Saturday, May 30, 2009

Walking on water

Still struggling, but working on getting away for a week's holiday. Time away from responsibilities - time with my husband - time to focus on books - perhaps a bit of knitting.

Starting on June 19th Living Roomers are going to have an opportunity to take part in a Bible study by John Ortberg with the title - "If you want to walk on water you've got to get out of the boat." It is based on the story of Peter leaving his boat in the midst of a storm and walking on water to meet Jesus. What does this story mean for us?

"Walking on water means
- facing your fears and choosing not to let fear have the last word
- discovering and embracing the unique calling of God on your life
- experiencing the power of God to accomplish what you would not be capable of doing on your own."

I've been doing some cheating - reading Ortberg's book to become familiar with what we will study. And I can see how what he says applies to my life right now.

The depression I've been caught in is like my boat - in a stormy sea, scary, feeling like I could sink anytime - without God, relying on myself. But Jesus is waiting for me out on those waves, waiting for me to have the courage and to put forth the effort to meet him and to trust him. I need to leave this boat. I need to want to leave this boat. I need to trust that God is waiting for me to walk to him in faith.

Studying this book is encouraging me.

This will be my last post until I get back in a week.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The importance of purpose

After a couple of days of sleeping through most of the day, and after a full night's sleep last night, I awoke this morning feeling more positive. I feel ready to start rebuilding. And I am grateful that God has brought me to this place this morning. Were the many hours of sleep God's gift to me, helping me through a difficult time? Perhaps.

A few minutes ago, I watched my cat as he washed himself in a shaft of warm sunshine streaming through the window. And it occurred to me how we humans need so much more than animals do. Animals are content with eating and sleeping. They don't seem to need much else in the way of purpose. But we humans require more than that to be complete. We need a reason to live - a reason that goes beyond acquiring food and rest for ourselves. Without such a purpose life seems meaningless. And when we're depressed and it becomes difficult to pursue a meaningful purpose, we often get so we don't want to live anymore. Lying in the sunshine is not enough to keep us happy.

At the last Living Room meeting two people who were living with depression complained about the lack of purpose they were experiencing. Purpose was what they needed more than anything. How they wished for a reason to get up in the morning! How they wished for something that would give them an appetite for life!

It struck me how this is what we most need help with when we're depressed. How can we help each other find meaning?

In the throes of a black mood, I had breakfast with a good friend yesterday. She ended up our time together asking me what I would do the rest of the day. She asked me to commit myself to filling the dishwasher and getting it going and also to emptying my clothes dryer which had been waiting for my attention for a number of days. She gave me these two items to give some purpose to my day. Something manageable. It occurs to me that this is one of the best things a friend can do for a depressed friend. This helped me find a purpose for that one day. It wasn't much, but it was something I was capable of trying for. No more was required of me for this one day.

Today I feel up to more. I will empty the clothes dryer (which I didn't manage to do yesterday) and I will do more. My dear, patient husband has offered to support me as I catch up on some things I need to do. I will make a list, a simple one for now. And I will putter, thanking God for this better day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

To live with hope

I haven't found the stability that I had hoped for. Am once more on a downward spiral and it gets quite tiresome. Every time I find some hope, I fall down again. One step forward and two steps back.

And although I know my problem is medical, I also know that spiritually I'm not in a good place.

The beginning of Living Room and the growth of it was God's doing. All I had to do was to be God's voice, hands and feet. I was just a little foot soldier, following along. And that's what made it successful. The sense of failure I now have I can tell is simply because I'm looking at Living Room as "my" work and not "God's" work. I feel I'm not wise enough or strong enough to carry it. If I were in the right place spiritually, I would not feel this way. I would rest in God. I would let Him do His thing and follow along - trusting.

I pray today that I will learn to trust God more. I pray that I would look to God for strength and not to myself.

On June 19th we're starting a Bible study for Living Roomers called, "If you want to walk on water you've got to get out of the boat." Peter got out of the boat to walk to Jesus. But when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves, he began to sink. He thought in terms of what "he" was capable of on his own. He looked to himself.

I've been taking my eyes off Jesus. Looking at my own lack of wisdom and strength, as though that's what it's about - as though that's what I had to depend on. Yet that's not what it's about at all. It's not about me and what I can do. It's all about God and what God can do. I can do nothing without God.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A smaller cocktail

I saw my pdoc yesterday and he has reduced my medication cocktail - taken me off two meds. I've been having huge tremor issues (very embarrassing) and trouble with short-term memory. Now I'm only on four meds, much better than six.

Trouble is, I woke up at 3am and couldn't sleep again.

The flupenthixol I take as an anti-psychotic is a stimulant and it's now making me feel like my old self. Happy and energetic. It feels very good. And my tremors are not bothering me as much.

Now all I need to worry about is getting enough sleep.

Nevertheless, I love this up feeling. I should be able to accomplish a lot.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The ride for mental health

Yesterday was a big day for Mel Thomson, the man who is going to cross Canada to raise awareness about mental health and raise funds to help people with mental illness. I'm excited about this and will be following him over the next 100 days. Please check out his blog . Thanks to the internet we can follow him and send words of encouragement. Let's cheer him on. He has many hills ahead of him, much tough riding. But knowing there are people to cheer him on will really help.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Meds kicking in?

