Saturday, December 31, 2011

This is ANXIETY!


I am reminded I have a mental illness as I become terrified on the next street over. Walking Jireh, the people, noises, stimulation… all too much. I literally stop in my tracks to catch my breath, slow my heartbeat, and wipe the sweat profusely pouring from my skin. Anxiety attack. I know it, recognize the too familiar symptoms, still the world is spinning as if I am on a rapid carousel. I need help but am unable to speak. A car goes by and the passenger blows a party favor at me. This is it. This is where I go crazy and end up back in the hospital. I become dizzy, light headed. Jireh pulls me out of my trance. “Put one foot in front of the other… focus on one step at a time.”

Home. Thank God I made it safely home. There will be fireworks tonight, which will cause Jireh to bark, which will scare me more. The day is over for me. I will spend the next 16 hours in bed, head covered.

Life is hard. This new year, I am going to take better care of myself. I’m going to be productive when I am feeling good instead of forcing myself to socialize. My friends will just have to understand. Finding a job is my top priority. How will I work with anxiety and depression? By putting one foot in front of the other.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Becoming Me

Bought a 2012 calendar, thinking next year will be the year I become more of myself and less of a conformist. There are many passions I neglect for the sake of going with the crowd. Since I’ve intentionally sought out new friends (and found some definite keepers!), I realize how much I have settled. I’m not settling anymore. There is a whole world out there. I’m thinking of plastering photos of my passions around my loft so I keep the image in my mind daily… the image of how I want my life to be.


Strangely, Stacy emailed, asking if I’d like to get together and plan/pray over each other’s New Year’s Resolutions… I LOVE that idea! I would rather do things like that (meet at a coffee shop while each of us work on our own project, go to a poetry reading, READ at a poetry reading, listen to local music at a coffee house *I love coffee*, go to an art exhibit, boating, anything by the sea…) then see a movie, go shopping, etc.

I challenge you to be more of yourself in 2012. My dilemma, however, is how do I not offend friends when I turn down offers repeatedly? I’m all into compromising, yet I know not many people find pleasure in what I do… I know there are some out there, and I am determined to find more friends who share my interests… yet how do I find balance in my writing (determined to view writing as a job – 40 hours per week – to get back on my feet), others interests, and my own interests?

 You want a world full of love? Well then, treat one's life like one's day and before you set out, be sure to dump everything others have told you about who you should be and how you should feel, flush it all away. Deception does not begin with others, it begins with ourselves. Give up the pride that holds it in and let it go. You'll feel much, much better.- from Existentialist Wall on Facebook 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jireh! Almost 15 Months Old



Catching Up


My laptop is actually working, which is great since my iPad started crashing. Started thinking maybe God doesn’t want me writing when He reminded me both things stop working when I was NOT using them to write. Correlation? I’d say so. My fingers are zipping across the keyboard again and I love it! Addy and Jireh are sleeping, I’ve coffee at my side, along with notes to catch up the past couple weeks of blogs… let the writing begin!

Bangs!

Why people with CP should not cut bangs.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Jesus' Birthday!

I'll catch up on the past week, but wanted to blog about Christmas;

It went amazingly well! New traditions started :). 
Jen's husband is with his mom so I spent the night. Christmas morning, at 6:15, Jireh and I woke her and her two goldens by jumping on her bed, saying, "it's Jesus' birthday!!! Merry Christmas!", laughing... Jen was covering her head because the dogs were attacking her (playing), and she finally says, "Someone is on my bladder! I gotta pee!". It was great. I will never forget it... Christmas Eve was tough, didn't go to a party I had RSVP'd to... I just can't understand how my relatives won't even take my calls... But I prayed through it and Christmas morning I felt such peace knowing this was the first Christmas I didn't have to deal with my "bad" brother. The most peaceful Christmas ever. I loved it. My friends have been wonderful!  Teresa gave me a box full of coffee/kitchen stuff, Jen & Ron gave me tons of stuff, my church gave me a massive amount of food - ham, 2 pies, fudge, vegetables, potatoes, cookies, etc. and Stacy (who I met for church, then lunch with her and her family) gave me candy, a golden retriever bookmark, and gift cards! Oh, food too... She and her mom gave me lots of food. I told her parents about myself, including my testimony. I told them if there isn't a God, I won't miss out on anything. But if there IS a God (which I know there is), I know I'm going to heaven. I also told them Ive been lonely and scared many times, yet I always feel like "it's going to be okay", and I know that is Jesus. 

Next year is going to rock!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reality

I have lots to blog about but haven't been in the mood.

Reality stings. At least I tried to call and wish my parents Merry Christmas. Neither their cell nor home phone will accept my calls. Guess God is protecting me.

Preparing

Perhaps God wants us to feel strongly dissatisfied with the imperfections of our current state and long for what is to come. - Mosaic Bible.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Why I Am Still Here


Writer's block... December 17th is hard to put into words. I met the cutest kid with cerebral palsy... My heart saw so much potential sitting in her pink wheelchair.

I went with Jennifer and family to her nephew’s basketball game. Before I even sat down, I saw the cutest girl with long blonde hair and a bright smile sitting in a pink wheelchair. She must’ve been 7 or 8. I introduced myself, and told her how pretty she was. Beside her was a not-so-warm lady, who I naturally assumed was her mother. She abruptly informed me the little girl didn’t talk… and she couldn’t hear either.  I was thinking how sad – not sad about the little girl, rather sad at how pessimistic the lady was! If she thought she was going to deter me from talking to the girl, she was mistaken. I asked if she had Cerebral Palsy, and the mother simply said ‘yes’. I had the feeling I was annoying her but I didn’t care. Yes, I WAS keeping her from watching the game, but I felt the need to tell her how much potential the girl had, how the doctors had said I would be a vegetable needing institutional living my entire life, how doctors’ make mistakes… She listened to part of my spiel and interrupted with, “She has a LOT of problems!”. Okay… I asked if she was in a regular classroom and the lady appeared to become frustrated. “I don’t send her to school with her immune system… she may catch something.” I finally took her unspoken cues, said goodbye to the girl, and sat down.

I hope the girl will be given the chance to shine…given the chance to branch out and become the unique individual God created her to be.

Later, I thought, I should’ve told the lady, “Hey, I have a lot of problems too! Crohn’s, Major Clinical Depression, Asthma, Attention Deficit, Endometriosis, etc.” but it wasn’t about me, it was about that precious little girl.

Jennifer later told me the part that IS about me:
“Before I met you, I would’ve looked at that girl with pity and sadness that she had CP. Since I got to know you, I just see her as a cute girl who happens to be in a wheelchair. Other than the chair, I see her having a normal life like everyone else!”

That is my part. That is why God won’t take me home yet… Amen.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pity Party Crasher

My friend, Stacy, came over tonight. I really was in no mood to censor my conversations since I was feeling so low, but I really like Stacy and wanted to see her. She brought a book for me to borrow, The Search For Significance by McGee, and hinted how sometimes our thoughts are from the enemy and we need to refer to Scripture to remind us who God says we are. I hadn’t considered that fact. I guess I am so confident of the Holy Spirit living within me, I rarely question the source of my thoughts. I made a mental note to research spiritual warfare. I continued my uncensored discussion by sharing my pity party beliefs, which went something like this:

Me: I know God allowed me to have cerebral palsy so I could glorify Him by living successfully in spite of it, but how am I glorifying Him when I am struggling financially?
Stacy (thinking very carefully about her words… I could tell): How do you think you glorify God?
Me: By living independently, by being self-sufficient.
Stacy: Is that the only way (to glorify God)?
Me: Is this a trick question?
I knew it wasn’t, so I asked her what she thought.
Stacy: What about glorifying God by trusting Him regardless of your circumstances?

