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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...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

He is risen!  The best words this world has ever heard.  Just by those words, alone, we are guaranteed hope, saving grace and everlasting eternity with the Lord in heaven.  The culture back then didn't know what hit them--not fully comprehend that the greatest day was among them--aside from Christ's birth.  But immediately we are given the gift of hope.  I absolutely love the scripture that is on the home page of this web site.  Jeremiah 29:11 from the Old Testament promises us, "For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."


Take this day to acknowledge and celebrate Christ's resurrection.  His death brought us life.  Life to live abundantly.  He doesn't want us to live milk-toast lives.  God has opened so many doors in our lives we probably don't all remember them.  Start writing those down in the back of your Bible or a journal so you can refer back to them in those low moments in your life.  Feeling like you're not hearing from God too much these days?  It is just a 'feeling'.  Feelings can get us into trouble.  We don't live our faith by feelings or we would not stick with it and our emotions would be up and down like a roller coaster.  God never moves from us.  More than likely we move away from Him and don't realize it.

If you are going through a rough time and you feel you have not felt God's presence in some time and feel as though you can't hear his voice or vice versa.  You're not alone.  Everyone goes through this.  Maybe you feel so stampeded from life--like if it's not one thing; it's another.  I have been there and witnessed loved ones go through the same thing.  It's hard to watch.  But then realize, once again, that God is God and He's going to have to be the One to reveal Himself to your loved one.  You've reached a place where you know you can't be the one for whatever reason.  That's the time when you look to God and just pray.  Rely on your faith and your trusting of God when you're loved one can't.  Step in the gap for them.  Let them see you holding on when the storms of life come along, pushing you hither and tho so much you feel you will be pushed over, but you keep holding on to that cross.  It may be seeing you holding on that gives others hope they need to push through, persevere, stay in the race, look to the prize, receive the crown once in heaven.

Yes, we can bring hope to a dying world because for those of us who accept Jesus as our Savior comes the Holy Spirit to live within us.  Christ followers need one another to handle life's struggles together; not apart.  That's why fellowship in church is so important.  For many reasons, but we need each other.  I need you; you need her; she needs him, etc.  Reach out to be vulnerable enough to let people see your walls come down.  By not 'being real' with people you can lose the opportunity to speak into their lives, and they yours by your own experiences and their experiences.  The more you are vulnerable; the more they are vulnerable.  Then the walls come down, then you learn the struggle, you learn the fears, you learn how to pray for them, you learn how to building an accountable relationship and down the road--a deeper relationship you both can enjoy.  WE NEED EACH OTHER.  Every person who enters through those church doors carry a burden of something.  Help them, be bold enough to step in and help them carry it too.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Journal Series: Part 2-March-May 2001

Below is a continuation of the Journal Series of my mental health updates.  This entry covers March 2001 through May 2001.  My actual words from then will always be in italics for this series.

Update for March 2001:
Things are going well staying at home and with my daughter.  I have already seen a difference in her (she's calmer and clingier) and myself.  I don't become so anxious thinking of taking care of her each day even though some days are better than others.  I am actually getting more rest than I ever did every day.  One problem is that staying home can sometimes make me lose track of what day it is and the weekends feel like week days.  That's just because my husband's schedule is so harry and changes often.

I now can fully see my daughter develop in ways I had not seen before because I had missed a lot of her 'firsts'.  Often during the day, I pause just to stare at her in wonderment--her mannerisms, expressions and things she says.

Please note:  I do not want any mothers reading this who cannot financially be at home with their children to feel like I am saying you have to be a stay-at-home mom.  Remember, I was once a full-time working mother.  I had a friend who honestly did not want to stay home with her kids because she was very career-driven and liked what she did.  She still was an important part of her children's lives and their Christian development.  God will let you know what is best for your situation.  And pray, pray, pray if you want to stay home.  This is a major praise report for me and it took over 2 1/2 years to have it answered.  But it sure happened in a way I never expected.  That's God for you :-)  I HAVE TO ADD HERE.....that my family could not have made it financially with me having to quit work had it not been for my father's voluntary generosity.  It will end, though in the near future.

