Saturday, March 31, 2007


Although I trust God and have a deep faith, the reasoning part of me still often finds it hard to believe that prayer actually works. I know that is something I should - as a Christian - be ashamed to admit. But in all honesty - and I do like to be honest - I'm a bit of a doubting Thomas where prayer is concerned. Yes, I pray, but I know I would pray a lot more if I believed more in its power.

However, I'm sure the prayers of my friends is helping to see me through the dark times I've been facing lately. I feel it.

I've had some black times recently. On Thursday I didn't know what to do with myself, everything was so dark. I called my pastor's wife and talked with her a bit. She prayed for me. After we hung up I felt better. Yesterday a good friend promised to pray for my blackness to turn to light. She wrote some words of encouragement in her email to me. I was tremendously comforted and today feel a wonderful sense of peace. I sense God's love deeply and all I want to do now is to pass on this love to others. I feel a quietness - a holy joy - gratitude.

I guess it's a bit early to say whether my depression has cleared up. This has been a strange period of deep depression, interspersed with normal times. Don't know if this has ever happened before to me. I know I've done all I personally can to hold this beast at bay. I've searched out friends, I've gone to God, I've exercised, I'm taking prozac. Is this what happens when a person employs good coping strategies? Is this what happens when friends pray?

All I can say about this right now is "Thank you, dear friends! Thank you, God!"

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A new day

Although the last couple of days were a struggle, today began well and continues going well. I had my company and we had a good time talking about our lives. She did her cross-stitching while I knitted a dishcloth. There is something very natural and comfortable about two women visiting while doing handwork...more relaxing than sitting across from each other with nothing to do but talk. Later her husband and my husband joined us for lunch.

It may seem weird to say, but we are so fortunate to have a new day open up to us after each night of sleep. A new opportunity to start afresh. A rested body and mind - a healthier mental state.

Last night - such a short time ago - I was terribly tired and miserable. I meditated on Jesus' words from Matthew 11:28. I bathed my mind in the words: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdend, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." After some time, I did feel rested. And with this rest came peace of mind.

And now, as we near the end of the day, I am thankful to have felt so normal - so undepressed. I am thankful for my time with friends and the energy to be a good hostess.

Today's visitor provided me with another candle. Tomorrow I light another one. My mother is coming to spend a couple of nights with us. It will be stressful but I will try to make the time an enjoyable one for her. I'll try to relax.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A most amazing thing!

I went for a good long walk with a friend who is also experiencing depression. It was the first dry day of the month. The skies were still cloudy, but bright.

We talked lots, even praying for a while as we walked. Part of our walk took us through forest. We admired the beautiful green of the moss and the skunk cabbage growing in a ditch. My friend was tempted to feel the temperature of the rushing stream we passed. We laughed as she almost fell in.

A most amazing thing happened: When I came home I felt rejuvenated, the cobwebs in my brain had cleared. I felt more alive than I have in a long while. Over the past few hours I haven't felt depressed. What a relief!

I've heard many times about the value of walking to a depressed person, but never thought the effects could be so dramatic...or is the prozac starting to push me into mania? Don't think it would happen after only four days though.

I thank God for today's brightening of my spirits. And now I have another coping strategy I will take a lot more seriously. I have another tool. I will make walking part of my wellness plan.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

At peace

Living Room was wonderful yesterday - fifteen in attendance, including Vicki Rogers, Educational Director for the Mood Disorders Association of BC. She told us about MDA's interesting history - an inspiring story. I told my story about how lighting my metaphorical candle is helping me cope with my depression. This led to some discussion, though I always wish for more discussion than we end up with. Makes me think: do I talk too much? After the break, some worked on creating collages while the rest of us had our usual talk session.

My candle - which was the process of preparing for Living Room - did remain lit since I wrote my last post. It gave me a feeling of peace and the quiet energy and motivation I needed. Thank God for Living Room!

I know I have depression, though I'm not sad or "in the dumps." I only feel tired and tend to sit for long periods thinking and thinking. This makes it hard to get motivated to do the things I need to do.

But I have lit another candle. I've invited a friend who needs a break from home to come next Wednesday morning, bringing her needlework. While she works on that, I'll knit a dishcloth. It will be a fine visiting time with someone I'd like to get to know better. I'm aiming at making lunch for her as well. By the light of this candle I will prepare, cleaning the house a little at a time. It's good to have things to look forward to.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A spark in the dark

Monday was a dark day, mostly spent in bed. But yesterday morning, though it started out dark, I was able to ignite a spark in that darkness. This small spark led to a good day.

