Tag Archives: depression

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!

♪♫Good morning, Star Shine

♪♫the K says hello …

Hope you are all doing well. I haven’t written in a while, so I thought I’d say ♪♫hello! Life is hard lately. I started doing the food/fitness thing, went to a nutritionist and she said 1100 kcal and see you in 4-6 weeks! Yeah right. Has she not heard that there is such a thing as low metabolism when you starve someone? ♪♫hello!! “Ok, enough of the hellos already,” I can hear you from here! O-tay!

Anyway – it is tough. The diet/fitness. The anxiety! The sexual abuse maybe/maybe not thing. The depression-bipolar-anxiety thing. Yes I said anxiety already. Sigh-YUH! (and again).

So, I am not writing, and I don’t know if the not writing is helping or not. I do plan to do Nano Camp in July.

So, yeah. I’ve wanted to blog. And I miss you guys. I also had to stop most of my blogging friend notifications, so I am depending upon the Reader when I read. It is not the same as an email saying so-and-so posted. Definitely not. Did I tell you I miss you? But I was getting to be a worse mess than I am, and something had to go, call it a diagnostic test, in a way.

The meds are out of whack, I am pretty sure. I’m thinking about a second opinion. I’ve had a number of adjustments, and it is just not working. I am not hospital or partial-hospital bad, but almost.

I am also having difficulty regarding some of my ministries at church. One of them was bringing some people to choir practice and/or early to church. High maintenance people, emotionally, and I am the sponge. That had to go, even though it doesn’t “make sense,” after all, I’m going that way, right? Well, tough! It is hurting me and my sanity! Did I tell you how impossibly hard it is for me to say no? But I have to. I am going insane. That’s just one “minor” thing.

Did I tell you what is right? God goes with me wherever I go, whether I feel Him with me or not, see Psalm 139. Also, I have not drank or drugged or done anything self-destructive, except for talking to myself not-nicely, and I am working on that. Also, and this is not minor at all, I have some a-may-zing friends IRL (in real life)! It is so, so important in this mental health and spiritual journey. Get some!

What else. Did I tell you I miss you, and “here”? I miss writing, and sorting things out in my mind, and reading some of your blogs, and just hanging out. I may have to rethink this. But not today. Today, I am just “here.” That’s enough!

Well, I will just leave this at “that,” I’ve got things to do and people to see (a nice one. She helps). Ta, ta, and all that. LOVE AND PRAYERS for any of you reading this. xo and ttyl!

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.  🙂

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!

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.

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.

I Don’t Wanna, Talk About It, Part II

Part of the reason I don’t wanna talk about it is I have awful laryngitis.

But also I am doing the censoring thing; I am depressed and I don’t wanna talk about it.  I really don’t want to hear myself whiiiiine … oh my gosh! Enough!

I have been thinking the last few days what I wanted to blog about and there are plenty of ideas but I don’t have the energy to write anything.

Sorry I haven’t been replying to your posts very much!

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  😀

More on Edison, less on coffee …

(I’ll explain. and re: the photo, no I do not iron, but I do do that backwards salute quite often.)

This morning I woke up and half-consciously pushed the button to my coffee maker, and,

nothing happened.

Or rather, a lot happened. I pushed the button off, then on again. Plugged and unplugged it. Tried another outlet. Opened the top to make sure there was water in the reservoir. Wiggled the rubber doo dah through which the water is supposed to glug glug push push …

And nearly cried.

And then I remembered that all I have is $3. on my credit card. IF indeed the card would actually go through with only $3. on it. Which, historically, might not.

Whined about it in a joking manner on Facebook.

Then let people know I really WAS NOT kidding.

Got a number of ha ha’s, and two people offered to buy me a new maker.

Either they love me, or they are afraid of me.

Ate breakfast, then decided to try the credit card at Dunkin Donuts, where it did (PRAISE THE LORD!) work!

Came home and posted that I had spend said $3. on Dunkin Donuts.

