Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Time out

Hi everyone: Looks like I'll have to take a break from posting again. Mom ended up on the floor, climbing over the railing - amazing she can do that in her very weak state. So I'm heading out to stay with her overnight again. Don't know for how long this will be.

A complication: My husband is sick and not in any state to sleep in a cold motorhome. It's very much winter out here with lots of snow. So I'll stay on my own.

Did any of you see 100 Huntley Street? They did a wonderful job of putting the Living Room story together. I'm very happy with it. It can be viewed online at The story starts about 8 minutes into the program. Hope you'll all try to see it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

100 Huntley Street schedule change!!!

I got a call from 100 Huntley Street today telling me that they'd made a mistake telling me when my interview would be aired. It's going to be on tomorrow morning (not Thursday) on Global TV in Canada - 9 a.m. here in British Columbia. If you can't catch the show on TV you can view it online at

The reporter spent an entire day with me interviewing me, taping a session of Living Room, and interviewing my pastor and a couple of members of the group. This program should give you a good idea of what Living Room is all about. I do hope you'll be able to watch it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A complex life

I want to thank all of you who have been thinking about us and praying for us and for my mother-in-law. Life is complex for me right now, and yet I feel God's presence in a very clear way.

We've spent the past few days at home, traveling to see Mom for a few hours at a time. She is not doing very well at all. Her eye sight is failing badly and she is now needing to be fed, though she doesn't eat much at all. She is also becoming increasingly confused. Yet she is still her sweet self. It's hard to see her going through this and I hope and pray that God will soon grant her peace and take her from this suffering. When my husband wakes up I'll ask him if we can't once more take our motorhome out there so we can spend more time with her - so that we can be the ones to feed her. Each time we see Mom I hate to leave.

I had word from 100 Huntley Street, the Christian TV program that spent a day with me several months ago, that the interview they did will be aired this coming Thursday, January 31st. They also taped a session of Living Room. The program is on Global TV in Canada, though I think it may be available for viewing in the U.S. as well. In any case, Misha of Emptied Mango Sorbet informed me that it can be seen online the day after here.

What is going to happen once the program is aired? If there are people inspired by it I will need to be ready to help new groups start up. I will need to be ready to give talks if asked. And I should soon hear from my publisher whether or not they will publish my new book, A Firm Place to Stand. I'm also busy giving support to individuals and keeping up with friends. Life IS very complex right now. And yet, I don't feel stress. I feel God's peace. He is with me. And that is SO good.

By the way, I did get to the Living Room meeting on Friday, though one of the co-facilitators took the main part of the meeting. I'm so thankful to have such a lot of help. There were 18 of us present and it got pretty intense at times - but wonderfully so. That group is at the heart of all I do. It's so important to me - such a joy.

Monday, January 21, 2008

In a holding pattern

Thank you all: Dancer, Merelyme, Susan, Anne, Syd, Anonymous Mom, and Dream for your care and best wishes. Things are really on hold. Mom is stable and at present doesn't look like she's in her last days at all. As long as she is lying down, she is totally lucid and her gracious old self with visitors. But she can't stand or sit up by herself. When she is propped up in bed she quickly becomes dizzy and confused. She tries to eat a little bit of each meal, though she has no appetite. To think the doctor gave her only 24 hours to live last Wednesday! He is now saying she has the heart of an ox. Who knows how long she could carry on like this.

I spent three nights sleeping in the room with her and the last two nights sleeping in the motorhome with my husband. This morning I came home to look after the cat and some business while my husband stayed with her. Tomorrow morning I'll go back. I don't know how long we will be in this holding pattern - our life at a standstill. We will have to take it a day at a time. The awkward thing is that the home where Mom lives is 45 minutes away through some of Vancouver's most horrendous traffic. We can't just pop back and forth.

Our time spent at this care facility with Mom is not unpleasant. Her room is comfortable and peaceful with a good chair for each of us. The workers are friendly and cheerful. They all know Mom well and sometimes pop in to tell her they love her, even if they're working in a different wing. And Mom has many friends and family members visiting. In the evening we're brought a tray with tea, coffee, juice and cookies - complete with a vase of flowers on it. This is a good place to die, much better than a hospital would be.

Friday is Living Room day, but I don't know if I'll be able to be there. I've organized everything so it will be taken care of and will take the lunch supplies to the church tomorrow morning before I head back. Such a good thing that we have a good bunch of co-facilitators! All will be well.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Taking a break

Please note that I won't be posting for a while. We are staying at the care facility where my mom-in-law is, spending what we expect will be her last days with her. My husband in sleeping in our motorhome which we've parked in the parking lot and I spend my nights on a cot next to Mom in her room.

Please pray that she will go peacefully. I'm pretty sure she will. She has a big faith and is not in pain - just weak. She's having lots of company, people telling her they love her. Things are good.

