Thursday, December 18, 2008


fairies kites
Originally uploaded by aussiegall

This time around, I will say "no" more often.

"No. I'm not going."
"No. It's too much for me."
"No. I can't. I simply can't."

I plan to say I'm sorry, too.
But only when I really am sorry.
And only when there is something to be sorry about.

I need not apologize for being ill, for taking care of myself.

I fear that if I get too tethered this next time around, it will be the end of me. As frazzled as I may be and as flitty the flight, I must fly from now on. I must.

I must.

A thank you to aussiegall for sharing this perfect photo on flickr.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stairway


Stairway
Originally uploaded by Wolfgang Staudt

I am getting better.

Shopped alone.
Going to church on Sunday.
Feeling cheery.

Wow.

A thank you to Wolfgang Staudt for sharing this photograph on flickr.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blank


28/03/2007: Nothing to Report
Originally uploaded by Djenan

Sometimes the best thing that I can do for my health is to declare a Do Nothing Day.

On Do Nothing Days I generally get the essentials done. I generally get more than just the essentials done. But a Do Nothing Day means that the pressure is off. I do not feel that I have to do anything.

Today I drove to see my psychiatrist on roads which were sheets of ice. Once I was safe back at home, I took an Ativan, ate some chocolate, and declared the balance of the day a Do Nothing.

It helps

A thank you to Djenan for sharing this photograph on flickr. Yes, that is a photograph of a day of doing nothing. I love it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nearer to God than you Think


will
Originally uploaded by zachstern

President Harold B. Lee once remarked:
"Don't be afraid of the testing and trials of life. sometimes when you are going through the most severe tests, you will be nearer to God than you have any idea . . . "
(In Conference Report, Munich Germany Area conference, 1973, 114.) [Ensign February 2009]

Thank you to zachstern for sharing this photograph on flickr.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tapestries of the Divine



"Now, as you and I look at our lives . . . we sometimes do not understand that through which we are passing, but, being submissive, we can trust Him.


"The day will come, brothers and sisters, when the tapestry of your life will be unfolded, and you will see divine design all through it, and praise God for the experience and the tutoring which, in His goodness, He has given you" (Neal A. Maxwell, "Willing to Submit" [address given at BYU-Hawaii devotional, 9 Feb. 1988, p.8).

A thank you to SullyT64Photography for the picture.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Unwell"



Thank you so much, Daniel.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The One


"Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.

"Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.

"This variety of creation itself is a testament of how the Lord values all His children. He does not esteem one flesh above another, but He 'inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God.'”--Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Conference, April 2008



Thank you to Breathez for pointing out this touching quote. See the entire article here.
Show Off
Originally uploaded by nickwheeleroz

A Thank you to nickwheeleroz for sharing this photograph on flickr.com.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Am I, Too, Not a Beggar?


I needed to visit a store yesterday to pick up something necessary for a creative project, so in the hour before the stores opened, my husband and I took our early-morning Saturday walk in the shopping district of downtown Olympia.

There, on the Fourth Avenue sidewalk, we were approached by a tall, bony woman with a story to tell:
She had been living at the Salvation Army.
Some of the other women didn't like her so she had been forced to leave.
She didn't know what she was going to do as she lacked even the necessary bus fare to get to her job.

Could we give her just a dollar or something to help her out?

"And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish." Mosiah 4:16

In spite of her apparent heart-felt sincerity and anxiety, I was about 95 percent certain that she was lying to us. She seemed to be a gifted actress, and I was awed by her skills. She appeared to be so genuine, but the bus-fare story is awfully familiar to me. I have seen too often how those who are desperate will manipulate caring people. And, sure enough, even after she had plenty of bus fare in her pockets, she continued to approach strangers on the streets.

"Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just--" Mosiah 4:17

All the same, I was not troubled or turned away by her lies. I simply desired to help her, and not because there was in my mind a 5 percent chance that she was telling the truth. I simply desired to help her and it did not matter to me why she begged, or what she was going to do with the money.

"But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God." Mosiah 4:18

Before I could follow my own impulse to give, my husband reached into his wallet and handed her a five-dollar bill. She thanked us profusely, even giving each of us a hug. I wondered if the hugs were attempts to pick our pockets, but sharing them was worth the danger. Her apparent gratitude was profuse. I was happy to hug her. I was warmed by that connection.

