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When You've Reached Your Limit

I was listening to the radio station KLOVE today as I was driving and heard a Christian singer talk about a time in his life when he was de...

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Repost-Truth & Grieving

This is a repost from February 2016.

Years ago, after my initial meeting with my new-found Christian psychiatrist, he gave me a diagnosis of Clinical Depression and OCD.  I had never heard of OCD and he explained it to me.  The unsolicited thoughts I was having was an obsession I couldn't control.  There was a chemical imbalance in my brain.  There is a chemical imbalance in anyone's brain who has a mental disorder.  I was eager to learn all about my new diagnoses.  But that couldn't fully happen until I was discharged.  One of the most important doctor visits I had with Dr. G (not his real last name initial) was to have absolute assurance from this Christian man---who he was first; doctor was a second--that I was going to get better.  I asked him that and if I was going to be a functioning mother again.  I then asked him if he could write it on one of his prescription pad sheets so I could take it with me.  Feeling like he knew the plan and was a child of the Man (God) that I was in good hands--it rhymes sorta :-)  I looked at that prescription A LOT.  I taped it to the inside of a notebook and still have that piece of paper!  Relief flowed through me like a wave of emotion when I was told what I had--what the unsolicited thoughts meant and I wasn't going crazy.  I was in tears.  I was just relieved there was a name for it.  You see, this was not talked about at all then as it is now.  People know now what OCD entails for the most part.  The clinical depression is a chronic ongoing depression that needs medical supervision and counseling, usually with medication.

Hope followed relief.  I felt God giving me hope to hang on.  It was going to be a long road, painful at times, but He was going to be with me every step of the way.  "For he will stand for He is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:4).

I was not a patient person.  I am better today, but I don't have it mastered by any means.  So when I was discharged after about 2 weeks--had a relapse a week after that and had to re-enter the hospital--I felt defeated, weak, sadness, less hope, etc.  Having hope and believing it can come and go.  Since this scene was all completely foreign to me, I struggled.  I didn't know that relapses were common, even to be expected.  My 'recipe' of medications to help my chemical imbalance was not working in my favor yet.  Dr. G. needed to adjust them.

The next phase for me was grieving and mourning.  I started grieving the way I was and what I was going to have to live with the rest of my life, more than likely.  "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." (Romans 12:15).  This is a very real emotion when you know things are going to be different now.  I was going to have to make lifestyle changes.  Being overwhelmed was my downfall emotionally.  I learned I couldn't watch certain things on TV or they would trigger my depression or OCD.  I eventually found I couldn't work at all.  I went from full time to 75% to 50%.  None of it worked.  We needed the money to pay bills and live.  Another stressor and one I couldn't handle.  Thank the Lord my father stepped in and offered to help financially.  I had to completely quit working.  All my focus was on trying to get better and be healthy mentally.  I tried not to stay home by myself as much as possible.  My daughter was in daycare during 'school hours'.  I would go eat lunch by myself, have appointments with the doctor or my counselor, go to the movie.  A totally different life I was leading.  I was mourning my old self and my new self and new way of life.  But that's normal and a necessary process.  You can't stuff that kind of thing and not expect it to come bite you again.  It will bubble up and re-surface.

So give yourself grace.  Take the time to do what is healthy for you.  Whether you are new to clinical or long-term chronic depression--the best thing you can do for yourself is to focus on you.  As I discussed in another post--figure out your triggers and boundaries and follow them.  Ask for prayer on a continual basis, seek the help of friends and family for support, if this is an option.  Don't allow yourself to be alone too much.  Sometimes you can instinctually seclude yourself and close yourself off without noticing in the midst of it all.  But your friends and family will notice.  Let them help you.  Agree to get out for some fresh air--get around people or animals.  Pets are great stress-relievers.  I know cause we have 3 cats and 1 big yellow lab.  I love them so much!  They are life savers, as well.  Hang in there and stay involved in the world.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Repost-It's Okay To Not Be Okay

This is a repost from the very first post I wrote for this blog on February 9, 2016.

We all have those tough times--whether it is physically or mentally.  And sometimes, mentally we are "having a hard time."  This is what I would say to my husband whenever I sensed my depression starting to take over my brain.  They were code words for, "I-am-depressed-and-feel-myself-sinking."  And then he would sometimes ask me, "Do you need to go to the hospital?"  I said "Yes."  There were 6 times in my life where I said, "Yes" to that question.  And it was the worst feeling.  Have you been there?  Can you relate?  It's okay to NOT be okay.  I will say it again, "It's okay to not be okay."  You have permission to have depression as a Christian, a born-again Christian, who is human like everyone else and copes with many things physically and mentally like anyone does.

