Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Merry Christmas?" Then Why Am I Depressed?

The Holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year – the colors and smells of Christmas, parties and yummies, fellowship and fun, music and song, plays and cantatas.  Like the song says, "Children laughing, people passing meeting smile after smile."  After all, we say, "Merry" Christmas.  Really?  So why am I depressed?

If you find yourself wanting to sleep the days away, you are not alone.  I have a friend who I've not been able to touch base with since before Thanksgiving.  She lost her daughter a few months ago and has been confined to her home due to an operation-gone-bad 20 years ago.  Imagine being confined to your home for 20 years.  After three days of calling, she finally called back and said, "I just want to sleep. I'm trying to get myself together.  Will you call back later?"  An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) or what is often referred to as “Holiday Blues", or your depression may worsen during the season.

Although SAD is a culprit in holiday depression, here are some other factors that affect your mood at Christmas and cause you to feel depressed:
  • Unrealistic expectations – We love the magic of Christmas.  We think we have to buy something for everyone.  If we buy for one, we think we have to by for another.  If someone buys for us, we think we've got to buy for them. We place unrealistic expectations on ourselves.  We think we have to be happy and make everyone else happy too.  
  • Debt – When my children were young, I tried to give them the Christmas that I never had.  I had several credit cards and before long they were maxed out.  I can't begin to tell you the years it has taken to get out from under that debt but not without financial ruin.
  • World Events – We live in a fallen world.  The world events are bad enough and now we see the devastation caused by racial riots in Ferguson and the fear of what the future will be for our children.  Extra officers were called in over the holidays in anticipation of more rioting in major cities.  My children said that there were protests in both Atlanta and Nashville over the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Aging family members –I will never forget the year that my daddy brought us all together, wanted all the children and grandchildren there to tell us that my mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and that things would not be the same.  He wanted the family together "one more time."  She died 4 years later and he died 6 months after her.  It is the 4th Christmas without mama and the 3rd without Daddy. It gets easier but I have to fight the emptiness that overwhelms me.  
  • Magnification of existing problems – Problems in families can cause depression to worsen during the holidays. Broken relationships are enough to send me into hiding.
What can we do to fight the blues?
  • Bask in the light – On pretty days, sit in the light. One of the most effective treatments for seasonal depression is light therapy. God is the source of all light.   Let Him be your light on gloomy days.  This year my motto has been, Read the Word, Speak the Word, Pray the Word.  God is light and in Him is no darkness.  (Yes, I've spoken this over and over audibly at times to remind myself.)
  • Exercise –  My doctor told me to walk just 10 minutes a day. It  Helps.  When I am walking, I am often inspired by something I see.  My head is clearer to hear the voice of the Lord as He speaks His Word into my spirit.  The good stuff is released in the brain and my mood lightens, not to mention how many calories are burned from walking.  Weight is a big factor in depression.  The more depressed I am the more I eat, the more I eat, the more depressed I am.
  • Lower your personal goals – I know myself.  I know what I can do.  I know what triggers my depression.  I listen to myself, my mind, my body.  With BD, I know that I can't do everything.  I've started making lists to help.  I do what I can, I scratch one thing off at a time and what I don't get done can wait until tomorrow.
  • Focus on making pleasant memories – Even if Christmas reminds you of a depressing past, you can take steps to create new memories with your loved ones. Begin a new tradition. This year I want to bake cookies with Connor, take the children to see the Christmas lights or a live nativity.  My children are away so any day is Christmas if they are here.
  • Perform acts of service for others – A great way to overcome feelings of sadness is to help someone else.  I've always enjoyed visiting the nursing homes at Christmas. My mama died in the nursing home that I worked in.  It's been hard to go back.  This year I will visit.  I will put it on my to-do list and take a whole day to make someone else's day.  
The points were taken from an article written by Candy Arrington.  I used her points but added my own experiences. 

There is question as to whether the Prophet Isaiah is referring to himself or the coming Messiah.  Some commentators believe that he was speaking about himself.  I believe it is speaking of Jesus.