My husband and I had merely sacrificed the difference between eating a fast-food meal out or eating from one of our many choices back at our lovely home.

"For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?" Mosiah 4:19

We continued on our way. I almost broke into tears as we walked the next couple of blocks.

Why?

Because that woman could be me.

"And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another." Mosiah 4: 21


There I was, walking down the sidewalk in my new wool coat, arm in arm with the dear man who loves me and takes care of me.

"And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they." Jacob 2:13

My illness makes following a series of steps impossible. What if I had to follow seventeen steps to get food or shelter or warmth? The people on the street are often criticized for not taking advantage of the community resources available to them. Would I be able to access such resources with my current lack of mental health? I cannot imagine riding a bus to get to where I needed to go. I cannot imagine being clear enough in my mind to fill out one government form, let alone a stack of them. I cannot imagine sleeping in a strange room full of strange people. It is so far beyond my scope of possibilities that I cannot even imagine it.

"And now, my brethren, I have spoken unto you concerning pride; and those of you which have afflicted your neighbor, and persecuted him because ye were proud in your hearts, of the things which God hath given you, what say ye of it?

"Do ye not suppose that such things are abominable unto him who created all flesh? And the one being is as precious in his sight as the other. . . . " Jacob 2: 20-21

This I can imagine--
I can imagine that I could muster up the ability to accomplish three simple steps:
(1) beg
(2) eat
(3) medicate.


"Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you." Jacob 2:17

As I have striven to think of my brethren like unto myself, the plight of the mentally ill has become very familiar. Perhaps what Jacob was saying when he counseled us to "be familiar with all," was that we need to see through the mind of another. I am finding that as life is forcing me to do so, I am experiencing a growing desire that all may be rich like unto me. In light of all that I know from firsthand experience, being free with my substance seems like a very little thing.




Read more on a similar topic at Green Mormon Architect's post about beggars at the temple.

P1030380
Originally uploaded by _aeb

A thank you to _aeb for sharing this illustration on flickr.com.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Eerie Yellow in the Trees


trees 1
Originally uploaded by Tim Caynes

The migraines are back.
Ugh.




A thank you to Tim Caynes for sharing this photo on flickr.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Litmus


PH eddies in a litmus solution
Originally uploaded by gever tulley

"Why did the Lord ask such things of Abraham? Because, knowing what his future would be . . . he was determined to test him. God did not do this for His own sake; for He knew by His foreknowledge what Abraham would do; but the purpose was to impress upon Abraham a lesson, and to enable him to attain unto knowledge that he could not obtain in any other way. That is why God tries all of us. It is not for His own knowledge; for He knows all things beforehand. He knows all your lives and everything you will do. But he tries us for our own good, that we may know ourselves."

(George Q. Cannon, in Conference Report, April 1899, 66).

Thank you to gever tulley for sharing this photograph, "PH eddies in a litmus solution," on flickr.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mania


75 Bands Cleverly Represented In This Picture
Originally uploaded by ClintJCL

I have been asked how it is that I recognize that I am transitioning into a manic state. For me, it is pretty simple. I notice that I am having some trouble sleeping. I notice that I would like to spend money on frivolous things, every day, and sneakily. Sometimes I talk more and faster. I think that I eat more, too, especially sweets.

These things have been trying to overtake me again.

I'm glad that I have learned how to catch mania before it explodes on me. I'm glad that this time I have the option of cutting back on my meds. I hope that it helps. I do not like to be manic--even the hypo version.

Thank you to ClintJCL for sharing this picture on flickr.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Less Brick


from whence the brick came
Originally uploaded by Leonard John Matthews

I had to back off my anti-depressant because I was seeing signs of mania coming on. I'm back to the original dosage.

Sigh.



Thank you to Leonard John Matthews for sharing this picture on flickr.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Accomodations in Church


Some handicaps are obvious to the casual observer. For mental illness, however, the needs of the afflicted one may not be apparent. Here is the way one fellow-sufferer, whose letter is shared here with permission, helped others to understand her unique challenges regarding her church calling.


"I've been thinking a lot about my calling in primary. I guess I feel obligated to tell you (and the presidency via this email that I am sending to you), that I have great doubts about my ability to be a stable teacher for the kids in my class. I LOVE the kids. They are great, but I feel emotionally overwhelmed each Sunday, and it is starting to effect my performance as a teacher in primary, as well as my feelings of well being and peace in other areas of my life.