Will catch up when I'm back home.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A letter for Sandy

A couple of days ago, Sandy left the following comment on my last post:

"I don't know if this comment belongs in this section, but I did want to ask a question. What are some your hints to "keep going" when you really feel depressed and just want to stay in bed all day but know that you can't because of family responsibilities? I take Prozac daily, but because I'm 47 and perimenopausal, I don't think it is working too well at certain times of the month. My kids are 21 (in college), 17 ( a senior) and 15...and I can't just lay down and say "out of order" today. But that's the way I feel.
By the way, I appreciate your faith-filled posts very much. I sometimes feel guilty that being a Christian, I don't always feel or show "the joy of the Lord" because of depressive feelings and I'm not always that good at hiding them.
Sandy M"

Dear Sandy,

I think the most important thing you need to remember is that you have an illness and, though it's the nature of depression to make you feel guilty, this is not a justifiable feeling. Christians are not beyond getting depressed, just like they're not beyond having other illnesses. It has nothing to do with your relationship with God and you're not any less of a Christian. Please remember that God loves you, no matter what. And there will be times that you will have to allow Him to carry you - without any feelings of shame or guilt. Just let Him take care of you.

Nevertheless, you will feel better if you can manage to do some of the things you would normally do. It would be therapeutic to do so. Moving around and being active off and on through the day, even if you do spend a good part of it in bed, will be helpful.

Why not ask your children or husband to help you with some of the chores? When I've been severely depressed I've found that having my husband help me make dinner or wash the dishes, helped energize me. There's something about working alongside someone that makes the job a lot easier. The social interaction that then happened often boosted my spirit.

In my book, Riding the Roller Coaster, I listed the following for times when absolutely nothing seems worth the effort (now this is for a really deep depression):
  • Change the scenery - move to a different room
  • Take a sip of soda - let the bubbles dance on your tongue
  • Wash your face and comb your hair - see how good that will feel
  • Listen to gently music - become a part of it
  • Eat a piece of sweet juicy fruit
  • Hug your pillow - pretend it's your best friend
  • Pick a flower from the garden - study its shape, color and texture
  • Take a refreshing shower - Enjoy
  • Bask in the sunshine - ten minutes will do the trick
  • Point your face to the sky - let the rain wash your cheeks
  • Write a description of your feelings - get poetic if you wish
  • Watch a comedy on TV - the sillier the better
  • Make a list of everything you're thankful for
  • Beg a hug from someone close to you - squeeze hard
  • Lie under a tree - look into its branches - listen to the whisper of the leaves
  • Have a cup of tea with a friend
Maybe the above list isn't the one for you. Maybe you're not as depressed as all that. If so, going for a good walk each day would be better. They say that walking is as good as taking an antidepressant. And try to get out with people a little every day. Or talk to a friend on the phone.

In any case, for most people there will be times of brightening - windows of opportunity when you feel like doing more. Take advantage of those windows, but without overdoing it. Eventually you'll have more windows and gradually you will find yourself in a brighter place.

I hope these suggestion will help. And perhaps others will comment here with their own suggestions.

Catch up time

First of all: +PHc, Thank you for your caring words. My mom-in-law is not doing well at all - too weak to be up much. She is 96 years old and her life is slowly ebbing away. But her mind is crystal clear and she is not in pain. We will have to visit her lots in the next while.

And Cathy: It's so neat to have you visiting my site. So neat to have a Living Room member look in and take part. This EMPowerplus you speak of has concerned me a lot too. A few months ago I read the book Autumn Stringam wrote about it, A Promise of Hope. At the time I wrote a post about it. Personally, I would not change my therapy because I'm happy with the meds I'm taking. But I believe that for people who are not responding well to existing meds, this would definitely be something worth looking into. And yet I do think it's dangerous to make such claims about something that hasn't thoroughly gone through all the scientific studies. So many people with bipolar won't take their meds as it is. I just hope there won't be hundreds of people going off their meds because of this questionable promise. But yes, wouldn't it be nice if this miraculous cure worked for us all?

Now I must write to Sandi who left a comment on the last post. And for that I will devote a post of its own.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What feeds you?

At Living Room this Friday we're going to discuss what activities feed us and what activities drain us. When I think of what feeds me most, giving me joy, peace, energy, and satisfaction, I can see how important God's commandments are to my day-to-day life. God's commandment to love God, love others, and love ourselves are not merely given to us because it's a good thing to do or because we need to do it to please God. God gave us these commandments because he cares for us and wants the best for us. It's not just good for God - it's good for us.

I've learned that when I do things that flow out of love I receive feelings of joy and satisfaction. When I do things simply because I think I should, because they're a chore, I get dragged down - drained of energy and joy.

Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14. Jesus referred to this spiritual water as "living water."

I've always sort of known what he meant by "living water," but was never able to quite define it to myself in words. But in the meditating I've been doing lately, I think I've come up with what he meant: God's love flows into us and then flows out from us to others - never lying still or becoming stagnant - always flowing. In the receiving and giving it quenches our thirst; it feeds us; it produces an abundant life. This is the Holy Spirit living within us, helping us to be the kind of people God wants us to be and helping us live the kind of lives that will be fulfilling.

For me, supporting people with mood disorders, both in bloggerland and in the world around me, feeds me tremendously. It gives me great joy. Cleaning house when I'm expecting friends over is okay too, especially if I listen to some good music while doing it. But when I have to dust, vacuum, and clean the bathrooms simply because "I should," that's draining - it's a drag.

