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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...

Friday, December 16, 2016

Is Isolation Leading You?

Brrr! It's cold outside, folks! It's already in the 20s during the day here in the midwest state of Missouri. But we've got some nasty weather that is supposed to move in on Saturday--the sleet and some snow. My daughter is a new driver and has to work that day. So she is freaking out a little about having to drive in it. I think we'll make other driving arrangements for that day ;-)
As I am sitting next to our lit Christmas tree writing this, I am reminded by a friend of ours who said that this year he was finally going to decorate his apartment, after not decorating for about 5 years.  Christmas decorations just cheer things up for the season. They don't make things perfect, but they are happy to look at. Of course, the reason for the season is Jesus. I am always so touched by hearing the Christmas story of Mary and Joseph and Jesus each year. It's a message of hope to the hopeless. And everyone needs more hope, right?
Isolation can sneak up on us sometimes. I am talking about the bad kind of isolation--the kind you don't want; not the kind you need to energize yourself after being around too many people, for example.  This happens all too easily  during the holidays. People get together a lot for potlucks or gift exchanges or whatever it might be. It is easy to feel left out, especially if you are single. You always have God with you. Yes, you've been told that before. But it's true. Lately, I've been watching Christmas movies by myself, even the old kiddie Christmas stories like Frosty the Snowman that I saw when I was little. It makes me happy. I'm the kind of person, an introvert, who doesn't mind being alone, but even the isolation can sneak up on me and hang around too long for my liking. When this happens, other than watching Christmas movies ;-)--I will pray, and sometimes I know my yucky feeling is because I haven't been in the Word enough--the Bible. If I feel it's a real problem, I will ask my family and friends to pray for me. Ask your pastor for prayer. IF YOU START GETTING TOO DEPRESSED AND YOU ARE SINKING DEEPER THEN CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY OR GO TO THE ER.

MAKE yourself do something positive--it doesn't have to be productive like laundry or doing the dishes. That's not fun and there's a time and place for that. But part of taking care of yourself is taking the time to do things you enjoy. If you can't really think of any, get a pen and paper and try to make a list of things you like to do or just things you like. Then see how you can turn that into a hobby or even volunteer somewhere that would be fun for you. Ask God to show you what you enjoy or what you can do to help others, if that's what you want to do. Grab a friend and do something together. I don't know if they have these places where you live, but there are those 'mud rooms' where you go to paint pottery and the place fires it for you and you pick it up a week later. The prices are based on the item you pick to work on and then the studio fee which is about $5 here. Then there is another shop that offers painting lessons where everyone paints the same painting but they all get step-by-step instruction. I haven't done that one yet, but it sounds fun.

No transportation or city bus service? Take a walk with a friend. Weather too bad? Walk to a friend's house or ask for a ride, play games together, bake something yummy, fellowship, ask God to be part of your conversations to keep them Godly.
This may sound strange, but because I am a creative person--one of the things I enjoyed about going to Charter Behavioral Hospital was the occupational therapy. They had us go do something like make something in the craft room or throw a basketball around in the gym. That helped me a lot mentally.

I KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS OF NEGATIVE ISOLATION. I don't want you to go there. And if you are there-get out of it quick with maybe what I've suggested here or something you know about yourself that helps. MY SUGGESTION: Do not do anything negative as your 'something to do' or go see a 'dark' movie that you think won't be, but turns out to be really depressing. Things can look disguised as something to do but drag you down more. I've done that. It's not good.

My prayer for you is to not stay alone when you don't want to be alone. If you don't want to talk to anyone, that's okay.  Sometimes, I go for a drive and stop by stores I like just to get out of the house and have something different to look at. And when I get home, I can tell I am mentally more positive. It does me good. Do what works for you. Don't wait.

God bless you all!

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Armor of God

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."--Ephesians 6:11-13 (NIV)

I have always felt so strongly since I was a new Christian and taught as such--to believe in the spiritual realm that exists all around us that we can't see.  I believe if we could only peak for a moment into that realm it would probably be more than we can handle which is maybe why we are not allowed to do so.  I don't have an unhealthy obsession with the dark side.  I just know you don't mess with it and it's real.  Don't discount the evil in this world.  But we know Who wins.  Sometimes we can get sidelined with what the dark does--and it doesn't help with some of the TV shows and movies that are out there these days--and don't forget the paranormal stuff which, to me is a total waste of time to watch. God is so much bigger than that.