"I have bi-polar disorder, as well as ADD. I take medication daily for each of the disorders. One of the saving graces in my life is that I can take care of my son, and that my Sundays are uplifting and relaxing. It helps my emotions and spirit prepare for the following weeks trials, which will inevitably come as I try to balance my bi-polar and ADD characteristics while taking care of my son and the housework.

"A majority of the symptoms I feel from my disorders are a high level of anxiety and having a low stress tolerance. There are some things I do with ease, but there are some things that cause me a great deal of stress and anxiety that is beyond my control and ability to stop. I take medication to keep my anxiety under control but it doesn't prevent all anxiety and stress from occurring, otherwise I'd be a vegetable.

"Primary causes a lot of stress, and my auto reaction to that stress is to emotionally shut down. Usually, that means I just stay in my apartment where I can be at peace and control my environment. As much as I love the kids in primary, primary itself is a major stress point for me. I may look cool on the outside, but on the inside I am high in anxiety and feeling depressed.

"I know that each person has unique challenges and trials, and I really hate to ever back down from a challenge, especially when that challenge involves a church calling, but for the sake of the children, I feel you should know that I do not think I will have the fortitude or the mental capacity to deal with my class every Sunday. It may be much more helpful to rotate with a teacher each Sunday so I do not have to be in class and primary every week. I fear if we do not take some sort of action, then the children will suffer because of my inability to be reliable and consistent.

"I want to do what the Lord has asked me to do, and I also feel the desire to serve. Coming to terms with the fact that I cannot handle everything given to me is difficult for me to admit. I don't like admitting I have a disability, or that I have certain limitations because I am a perfectionist, but I am trying to be realistic so that you know where I am coming from and the kids in my class can benefit fully from the primary program."

Perhaps this example will help you with your particular challenges. I know that it has helped me. Thank you, E, for sharing this.

Thank you to g.originals for sharing the above photograph in Creative Commons on flickr.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Climbing or Descending?

Am I climbing up, or am I descending?
One day it looks like one, another day like the other.

Thank you to confusedvision for sharing this photo in Creative Commons at flickr.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beauty in the Deep



"For thou hadst cast me into the deep,
in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about:
all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

The waters compassed me about, even to the soul:
the depth closed me round about,
the weeds were wrapped about my head.

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains;
the earth with her bars was about me for ever:
yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God."

Jonah 2: 3-6

Galapagos from Darek Sepiolo on Vimeo.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Order


A: An organized system of learned behavior that is a total way of life of a people.
Originally uploaded by zachstern

I am beginning to feel better, and I am organizing everything in sight.

Thank you to zachstern for sharing this picture on flickr.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fire and Water


Fire and Water
Originally uploaded by peasap

I awoke in a deluge of painful memories and tears.
I am trying to remember that what burns also purifies.

The photographer commented regarding this picture:
"It's just a small flame, with Flood added to make the reflection.
The shape makes me think of an angel."

Thank you, Father,
For pushing me down,
And scorching the dross.

Healing Hurts.


Thank you peasap for sharing.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Grogley Halt


Grogley Halt
Originally uploaded by Rich+

I upped my anti-depressant.

Now I am in a grogley halt.

Kind of stuck. More depressed. Not doing much.

Parked.

At lease I am parked in a beautiful landscape.

This, too, shall pass.

I hope.

Thank you to Rich+ for sharing this photograph on flickr.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Burdens and Blessings


Heavy burden
Originally uploaded by villoks

"But the tests of life are tailored for our own best interests, and all will face the burdens best suited to their own mortal experience. In the end we will realize that God is merciful and that all the rules are fair. We can be reassured that our challenges will be the ones we needed, and conquering them will bring blessings we could have received in no other way."

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Ensign, October 2006, 15

Thank you to villoks for sharing this photograph on flickr.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Upcoming Movie Addresses Schizophrenia


I love good movies. Imagine how excited I was to read about one with great promise today at NAMI. See the article here.

The trailer is very moving, and brought me to tears. See it here.

There are good things on the move in this world.

Photo from IMDb.