I needed to go to Costco to buy some things and thought of a friend who has been busy and can't drive, wondering if I could pick up something for her. This desire to do something for someone else, though only a tiny thing, made me feel a little more motivated - more energized. It took me out of the self-absorption that is so much a part of depression. It created a small spark in my darkness. This shopping trip would be more meaningful than if it were only for me. As it turned out, my friend wasn't home and nothing came of it.

But on my way to Costco I thought of this spark. Its value had made a big impression on me. I could share how this spark helped me in the devotional at Living Room on Friday. In spite of my depression, I could talk about this with some enthusiasm. I WOULD be able to lead. I DO have something of value to offer. I thought of how I could spend the next week creating more sparks, more ways to do things for others, more ways to bring light into the darkness. Deciding to develop a devotional around this topic created yet another spark, one that managed to light a candle.

My candle stayed lit the rest of the day and continues at this moment as I share its light with you.

I'm not able to do too much, find myself lost in thought a lot, finding it hard to move, but I am at peace. I know how great God's love is and will continue trying to share this love with others.

There is a great truth in these words from Isaiah 58:10:

"...if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Not in gear after all

After many little recent glitches, I guess I've hit a true depression after all. It feels very much like a physiological thing: poor appetite, poor sleeping, and my whole body feels weary. I had promised I would look at everyone's blogs the way I normally like to, but when I tried I found I couldn't focus. I'll probably start on prozac today. Yesterday I saw my pdoc and I told him I wanted to use my own coping strategy instead of meds, but today I can see I do need medical help.

The worst of this is the feeling of shame and guilt that comes along with this thing. Worries that I won't be able to follow through on my commitments, or that I'll make a big mess of them. And the crazy thing - as you all know - is that while we bipolars are up we get ourselves into making a lot of commitments.

But I must keep trying to crawl out of this hole. I mustn't give up. One foot ahead of the other.

Living Room meets this Friday. Although I still look forward to it - need it more than ever now - I don't know if I should lead.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Back in gear

I haven't posted for almost a week and I haven't visited anyone's blogs for as long - and I very much need to and want to get back in gear.

I've had a busy week, not at all normal - though my times are seldom "normal". But I want to get back to routine. I want to talk to all of you again. I need to express what goes on in my mind: my sadness, my joys, my pain, frustration, and sources of hope and inspiration.

With my book finished, zipped shut, not accepting any more thoughts, I feel a bit at a loss. What am I going to pour myself into now? My book has given me a way of using my struggles to do something good. I've written about them in a way that will - hopefully - help others. Knowing that I might be helping others makes my fluctuating emotions easier to bear. I've had a place to share what is important to me. I've been feeding a grand vision: to reduce stigma and support people who are bipolar by writing my story. Now all I can do is wait until I find a publisher. That waiting will be hard to do. I'm not good at waiting. I'm a doer.

But my blog is here; and all of you are here - and for that I'm very happy.

I need to catch up with what all my blogging friends have been up to and how they're feeling. So that's what I will do this weekend. I'm sorry I've ignored you so long.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Thank God!

Thank God, I did pull out of that two-week down time! I was so worried it was the beginning of something big, but it was just another little blip. At times like this, I wonder though: how much of my surfacing back to the stable old me was because of the strategies I employed? How much depression can we avoid by taking steps before it gets too deep to extract ourselves?

I just know that on the night I contacted everyone to remind them of the Living Room meeting, my mood elevated significantly. I enjoyed talking a bit to everyone. After that, tears no longer threatened. On Friday we had a record turnout of sixteen people. How good it is to see such enthusiasm in the group! Unfortunately I was sick with a bad cold that day and could only be there for an hour, but my co-facilitator took good care of things, with many hands to help her.

My book proposal is ready to present to publishers and I will put it online as soon as the final two chapters have been edited - within the week. Very exciting!