She was right. I had forgotten about the patience of Job. Somewhere along the way, I had decided my time of suffering had ended and enough was enough. Where was my faith? Where was my perseverance? Stacy’s words were exactly what I needed to shut down my pride and rediscover my faith. I felt the Holy Spirit speak through her words. By the time she left, I had a whole new attitude. I had hope again.

Stacy and Me at Church

Pity Party


This is such a treat! My laptop is actually working! So much easier to write on my laptop as opposed to my iPad. And it so happens that Jireh is at a puppy play date so I’m praying this is productive day writing. I need it. Yesterday I started cycling into a situational depression, meaning I know the source of the depression, I’m ashamed of what I did and fear the consequences.

My gas tank was empty, kitchen had no food, and I was/am apprehensive about Christmas. I am also about out of medication, which is close to $80 month, I have no working TV and the one thing keeping me sane is Internet. God bless Jen & Ron, they brought me groceries, put gas in my car, have invited me to multiple events to keep my mind off Christmas, and said not to worry about my medication, they won’t let me go without it… they amaze me with their kindness and leave me speechless!

Others have been helping me too, including Susie and Stacie. I only receive approximately $1150 per month and my rent is $600. I’m still catching up on moving expenses from August.  I hate living this way and I daily ask God, “How am I glorifying you if I’m the community charity case?”  I don’t sit at the throne long enough to wait for his answer because I don’t think I’ll like his response.

So out of frustration, when my wifi was cut off, I called in a payment, and now (after bank fees) my checking account is negative $160. What a way to start the New Year! I felt awful after I did it and still do. All of these people are helping me and I was a bad steward. I want to be mad at God, but He reminds me where I was LAST year and how He has blessed me, so I end up praising Him.

My life has so drastically changed – not having the newest MAC product (haven’t had an iPhone in a year), not having a consistently functioning Macbook  (I’m a writer!!), and, as silly as it sounds, not having Starbucks several times per week. I don’t even have living room furniture to sit on.

And this shows me how selfish and ungrateful I am. And I hate who I am. And I don’t deserve any more help. I told Jen what I had done and she was disappointed yet assured me she still loved me. Still, the shame remains.

The only way I can redeem myself is to send query letters to publisher in hopes of earning money through my writing. I sent one yesterday and within five minutes, received a response “we are not accepting unsolicited queries at this time.” My plan is to send a minimum of five per day. I HAVE GOT to get back on my feet. I don’t believe I deserve anyone else’s help.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Please Pray

Okay, people... I'm going d-o-w-n (into another depression). Please pray I feel God's strength, love and hope.

More Students With Disabilities Heading to College

More Students With Disabilities Heading to College
Reprinted from 2007:
I disappointed God. Feeling much shame:

Feel sorrow within
Disappointed again
How could I hurt You?
So readily desert You?
The grace that You give
The ways You forgive
With your people I'll share
.., this cross I must bear.
           •SW  8/7/7

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Still Get Discouraged

I still have moments where I am bitter and angry. This is in response to an email asking why I was upset. I realize I sound like a brat in this, so please don't judge me. I am very happy my friend is getting an iPad - jealous too.

Too much to write in an email as to why I am mad at God. Basically, tired of not being able to work and having to go without. I'd do anything to have an iPhone, never mind a Macbook - if only to borrow to send stuff to publishers until I can get my own Macbook (mine is soooo difficult to use now). My friend is getting an iPad for Christmas and I'm happy for her but it'd be like me getting a guitar you wanted for Christmas- it wouldn't be fair because I wouldn't appreciate it like you would.

I want to work! Plus, there's an existentialist conference in March where my favorite author (the guy who turned me on to existentialism is now 80 and rarely speaks at conferences) is the keynote speaker. Registration is $560 plus travel (it's in San Francisco) so highly unlikely I'll get to go.

I'm sick of being under the mercy of my depression. I feel guilty for not being satisfied with the numerous gifts God has given me. 

Other than that, I'm fine. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hark!

Jen & Me 

A little over two weeks until Christmas…allowing myself to really process this sends me into a dark place, so this morning, I told Jen I didn’t want to be alone. Her poor husband must tire of my depression episodes. This morning, I went to Jen’s at 8 and spent all day with them. Seriously, her husband is very good at handling my depression. In March, I was SO hopeless and depressed, I attempted suicide by taking more than 60 prescription pills. I’ll never forget the number because I had to tell the intake specialist, 2 doctors, a nurse, and an EMT what I had done and every single one of them thought I said 16. When I clarified SIXTY, they were all in disbelief. I don’t remember much about that night, but I remember my frustration at being asked why I attempted suicide… AS IF I COULD TELL THEM IN ONE OR TWO SENTENCES! The pills didn’t really hurt me, except I have little memory of that night and from Jen’s description, I was pretty comical. Seems I kept asking for Dr. Drew (from TV) at the hospital. Oh, and I kept asking for a Smirnoff Ice on the way to the hospital. But I digress.

Back to Jen’s husband…the three of us have these intellectual discussions (all FSU grads!) and we were discussing a girl in the news who was suspected to have been drugged. News came out that she had attempted suicide before so perhaps she attempted again. I was angry at that and said, “So if anyone wants to kill me, just drug my drink and the police will assume it was suicide… you’ll never be investigated!” Jen’s husband replied, “Yeah, but it’d take over 200 pills to have any effect on you!” I cracked up laughing! That was one of the funniest comments I have ever heard! So Ron is definitely becoming a pro with my depression.

Since I actually had fun when Jen took me to the hospital (but I don’t want to go through that again), I’ll pretty much do anything with her now. Her nephew was in a symphony orchestra concert so I went. They played Christmas music (so proud of myself for going!), including “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”.


God and sinners reconciled. God and sinners reconciled.  I kept repeating that line. God and sinners reconciled. A light went off in my head. THE Light went off in my head. Jesus was born so that we could be reconciled with God. Wow. There is nothing worth more celebration than that! Embracing Christmas is no longer challenging for me… I will likely be alone on Christmas Day. I won’t get any presents (my parents overindulged me on Christmas and paid for my gifts for months after… I’ll miss that.), and my Christmas dinner will likely be buttered bread. Yet, it’ll be fine. I’m a sinner, yet I’ve been reconciled with God because Jesus was born! Hark, the herald angels sing!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Season

My friend, Susie, and her
pink Christmas tree


Spent the morning making Christmas cards (almost done!). I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas, how selfish it is for me to try denying the season is here. That would be like telling a friend, “I don’t want to acknowledge your birthday because I have horrible experiences with my own birthdays, thus I don’t want to hear about or celebrate yours.” I would never say something so selfish to a friend, yet I am basically saying that to Jesus Christ. Ouch!

What hurts most about this Christmas are things that do not exemplify the true meaning of Christmas – truthfully, I miss all the gifts – my parents always went all out for  Christmas, and I need so much this year (new Macbook for writing, Day Planner, new iPhone and camera to replace my broken ones, clothes *since I lost so many when I moved, shoes, furniture – only have a bed to sit on, so can’t really have company over, and cash to catch up on my bills). It saddens me I won’t be receiving anything.