Metamorphosis


Metamorphosis from Glenn Marshall on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Something to Think About


The Perception of Doors
Originally uploaded by inkswamp

Thank you to inkswamp for sharing this photograph on Flickr.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Weight Gain and Meds

I found this article, "Preventing and Reversing Weight Gain Associated with Psychiatric Medications," helpful. Perhaps you will, too.

(Found today at Bipolar Beat.)

Ten Minutes to Warm Your Heart

Thank you to Soule Mama for pointing me in the direction of Amy Krause Rosenthal and these heartwarming videos.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Ballerina's Feet


A ballerina's feet
Originally uploaded by dsorine

The dance of life:

Three steps forward
Two steps back

Painful

Paradoxical result: beauty

Thank you to dsorine for sharing this photograph on Flickr.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Change Can be Good


Trader Joes comes to Charlotte
Originally uploaded by kyletait

I went to the grocery store.
By myself.
Just me.
Alone.

Something is definitely different.

Thank you to kyletait for the picture.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Burning Warmth of Beauty


THE ETERNAL FLAME
Originally uploaded by _ØяAcLә_

How is it that an encounter with beauty can engender pain and joy at the same time?

This essay, "My Mother's Gift," was posted today at "Mackin Ink" I wept as I read it, but with a poignant joy all the same. It is so beautiful. Read it here.

Thank you to this photographer for "The Eternal Flame."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Fog is Lifting


I'm chugging along, and the fog is lifting. Being creative helps a lot. Having others share their creative works helps a lot, too.

Thank you to Joseph Allan for the picture.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Today


Call of the Raven (formerly Nature's Special Effects)
Originally uploaded by Walkabout Wolf

Today I am:

anxious
guilt-ridden
worried
sad
teary


But I am grateful, too.

Thank you, family, friends, God, for giving me so much to be grateful about.

Thank you to Walkabout Wolf for this picture from the Snoqualmie National Forest here in Washington State.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Blessing of Human Touch


Afraid to Touch
Originally uploaded by Planet Love

There is a beautiful essay posted today at C Jane Enjoy It regarding the gift of human touch.

The above photograph is by Planet Love on Flickr. If you are up to a sad story, click on it to read more about little Marcel of Romania, who has not received the gift of touch.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Permanent Condition?


diamonds are 4ever, but they make me cry
Originally uploaded by bye bye オモイデ

Thank you to bye-bye-omoide for sharing this picture on Flickr.

I am in that place where I try to decide if it is better to fight my illness or to submit to it and just adjust. I look back over this blog, and see the many times I thought that healing was beginning, when it wasn't. Small improvements have come, but much remains the same as when this all began.

I am reminded of this passage from Mosiah 24:

14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

These people were promised deliverance, and it came to them, in time. I know that deliverance will come to me, as well. I just don't know when, or if it will be in this life, or the next.

In the mean time, I do my best to "submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."

It seems strange to talk about being cheerful when my problem is unrelenting depression, but, somehow, it resonates. In the area of trusting in the wisdom of the Lord in all of this, I do, somehow, feel a measure of good cheer.

I believe that, when all is said and done, this is a time to submit and keep on pressing forward in spite of burdens. The Lord is, indeed, doing great things to make my burdens lighter, through a loving family most of all. Even though these present burdens are not yet removed from my shoulders, He is sustaining me.

I feel His love and approval every day, and that makes all the difference.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Meds

I always feel encouraged when I start organizing. It seems that it may be a sign of improvement. Today, it was the medicine cabinet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crying


i have to cry sometimes too...
Originally uploaded by bachullus

I have been told by more than one caring person that it is alright to cry.

I know that.

It is alright--and even expected-- to cry at funerals, at births, at catastrophes. It is alright to cry if you are under a certain age or over a certain age, like the dear old woman I met in the nursing home, who cried because her shoe was untied. Like the toddler who cried over the same thing.

It is alright to cry when others are crying.

When you are an adult of a certain age, as I am, it is not alright to cry because you feel overwhelmed at the list of health-related tasks your doctor counsels you to undertake. It is not alright to cry because some irritable receptionist scolds you in front of a group of strangers in a waiting room. It is not alright to cry uncontrollably because you are moved by a piece of music while navigating through fast and heavy traffic on the freeway.

People may say it is alright to cry, but no one is doing it much. The silence, as they say, is deafening.

In my way of thinking, it is particularly not alright to cry when a kind person tenderly expresses concern for you. It rewards their compassion with awkward discomfort.

