Thursday, October 29, 2009

Feeling better

I'm feeling more normal today. Not so tired. More stable, even though somewhat at loose ends. Maybe all this fear I felt was for naught.

I can see, though, that I need to have something else now to focus on, something else besides Living Room. I've done such a lot of photography lately, and feel a need to let that rest for awhile. Maybe I will try to do some drawing again.

Although I had a meeting that took up the whole morning, the afternoon lacked a defined purpose. And that tends to be how it is now, no longer having that big purposeful creative focus of the photography and the open house to prepare for.

I've started reading Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro. Just the book I need to help me learn how to prevent burnout and help me deal with my too-much-of-everything life. I so need to build balance into my life and not overdo. And over the past little while I know I've been over-doing. Thus the threat of a crash.

I know many of you have been praying for me and I thank you for that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Can you blame me?

I've been worried about myself. Scared. And I'm trying to deal with this fear, because I know it doesn't accomplish anything. In fact, it will make things worse.

I've been worried that depression is round the corner for me again. And can you blame me? When I think of what I went through last year - six months of it! And when I see what some of my Living Room friends are going through...It's a scary thing and, with my disorder, is bound to return over and over again.

I pray to God that he will help me through this time of exhaustion and keep me afloat. I pray that he will help me trust in him, that he will help me remember that he is there and I don't need to fear. Trust. Please, God, let me trust.

Depression: so real, yet so unfathomable when you're doing well. So unfathomable to people who've never experienced it. Yet such a horrendously awful thing.

I place myself in your hands God. To keep and to do your will. Able to do your will.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weary and empty

I feel that I've poured myself out in every which way I could over the past while. I've poured myself into creating photographic items, poured myself into Living Room, poured myself into the support of people in trouble, poured myself and everything I had into the showing of my work and the party. I've had two sleeps since the party and I still feel tired. Worn out.

I can see that I'm going to have to work at not crashing. This morning I did not feel I could do anything, other than the laundry. Then I caught myself just sitting and thinking, about nothing much in particular. It was a dangerous place to be. If I let that happen for too long I might very well find myself caught in depression. It has happened many times like that before.

So I decided to go to Curves for a workout. It took some doing to get me out the door, but eventually I did go. It did me a world of good.

In the afternoon I had a couple of appointments and in the evening I visited a friend in hospital. I got through the day fine.

I think I'll try to get to Curves every day for the next while until I've passed the danger point.

Some exciting news is that Living Room is going to have a 4 foot high 8 foot wide poster at the Into the Light: Transforming Mental Health in Canada conference at the end of November. We will have a chance to interact with conference attendees and tell them about Living Room.

I'm awaiting delivery of a book I very much need to read right now: Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordero. I'm ready for a good serious read right about now. Actually, it's about renewing your passion. I don't think I've lost that, yet it would be a good read, I'm sure.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This is the day...

Just killing some time before it's time to go to church. Just trying to relax a bit. I spent the morning doing as much as I could to get ready for the open house. I'll do the very very last minute stuff when I get home from church. My friend will be coming to help with the final set-up: slicing the cheese and sausage, making the punch, putting the coffee on, etc.

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

This is the day I've been preparing for during the last couple of months and now it's here. I'm very excited, even a bit nervous, though I shouldn't be. I'm getting lots of support. One friend greeting, two friends making sure the table stays supplied with food, and my husband his friend looking after the cash. I'll be free to float around, talking to people, introducing people.

I pray everyone who comes will sense God's presence. I pray that they will feel welcome and want to stay for awhile to visit. And I pray that I will sell lots of stuff, that we will have lots to donate to our church's Connections Coffee House. It will be such fun to see how people respond to the pictures I've been working on.

One thing I thought about: Here is something I'm doing that is in no way connected to mental health work. So many people at church think of me only in that way. They think of what I do with Living Room. Now they will see another side of me.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The eleventh hour

Well, the open house is almost upon me. Today I will do all the last minute things. The last minute shopping. Setting up all the stuff I'm selling. I'd like to do as much as possible so I'll be able to go to church tomorrow. No reason I can't, I figure.

This has been a busy week, with lots of mental health work to do: a heavy Living Room session yesterday (though a good one too). A friend ending up in hospital. Lots of time spent in support of people.

