Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The creativity kickstart

Amazing how a little creativity - a new project - colour - excitement - can kickstart a more positive mood! And once it's done, I fall back, into the verge of depression again - the unmotivated self.

In the midst of my verge of depression, I had an idea last week. No, it didn't come from me exactly. It was truly planted there by God. If you don't believe in God and are wondering about me, not believing such a clear leading from God can happen, I've got to tell you it can and does. Through my quiet time with God one day last week, the mission some of our church members are going on sprang to mind. No reason for that to happen. And through a bunch of well-led wanderings of the mind, I realized I wanted to send along some bookmarks I had made. But I didn't have enough. And besides, they were in English. The people in that country would not understand them. I decided to make some up in the Spanish language.

How the thought of such a project excited me!! It totally kickstarted a livening of the mind, return to a positive, even high, mood. I worked happily on this for several days, ending up with 340 bookmarks of eleven different designs. My obsession with Living Room was replaced with an obsession for bookmarks. I imagined what the people in this country might need. They don't have ready access to Christian literature. How could I fill their needs? How could I encourage them? As I worked, I felt like a missionary. And I felt alive.

But when the project was finished I once more returned to slumber mode. No motivation to do the many things that had been piling up around me, needing to be tended to. Good thing my husband is now paying the bills. I'm so grateful for that. But there are other things - stacks of paper - that need to be looked after. And I felt powerless to work on it. The laundry I did three days ago was still in the drier. I had no energy to take it out and put it away.

This morning I sent an email to my closest friends, crying out about my inability to find a firm place to stand. My instability. Up sometimes, down other times. It's like Satan is playing a cat and mouse game with me.

The Psalms are wonderful to read at times like this. David seems to know all about this. I found comfort this morning in Psalm 143. "...may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." (vs.10)

Fortunately I had signed up for a watercolour course a few weeks ago and my first class was this morning. Colour. Creativity. Making things happen with my hands (painting a tulip still life) instead of having things happen to me. I didn't do very well. After all, it was only the first art class I'd ever taken. But that didn't matter. I had fun playing. And I came home looking at everything in my world a little differently. I looked around me, wondering what I could paint next.

My mind and mood has had another kickstart. Another opportunity to escape possible descent into a black hole.

Will I be able to keep this up? Will I be able to keep pushing back the dark?

Ah, but I have God at my side. I have the support of loving friends. I have the will to be well and to serve God. And I'm grateful. Things could be so much worse.


Peggy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
marja said...


So glad to receive your comment. And only minutes after it's gone up. Please email me at marja@livingroomsupport.org. Maybe we could work together.

Thank you so much for your encouragement. Nancie is my friend as well. Also such a wonderful encourager and prayer warrior.


Liana said...

Hi Marja, well done in making the bookmarks, and shifting into that positive headspace. I can relate to your depressive, unmotivated self, as I was in that mode last week. Creativity helps me shift too. I love any form of art. Liana.

Coco said...


marja said...


It's no wonder so many people with bipolar disorder are creative, eh? It's a coping technique.


marja said...

Hugs to you too, Coco.

Love, marja

marja said...

Peggy, Please email me and I will explain why I had to delete your comment. Nothing to do with you. Sorry I had to do it.

Wendy Love said...

Hi Marja,
I loved the title for this post, you caught my attention with that! Oh yes, the struggle for stability...how I do understand that. Sometimes I like to blame my instability on 'life' and its ups and downs, but the truth is, I can become unstable without any outside help at all! Creativity is a wonderful release and escape isn't it? I do hope you enjoy your new art class. I too can get pretty excited about a new project, but then, getting excited is not supposed to be good for us, is it? What a confusing illness! An activity which could be considered therapeutic for some people, might be too stimulating for us! So far I have found that writing is therapeutic and stimulating, but not too stimulating because I am not running around while I am doing it. Does that make any sense?

marja said...

Hi Wendy,

Yes something too exciting isn't necessarily good either. And yet, although some people might have thought I got too excited about those bookmarks (it did make me quite high) I did accomplish a lot. And it was satisfying. The problem came when the work was finished. The contrast between that high and a more boring everyday life with nothing creative going on was far too great.

I've learned that I really like a lot of excitement in my life. Always need something interesting to do. Always need challenges. I can easily become bored. And boredom can sometimes feel like depression.

More Than Conquerors said...

Hi Marja,

I love your bookmarks. You are truly very creative and innovative. The people who received those spanish bookmarks will surely be blessed by God's Words and your labours of love!

