Wednesday, September 30, 2009

For a friend

Please trust that God will change your darkness into light. Please know you're loved. We all care about you. I look forward to a coffee with you. Please let it be soon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Love and the pain of suicide

Hi everyone.

I gave the talk to the suicide loss group last night. And they shared their stories of pain at losing someone close to suicide. It was an emotionally charged time of three hours sitting in a circle - 20 to 24 or us. So many tears and I so deeply felt their grief. I still feel the emotions they left me with.

I spoke well, telling them what it's like to live with bipolar disorder and what it's like to be so depressed you want to die. I shared honestly, totally myself, transparent.

In the morning at church I prayed over this meeting. I prayed that God would help me share his love. And He did that for me.

Although this was a secular group I did tell the group a bit about my faith and how it helps me to survive. About how I need God. How could I not? But I did not dwell on it too much. We needed to address their feelings more than anything.

They were grateful to me for sharing and I was just as - or maybe even more - grateful to them for their sharing. I needed to hear and see the kind of pain they were suffering because I have considered suicide at times. I needed to see how their lives were forever changed by their losses. And I don't want to do that to the people I love.

God, please help me not to be so self-centered when I'm depressed that I forget the pain I could cause those who love me to suffer. Help me to remember - though it may be hard - that people do love me, even though my depression might tell me they don't.

The picture I'm sharing here has nothing to do with suicide. But it shows the bond of mother and child and love in the midst of pain.

I prayed for God's presence last night and He was there. His love was there in that circle. He was amongst us.

Thank you, God.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's a good morning

I felt like this preparation for the talk on Sunday was such a hurdle. Just couldn't apply myself. Yesterday afternoon I felt like everything I had to do was so complex and difficult. I had really started feeling quite down.

But in the early evening I sat outside for awhile with my cup of coffee. I asked God to please help me. Amazingly, after that I felt refreshed and ready to try again. I sat down to the computer and got a lot done.

What I'll do is read small portions from my two books here and there to fill out the talk. Although I don't believe a person should read a lot within a presentation, some things are best described in well planned words, like I have in my books. Besides, what I read will give people a taste of what's in my books, in case they'd like to purchase a copy.

This morning, once more, I sat outside and all the complicated stuff I'm dealing with now seems manageable. I'm ready to tackle it all. Thank you, God!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Speaking to a support group

I have something coming up at the end of this week that is not going to be the most straight forward challenge to tackle. I've been invited to speak to a group of around twenty people who have lost a loved one to suicide. They'd like to hear from me what it's like to live with a mental illness.

The thing I'm most worried about is how they will hear me. I don't know what it's like to be in their shoes. Will I be able to be sensitive to what they're dealing with?

One thing for sure is that I will encourage them to talk to me as well. As a person who has considered suicide herself, I need to hear what it might be like for the people left behind were I to die that way. Perhaps we could get a discussion going.

Thinking about it now and considering where the people in this support group are at, I can see that taking your life is a selfish thing to do. And yet, self-centeredness can't be helped when you're in the midst of depression. The pain is so great, it's hard to get past it.

What the people who I speak to can give me will be just as important as what I can give them I feel. I hope we will all be sensitive to each other. I hope understanding will grow.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I'm having a bit of a problem deciding how to treat a confidentiality issue. Is it right for me to even ask a Living Room member to have his or her picture taken for an article on mental illness and the church?

Our policy is to keep everything confidential, even who does and does not come to Living Room meetings. But I've been asked by the editor of a newspaper which is doing this article, an article which will include a lot about Living Room, if I would supply a picture of some of the members. Now I just don't know if it's right for me to even ask them. Yet the cause is so good. Maybe some of our members would like to do this to further reducing the stigma. It would be their opportunity to contribute.