So good to have this happy occasion on Sunday to balance things out. Even though it too is stressful and a very lot of work, it's all good stuff.

I'm coming to see that we can deal with quite a bit of stress, as long as there's a balance between good stress and bad stress. They tend to cancel each other out. Don't you think?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Very early in the morning for me to write a post. But when you're moved to do it, you must move, mustn't you? Don't hesitate. Just do.

My house smells like Christmas, the wonderful aroma of cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, all mixed together. I made my speculaas last night, a Dutch Christmas cookie that I always make at Christmas time. I'm getting in the mood early. My open house is definitely going to be the pre-Christmassy party I wanted it to be. A few days ago I made shortbread cookies, another one of my Christmas traditions.

This morning my thoughts have been turning, as they have quite often lately, to what I'm going to do after this open house. Yes, I've got Living Room work to do. But what am I going to do that's creative? What am I going to do to balance my life so I'm not just doing mental health work?

I've also been thinking of how I will make Christmas the happy experience it should be. How am I going to avoid depression this year? And the answer I've come up with is that I need to think creatively about what I can give. What can I do to give to others to make their life better? If I can stop thinking about what Christmas will do to me and think of it as an opportunity to creatively give in some way, I think it will be more than bearable. In fact, I will love it.

My prayers have been full this morning of requests to God to lead me into a creatively lived Christmas season - a wanting to do good things, not feeling I have to live up to certain standards. A looking forward to...not a dreading. I'm grateful for the good mood I have now and pray that it will continue. And prayer does help, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 18, 2009


No, I didn't fall off the end of the earth. I'm here, just my emails weren't getting to me.

I'm sorry to everyone who left a comment going as far back as last Tuesday. I just discovered the emails to my blogger account were not coming in. Don't know how it happened. Something got shifted along the way.

The root of sin

Our guest speaker at church today was David Collins. He talked about the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, pointing out that the sins they committed were symptoms, they're not the root of it. At the root was something else. Quoting Ezekiel 16:49:
"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughthers were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things."

It was the arrogance and lack of compassion that was at the basis of it all. That was the sin. And we've all committed the identical root sin.

It happens when we think we're better than others or that we deserve more than others. It happens when we're angry at a person and not their behaviour. When we are, David Collins said, we're actually thinking that we're better than them.

The story he used to illustrate these points was the story of the prostitute who wept at Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair and kissed them, then poured perfume on them. Jesus was at the home of Simon, one of the Pharisees, when she did so. The Pharisee was disgusted, after all, this was a sinful, lowly prostitute. But Jesus said to him:
"Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

All this made me think once more how we need to try to put ourselves in the shoes of others. This is something I very much need to do in my work with Living Room. I need to remember what it was like for me to be depressed and unable to function well. Or what it was like to want to die. Or what it was like to need for someone to understand me. Actually, it's not too hard for me to do that, since I have experienced the pain of depression so often myself. Kind of a gift, isn't it, to be able to understand others who suffer? And I need to continue to be there for people who need me, to the best of my ability.

God has shown me his love again and again, through friends and through rescuing me from darkness. May I share that love with others.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Call me nuts

Today I'm listening to Christmas music while I'm baking. Call me nuts, but I think that's a perfectly okay thing to do.

At Christmas time everyone always talks about how we should celebrate Christmas every day. Why keep such a good thing reserved for only a few weeks of the year? Besides, maybe Christmas won't be so difficult to deal with if you celebrate it more often.

I've talked loads on this blog about how badly Christmas affects me. I think it's the stress of wanting to have everything perfect, yet being fearful of not reaching perfection. It's having expectations of yourself that are hard to achieve.

But if I started now, when it doesn't really matter a heck of a lot if things aren't perfect...Before all the craziness in the malls sets in...before the thick bundles of ads get dropped at our door...before the pressure of doing it all...right now is dumped on me?

So...I'm starting to celebrate Christmas now, even before you, my American friends, have had your Thanksgiving. Even before Haloween.

I'm calling the party I'm having on the 25th of this month a "Pre-Christmas Open House." And I don't feel pressure. I feel a great desire to make this a wonderful happy affair with people from various facets of my life coming together to mingle with each other and to look at all the photographic items I've been working so hard on. I so look forward to it.