That is why I don't go out. That is why I don't answer the phone.

It is not because I dislike or fear you. It is because I dislike and fear my own tears.

Thank you to bachullus for the photograph.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Parity


By night and by day
Originally uploaded by lehnermd

(Our thanks to lehnermd for the picture. Click on it to view his profile as well as more of his photographs.)

It looks as if, finally, mental health issues will be insured as well as other health issues are. This is important legislation. Read about it at PsychCentral.Com.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Letting Go


Trust Fall
Originally uploaded by Stephen Nelson Photography


Thank you to Stephen Nelson Photography for the picture (which is not of me). Click on the photo to see more of his work.

Once, when it was my turn to do a trust fall, I was surprised by how much it frightened me. It took me a long time, and a lot of encouragement, to finally fall. Being caught was wonderful. I experienced joy by letting go.

As I was exercising one day, trying to touch my fingers to the floor, I realized that I would not stretch the most by working at stretching, but by relaxing and letting gravity take its course. I learned that stretching is maximized by letting go.

In childbirth, I caught myself arching my back in response to the pain of a contraction. I consciously relaxed and then the birth proceeded smoothly, and the pain I was experiencing decreased substantially. I learned that bringing life works best by letting go.

My husband helped me to see that a little bird when held in the hand will struggle to get free, but when allowed to perch on an open palm it may not fly away at all. I learned that love is best shared by letting go.

Experience has taught me that many things that I have worked too hard to accomplish were all the time only a matter of letting go. Trusting is a letting go. Forgiving is a letting go. Repenting is a letting go.

We read 2 Nephi 25:23 and think that the phrase "it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" is telling us that we must do all we can and then grace will come. Perhaps what it is saying is really the opposite. Perhaps it is saying to us, "Do what you will, after all you can do, it is still grace, and grace alone, that will save you."

We will not be successful by working harder and harder to climb to our Heavenly Father, for He is not reached that way. What we must do is to fall into the waiting arms of Our Savior. We stand on the platform and He patiently waits. Being wrapped in His love comes by letting go.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Reclusive Artist

Post script to yesterday's entry: Google the title of this post. You will see that there are pages and pages of them.

Please add me to the list. I am not at all uncomfortable with that. I hope that you are not.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Loners and Introverts

The following quotes describe me, and always have. I feel that I pushed myself so hard for so long to be social that I finally cracked and ran dry. I can no longer push myself. Whatever energy source I used to propel myself into social situations is depleted. Will it ever be replenished? Only time will tell.

Some loners are able to act "normally" in a social setting. However, the strain of being in a situation which is uncomfortable will leave them mentally and emotionally exhausted. Therefore, they will have to retreat for a significant amount of time before being able to do so again.

From Wikipedia: "Loner".

Introversion is "the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life".[3] Introverts tend to be low-key, deliberate, and relatively less engaged in social situations. They often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, drawing, watching movies, and using computers. The archetypal artist, writer, sculptor, composer and inventor are all highly introverted. An introverted person is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people (although they tend to enjoy interactions with close friends). They prefer to concentrate on a single activity at a time and like to observe situations before they participate.[5]

Introversion is not the same as shyness. Introverts choose solitary over social activities by preference, whereas shy people avoid social encounters out of fear.[6]

An introvert is energized when alone. Introverts tend to "fade" when with people and can easily become overstimulated with too many others around. Introverts tend to think before speaking.[7]

From Wikipedia: Extraversion and Introversion

Do the Math for Possible Combinations: "Seventy Different Brain Regions!"

It is no wonder we each have a unique experience, that my "bipolar disorder" is not your "bipolar disorder", nor my "depression" your "depression."

From World of Psychology today:

Seventy different brain regions! Which means our constant search for a single cause of a problem like depression or bipolar disorder is unlikely to find merit, even within brain research. The brain’s complexity is interwoven and interconnected in ways we couldn’t even begin to imagine 30 years ago. No single gene or set of genes or regions of the brain will likely ever be the only implicated for our mental health concerns.

See the entire article here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Flying Outside of Things


A real life Angel.
Originally uploaded by evanlane.com

I am no angel.

Like Alma, I would like to be one.