Just writing about it here has helped me make up my mind. I will ask one or two people and make it very clear they don't have to feel they're letting me down if they don't feel comfortable.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Enthusiasm for photography

My enthusiasm for photography has come back in a big way. It was slow in coming but now I'm quite eager to play with pictures again, especially focussing on using photos to make notecards and, especially, bookmarks.
In my bookmarks I get to combine my love for the written word with my love for photographs.

I'm also starting to revisit some of the photography I've done in the past. So I share with you today a few pictures of older people. I had made these in an effort to show that old people still have a child inside them. It was a project that I had hoped to publish but came to a dead end. But now I can publish them here, online. The wonders of the internet! Don't you just love it?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Awareness grows

Hey! This is post number 400! Think I should do something special to celebrate? Maybe go out for dinner? Have a bottle of bubbly tonight?

Maybe I should just write a good, hopeful post.

I had a one hour interview yesterday with a writer from a major Christian newspaper. One of my recent Living Room updates that I sent to facilitators and facilitators-to-be had filtered down to this paper. They were impressed enough to decide to publish a feature article about mental illness and the church. The Living Room story should occupy a good part of that piece. Yes!!! Living Room is doing its stuff, some of the stuff I was hopeful it would do, helping churches realize they can, and need to, help people with mental illness.

I, together with a couple of others, am working on updating the manuals. That will be followed by an updating of the website. Both these things will have to be done quickly now so that all is done by the time the article comes out in early October.

I've been holding back writing about Living Room, waiting for this updating to be done. Don't want to send people to the website until it's where it should be. It would be wasted energy to send them there at this point. All my publicity will have to wait for a wee time.

And, by the way, the problem with my friend I wrote about in my last post is getting ironed out, thank God. I don't like upsetting people. And I don't like losing friends. Peace and harmony is far better.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Undying life

Today I was, once more, drawn into a place that felt ugly. A problem with a friend to whom I had lovingly talked about something she really needed to know. She didn't take it well and dumped a vehement response to it on me. I think I have lost a friend. I'm not used to being spoken to in an angry way like that. Guess I've been kind of sheltered that way...or I just have an awfully nice bunch of people in my life.

So here I am again with another time when I need to "move into God's Presence," that wonderful phrase my good friend inspired me with only a week ago.

I am living in God's presence when I'm in His kingdom, a place governed by His rule. The kingdom of God is the place where everything that God wants done is done, all things working for good. It is a place where we can share in what God wants to do in the world. It is a place where life is eternal, starting

Dallas Willard, in his book The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering our hidden life in God, quotes a beautiful version of John 3:16:
"God's care for humanity was so great that he sent his unique Son among us, so that those who count on him might not lead a futile and failing existence, but have the undying life of God himself."

So what can I do to help build God's kingdom, making this world a better place today? How can I live fully within an eternal life, even when I lose a friend?

I could live each day as a gift, where even the smallest creative act counts. I could make some more notecards, I could blog, and - oh yes - in between I could and should get my laundry done :) I will put on some good music and place myself in the Kingdom. I will do something good and wash away the bad.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Moving into...

Several days ago I was stuck in a pit, feeling dark and ugly. When I talked to my good friend about it, she said to me, "At times like this you need to move into God's Presence."

I know it doesn't sound like anything really that special for someone say, but it worked wonders for me. There's something about the verb "move" that is powerful. At least it was for me that day. To "move into His presence" is highly active, much more so than "being in His presence." "Placing myself in God's Presence" could have had the same effect. It's up to me to act, to do, to make the move from the depths to the surface. Yes, I thought, just do, Marja.

I started working on my notecards...or maybe it was the bookmarks. When I do that work (or should I call it play?) I feel I'm part of God's Kingdom. It's a good, positive thing to be doing. It's colourful; it's satisfying. The work feeds me. And it did again this day. Being creative does that for you and God did make us to be creative people - in His own image.