And as the Bible says, a number of people who had grieved with me then celebrated with me.

Then I finished the coffee, played on facebook some more, then did the Bible reading I was unable to think about doing until I was properly caffeinated. Listened to some spiritual music including:

which made me cry, as always. I spent some time in prayer, still crying. I have issues. Did you know I have issues? lol…

Then started reading some of the emails I had in my inbox, made a few replies, and then posted to one of the reply-ers:

Thomas Edison‘s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

This is a little different from the quote I posted in another of my blogs. Anyway it is still a good way of looking at all our failures and false starts.

I guess.

Well anyway, hope y’all are having a good day. Mine started rather jerkily and un-thankfully, but I am doing ok now.

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?

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!

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!)

 

 

________New Year

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

Happy

Tolerable

Don’t ask …

Ask me tomorrow

 

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

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

Don Charisma


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

— Vincent Van Gogh


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



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Keep Breathing!

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Breathing!  by Kerrie Roberts

♪ ♫ Here come those tears, again … ♩ ♬

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

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

 

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

Your Worth is Beyond Measure

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

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

You see, God gives you what you need.

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

But I don’t want to go off topic.

Your Worth is Beyond Measure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why does it affect me so much?

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

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

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

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

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

Because I know it’s true.

Do you?

 

Read about your value to God:

 

Approaching goodness (at least, that’s the title I started out with)

I’m doing a lot of reading of blogs, surfing around Facebook, nodding my head a lot, reblogging some … but in spite of all that, Christmas is still coming, lol…

I actually am feeling a kind of happy about it, which is unusual for me, because usually I am all about avoiding it, and dreading it.

Why?

Well, one reason is the lack of funds, but that’s not primary. When I can, I give my son some money, and give to the Christmas offering at church. Never could afford much more than that.

Well, that’s not true. I remember the first Christmas, as a kid with a paper route, when I was able to buy “something” for every of my then-9 siblings, for Mom, and for Dad. SO EXCITING! Maybe each item was under $5., but every gift was special, and thought through.

Over time, as I made more money, I was able to give more than a token gift. REAL exciting!

And then further along in time, as my illness has progressed, back to not being able to buy for anyone at all (I have bipolar, folks, which usually means depression and anxiety, which usually means, I am either between jobs, beginning one, or ending one. None of these phases lasts very long).

I can’t just blame the lack of gifting on the money. I went for five years not having contact with my family at all. My fault, the fault of the therapists, the fault, again, of the illness. [One of these days I will talk about “the fault of the therapists,” but not now. Not when I’ve digressed so well already].

So, uh, where were I?

Avoiding and dreading. Well, after the no contact thing, I started finding the whole Christmas thing very depressing. No family to sit around a table with, and a blatant refusal to enjoy it otherwise.

Why else did I avoid and dread it?

Well, there’s the depression thing. That.

That’s probably the biggest thing.

But wait, there is something even bigger than the depression. It’s the expectation that it will be depression. And even, the choice that it will be depressing.

How could that BE? Aren’t I just a victim of my illness?

Not quite. Really, I do have choices. Ok, not always, but sometimes.

Like, the last few years, I chose to attend a community dinner and bring along friends who don’t celebrate with THEIR families, for various and sundry reasons of their own.

It made me feel a part of, under the guise of being helpful to others.

I’m good at that last one.

So anyway, this year, I’m doing the same, the community dinner. Last year, my son came along, so that was really cool. Not sure what he is doing this year.

But anyway! I keep digressing!

What I want to say is, this year I am not just “supposed” to feel (here comes the list): Grateful, happy, excited, spiritual, close to the Lord, close to people …

I am actually feeling some of that!

And not in a manic-y scary sort of way. Just, kind of a normal feeling of happiness and anticipation.

WOW!

Oh did I fail to mention another reason I dread Christmas?

Yes I am undigressing a little, sorry.