DON'T EVER GIVE UP ON YOUR GOD-SIZED PRAYER REQUESTS BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOT GOTTEN AN ANSWER YET.  YOUR ANSWER FOR NOW MAY BE TO JUST 'WAIT'.
Update for April 2001:
Life is good for me since making the transition to stay at home full-time.  My husband and other family members notice the positive change in me and in our daughter.  I truly do feel that this was the best thing I could have ever done for myself and for my daughter.  I recently read somewhere that 65% of the population who have OCD do not work.  That did not surprise me.  But you can have OCD symptoms that are not so debilitating that it keeps you from being able to function fully in a job.  Some of my family have very definite symptoms, but it does not affect their emotional make-up in a way that interrupts their life......although they do take anti-depressants, but at a very low dosage. 

Update for May 2001:

Although the month is almost over.  I think it is helpful to share my 'treatment' with the internet audience on a regular basis so that it may help someone who is going through the same thing and feels hopeless about their situation.  I am doing fine.  I am actually much more relaxed and feel more in control.  Right now, the medication levels seem to be working for me.  I love to receive emails telling me how much people have enjoyed the site or how much it helped them.  I created the site to glorify God in this area.  To let the mentally ill know they are counted and noticed.  To express and hopefully succeed at sharing my care for you and those you may know.  I do not have to know you personally to care about you.  But I do care.  Lately, you may have seen commercials on television sponsored by pharmaceutical drug companies about the appreciation a former patient feels that a particular medication was available for them to use and how it helped them in fighting a disease, such as breast cancer.  We ARE really blessed we live in an era where advanced medications have been developed and made available to the mentally ill.  I cannot imagine living with a mental illness and really feeling no way out. 


I love to learn about famous or non-famous people and what makes them tick.....learning about how their past made them into what they are today or by the end of their life.  It has amazed me over time how many actors (present and past) who had manic depression or clinical depression--something.  Sometimes their parents had it--I've seen this a lot.  Because I am 'looking' for it more closely it does seem more common these days to hear about in someone's past.  To name a few:  Vivien Leigh (from Gone With The Wind) and Margot Kidder (from first Superman movie), Owen Wilson, Jon Hamm, Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, and Ben Stiller (see above right).  I think it would be safe to assume that Howard Hughes had OCD in a major way toward the end of his life. We have all seen the rise of actors or other famous people coming forward and saying, 'This is what I have and I'm dealing with it.'  I appreciate it because it brings depression, manic depression (bi-polar), OCD out of its closet by educating the general audience and taking the fear out of it for those who do not have mental illness.  These stars do not have to bare their souls regarding depression, but chose to in order to help others who deal with it.  It gives them hope, which is what this site is all about.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Journal Series: Part 1-December 2000

Below is a record of journaling my mental health updates during a certain point in my life and the middle of what seemed like mental mayhem.  I am copying it all verbatim so you can get a feel of what I was experiencing.

You may not have OCD, but just clinical depression or a combination of depression with something else.  Don't let that keep you from reading what my experiences are like because we ALL (who suffer with depression) suffer very similar experiences at a certain point.  Maybe you are bi-polar where you go from an extreme high and to an extreme low.  I get the low part.  I get the depression part.  I understand the self-doubting, low self-esteem, embarrassment, meds not working, etc.  So, please keep an open mind when reading.

In early December of 2000 ("a date which will live in infamy"--figure that one out) I had to be hospitalized again--my 3rd hospitalization, but at a different facility that I was at two times previously.  Even though the reason that brought me there was not great--it was good to get away from everyone and everything for self-reflection of my life, my future, what God was doing with it, etc.

I had suicidal thoughts again.  Your question may be "Why?"  I had recently, before going to the hospital had a depressive episode linked to how I perceived others viewed me at a new job at the time.  I took a new job hoping it would reduce my stress levels to a place where I could handle it, but that did not happen.  But clinical depression can be caused by all different kinds of things, including those that OCD patients experience--dwelling on the negative so much that you can't see your nose in front of you.

I was also realizing during this time that I could not keep up with the pace of my life.  Do you always feel exhausted much of the time?  Well, I do.  Having fatigue can be caused by many things.  Many things I experience cause fatigue, i.e. stress (#1), medication, doing too much in my life, depression causes fatigue naturally, PMS.  People with OCD have a very active mind most of the time.  Mental energy expelled can be just as tiring as physical work.

