Monday, July 30, 2007

Road trip

Just letting you know that I won't be around until Saturday or so. We're off on a road trip to attend a wedding. Can't say I'm thrilled about the drive, unfortunately. Tomorrow we'll be driving for twelve hours with my 96-year-old mother-in-law along. The wedding is the next day. Please pray that all will go well and that this won't be too hard on her.

Will miss all my blogging pals, but will catch up when I return.

Stay well, okay?

God leads - through highs and lows

Sharing a neat little poem I friend sent me last night. Very comforting.

He Leadeth Me

He leadeth me.
In pastures green? No, not always.
Sometimes He who knoweth best
In kindness leadeth me in weary ways
Where heavy shadows be;
Out of the sunshine warm and soft and bright,
Out of the sunshine into the darkest night.
I oft would yield to sorrow and to fright
Only for this: I know he holds my hand,
So, whether led in green, or desert land
I trust, although I cannot understand....

So whether on the hilltops, high and fair
I dwell, or in the sunless valleys, where
The shadows lie--what matter? He is there.
And more than this; where'er the pathway lead
He gives to me no helpless, broken reed,
But His Own hand, sufficient for my need.
So where He leads me I can safely go,
And in the blest hereafter I shall know
Why in His wisdom He hath led me so.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

How am I?

Thank you, Tery, for thinking of me and for your concern about where my mood is at. It is good today and I am glad.

After you responded with suggestions on how to deal with my feelings of being on the brink of another depression, I did the following:
  • In the afternoon I talked to a dear friend about how I was feeling. Talking to her always makes me feel better. When my mood is suffering I need to talk to someone about it. I try not to make that all we talk about though.
  • In the evening I went for a walk with my husband at a park. Afterwards we went to a coffee shop for an iced cappucino.
  • When we came home we played a board game we've really come to enjoy.
  • The next day was Living Room. It's hard not to be up when that meeting happens. Leading it feeds me. It's the work God gave me to do and always brings joy.
  • On the day of Living Room, I found a copy of BC Christian News, a newspaper that goes to all the churches in this area and beyond. On page 3 they had published my testimony, something I had sent to them a while back. They printed my photograph way too big, but fortunately it's a good one (the same as the one I have on my blog).
  • On that same day I found that their website had published an article I wrote about creativity and how it benefits us emotionally. You can find it here.
I believe it's true that how we live our lives, especially when depression has not quite taken hold, can help us avoid the trap of falling into the hole. It would be interesting to hear how others feel about that. To what extent can we push depression away by our attitude and in how we spend our time?

And Emilija: Thank you for your comment as well. Yes, it is hard not to worry when your mood seems to slide, even slightly. I always talk about how we shouldn't be so fearful because fear just makes things worse. But how can you avoid it? I like your term "vigilance". Yes, it's not so much that we fear, we're just vigilant - and we need to be.

Thank you, too, Sarah. You are truly with me on the spiritual aspects of coping with this disease. It's good to have people having the same perspective on it as I do. We can encourage each other.

By the way, our attendance at Living Room was high for a summertime meeting. We had sixteen participants. Good thing we decided to meet through the summer.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Enough of that!

Enough talk about negative things that might be happening to my mood! I can't let a post like that stand alone, so I will talk about some neat things: things happening with our Living Room support group.

We have three members in our group who are keen about facilitating, each with a set of wonderful gifts. I'm excited about that - happy about that. Two have now received training from the Mood Disorders Association of BC. The other will take the next workshop when it comes up.

On August 10th I won't be able to be at the meeting, but one of these people will stand in for me, doing the devotional. A while back she wrote an inspiring story. She will read that story and use it as the basis for a discussion. The other two leaders will facilitate and help out with the lunch. Living Room will be in good hands.

The person who will do the devotional is eager to learn how to put more of them together and present them. This is neat. It's not something everyone would be interested in. Not only that. She would like to one day start her own group closer to where she lives. There is a need in the west part of Vancouver.

Tomorrow or the next day I will report on tomorrow's meeting. (I can hardly wait for it.) We're doing a session about sleeping problems. I will share with you something that might help, if getting to sleep is a problem you have.

