic (I’m now almost 56).
  2. I love to write and read and play on the computer.
  3. My best friend and I met in 2000, and currently she lives on the floor above mine in our apartment building.
  4. I married my ex twice. No, that’s not something to brag about but I would rather laugh than cry. We have a 27 year old and he was 12 when we got remarried. After his dad and I broke up again, he said, “Now I know why you got divorced the first time.” In a way it gave him some peace (Kids often want their divorced parents to get back together)
  5. I have worked night shift for most of my adult life.
  6. My most prized possession is my computer.
  7. I am a born again Baptist
  8. I love the ocean
  9. I love photography, in fact it is one thing that helps me the most with my depression, to go out and take photos of nature.
  10. I love to travel, but as I’ve gotten older I tend to get lost more often.
  11. My first car was a Saab (older, used one) My 2nd car was a Saab (a bit newer) The previous owner had monogrammed his initials on the driver’s side door, WWW; so I left them, and said they stood for “Wild Wicked Woman.” I have since become less wild and less wicked.
  12. I mostly like crime shows like CSI, NCIS, etc.
  13. My favorite books are Historical Christian novels.
  14. I have participated in National Novel Writing Month several times, and have succeeded at writing 50,000 words of a novel twice (contemporary Christian). This most recent time I only got to 11,000 words, and it is a historical Christian novel, I am picking away at it and hope I will finish.
  15. … but (a bonus fact), depression seems to keep me from doing the things I love

The blogs I am nominating!

Adopting James

2 Helpful Guys

4 year old adult

A Slippery Alligator Dream

Addiction Place

Bemused By Beleaguering

Bipolar Pinkie Pie

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

But I Smile Anyway…

Christina’s Blog

Dainty Little Secrets Blog

DotedOn

GABFRAB

Isaiah 43:1

Kristeen’s Thoughts

MY COLLEGE ODYSSEY

Mypastorswife

I guess I might just ought to do them: 31 Days of Bipolar

There is a trend going around the blog circuits of those with bipolar called “31 Days of Bipolar.” This is a good test of my mettle lol… Since I am struggling with being 100% honest about my illness, but concerned about who might be reading my posts.

Anyway I am going to start with Day 5 because I can, lol… and because I already answered it on a friend’s page lol…

however I have not really read the questions … So I am shooting in the dark a little bit here.

***

I was not diagnosed Bipolar *I (see definition at bottom of page) til 2003. I began therapy for codependency and alcoholism in 1985. I still don’t have my bipolar self-care down…. 🙂 I could, but I am lazy/stubborn/too hedonistic … and don’t have a dog lol…

I do have a therapist because my …

… shrink is only 15 min for med management. My therapist is great for helping me focus on my treatment plan, dealing with struggles (most commonly boundaries), shame, acceptance of my diagnosis (I like to reach “over my head” and then get into crisis because of denial that I have a mental illness) (can I hear an “amen”?)

Medication: seems stable, am on lamictal, trileptal, and abilify.

Love: Oh! I didn’t even notice this category when I first read! I definitely isolate, but that is due to my tendency to be an introvert. So I really have to work at this one. It is just too stressful to have too many relationships with people. I typically keep people at a distance. I have a BFF who lives right upstairs from me – have known her for almost 25 years. Church (not many that I trust with my “stuff”). Family wise, I alienated myself from most of them while I was in early recovery and there is still some angst about that, although it’s better than it was. Love from my therapist haha although yes he is good with boundaries. We both are. No hugs, Although occasionally he will get me a present. For example, this Christmas he got me a book of poetry, in which he highlighted 2 poems as specific to what we’re working on. I can’t remember what they were and I can’t find the book right away! But when I do I’ll publish them here. Lots of love from internet friends I’ve made since probably 2001 (Met on a site for people who were affected by 911). I tend to be a helper-bee. As a nurse it is a natural tendency for me (graduated in 1981; not working right now). I don’t really ask other people for help and support, which is often common of people with mental illness. My greatest love is Jesus – it has passed the point of a fad. And I’m sure you have read some that I have written about Him.

Dogs: as I said I don’t have one. I do love cats and have had them but I am not a great mommy so I don’t right now.

Calm: I do boring stuff, keeps the anxiety low. Pretty moderate social phobia/anxiety, history of anxiety disorder. I don’t deal with it very well, I have had a number of jobs and when they don’t work I don’t work.I also avoid drama and I avoid romance.

Routine: as I said I do boring stuff. I am recovering from my son living w/ me in a very small apt. (efficiency) so I am indulging in sleeping late when my body will let me. But my best sleep routine is getting up around 6 am and bed at 10 or 11 am. haha. Maybe sometimes. But what I meant was pm.

Sleep: as regular as possible, see above. I have taken to going to bed around 10 with a book until my meds including benadryl knock me out.

Diet: very bad. I do take vitamins but that is probably as good as it gets right now.

Exercise: not much

Writing: off and on although lately much more frequent, this blog, comments on other blogs, and also working on my novel (although not as much as I would theoretically like to).

Reading: Have 4 books going but try to keep to one at a time, read a lot online of a great variety of things/articles.

Light (ie “blue light,”) Never really thought about it although I recently read that computer/ phone light is not a good idea at bedtime (can trigger insomnia) I haven’t had mania since ’10 so I’m not too worried, meds seem to cover me pretty well.