But God calls us to take it seriously because there will be trouble in this world.  We are called to be strong, wear our armor, be brave, be courageous and fight the enemy with all our might.  Sometimes we feel beaten down mentally with life, circumstances, etc. It may feel difficult to even THINK about putting on any kind of armor. God knows that. He made you before you ever existed. He knew everything about you--your personality, what makes you you. He's never turned His back on you and never will. He can see the hurt and pain, the lack of hope. Do you have a lack of hope right now? Hope is one of the most important gifts God gave us. It can change your life in a moment--IN A MOMENT!  There was a time I had lost that hope too. I didn't care about anything or anyone.  I didn't care about what happened to me or the pain I might cause anyone.  Lack of hope does that to you. It strips everything away to where you are left with nothing. I know that place.  Years ago I was in that place 6 times in my life.  God was all I felt I had to lean on because who else could help me in my lonely room in a psychiatric ward.  I was beaten down.  God started changing my circumstances by putting other Christians in my path, literally. My beginning of hope was started to come to life.  I knew God was with me. But why Lord? Have you asked God that question--I'm sure you have. My personal answer to that would be that the physiology in everyone is different-their DNA. I happen to have had a pre-disposition for mental illness. My paternal grandmother had seen a psychiatrist for several years. I didn't know that for a long time, not surprisingly. But mental illness was on both sides of my family.  I don't blame anyone. Things happen.  I can't answer why but God changed me through those experiences. I looked at people differently. A new compassion for life and mental illness was born.  I wanted to help people. I wanted to offer hope through Jesus to someone. I cannot imagine going through everything I have without Jesus being with me.  Now THAT would be really depressing!

My challenge to you in this season of cheer is to look to the answer of hope for all mankind--the gift of Jesus. Keep your head in the Bible. The Holy Spirit will guide and teach you as you read.

Stop trying to control things you can't control. Stop worrying about the things you can't control. It's wasted energy. Use that energy to do something FUN. I just started to paint again. I haven't done that in 20 years.

If there are toxic people in your family you may have to see this holiday then limit the face time you have with them. Be kind but move on before an unhappy conversation gets started. If you have to leave early--OH WELL--you're taking care of yourself, you're setting a boundary for yourself. Maybe you have never done that before--set a boundary to make you healthy. I learned to do that over time. First you have to determine WHAT or WHO needs a boundary and then decide what about that person needs to be your boundary. You don't have to announce it to the person. You just act on it. If they call and want to get to together then tell them you have other plans. We always have other plans whether it's cleaning the house or taking the dog out.

Remember to think about how you can be healthy mentally and then act on it in a positive way. I hope these things have been useful to you and get you thinking about something you have never considered about yourself or someone else. And always reach for that ready hand of hope.


Friday, October 28, 2016

When The Holiday Season Comes To Call

My favorite fabric store (I love to sew and love fabric!) has their Halloween fabric deeply discounted and Halloween is not even here yet.  It's like a clearance discount.  The fabric has been there for at least 2 months.  The Fall and Thanksgiving fabric is headed down the same discounted line and we're not anywhere near to tasting turkey yet.  Stores do this every year where you start to see Christmas items in October.  I would rather be eased into each holiday more slowly so I can appreciate them more.  

For some, the holidays bring on the feeling of dred. It is just tougher for some people to make it through all the bustle without getting depressed.  It could be depression due to many different things--being single and feeling alone with no one to share the holidays with, missing a loved one who passed away during the year and won't be there to share the memories.  For others, it is the financial strain to buy this or that or family pressures.  Some people just do not get along with family members, but holidays can force getting together with all the problems that may entail. 

I was in the hospital one year around Christmas time during my 1 of 6 times spent in a psychiatric ward for being suicidal and depressed.  That was a tough time.  I was released on December 23rd.  I have pictures of that Christmas.  I got home just in time to wrap some presents for my 3 year old and wait up Christmas Eve night to set up all the goodies for her to see the next morning. My pictures tell a different story.  I don't look myself in them.  I see pain, vulnerability, feeling unsure, and not having much patience.  On Christmas morning my daughter was wearing one of those cute onesie pajamas with the feet on them.  Someone stuck a big bow on her bottom.  She was SO cute!  I also remember when my family got together that morning to open presents that I sort of felt paranoid that my family was looking at me to see if I was 'okay'.  I was also haunted at that time that I was never going to be able to be a normal mother for my daughter--that the depression and episodes would so envelop my life that I would not be able to function as a 'good' mother.  That was my biggest fear during those tough years.  But God was with me through the whole thing.  It was a slow process to get on the right track with the right 'recipe' of medications that suited my body chemically/physiologically.