Join me on this personal journey to KNOW and ACCEPT that yes, Christians get clinical depression and it is NOT because they do not have enough faith and need to, "just pull yourself up by your bootstraps!".  Those are LIES.

My journey through depression has been almost a life-time long one.  You can have hope through God who is always there for you and "will never leave you, nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)  You can always count on Him and His Word. 

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."--Romans 8:1

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What Is It About Your Care Team That Makes A BIG Difference?

You are in a position to choose what makes the difference in your mental health care starting with your care team. Some of it is a little harder to find, but if you're willing to be flexible with your time and distance then there's a really good chance you can find the people you need for your care. And the power of prayer makes a big difference, as well. What am I talking about specifically? YOU NEED CHRISTIANS ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH CARE TEAM. Starting with a counselor/psychologist-do your research. There is nothing wrong with coming right out and asking the person who answers the phone, "Is this a Christian counseling (or psychology) service?" If not, move on. You can start your research on the internet or ask friends who may know someone in your community. FINDING A CHRISTIAN COUNSELOR/PSYCHOLOGIST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON ON YOUR CARE TEAM. Why? This is the person you are going to share everything about your depression with, your triggers, discussing anything you want to aid in your care. In turn, your counselor should provide you insight about your yourself, your depression, tools you can use in situations when you need help getting through something that triggered your depression, for example. You should always be talking more than your counselor/psychiatrist in your sessions. Your first session may require he/she talk more, but typically you should be talking about yourself. Then they interject what they notice or ask questions about something you said. I went to a Christian counselor I was referred to out of my first hospital stay, but it didn't work out. I met with her twice. She talked about herself both times a lot. So, I moved on to another one who happened to be my social worker from the hospital I stayed at. She worked at the private practice my Christian psychiatrist--who I also met and was my doctor at that same hospital--had outside of working at the hospital. I've had quite a few counselors or psychologists through my life before I got saved and after so I learned what made a good one and what didn't. And sometimes the Christian counselor you find just isn't a good match and that's okay. Go looking for another one. You will be so happy you did.

What about a psychiatrist? If you have spent time with your Christian counselor/psychologist and he/she recommends at some point you seeing a psychiatrist then this would be your next care team member. (A psychiatrist can write prescriptions for medications, but a counselor/psychologist cannot.) It would be fantastic if your Christian counselor/psychologist knew a Christian psychiatrist for your referral, but it may not be the case. He/she may know a very good one, but they may not be a Christian. In my opinion, when it comes down to medicine, I would rather just have a good doctor, Christian or not. Remember, nothing is impossible with God and He's in control. This person (psychiatrist) of your care team may be someone you may have to travel outside of your home boundary to go see if you live in a small town. And you may have to do the same to find a Christian counselor/psychologist.

So, the only obvious question that may be lurking in your mind might be, "Why do they have to be Christian?" You might be surprised how this is not so obvious to Christians as you would think. There are certainly more Christian counseling services now probably than when I was seeing one. When I was my lowest at the hospital and then naturally found out that several people working there were Christians was such a comfort to me--that I just knew I wanted to keep going to the Christian psychiatrist when I got out and the counselor who worked out of his office. That was like a given to me. I wouldn't have had it any other way. The big difference about your care team being Christian is that for one--they will pray for their patients. To me, that's huge. They will relate to you and your problems from a Christian perspective, not introducing non-biblical ways in handling your emotions, behavior and attitudes. He/she will be positive and optimistic in always approaching things knowing God's in control and focus on what you can do in the here and now and keeping God in the equation. A non-believer won't do that. You can talk freely about being a Christian knowing your counselor can relate and understand you from a spiritual standpoint. 

If you find there is a huge difference in your beliefs with a supposed Christian counselor/psychologist--meaning they are believing in something that is not biblical then I would switch to a new counselor/psychologist. My husband and I did that with a counselor he had known for a long time. This counselor had seen my husband on his own for a while and then we together saw him. One day we got into a discussion about homosexuality. And then this counselor made the statement that shouldn't everyone be allowed to marry if they love each other. That broke the deal with me. We walked away. As you see, not every Christian or supposed Christian counselor, in this case, to Christian patient situation will be perfect, but you move on until you find the right match--just as you would in the secular world with secular counselors.

I hope this has helped in understanding how important it is who you choose for your mental health care team. God has put Christian health care providers in this field to help people, just as in any other field. But they have a unique understanding of mental health patients and mental illness that, simply non-believers won't have. And they will have it and see it from God's perspective and His love that secular counselors will have no depth in understanding.