Tag Archives: Christian counseling

Did you forget already?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

xo

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.”

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.

Run in the Right Direction

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

Run in the right direction!

 

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

Are you 100% sure …

… that if you died today, you would go to Heaven?

I know a lot of religions that say that you can never be sure! But can you imagine knowing that you are saved from Hell for all eternity? God says in His word:

 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. – 1 John 5:13

 It’s so exciting for me to know you’ve sought out this page! It means you’re willing to suspend your disbelief for just a few moments, and deal with who you are in the sight of God. Now that is courage! Take heart,

 

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage , and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait , I say, on the LORD. — Psalm 27:14

Now let’s dive in, and see what the Bible says about our spiritual condition:

 

We Have All Sinned

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23

We are all sinners by nature and by choice. God sees all – our actions, thoughts, motives, and places we go. We all feel guilty and ashamed of things in our lives. 

We have a penalty for our sin

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 6:23

Sin must be paid for. God says the payment is death. The Bible says that there are two deaths.

Physical Death God already knows the day we will die. We can’t avoid it – only prepare for it.

Spiritual Death When a soul dies unforgiven and pays for his own sins, he goes to Hell and then is cast into the lake of fire forever. Hell was not created for people, but for the Devil and demons. God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell.

A gift can’t be bought or earned. It can only be received. Forgiveness does not come through baptism, church, or good deeds. It only comes through receiving Jesus once and for all as a GIFT into our hearts by faith.

Yes, Jesus did die for everyone – but not every person is going to Heaven – only those who receive Jesus Christ. We can either receive or reject Him; there is no in between. No one is born with Him in their lives. He is a gentleman, and won’t come into our heart unless invited.

We can have the Saviour

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

God chose to let Jesus pay for our sin by taking our place on the cross. He was spat upon, whipped, beaten, and crucified. He loves you. He died, was buried, and arose after three days. He is in Heaven making room for you. If you were the only sinner in the world, Jesus would have died just for you. He loves you!

To be honest, most people have never had a definite time, place, and day to accept Jesus once and for all into their hearts. If this has ever happened to you, you would remember it! If you were to die unforgiven as you are, where does the Bible say you would go? Is that what you want?

You can be forgiven now.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. – Romans 10:13

If Jesus was willing to take you just as you are, wouldn’t you be willing to take Him, “just as He is”? Just ask Him now.

Right now, in your own words, pray and ask God to forgive you for being a sinner and to save you from Hell in Jesus’name.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. – 1 John 5:13 KJV

What a promise!

Please let me know about your decision to receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour so I can pray for you and help you from here!

Your relationship with God is actually the most important thing about you. That relationship will determine just about everything else in your life, even more than your education and occupation. Because your relationship with God must be right, you need to be in the right church to grow in Christ. Straight-from-the-Bible preaching is essential! It will instruct, guide, encourage, and challenge you to be all you can for the Lord! If you need help finding such a church, please send me a message and I will do what I can!

Whosoever means Whooo-Soooo-Ever!

(This is from a 2011 blog that still applies.)

A friend of mine asked me today to remember her in prayer. Of course, I am always happy to do so, but she implies that God’s ear is more inclined

(or should I say, declined)

to hear my prayers.

Her request reminded me of a conversation I had with another friend, Donna, just yesterday. I’m pretty sure Donna won’t mind if I share it with you:

DDH: Good Morning, Friends! Hope each of you are happy and have a deep settled peace and joy within you today~~ if not, please allow me to pray for you, I am no one special, but any of us can go to God in prayer, the Word says He hears the sincere cries of our hearts – and that means ANY of us 🙂 ~ know that Jesus will fill the difficult places of your life with His peace, and yes, even with His joy~~ Blessings and love to each of you~~ ♥ 🙂

Here is my reply to Donna:

KCB: Love this! So many people ask me to pray for them, as if I have a special connection to God. Well, I do! But so does anyone who calls upon the Lord!

There are many many many verses that support what I said to her, including:

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I’m not special! But yet, you and I are both special to God! So SPEAK UP! God hears you!

 

Kneeeeee Mail!

I don’t know about you, but I tend to save things in my inbox to prompt me to remember stuff. Of course, it gets cumbersome after a while and I end up deleting the whole pile, wondering why I saved it in the first place.

One such email came from Dayspring.com, which is where I used to get and send a lot of email cards to friends – encouragement, birthday cards, and the like. Well, on a particularly stressful, sad day I received one with the subject line, “Your Worth Is Beyond Measure.”

Wow.

I received that on July 27, and it still gives me chills.