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."   Isaiah 61:1-3

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Confusion and Memory Loss

Today, I am putting myself out there.  Vunerable to a fault probably.  Fearful that what I say will be concieved as mentally ill in the worse sense of the words.  Problems with memory are becoming more and more frequent.  These are no just one time coincidence.  The problem has become progressively worse.  I have noticed more and more confusion and forgetfulness.  Even when typing I can't think of certain words or I spell them as they sound and not as they should be written.  Thank God for spell check.  I will say a wrong word for the right word.  I forget my keys.  I left my purse at a place of business this week.  I thought I had retracted my steps and when I came home and it was not at hom. I paniced.  I had to think and think and did not remember that I had been to another place. My purse was there.  This morning I went to church and left my keys in the car with the car still running.  I kept fumbling for keys in my purse and when I got to the car the lights were one, the car was running and the door was open.  I am desperate for prayer.  My other blog gives me a way to express myself and it's my happy place. I will not be a downer there. I feel like the ones who read this blog are my supportors and I ask you to pray for me.  I'm afraid.  I know that God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.  

I did some research on my meds and all the ones that I take for BD cause symptoms of early dementia.  I pray that these are just symptoms.  My meds have been changed so much this year that I have to look again to see what I am taking.  This last visit he took me off a med that I have taken for 8 years because it causes early dementia.  The side effects of getting off were pure torture but I haven't been able to sleep since. I have been off this particular drug for 3 months now.  I feel like it is out of my system.  The one medication, Lamictal was gradually increased from 25mg. to 200 mg.  It is the one that I have been taking for mood and behavior that is associated with Bipolar. I've read that this is one that causes severe loss of memory.  I really want to gradually decrease these meds.  I know that God is able to restore.  The doctor who treats my depression has become frustrated with me because he says, "I have tried everything. I just don't know what to do with you." He acts like I am being non-compliant or addicted.  I can assure you I am neither.  I told that that I was doing exactly as he had told me to.  

I beg you to please pray for me.  Ask that God give me a spirit of faith, not fear.  Ask that God lead me into where I should go now.  The doctors do not seem to know.  God is my healer.  I will trust in Him.

Thanks for your prayers, 
I will smile through the storm. 

A few months ago, I was going through a battle with my family.  God said to me, "You will not have to fight this battle, you need only to be still.  Today I recalled, when the Israelites were facing the army, "We do not have the power to face this vast army, but our eyes on you."  This is how I feel this day.  I know that prayer makes a difference.  My eyes are on Him.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What "TYPE" am I?

Sometimes I align left.
Sometimes I align right.
     Sometimes I indent.
Then again, I like to be in the center.
Sometimes I justify.

I feel like my life is a little like that too.  

Sometimes I've aligned myself a little too far to the left.  Well, for the past few years anyway.  I didn't really mean to. After my parents died, I realized that I didn't know what was left and what was right. I didn't question, wasn't allowed to question and therefore, didn't know what was right.  Well, I guess I really knew but for the first time in my life, I allowed myself to question.  In doing so, I almost went too far to the left.  God has a way of drawing us back to Himself.  I wasn't too far to the left anyway. People thought I was.  God never thought I was lost. 

Sometimes I've aligned myself a little too far to the right.  
Not that truth is not truth.
It's just that sometimes, as right-wingers we think we are always right.
I admit that I am sometimes too judgmental and critical,
when others do it wrong.
Lord, help me remember that you give grace.
Let me be a grace giver. 

     Sometimes I indent.  You know, I take a few steps in, not completely to the left but not completely to the right.  I don't like it, but I straddle the fence, won't commit, afraid to jump all the way in.  I don't like the verse, "Because you are neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."  This scares me to death! 

The center...
Do I like to be the center of attention?
Do I think I'm the center of every conversation, every eye, every judgement?
Does it always have to be about me?
Is Christ the center of my attention?
If so, then why am afraid of being insignificant?
Why am I paranoid?
Lord, please be the center of my life?
I don't do a very good job of being my own center.

When I know I'm not right, I sometimes justify.  It's okay because.... It doesn't matter if.... It's not wrong when...'s whatever we try to excuse, give reason for, have to convince ourselves and everyone else, or YES, justify.