I was feeling trapped because I knew the stress of my 'pace of life' was getting to me again in a way that was heading into a pit of depression.  It basically stemmed from knowing I needed to quit my new full-time job which then turned to temporary half-time right before Thanksgiving of 2000...then to less or NO work hours.  I could not see how this could ever come about financially, or any other way.  My health was on one side and bills on the other.  I became overwhelmed and so it went.....And believe me, I prayed about all this and asked others to pray for me.

I kept asking God why He was allowing me to go through this again (it had been a year since my last hospitalization) and why couldn't He get rid of those suicidal thoughts.  If you're a Christian, you know that this all has to do with faith and trusting in God and that He will provide for your needs.  Now, I am NOT saying that depression is caused by not having enough faith to help one's situation.  For me, it was always a cause and effect process.  First, I get overwhelmed with something (i.e., new job, cleanliness obsession, or whatever).  The 'nagging' in my brain about it does not go away and then I start sliding into depression that may turn into deep depression, requiring hospitalization.

When I finally heard my husband say in a counseling session that he just wanted me to be healthy and that he knew someday it would come to me working either part-time or not at all, a heavy burden was lifted from me.  But I knew I had to go deeper to find out more about the suicidal thoughts.  Yes, we worry about paying our bills, but if God has brought me/us to this place (I didn't ask for this disease or make myself have OCD) then I have to trust (hard one for me) that He will provide for our needs.  I kept thinking back to the scriptures about (paraphrased here)....the birds do not worry about where their next meal is coming from and if He cares about them, then there is no need [for us] to fear of Him not providing us with clothing and food--things we need.

This is where the cognitive behavioral therapy working with medication does the most good because you [need] to 'look' at your thinking that may be going to the extreme.

After being out [of] the hospital for almost a week, I returned to the hospital again.  Never before had I needed to return to the hospital so soon after leaving.  I already felt like a failure because of that.  But this was the best place for me to be and learned it was not a failure to return.....it's not like failing a test and having to retake it (and everyone knows about it who was still there from before).  I was admitted by my husband with my permission due again to suicidal thoughts and depression about the same subject--stress causing me to get to a place of not being able to work.  I thought I had not dealt with all the issues I needed to, plus due to the day of the week I was last admitted made a difference in my recovery from this depression since group therapy sessions were not available on the weekends.  I still struggle with things as part of my illness.  Just because I have a website does not mean I have all the answers, but I will tell you what I do know and be honest about it.  I have also gone through IOP or Intensive Outpatient Program which involves attending the group sessions during the day without staying overnight in a hospital.  This can provide a transition from the support system in the hospital to your return to work, etc.  The group sessions are most significant in my recovering from an episode of depression, etc.

This time the thoughts of suicide came from feeling like I had no hope.  HOPE?.....you may ask when this whole web site is about hope.  When someone is in a deep depression it is very difficult for that person to see beyond the depression and their dark pit.  Even when it appears they have everything to live for, i.e., me--my daughter, husband, family, etc.  I needed God to give me and show me hope again.  I know that nothing is completely hopeless or impossible when it comes to God.  Jesus's death brings us that hope.  He came as a sign of hope when He was born on the day we celebrate, but it is His death that gives us the victory!

I really care a lot about people who suffer with mental illness and enjoy talking with them.  It is difficult for me to go from that setting to my home setting where I am not around anyone who is bi-polar or has OCD or anything.  One's support system is so very important.  