Now - do I sound depressed? I don't think so.

About me and about Susan

I know it's not a good idea to panic when symptoms of depression first appear. After all, it may be just a glitch. Everyone has a bad day now and then. To fear being depressed could actually bring it on.

Yesterday - and a bit today (though the day is still young) - I've felt lost, lonely, bored. Is the problem that I've had so much excitement lately and I crave for that to continue? Is it that I haven't been creative enough lately and I crave to make something or to make something happen? Have I been somewhat hypomanic lately and not known it? My husband figures I have been.

All my projects are on hold. They are in others' hands, awaiting approval or editing or publishing. I don't feel like beginning another writing project while so much is in limbo. I feel that I don't have control over things right now. It's a bit frustrating.

Over the past forty years I have fought the onset of depression with new creative projects. Creativity certainly has to be a part of my life if I am to stay happy. Perhaps what I need to do today is to go back to some painting. I'm without a car all day and I know I'll get lonely. (How badly I need my friends!) Perhaps I'll walk to a friend's house later for a visit - break up the day a bit - get some exercise - do all the right things to stave off depression (just in case I am on the brink).

But here I am all self-consumed (another symptom of depression). I'm forgetting to thank all of you who prayed for my friend Susan. Having so many pray meant a lot to me, and even more to Susan. When I told her there would be many people praying for her she was very grateful - relieved to know that she would not be so alone in her battle. So THANK YOU ALL.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Please pray

I have a friend who badly needs prayer. She is carrying far too large a load of suffering for one person. My friend's name is Susan. She has been depressed for five years. No medications have helped her and even a series of 17 ECT's haven't helped. Every morning she wakes up feeling tormented and suicidal. The way she describes it to me sounds worse than what hell would be.

This morning, as we talked and prayed together, I deeply felt her pain. And later it occurred to me how wonderful it would be if a bunch of people could each take a bit of that pain - spread it around a bit - take a bit of that load off her. The Bible tells us to carry each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2). This is what followers of Christ should do. This is what Christ did for us.

And I wonder, if many prayed - with compassion and in sympathy with her suffering - would it be possible for the weight of her pain to be lessened? Believers would say that this is most definitely possible. With nothing else helping at this point, her only hope lies in this.

And so I want to ask all of you who believe in prayer, to please think of Susan and what she is going through and to pray that she will find healing. Please pray that she will be freed from this depression and that she will once more learn what life truly has to offer. Ask God to remove the ugly feelings and help her feel the love and peace he offers.

Please join me in this.

Monday, July 23, 2007


I don't normally like to discuss medications. For one thing, I don't understand them very well - after all, I'm not a doctor or pharmacist. Another thing, I find all those names and different uses confusing. My head was not built to collect that kind of information.

But today I did feel moved to ask some questions from you, my readers. Is anyone taking seroquel? And how has it been for you?

Reason is: I have a friend who is on it and complains about being suicidal in the morning. Later in the day is somewhat better. She has been trying to come off it, but without luck so far. She appears to be addicted.

Tonight I was talking to someone else who has the same complaints. Takes seroquel, is suicidal every morning, and better in the afternoon. He can't manage to come off it. He blames the medication. Before seroquel he was depressed, but the suicidal thoughts are new.

So, please tell me about seroquel.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pictorial interlude

It's time to turn our thoughts to something true and pure and lovely. "...if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8

A gift for you this Sabbath day. I hope this will make you smile.

With love to all my readers - marja

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Belief in demons still rampant (part two)

I guess I need to continue this discussion, though I'd rather leave it alone. Talking about these things that upset me is not good for my mood. I'd rather talk about positive things. The Bible says:

"...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." (Philippians 4:8)

That's excellent advice. I'd much rather do that. But when Christians say things that hurt other Christians, we need to speak up. We should not hide our head in the ground. So I must say just a few more things--things I read in Neil Anderson's The Bondage Breaker that I think are harmful and dangerous to many people suffering from mental illnesses.