However, I am MUCH better off than last year. I have heat, a nice home, food, 2 healthy pets, new friends… I have a better grip on my depression, even less than 3 weeks before Christmas, and am excited about writing again. 2012 is going to be the year I use my God-given talent of writing to become a success again and get myself out of this mess! All these things are possible because of JESUS! EVERYTHING IS ABOUT JESUS! How could I deny the season of His birth? It’s a time to celebrate and be filled with joy!!

Happy Birthday, Jesus! Joy to the World!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Learning During the Storm


I’m ready to be a writer again. My Macbook is on its last leg, so I need it to hang in there until I can get a new Mac. Before I had to quit working, I was always on my iPhone and Macbook concurrently. My favorite past-time was sitting with 4 other Mac lovers while we each did our own thing on our laptops. I think that is why I stopped writing, no longer having an adequately functioning laptop (screen goes out) and dropping my iPhone in water. I miss those two things increasingly more in correlation with the lessening of my depression. Those things led to my productivity. I need to get a writing gig to replace them (among other things).

The new year starts in 4 weeks THANK GOODNESS! What a PERFECT reward for surviving the holidays… a brand new start!

This past weekend was rough… I started my self-injurious behavior as another unhealthy way of escaping. Details not needed, I just realized it would take a lot of counseling for me to start dating again! My professors use to say mental illness was like an onion in that you keep peeling back layers only to find new issues to be worked through. To say it frustrates me would be an understatement. There is so much crap that has built up, it’s hard to know where to start!

But I know I am moving in the right direction, thanks to God putting Rob and Jen in my life. I know I talk about them frequently, but it’s because they both handle my depression so well. They know not to push me or try to ‘fix’ me… it’s the perfect balance and I honestly believe it is due to trust and communication. I promised them I would call them before I did anything to hurt myself and therefore, they allow me to be the introverted, loner I am. I love that about them. Yet when they DO make suggestions, which is very rare, I usually follow their direction.

For instance, I stayed at Jen’s last night and was upset (surprise, surprise) by someone wanting me to reconnect with a bad part of my past. Jen took me to dinner, then rented one of my favorite movies and told me to put my iPad away! (Facebook upsets me, as does news about Jerry Sandusky). Mutual respect, honesty, and humility are paramount when dealing with depression. As the one who is depressed here, it is nice having someone who has my best interest at heart to keep me balanced.

I can tell this is making me stronger. As I experience the depression and pain, I’m learning some valuable life lessons.

Addy, My Girl


Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Addy!

Today is Addy’s birthday! My kitty is four years old, and we’re celebrating by sending Jireh to Jennifer’s for a puppy sleepover while Addy eats her favorite meal and we play with her favorite toys. Addy has been an incredible companion for me.

Well, I wish I could stop whining but I am determined to be honest with this holiday depression… I stayed in bed all day yesterday. With no TV, I stared into space, unable to do anything meaningful. My sweet friend, Karen, tried to get me out last night… was sooo understanding, willing to just come over or do whatever… I just couldn’t. I wanted to at LEAST take Jireh to a dog park but I ached all over and my Crohns disease is acting up.

People don’t realize that depression has physical symptoms as well, so I found a great article on the effects and posted it below (yesterday’s blog).

So no profound theological revelation again. I am just trying to make it to January 2nd, one day at a time. I have to mail my handmade cards out today, take Jireh to the vet, do laundry, and am suppose to go for soup with ladies from church tonight. All of this seems literally impossible when most people could accomplish this in a couple of hours. Thank goodness, Jennifer will be over to help me… not just physically, but she will make me laugh. She always makes me laugh. She’s become almost like a caretaker and I hate being such a burden to her…she always says Jesus gives her the ability to help me. There’s no doubt about that because I don’t know how she does it. I’ll try to blog right after we get together today as I will likely be in a good mood.

Until then, I will also try to get out of my self-pity mode.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Very Educational Article on Depression and Suicide

Read this article on the truth about depression and suicide.
-from save.org


Suicide and Depression

Q&A Why do people kill themselves?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. People die by suicide for a number of reasons. However, the majority of the people who take their lives (estimated at 90%) were suffering with an underlying mental illness and substance abuse problem at the time of their death. They weren't sick, but their brains were. Too often we think that a person is their brain, that’s where their personality or character resides. This is not true. The brain is an organ just like the liver, the kidneys, the gall bladder, etc. When it gets sick too often the appearance of the problem is in the form of a mental illness, as in the case of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia. If the brain is sick too long, it can lead a person to taking their lives. This isn't always the case, as millions of people live with depression and never attempt or die by suicide, but with awareness, education, and treatment, people can be helped so that suicide does not become an option.

Do people attempt suicide to prove something or to get sympathy?

No. A suicide attempt is a cry for help that should never be ignored. It is a warning that something is terribly wrong. Chronic depression can lead to feelings of despair and hopelessness, and a suicide attempt is one way some people choose to express these feelings. Most people who attempt or commit suicide don't really want to die - they just want their pain and suffering to end. A suicide attempt is also not done to gain someone's sympathy, as those that attempt to take their life do it for internal reasons-they simply can't stand the pain they feel emotionally and/or physically. It isn’t to try and get someone to feel bad for them, that's the last thing they would want.

A suicide attempt must always be taken seriously. Without intervention and proper treatment, a person who has attempted suicide is at greater risk of another attempt and possible suicide.

What is depression and what are depressive illnesses?

Depression and depressive illnesses are classified as mood disorders in the medical field, including everything from Major Depression to Dysthymia. They have a number of symptoms that affect people socially, occupationally, educationally, interpersonally, etc. How does one become depressed? Basically, here's how it works: the nerves in our brain don't touch each other, but rather pass messages from one to the next through chemicals called neurotransmitters. We need just the right amount of this chemical between the nerves to pass the exact same message to the next nerve. If there isn’t enough of that chemical, the message doesn't get passed along correctly and in this case, depression or a depressive illness can result. When it comes to depressive disorders the chemicals most frequently out of balance are serotonin and norepinephrine.

A person living with depression does not always have the same thoughts as a healthy person. This chemical imbalance can lead to the person not understanding the options available to help them relieve their suffering. Many people who suffer from depression report feeling as though they've lost the ability to imagine a happy future, or remember a happy past. Often they don't realize they're suffering from a treatable illness, and seeking help may not even enter their mind. Emotions and even physical pain can become unbearable. They don't want to die, but it's the only way they feel their pain will end. It is a truly irrational choice. Suffering from depression is involuntary, just like cancer or diabetes, but it is a treatable illness that can be managed.

How do alcohol and drugs affect depression?

Alcohol is a depressant, so it can and often does make depression worse. Drug use alone or in combination with alcohol use for someone suffering with depression can be lethal. Too often people attempt to alleviate the symptoms of depression by drinking or using drugs which can increase the risk of suicide by impairing judgment and increasing impulsivity.

Can a suicidal person mask their depression?

Sure, they can and sometimes do. But we can all be more aware of the signs and symptoms of depression to help those we care about get the necessary treatment to relieve them of their pain. Plus, because many people who are depressed can not see their symptoms, we have to be their eyes and ears for them to help SAVE their life. Many people suffering from depression and even contemplating suicide hide their feelings and appear to be happy just prior to their suicide attempt. This often confuses the people around them since for so long they had been suffering and appearing depressed, then all of a sudden seem better. However, most of the time a person who is suicidal will give clues as to how desperate they feel. It is critical that you familiarize yourself with the symptoms of depression and the warning signs of suicide, and not be afraid to ask direct questions about feelings of the person you're concerned about-it could be what save's their life!