I had a suicide attempt in December of 1985. Due to some of the reasons I listed above.

But I survived!

And every year I seemed to think I had to pay homage to the Anniversary of the Failed Suicide!

This year, nah, I don’t think I will do that.

I think I will be happy. And just allow that.

(and the other stuff on the list)

 

Run in the Right Direction

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

Run in the right direction!

 

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

How do you maintain your grip on reality?

Great blog on what to trust when you’re depressed. I know it’s not my own thoughts and opinions of myself! Those are warped. (The reblogs don’t mean I’ve given up – but see “It’s Nice To Share” at https://kbailey373.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/its-nice-to-share/

Under Reconstruction

About a year ago, I wrote a letter to my future self. It was barely three months after what had been my debilitating bout of depression to date, and I was a little nervous. To realize that for eight out of twelve months I could have been so wrong about so many things, so blind to so many truths, so caught up in the half-lies of my distorted reality — it was a world-shattering realization. (In my previous post, I write in greater detail about the distorted thought patterns of a depressed person.)

I say world-shattering because most of us grew up being told to believe in ourselves, that if we believed something about ourselves then that’s true. Or at least, that what we see in ourselves is supposed to be more valid than what others see in us. Never let anyone else have the final say. They are but naysayers. Trust your heart. 

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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.

Depression is a funny thing.

Haha, very funny.

My brother’s yearbook photo has his favorite expression: “Funny haha? or Funny peculiar?”

I’d say depression is funny peculiar.

First off, there are a lot of “shoulds” in the world about depression.

You “should” be grateful, you “shouldn’t” be sad, you have every reason in the world to be happy, just pull yourself up by the bootstraps, yada yada to the nth degree.

Obviously the people who say such things have never HAD depression.

Maybe they have BEEN depressed, but that is not the same thing.

Well, here is an example. I am wandering the internet trying to research this new novel I’m going to be working on, and somehow I land on a blog written by parents who lost their baby daughter at 4 months of age.

Now THAT is something to be depressed about, right?

And, I have no right to be depressed; I’ve never gone through anything like THAT!

So buck up, kiddo. SMILE.

Ugh, that was Dad’s pet peeve, he was always after me to SMILE.

Well, I don’t believe in being dishonest. I remember talking to a friend at church about it. If I am not happy, I’m not going to be standing around smiling like a blooming idiot.

For one thing, people who do that depress the heck out of me lol…

But seriously, when I’m at church, for example, depressed, looking around me, I think I’m the only one who is struggling here, “everyone” else is happy therefore there is something wrong with me.

But if people would tell the truth about how they were feeling, wouldn’t we be better able to help each other? I don’t understand… 😦

Mind you, I’m not depressed today. I am happily alone in my apartment (yay!) raided the candy machine downstairs, took a nap, working on my book, all is right in the world.

But on some days I could have identical conditions and feel entirely different. The best definition I found online: Depression is “a psychiatric disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, anhedonia, feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness, and thoughts of death. Also called clinical depression.” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/depression).

For me, it isn’t even a feeling of sadness. It is a feeling of nothingness: no joy, no energy, nothing. The word “anhedonia” above means “the absence of pleasure, or the inability to experience it,” and that pretty much sums it up.

“But what about the God thing?”

Yes, as a Christian, I am often told, I should be one of the happiest people on earth. I have salvation, I have Christ living in me, I have the Holy Spirit as my guide .. oh dear… another “should.”

And hearing that I “should” be one of the happiest people on earth makes me feel very sad. No, beyond sad. Ashamed.

And that is probably the more pervasive of anything I feel when I’m depressed. 😦

Elsewhere in the blog, I will talk about ways that scripture can help with depression, and specific actions you can take that will help.

But for now, I just want to say that if you want to “should” on me, that’s probably the best way to assure that I will 1. stay depressed, 2. feel ashamed, and 3. avoid your counsel altogether.

Just so’s you know.