It's easy to say, "I have Bipolar Disorder when I align myself to the left, right, or center and I try to excuse my behavior or justify how I've reacted or what I've said.  

So, Lord, help me to live the TYPE of life that you have created and chosen me for and called me to.


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Lord is my Shepherd, He's My Everything, He's All I Need

I haven't slept in nights. 
I have slept some days.
My nights are my days 
and my days are my nights.

I haven't felt much like blogging this week.
I'm sorry that I haven't followed your blogs.
It's just been on of those weeks.
I go, do, go as much as I can,
and then I crash.

This gives me comfort and hope
He is everything I need.

Psalm 23 Explained Beautifully . . .

The Lord is my Shepherd - That's Relationship!
I shall not want - That's Supply
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures- That's Rest!
He leadeth me beside the still waters -That's Refreshment
He restoreth my soul -That's Healing!
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness -That's Guidance!
For His name sake - That's Purpose!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death -That's Testing! 
I will fear no evil -That's Protection!
For Thou art with me -That's Faithfulness!
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me -That's Discipline!
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies- That's Hope!
Thou annointest my head with oil - That's Consecration!
My cup runneth over -That's Abundance!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life -That's Blessing!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord - That's Security 
Forever -That's Eternity! 
Face it, the Lord is crazy about you.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Challenge of 10

Do you feel like you always have an issue to deal with? Me too.

Does it ever seem like everyone else is gliding through life while you’re hitting every possible pothole? I can so relate! Issues are everywhere in my life. Issues with my kids. Issues with a friend. Issues with time management. And then there are the bigger issues that beg me to crawl in bed and wish the world away.

Some days I feel like all I that I ever do is run from one issue to another issue trying like mad to fill in my never ending gaps.

But these gaps can be good, kinda in an upside down, crazy kind of way. They’re a constant reminder of my desperate need for God. Anything that keeps me close to God can’t be all bad right? So if you’ve got gaps, you’re not alone. ---Lisa Terkeurst

What am I doing with the gaps?

I'm accepting the challenge of the 10.

1.  Walk 10 minutes everyday.
2.  Lose 10 pounds in 3 months.
3.  Spend 10 minutes in prayer every morning of everyday.
4.  Spend 10 minutes in prayer every evening of everyday.
5.  Spend 10 minutes in the Word everyday.
6.  Spend 10 minutes in the Word every evening of everyday.
7.  Pray for 10 people everyday.
8.  Count 10 blessings everyday.
9.  Encourage 10 people every week by writing a note, sending a text or FB message or calling a friend.
10.  Memorize 10 Bible verses this year.

How will you fill in the gaps?  Make your own list or accept my challenge.
My doctor recommended the first two to fight depression.  I am adding the rest.

"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that despaired even of life.  Indeed in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might no rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril and he will deliver us.  On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us."  
2 Corinthians 1:8-10

Friday, September 26, 2014

Changes in Medication, Withdrawal, Grace, the Word of God and HOPE

I was asked by several of my friends
to reopen my blog,
The Upside of Down.

After much consideration, 
I decided to post again.

My prayer has always been to help those 
who are struggling with the dark heaviness of
chronic depression, major depressive and
bipolar disorder.

At some point we will all experience what has been called, "The Dark Night of the Soul."
The disorder maybe mild or chronic, simple or complex.

Remember, there is purpose in the pain and restoration in our brokenness.

  • In our weakness, He is strong.

"Three times I (Paul) pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is make perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Finding the right combination of medications 
is one of the frustrating components of the disease.

Since I posted last, 
my medications have been changed
two more times.

  • Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

A couple of months ago, the doctor started weaning me off
one of the medications that I was put on when I was diagnosed 8 years ago.
Research indicated that the drug had been known to cause early dementia with prolonged use.
My mom had dementia and I couldn't take that risk.

I went through the horrible side effects of withdrawal, 
trembling hands, profuse sweating, nightmares and unrealistic fears.
The worse thing you can imagine. Another medication was added to help with the withdrawal.
The weaning off was to be gradual reduction of both meds. 