Maybe you are getting to a mental state of needing some time in a hospital setting. Maybe you are getting ready to leave that hospital setting and will need to get acclimated at home again with perhaps new meds, an outpatient program or counseling services (hopefully Christian counseling). The God of grace is with you everywhere you go--even to the toughest of places that seem scary. He is there. And it's a good opportunity, if you are there in the hospital, to get quiet with God and talk to Him.  Just be you because He knows the real you to a tee. He hears; He sees you struggle.  He knows that pain.

Be patient with friends and family who want to help you, but don't know how. Let them know that their concern and caring is worth its weight in gold.  Happy people want to see other people happy.  But they may not understand it for someone who is depressed during the holidays.  As you've been given grace; give that grace to others.  There are many out there who do not understand the plight of the depressed or mentally ill, but it is far better than it used to be.  The stigma is still there, but people are talking about it--and that is a good thing. More people are being touched by knowing someone suffering with it--that used to not be so.  And that was probably due to people not talking about it.  It needs to be in the open.

So take some time to pray for those who suffer and for those who need to understand, especially in the Christian community.  I believe God wants this subject to be fully realized and understood by all believers--to embrace those of us who have been in those dark depressive trenches and all believers to take it upon themselves to understand it--showing grace, mercy and above all--love.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Keep Persevering

Have you been dragging the floor lately?  I have been there.  I have gone through times where I felt tired a lot and struggle to just make it through the day.  Maybe you feel like going back to bed....hmm?  Many depressed people want to do just that--go back to bed.  Your psychiatrist may have given you some meds at this time in your care that make you sleepy and maybe you're not able to stay awake for very long right now.  But if not, I challenge you to stay awake and do something positive in your day....read the Bible.  I know, I know--it sounds so easy to say and maybe not easy to do right now--to open your Bible and read it.  Stay with me and read further.

Lately, I have been challenging myself to do something everyday with God: read the Word, pray, work on a Bible study, talk to God by including Him in my day. I have gone through a little over a week now consciously spending time with God in SOME WAY everyday.  I can see it is changing my relationship with God. I am sensing God's closeness more, a closer relationship.  Isn't that what we all desire as Christians--that closer, deeper relationship with God?  I sure do.  I have been hearing and listening to that still small voice that is so difficult to hear with all the noise going on around us---stuff we actually hear and stuff we just DO, like getting on social media.

There is no formula to my spending time with God.  It is not the first thing in the morning.  Sometimes it is more than once per day.  Sometimes it's a combination of Bible study and prayer, or reading the Bible and Bible study.  It really doesn't matter as long as I'm doing something.  I don't pre-plan my day the day before.  I wait until I'm in that day and then see how it unfolds.  I like not pre-planning because then it doesn't feel so forced.  But maybe planning is better for you.  Just try to mix it up maybe.

One of the things I love to do is participate in Bible studies.  It gets me out there, literally, leaving the house to fellowship with other women and dig deep into the Word of God which I love to do.  I am an introvert and despise small talk. I would much rather talk about something 'meaty' with a fellow believer any time! I am in 2 Bible studies right now and about to start a 3rd one with my daughter and husband.  The first 2 groups are very different sets of ladies which is great. What we say in these groups is confidential.  So it's a safe place to discuss just about anything.  We women and men just need to talk to other Christian women and men, respectively, sometimes--we need that fellowship.  God knew that and designed the church body to need each other. We encourage one another, give insight and input. And at the end of every meeting we write down each other's prayer requests.  And of course, we actually do a Bible study in all that ;-))

I HIGHLY encourage you to put yourself out there and join a Bible study.  Just one to start with if you have never done it before.  Make it a priority in your week and stay committed--make sure you go every week at your agreed upon scheduled time and try to keep up with the homework.  IF you don't get your homework done--GO ANYWAY.  Don't let that deter you from getting your fill of God for the week in the form of Godly fellowship with other Christian women or men. Now, remember, I am an introvert and have gone through deep depression episodes and so forth as you may know through my testimony. So, I can understand any trepidation you might have to be vulnerable in a group.  It takes time to get to know other ladies or guys and feel like you can trust them.  There is no need to jump right in and expose all your bumps and bruises.  But, I have learned that when it was the right time--my being vulnerable let others see a peek into who I am as a person and my own struggles.  Others may have the same struggles.  You never know.  Awesome things can happen in Bible study groups!