Is a person at increased risk to attempt suicide if they’ve been exposed to it in their family or has had a close friend who died by suicide?

Yes, suicide does tend to run in families, but this is generally attributed to the genetic component of depression and related depressive illnesses. A healthy person talking about a suicide or being aware of a suicide among family or friends does not put them at greater risk for attempting suicide. And mere exposure to suicide does not alone put someone at greater risk for suicide. However, when combined with a number of other risk factors, it could increase someone’s likelihood of an attempt. Failing to treat or mistreating depressive illness puts a person at increased risk of suicide. It is very important to remember that the vast majority of people living with depression do not have suicidal thoughts or die by suicide.

Why don't people talk about mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder and suicide?

Stigma and lack of understanding are the main reasons depression remains a topic we avoid. People suffering from depression fear others will think they’re crazy or weak, or somehow a lesser person. Cultural norms are slowly changing, and people are becoming more aware of the nature of depressive illnesses and their impact on a person’s well being. Education will help reduce stigma and save lives.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, HIV and AIDS are examples of medical conditions previously attributed to a weakness or character problems. Today, they are widely recognized as medical diseases and people feel comfortable openly discussing the impact of the disease and seeking help through a variety of treatments. The dangers of alcohol and substance abuse have been the subject of major national public health campaigns in the United States, leading to a general public more aware of the value of prevention. Breast cancer is another medical illness that for many years went unspoken, but today receives millions of dollars in research funding, supportive programming and awareness. Issues of medical illnesses in the brain which we call mental illnesses still face huge obstacles to funding, support and awareness, but progress is being made.

Will "talking things out" help treat depression?

Talking does help treat depression. However, research continues to show that a combination of psychotherapy (talk therapy) and antidepressant medication is the most effective way to treat depression. In some cases, well-supported psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy can considerably alleviate the symptoms of depression. However, a medical doctor should supervise any course of treatment.

Why do people attempt suicide when they appear to feel better?

Sometimes a severely depressed person contemplating suicide doesn't have enough energy to attempt it. As the disease lifts they may regain some energy but feelings of hopelessness remain, and the increased energy levels contribute to acting on suicidal feelings. Another theory proposes that a person may "give in" to the disease because they can't fight it anymore. This relieves some anxiety, which makes them appear calmer in the period preceding a suicide attempt.

If a person's mind is made up can they still be stopped?

Absolutely! Never give up on someone contemplating suicide. For a person determined to attempt suicide the desire to live is overshadowed by the seeming hopelessness of the disease. The decision to attempt suicide is really a desire to stop suffering. Never give up on someone just because they say they’ve made up their mind. Depression is a crisis and intervening to help the person regain perspective and aggressively fight the disease can help reverse the downward trend toward suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Is depression the same as the blues?

No. Depression is a medical illness in the brain that can be clinically diagnosed and treated. While it's normal and even expected to feel badly about losing someone you love or experiencing a disappointing or traumatic event, to consistently experience the symptoms of depression for longer than two weeks under normal circumstances may indicate the presence of a diagnosable illness.

Why do depressive illnesses sometimes lead to suicidal thoughts?

As depression deepens and takes over the body and mind, the pain of depression often becomes overwhelming. The chemical imbalance and deep despair can lead the brain to try and find ways to end the pain. This is when suicidal thinking begins. Depressive illnesses can distort thinking such that a person can’t think clearly or rationally. The illness can cause thoughts of hopelessness and helplessness, which may lead to suicidal thoughts. Education about the symptoms of depression and the warning signs of suicide help people understand that depression and related depressive illnesses are both preventable and treatable.

What causes a depressive illness?

Depressive illnesses are biological illnesses related to imbalance or disrupted brain chemistry. The brain is an organ of the body and can get sick just like the heart, liver, or kidneys.

A combination of genetic, psychological and environmental factors play a role in how and when a depressive illness manifests, and the same is true for suicide. Because these are illnesses, stress doesn't necessarily have to be present, but can trigger or exacerbate a depression. Although rare, depression can appear out of nowhere when there would be no reason for a person to feel depressed. More commonly depression comes on over a period of time with many factors going on at once in a person’s life.

People of all ages, including children, youth and adolescents, can suffer from depressive illnesses. Since they may be genetically pre-disposed to depression, a person may be at higher risk than someone whose family doesn't have a history of depression. This doesn't however necessarily mean everyone will inherit a depressive illness. They just might have a predisposition or tendancy toward it.

What are the different types of depressive illnesses?

Types of depression include:

Seasonal Affective Disorder
Major Depression
Dysthymia
Cyclothymia
Atypical Depression
Premenstrual Syndrome
Can depressive illnesses be treated?

Yes. There are various ways to treat depressive illnesses depending on the type of illness, the severity, and the age of the person being treated. A person suffering with depression should not try to manage the illness on their own. Knowing and recognizing the signs of depressive illness helps avoid needless suffering available through treatment. Depression is a condition like diabetes or high blood pressure that can be effectively managed with the help of mental health professionals including medical doctors, registered nurses, psychologists and therapists, social workers, clergy, family members, and community support.

Research shows a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy to be the quickest, most effective treatment. Often, antidepressant medication is needed to help a person to think more clearly in psychotherapy. There are several types of psychotherapy, but two have proven beneficial in treating depressive illnesses:

Cognitive therapy focuses on trying to change a person's negative thinking and the inaccurate perceptions they have of themselves and their environment. People are taught to think logically, and to avoid negative self-talk.
Interpersonal therapy teaches a person how to successfully interact with others. Depressive illnesses interfere with how a person treats their family, friends, and co-workers, which affects how they treat them in return. Interpersonal therapy focuses on social skills.
What is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety is a normal feeling we experience everyday. However, anxiety disorders are characterized by feeling excessive fear, nervousness or worry that something bad might happen even though there is no logical or specific reason to be afraid. Many times depressive illnesses and anxiety go hand in hand.

Advice From My Best Friend

Jennifer wrote the following:

This Christmas Season for Shelly is the first time in her life she is without her family because they have given her no choice to be with them.  Although, she feels like this is what is best for her right now, it still hurts deeply.  I think the uncertainty of what Christmas Day will actually feel like without them is frightening.  She does not know what will make her feel better.  Hanging out with friends?  Isolating? Spending time with only God ?  Plenty of food?  Gifts?  Cards?  Avoiding all things Christmas?  What has worked for me is to offer what I can from food  to outings together.  Some obviously are Christmas related but I try to include things that are not.  I also try to not take offense to things she says or writes(she reacts very quickly) as her wounds are fresh and easily reopened by even the most innocent of statements.  I have tried to put myself in her shoes.  It’s truly impossible.  So I rely on my prayers and grace, knowing  she will run the spectrum of emotions.  We will laugh and have fun and she will also be sad and angry at times.   I know in my heart she will build those special bonds with some close friends that will eventually feel like family and the Holidays will take on new life for her.  I got a glimpse of that when she spent Thanksgiving dinner with my family.    If someone out there has had their family abandon them, then you know what she is going through.  For those of us who wish sometimes we didn’t have to spend as much time with our families, at least we have the choice.   