So...What activities feed you? And what activities drain you? Where do you find most joy and fulfillment?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Getting rid of junk

Pastor Don started his sermon today in a way that was so apropos to what I am going through right now. He talked about the junk we all tend to collect. He talked about almost being at the point of checking the lane to make sure no one is coming before opening the garage door, so embarrassed was he about the mess in there. My husband and I feel the same way. Things have gotten so out of hand that we bought a pickup truck a couple of weeks ago, partly because we need an extra vehicle, and partly because we need to haul away a lot of junk...and not only from the garage. We have three rooms in the house where walking through the room and finding things is a challenge. Embarrassing!

Yesterday my 35-year-old son spent a couple of hours trying to get rid of some of the junk he's been storing at our house. I need the space for my studio. Unbelievable the stuff he has hung onto all these years: notebooks from elementary school, a pirate ship he made out of popsicle sticks when he was in grade five, an incomplete set of dominos in a broken wooden box - something he played with every time he went to Grandma's house when he was a toddler. Then there's the toy box Grandpa made for him for his first Christmas, lego, a collection of Mad magazines, a favourite tshirt from when he was nine, and a drawer of socks and underwear from his teen days. Unbelievable!

The preamble to Pastor Don's sermon led to a talk about the emotional junk we have in our life and how we need to deal with that if we are to be spiritually mature. In his notes he wrote, "God wants to transform your whole life - that is really what growth to spiritual maturity is all about - but for that to happen you will have to allow him into the junk rooms of your life and cooperate with His Spirit to clean up and clear out the junk that has accumulated over the course of your life." I hope my emotional junk rooms are not as bad as the junk rooms in my home!

One friend I spoke to after the service didn't know if she could go through with the series we'll be doing at our small group - studying the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and accompanying workbook by Peter Scazzero. She didn't think she'd be able to summon the honesty that was going to require from her. But as Romans 8:38-39 states: Nothing will separate us from the love of God, "neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation..."
Knowing that should allow us to be honest with ourselves and with others. God will love us no matter what is revealed.

In the words of Scazzero: "Emotional health powerfully anchors me in the love of God by affirming that I am worthy of feeling, worthy of being alive, and lovable even when I am brutally honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly deep beneath the surface..."

Friday, January 04, 2008

Life's flow

Over the next two months our church is going to be studying a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. His view is that "it's impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature." There will be several small home groups working on it and the sermons will, indirectly, deal with it.

One of the things this book states is that we need to balance our life between contemplation (being with God) and activity. Most of us are high on activity but very low on contemplation.

As I meditated on this, I struggled, wondering how much time I spent doing frenetic activity, especially the writing about mental health issues and trying to spread the Living Room concept, sometimes forgetting why I was doing it. Sometimes I get so caught up in the busyness of it all and forget the people I'm doing it for.

I concluded that my life needs flow out of love - love for God, for people, and for myself as well. This kind of love was Christ's major commandment. If more of my activity was permeated with this, I would be fulfilling God's purposes. I would be doing it all for the right reason. I would be living in God's presence.

I've slowed down on my mental health work - needed to in order to make room for Christmas in my life. Besides, I was struggling with mild bouts of depression. Now I've been feeling guilty that I'm not following through on some of this work. But I feel I need some rest, I feel I need to be prompted by the right reasons. I will know when it's time to get busy on it again. I'll have that urge that tells me action needs to be taken - action that can't wait. Then I will obey the call.

In the meantime I will obey what I currently feel called to do: clean up a messy room in my house and make a studio out of it for myself - a place to play. I will also spend time being with the people I love. My life needs to flow out of love.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A new lease

Wow! I'm feeling so much better now that the holidays are over. The pressure is off. I still have a lot of things I need to do and want to do, but I feel good about them - I look forward to doing them. Nothing needs to be done in a rush. An amazing thing mood is. What a difference it can make to your enjoyment of life.

Yesterday I saw my gp because I needed a new prescription for my thyroid medication. He asked me whether I had been stable. When I told him I'd been struggling, he decided to up my thyroid medication a bit. It turns out that my last blood test showed I was a little up in whatever it is (don't understand it all) and that there is a possibility that my recent mood disturbances might have been affected by this. There is a belief that bipolar disorder is linked with thyroid problems though no one knows yet why this is. Interesting, isn't it?

I spent this morning planning some menus for the next while and a good long shopping list to go with it. So long since I've done that. I've been lazy about cooking. Good to get organized about it. I find the most difficult thing about preparing meals is deciding what to cook. If I have some good solid plans in place, it's much easier to get myself motivated. Lists of all kinds are such good motivators.

I'll be doing some housekeeping to this site over the next while. As you've probably noticed, my blogroll is terribly out of date and many of you who visit me regularly and who I visit regularly are not even on it. This is because I just don't know how to program this stuff in and have to rely on my son to do it for me. He will be doing this soon now. I've tried to get him to show me how to do it but - so far - he hasn't trusted me with it. Says that if I make a mistake I could do damage to my site.

Must now get moving on this day. "This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it." Good to be feeling so content and motivated again!