I LEARNED SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT AFTER I WAS DISCHARGED FROM THE HOSPITAL THIS LAST TIME AND HAD AN APPOINTMENT WITH MY THERAPIST....If you are a Christian and find yourself in the hospital...again...it does NOT mean that God necessarily wants you to learn something 'from this one.'  There is no doubt God works in our life constantly, but He does not purposely put us in mental hospitals over and over so that we learn a great big lesson.  And it does not mean we failed 'Therapy 101'.  I was trying to figure out what I was supposed to learn and realized with help from my therapist that I can be in the hospital just for the simple fact that I have mental illness; not necessarily due to some profound lesson I need to learn from God.  But He does help you through it all.  His presence, thank God, is there with you.  Well, I can tell you that was a big relief that I didn't have to keep fighting in my mind to find out the reasons why I had to go.  I also realized I HAD to quit my new job.  There was no question about that now.  I was so worried about how we would pay our bills.  This is what caused me a lot of anxiety and depression.  I could not see how this was going to work.  Before leaving this last time, my father volunteered to send us money each month to help with paying bills.  I was shocked.  I/we had not asked for such a thing.  But he gave us a deadline when the money would stop coming--not a deadline that 'I had better get over this illness and start making money', but he could not afford to keep paying us that money forever.  That is how God made it work--through my dad who I have never had a close relationship with.  My anxiety was mostly lifted.  My last day of work [for me] was February 2, 2001.

THIS WAS ALL A REVELATION TO ME!  I needed to know that I did not fail God because I still could not figure out what caused me to go into the hospital again.  It was okay.  As always before, I learned a lot from the experience.  I had viewed 'checking into the hospital as a mental patient' a big failure!  It just meant my medication needed to be adjusted because it had reached a plateau where it wasn't working for me....and the opportunity to meet wonderful, hurting people and be used as a vessel to show God's love to others.  And it may not be the patients you always help--but possibly the nurses and doctors to understand a little bit better about you and those they care for in a mental ward setting.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Do What You Enjoy!

Spring is springing into action!  We can literally see it unfold before our eyes this time of year--maybe not all of you yet, depending on where you live.  This is a perfect time to get out of your house and DO something.  This will get your endorphins pumping and jumping for joy!  Take advantage of what is around you--parks, city/town events come to life this time of year and through the summer, sports activities, camping, reading, take a trip to your library, but go somewhere new to read--maybe a local coffee shop or a bench on the banks of a river.  There's so much out there to get you out of the doldrums of life. 
The point is to get out and go somewhere and do something YOU ENJOY!  It doesn't have to be kayaking or canoeing.  It can be just taking a walk.  Physical exercise is mental exercise so are non-physical activities.  It will seriously elevate your mood if you're down--not doing too well.  Do NOT isolate yourself.  The enemy would love for you to do that!  And love for you to tell yourself negative stuff all day long--to further worsen your depression.

One of the simple activities I enjoyed as part of my routine schedule at the first couple of places I stayed during my earlier depression episodes was occupational therapy.  I remember the group of us going to a room somewhere else in the facility that had all kinds of fun crafty stuff to do.  At first, I thought it was dumb and boring.  I mean, I was an adult!  What in the world could designing plastic beads and melting them together do for me right now?!  Well, it seriously did wonders.  I relaxed.  I'm an artsy fartsy person anyway and love to be creative.  I'm not me if I can't create something without too much time passing.  I was able to visit with the other patients--"Hey what are you in here for."  It was that kinship I've talked about before.  Yes, it sounds like what people in jail would ask each other perhaps.  But talking to others with problems possibly like your own is a comforting feeling.

Believe it, or not DOING some kind of activity is healthy for our brains.  Grab some friends.  Okay, maybe you don't feel like grabbing anyone---I get that.  You're depressed possibly.  All the more reason to GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO HELP YOURSELF.  Don't read depressing books.  Don't watch depressing movies.  Don't wallow in personal deprecation.  You need to do positive stuff on a regular basis.  Schedule regular weekly or monthly activities with your friends or family to get you out of the house.  And you can't say, "No", when they come to call.  I know you want to say no a lot when folks try to get you out and about.  It's natural for depressed people to do that. 

What makes you relax?  Meditation of the Bible?  Take a long hot bubble bath with candles?  Whatever is your thing you enjoy---just do it!



Monday, March 7, 2016

Attitude

I love this quote from a well-known Christian author:

Charles Swindoll
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.  The remarkable thing is--we have a choice every day of our lives regarding the attitude we embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past.  We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...  I'm convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you.  We are in charge of our attitudes."--Charles Swindoll

The story below is an old one, but very appropriate for the subject of attitude.  I found this while searching through my old files from the website I had called 'There Is OCD Hope' back in the early 2000's.

Is Your Hut Burning?