****

Definitions: There are no good and concise definitions but here is a fair explanation. I was not aware of Bipolar III and IV but here ’tis. I also was not aware that these were also defined my length of episodes but whatever lol…

1. Bipolar I Disorder—defined by manic or mixed episodes that last at least seven days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks.

  • 2. Bipolar II Disorder—defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.
  • 3. Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS)—diagnosed when symptoms of the illness exist but do not meet diagnostic criteria for either bipolar I or II. However, the symptoms are clearly out of the person’s normal range of behavior.
  • 4. Cyclothymic Disorder, or Cyclothymia—a mild form of bipolar disorder. People with cyclothymia have episodes of hypomania as well as mild depression for at least 2 years. However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for any other type of bipolar disorder.

So anyway, that’s #5 and I may or may not do the other 30 questions lol…

Wake up, Little Suzie … ♪♫

Ordinarily, I make sure I am awake enough to make sense: to write stellar prose, to present myself the way that I most want to … In other words, to be something I’m not? Wait wait wait, don’t say that out loud.

It is interesting being part of this blog world. I read things written by people I would never have met otherwise. I am alternately impressed, blessed, depressed, or stressed … (oh I don’t want to say “alternately.” What’s a better word? Help me out, guys…)

Now as part of recovery from being a person with bipolar, I am supposed to surround myself with positive people and energy. Stay in the Bible, instead of the World, be a helper bee… in other words, create a reality in which I do not necessarily exist?

Oh dear, I am not making a whole lot of sense, which is why I usually wait until I am awake … but no, this is me being real…

I read a lot of people who are very very depressed! And I find myself nodding my head a lot!

I want to sit next to them and cry.

Or, make them feel better.

And then someone wrote about faith, or a lack thereof.

And it made me think.

I am (quote) “a person of faith.” I “do” the things one is supposed to do if one is a person of faith. Either it demonstrates that I am, or it helps me to be one.

One of my favorite pictures I’ve posted is the one that says my track record for getting through days is 100% so far.

And really, I have to think that’s got to be God. Because if it was up to me, I probably wouldn’t be here. I would either have acted on those way-too-many urges to off myself, or I’d be drinking, or some such thing.

But God has protected me from that. And perhaps also from getting into the kinds of situations that might aggravate those feelings. (Cough: Relationships! Cough cough)..

(Pause)

One thing I do, here and on Facebook, is share the things that are helping me to get by. I don’t know that what I share is necessarily what I am feeling at the time. ie, victorious, or able to do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. But one thing that helps me, for example, is a scripture page for depression. Or maybe I am having a lot of anxiety. The great thing about looking at these pages is that there may be only one verse that helps me get through the day, or that I remember being helpful for something else. The point sometimes is just getting through the day!

(Edited to add:  My friends are instrumental! And I have one in particular who has been with me for for almost 25 years! She is not even one of “us,” but she gets it [and loves me anyway]).

Now as I explained, I haven’t been awake long enough, really, to know how I feel today, other than, clearly, I am confused, haha (there’s an “app” for that one, too, lol). Sigh….

Some might say that I can choose how I feel. Or, that I shouldn’t allow my feelings to determine how I, um, feel. (ha ha, I had no idea that page existed). 

The worst, as someone else pointed out today, is when someone tells me I “should” be happy (I am NOT going to link to that one, probably to your great and utter joy). Or, worse, there are people who, inevitably, will tell me of the various and sundry reasons why I “should” be happy. Well I know that I “should” be happy!!! Isn’t that what depression is?? Why do you think I’m so upset??? Yes I know there are people who have it worse, I know there are people who don’t have Christ, for example, or a home, or food, or or or… ERRR that ERRRRKS me (get it? irks/erks … aren’t I clever….)

Honestly? This is not what I planned for this page to say.

But, I figured I had to write something – after all, you might start to worry about me, as I sometimes do you.

And, this is what my brain came up with.

I’m still sleeping, but I am a bit less confused. There is progress.

*********

I tagged “morning pages” and Julia Cameron, partly because what I wrote here could be considered “morning pages.” (But no; I edited this post too much to call it that!) She has written several books, one of which is called The Artists’ Way. The Artists’ Way is a book for those of us who are creative (painters, writers, street sweepers, whatever you are), But we can’t seem to allow ourselves to express that creativity. I strongly recommend the book. One of her suggestions is to write 3 pages, or “morning pages,” as soon as you wake up, not worrying about flow or grammar, or whether it makes sense or not. It’s kind of like “bleeding the pipe” and getting rid of the sediment that’s been sitting there. Flush it out, and the true creativity begins to flow. Writing these pages is really helpful. I may or may not start doing them again.

Good for what ails ya …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeing Shadows

This is one of my Blogging 101 assignments. I cheated and used a photo I took this winter that I really loved. I especially liked how the shadows and light accentuated the little chunks of snow, making some of them blue in appearance.

Technically I don’t care for snow but when it’s this pretty I’ll allow it …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now why would I feel so guilty all the time!

Number one, I grew up Catholic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ok I’m getting maudlin here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contentment=Peace

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

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

I make all things new …

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

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

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

What is the alternative?

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

But are we still talking about blogging here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love it!  😀

 

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

 

 

Who am I? Blogging 101

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