These are some images I pulled to show you there are different kinds of Bible studies/small groups out there.  Some are held at churches, or at a person's house (which is more personable, in my opinion). They can be in a casual format of sitting around in a living room or in a more formal classroom setting.

I tend to favor the casual settings because people feel more comfortable and less rigid.  But if you're wanting to sit back and observe more at first, you might like a classroom or church-held study.  

I would recommend, if you're just starting out, whether married, or not is a women's Bible study or a men's Bible study.

So, where do you start?  How do you find one?
*Start with your home church--where you attend now.  Ask your pastor(s).
*Ask people within your church.  If they don't know, they may be able to point you in the right direction.  
*Ask other Christians you know who do not attend your church.
*Call other churches (who teach sound doctrine from the Bible) and ask if they have any Bible studies that can be joined.
*Maybe your community has a community board where churches or groups are advertising a Bible study.  Just be careful if you choose this avenue.  Use discernment.

Some Bible studies may have already started their study and be in the middle of it--so a group may or may not let you join or you may have to wait to join a particular group after that study is over.  Don't let it deter you if you have to wait.  Look into other studies.

Maybe you are in a situation where you want to facilitate or co-facilitate a Bible study with someone else, but you're not sure where to start--where to find materials for a study.  Two resources I recommend are:
*Christian Book Distributors under 'Bible Studies and Curriculum', then into subcategories from there.
*Lifeway Ministries under 'Bible Studies', then into subcategories from there. Some of their studies are only exclusive with them--you can only buy the materials for the study from their ministry.  You can find new Beth Moore studies there, and Priscilla Shirer, for example.  

There are so many to choose from out there.  Some have DVD's that are part of the study (sometimes if a church is hosting the study they will purchase the DVD for the group to watch to go along with the study books that are bought by each participant).  Also some churches will buy the study books in bulk for the participants which may give you some extra time to pay for it if you need it. Always ask.  Sometimes you can download inexpensive videos that go with a study to watch within your own small group on a computer.  Make sure you know how much the study materials cost before you commit yourself.

Next question:  How do I know if a Bible study is right for me, or not?
Here are some questions and statements to ponder and ask yourself.  If you are a newer believer you might find this more helpful.  And these types of questions can be applied to so many circumstances/situations spiritually.
*Ask and pray for wisdom and discernment in all things.  God will give it to you. If something is spiritually not right, He will let you know.
*Are the materials from which the study will be taught from a reputable author or ministry?  Do your research if you have never heard of the person to make sure the teachings are from sound doctrine.  **Does it line up with the Word of God?
*Are the members/participants of the group welcoming and open to you joining or do you sense a clique in the group?  It can happen even in Christian circles. Do you feel like an outsider after going for a few weeks?
*Is there a problem with confidentiality/gossip in the group?  Do you feel unsafe to share in the group?
*Do all of the participants believe in sound doctrine from the Bible?  You don't want to be in a group that believes in something off the wall.  **Does what they believe line up with the Word of God? This will not likely happen if you have done your research about who the group is and where you found the group.

Things to be open about:
*Don't worry if the meeting gets off-topic here and there. It happens. Sometimes the materials spark a discussion that leads somewhere else, which then leads to another place. Sometimes it leads to someone sharing something very personal where God just wanted the time to be that and not sharing our answers to our study questions. But if it happens to go off-topic on a regular basis, you might want to mention it to the facilitator and see what she/he says.

With all this said, the whole point is to get you out of the house and involved in fellowship.  Bring a friend with you if that would help.  Give Bible studies/small groups a chance.  They will grow your faith and trust in ways you didn't think could happen in a group setting.

Until next time....God bless and invite God into your day!

Monday, October 3, 2016

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 depressed and oppressed.  He felt like Satan was keeping him from getting a message out.  And he was telling God how can I do what you're asking when I am feeling the way I am.  And God told him to trust Him as he moved forward.  The singer was able to break through that depression and oppression, trust God and write the song that God wanted him to and get the message out.