So...if you're feeling somewhat down, why not try to "move into God's Presence?" Put on some worship music and putter within that peaceful place full of light. That place where you know you're loved and cared for. That place where you'll give your Father pleasure.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Preparing for christmas

A few days ago I wrote in my private blog about how I had played Christmas music, hoping that getting used to that music would anesthetize me to it when Christmas actually does come along. Then I came to think it was probably not such a balanced thing to be doing. Pretty crazy, eh?

And yet...This morning I'm again listening to Christmas music, just a bit. The songs talk about peace for one thing and isn't that a good thing? And people always say how we should have the spirit of Christmas all year long. So then isn't it a good idea to play a bit of Christmas music outside the Christmas season as well? Just a bit to remind us. Just a taste of it.

I will start pretending it's already somewhat Christmas time. Then when it truly comes it won't be such an adjustment.

Sorry to be talking about Christmas already....again! Didn't I just do that a few posts ago?

Cleaning day today. Then I will visit my Mom. Then some Living Room work. And hopefully some work on my notecards and bookmarks. Tomorrow dear hubby comes home from his fishing trip. It will be good to see him again.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Poor Mom

My poor 95-year-old mom called tonight from her nursing home, very upset about the care she is receiving. She complained about being treated as a child, with disrespect. She is incontinent and needs to be helped with washing up. What that does to her sense of dignity!

Mom was moved to the floor she's on right now because she had been fighting with other residents. She has a very bad temper. And, as they always say, when you get older you become even more of what you were before. She had been hitting people and even ramming them with her walker. She gets SO angry.

Now, just from hearing her talk tonight, I feel she has probably been fighting with her nursing staff. Hard to deal with. The kind of person everyone comes to hate.

I try to help her understand how she needs to be forgiving. How she needs to cooperate. How she needs the care they're giving her. But it's impossible to talk any sense into her. Maybe I'll have to visit more often and try to give her some counselling. I wonder if that could make a difference.

Quite a day today: Mom as well as a couple of other people in trouble today - people who needed to be listened to. But I did do a fun photoshoot. This has been a day of many colours.

(The picture is of a 100-year-old taken years ago. Not my mom.)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

And I wonder...

I wonder if it's really such a good thing to even think about the possibility of depression returning. Shouldn't we focus on the good stuff? If we keep our eyes on the good stuff - making beauty happen, being thankful for what we have, doing the things that make us grow - we wouldn't even have to think about depression, would we?

The Bible says it well in Philippians 4:6 and 8:

"Do not be anxious about anything...(and some more good stuff)...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

That's where I'm at this morning. Looking up, not even wanting to glance down.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Avoiding depression

Susan, the Wellness Writer, has been blogging about how to stave off depression. This is an important topic for me as I look forward to the approaching fall and Christmas season.

As I've said in previous posts, I've already been thinking about that season and wondering how I could possibly avoid going into a depression again. And I've been wondering if this will be possible for me. In spite of having written two books about coping with bipolar disorder, I still have a lot of problems. I've only in recent months been able to return to a normal me, after at least a six-month roller coaster ride which started in November last year. Obviously I worry about this happening again.

Susan says yes, I can. But I will have to have a good recipe for my day to day living. Susan's personal plan includes:
1. Hypnotherapy
2. Therapy
3. A sound, vibration and light healer
4. Learning to garden and volunteering to garden at a school
5. Working on a photography project with others
6. Exercise
7. Spending time with friends
8. Developing hobbies to do alone
9. Making her living environment brighter
10. Changing the way she celebrates the holidays with her family.

My plans?
1. Counselling on a monthly basis
2. Change my attitude - stop dreading Christmas, but look forward to it, planning fun things
3. Make Christmas presents
4. Make photographic items and have an open house so people can see them and purchase them if they wish (proceeds going to a church ministry)

Hey! I seem to be focussing on Christmas here! That wasn't my intent before I started writing. I had meant to talk about depression in general. But I do have Christmas on the brain now-a-days. Not good eh?

How can I avoid the dip I experienced on Sunday from grabbing hold of me and becoming full-fledged depression? I'll try to write about that tomorrow.