And as I prepare I will play my Christmas music and celebrate. And I will keep celebrating for the next two months. Merry Christmas everyone!

Think I'm nuts?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Creating with a purpose

I've almost finished all my photography projects for the open house coming up on October 25th. My next project is going to be baking for it. I'll start as soon as I have a spare hour or two (not in the next couple of days).

All this made me think...about something I've known for a long time: doing creative work is so much more fun when there's a reason for doing it, when there's a purpose for the work, a good purpose. And being a fundraiser for a church ministry gives it a very good purpose.

I don't normally bake much. Don't really enjoy it. It makes such a mess of the kitchen. But now, knowing what I'm doing it for, I'm eager to begin. Have started planning what recipes to use. I want to make lots of tarts, cookies and squares and freeze them. I've invited at least 100 people to the party and we'll need lots. I don't expect all the people I invited will come. Have no idea how many will, so I'll have to be prepared. There will be an exciting end purpose for all my preparations and that makes it fun. It energizes me.

And when I think of it, I would never have wanted to make all the cards and bookmarks if there were no reason for doing it. I would not have done all this work just because. So much more fun to have it all culminate in a big party with neighbours and friends from all the different facets of my life.

My 95 year old mother feels the same way. She has been crocheting baby afghans, one after another and only now that she has decided to donate them to the sale is she finding real joy in it. She now has a purpose for what she does. Everyone needs a reason for doing the things they do.

The party is less than two weeks away now. It's drawing closer every day. How I look forward to it!

This bookmark is one of the twenty or so designs I'll be selling.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Mental illness and the church

I've been wanting to blog - much to tell you about, especially now that it's Mental Illness Awareness Week. But it's been hard to settle into it, though I will soon.

For now, though, I'd like to alert you to a superb article written by Frank Stirk for BC Christian News and Much of the article talks about my Living Room ministry. I'm excited about this. Happy about this, and hoping it will go a long way to reducing some of the stigma in the church. Please do have a look and pass the link on to others.

See you soon.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

What I learned from the suicide loss group

Second post in a day. Not often I do that. But there's something I learned from the suicide loss group that I want to share. In fact, I feel like broadcasting it everywhere.

I don't think any of us realize just how much we're loved. And especially not when we're depressed and our perspective is off. Even when we're told we are loved, we tend not to believe it. We can't take it all in.

And yet the love I saw expressed by those 24 people gathered to talk about the children, spouses and parents they lost showed me how much the people who took their life were loved so very deeply. The people who died might not even have realized it. What a tragedy!

And it makes me think of the people there. They probably didn't even realize how very deeply they loved. They didn't realize how much pain they could suffer.

I think we love our family and friends far more deeply than we realize. When we're so busy with our lives and there are so many activities and "stuff" to distract us from remembering our appreciation for each other we perhaps start taking each other for granted. We forget to let each other know how much we love each other. And we so need to do that.

Let us love God and one another - God's greatest commandment, and for good reason.

Drawn closer

A wonderful thing came out of the meeting with the suicide loss group on Sunday night. My husband and I have drawn closer as a result.

It was so good that we were able to be there together, both of us hearing all the stories of loss and the love these people expressed for those who had taken their lives.

Wes and I came face to face with what this might mean for him, were I to take my life, as I had so wanted to in the past. I came to see the incredible pain it would cause him. And he came to recognize how he can't take me for granted. He came to recognize how real such a loss could be. And me? I would never want to inflict such pain.

I pray to God that I will never be so self-centered that I will forget these things I learned....And yet, the reality of it is that when such emotional pain comes it's pretty hard to think beyond it.

Yesterday I was going through a hard time because of a friend's troubles. I was so worried about her and felt that I was the cause of it. I had been honest with her about something - though in a loving way - and she couldn't handle it. I caused her great grief. Now I feel I shouldn't have told her the things that I did. I so regret it.

Now I'm hurting too. But Wes has been so good. So understanding. So caring. He's so "with me."

Yes, that suicide loss meeting - though a tough experience - has done wonders for our relationship. I thank God for the opportunity to be there together with Wes and for what it has taught us.