1 Cor 12:9 tells us, "...My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."...  I have been feeling like I have been hitting a wall lately.  It is one of those things I cannot pin-point, but feels very real.  Do you have times or moments like that?  I have been feeling rather lost these past few days with a feeling of yuck.  So, when I got in my car and I started listening to this guy's story, it hit a nerve.  You know how it feels when you KNOW God is talking to you...you just know it without a doubt.  Well, that's how it felt.  My eyes were glued to the road, but they were bugged out as if someone knocked me in the back of the head.  I knew I was getting a much-needed lesson from God.  And even though it sounded simple---I had been begging for simple, for something!  No one likes to sit in yuck you feel like you've been stuck in for a while.

I felt God was telling me that exact same thing that even though I was feeling depressed and oppressed that I need to keep moving forward and trust God through it all.  People are people folks.  People that we as Christians may consider super Christians--people who are in the forefront of the Christian community--Christian ministry leaders or singers of men and women that you and I know of.  They have they own struggles, their own tragedies in life.  They are not super just because they are in the forefront.  God has placed them there to help us in our journey, our walk with God while on this Earth.  But they are just Christians like us.  No one is better than anyone else.  We can learn so much from each other though--that is part of why fellowship among believers is so important.  To come along side one another and help one another when someone is struggling and having a difficult time.  If you are in the midst of a difficult time, keeping moving forward and keep looking to the One who won't let go.  God bless!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

In My Husband's Words

I am very blessed by God to have such an amazing help-mate in my life in my husband.  He has been there through the toughest times when I thought he would rather not be.  We have weathered a lot together.  And my onset of depression was the beginning of a huge learning curve for both of us.  Below is my interview with my husband.

What were your thoughts and feelings when I told you my thoughts I was having about our daughter to harm her?

The first thought was okay, I need to take this seriously.  I took cautions to keep Sarah safe by sleeping in the doorway by her crib.  Second thought was, why is this person I married who really wanted children thinking this way.  It wasn’t normal and with the way you wanted children.  It seemed like it was not a thought of someone who was thinking properly.  This is irrational so something is seriously wrong because you would normally not think this way.  Thoughts about leaving you never entered my mind because of my vows to God and to you.

What were you thinking and feeling when the doctor at the Psychology Clinic recommended I go to Charter Hospital?

I was thinking it was probably a good idea because you needed help because the thoughts you were having were not normal.  I was really worried for you, for Sarah and for me.  I was confused, fearful and just trying to figure out what you needed because I had never dealt with that before.  I was raised that if you’re depressed to just get over it.  That’s what I saw in society.  Not sure if my parents ever preached that though.

What were your feelings and thoughts when you had to take me to Charter and subsequent visits to a psychiatric ward environment?   

Again , I was more worried about you and your well-being.  It was always a forefront of my thoughts that you wouldn’t hurt yourself.  As the years went on, the more I became in tuned to the signals you would give off that you were in a dive.  It took a lot of me wanting to know what your triggers were.  I had no idea what I was dealing with.  I had to talk to the doctors and started getting angry at God.  And as I sought counseling I started getting angry in general.  I couldn’t figure out why or how to deal with that in a loving responsible manner.  I started to get short and stuff like that.  By talking to counselors, they taught me that I wasn’t dealing with someone who could just get over getting depressed.  It was explained that it would be as if I was in a deep dark hole with no one around, no food or water, a kind of desperation.  They said it would never completely go away.  I had to go through the grieving process because I felt like I had been robbed by clinical depression and other names (OCD).  I felt robbed from my wife.  But that changed and it taught me to put more of a focus on you instead of myself. The whole situation put a lot of extra duties on me like dad duties and mom duties, the time the mother would spend with the baby in the beginning months.  My mom could tell I was giving the primary care because Sarah would come to me rather than you.  She could tell you had withdrawn.  My empathy came from talking to my mother, your mother and your sister.  They helped me a lot to understand that this was not the normal you.  And my mother helped me understand that it wasn’t my fault or your fault, but just something that happened.  It was a big learning curve.

Did you ever feel like you were losing me as a wife, person, mother to our child?

Yes at times.  There were times when you could help and times when you couldn’t and you had to focus on yourself getting better.  I never thought ever that this was something you were doing on purpose or that you could control.  It wasn’t your choice to deal with this.  What sane person would?  

