Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Roller coaster ride

King David wrote "When I felt secure, I said, 'I will never be shaken' ...O Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed." (Psalm 30:6-7)

He must have been bipolar, don't you think? He knew exactly what it feels like to be doing really well and think your bipolar illness is totally under control, depression never to bother you again - and then to have it hit again. So unthinkable when things are good to believe it can happen again. But bipolar disease does not go away and we are bound to be affected again and again, no matter how good our medications and how balanced a lifestyle we lead. No matter how good our coping skills are.

My life has been like a roller coaster ride over the past few weeks. Not standing in a firm place at all. But it's not terrible either. I surface and do well in between the days of depression. Yet it doesn't take much to trigger the tears.

Nevertheless, I do sense God with me, even in the tears. And yesterday evening, wonder of wonders, after a bad day I was able to do a presentation, speaking very eagerly about Living Room to representatives from several churches. I wanted so much to have them learn about what they can do to support people with mood disorders. Nothing was going to hold me back. No one would have guessed I was in the middle of a depression.

Today has been a good day. Visited Mom (what a delight) and got a tiny start at packing up her things in the apartment. Tomorrow and Thursday I will be attending the 13th Annual Cross-Cultural Mental Health Symposium on Spirituality and Well Being at Simon Fraser University. I'm very excited about this. It should be a healthy way to get me out of the ruminating I've been doing.

Some of the topics:
  • The Vital Importance of Spirituality in Medicine
  • A Spirituality and End of Life Panel Discussion
  • Mindfulness, Meditation and Healing: Experiential Workshop
  • The God-Shaped Void: Spirituality and Addictions
  • Twelve Step Programs: Spiritual Awakening and the Path of Recovery
  • ...and lots more.
I look forward to this opportunity to learn and be inspired.

"For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thank God!

I'm feeling much better this morning. Living Room always does that for me. It's healing.

Yesterday we talked about being in the company of Jesus and what that means. Is being in company with Jesus enough? Or do we need people around us to show us Jesus' love in order to truly feel it? I'm not sure I got across what I really wanted to. Don't know how the session went down with people.

When I asked for hands to see where people were moodwise, about half put up their hands for feeling down. I just hope that our discussion helped somehow. I hope it didn't hinder.

One thing I tried to bring out was that what we need is not just the receiving of love. Just as much we need to give love - to share God's love with others. In that giving we receive as well. We are blessed when we give. Did I get that across? I hope so.

When we live with love and compassion in our hearts, God is in that. We are then walking with God. We are in the company of Jesus. I do believe Jesus was with us yesterday, sitting at the table with us, in company with us, helping us with our discussion.

There are so many ways to cope with depression. But although showing our love to each other must be one of the greatest, I seldom see that in lists of coping skills. Why not?

In the sharing time we had the opportunity to share God's love with each other - to listen to each other with compassion - to show we cared. This is what filled me with the peace I went home with. It's this that helped me wake up feeling better today. I feel blessed. I feel God was with us.

I hope the others went home feeling similarly blessed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In the company of Jesus

I've been waking up sad every morning lately. Spending time with God in sadness. And I wish it were enough for me to simply sit and be in the company of Jesus for comfort. But I so often want to reach out to friends when I feel like this. God, who I know loves me and who I know should be enough, isn't enough at times like this. I want to talk to people. And so I now reach out to my blogging pals.

Having Mom in limbo like this, waiting for a nursing home, not knowing if a good one will come along, is hard. Time in hospital moves slowly for her and I know I need to visit her often to keep her spirits up. Can't phone her and I miss doing that. Visiting her means a 45-minute drive each way.

Living Room is coming up in two days and I've so wanted to talk on the topic of being in the company of Jesus. I want to talk about how He is real and with us and we can talk to Him, our Friend. And I do feel Him with me, but I wish that were enough.

Yet you know, I think sharing this with you is a good thing. I do feel Jesus close and feel Him closer in the sharing of Him with others. You, my blogging pals and Him, together with me. My support from above and below. I need both. In the reaching out to you here, I am reaching out to Him. That's how love works, isn't it? That's how God works.

It has given me comfort sharing this with you today, though I've sat with tears in my eyes, something that doesn't happen to me very often. Maybe a good thing. Good to be real. Good to feel. Good to be human.

Please help me pray that a good home will come available to my mom soon. Please pray that I will stay strong.

I do feel I'm in the company of Jesus, even in my sadness. And that gives me comfort.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Coulda' cried

Yesterday my husband and I were sent to look at a home that had offered my mother a bed. When we saw it I could have cried to think of my mother in a place like that. I could not imagine her there. It was awful - worse than living in a mental hospital in the sixties was for me.