Don't Tell Me How To Handle Holidays

I can tell Christmas is nearing... I'm getting increasingly bitter and impatient. If I could focus on spending the next month on Jesus, I will be fine. I have no working TV, my dog ate my phone charger... I have a social commitment Friday and Saturday, but after that, I could meditate on God's Word for a month. I would love that! My psychiatrist told Jen not to let me isolate and Jen doesn't push me to do anything holiday related, for which I am grateful. 

I'm hypersensitive at others' comments though, and I'm afraid of what I may do, including writing people off - and I don't want to do that. Two different people really hurt me deeply and a big part of me regrets being so transparent. It'd be easy to keep my feelings to myself and go on like I am filled with holiday spirit. But I feel called to bring awareness to depression. People suffer silently all over the world. I suffered silently for most of my life. This past year has been the worst year of my life... If you want me to "just move on" or think of others this holiday instead of myself, or better yet- QUESTION my faith in God... Please move on. Save your breath. When your family disowns you after trying to institutionalize you, when you lose all your possessions running from a guy trying to have sex with your cat, when you believe you have 50 good church friends yet sleep in your car with your cat because your house has no heat, when your Chirstmas will consist of spending the day alone...THEN you can talk to me about Christmas!

I think I will go thank my dog for eating my phone charger.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Missing My Former Church

Today I need an escape. Been writing dark poetry lately...  Saw an old friend from high school- we talked for 3 hrs! She still hangs with the guy who lived with my first crush-the child molester who was sent to prison my Senior year and remains incarcerated. I asked how he was and she said no one ever mentions him... That struck me for some reason... This guy (though ultimately sick and perverted) was the funniest person I'd ever met...still may be...he was so huge in my teenage world, and now it's as if he never existed. I wonder if he asks if anyone misses him...but who would he ask? And do they lie and say people talk about him all the time? His actions ruined his life. I kind of feel that way about my former church... my mental illness ruined the life I once knew. I was a rock star hanging with the Worship Team with a key to the building. If I would've suffered in silence, I could still go to that church and hang out with the popular crowd. But it's gone. The life I had with that church is gone. Just like the teacher from high school, it's as if I never existed. I wonder if anyone ever misses me... If I suffered in silence, I wouldn't be alive today... After time passed, I wonder if anyone would miss me? Jen would, Rob might... But would the world be as if I never existed?   

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Church... for REAL

Evidently, Jen has been filling out prayer requests for me at her church, where I have never attended. The Pastor's wife sent this to Jennifer and it really impressed me that a Pastor's family would open their home for someone they have never met... on a holiday!


I know you have been praying for Shelly for a while.  I’m praying for her today and see that her family has abandoned her.  Would she be open to an invitation to share Thanksgiving with us?

Recent Pictures

Thanksgiving and Jireh's play date:



Day to Rest

This is going to be a stay home (even from church) and rest day. Somehow, my new friend, Stacy, and I became the Social Coordinators for the Single Women’s Bible Study at church. After my stressful night Friday, my toilet overflowed yesterday morning. Yes, I have maintenance men, which would be nice if they would just FIX the problem, and not talk to me for 30 minutes. I'd rather fix it myself. However, I have no money- none – I made the mistake of buying card materials for people who ordered cards and told them they could pay me later. NOW THEY DON’T WANT THE CARDS and I have to wait until Friday (when I get my check) to pay to mail the cards for the people who ordered and PAID for them.

Anyway, the last thing I wanted to do was go be social yesterday morning. I don’t know these ladies too well, so I planned to filter what I said (i.e. no discussing depression, family, etc.). The ladies were WONDERFUL! We did discuss my family abandoning me, and my depression, and they shared their own stories. I was even laughing as one of them went home to get her toilet plunger for me to borrow! Wasn’t that considerate? I told her I’d carry it back to her in the sanctuary at church! Can you imagine?

Anyway, the other lady ordered six cards from me and prepaid so at least I have a little cash… and I don’t have to buy a plunger.

This blog will go back to Biblical application entries once the holidays are over. Right now, I feel it’s important to educate people on all aspects of depression… from the good days, to the really crappy days (no pun intended). I pray it will being humor and comfort to the depressed and those who love them.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

So How Was Your Night?

Let me say up front: My greatest fear is FIRE. Remember that.

After I wrote last night’s blog on panicking because Jen and Rob were both out of town for the weekend, I took my medicine and went to sleep. My phone woke me up… it was Jennifer, who just read the blog. “Are you okay? I am only 90 minutes away, Shelly… I can get in my car and be right there." I felt humbled yet silly that she was so worried about me.

I asked her my usual first question, “Am I crazy? I am having flashbacks of last winter when they were trying to send me away. I’m afraid someone is coming to get me like last year and you, nor Rob, are here to convince them I’m competent.”

She explained no one is coming to get me… I am in a safe place now, my mom is out of my life, and (her voice deepened) “if anyone TRIES to send you away, they’re gonna have to deal with me! I watched you yesterday at Thanksgiving Dinner and I saw the “Shelly” you told me you use to be… laughing, socializing… you were HAPPY.” She said it was understandable I was freaking out because my family (her) is out of town. She stressed yet again she’d come right home if I needed her. I was fine. I am learning that talking things out make me feel immensely better. We hung up and I hugged Jireh, and fell right to sleep.

Four hours later, the fire alarm in my building went off! So I, who is petrified of fire and being outside in the dark, am walking outside with my heart pounding out my chest. You could literally see my heart pumping! Do I get Addy and Jireh in the car? Do I hide under my covers? Do I take my anxiety medication? I had time to think of all this as the alarm went off FOR AN HOUR! Just like a month ago, fire trucks and cop cars swarmed my loft. I prayed… I kept praying… “God, you are with me, Jireh and Addy… I have nothing to fear".

Evidently, the same neighbor who was taken away in a straight jacket pulled the fire alarm. I saw her boyfriend walk up with another girl, then heard a HEARTWRENCHING SCREAM. She had pulled a knife on the guy and girl when they walked into the house. Cops were everywhere.

I went back to bed. I have enough drama in my life to worry about the neighbors.

So, how was your night?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Panic

I survived Thanksgiving by spending the day with Jennifer. It kept my mind off of the absence of my relatives. I did good today too, continuing to make Christmas cards. Tonight, I'm anxious as both Jen and Rob are out of town for the weekend. I feel like a little girl left alone in a scary place without my security blanket. Panic circles me. I need someone. I need God. Where is He?

My new medicine makes me sleepy. I like tHat. My dog doesn't.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Frontal Lobe

Yes, I am cheating - using an email as a blog... Brain stuff fascinates me, so I thought I'd share this with my readers:

Damage to my frontal lobe is why I have difficulty with "movement" (I'm jerky instead of smooth), talking, and executing plans... I have ideas, but don't initiate. That is your neurological lesson for today. I had a blood clot on my frontal lobe at birth from the pressure of my head against the birth canal. 

http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~lngbrain/cglidden/frontal.html

Attention Deficit affects the frontal lobe too, which is why I believe people with CP have ADD more than people without CP. 

I LOVE neurology!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Doctor's Report

Follow up to yesterday,,, I saw the psychiatrist. She put me on a new medication and said it can be lethal if I overdose on it so she had me call Jennifer, and the doctor asked Jennifer to only give me a week's dosage at a time. Doc was not happy I called my mom for her birthday on November 8th, and understood how the incident with the straight jacket neighbor freaked me out. She asked Jen if she would be in town for the holidays and if she would make sure I am not isolating, to get me out of the house.

I know if it wasn't for Jen's reassuring her I am okay, I would be in the hospital because she couldn't believe my mood was a "7'  the day after I was suicidal.