The subtitle of the book describes in short what the book promises to help the reader do: Overcoming Negative Thoughts, Irrational Feelings, Habitual Sins. According to the book, the entire answer lies in our spirituality. There is no suggestion that these negative thoughts or irrational feelings could be due to medical causes requiring a doctor's care and medications. Anderson, and too many other evangelists, are in the dark about the cause of mental illnesses. Too many spiritualize all problems involving the mind.

According to Anderson, when we have emotional pain it is because--a person loses his freedom from Satan--"because you have failed to stand firm in the faith or you have disobeyed God" and "it is your responsibility to do whatever is necessary to establish a right relationship with God." He gives us seven steps to follow to recover freedom from Satan and demons.

I studied these steps with an open mind, very much wanting to find something to help my friend with the depression doctors had not been able to cure. I even mailed her the first two steps to try to follow. Over the phone I had her pray out loud one of the prayers he recommended. It did not feel good. I was sorry I'd done it. It felt too regimented--negative in its approach and not at all from the heart.

The book claims that "...if anyone in your family was involved (in cults, false religions, etc.)" you need to renounce them, just in case you unknowingly gave Satan a foothold. One young woman I counseled had simply ridden along while her mother visited a psychic, and the daughter walked out with her own spirit guide. (or demon)" This seems so far fetched to me. According to Anderson, this could be the reason for a person's emotional problems.

Yet he doesn't talk about the medical. He does not even touch on it. That's a very dangerous omission. A person reading this book would not even think about going for medical help and might think that doing so would be showing lack of faith. Christian friends encourage their depressed friends to throw away their pills...all they need is Jesus.

For a Christian to refuse medications for a mental illness is as bad as a Jehovah's witness turning down a blood transfusion. Lack of either of these treatments could cost a person his life.

Too many uninformed evangelists like Anderson--some quite influential--do not seem to understand that our minds are housed in an organ of the body, the brain. And when something goes wrong with this organ--in the same way things sometimes go wrong with other organs of our body--our thinking, moods, feelings, and behavior will be affected.

But Anderson believes this dysfunction is caused by demons, by Satan, by not being right with God.

This approach has hurt many mentally ill people, keeping them from going for medical help. They feel evil and ashamed. (Am I starting to repeat myself?)

I abandoned trying to help my friend using Anderson's seven steps. They felt ugly and counter-productive. I ended up praying with her that God's spirit would fill her so much that there would be no room left for evil. Praying for God's love to permeate us is so much simpler.

I realize there can be spiritual triggers for depression and other mental illnesses and spiritual ways of coping with them, but we need to balance treatment by looking at all the facets that make us what we are. We need to have a wholistic approach to our health. Focusing on Jesus and his love seems to me a far better way to fight Satan than to focus on what Satan is doing in our lives.

I want to share a story that Jumpinginpuddles wrote in her blog back in November. She tells of how the effort to exorcise demons from her to treat her multiple personality disorder affected her. This powerful story is an example of how a purely spiritual approach can harm rather than heal.

Now this is all the negative stuff I want to focus on for now. My next post will be on happier topics, I promise. Because the Bible tells us to "think about such things." And God IS good, and I'd rather talk about that.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

This is the day...

My favorite way to start off a day is by quoting a little line from Psalm 118:

"This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

It's 5:50 am and I'm thinking of how I would like to get past all this ugly stuff I've been talking about here: stuff about demons and harmful misunderstanding about us who live with mental illness. I very much feel I need to help educate - to set people straight. But I look forward to the time when I can start thinking about happy, positive things again. I don't like all this blaming and pointing fingers. I want to look at the good.

But I do need to say a few more things about what some people believe about demons, and I did promise a second part to my discussion on these things - a report about Neil Anderson's The Bondage Breaker.

But for now - for this moment in time - if you are reading this at the beginning of the day, I hope you will - with me - rejoice in this day the Lord has made. I hope you will have a happy day, seeing the good, doing what is good, remembering that the Bible says:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

This morning I'm praying for Dream Writer, Chica, Sarah, Susan, Sydney, Heather, Shebee, Chalexa, Desiree, Jane, Jessica, Janice, Jumpinginpuddles and all my other friends who might read this and are living with bipolar disorder or some other mental disorder. I pray that you will trust God to help you on the road to fulfilling the plans he has for you. I pray that you will believe that he can help you bring those plans to fruition. I pray that you will trust him to bring you through the tough times - that you will believe that those tough times will only make you stronger, as long as you hold on to your faith.