Were you angry with God?  How did you get over that?
Just by praying and getting into the Bible and talking to people--Christians about it.  Trying to figure out what was going on.  It took a lot of prayer and reading, a lot of yelling at God, a struggling and wrestling with God.  Why would you allow this to happen?  Then it would lead to acceptance that things happen and you just have to deal with them.

How did you cope with your feelings and thoughts?

Counseling—that was important.  I had to be there for you, but at the same time had to be there for me.  I was angry at the illness.  Eventually I got to the point where I was just angry with the illness, but it didn’t have anything to do with you as a person.  That was something you couldn’t control.  It’s not something anyone would choose.  It was horrible for me to watch you go through it because I couldn’t help you.  I was totally helpless.  The more I tried to help, the worse it got.  Because I would say things that I thought were helpful but they made you more depressed or they weren't helpful, such as, “You’re sleeping too much.”  These were things you were doing to deal with it, but I was making you more upset and causing more damage.

Any further thoughts or feelings?  Any advice to spouses?

I think the biggest thing is if you’re in a marriage for the long haul as you should be then you should be more worried about getting the other person better—as good as they can get like me making sure you were taking your medicines and paying attention to you.  It’s a balance you have to find between taking care of the person and trying to keep yourself sane and not say things that are harmful or detrimental.  It took therapy and talking to people.  I did a lot of research on the Internet also.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Big Picture

Where are your thoughts?  Where are they going?  Do they go outside your home, down the block, or maybe to the inside walls of your church?  Do they venture out, take risks, think of the possible or impossible or seemingly impossible?  That could be where our hearts lay on a day-to-day basis.  Never taking risks for the big picture.  What is the big picture?  It's the great commission!  We have been commissioned by God for a task where the reaping and sowing is so much more important than anything we can imagine.

I have thoughts that wither around, stay stagnate.  They become comfortable.  They are used on a daily routine basis.  Oh and change---that dreadful word to some.  Well, I need a change.  We all need a change--something to shake us up, wake us up to other people's needs in and out of the church.  

It is missions month in our church where my family attends.  That's where missionaries who are supported by the church come back to the 'states' and give a talk about what they doing, have done, their struggles--a lot of stuff we take for granted.  So, one of those missionaries spoke today and I was moved.  I was completely glued to everything he was saying.  Has that ever happened to you--hanging on every word of a speaker talking about what God has done and is doing in their world?  That's a big picture to imagine.  Well, it got my thoughts moving and shaking.  In my early years as a Christian when I would hear about people going off to do missions work in other countries--I was so scared God would call me to go to Africa or some other place where the living is difficult.  I knew I couldn't handle it.  Well, since that time, over 20 years ago, I have a much different attitude toward mission work.  The thought of seeing God's word in action more than here in the U.S., looking into the eyes of the truly needy, feeling a deep love and affection for people who need Jesus.  Or perhaps they do know Jesus and you can share that moment loving one another in joy.  

My daughter was really touched by the missionary speaking today, as well.  She really wants to go to another country for mission work.  Right now, she's at a camp being like a missionary to youth who don't know Jesus.  She did this once before and loved it.  I think that set a fire inside her to open her realm of desire to go further out there in this big world to make a difference.  My husband and I prayed for her before she was born that she would bring many people to Christ through her.  Who am I to get in the way of that!  I want my daughter to be what God wants her to be.  Yes, I worry about what could go wrong, horribly wrong.  But she's not really mine.  My husband and I were commissioned to care for this precious child and grow her up in the way of the Lord.  God may lead her to go half way around the world for His work.  Who am I to say no to God and hang onto her, and crush her calling?  That's who I would be saying "no" to---God.  I want that for her.  If she feels called and led by God, I have no problem with saying, "Go."