THANK YOU so much for all the prayers and encouragement. And thank you for letting me bring awareness to such a personal, taboo issue.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Uncomfortable Topic - Depression and Suicide

*My apologies if this makes you uncomfortable. I feel led to share… open and honestly. My hope is this will help others deal with such an uncomfortable topic as suicide...


Twenty-four hours ago, I needed to be hospitalized. I was having suicidal thoughts, begging God to take me. I was in bad, bad shape. The past week, I had been more social than I have been in years, meeting new friends, regularly talking with Jennifer and Rob… yet no one had any idea how the depression was consuming me. I don’t like to complain, I don’t like to be needy, so no one knew. Jennifer took Jireh for a few nights (Jireh has puppy sleepovers at Jen’s on a weekly basis) which allowed me to sleep and escape. Saturday, sleeping no longer provided the usual relief and regeneration. I texted Jen, asking if she’d keep Jireh one more night as I “wasn’t doing well”. That’s all, no details.

Sunday morning, I knew I needed help. I knew I couldn’t be alone. I seriously wanted to die. This time, I didn’t give in. I reached out to Jennifer and Rob. I was open and honest and vulnerable. Rob has church on Sunday mornings, so I messaged him things like, “I’m having bad thoughts… Googling ways to die… did you know it takes SIX WEEKS to starve to death?...” and finally, “there’s an 98% chance of death if you jump in front of a train…”  Serious, serious stuff! And considering I’ve attempted suicide in the past, Rob and Jennifer know I don’t play games. I don’t cry wolf. Rob told me to hang on until he finished with church and then he’d talk me through this. I promised I would.

Meanwhile, Jennifer and Ron brought Jireh home. Ron stayed in the car while Jen came in. I told her I needed to go to a hospital that wouldn’t pump me with drugs, and I couldn’t face the holidays. I told her I wanted to die. I told her Jireh deserved a mom who didn’t lay in bed all day. I told her I am a loser… a hopeless loser. Again, SERIOUS stuff! Imagine what poor Jen was going through! Her eyes teared up. She said she doesn’t know what to do except to love me and feed me and pray for me. She asked me what she could do. Don’t leave me alone…

So I changed clothes as Jen went to tell Ron I was suicidal and needed to get out. I ran errands with them until Rob was able to talk with me. No one understands my depression like Rob. He talked me through it. He made it okay. He changed my perspective.

Jireh and I spent the rest of the day at Jen’s, where I was made my favorite dinner, my laundry was done, and I was loved. Loved like I imagine a normal family loves. I got phone calls and emails from new friends from church and BSF ‘just checking on me’ when I KNOW those were signs from God to keep going, don’t give up… don’t let this be my lot in life…

As I write this, I feel renewed. I feel hopeful, determined, relieved, blessed, loved. Yes, I have to face my first holiday season without my family, without my old church… but it is a NEW season. As God blessed Job for his perseverance, God will do the same for me.

Last thing… I told Jennifer I feel like God is a lot like my parents, refusing to let me come home… now I realize, it’s like going to college. You get homesick, but you have to ‘be away from home’ to be who God wants you to be. That is why I am still in this world. It’s not that God doesn’t want me home with Him, he wants me to stay in this world to grow into who He created me to be. He will take me home on HIS time, not mine.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Source of Smiles

Continue to be in a deep depression... expect it to last through the holidays. No, there is nothing anyone can do. Somehow, Addy makes me smile...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ramblings

You guessed it – my lack of blogging means I crashed. I don’t like writing when I am in a deep depression because I hate to sound like a pitiful whiner. Then I remind myself if I was a pitiful whiner, I’d whine about cerebral palsy and Crohn’s disease. Most people are unaware I even have Crohn’s because I rarely talk about it. It’s a fact of life for me and I see no need to share I have severe abdominal pains at times and even lose control of my bowels. It’s part of life – why share? And the cerebral palsy is obvious… when I do talk about it, it is usually to make others feel comfortable, knowing I can laugh at myself. Sometimes I think people don’t think I know I have it, so they avoid the topic, as if the world has some conspiracy to hide my disability from me. Again, like Crohn’s, cerebral palsy is a part of my life… I don’t know any different. Major Clinical Depression is different.

Last weekend, I have an extremely (no exaggeration) traumatic event occur. It sent me into a dangerous spiral that I am just now crawling out of. I came home to an ambulance, several police cars and a fire truck in front of my building. No big deal to most people, but to me, catastrophic! Let me explain.

Early this year, my family, church and friends all were convinced (thanks to my mother) that I was incompetent and unable to live independently. I have been on medication for depression and anxiety since 1992 (which, coincidently, is when I moved out of my parents home and realized it was NOT normal to be molested in the middle of the night). My mother has always been a fierce advocate against psychotropic drugs. “Christians pray if they get depressed…” or “Where is your faith? You must not be a Christian if you are depressed!” You should’ve seen her face when I told her I was going to college to be a psychotherapist! She accused me of not being a Christian, refused to ‘waste her money because I was too stupid for college and would flunk out anyway”, etc. I went anyway, graduated with two Master Degrees and an Educational Specialist Degree (which is half way between a Masters and a Doctorate Degree), graduating cum laude out of spite. Anyway, she had convinced my church (whom I considered my ULTIMATE family) and friends I was a drug addict. I have never taken any drug that wasn’t prescribed to me. Are you kidding? I have enough brain damage! I know too much about neurobiology to mess with drugs.

So early this year, I had several people trying to Baker Act me… the cops were called and sent to pick me up. My church arranged to pay to send me away for 6 months. Friends from Tallahassee called looking for me and the church told them if they talked to me, convince me to go into Rehab, which is exactly what they did.

I didn't go into Rehab, but I lived in isolation for approximately 6 months. Praise God, I am in a new home WHICH HAS HEAT, joined a new church, am part of a new BSF group… forcing myself to get back into life.

But I need professional counseling. I still have nightmares and flashbacks, still experience intense anxiety, still fear homelessness… and when I saw the ambulance, police, fire trucks, etc… I panicked. I thought they were coming to take me away.

It was awful… I regressed back to last winter.

Basically, I confess I don’t have the faith I need to completely move on. I hang on to sin in my life to comfort me instead of relying on the Ultimate Comforter. I fear God… yet I fear being abandoned again. I need God. I admit my sin of distrust to Him… and my longing to stay in bed sometimes and whither away. *Note to the depressed – the best way to avoid staying in bed is to get a dog. My cat is much more understanding of my depression.

There is no profound lesson in this post. I just know I need to keep writing, keep – er, start sending my writing out in attempt to get out of poverty so I just wrote what is on my heart.

Perhaps someone will benefit from the ramblings.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Penn State Mess



Penn State Alumnus article - Loved this article

I agree... if this had happened at Florida State with Bobby Bowden, I don't think I could be proud of being an FSU grad anymore. Bowden is one of my three hero's... if he didn't press the abuse issue like Paterno failed to, he would not be the man I thought he was. Bobby Bowden IS and ALWAYS WILL BE FSU to me. I would be so ashamed of my alma matter. I feel so bad for the victims, yet the alumnus must be just devastated as well. I hope this changes how society views sexual abuse...IF YOU SEE A CHILD BEING RAPED, YOU STOP IT! DON'T GO CALL YOUR DADDY, YOU WIMP! I am praying for mercy as this whole issue makes me DISGUSTED with the world we live in.