...and I pray that you will feel good about yourself, realizing that - even if so many in society do not understand what you face - God understands. And we can face this day, feeling good about who we are.

Maybe this post is a bit weird. I don't know. But I just needed to pass on something good instead of harping on the negative.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Victory over the darkness (part two)

I finished reading the book and still think it has serious problems and is a dangerous thing for Christians to be reading, especially Christians who want to be supportive of those suffering from depression and other mental illnesses.

Neil Anderson spiritualizes everything.

  • In one place he talks about a woman who had been hospitalized several times for paranoid schizophrenia. He claims that she was cured as a result of his counseling. There is no mention of whether she was on medication or not. If she was being treated for schizophrenia, I very much suspect she was. But Anderson makes us believe it was simply spiritual counseling from him that made her well.
  • In another place he relates the story of a man who had a breakdown and was committed to a mental hospital against his will by his parents. When he was released he carried on dialogue with voices in his head. Assuming the role of psychiatrist, Anderson claims the man's problem was due to his suppressing his emotions, not willing to admit that he was angry at his parents for having put him in hospital.
  • Anderson also says that we have the power to control what we think. When we think right, our emotions follow suit. But what if our brain isn't working the way it should? So many people, like him, believe that our mind is something that we can always control. They don't recognize that the mind is housed in an organ, our brain. Like other organs, things can go physically wrong with it, affecting our thinking, feelings, and behavior.
Neil Anderson has a lot of good things to say. It's only too bad that he doesn't look on our emotional and mental health in a wholistic way. Too bad that he tends to think that anything affecting our minds has a spiritual basis.

Did I already say that this kind of preaching is at the root of the harm Christians are doing to themselves (if they have a mental illness) and to their mentally ill friends? Thinking that mental illness is the result of spiritual problems adds to the shame and guilt people feel. The pain this causes is often worse than the pain caused by the symptoms of the disorder. And these people then do not go for medical help, believing that would be an expression of lack of faith - a further reason to feel guilt and shame.

So, if I were to speak in a balanced way about Neil Anderson's approach--trying not to fall into the same all-or-nothing trap that he is in--I believe his teachings on how to counsel people about some of their emotional problems are valuable. But if a person were going to follow these teachings, he would at the same time have to come to an understanding of what mental disorders are and the medical treatment needed. He would have to study information on depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses at the same time. Only then could he read this book and come to a responsible conclusion on what material to accept and what to reject.

It's time for Christians who are interested in helping friends with emotional problems (as so many are) to start reading other books - books that will give them some understanding of the medical issues.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Victory over the darkness

I will continue talking about Neil Anderson's The Bondage Breaker when I have finished reading Victory over the Darkness again.

I have read over half of this book and actually found a lot of good in it. Anderson describes how by living in the Spirit--living in Christ--we will be transformed to be the kind of person God intends us to be. We will experience peace and joy. This is true. I have found that to be true in my own life when I stay close to God. (though I still do experience a lot of depression and other mood swings in spite of it)

The biggest problem--a serious one--is its take on depression. Anderson does in one place on page 127 say "We can be depressed for biochemical reasons, but if there is no physical cause, then depression is often rooted in a sense of hopelessness or helplessness." The thing is--and he doesn't seem to be aware of this--a feeling of hopelessness is a symptom of clinical depression.

What angers me is this :

Anderson talks about the spiritual man as having "emotions characterized by peace and joy instead of turmoil." and for the Christian who does not walk by the Spirit: "...his emotions are plagued by negative feelings." He talks about depression as being present in those who do not walk with God. There is a distinct suggestion that depression is not possible within a person who is close to God.
It's this kind of preaching that is at the root of the extra suffering Christians with depression--as well as other mental illnesses--are made to undergo. This is why so many Christians tell their depressed friends that they're not right with God. This is why many Christians would not think of going for medical help. I had a psychologist call me a couple of months ago, wanting to know about Living Room. He wanted to tell his Christian clients about it because so many of them refused to take medication, believing their problems to be spiritual.
The awful thing about this is that Neil Anderson is so widely accepted and respected. A lot of damage has been done and is continuing to be done. Reading this book a couple of years ago was one of the things that prompted me to write my new, as yet unpublished book, A Firm Place to Stand. It was to counteract people like Neil Anderson.