  • Keep your appointments.
One of the components of the disease is forgetfulness and non-compliance. 
Forgetting to take the meds, refusing to take the meds, forgetting appointments or refusing to keep appointments is a constant battle for the doctor and the patient.

I missed a couple of appointments and the doctor could not work me in.
I really don't believe his secretary told him.  He took a few days off and I got the recording,
"If this is a true emergency, please go to your local emergency room."
I suffered two weeks without the medication that he was trying to wean me off.
The withdrawal was vicious. I honestly thought that something was terribly wrong and I was going to die before I could get help.  My thoughts were racy and I imagined the worse.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowlege of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:5

In the end, by the Grace of God I got through it and I am now on the other side.

  • Read God's Word and pray without ceasing.

Yesterday I was started on a new medication that has been on the market 
for only a short while.  I expressed my fears of starting over.  
I feel like I am always starting over.

The FEARS are overwhelming.  I hear horror stories of real people, 
people I know who have had major reactions that resulted in suicide.

My daughter told me a story this week about the sister of a friend.
Her husband had BD.  The doctor had recently changed his medication.
In a few days, he presented symptoms of paranoia and thought his wife 
was having an affair. (She was not.)  He shot his wife and then himself
while his 10 year old daughter was in the house.

  • Pay attention to your body
Now I'm being funny.  I told Mr. H "If you see "crazy" (more than I normally am), hide all the weapons (we don't have guns) get out of the house or restrain me and call 911 or get me to the ER.

  • Pray the Word of God
I pray aloud, "Lord, you say in YOUR WORD, that you will 'protect me and preserve my life. you will sustain me on my sickbed and restore me from the bed of my illness'. You have promised me that, 'No weapon forged against me shall prosper.'  You have said, 'After you have suffered awhile, I will stablish, strengthen and settle me'."  I believe your Word. I trust in your unfailing love and I know that your grace will be enough.

My doctor has been treating another patient with BD and Social Fobia. 
She has been living a life of isolation, confined to her home for many years.
She started taking this new medication a month ago.
Last week she drove her car to town and bought groceries. 

  • Never lose hope, never give up!

I can testify to the grace of God to carry me through
the incredibly dark places of my life.

At the present time, I am only taking two medications every day and one as need for BD.  A year ago I was taking five.

I truly believe that God heals in different ways.  Sometime he gives doctors (men whose intelligence comes from God) the wisdom to treat the patient and the chemist the chemicals to do the research and the intellect to find the formula (the chemist, the chemical and the formulas come from God). Sometimes he heals instantaneously. Sometimes the healing is gradual.

Sometimes he gives grace that is always enough.

Sometimes He calms the storm.  Sometimes He calms me. 

Thankful for a God of All GRACE,


Monday, July 21, 2014

If You're There, I'm Here

I stumbled across another blog about depression.
Please follow and encourage the blogger on the link below.

Depression Hurts
The Adventures of Old Alice

 it really does 
and I feel her pain.

Sad, mad or
Happy and gay.
Who will I be today???

I wanted to reach out and hug her 
and assure her that someone does care, 
someone does understand, 
and this someone wants to crawl in that bubble with her
or rather pop that bubble and get her out.

When I'm Tigger, I don't like Eeyore
and when I'm Eeyore, 
I certainly don't like Tigger.

Thing is, most days I'm not even able 
to move past myself.

I understand the days of not remembering.
I understand that sometimes my mind feels like it's demented,
and yes, I worry about that too.

Isolation, I get. 
I may be surrounded by a crowd and still feel alone.

So, please be gentle with me.
I'm fragile and I may break.

Coming home from a celebration 
and I have to make myself get out of bed.
I look forward to the calls at the end of the day 
from my children.
I look forward to the emails from my blogging friends.

When I can't be anything to anyone, 
I just have to be myself.
That's all I can be.

So, if you're there, 
I'm here. 

Prayers of Hope, 

"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves."
Romans 15:1

I wonder why this isn't the way it is???