The big picture needs to be revisited in our hearts and minds more frequently.  I know it does in mine.  We need not lose sight of what really matters in life---it's not stuff and things we accumulate.  We need to ask God to grow our sticks of thoughts on our body to become beautiful branches in how we see others and in many places, a hopeless world.  I want to do what God wants me to do, but I've got to make sure my "open" sign stays on.  That my oil doesn't burn out or my candle grow dim.  Look at yourself and your thoughts--see where they travel.  Maybe they need to meet an "under construction" sign so they can be rerouted to a better, fruitful path.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Best Recipe

That is how I refer to the compilation of medications I take at any given time, now or in the past--recipes.  I look at it in that way because the doctor who prescribes them has to figure out what medications (meds) work with other meds and also help the issues that I deal with on a regular basis.  That is not an easy task, in my book.  And doctors have new medications that come out on the market on a regular basis.  They have to figure out those side affects and how they work with other meds' side affects, including other types of meds like antibiotics and heart medications.  Whoo!  I would not want that job.  
We are all chemically made up differently.  Certain meds that work on one person with the same issues may not work on you.  I would never tell someone they should take the meds I take because it works for me.  It is not my place anyway, but like I said, we all react differently chemically and what can change that chemical make-up.

What I will tell you is my recommended recipe.  It includes (NOTE:  ONLY IF YOUR DOCTOR PRESCRIBES THEM) medications with regular counseling/therapy.  My psychiatrist would ask me regularly when I was struggling the most if I was meeting with my counselor.  Just relying on medications (especially when you are new at taking psychotropic meds) is not helpful.  In counseling on a regular basis--you can learn tools to COPE with your depression, anxiety, OCD or whatever issues you have.  You have someone to bounce those disturbing thoughts off of to see if they are rational, or not. Over time, you will have a helpful toolbox you would not have otherwise if you only took meds.  So when your thinking starts to hit a wall of hopelessness (AND IT'S NOT YOUR MEDS) then you have the right tools to combat those thoughts.  Now, if you are new at taking psychotropic meds or starting a new one with your other regular 'recipe' of meds--AND you are feeling 'off' mentally--then your meds may need adjusting.  Contact your psychiatrist or prescribing doctor as soon as you can so he/she can make those adjustments.  Sometimes, a med just didn't work for me, made me more depressed when it was supposed to 'boost' my anti-depressant affect.  Then my doctor took me off whatever med was causing it.  LET YOUR DOCTOR TELL YOU IF YOU NEED TO STOP TAKING A MED OR MAKE AN ADJUSTMENT--INCREASE OR DECREASE THE DOSAGE; DO NOT DO IT YOURSELF.  That can be dangerous.  We are talking about your brain here.  That is nothing to play around with or experiment on.  But, unfortunately, this is common with people who take psychotropic meds.  They play 'doctor' on themselves by stopping their meds without a doctor's consent, take them NOT as prescribed--either increase or decreasing or skipping dosages.  This is irresponsibility folks.  It will play havoc with your brain and those around you will be affected, as well.  Then your prescribing doctor has to try to get you mentally stabilized after you may have 'doctored' yourself.  It is not fair to him or her either.  Remember, you are not the only one in on your mental disorder and treating it.

If you are a Christian then you need to seek out Christian counseling; not a secular counselor.  Would you take your pet to a regular doctor or to a vet?  I am talking specifics here.  It will make ALL the difference in the world if you can find a Christian counselor in your area.  Do an internet search.  If he/she is an hour away, but it is doable, then do it.  Talking about your issues and from a Christian standpoint will not make any sense to an unbeliever.  They will not be able to give you wise counsel from that Christian perspective.  A Christian counselor will pray for you.  The ones I have known always pray for their patients.  They have that God-given interest in you as a fellow believer--to hear your struggles and possibly be able to empathize with you if they have struggled, as well with something.  And all Christians have struggled with something in their lives.  Right?

Now, there are good doctors and bad ones.  There are good (name of category of people here) and bad ones.  So, just as there are good Christian counselors--there are some that are not that helpful.  OR, their beliefs do not mesh with the Bible, as they should.  I ran into that one.  I had known this counselor for a while at other times in my life.  Then we had a discussion about homosexuality.  His response was (summarized here), "Shouldn't all people who love each other be allowed to marry?"  Ummmm.....NO.  So, needless to say, I ended that counselor relationship.  I can and do love people without agreeing with their lifestyle.  We are called to love all people.  Check out the Bible if you need reassurance.  It's there.

Ask God for wisdom and discernment regarding your search for a psychiatrist/doctor and Christian counselor.  "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5 NIV).  I believe God will direct you to the right path.  You might be surprised where that path will lead and the blessings you gain from it.  Be ready to receive those tools for your mental toolbox and use them when needed.  The Holy Spirit within you is your biggest 'tool' that can guide you where you ought to go.