I too tend to get excited when making bookmarks as gifts for others and involve in other creative projects such as photography and cross-stitch. There's a strange connection between bipolar and creativity :) Yes, boredom can sometimes feel like depression or drag us down into depression. I found that I need to constantly put my mania energy to productive and satisfying projects but at the same time try to find a balance by not over-committing myself and consciously scheduling time to rest, relax and spend time alone with God and some friends. Not easy to strike a balance but that helps to keep me dependent upon the Lord daily :) Perhaps too smooth a path would kept me from depending upon God and knowing Him in such intimate way as I am daily led now.

Bipolar with its terrible ups and downs do bring much confusion and pain to our lives. But it is also filled with the blessings of creativity and productivity as well as drawing near to God in time of difficulties. Our greatest comfort is that God is with us and He has a purpose for allowing us to have bipolar, a purpose of love to draw us near to Him daily and to make us useful in His kingdom. You are so precious to our Lord, Marja, and to all of us and to your friends at Living Room. God has given you many talents to serve Him and a love for His people. May He enables you to press on with your good works for Him and continue to make you a blessing to many. Praying for you always. Take care.

With love and hugs,

marja said...

Dear Nancie,

How encouraging your comment is to me! You're so right about creativity and its relationship to bipolar. I find it so neat that you are similar to me in so many respects. You have bipolar, love being there for others, love photography, and using the photographs to make bookmarks. We're surely sisters in Christ. Twins in Christ?

I like some of the things you said here and and think I will share it with my close friends who support me but might have some difficulty understanding me. I so want to build understanding! And for them to hear the viewpoint of another person who is like me, might be a good thing.

Love you.

Tonya Alton said...

Good evening Marja,
I am a writer/researcher and spokesperson for mental wellness. I am prompted to write as how I came upon your site was GOD driven. I am a christian who has Bipolar and worked hard for the past six years to achieve a state of 'recovery', where I feel I now live a happy, balanced lifestyle. I teach B.R.I.D.E.S, but have been unsuccessful in obtaining part-time work. The stigma's I have encountered both in Churches and the workplace have left me feeling frustrated, yet I carry on with hope that I will find a job which suits me. My journey led me to the Christian workplace site where I found your articles, blog, books and links. I watched the video and when I heard of the book, 'Emotionally Free' , I smiled as I have a copy of the book...yet it remains unread. My focus is limited and I seem to have five books on the go. Your commitment to both 'Living Room', your writing and now painting, is truly impressive! I would love to find a support group in my area
(Langley/Surrey), where I could feel just as welcome Marja! I understand if you don't post this lengthy comment, but I had to let you know I was drawn to your site for a reason(-: All the best! Regards, Tonya L. Alton

marja said...

Hi Tonya,

Welcome to my blog. I'm so glad you found me. Thank you for your encouraging comment. And no, it wasn't too long at all. I love thorough comments :o)

You know, though, there is a Living Room group in Surrey, near the hospital. Check the Contact page of the Living Room website for info. Laura is an excellent facilitator. You'd feel very welcome there.

All the best to you.

trippinoverkidz said...

Hi Marja,

It's been a long time since I've written or posted anything to my own blog for that matter. I enjoyed reading your latest entry. Thank-you so much for sharing. Even through your struggles you still come across as positive in your blogs, clearly more so when you think of your relationship with God. That is what I enjoy reading so much *smile* Glad to hear you found some kind of outlet (bookmarks) while you were feeling the way you were. I feel the same way when feelings about my Dad creep their way in. It'll be one year in two weeks since he passed. I try to focus on what I can do rather than focus on what I've lost and what I can't control.

Hugs to you, best wishes always


marja said...


So good to hear from you again. I hope that you too will find an outlet that will help you forget the pain, though I realize that it will never go away. You take care, eh?


Peggy (mazmagi) said...

Blessings Marja,

What a beautiful blessings these were/are to me! Truly you are gifted!

I have used them in two events so far and today starts the big event, I've been waiting to use them for Carnaval. The Spanish speaking clown ministry team is suppose to come from Mexico DF so I plan to use these bookmarks for my part of the BIG evangelism outreach here.

Your gifts are being used for God's glory and thanks to you, I pray eternal salvation for the ones that I will be giving when they pray with me. So look at how many you have a part in and a bookmark in their life that they can read in Spanish! What an absolute blessing!
Thank you once again for blessing me so I can bless them in a tangible way. CARNAVAL JOY just became a new JOY for me that I am able to be an extension of you blessing me. I'm so thankful that you designed these and encouraged that you would bless me so kindly!

God bless you, Marja!

Peace,love and JOY,

marja said...

Dear Peggy,

It was so good to hear from you and that you're able to use those bookmarks to bless others. That was my prayer for them.

Funny you should write just now. I've been thinking of you while I've been at work making more bookmarks - for our mission team once more.

Thank you so much for writing.