The policy is that, because she is in an acute care facility where beds are needed for others, we need to take the first available bed. However, if we have good reasons to refuse a bed that comes along we have a right to do so. Yesterday we had good reason.

Susan commented on my last post about how emotionally and physically draining the process of moving your mother into a care facility can be. I'm already starting to feel that. And although I'm getting emotional support from my sisters and friends, I'm mostly alone in handling all this.

These days I'm trying to commit to as little as possible, though it's hard. When you leave too much time free, you only tend to stew about things. At times like this it's good to stay busy with things to take your mind off worrying.

I'm glad I've got Living Room and its people to focus on. This group is a comfort to me, especially the preparation of devotional material for the upcoming meeting this Friday. So often what I am personally going through and what I learn from it provides fodder and inspiration for things to share. How am I seeing God in all this? What is He revealing to me? How can we all find God when we face troubles? How can our faith help us cope?

If you pray, could you please remember my mom, Helena, and ask God for a good home for her, a place where she will be happy?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A day to putter

I'm looking forward to this day. Nothing big planned - a day to get little bits of work done - get little bits of reading in.

I've had such a hard time lately doing the things I need to do to tidy up my house. Today I will try to get at it. I have no big commitments; I have freedom to spend this day in the way I wish. Such a wonderful thing!

Yesterday I ordered some books off Amazon, some books I really thirst to read. I still have some books lying around here that I want to read too. Such a treasure to have so many authors, led by God, to share their thoughts and help us, the readers, grow and learn.

So today I will do some much needed work and alternate the work with reading - reward my work with periods of reading. Good plan, don't you think?

My mom is doing well and ready to move into a nursing home. Amazingly some beds are freeing up here in my own community. If all goes well and she is accepted at one of these places she will be much closer to me and I'll be able to visit often. What a blessing that will be!

But I'll need to be prepared to drop everything when a bed is found. Will have to move some of her things in quickly and make the room homey with lots of her favourite things. Then move her in and get her settled. Then I will have the month of November to empty her apartment. What a job that will be! What to do with all her furnishings and all the stuff she's collected over the years? There will be nothing straight forward about that. And what will make the job even more difficult is that her apartment is a 45 minute drive away from me. I will have to be well organized.

But today I will enjoy the peace and pleasure of doing things for myself.

"This is the day the Lord has made..."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Coming together

Thank you, Immi and PJ, for your prayers and encouragement. This morning is much better. I look forward to cooking, cleaning, and preparing for Bible study.

I visited Mom yesterday and she too was doing better - less confused and physically improved. I had a meeting with the social worker and we discussed how she has been over the past while - how she had managed with independent living and where she's at now. Our conclusion was that she should probably go into a nursing home. But we'll wait until she recovers more before making the final decision. My hopes and prayers are that she'll be closer to where I live - much closer.

Neat thing about Mom though is that she's still in good spirits. She even laughs a fair amount. Wouldn't it be great if that continued? Visiting means a good time for both of us.

I'm sorry I've been complaining so much in this blog. But when you have bipolar disorder, off days are worrisome, aren't they? You wonder if it's the beginning of something more severe. You wonder if you're going to be able to meet your commitments. And it's such a relief when you wake up feeling better, as I am today.

"This is the day the Lord has made..." And I'm thankful.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I feel wired this morning. Had only one cup of caffeine and that did it for me. Why? I can usually drink three big mugs before that happens. I don't like this feeling. It's not the kind of peace I wish for in the early morning.

I had a good day yesterday. Felt good motivation. Yesterday followed on the heels of a wonderful Sunday: a spirit filled church service, a visit with Mom, and turkey dinner at a friend's house. Sunday was healing for me.

I pray that today will be a good day. Have been praying a lot this morning. Just wish I could feel more at peace. Wish my mood could be more stable.

Mom is not doing well at all and I know a lot of my unsettled feelings come from my concern about her. She's still in the hospital and I need to visit her often, though it's hard. She's so far away. We found out that she had a heart attack. She must also have had some small strokes. Her ability to remember things are zilch. When we tell her something, she forgets one minute later. I'm not exaggerating. She asks the same questions over and over. We answer and a minute later she asks the same question again. Today she will get an assessment to see what level of care she'll need. I pray we will find a good way of having her looked after.

So...yesterday I felt motivated. This morning it's an effort getting going. Perhaps a good workout at Curves will help...if I could just get myself dressed.

But now I must move. I must put one foot in front of the other.

