Tuesday, March 31, 2009

On being a project

I'm trying to deal with the understanding I've come to that a friend of mine simply considers me a project - someone to support because I have bipolar. And that hurts.

I've always considered her one of my best friends, feeling her love and care. She has been there as someone I can talk to - someone who wants to learn about my disorder (which I value). I've always talked about how important it is to have a support network. And yet, when a friendship is simply built on a person's struggle with a disorder, something seems to be wrong. I want to be her friend too - to be a support for her - yet she doesn't often allow it. She talks little about her own needs. It is a very unbalanced friendship.

So hard to find a balance in a friendship.

I have another friend who is there for me - I know partly because she knows I'm often a needy person. Her support for me has been huge and has helped me become strong and to grow and accomplish things. But she has also let me into her life, telling me about the things she's doing and the things she's reading and thinking. She talks about the things she wants to do. Our friendship is not simply built on her caring for the bipolar me.

Yet I care a lot about this person who has been considering me a project. We have to try to turn this friendship around. It needs to be a me for her relationship as much as it is a her for me relationship. God grant us the wisdom and the ability to do that.

It hurts to simply be considered somebody's project.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

He makes me lie down

Psalm 23 has never been my favourite. I'm not very good at lying down in green pastures. When I'm made to do that, as I have with this cold, I very quickly start feeling useless and often depressed.

Fortunately, depression has not come along with this cold. But I do feel a separation of sorts with the work I want to do. I'm discovering too that I need to read my Bible more - a lot more. I need to stay closer to God than I have been.

So this morning I meditated on Psalm 23. It was comforting. It made me realize that it's okay to rest once in awhile. Through rest, God will restore. In the meantime:
"You prepare a table before me...You anoint my head with oil...Surely goodness and love will follow me." (verses 5-6)

I don't feel up to going to church this morning. Still far too tired and weak. But my husband and I have been puttering, cleaning up one very messy and dirty room of the house - taking long breaks in between. We'll do a bit more of that today. Good to be accomplishing that, though I must say, tidying is not one of my favourite things to be doing. I tend to be a creative person, not a maintainer - not one to keep things tidy at all. But I do need to spend at least part of my time doing that. Things in my house are dreadfully out of control.

Neat thing about doing this work is that I'm doing it alongside my husband. It's giving us something to do together. Because we do so many things apart from each other, this is a good thing.

...and I will meditate on the Psalms.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Proud of my dil

I'm so very proud of my daughter-in-law, Jeannette. A few days ago her food blog, everybodylikessandwiches received the bloggie award for Best Canadian Blog. What an honour! And what a great achievement to be publishing such an interesting, popular blog.

Jeannette loves food. She loves talking about food. And she loves playing with new recipe ideas - always creative. She is also a good photographer, having developed a unique style to her food photography.

I'm so darn proud of her! I think it's about time you seriously start thinking of writing the cookbook you've been wanting to write, Jeannette. Don't you?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cold complaints

I need to have someone to complain to. I have a bad cold. Seldom get one of those but today - on the third day - I'm not good at all. Fever and a cough that scares the cat off my lap and - actually - would scare anyone. It sounds like I'm dying. I don't feel like doing a thing, yet I'm bored too.

What bothers me most is the loneliness that comes with being sick. Wish I could talk to someone - complain to someone. I just don't know what to do with myself.

Yesterday my husband and I managed to do most of the dishes that had been piling up for a couple of weeks. I couldn't do them earlier because of some burnt fingers and my husband was sick. But yesterday, after doing most, I left a few to soak and there they are today, still soaking. I'm also way behind on my laundry and no energy to gather up the bedding and everything else and throw them into the washer. My husband has offered to help me a bit. He doesn't know what he's doing, but just to have him at my side will help.

Lonely - especially with my two best friends out of town. One of them - the very best for me to talk to - has been gone for almost five weeks and will be gone for six or seven more. That's real hardship. A person I share almost everything with and with whom I talk almost daily when she's in town - now far away.

I've done quite well though - kept busy - so I haven't suffered too much. Yet today it would be so neat to talk to her a bit.