I will continue to read on with an open mind, knowing that Neil Anderson does have a lot of wisdom to offer. I only wish he would have had some warnings about when a person should go for medical help--and that it's often necessary to fight depression with medication.

It's time, though, for Christian writers and pastors to become more fully aware of what mental illness is and what it can do to people. They need to learn how to encourage people to go for medical help instead of always assuming that their lack of spirituality is at fault.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Correction re demons

I should correct what I said below. It is the Bondage Breaker book that talks a lot about demons. Victory Over the Darkness is not so strong, though it does talk about Satan's influence on our emotional health. I am at this moment re-reading the latter. So far, not too bad.

Belief in demons still rampant (part one)

Are we fighting a losing battle? When are people going to get educated and understand truth...the truth as we understand it in this 21st century? When are "loving" Christians going to realize how much they are even further harming the hurting brothers and sisters in their midst? When are they going to seriously look to Christ as their example?

A couple of years ago someone tried to help me by giving me Neil Anderson's Victory Over the Darkness to read. Anderson is probably one of the most popular deliverance ministers today. Many Christians--including some from my own church--look up to him and listen to what he says about counseling people with emotional problems by delivering them from demonic influences. Deliverance ministers believe that it is demons that are behind our inability to stop certain sins. If we are to be emotionally well, we need to cast these demons out.

I read this book with great reservation. And the more I read, the angrier I became. Anderson blames all emotional problems on spiritual problems - on not being right with God. As I read, I thought of the many people with mental health issues who might have been given this book to read. There was nothing there to suggest that such illness might be caused by medical problems. If I was reading this before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I would for certain think that my symptoms were caused by demons.

Think of the damage this book may be causing people! Think of the number of people who would as a result not go to a doctor for help! Not only are these individuals suffering painful symptoms, they are also made to live thinking their unconfessed sins are making them sick or that they're possessed by demons.

I have a friend who has been deeply depressed for five years. Medications don't help and ECT's haven't helped. She often feels tormented. She tells me she feels like there is something evil inside her. She feels under attack.

With no other avenue open, and in an effort to help her, I decided to re-visit Neil Anderson's writing. "Perhaps there is something there that is true for her," I thought. "He's a Christian. Surely some of what he says might be useful." I decided to read another popular book of his: The Bondage Breaker: Overcoming Negative Thoughts, Irrational Feelings, Habitual Sins.

(to be continued)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Living room report

Living Room went well yesterday, even if there were only eight participants this time. Many were on holidays, or just feeling the summer laziness.

We focused on a poem written by one of our members.

Briefly, it's about a cracked vase that is threatening to break but looks beautiful as it tries to keep up a facade - not being real. Realness would mean pain; it would mean being broken and exposed. It would probably mean death (it thinks).
One day the vase falls and breaks. "Humbled, it is stripped of all its glamour; its realness is exposed." The Master Potter restores it, though it's a long, painful process. But in the end the vase becomes whole again, a new strength holding it together. The cracks don't disappear but there is a Light shining through the cracks. At last, the vase is real.

The discussion that followed was really neat. I think all of us could relate to that vase on some level. The Cracked Vase is a poem with amazing depth. I'm so glad this member brought it.

As we all know, so many of us with bipolar - and with unipolar depression as well - are creative. That's one of the things I value about living with this disease. I can see the talents emerging in our Living Room group and hope that more members will come forward with their poems, stories, songs and artwork. An idea I have on the backburner (w-a-y on the backburner) is to do a little book of things our members have done. One day perhaps we could produce something rich and beautiful like that.