I'm so pleased. Today I actually seemed to feel more like my old self - a self I had not felt in quite awhile. It's probably because I've gone back to my old treatment regime - to the cocktail that worked so well for me in the past. My pdoc said it would take a couple of weeks to kick in and I think it's starting to do that now.

How wonderful it would be if I could stay like this for awhile! I'd be able to accomplish so much more. I'd smile a lot more. I pray that I will now have turned around - back to a more stable me.

Tomorrow we're going to Saltspring Island to visit my sister. We'll be back on Monday. Hope the weather will be good.

And I hope the sun will shine on you too, wherever you might be.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mental health and churches

There is a relatively new website called Hope and Healing. It features many different articles on faith and health. Today there is a wonderful interview there with the author of Darkness my Only Companion, Kathryn Green-McCreight, a priest who has suffered with depression. She gives some very good pointers on what congregations can do for their members who have mental illness. She also talks about what we can do for the family of a suicide victim.

Another article on their home page is an excerpt from my book, A Firm Place to Stand. In Misconceptions I talk about how people with bipolar disorder and depression are misunderstood by family and friends.

Good reading for Christians who want to know how to be supportive to their friends with depression.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Building - carving

I was thinking tonight of how much I love to make things happen. To build something that hasn't been built before. To carve something beautiful.

And I'm thinking, I AM building something. I AM carving something. And if I can keep my mood up like it is tonight, it WILL be beautiful.

I completed a Living Room brochure and have high hopes for it doing a lot of good. So many places we could put it. So informative it would be for people wanting to know more.

Now I just have to find a way of printing it. It's in colour and I realized today it would cost a fortune to print. Like 65 - 70 cents a piece!!! What did I do designing such a thing? Why didn't I think of printing costs? Uggh!

But I will find a way, even if I have to print them all myself, using my printer at home - s-l-o-w.

I've been stable for several days now and I'm hoping I'll stay here for awhile now. I want to keep building and carving and shaping. How much difference a good mood can make to one's life!!!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

An up day

I can't let a post like yesterday's stand, not when I'm feeling better, as I am today. So please don't worry about me - not today.

I read a couple of emails I sent to friends yesterday when I was in the depths and can't believe that was only yesterday morning. I feel so far removed from those feelings now. What a crazy illness this is!

Today I saw my pdoc and I'm happy he's putting me back on the medication cocktail I was on when I was doing much better, several months ago. During those times I had been so stable with only occasional depression - maybe two biggish ones a year. It will be so good to get back to that more stable me again. I'm feeling very hopeful tonight.

I spent this morning creating a Living Room pamphlet, something we so very much need to tell people what our support groups are all about. Accomplishing that was in itself an encouragement - a mood booster. In fact, I feel hugely good about it!

Tomorrow we'll have Bible study at my house so my next goal is to do some cleaning. I'm not very good at housework but having company is a great incentive. So I guess I'd better draw this post to a close and do some "real" work.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Changing gears

I've been experiencing a long series of mixed moods. This has gone on for weeks now and I'm getting pretty tired of it. Feeling okay for one or two days, then feeling down for a couple of days. Those mini depressed episodes can bring me down seriously low. I'm finding I constantly have to change gears.

I'm trying to do some positive things - some creative projects - hoping to boost my mood, hoping to reactivate me. Better than just lying around, I suppose, but so far it hasn't worked too well.

Today was a down day and as I look at all the things I'm committed to this week, I'm feeling worried I won't be able to handle them all. Not unless I can wake up in a better mood tomorrow. I have to pray for an up day tomorrow.

Too often I feel like withdrawing from everything, just hiding or disappearing altogether. Can't see how I can do all that's on my plate.

My negative thinking is affecting me bigtime. That's probably the worst of it. I struggle to hang onto my faith. I question my worth. I question whether God can still use me.

My pastor pointed out Psalm 42 and 43 to me this morning and they're an encouragement. At the end of each, David wrote:
"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."

And as I go through my depressed periods, I need to say to God: "...and yet I will praise you, my God and Savior."

Tomorrow I'll see my pdoc. See what he can do to help me.

In the meantime I need to give myself into God's hands and trust Him.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Hawaiian fruit salad

Thank you Di and Wendy for sharing recipes for the booklet I'm planning. They really encouraged me to carry on with this project - a collection of Up Recipes for Down Times.

Just to inspire you a bit further and to hopefully draw some more recipes, I'll share another that I'm planning to use for the booklet. This is a refreshing dessert salad that is very simple to prepare, yet good enough for company.

Hawaiian Fruit Salad

1 pint fresh strawberries, halved
14 oz can pineapple chunks
2 bananas, sliced
1/4 cup flaked or shredded coconut

Drain pineapple, reserving 1/3 cup of juice.
Prepare fruits and combine with juice in a serving dish.
Sprinkle coconut over top.

Any more recipes? P-l-e-a-s-e?