"This is the day the Lord has made..."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A need to move

Living Room was wonderful yesterday, yet I was worried about myself going into it. Wondered if I could carry out the leading the way I needed to. Life has been so very complex, especially with my mother sick. We found out she'd had a heart attack. She will be in hospital a little while and how she will cope when she gets out is uncertain.

Before Living Room, I prayed hard, my friend Helen prayed with me, I solicited prayer from my pastor, and Janice, my co-facilitator and I prayed before the meeting. The complexities of my life have caused me to let a lot of little things go - some of them important little things. So I was worried about how I'd handle the devotional time yesterday. I feel somewhat disorganized. Yet I wouldn't say I'm depressed. I'm not down....I don't think.

God came through 100% yesterday. The meeting proved that God is real and that He'll show up when you ask Him to - and that He'll be there to strengthen you. Mostly leading Living Room is about sharing God's love and I was - in spite of all - able to do that - fully eager to do that.

We ended our devotional time yesterday with this piece of Scripture from the Message:

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.

That's so true!! All I had to do yesterday was to love people with the love God gave me to give. And the atmosphere was joyous. We were totally happy and "together." And that's the main thing, isn't it? The devotional went off fine.

But today I'm having trouble getting myself moving. It will be an effort to put one foot ahead of the other, to do the laundry - perhaps go to Curves. Then this afternoon I need to go and see Mom. Yet it all seems like an awful lot of effort. Dear God, please let this not be the beginning of a down swing.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


I feel a bit like a nun - have felt like that for quite awhile now - tied to the work I do, paying little attention to the world around me. I never watch TV. Don't keep track of the news - not via radio, TV, or newspaper. There's an election coming up and I don't have a clue who to vote for. After 36 years as a serious photographer, I've cut photography out of my life. So glad about that, even if it had always given me such joy.

My friends and my church are very important to me though. They're my support system and I stay in close touch with them. Unfortunately, my contact with blogging buddies is slipping. I feel bad about that.

There are just so very many things at me and I think that letting so many things slip away is my way of coping. Because I am coping. Though I have so many things going on, I don't feel stressed. I've learned to deal with one little thing at a time, shutting everything else out...things like cleaning up the kitchen, planning meals, paying bills...opening mail, for that matter :) I'm finding it's becoming more and more important to write down every little thing I need to do. If I didn't I'm sure I would forget important commitments.

Now I'm up against something else: My mom is in poor shape. She is terribly confused and sleeping most of the time. I'm so happy that I was able to arrange for health support workers to come in and check on her morning and evening. Even then, I had a call this morning that she had - in her confusion - taken all today's pills yesterday. Was that why she was too weak to even have a shower this morning? I'm sure someone will now administer her medications.

What really makes me sad is that Mom is starting to live in the past. My sister visited today and Mom said how much she misses the family. She asked for my dad who died years ago. She's so dreadfully confused. Feeling alone. I want to love her like a mother loves her young child.

Yet Living Room is coming up this Friday and I'm looking forward to it. We will talk about relationship with God, drawing from The Shack and Philippians 2:1-8 for inspiration. If it weren't for Living Room and what it means to me, would I be coping as well as I am?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Meeting God at the shack

I am doing better - not bad at all. And I think part of what has colored my world in the last few days is The Shack by William P. Young. This book intrigued me because it's a Christian book that made it as a #1 New York Times Bestseller. I wanted to see what it was that drew such a large readership. Last night I finished reading it and today I feel like I want to start reading it all over again. It's so rich!

This fictional story illustrates so well what God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are like. It describes their character so well. And it shows not only how much God loves us but how we can have a relationship with Him. This book has touched me deeply. It has given me hope for myself and for the many who have been reading it. Hope also for the many lives these readers touch, because it's through learning how to have a better relationship with God that we can have a better relationship with everyone in our lives.

I feel like I've grown spiritually through the reading of this book. And I pray that God will help me hang on to this change for the better. I pray that God will help me stay closer to Him, as I do this morning.

Saruya, the character that portrays the Holy Spirit part of God says, "...you will hear and see me in the Bible in fresh ways. Just don't look for rules and principles; look for relationship - a way of coming to be with us." In meeting God along with the main character, Mackenzie, I have learned to look at Him in a clearer way.

At Living Room I've always considered my biggest job to be helping members come to understand how much God loves them. Now I want to go a step further and help them learn to have a closer relationship with Him. I want to help them understand what God is really like.

I wish I had the time to tell you a lot more about The Shack. I feel that what I've shared here is terribly inadequate as a description. But you will have to read it for yourself. Eugene Peterson said this: "This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good."

My mom was admitted to hospital yesterday, badly confused. I will be visiting her this morning. Please pray that she will get the kind of care she needs. Please pray that she will not be too anxious.