Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Comments Moderation Enabled

I am changing my settings to enable comments moderation (again) due to an unfortunate experience at my other blog. Your comments will take a while to show up here, but please keep them coming. All legitimate comments will generally show up within a few hours, and I love to hear from you.

Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"I should have been considered a completely happy man"

When my husband got home for work yesterday and asked how I was, I reported that I was having a "very depressed" day. He asked if it was anything going on, and I reported no, it was all internal. He has learned to accept that. Sometimes something sad has occurred, but, much more often, my mood is due to chemistry rather than catastrophe.

I was moved, therefore, by this passage from Leo Tolstoy which is found on page 45 of Touched with Fire by Kay Redfield Jamison (Free Press Paperbacks 1993). His life, like mine, was filled with the elements which should bring happiness. But his mind, like mine, was darkened.

"The thought of suicide came to me as naturally then as the thought of improving life had come to me before. This thought was such a temptation that I had to use cunning against myself in order not to go through with it too hastily. I did not want to be in a hurry only because I wanted to use all my strength to untangle my thoughts. If I could not get them untangled, I told myself, I could always go ahead with it. And there I was, a fortunate man, carrying a rope from my room, where I was alone every night as I undressed, so that I would not hang myself from the beam between the closets. And I quit going hunting with a gun, so that I would not be too easily tempted to rid myself of life. I myself did not know what I wanted. I was afraid of life, I struggled to get rid of it, and yet I hoped for something from it.

"And this was happening to me at a time when, from all indications, I should have been considered a completely happy man; this was when I was not yet fifty years old. I had a good, loving, and beloved wife, fine children, and a large estate that was growing and expanding without any effort on my part. More than ever before I was respected by friends and acquaintances, praised by strangers, and I could claim a certain renown without really deluding myself."

I am not presently in the depths which Count Tolstoy describes, but I understand that place which he visited. That landscape is familiar to me now.

Thank you to for the painting.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"My Life is but a Weaving"

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I let Him choose the colors;
He worketh steadily.
Oftimes he worketh sorrow
And I, within my heart,
Forget He sees the pattern
While I see only part.
The dark threads were as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He had planned.
Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

"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] ).

Thank you to this photographer for the threaded loom and to this one for the tapestry.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Signs of Life

We are beginning to see signs of life again, with Spring upon us. I am beginning to see some tiny shoots of promise in my life, as well. I didn't cry at the chiropractor this week. I managed (in company with my husband, of course) to shop at two stores yesterday afternoon, rather than just one. And I am beginning to open the curtains downstairs in the morning, instead of just before my husband comes home. Could I actually be emerging from this winter?

Thank you to this photographer.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


One of the highlights for me in this conversation was this comment by Dr. Kirk Dougher about the importance of support from family members and friends:

"To be able to have a resource to turn to; someone who is open and non-judgmental, who is willing to listen and try and understand without feeling a need of trying to give advice or solve the problem; someone who's really truly interested in helping the person and is willing to be with them through a number of different struggles can be a dramatic thing that helps turn the tide for people."

Much may be said about the self-centeredness of teenagers, but I have one in my life who has been touchingly generous with her time and compassion for me. I am also blessed in that the paragraph above exactly describes my visiting teacher. It describes my extraordinarily patient and long-suffering husband. And what I feel best about concerning the growth of each of my children is how they fit into the above description as well. I am blessed with tremendous support and I hope each of those who are a part of it will feel my heartfelt gratitude.

(And a thank you, too, to this photographer for the amazingly appropriate photo.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On Being

One of the great comments I gleaned from my time at Alanon was this one: "You are made to be a human being, not a human doing." Great truth for one who feels she is never doing enough. How I appreciated this post today at Mind, Soul, and Body. It reminded me again that what I am becoming is the true measure of my progress. I can day by day become more like my beloved Savior under any conditions, even when I am not doing what most everybody else is doing. Even if I am a little "tetched," as they say.

On that note, I also watched again the movie "Miss Potter" yesterday. I love that story. I love that she was, well, pixilated, yet so endearing. The movie is a love story, but the love story which most moved me was that of Beatrix Potter's love of the land. I long for the life that she lived in the end, among the glorious beauties of nature, not devoid of loved ones, but with much of solitude and time for her art. I hope that is what awaits me, if not here, then in the next world. That is my idea of heaven.

Thank you to this site for the image of my favorite scene from the movie.