------ I just read this: Bobby's statement
"A little negligent?" YOU THINK? Bobby, Bobby, Bobby... I am so disappointed in you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Depression and Friends

This is an excerpt from an email I sent to a friend who has stuck by me through my depression and anxiety. Writing it showed me I am wrong in telling people there is nothing they can do to help when I crash. All of these years of isolating... maybe I've been wrong. Maybe the key is to find the right people to reach out to... and fight being alone with one's thoughts:

Just reread our emails- so good to have you validate my recent 'trauma' and anxiety with my mother. I get sick of all my drama- everyday is something new- so I know you tire of it. 

But don't you see... You give me strength, perspective, determination to keep going? Last week, when we were out of touch, it was horrible, thus, I became sucked into a cyclonic pit. But your emails keep me going. I know how intelligent and compassionate you are, so knowing you invest time in me shows me I am worth something.  

Thought you should know how you daily change my life.


*knowing someone cares makes the dark times lighter... 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pets in Heaven

Jireh lays by me whenever I read the Bible... I bet heaven will be like this - our pets laying beside us as we worship at the throne.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Giving Up Guilt

Usually, when I don’t blog daily, that means my depression is active. This time, I haven’t blogged because God has been blessing me abundantly and I can’t take it all in. I don’t get the chance to process His miraculous gift to me before he sends another. I’m talking about things such as finding an envelope with $100 in my purse, sending a BSF leader who ‘is the real deal’ (rather than merely talking the talk), receiving an order for 100 handmade Christmas cards for someone to send the troops in Iraq (that’s $300!), feeling comfortable in my BSF group where I am making new friends… the list goes on and on – and these things happened within 28 hours of each other!

Overcome with gratefulness, I prayed earnestly for God’s forgiveness in not trusting him to provide and admitted my shame at trying to manage my life without him, which led to too much sleeping and escaping. I vowed I would change my ways and not allow anything to come between us again.

That lasted a day. I am writing this at 3am after being awake for 2 hours, fighting shame and disgust because I fell back into my old pattern. I didn’t even keep my vow for 24 hours. Satan had a party with my mind, telling me I will never change and I will never be the obedient Christian I want to be.

Satan is the father of lies. Yet, what he was telling me is true- I will never change because I will always need Jesus. I am sinful and selfish, and that will not change. However, my reliance on God, along with obedience, can change. His Spirit can fill me with Him when I confess my sin, clearing my heart for His love.            

Yes, we can (and must) lay strongholds of sin at the throne… but it’s not a one-time deal. We must continually return the sin, not on our own, but with the power of the Holy Spirit. Giving in to shame and guilt is exactly what the enemy wants. He would love to see us give up. Well, I’m not giving up this time… I am giving control of my life to Jesus, and realize I will have to continually do so. That’s okay, though. It’ll keep me where I most long to be… at His feet.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Landmines and God's Love

In the Experiencing God Bible study by Blackaby and King, the authors provide an example of God’s disciplining his children as described in Hebrews 12:6 – “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” They describe facing a field of landmines… would you take a map telling you areas to avoid? Or would you insist, “Noooo. I can go wherever I want I have free will!” Of course, you’d want to know where the landmines were planted!

I thought about the rest of the verse- “and punishes everyone he accepts as a son”. Those who accept Him as Savior and choose to live for Him are punished by him… perhaps having stricter punishment. Think about it…

If my dog was walking in a landmine, I would yell, grab, do anything I could to get the dog away from danger. The dog could do NOTHING to make me say, “okay! I tried to tell you but you are choosing to disobey me!” I would punish my dog until she obeyed me because I love her with my life. Now if it was a stranger’s dog. I’d tell them once, and if they argued with me or the dog started biting me, I’d let it go. My dog would be punished much more harshly in order to protect her from danger.

Why do we think our lives should be easier as a Christian? Why do we envy people who seem to get away with everything while we are struggling to hold on while following Jesus? Why do we judge someone who has trial after trial, assuming they are not right with God?

He punishes everyone he accepts as son… I am thankful for God’s punishment. I hate to imagine how my life would be if he let me go on my own ‘free will’.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Praying for a Boyfriend

I've started praying for a boyfriend. I'm 42 years old and am just NOW wanting a boyfriend. For the most part, I am content on my own. But seeing how 2 of my friends have supported me these past months, I realize how comforting it is having someone there for me. Both friends have families, spouses, lives, so I try not to ask for much since they have their own priorities. If I had a boyfriend, perhaps I would be someone's priority. I wouldn't be easily disposable. 

He would need to have experienced major clinical paralyzingly depression so we could relate to one another. I use to think it was frustrating being friends with someone who has never had depression. I realize now it is even more frustrating befriending someone with depression who speaks of the desire to die one day, and the next day claims s/he is fine because work keeps them busy, or the depression lifted after a swim with the kids.  

That is not the kind of depression I experience. Is there a nice guy out there who could understand and relate to my depression? Can he please come into my life, preferably before the holidays, so I don't feel so alone?

I am praying...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Indwelt Versus Filled with the Spirit


There’s a difference between being filled with the Holy Spirit versus having the Spirit live within you. Once you accept Christ as your personal Savior, you are sealed with the Spirit as a child of God. Romans 8 says:
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

ALL believers have the Spirit living in them, and there is nothing more to do to keep Him within you. You received a seal that cannot be taken away.
Ephesians 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Being filled with the Spirit requires ongoing obedience to God, who fills us with power to serve and witness to others. But it requires a conscious decision to walk with the Spirit, denying the selfishness of our flesh. This requires trusting and depending on Him, praying for strength and divine resources. Galatians 5 states:
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

I imagine it this way- believers have the Spirit living with them, yet we can push Him into a closet when we do not yield and submit to God. But when we invite Him to fill us with His Spirit, He fills our thoughts, feelings, and desires. He wants to fill us… we must regularly make room for Him by clearing the sin and fleshly desires from within.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Goldens


As an animal lover, I am especially fond of dogs. Dogs make this world a better place, displaying unconditional love and loyalty beyond measure.  Yeah, dogs are great! But do I want a dog? Do I want the responsibility of maintaining her health, tolerating high maintenanced chewing frenzies, squeaking toys when I’m trying to write, barking just when I finally fall asleep after staring at the ceiling for hours? Um, no thank you.

Unless it’s a golden retriever.

Goldens have been the exception since childhood, when we had a golden named, Rusty. Since I left home in 1992, I have wanted my own golden. December 5, 2010, I adopted 9 week old, Jireh (means “the Lord Provides”), who has (along with my cat) become my closest companion. Jireh is my buddy, and taking care of her is a labor of love – I don’t mind because the ‘sacrifices’ are minimal compared to how much Jireh enriches my life. Goldens are unique in that they are gentle, beautiful, playful dogs, making them more of a friend than a pet.

I explained this to Jennifer this morning when she challenged my statement about me not liking people. It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just I’d rather be alone than socialize with others. I have a few exceptions (Sherry, Rob, Jennifer…) who are like goldens – yes, my friendships with them require energy, investments, and even sacrifices, but it’s worth it. They each enhance my life in ways which that me a better person. And my love for them makes it second nature to be there when they are hurting or need me, and even pester them when they don’t! Our friendships are golden… and we all need goldens in our lives.


*Per request of another 'golden' person in my life, I will add German Shepherds to the exception with dogs.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Power

 Phil. 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.