See, I have a friend who says that she lived with depression for most of her life. And the difference for her was discovering her value to God. “More than rubies!” She says.

And shortly before I got that email, she’d reminded me of that. “More than rubies!”

Only, I can’t seem to get that from my head to my heart.

And just writing that makes me cry.

So, I’ve kept the email, and as many emails as I’ve deleted, that one stays. Lord, help me to “get” that. I know You love me. But man… life is really hard sometimes.

My depression is more an energy thing, than a sadness thing. I am not “sad.” I’m frozen.

But, at times, yes I am sad.

Take this email:

Hello,

We’re the __________ a caring facility that provides specialized diagnosis and treatment services for children, adolescents and adults suffering from a wide range of psychiatric and addiction challenges. We’re contacting you regarding a challenging career opportunity for a very special, compassionate Registered Nurse who wants to work in our _______________ location where he or she can dramatically impact the lives of those in need.

Yes, I am an RN, and that advertisement came out of the blue to my inbox.

It made me sad.

I saved it until I could write this blog without tears.

Yea, nice try. (sniff)

You see, years ago, that ad would have been one to make me leap up with joy, and send off my resume without hesitation.

Today, not so much, because I know I can’t do that anymore.

There was a time I might have been able to.

But ironically my own “psychiatric and addiction challenge” makes it so I can’t accept “a challenging career.”

Even working in retail is too much of a challenge. (Not that retail is easy. No no no).

But I must remember: “My worth is greater than rubies.”

Sure. But it’s hard to believe that when you can’t “even” work.

But what I can do is enjoy my life.

So “they” say, lol.

Now I’ve been through many years of therapy, hospitalizations, outpatient programs, etc.

My greatest challenge is “accepting that I have a mental illness.”

I put that in quotes, because I can hear my therapist saying that to me (as he has, over and over and over. YUCK).

One of the things that all these programs recommend is to find those things that I enjoy, and do them. That’s supposed to help me enjoy my life.

Well, on a good day, a day when I thought to challenge myself (there’s that word again), I told myself, “enjoy your life!” and went to an arts and crafts store. Ironically, that’s the kind of retail store I last tried to work at, and failed.

Anyway, on that good day I signed up to take a crocheting class.

I am actually looking forward to it.

And trying to block my mind from the fact that “a challenging career opportunity for a very special, compassionate Registered Nurse” is not in my future.

But “Your Worth Is Beyond Measure.” That is something I could put my teeth around.

(Is that an expression? lol)

Well, in the immortal words of Elvis Presley: I need “Only Believe.” (Click the link)

I have to chuckle. Elvis, who died from drugs and alcohol, telling me to “Only Believe.”

But I think, even from the grave, it speaks to me.

One of the AA stories I used to hear is “How to become an old-timer,” a person with years and years of sobriety. They’d say, “Don’t Drink and Don’t Die.”

Pretty simple.

Meanwhile, as long as we have breath, there’s a chance (praise the Lord). So don’t drink. And don’t die.

It helps to send a knee mail, too. Because when I send a “knee mail” to God, praying on my knees, things happen.

Unfortunately, when I’m depressed, I forget. That’s when my friends kick in, and pray for me. Thank God! I’d never make it through without those prayers!

Mark 10:27 KJV

And Jesus looking upon them saith , With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Land of Confusion Part Deux

Maya God is not the author of confusion

 

This picture was the first thing I saw on my facebook this morning, so perhaps I am doing something right. The last line of my first blog was:

1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

So I kind of wonder if this is God’s way of confirming that I’m doing something right.

 

(Continuing from the description in part one)
This time the car veers sharply to the right, into a ditch, and halfway into a field. The car stalls out and will not start up again. Dust is flying around in front of the headlights, a la “Back to the Future,” like a mysterious fog. Or is that the engine smoking? I throw open the car door and leap out,.thinking the car might explode. Then, forgetting about the danger, I panic at the next thought. Wasn’t my son in the car? Did I just hit him? I throw myself to the ground, trying to see under the car. Where is he? Then I remember. He’s at work and his father is picking him up.

Relieved, and catching my breath, I notice there are lights on at the house across the street. It looks like there may be a party going on. I cross the road, hearing multiple voices, some of which are familiar to me. They’re waiting for me behind the house! It’s the marriage supper of the Lamb! I begin to run toward them, nearly falling on my face. I hear Todd, a man from the church I’d attended before. I hear the pastor of the church I now attend. I run behind the house, excited beyond belief. I am stunned when I reach the back patio and find that no one is there.