I once inadvertently stepped on a toddler who was playing on the floor. I felt just terrible, especially when she pulled away in abject fear at my attempts to comfort and apologize to her. At that moment, the Spirit seemed to reveal to me that I would unintentionally hurt people throughout my life. That was a terrible--and helpful--revelation.

And so it is. There are those--including beloved family members-- whom I inadvertently step upon. As happened with the little child, when they recoil from me I cannot make things right. Even though my only desires are to love and comfort them, I cannot change their hearts. Neither can I make right the conflicts between one loved one and another.

That hurts.

I realize now that Alma's sin in wishing to be an angel--he himself called it a sin--was not in that he wanted those whom he cared about to be happier, but that he did not trust in the Lord for His love, for His timing. (See Alma 29.) That is my problem, too: not being able to completely trust in the Lord.

Accepting His will in my own life is much easier than trusting Him with those I love.

I am thankful for Alma's honesty. With the desires that I harbor, it is good to know that I am in good company.

That is certainly a comfort as I try to heal.


(Please click on the picture for photo credits.)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

No More Violent than Anyone Else


Brother
Originally uploaded by .:: LINUZ ::.

Our Seattle-area television news reported last night on the multiple murders committed earlier this week in Alger, Washington. Much was said about the mental illness of the alleged shooter. Side stories left the impression that the mentally ill, specifically those with bipolar disorder, are dangerous people.

The fact is that people with mental illness are no more likely to commit violent acts than people in general. To attach to the tragedy that occurred this week the stories of other bipolar patients who happen to be among the violent minority does much to add to the stigma associated with mental illness. Those of us who suffer from mental illness have enough to do in helping others understand us without them learning to fear us on the nightly news.

I was heartened today to see that I was not the only one disturbed by what I witnessed over the airwaves last night. See more on this issue here.

(Click on the picture for credits.)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Healing of the Spirit

". . . whatever Jesus lays his hands upon lives. If Jesus lays his hands upon a marriage, it lives. If he is allowed to lay his hands on the family, it lives."
(Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve, 1979.)

"Accept the healing of spirit that He alone can give."

(
First Presidency Christmas Message 1985.)


When my father died, I realized that, despite the illness that took his life, in all the essential matters he had in reality been healed. Cancer prevailed in the ravaging of his body, to be sure, but I was witness also to the undeniable healing of soul which had taken place for him. Through the process of battling cancer, relationships with family members were healed, as well as Dad's relationship with his Heavenly Father. For the first time in my life, I heard my earthly father declare his faith in Jesus Christ. Was not that a healing of profound significance? I held his hand as he passed from this life, peaceful in the knowledge that all was well.

Too quickly, I believe, we despair that someone has not been healed, solely because they remain ill in their body. My experience has been that physical illness can be a means for the healing of the spirit within.

In my own case, I have prayed for years to be blessed with the gift of charity. I have been willing to experience whatever was needful for me to obtain that gift. I am not surprised that it is taking a lot of illness to open me up to the reception of so great an endowment.

Now I am feeling charity growing in me, as well as an increased trust in the Lord. I have prayed also to be able to say "thy will be done" and really, truly, to the depth of my soul mean what I am saying, because I truly trust in God. Those being my desires, they are worthy of suffering whatever is necessary to obtain them, are they not? To me, they most certainly are.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Relapse


Mallorca 2007 -- Waiting for summer (Part 2)
Originally uploaded by tygerlyl

No outings for me today. As I feared, I have relapsed into depression. I do have hope, however, that I will recover more quickly this time. (No church tomorrow, after all.)




(Click on the picture for photo credits.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Beginning to Bloom?


Tomorrow
Originally uploaded by love_child_kyoto

Like any illness, depression (whether unipolar or bipolar) heals incrementally, and improvement is measured in small triumphs. When you have a bad case of the flu, you are encouraged when the day comes that you are able--finally--to sip a cup of broth and not have it come back up again, to speak without your throat burning, to simply move about the room unattended.

I had a few small triumphs yesterday. I took a ride in the car. I entered a restaurant and ordered and paid for food. I went grocery shopping (to two stores!) with my husband. Like with any illness, I need to be cautious not to "overdo" and suffer a relapse of symptoms. But I do have hope. And I still feel well today (although I am not ready for any more such adventures for a while).

I believe that this third antidepressant may be helping. I have no doubt that calling upon our Father is helping, as well. Thank you to those who love me for your prayers in my behalf. I have hope--albeit a cautious one-- that I am beginning to open again.


