December 09, 2008

I’ve been on a roller coaster for about two months now—times when I’ve been okay and other times when I’ve felt very down, not knowing how I can continue, wishing I could get off the ride.

I’ve heard some people with bipolar say how they think they are well and will always be well. They’ve learned to handle life and their illness in such a way that it will never pose a problem for them again.

The truth is that once you have the disorder, you can never be sure of your wellness. The depression will always return. Meds need to be changed and the downturn will have to run its course. It can be very discouraging. You wonder if you can ever be counted on again.

I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had a lot of support—good friends and an understanding husband.

My pastor talked on Sunday about Bill Hybels’ book, Holy Discontent. He told us that we all have something in the world that we’re not happy about. When this becomes a passion and we know that we want to do something about it we will know it’s God’s calling for us.

I have that holy discontent. I want very much to make a difference in the lives of people with mental health problems. I feel called to help and erase the stigma that exists. I would like to help society—and especially the church—accept people like us better. I want to educate Christians so that they will treat people like us with compassion and know how to support us.

Yes, I have a holy discontent. Unfortunately my work has had to be put on hold while I try to just cope with my day to day home life . . . and with Christmas. How I long to be well enough—strong enough to pick it up again. I’m working hard to get to that point.

But as a result of the depression, it has been hard to motivate myself to do even the basics. I do have good days when I can do some catching up. Yesterday was good. I was encouraged. In the evening, after a full day, I sat down and made a list of all the things I will need to do before Christmas.

Christmas will be toned down a lot at our house this year. My dear husband has even told me we don’t have to have Christmas at our house this year. We don’t have to buy a lot of gifts, we don’t have to send out cards, I don’t have to bake. That was a very good thing to tell me. It relieved the pressure I felt.

As a result I’m now doing what I want to do, not what I have to do. And I want to celebrate as well as I can. I want to do some baking. I want to clean house and decorate it. I want to have a tree. I want this to be a holy time for us.

My friend has helped me by pointing me to the Psalms to give me support and encouragement. And I read how “The Lord is the stronghold of my life.” (Ps 27:1) I cling to words like those and find peace reading them. God will hold me up and give me the strength to do the things I need to do. And I know He loves me.

A couple of days ago I played with a baby. Loving that baby broke out good feelings in me. And I could see how I need to live my life out of love—love for my husband, my friends and family, and for God. I need to try and stay engaged with them. Feel their love. Return their love.

And I will live one day at a time, doing what is most important. Maybe this is the day I will turn around.

December 12, 2008 – The Living Room Christmas Party:

In spite of the snow that kept a lot of people from attending our party, we had sixteen people. It was a wonderful, intimate time. Good food and good visiting. We finished all of Janice’s turkey and almost all the stuffing. It was so good. One of our new members told her story about how her relationship with God started and how good He has been to her, in spite of her depression and MS. We sang all the six Christmas carols I had photocopied—really got into it, in spite of not having a piano to accompany us. Such a great time!

My motivation is pretty good right now, though I’m still struggling with depression symptoms. Negative thinking was a serious problem last night and then I woke up with it as well. That led to some truly depressed feelings. But through an email to my friend, I managed to talk my way out of it.

I guess everyone has things they could be sad and negative about. Thing is, you don’t need to dwell on it. I’ve learned that doing instead of thinking builds positive feelings. And thinking of how I can build into other people’s lives takes the focus away from myself. I then have a purpose that I can live for. And that’s where true joy comes from. At least that’s the way it is for me most of the time. In the email to my friend I sorted through these things, reminding myself of what I’ve known for so long. But how easily I forget.

Today’s Christmas party was a good place for me to get out of my negative thinking. I love my friends there and it was just very good to be together. To do instead of think.