In reading one of the finished and polished chapters today, I felt a tremendous sense of peace come over me. The story is a good one. It should inspire and help others have faith in God's love and power. The story I tell is how a very sick young person found faith in God and was gradually transformed into a person who is - for the most part - joyful and grateful to be alive. It is truly amazing where God has taken me since those early years when I spent nine months in a mental hospital. For twenty-five years I was thought to be schizophrenic and received only anti-psychotic drugs - no mood stabilizers.

I've been through a lot, but am not sorry for it. God is the great Potter and I am the clay. I believe he had a reason for making me the way he did. And he carries on shaping me into the kind of person he wants me to be. I am willing to do what he calls me to do - to be soft clay in his great and loving hands.

I'm feeling somewhat prayerful tonight - thankful. Guess you can tell?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


First of all, I want to tell you I'm not doing badly - not good, but not badly either.

In my last post I raised the topic of waiting - waiting for depression to lift. Although I love the Bible and try to live by it, it does in places make waiting seem rather simple. My favorite Psalm 40 says: "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry." It misses the torturous feelings that come with that waiting.

In reading Nelson Mandela's account of his experience with solitary confinement, it struck me that depression is very similar. It is an emotional solitary confinement, but probably just as torturous. Mandela said, "The mind begins to turn in on itself, and one desperately wants something outside of oneself on which to fix one's attention. I have known men who have taken half-a-dozen lashes in preference to being locked up alone."

Mandela found relief whenever an insect came from the crack in the floor. It gave him something to focus on, something to take him out of his self-consumed state.

I think that's the way it is for us too when we're depressed. We need simple little things to draw us back into the world. I've found relief in simple things - usually things of a physical nature to draw me out of my dead emotional world: A nice hot bath, a glass of bubbly 7up or mug of sweet hot chocolate, begging a hug from a dear friend (if there's no friend available, pretending my pillow is her is better than nothing. I hug my pillow)

Dream Writer said how important it is to write. The medicinal value of writing out our feelings is such a mysterious thing, yet so very strong. My journal has become a place where I seek comfort. This blog is where I reach out to others. Writing takes us out of ourselves and helps us make sense of our feelings. It helps us work things out. It takes the worries and pain out of our minds and dumps them onto a page. I pray much better in writing than I do with spoken words. There is so much more certainty in it. David found that in his Psalms. They, too, were prayers.

"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? ...But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me." Psalm 13:1-2, 5-6.

I talked my pdoc into not starting me on antidepressants. They're too dangerous for me because they might cause me to go manic....and I'm not that bad. I may pull out soon. I have many strategies at my disposal to deal with this. This morning I will go for a workout. I will putter at things, focusing on things that give me satisfaction, talking with friends....writing.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hard to believe it could happen

When everything is going well - as it usually does for me nowadays - it's hard to believe that I could ever become depressed again. Yet, it can happen, and does happen, and here I am, depressed again.

Signs began appearing a couple weeks ago. I was easily moved to tears, sometimes a deep sadness coming from nowhere. Yesterday I talked to a friend. She noticed something before I did. I was very quiet, something I didn't notice myself. And later on - sure enough the old feelings I know so well but had forgotten are back. I now don't feel like doing much. I don't feel like cooking dinner and I'm irritable.

But - as I've learned and am teaching others about going through this - I mustn't ask "why?" but "to what end". This must be good for something. I know going through this is supposed to make me a stronger, more compassionate person in the end. But can I make use of this as I'm going through this somehow? Must I wait till I come out the other end? I hate wasting time! I hate doing nothing! I hate waiting! I hate the feeling bad about myself that comes with this!

...and I think of Living Room coming up this Friday. What kind of devotional am I going to share? Can I bring something of what I'm going through into the presentation?...something useful...something I could not share otherwise (without being in a depression).

What brings brightness into this dark place I'm in right now is the thought that it might be useful somehow: fodder. My head feels like it clicks into gear a bit.

I had been thinking of meditating on a couple of Psalms with the group. David wrote so many Psalms where he was in deep emotional pain, only to surface at the end as he thought of God's presence and love. That's exactly what makes the Psalms so powerful: the contrast between David's ups and downs and the hope he found in staying close to God. Perhaps I should write some Psalms too.

I must say though, this isn't really what you'd call suffering yet. I've only taken the initial big dip. Hope I'm not premature with this sob story. I speak mostly out of fear and knowledge of what has happened in the past. I must hope and pray I can pull out quick. If I try to make some use out of this - as I did in the writing of my books - will it be easier to deal with?