Tag Archives: Mental Illness

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. ūüė¶ 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.¬† ūüôā

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! ūüôā You’re important to me!

‚ô™‚ôę My God is a Mountain Mover *

I’m waiting outside for a friend to get done grocery shopping, and doing some “homework” (a Bible study) that I can’t seem to make¬†myself to do at home. Yes, I’m referring to the “D” word, discipline! The book is called¬†Too Busy Not To Pray,¬†by Bill Hybels, and it was chosen by a friend of mine¬†for three of us¬†to study¬†together.. We¬†weren’t able to finish the study, but¬†I determined that I wanted to finish the book. As I said, I am not good at disciplining myself to do a number of things, including Bible study and prayer. So this book is perfect for me!

So, I was reading along in the chapter called “Mountain Moving Prayer,” and I had a number of “EUREKA!” moments. Now a EUREKA! is “a cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something.” (For its origin, see Wikipedia, Eureka. I¬†LOVE that word!)

One of my “Eureka!” moments was when I was reading a story Mr. Hybels related about speaking¬†to a ginormous¬†group of people in India. We’re talking twenty or thirty thousand. Hybels had been a secondary speaker¬†on¬†previous nights. But this time,¬†he was the main speaker, responsible for¬†leading¬†the¬†group¬†to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The enormity of the task hit him right where he lived, and a tremendous fear overtook him. I sure could relate to some of his feelings.¬†With my anxiety, I’m overwhelmed with having to talk to one person at a time, never mind 30,000!

Hybels was praying, but in his terror, he could not focus his thoughts beyond his panic.

In the midst of his trying to get hold of himself, a song was sung, just before he was to go on stage. It was (“coincidentally”) my favorite song. And God used it to change his heart:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNZS5H9aNlY

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever will be.

Refrain:
Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me …(Words: Thomas O. Chisholm;¬†Music: William M. Runyan) ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†

God used the song to change Hybels’ heart, and he was moved to pray in a very different way. This time, recognizing his own insufficiency, he remembered¬†the sufficiency of the One of Whom he was asked to preach!

His prayer:

I’m praying to the Creator of the world, the King of the universe, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-faithful God. I’m praying to the God who made the mountains and who can move them if necessary. I’m praying to the God who has always been faithful to me, who has never let me down no matter how frightened I was or how difficult the situation looked. I’m praying to a God who wants to bear fruit through me, and I am going to trust that he is going to use me tonight. Not because of who I am, but because of who he is. He is faithful. (p. 81)

How powerful a prayer! How mightily God answered his prayer! After he spoke, thousands came forward to receive Christ! And Hybels knew it was not because of anything he’d done. It was the Lord working through him, to Whom, and of Whom, he had prayed!

This chapter was tremendous. Hybels also pointed out the story in Joshua Chapter 3, where the priests’ obedience led to their stepping out in faith, to cross the Jordan when it was high and¬†raging. The priests stepped out first. The fruit of their faith¬†was¬†manifested by that¬†first step – and everyone walked across dry ground to the other side.

That phrase, “dry ground,” kind of grabbed my attention. Here the priests and the Israelites crossed the Jordan over dry ground. In the same way, the Red Sea was parted for Moses and the¬†children of Israel. Just think of the 40 years in the desert! Talk about dry ground! You think God wasn’t working on their hearts? Even Jonah was spit out of a big fish, and onto dry ground!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRxLhwUsvVk

Are you in the big fish
Are you sitting in the belly of a world gone mad
Have you turned your back on His wish,
His will for your life, have you made Him sad
Do you want to get out of the big fish
Listen to God and follow His plan
And you won’t be part of the main dish
He’ll spit you out on to dry land(FFH, “Big Fish”)

There are so many more examples of faith in the Bible! There’s the story of David and Goliath, where David’s faith in God is bigger than that of all the great warriors! There’s the faith and courage of Caleb and Joshua, when God sends them to investigate the promised land.¬†“WHAT giants?” they said. “WHAT cities? Let’s go!” And they knew that God was the one Who would have the victory!

I don’t know about you, but my faith is nowhere near that strong. Talk about dry land! Some of us¬†think if we’re Christian, we must be doing something wrong if we suffer from certain conditions. We aren’t praying right, we’ve made God mad, we’re more sinful than the next guy. But we can suffer any number of human conditions: pain, mental illness, diseases of the body that are seen and unseen. And these can be¬†aggravated by the devil’s desire to¬†to steal,¬†and to kill,¬†and to destroy. We’re tapped out, and vulnerable. Our¬†pain is so great. We have exhausted our strength. What if we’re in need of material things? What of next week, when there’s no paycheck? These are the days we want to give up. And sometimes, we do need to root out sin. It can seem overwhelming. These are the days we can see God’s desires for us,¬†and we cower, saying, “I just can’t do this anymore!”¬†

But that’s the problem, I guess. My faith is in my own self. My strength. My resources. But as the song says, all I have needed thy hand hath provided. Strength. Resources for another day. Hope. A friend who shows up at just the right moment.¬†As Hybels prayed, my faith needs to be in the mountain mover.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vy0XJoxoYmE

Chorus:
My God is a mountain mover
My God’s gonna make a way
Can’t count all the time He’s proven
We can trust him just have faith
Take a hopeless situation
Watch Him turn it all around
Nothing is impossible
I can’t hold back I’ve gotta shout
My God, My God, My God
Is a mountain mover …

Does this mean instant victory? Does this mean my troubles just vanish like a puff of smoke? How I wish! But victory can take a number of forms. Can I say no to the things that will hurt me? Do I have the courage to ask for help? Can I venture out where God wants me today? Can I just plain be obedient and read my Bible? It may not seem like much, but even getting dressed and showing up is a huge victory on some days.

So I can’t use my illness as an excuse. But I also can’t compare myself and the tasks before me to those of¬†other people. God made me the way that I am, gave me what I have. He knows the reason for all of it. So “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14)

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 Рour 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!

“Don’t Fix It” over the holidays…

There is a peace in just going with what works (the ole if it ain‚Äôt broke don‚Äôt fix it) ‚Äď but of course the random thought occurs that maybe I could function better (read: WORK like a normal person) ‚Äď if I just had my meds tweaked a little, if I just could have a little hypomania which gives me energy + confidence, if only if only ‚Ķ well, holidays can kick off a little wishful thinking + dysfunction so best not to even consider it til well after New Year’s. I will think about/talk about it more if need be then. Meanwhile ‚Äď just enjoy being out of the hospital and not suffering the¬†effects of dis-ease for at least a month, lol ‚Ķ xoxo and enjoy (in spite of ourselves, lol). God bless you!

Taken from a comment I wrote on another blog – (see my friend BP Nurse‘s blog, she’s great!)