Monday, January 30, 2012

Missions Fest report

How exciting this past weekend was with our Living Room booth at Missions Fest! So many people stopped by to get information! People with mood disorders, people who had friends or family members with mood disorders. Others were just very happy to see that there is a way that the church is addressing the problem of mental illness.

We heard some stories of how the church had totally misunderstood the medical nature of mood disorders and prayed over unconfessed sins in an effort to heal the person. We talked about the pain this causes. We talked about the stigma in the church.

It was so great to stand amongst all the other forms of ministries - the first time a mental health ministry was represented at Missions Fest. I felt we gained credibility and really made a mark. I do hope we'll have the opportunity to do this again next year.

And me? How do I feel now? I'm feeling much stronger than I was. I'm feeling positive and look forward to getting life back on track again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Seeking understanding

How I long to have my illness understood!

What do friends think of me? What do they think of my frequent ups and downs? I worry that they are allowing those moods to colour what they consider my personality to be. But my moods are not what I am. I can't help my moods.

I'm down so much. Yet I'm a positive thinker with good goals to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. On behalf of the many who suffer as I do, I try to help others understand what it means to live with bipolar disorder so that they'll be more compassionate.

And yet, even people close to me misunderstand and withhold the support I need.

A friend pointed out to me, though, that these people probably have enough problems of their own in life. Sometimes they just can't handle another thing. And that's probably something I need to take into account. My fear though is that they think ill of who I am because of my moods.

Who can I go to in times of deep darkness, when I can't see my way clear, when I want to die and when I just need someone to talk to and pray with?

My husband is a wonderful supporter. A patient man who has made a good life possible for me. But he doesn't have faith in God like I do. If he did, things would be so much different. I wouldn't need to depend so much on other friends.

God is number one in my life. I value my relationship with Him. But when dark moods come I need someone to remind me of His love and trustworthiness. A spiritual weakness of mine? Perhaps. But I know it's a common problem for people with depression. It's all part of the bipolar package.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The need for compassion

Isn't it strange the way it works? During times when you're down and out, needing love more than anything, people avoid you.

I'm doing much better than I was, however I do get down thinking of the people I considered good friends who don't in any way show compassion when I've needed it so badly. These are friends I've supported in many ways. But when I'm depressed I can't go to them for support. I don't get anything back. In fact, they don't even want to talk to me.

My best friend, a person who is - next to my husband - my best supporter is leaving town next week, not to return till sometime in May. How I'll miss her! She is my sister-in-Christ, my mentor, my counselor.

When I tell her about my disappointment with uncompassionate friends she tells me to stop focussing on people. People will always disappoint. "Fix your eyes on Jesus." And I guess she's right, but it's hard.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

An act of worship

So much to talk to you about! Not simply about my troubles (as I've been doing far too much lately) but about things that give me joy.

I've been writing about the photography I've been doing and, during Pastor Don's sermon today, I was reminded of how photographing nature is very much an act of worship for me.

How I love capturing the beautiful things in nature! And especially when I know there will be people to share the results with. It's like a songwriter writing songs to sing for people and with people - praises to God - expressions of devotion to Him. I would like to be like David writing his psalms, only in photograph form.

And, when I can express and share my feelings through the photographs I make, all the better. All the more meaningful.

Look at how David expressed his myriad emotions with us in his psalms. How they bless us now! When I'm going through hard times, it's the psalms I go to for comfort. David understood. He went through the same things I experience, though his life and circumstances were a lot different.

Pastor Don's sermon today was about how we make use of our time. Such a great topic and such a great sermon!! I encourage you to listen to it in a few days when it goes online here.

One of the things Don covered was how to engage in a "holy waste of time". He said that three practices appear to be a "waste" of time but aren't really:
1. Observing the Sabbath
2. Worship
3. Daily personal time with God

What Don had to say so encouraged me. The project I've been telling you about - the work God seems to be leading me to - uses all of these. The time outdoors with my camera, appreciating what God has given us; the making of photographs to sing about the wonders I uncover; the time spent writing prayers to Him - prayers on behalf of others who might be experiencing pain...or joy.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Photographing in the snow

I did some photography in our snowy garden yesterday. What fun! It was raining - a kind of freezing rain - but I was dressed warm and cozy and nothing bothered me.

It was neat to photograph the hydrangea blossoms I had photographed in the fall, with snow instead of frost covering them. Don't think I did great though. I have dreadful tremors, especially in the early morning and that's not too great for holding a camera. Perhaps I should learn to use a tripod. I've done that before but find them a pain. So awkward! It really slows me down. And might be the only way I can get decent pictures.

How great it felt being out there though - in the fresh air, doing something creative!

The plans for the book I'd like to do are developing. I even did some writing for it last night and this morning. I'm finding my "voice." God is taking me on a wonderful adventure and I don't know where I'll end up. Isn't that how He likes to work?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Needing to create

I'm starting to function better, getting quite a few things done around the house. And I'm becoming more organized, doing much to prepare for Missions Fest, the conference where Living Room will have a booth. (Booth N08 for those of you who might like to come and visit us)

But the low moods still come upon me with too much regularity, quite often just after waking up from a nap.

And I keep thinking to myself how good it would be for me to have a creative project on the go. Doing creative things has always been a good technique for me to get out of depression. Something colourful and beautiful.

I've been praying so much for a project! Something involving photography.

One thing I've been exploring is to create a devotional book - a gift book with photographs and words - perhaps prayers that people with all kinds of pain would be able to relate to. How I'd like to be like David, creating psalms that arose from the situations he was in, but not specifying those situations in his writing. The way he wrote was something almost everyone could relate to.

Could I write prayers that could bless people with all different forms of pain ... and joy as well? Could I write something for the benefit of many and not just for myself?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New plans

My devotional planner quotes Job 17:11: "My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart."

But, the thoughts below say - so correctly: "Plans give you energy and keep you moving forward. [how true!] When plans get shattered so does your heart. The Lord can renew your plans or give you new plans. [as he did to Job] And when that happens your heart will be restored. Wait and see. What plans of yours have been shattered lately?"

Job's old life with his plans were shattered - taken away from him. And how I understand his feelings, though my situation isn't nearly as bad. I grieve the loss of my ability to function in a dependable way. And I do feel in great need of a new project - something without stress - something creative - something that will give me purpose - a God-given purpose. I believe if I had a good project to focus on, I would recover much sooner.

Living Room isn't shattered. It can't be. There will, I trust, be others - more capable others - to carry it on. It's a movement. The supportive material is all available free of charge on the website. I guess all we need is someone who will answer emails asking for info and someone who will supply encouragement where needed.

What I do grieve is my ability to function in a dependable way. I just pray that I will recover and that God will help me get stronger in that respect.

But any time I've had mental health problems I've turned to a creative project to "restore my heart" and give me a sense of excitement about life again. This is what I'm exploring now. I would like to create some kind of devotional book, including my photographs. How I would love a project like that!! This is the idea I'm developing now.

God is good. I'm starting to feel more organized. Starting to recover. I pray this trend will continue.