Love is a Healing Power

Thank you, Ethan.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I drove one-and-a-half miles through our lovely community to drop my son at work this morning. Then I drove the one-and-a-half miles back. By the time I got home I was shaking with anxiety, and I went upstairs and cried. It was so hard.

(Not ready to return to church yet.)

Thank you to this artist/photographer for the representation of what I am feeling.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Change in Meds

I had my visit with my psychiatrist yesterday, and shared my concerns. He listened well. I am now tapering off of one prescription (Atenolol, which may be behind my sluggishness and weight gain), switching anti-depressants (from Lexapro to Prozac) and upping the dosage on my mood stabilizer (Lamictal). I get to stay on the anti-anxiety medication (Ativan), as needed (which has been once-a-day for a while now).

I know this is a shockingly long list of drugs to many, as it would have been to me a few years ago. I remember hearing the term "cocktail of prescriptions" when I was diagnosed with AD/HD a few years back and saying to myself: "Not for me. Not ever!" I have so avoided using drugs of any kind over the years. (I gave birth six times without anesthetics for goodness sake.) But I have been ill for years and years, too, in spite of all my attempts with alternatives.

I believe in mental-health medications now. I believe in research. I trust my psychiatrist. And, although I am sure there area few quacks and charlatans out there, I believe that there are many, many good and caring people in the medical profession. I have certainly had multiple experiences with such people.

The currently available medications are not perfect. No one claims they are. I am confident that there are many improvements ahead in healing of all kinds. I believe that at this very moment God is inspiring researchers to help us overcome the maladies we now face. As for now, I feel very blessed to have the helps we do have. I intend to take full advantage of them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Small Triumphs

I figure it is always a pretty good day when I don't stay in bed all day curled up under the covers. It is always a temptation.

Today I got up and stayed up.
Today I listened to scripture discussions.
Today I prepared and ate meals.
Today I worked on quilts, both to keep and to give away.
Today I was kind to family members.
Today I felt the love of my Savior for me personally, in spite of my flaws.

I also felt like crying all day. I felt terrible guilt, which I know was unwarranted but I could not assuage. I was very anxious and jumpy. I had to give myself pep-talks all day about how I do matter to others. I stayed in my house, afraid to meet up with any people.

But it was a pretty good day all in all--for me.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ether Chapter Four

5 And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a afurious wind blow upon the face of the waters, btowards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.
6 And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
7 And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being atight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the bark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.
8 And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were adriven forth before the wind.
9 And they did asing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did bthank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.
10 And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither awhale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.
11 And thus they were driven forth, athree hundred and forty and four days upon the water.
12 And they did aland upon the shore of the bpromised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his ctender mercies over them.

And so, notwithstanding furious wind and monsters of the sea, we are driven always towards the promised land, with a light which never fails. Such are the tender mercies of the Lord.

Thank you to this blog for the illustration and to for the scripture passage.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Walking with Spiders

My husband and I ventured out on an hour-long walk around our community this afternoon. The sky was clear and blue and the temperature neither too warm nor too cool, enhanced by the gentlest of breezes. The outing had all the elements to make it perfect: trees in bud, birdsong, sunshine, and gorgeous mountain views.

But it was ruined for me by spiders.

It seems that spiders were out in unprecedented numbers today. We saw them again and again, and I grew increasingly anxious. Half-way through our walk, we saw a cluster of thirty or forty of them crawling amongst and over each other. While this mass was quite a distance from us, at just that point one crossed our path closely enough so that I could have reached out and touched it, and I squeezed my husband's hand and took some deep breaths just to keep my knees from buckling. The rest of the way home, I twisted a ball of tissue over and over in my palm as I told myself repeatedly: "You can do this. It's really quite safe. You can do this." All I could think about--in spite of the beauty around me--was getting safely into my house (and having a good cry).

I know that such a fear is illogical. I know that the spiders are not really any threat to me. I know, I know, I know. But the fear remains. It ruins lovely walks. It's crazy.

Now, here is what is crazier. It wasn't really spiders that ruined the walk today for me at all. (I saw a few, and simply stepped around them, as I always do.) What made me so anxious and full of fear was not spiders, but people. What really was the source of my dread were the good folks of our community: people alone and groups of people, friendly and disinterested people, rushing and ambling people, dog-walking, playground-romping, young and old people.

I know it doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense.

It makes little sense to me, and I'm living it.

(Thanks to this photographer for the spider.)