The picture above has absolutely nothing to do with this post. But I think I will periodically (or maybe each time) post a picture with whatever I'm writing - just because I need to do something with all the pictures I have. And who doesn't like seeing pictures of little kids?

Thursday, July 12, 2007


The wonders of the internet! I was googling my name tonight and found out that my latest article, Mental Disorders: the Result of Sin?, has been translated into German and Spanish by a bipolar website. This is very exciting.

The editors were thrilled with the response this article got. There were 21 comments (4 of them my own). Some interesting stuff to read. Hope you'll have a look.

I'm working on some more articles for, and hope that these will also draw good interest. What a great way to get my message out to a Christian audience!

Tomorrow is a Living Room day and, as always, I look forward to our meeting. We're going to read and discuss one of our member's poem, The Cracked Vase. It's a wonderful piece about being real and has great depth. Don't know how many will come. So many are on holidays. We will set a smaller table - have a more intimate gathering.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What I wish my pastor knew...

...about bipolar disorder.

Yesterday someone googled the above and found my blog. I hope what you read was helpful. But I thought I would write on this to see if I can help more by letting you know roughly what I told my pastor when I first started coming to the church I'm now a happy member of.

My pastor has learned a lot because he has wanted to learn and has always listened with interest when I tried to teach him about my disorder. I'm very fortunate to have him in my life and he is a great supporter.

Soon after I started going to this church and had decided I wanted to keep going there, I went to see the pastor because I wanted to tell him about my disorder. I knew symptoms would come up that I would need support and prayer for. It was good insurance to make sure he was fully aware of what I was dealing with.

I told him how my moods are much more severe than the average person's, with my hand describing a slight wave for how the average person's moods are and then showing the roller coaster style fluctuations of moods I go through.

"These moods are caused by a physiological problem in my brain. I'm on medications for this and they help me lead a close-to-normal life. But even then, my moods can affect me, making my life very painful. The medications don't keep me well all the time and sometimes they need adjusting. My life has been very difficult (and I described some of my past). There will be times I'll need prayer. Since I became a Christian, life has been easier to deal with. I know I'm not alone when I suffer."

Because I've taken it on myself to try to reduce stigma in whatever ways I personally can, I told him about this and gave him a copy of my book, Riding the Roller Coaster.

Pastor Don then prayed with me, asking God to help him learn about bipolar disorder from me. And he has learned much about what I deal with. I often email him about things I'm going through and he has come to know me and my disorder very well. He has been very supportive. My faith-based support group, Living Room, would not be as successful as it is without his support for me. If only all pastors could have this kind of attitude!

Others in this church have also been very loving and supportive. One person in particular became a huge support for me - and mentor too. And there's another person who I call almost daily now. Gradually, many others in the congregation have come to know my story. Yet I feel accepted.

My biggest supporters have been those people who have taken the trouble to learn about bipolar disorder. They have asked me questions; they have a curiosity about how things are for me. They care enough to do all this. As a result, I've had the strength and encouragement to do much in what I care most about - raising awareness about mental illness. I've had people around me who want to learn and that is so very important. If it weren't for these people in my life, I don't know if I would have written the new book - one that still needs a publisher - A Firm Place to Stand. I know I would not have started Living Room. How important a caring church congregation is to how we survive...and thrive!

So many people in society are not willing to learn. How can we get through to them? How can we better educate people and remove the stigma that is so damaging? I would like others who struggle with mental illness to be able to find the kind of love and support I have.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Tonight I've been listening to what I used to call my darkroom music - music I used to listen to while I was making my black and white prints of children. And I'm feeling somewhat sad that those times seem to be past for me. The darkroom for sure is in the past, and I don't feel too sorry about that. I now use Photoshop. But the whole child photography thing, and making enlargements of the very best, I have had no time for in a long while...and I'm not sure I'll ever have time least not to do it as seriously as I used to.

I supposedly have a candid child photography business. I even have a website: But the work I've been doing in the field of mental health has taken over. It seems so much more important than taking pictures. And yet tonight, as I listen to Cat Stevens and Roger Whittaker, I feel sad. I feel that I've left something behind that was always important to me.