(Click on the photo for credits.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Luna Park


Luna Park
Originally uploaded by carlmonus

I'm not sure how to tell, from inside myself, if I am manic or just happy. Do I appear to others like this, or not?

That's why it is good to have honest, and kind, people in my life.


(Click on the picture for photo credits.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mania Tuesday


Don't let the sun go down on me
Originally uploaded by cattycamehome

Up half the night.
Asleep half the day.

Never rested.






(Click on the picture for credits.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Please Don't Label Me "Inactive"


burnham lighthouse
Originally uploaded by g r e e n g a g e

As members of the Church we are sometimes inclined to place labels on others. The world needs to be a place of order, and I guess things seem more orderly when people are placed in categories and stamped with labels. Some of these labels might be “inactive,” “nonmember,” “active,” “single,” “divorced,” “uninterested,” “smoker,” “drinker,” and so on. May I suggest that there is a very real danger in applying these labels to people? It is altogether too easy to forget that each man, woman, boy, and girl on the face of the earth is a child of our Father in Heaven and entitled to the same blessings as we are. If we study the life of the Savior, we find that he was very hesitant to label his brothers and sisters as publicans, sinners, or adulterers. There can be no doubt that, as a perfect man, he was all too well aware of the sin in this world. Yet he was able to condemn the sin while at the same time loving and caring for the sinner. It is interesting to me to note that the one label that he did apply was that of “hypocrite.” Are there any of us who are so free from sin that we can afford to categorize others? Let us be careful to view our brothers and sisters as sons and daughters of God with great potential and to care for them accordingly.--Elder Ballard (Click here to see the entire article.)

An understanding friend of mine recently asked me, "So, are you inactive, or do you just not attend church?" I replied that I am not inactive. I still do all the things that I have done for years: study the scriptures each day, pay tithing, pray. Most importantly, I feel the Holy Spirit guiding me, and I feel my Savior's love and approval. I simply cannot attend any meetings right now, and that is because of my illness. Being the great friend that she is, she trusted that I spoke the truth.

Interestingly, I see aspects of my Patriarchal Blessing being fulfilled now as never before. I know that my light has not gone out. I hope I am serving, although I am unable to accept any formal calling.

I know that we all need to let our lights shine. Perhaps others could think of me--and of others in similar situations--as just a different type of lighthouse.

(Thank you to adamclutterbuck.com for the picture. Click on the photo for credits.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Be happy...!


Be happy...!
Originally uploaded by carf
(Click on the photo for credits.)

Do you ever feel like there is a cultural expectation for you to be happy all of the time?
Do you ever feel that your unhappiness indicates that you are more sinful than your neighbors?
Do you ever feel that the Lord is unhappy with your unhappiness?

There is a nice post about this topic today at Bryan and Ellie, where Bryan argues that sadness is underrated.


Heaven's Love, Unexpected


Walking the dog
Originally uploaded by Tampen

Today I accepted an invitation to visit a dog park. Not being a "dog person," I did not anticipate what a healing experience it would turn out to be. I loved being there. As I sat on a bench, individual dogs approached me and said, each in her own way, "Hello" and "I like you." To my surprise, I felt truly appreciated. I was the recipient of affection without preconditions.

Thank you, Joseph and Abbie.
Now I understand better what the "dog people" are talking about.

(There really is a dog in this picture. Click on it for a larger, even prettier version. Our thanks to the photographer.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pills Anonymous


White-eared Sibia picking Idesia polycarpa.(白耳倒吃山桐子)
Originally uploaded by John&Fish

You may have noticed that I do not post much about the specific medications I am taking. This is not because I feel any shame about your knowing. I do not tell you what I am taking because I do not want you to think that what is working (or not) for me will also work (or not) for you. Medications respond in different ways for different people. You and your doctor will have to decide what is best for you, for your particular chemistry.

It is kind of heartening, knowing that we are very distinct individuals, right down to our most minute wiring. There is nobody else just like me. There is nobody else just like you.