Do you ever wonder how the Holy Spirit works in us if we are sick? How does He fulfill His purpose in us if we have no motivation? How much of this is our responsibility?

Phil. 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Doors

In the past 20 days, my heart has been crushed 3 times...by the same friend. I went against my typical pattern of 'just writing the friend off' and vulnerably exposed my heart and feelings in attempts to savage the relationship. I clearly expressed why I was upset, what I needed, and the friend reciprocated with assurance things would change. I would be thankful, happy, and felt healthy in the manner which I handled the situation, only to find the friend continuing the same pattern.
 
I crashed (anyone who knows my history with my relatives and former church will understand why). Was I suppose to keep being hurt indefinitely for the sake of keeping relationships? I stayed in bed contemplating relationships, how apparent it was that I am unable to keep friendships. 

I had to go to a meeting with people from my new church and was introduced to several new "potential friends". I felt accepted, appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed myself. For the first time in 20 days, I forgot my heart-crushing friend. Then, from out of nowhere, someone said, "Maybe God is telling you to close the door on your old church... It's okay to move on, Shelly".

I needed to hear that. I believe those words were from God. It's time to move on. I emailed my former pastor (who I deeply respect and admire) an explanation of why I no longer attend his church (he had no idea what had happened) and his response was amazingly understanding. He is an incredible man. I owed him an explanation. 

Now I can move on. Sometimes we must close the door on friendships and even churches. The great thing is there are more friendships and churches on the other side.    

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Arrogance

I was told to put more substance in my blog posts instead of mere poems. Lately, I've been hesitant to write for fear of coming off as arrogant. I likely will in this post. Maybe it is healthy self-esteem I'm experiencing and I'm so unfamiliar with excelling at something, that I shrug it off as arrogance. 

My writing seems mediocre to me. When people respond to my emails complimenting my word flow, I'm taken back. I just write! I have a friend who has an amazing vocabulary and talking with him awakens my brain as he invokes such deep thought when we talk. And reading his emails brings me back to college writing classes when I savored the written word like a fine wine. He says he wishes he could write like me, when I am jealous of his relationship with words. Anyway, it is hard for me to write when I feel my writing is blah. Then I see the "Dolphin Tale" movie which totally stole my "Dillon the Dolphin" story and Perez Hilton wrote a Children's book and I arrogantly think, "I can do better than THAT", and I think maybe I need to push my  writing. Or maybe it's conceit.

Counseling, on the other hand, I tend to be OVERCONFIDENT. I know clinical psychology like the back of my hand, psychopathology is my second language, and empathy is God's gift to me. I thrive on helping individuals who have seemingly impossible life crises as the Holy Spirit gives me words of comfort and healing to give them. I guess having a life crisis and having my church join alliances with my enemy in trying to have me committed makes me determined to prove not all Christians sweep problems under the rug in denial. I am still very bitter with my former church and wouldn't wish that type of (ahem) "guidance" on my worst enemy. People need compassion, love, and understanding. I provide these things when counseling the wounded. I am an incredible counselor. Arrogance.

Finally, the Bible. I know the Bible because I know my Jesus. I have spent infinite hours studying scripture, praying and being with Christ. After this 20 year pattern, I know Him in an extraordinary way. It's hard to remain silent in Bible studies. Why? Arrogance. So I refrain from writing blog entries when I have such a chip on my shoulder. 

Truth is, I have no reason for arrogance, just as I have no reason to deny my gifts. They are God's.

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

1 Corinthians 4:6 "... Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hermitting

Ah, the life of a hermit. I signed up for 3 bible studies, 2 volunteer projects, and am going through the process of transferring my membership to a new church. Exhausting! I get flu-like aches and irritability when flooded with social commitments. That's how I was Sunday morning when I called Sherry, pouting "I don't want to go!". She asked why I signed up for so much and I explained I am trying to make new friends. She reasoned with me that if I didn't like the classes, I didn't have to go back. Then she added, "Oh, and Shelly? I am very proud of you for trying". I needed to hear that. I needed to know someone recognizes how hard it is for me to socialize. 

I guess that's one reason not to be a hermit- you have friends to cheer you on.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Poem - Sick

Found this poem on depression... Deep and dark, yet it can get better. It has for me.


Sick
Aching, breaking, excruciating flu-
Lethargic, anhedonia, no energy "to do". 
Don't care, but I care- hard to explain,
Just so freakin' sick of playing this game. 
Negative, pessimistic... Despair never ends...
Alone with no smile, no need to pretend.     

Poem- Carousel of Life

Carousel, carousel... 'round and 'round,
Memories lost, treasures found. 
Carousel, carousel... your music box hides,
The uncertain fear of this ride.
Sometimes I try to jump away,
But carousel, carousel...your motion stays

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Poem - Over

It's over
It's through. 
His actions reveal he doesn't care for you. 

You risked
You tried. 
He simply tossed your heart aside. 

Learn from this 
Move on. 
Let the heartache make you strong.  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Relationships & Friendships

How did we keep the same friends from elementary school until high school graduation? Relationships are hard! I’ve spent most of my life ‘writing people off’ when I sensed intense pain and discomfort looming. Or when I knew I cared more about someone than they cared about me, I backed off. It made for low cost, albeit lonely, Christmases.

I am much better now, as I have learned to protect myself from the beginning, letting no one in, keeping ‘new friends’ at a distance. I’ve kept 3 friends ‘from the past’ who, for some reason, have stuck by my side through a tumultuous season. Friends who stay in the bad, ugly times pretty much can be considered ‘keepers’. Treasure them and do whatever it takes to keep them in your life.

Unfortunately, some times, friends drift away. No one is at fault; life just happens. We change, they change, and paths separate. I am experiencing that now. The immature kid in me wants to curl in a ball and declare, “no one will ever hurt me this much again”! I declare I don’t need friends and start Googling how to join a monastery (I’m not even Catholic) and study hermits like Emily Dickinson who rarely left her house and wrote poetry all day. I’ll plead with God if He will allow me a life of solitude, I’ll gladly spend my days studying His Word, sitting quietly before His throne in prayer. But He always tells me the same thing: He created us for community.

Crap! I hate that! We need one another and if we want to be like Jesus, He gives us a heart to love one another. Praying for God to make me more like Jesus makes me more like Him and less of me. Jesus’ life was the antithesis of communality. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Possibilities are Endless!

I was so inspired by the new ministry opportunity yesterday, I am ready to jump in with both feet! I really believe I am most effective being a mentor/counselor to ladies who have lost all hope, such as incest, drug addiction, death. I am very good with "heavy issues" like these, thanks to God's strength. I haven't had the easiest life, have fought depression for 30 years, hospitalized for suicide attempts, had doctors attempt to heavily medicate me to numb the pain. But God has made it clear to me I am to use what Satan intended to harm me to glorify God instead. He gives me compassion, strength, words and clarity to glorify Him when others have lost all hope. So I am ready!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hooded

Car ride to Tallahassee, we had this discussion:
Me: Deep down, I still dream of being hooded one day...
Ron to Jen: What is 'hooded'?
Me: I mean, I only have a dissertation and one year of college to go for a Ph.D...
Ron: Make us feel like losers with our Bachelor's Degrees! Jen, what is "hooded"?
Jen: Hooded as in KKK?
I busted out laughing. 
Jen: Well, you WERE just talking about Kissimmee!!

I explained how you kneel before your professor who "hoods" you when graduating with a doctorate degree.  We had a great time. My voice is still hoarse from laughing and yelling.