I was so serious about this candid photography that I wrote a book about it - at least it was about 2/3 done. I even had a big New York publisher interested. The only catch was that we had to try to package it for the professional market since those were the only photo books that were making money for them. We couldn't at the time think of a way to do it. But this publisher was seriously interested in my work.

Now I console myself by thinking that at least photography is something I could do when I get to heaven. I sometimes think about heaven and hope that there would be challenges there - good things to do. I wouldn't want to get bored. Heaven would be no fun without work to do. I'm not very good at doing nothing.

Taking care of the stigma of mental illness would not be necessary in heaven. Heaven would be the most splendid place to be creative, with no strings attached. I wouldn't have to make money at it. I wouldn't have to please judges in photo competitions. There would be time galore to play at making beautiful pictures, pictures that tell stories about who I am and who I was. And I would paint. Perhaps I could paint alongside my father, a man who made many paintings while he was alive. He could give me some lessons. I could get to know him better than I did while he lived. We had never talked much, though I loved him very much.

But I must stop this now. It WAS good to share this stuff with you though, whoever might be reading this. And I hope in the next while to share some of my photographs with you. Because photographs hidden in drawers or in computer hard drives don't do anyone any good. I hope what I show you will give you some pleasure.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The gifts of bipolar disorder

Having bipolar disorder isn't all bad, especially when you are fortunate enough to have medications that work for you. This illness has been with me since I was nineteen years old and I am now 61. I couldn't imagine being a regular person - a person without a mental disorder. Seems to me that might be quite boring.

I've come to accept the way God, the great potter, made me. I've learned to make my disorder work for me rather than against me. Today I look on my bipolar disorder as a gift, a gift with many benefits.

I'd like to share with you fifteen things I value about this life with bipolar disorder. (it's possible someone else may already have done this but I'm not sure.) I like being bipolar because:
  1. I experience a wide range of emotions. While often painful, it provides a richness. I feel so very human.
  2. I can be unbelievably creative
  3. when I'm not depressed, I usually have lots of energy and accomplish a lot
  4. I have learned a language many don't have access to: the language of suffering. This helps me understand and connect with many people. I know how to help others.
  5. I consider King David a brother who I can relate to. His Psalms touch me deeply.
  6. I love people so very much: another product of strong emotion. It's beautiful.
  7. my suffering has taught me to value the good times and make the most of them
  8. my experience with depression, mania, and psychosis has helped me learn to be strong
  9. the pain I have suffered has been like a fire as it refines metals. It has built my character.
  10. I have learned to have compassion for others because I know what it is to go through rough times
  11. it has taught me humility
  12. it has taught me gratitude for all that is good in my life. I don't take anything for granted.
  13. it helped me turn to God, knowing I could not survive under my own willpower
  14. it encouraged me to have a faith that has transformed my life
  15. it makes each day an exciting adventure.
God IS good and I thank him.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Just wanted to share a couple of pictures I shot in the Chilcotin - taken during the few times I had my camera out. I like photographing weeds almost as much as I like garden flowers, especially when they seem to tell a story. My favorite here is the spent dandelion. I can relate.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Back at last

We've been back for several days from our fishing trip, but I only had a chance to get back to blogging tonight. So much to share! Pictures, news, thoughts.

This is a picture of my husband and best friend Wes with two of the 16 trout he caught. Actually he caught a lot more but let many go. We ate six and brought ten home, enough to share with friends.

I had a glorious time looking out over the various lakes we camped at, listening to the loons, reading, and working on the manual for prospective new Living Room facilitators. These manuals are going to be such a good tool to get new groups started. I'm thankful to my friend Helen for helping me come up with the idea of putting these together.

My article, Mental Disorders: the Result of Sin? has received tremendous response. It's obvious that Christians have a need to discuss mental health issues in a Christian forum that will not be judgemental. This article is allowing this to happen. The website is making such a forum possible for them. I'm thrilled and so is the editor. He has asked me to come up with a follow-up article.

I will soon take some time to catch up with all of your blogs. I will probably have a lot of reading and responding to do. But first I have to sit down and pay some bills and then to bed. Will "see" you all tomorrow.

I hope everyone is well.