Full of complaints, aren't I? Good to have this blog though. Good to have someone to talk to.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Me too

I'm so very excited I don't know what to do with myself. Just want to pour out all the good stuff I read in a book, stuff that really spoke to me of things I know but have never seen the words for written in such a powerful way. I want to write about these things, talk about them, act on them. And I really don't think I'm manic, or even hypomanic...I don't think. It's just so neat to see your feelings focussed into such great thoughts.

The book is Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell and Don Golden. It's about what Jesus intended the church to be and how many have lost their way.

The authors quote Anne Lamott who said that the most powerful sermon in the world is two words: "Me too."

They they go on to say:

Me too.

When you are struggling,
when you are hurting,
wounded, limping, doubting,
questioning, barely hanging on,
moments away from another relapse,
and somebody can identify with you -
someone knows the temptations that are at your door,
somebody has felt the pain you are feeling,
when someone can look you in the eyes and say, 'Me too,'
and they actually mean it -
it can save you.

When you aren't judged,
or lectured,
or looked down upon,
but somebody demonstrates that they get it,
that they know what it's like,
that you aren't alone,
that's 'me too.'

I was so excited about this because that's exactly the way Living Room is. That's what makes our group work. That's what's so healing about it. That's what makes us like a church - like church should be for everyone. Only church isn't always like that. Too often people are judged, looked down on, shunned. If only all Christians could learn - when they meet someone who is different - someone who has bipolar disorder or schizophrenia - to listen to them and try to understand them. If they could only enter into their suffering when they suffer...and then rejoice with them when they rejoice. Isn't that what Christian love is supposed to be all about?

Monday, March 09, 2009


On April 25th there is going to be a MentalHealthCamp in Vancouver, an "unconference about the intersection of the social media and mental health." This sounds like a very interesting event. I've been asked to participate and just hope I'll be worthy, just hope I'll have thoughts of value to contribute, especially since the amount I'm blogging nowadays has gone down. Maybe it will encourage me to become more faithful to my blog? I do know my blog has been important to me and I wouldn't think of giving it up.

One of the questions that will be addressed is: "How can blogging help decrease the stigma of mental health?" I started my blog partly to help reduce stigma. That's why I did not make it anonymous. After all, the more open we are about who we are - unashamedly making it known, the more likely people will start thinking of it as nothing to be ashamed of.

I'm not sorry that my writings, including my blog, articles and books, are not anonymous. I've never been sorry - except perhaps the odd time that I am ashamed of myself - usually because I'm in the midst of a depression. At times like that I don't feel as free to say what I think. I have to hide where I'm at to some extent. I want to encourage people; I want to inspire; I want to be supportive. When I'm deeply depressed I prefer to go to friends or write in my personal journal.

But as far as the question goes: Does blogging decrease the stigma? Perhaps only so far as it encourages readers with mental illness to know they're not alone. Perhaps these readers would be encouraged to be more open with the people they meet, knowing that their problems are relatively common.

I had hoped for readers without mental illness, though. I had hoped I could educate supporters through my blog. Yet most of the people who visit my blog are those who themselves have mental illness.

What do you think? Can blogging decrease stigma? And how?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Finding balance

A couple of years ago I decided to give up photography so that I could devote myself more fully to writing and other mental health related work. I believe that was a good thing. I was able to finish my book and have it published and Living Room has grown.

But lately I've realized that I need to find better balance in my life. Spending all one's time on mental health issues is not necessarily a good thing. I need to do something visually creative too. What really brought this home was when, at Christmas time, I found great comfort in the midst of my depression as I produced calendars for friends. It felt so good to make beautiful pictures again, using some images I had shot in years past.

So I have returned to doing the candid child photography I so love to do - something I have done for over thirty years now. I will make time to take on one or two clients a month.

My first job was a few weeks ago and I'll share a couple of the pictures I took. I was worried about my medication-induced tremors, but they proved not to be a big problem in getting good pictures. There were a few unsharp ones, but when using available light as I do, that's a common thing for every photographer. My psychiatrist and I have played around a bit with my meds and now I have much less problems with tremors. Thank God!