I go around to the front of the house and knock on the door. A man answers the door, and I beg to use the phone to call my son, a friend, anyone. While I am using his cell phone, he appears to be doing something. He seems rather nervous. I notice a strong smell of pot. It overwhelms me and I am afraid. I had never considered that I could be in danger by knocking on a stranger’s door. I thank the man for his help and leave quickly, thinking he could have a knife or something behind his back. I start back to the car and see that there is a police car and an ambulance parked behind it. I wonder why they are there. I begin to cry, relieved that once again I am safe from harm. As I ride to the hospital, the ambulance attendant’s voice alternates between Todd’s voice and the pastor’s. The attendant prays with me at my request, and I start crying afresh.

Hallucinations (experiencing things that are not real through the five senses) and delusions (holding beliefs that are not true) are often experienced in the manic phases of bipolar. You can see in the example above that I was hearing, seeing, and thinking things that seemed real to me at the time. During another episode, I believed that I was Mary, Jesus’ mother. God was speaking to me personally from out of the clouds. The clouds undulated and had colors, shapes, and very realistic human features. No one could have convinced me these things were not real.

After the car incident, I was in a psychiatric hospital for the better part of a month. The psychiatric hospital, to me, is a safe place that I know will bring me back to health. Whenever I’ve landed there, I’ve always known it was for my good. I don’t know why I have never fought it. I suppose it’s because by that point what’s going on with me is not fun. Besides, the staff is nice, the food is good, my needs are met, my medications are managed, and in short order I’m usually able to return home and care for myself. The hardest part, I think, is the long wait in the emergency room before one is transferred to the facility.

One area of patient care that can be neglected is spirituality. In the emergency room one time, I was (I think) acting in a safe manner, but really needing spiritual help. A chaplain was called, and I asked him to pray with me for a little while as I was waiting to be seen. The best he could come up with was a pat on the shoulder every few minutes and a “there, there.” I kept telling him, “No, I need you to pray with me, say a prayer.” I grew desperate and frustrated that he wouldn’t listen to me. How could a person wearing a priest’s collar in a religious facility not pray with someone who obviously needed it? I had the impression that he was afraid of me. He could not make eye contact at all. And I’m pretty sure I was not doing anything inappropriate that would give him pause.

There are different modalities of treatment used in the hospital once a person is admitted. Besides the locked door, medication, and adequately trained staff, there is an individualized treatment plan to meet the patient’s needs. I have a social worker who coordinates my therapies: group meetings, a psychiatrist who sees and evaluates me daily, different kinds of recreation, and occupational therapy. There is very little free time. Inevitably there is a patient or two with whom I can relate. There is nothing like a friend who knows what you are going through who can commiserate. Again, I have found that spiritual needs are not addressed. Other than that, the treatment provided helps me to develop skills I can use on the “outside.”

Funny, that term “on the outside” is reminiscent of prison vocabulary! And I suppose that is one reason some patients object to being put in the hospital. Some are admitted against their will, once it’s determined that they are a danger to themselves or others. Once there, a patient has few choices. They cannot leave the building unsupervised and without being approved to do so. The doors are locked, and if a person becomes violent, they are restrained and placed in a padded room. But all of the above is for their safety. They may react to these interventions with anger, yelling and even throwing things. That is the one thing that’s difficult for me when I’m in the hospital. I react very strongly to loud noises and anger, and some patients who are ill do act out angrily and I feel threatened. But the staff is trained to deal with that and can usually keep everyone safe.

There are patient advocates in most communities who actively work on passing legislation to protect patients’ rights. These rights must be respected whether a person is in the hospital, and/or when law enforcement becomes involved on the outside. I agree that patients should not be restrained or medicated unnecessarily, but there are times when this is necessary. This will protect them, other patients, and the staff, who have a right to be safe as well. In fact, I briefly worked as a nurse in a combination psychiatric and chemical dependency unit. I enjoyed it tremendously, but there were times that I felt very threatened. I also had to take care of people who were on the wrong side of the law, including pedophiles, and it really traumatized me sometimes. The final straw was the time I was standing between two patients who were about to come to blows. I tried to intervene by talking them out of it, and one punched the other in the nose, right above my head (yes, I am vertically challenged, lol).

There are times, I know, when law enforcement or staff overreacts to a person having symptoms of mental illness when they are a threat to themselves or others. Advanced training is continually enabling them to work with the mentally ill, to be more sensitive to our issues, and to better know how to help us. Certainly there is a lot more to learn, and the care of those with mental illness can be improved all the time.

 

In the next blog I will be talking a bit about the effect of psychiatric disorders on family and friends, and also about the importance of having support when you have a mental illness.

 

PS: This image was on my Facebook after I finished this blog entry. Doo doo doo doo …

 God is the author