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island.  He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.  Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.  But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky.  The worst had happened; everything was lost.  He was stunned with grief and anger.  "God, how could you do this to me!", he cried.  Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island.  It had come to rescue him.  "How did you know I was here?", asked the weary man of his rescuers.  "We saw your smoke signal." they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad.  But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.  Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground--it just may be a smoke signal that summons grace of God.  For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it:

You say:  "It's impossible."
God says:  All things are possible. (Luke 18:27)

You say:  "I'm too tired."
God says:  I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28-30)

You say:  "Nobody really loves me."
God says:  I love you. (John 3:16 & John 13:34)

You say:  "I can't go on."
God says:  My grace if sufficient. (2 Cor 12:9 & Psalms 91:15)

You say:  "I can't figure things out."
God says:  I will direct your steps. (Prov 3:5-6)

You say:  "I can't do it."
God says:  You can do all things. (Phil 4:13)

You say:  "I'm not able."
God says:  I am able. (2 Cor 9:8)

You say:  "It's not worth it."
God says:  It will be worth it. (Rom 8:28)

You say:  "I can't forgive myself."
God says:  I FORGIVE YOU. (1 John 1:9 & Rom 8:1)

You say:  "I can't manage."
God says:  I will supply all your needs. (Phil 4:19)

You say:  "I'm afraid."
God says:  I have not given you a spirit of fear. (2 Tim 1:7)

You say:  "I'm always worried and frustrated."
God says:  Cast all your cares on ME. (1 Peter 5:7)

You say:  "I don't have enough faith."
God says:  I've given everyone a measure of faith. (Rom 12:3)

You say:  "I'm not smart enough."
God says:  I give you wisdom. (1 Cor 1:30)

You say:  "I feel all alone."
God says:  I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:5)





Tuesday, March 1, 2016

When Ugliness Comes To Call


After a few stints in either Charter Hospital or another hospital’s psych ward—I needed to get our daughter enrolled in a daycare so I could have the mornings to myself.  If I got too stressed then I would get overwhelmed too much.  So, the brief reprieve with having my daughter in daycare in the mornings helped me a lot.  We decided on a co-op daycare where the parents would help 2-4 times during a semester.  This is what we could afford at the time.  And I was concentrating on getting well in between hospital stays, so it was important for me to have some quiet time during the days when my husband had to work.

About a few months in to having her attend this daycare-I talked with the teacher who also had a daughter about the same age in the class.  My daughter was about 3 years old at the time.  So I mentioned to the teacher about my depression and probably something to the effect of how helpful it is for me to have her come there.  She was nice and seemed understanding.  But she did say something about needing to mention it to the board which I thought was odd.


That same day, a parent who is on the board called me at home and asked me a horribly intrusive question based on whatever she was told by the teacher.  I was in absolute shock I didn’t know how to respond.  The severity could almost be compared, for example, to sending your daughter to school with a small scratch on her knee and a school board member calling to ask if you tried to kill your daughter by throwing her down the stairs!  I was in such mental anguish over that—cried and cried.  So, the next day, I took my mother with me and put Sarah in daycare that day long enough for me to talk to the teacher and leave for good.  I told the teacher what happened.  I asked her what she had said.  I was crying and told her that what this taught me was to keep my mouth shut.  We withdrew her from that place that day.  Within a very short time, I had found a new Christian daycare that was opening at a church that turned out to be such a blessing in so many ways.  My daughter stayed there until it was time for her to ‘graduate’ before heading off to kindergarten.  God’s always got something lined up right around the corner.


You may come face to face with ugliness over your depressions issues—and maybe even get an ugly phone call like I did.  Be careful who you tell outside your trusted friends because sometimes your issues can be seen as a threat in some horrible way that doesn’t exist.  Not everyone is accepting of mental illness.  And we have to keep taking care of ourselves, using wisdom and discernment in what and who we tell.  Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying to live in fear and not tell people what you need to get the help you need.  Just pray before doing it and see how the Lord leads you in that area.  Reading Psalm 91 ALWAYS makes me feel better.  This is one of my favorites and I found it as a new Christian whenever I would battle fear and sadness:



“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.  He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.  Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” (Psalm 91:1-6 KJV; emphasis via Bible text).