"How did Abraham know?" I asked my psychologist, who is quite conversant in the Bible. "How did Abraham know, when everything went against logic, that it was really God speaking to him?" Not surprisingly, my doctor didn't have an answer.

That's a struggle, though, isn't it? We are so often presented with a list of basic things that we need to do to stay close to the Lord. "Don't ever think that you are an exception to the rules." Good counsel, except when you truly become an exception to the rules.

Suppose you are flat on your back in a hospital bed with every bone broken.

Suppose it is your brain that is broken.

I give myself little tests. If I feel that I just can't leave my house to attend meetings, I ask myself, would you leave your house to [insert a delightful activity here]? If I answer "no," then I am pretty sure that I am an "exception to the rule" and not just making excuses.

I think that these sorts of quandaries are what prompted me to recently post this excerpt from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at my other blog. I have to trust myself, logically, like Lucy's siblings learned the logic of trusting her.

From Doctrine and Covenants Section 6:14:
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou would not have come to the place where thou art at this time.

I remind myself often that the Spirit has brought me this far. I have to trust that it is that same Spirit which is directing me now.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Migraines Again

After a year's respite, migraines have returned. I am glad that I have an appointment with my psychiatrist in a week. Hopefully, he will have some good ideas for fighting them.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Chemicals Consistently Off-Kilter

Here is an excerpt from the March 20, 2008 post at, which I think provides a good explanation of the different types of depression:

Take a look at the types of depression patients there are:

First, there’s the regular; the person who will be on anti-depressants for life (or until some wonderful medical advances make depression obsolete!). These people need medicine because the chemicals in their body are consistently off-kilter. Usually a genetic issue, without medication, they are physically unable to produce what their body needs for “normal” functioning.

Then there’s the drop-in. These are the people who become biologically off-kilter during a short period of time, maybe during an extended period of stress. Therefore, they take the medicine, get their brain chemicals back in balance, and never look at an anti-depressant again.

Then there are the people who never really needed drug therapy at all. They are depressed because they have a negative belief system or unresolved issues or an inability to express their true emotions. While the depression is still real, still painful, their problems can be alleviated with psychotherapy or depression studies and groups. The cause of their illness is not physical.

Now I know that this is a simplified and unscientific way to classify people with depression. I also realize that a genetically depressed person will probably have negative belief systems or other ways of thinking that only make their depression worse. But with genetic depression, the depression will exist, even with better beliefs and other lifestyle changes.

I have the first type: chemicals off-kilter, a physical inability to produce what my body needs for normal functioning. It is a depression which persists, even with changes in beliefs and lifestyle.

This is why I cannot tell you when I am going to feel better. This is why your pep-talks just make me feel worse. This is why I cannot will myself to be well.

I liken a mood disorder such as mine to a viral infection. Medications don't get rid of a virus, although they can certainly soften the symptoms of having it. When fighting a virus, you must do what you can to be healthier, but mostly you just take care of yourself the best you are able and wait for it to pass. So it is with a chemically-induced mental illness.

I sometimes think that I should always say and write mental illness, to emphasize that it is just another form of illness, because it really is, and should be so treated.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

What Does BiPolar Look Like?

Vincent Van Gogh 1888.Vincent Van Gogh 1889.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Resources and Encouragement

Here is a link to an audio address by Jay and Dawn Fox and another by Alexander B. Morrison. And here is the article about mental illness in the church.

To Begin: The Last Couple of Days

Wednesday I traveled with daughter K to visit our chiropractor. This we do every two weeks, and I enjoy it. It is one thing for which I will leave my house, albeit not alone. On the way there, we discussed the possibility of me dropping my daughter off at a friend's house, and then driving home by myself. The anticipation of this caused me such fear that I began to cry, and was doing so when the doctor entered our room. He was very kind and we all talked things over, and K made different arrangements.

My eldest daughter E was also disappointed by my meltdown, as she is alone in her little apartment with a new baby, and was looking forward to my company that day, too. But she understands, as does K, and they are kind to me about it all.

It is sad to disappoint the people I love.

Yesterday, Thursday, E brought the baby out to my house so that she and her husband could go out for a few hours and I could hold that little baby all that I liked. They returned and stayed for a while and I just held him and held him. Baby Ethan loved being held, and I loved holding him, and E loved having a break. So sometimes, I make the lives of loved ones better, too.

Babies are great healers. When I am holding my little grandson I feel peace.