And yet, we have so much to share with one another.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mania and Anti-depressants







I am on my third anti-depressant this year and I am feeling much better. However, on this one I was beginning to exhibit signs of mania--in my case hypomania--which is a too-common side-effect of anti-depressants in bipolar patients. For me, hypomania presents itself with bouts of insomnia, an insatiable desire to spend money, and other unpleasantness. It was scary to experience these again, since I had been doing well in that area for many months. On my next visit to him, my psychiatrist upped my dosage of mood-stabilizer in the hopes that it would be a shield to the anti-depressant's ill effects. So far, so good. (I hate being hypomanic even more than being depressed. I fear all the time that it will worsen and my behavior will hurt those I love.)

There is a great article about the need for mood-stabilizers when anti-depressants are prescribed for bipolar patients today at Bipolar Beat. Click on the link if you would like to read more on this subject.

(Thank you to this photographer for the picture.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"More Data Prove Genetic Link to Bipolar Disorder"


Get links to this intriguing report at Bipolar Blog.

Thank you to idletype for the photograph.

Monday, August 18, 2008

God is There


Tree of Light
Originally uploaded by JPhilipson

You may feel alone. You are not alone.


(Click on the picture for photo credits.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fellow Sufferers

Click on the link here to read the stories of others who have suffered with mental illness of various kinds.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Deplete, Recharge


Convenience Everywhere!
Originally uploaded by bloompy

My husband is a master of analogies, and has helped me understand many a concept by verbalizing a picture I can see inside my head. He told me this one this morning:

Many people naturally assume that what a mentally ill person should do to get better is to push themselves, like a runner. Once through "the wall" things get better. Muscles get stronger by pushing them harder.

But mental illness does not work the way that running does. One does not push oneself to do uncomfortable things in order to become healthier. The mind does not work like a muscle.

The mind works more like a battery. The more it is depleted by over-working it, the longer it takes it to be recharged.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the telephone call


the telephone call
Originally uploaded by rockstro

I answered the phone today. A dear friend called, and I actually picked up.

I'm on my third anti-depressant in a year. Could this one be working?



(Click on the picture for photo credits.)

Words of Wisdom from Temple Grandin's Mother

I promise that in the future, to your surprise, your dreams will have changed, and changed you.

I know that is not what you want.

What you want is a real talisman, a magic something . . .

There was no magic, there was just doing the best I could. That's the point, that's the talisman.

And never letting go of hope.


(Click here for the article from which this came.)

Love Heals

Click here for one mother's story about a moment of healing love.

Monday, August 11, 2008

If at First You Don't Succeed . . .


If at first you don't succeed...
Originally uploaded by petervanallen

This is where I am.

The picture above is where I hope I am headed.

(Click on the picture for credits for this beautiful photograph.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

Enchantment


Enchantment
Originally uploaded by James Jordan

I find that beauty heals, don't you?

(James Jordan comes through again.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"Easing the Burdens of Mental Illness"

'The New Testament contains numerous examples of the Savior’s ministry among the sick and afflicted, including those suffering from what we now term as mental illness. 2 The Lord also extended His healing touch to those with other diseases accompanied by considerable stigma, such as leprosy. 3 In biblical times most lepers were shunned by their communities and forced to live in isolation. Today, many of the mentally ill are treated similarly: all too often they are ignored and stigmatized.

'The Savior has commanded, “The works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do.” 4 How can we follow His example in regard to those with mental illness and their families?'

The above is an excerpt from an excellent article by Jay and Dawn Fox. How thankful I am for these kind and caring--and understanding--people.

See the entire article here.

Tying to Sleep


trying to sleep
Originally uploaded by camil tulcan

I found this while I was up with a spell of insomnia. It didn't help me sleep, but it did cheer me up.

(Can you count the sheep?)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Barely Afloat Today


Anti-theft protected
Originally uploaded by aremac

I wrapped a gift this morning for a friend whose husband and daughter were recently killed in an automobile accident. I made a phone call to arrange a visit today to a very close friend whose daughter, last January, was murdered before her eyes. And then I got the news that my widowed mother's much-adored cat had to be put to sleep this morning, and I am submerged in a flood of grief and tears.

I will not be visiting anyone. Those chains that hold me afloat--my knowledge of the plan of salvation--will keep me from complete submersion. But I cannot carry cargo. I just can't.

I hope, particularly if you are one of those I need to visit, that seeing this picture will help you to understand my stillness. I truly have as much love for others as ever I have. But to convey anything has become near to impossible for now.

(Click on the picture for photo credits.)