Friday, October 22, 2010

Writing - putting it all on paper

In a promo to his new book Philip Yancey said, "For a writer, nothing really counts in life until you put it on paper." What Good is God? sounds like it's going to be an excellent read and I've already ordered a copy, looking forward to its delivery. Yancey is such a wonderfully honest writer, a writer after my own heart.

And what Yancey said here is so true for me. As my life carries on I'm finding more and more that I really am a writer. There are very few things that happen to me, very few things I think or feel, that I don't feel compelled to share in some way - whether it be in emailed letters, articles, books, notecards, blogposts, or speeches that I write out. I like to send comments to what others have written, and yet so precious few other people do.

I'm constantly puzzled why others don't seem to want to share in the way I do. So much I write receives no response. A point of view I expressed via email to a group of members of my church - something I had hoped would spark some written discussion - received responses only from the pastor and one other person. And when I posted a comment on a church online forum, no one responded.

But I guess not everyone has time for such things. And I guess it's not as easy for everyone to write letters. I'm learning to understand.

I send many emails to friends and receive great satisfaction and comfort from sharing with them what's in my heart. And yet I wonder, are they getting tired of me? When they see my name in their inbox, do they think to themselves, "oh no, not another one"?

And yet I can't not write. Each email is a necessity in my mind, though my husband calls it an obsession. Don't know if it is or not. I comfort myself by thinking, "I'm a writer. That's what I do. That's what I need to do. That's what God made me to do." I feel like Yancey feels, nothing in my life counts until I've written about it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The positive about depression

Hi everyone, especially those who today happen to be feeling depressed but need a bit of a lift. I understand how hard it is to recognize the positive in something when all you can feel is the ugly feeling of nothingness. But will you try?

In 2007, at a time when I had far more wherewithal to blog than I do today, I wrote the following. I'm hoping it will encourage you.

I've had Susan Bernard's post on depression open for days, intending to add some thoughts it stirred up in me. But I've been too lazy to use my head for a while and have - I'm sorry - had to put off blogging for a while. But today is the day I will try to address it.

Susan quotes from a book by Jonathan Zeuss, M.D.:

"Depression is a quest for vision; its essence is transformation. Depression wells up and encompasses us for a time in a state of painful, dream-saturated formlessness, but its true purpose is to provide the opportunity for healing insight, renewal, and reintegration..."

One of my favorite books on depression is New Light on Depression by Harold G. Koenig, M.D. and David B. Biebel, D. Min. Much of the book deals with depression from a Christian perspective. I think it's Biebel who said, "...depression's saving grace is not that it can be conquered but that it puts depressed persons of faith in touch with deeper truths about reality, spirituality, and themselves than might otherwise be known." (Yes, I think I understand more about life than those for whom life has been easier.)

He goes on to say - and this is a little bit of a different positive angle I can really relate to:

"Having one's capacity for serenity and joy restored is little compensation for the agony of despair, much less the 'despair beyond despair.' The only true compensation for depression has to do with the sense of purpose and fulfillment that comes from redemptive involvement with others in distress, sharing the comfort we've experienced. This is the true route to joy."

In my own way, I've found a purpose that I probably would not have had, were it not for my bouts with the effects of bipolar disorder - especially the depression. I've come to think of depression as fodder, something bad out of which good can come. Though I suffer as much as anyone while I'm going through it, I know it will help me to help others. And helping others IS "the true route to joy." It truly is.

And, today, the purpose I found for my struggles - the formation of Living Room - is alive and well and last month celebrated its' fourth anniversary (even though we didn't actually have a party, or even a cake. Maybe we'll do that next year, when we're five years old).

Another thing I need to draw note to. I wrote in 2007 how depression had been the major thing I had to deal with in my bipolar disorder. Today I can honestly say, the main thing I deal with is hypomania. Most of my struggles now involve not going higher, or more joyful, than I should be. But I have a lot of support and a psychiatrist who has a good understanding of me and the meds I need (though I think he's a bit befuddled right now).

This is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I hope you all have a great day, whether you celebrate alone or with family and friends. I hope you'll be able to count your blessings, even if you ARE depressed :))

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Global anti-stigma bike ride

A man called Michael Schratter is riding his bike across 30 countries and 6 continents to raise money and awareness about mental health and to battle the stigma surrounding mental illness. You may have heard of him. He keeps this blog as he rides. Apparently he's all alone on this journey - no companion.

A couple of weeks ago Bev Gutray, executive director of CMHA, BC Division encouraged me to let people know of his trip so that they can help him somehow. I know, myself, the best I can do is to keep him company through blogging - making comments on his blogposts. Letting him know he's not alone. I do hope I will find the time to do so, but will do my best.

Might you be interested in doing the same? Could you put yourself in Michael's shoes and realize what it's like cycling so many miles...alone - for the benefit of people with mental health problems? For the reduction of the stigma that still exists? What a great sacrifice he's making!

Would you be able to donate to the cause?
Would you be interested to share your story at

Go to for a variety of ideas of how you could help.

Any of these things would be greatly helpful.

And...tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, at least here in Canada. And if it's not Thanksgiving where you live, I pray you will have lots to thank God about, nevertheless.

Friday, October 01, 2010

In need of a lifesaver

I wrote the following in November of 2008. I don't remember writing it, but there are clues there that make me realize it was indeed me. I can still relate. I still have the same needs at times. Though I do know I have a lot of supportive friends, I do sometimes wish that I did not have to reach out to them as much as I need to. And I do wish they would call me a bit more often when they know I'm in trouble. People do tend to be afraid to contact friends suffering from emotional problems. I think it's understandable. It's so hard to know what to do or say when you haven't experienced such troubles yourself.

I’ve wanted to write for long time about how Christians could best offer support to their depressed friends. As someone who has needed support for over forty years of struggle and having given support for the last two, I believe I am well qualified to give such advice.

Today, after over a month of increasing depression, I wish someone would call me and throw me a lifesaver. Though people say they care and that they’ll be there for me, they seldom call and I feel that to call them I would just be a bother. I call them, but that’s not like being thrown a lifesaver. It would be nice if they would reach out to me once in a while. Then I would truly feel supported and cared for.

I feel less and less able to do the things that are required of me, more and more wishing I could go on strike and forget about my commitments. I’m afraid I might sink.

How helpful it was to have a friend call with a plan to do some Christmas baking with her when I’m feeling better! That became a window of hope for me, giving light and giving me energy to do some things again.

My memory is poor - very poor. I don't even remember writing this. Neither do I remember ever actually ending up baking with this friend. Never-the-less, she did something wonderful for me in giving me something to hope for. She didn't push me to come and bake with her immediately, sympathetically recognizing that it was beyond me at the time. Such a comfort not to be pushed into something I wasn't able to enjoy just yet.

PS: Over the last two years since I have written that, I think I've learned something. I learned that others have problems too and that I should not always consider my needs greater than theirs. I need to - even in the midst of my own struggles - reach out to them and consider their needs too. I need to call them to find out how things are in their life. We all need to care for each other.

And you know, when I do that my depression doesn't affect me as badly.