Keeping Concentration

During the worst times of my depression I could not seem to concentrate for very long times.  Doctor appointments required having my best friend with me so that if I asked what my doctor said he could refresh my memory.  There were times also that I thought I was showing the early signs of dementia.  My doctor put that to rest for me.  Silly how our minds try to spin all sorts of problems that do not exist.

Reading a book, working on the computer, plus other activities I enjoyed were put to the curb.  I just couldn’t hold my thoughts together.

I am improving in this area but I still have times of trouble with it.  What I have started doing is activities like Mahjong, Sudoku, and  reading short articles trying to make mental notes of what I had read.

I am not sure how many suffer the same effects of depression, but, I surely would like to know.  There is one area that I suspect might also be the cause, the medications I take.  I plan on asking for a complete list from my pharmacy so that I can research them on the internet.

Now, for something that has turned into something great.  Since writing about my journey I have heard from many of you.  I have found I am not alone, reading many of your blogs.  Again, thank you!

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Learning To Laugh Again

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Pro 15:13 MSG
13  A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.

Let’s be honest and frank, life is too short!

I recalled reading about a man who laughed his way back to health.  I just used Google to make sure that my memory was correct.  The man’s name is Norman Cousins.  You can follow the link to read about his story.

For me I tend to look at things as a glass half full.  Somewhere along my life I lost the ability to laugh.  Maybe it was the medication, or certain events that have taken place in my life, or more likely a combination of both.

While in treatment there was one thing that was common among all of us in the ward, we all had an outlook on life that was grim and foreboding.  All of us focused on what was wrong with our lives.

During my teen years and even into my twenties I was optimistic about life.  It was during my early thirties that things took a change in direction.  It was the fact that some things were falling apart and I was losing control.  Inwardly I was very conflicted, feeling helpless, questioning my very purpose in life.  The optimistic outlook soon turned to one of pessimism.  It was this turn that soon found me overdosing on sleeping pills, landing for the first time in a mental health ward.

The joy of laughter was gone, it seemed like a very distant memory.  I was going through the motions of life, yet, feeling like a was adrift with no shoreline to swim towards. This would last for a period of ten years.

Several visits and stays in a mental health facility before any sort of laughter would return in my life.  It wasn’t until I had contact with my daughter and learning I had a grandchild.  My best friend did his best to bring some sunshine in my life.

Now I have my daughter in my life again, three wonderful grandchildren, a best friend whom has been in my life for over twenty years, and the ability to know joy and laughter again.  Life is no longer doom and gloom, but of dreams of seeing my grandchildren growing into wonderful adults.

Maybe your world sounds like my past, I would encourage you to find something, someone to bring some laughter into your life to bring a turn around for you.

As I started, life is too short!

My Many Faces Of Depression

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It use to be before medications I never knew who I was going to be when I woke up in the morning.  If I felt great I would get out of bed, if not turn over and go back to sleep.  Medications changed all that.

 Now mix depression with pain killers if I wasn’t down then I was too buzzed on Oxycondin.  My best friend would tell me something in the morning that we discussed the night before I had no recollection of the conversation.  He use to come in to check on me and find me sleeping in the craziest places.  Once under my cabinet sewing machine.  When I would wake up in the morning I would have to look in my sink to find a clue what I had to eat the day before.  That was my worst face of depression, just dull all feelings alone with the pain.  The pain was caused by back injuries years ago after a motorbike accident.

Another face of my depression was I would call home to my mother.  I would gather enough of my senses to have a conversation that sounded have decent so that she wouldn’t be worrying about me.

Then there is a face of depression that still bothers me today, my mind is always racing.  For me to sleep at night I start my bedtime routine hours before I decide to close my eyes.  There have been times my mind would be racing causing insomnia.  There is just any medication that can help, unless I want to feel like a walking zombie.

Anger is also a face of my depression before medication and counselling.  It would go off at the least little thing.  Then five minutes later I would be on even keel.  I wasn’t violent but it did cause me alot of headaches.  When out in public around others I fought to sound like a reasonable person.  Keeping my thoughts coherrent instead of being dis-jointed was a battle in and of it’s own.  Anger is no longer a menace in my life and for that I am thankful.

I have been quite stable for over fifteen years now.  Seeing my pysch doctor is not a must, but I can always approach if needs be.  Opioids were ancient history since about 2005, the strongest pain killer I take now is Tylenol 3.

Well, those are the many faces of my depression through my journey to have stable mental health.  It has been rough, but, I feel great now!

Creating A Safe Place

A safe place is not a new concept.  It can be found at your doctor’s office, hospitals, and your local church or synagogue.  What I mean is that what is discussed there stays there.

When I was an ordained minister it is only ethical that what is discussed between a parishoner and myself was a veil of secrecy between the two of us.

Many with issues concerning their mental health are more than likely suffering in silence.  Outside of a professional setting they feel they have no safe place to turn to.  It can be dangerous to discuss the issue at work for fear of being fired.  School is not much better because of the constant threat of being bullied.  Even their own family may shun them, or feel that the whole thing is being made up.

My best friend has a little sign he made that says, “What happens here, stays here”.  What that sign represents and tells visitors is, this is a safe place.  No need to fear condemnation, or what is said will be gossiped about outside of the house.

I have left the ministry, but, I still hold to this concept within my own home.  I have been told many things and not once have I shared it with anyone whatsoever.  It is a moral, ethical matter to me and also and issue of complete trust.

So, it is my utmost desire that you the reader if you haven’t already create a safe place where those dealing with such mental health issues can find refuge within your four walls.

More Voices Needed!

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This past days, maybe weeks, I have been amazed at the response on my writings about my journey of depression, opioids battle, and being bi-polar.  The reason is this, I didn’t think that anyone would be interested in reading this.  So, thank you!

 I never gave mental health a thought, I guess one doesn’t until it hits home.  For me it was 1983 when a relative was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I had a front row seat, while on my honeymoon back in my home area.  The relative found out I was home and the hospital would call where we were staying, for they wanted me to go up to deal with her.

I arrived for the first time in the mental health ward of that hospital, found my relative and I was in complete shock.  She was a totally different person, speach was incoherent, talking about things that she thought were happening around her.  Also, talking about the past about events that were pure fantasy, I know I was there.

As I have already stated I started having my own difficulties in the early 90’s with an attempted sucide.  Now, I was totally ignorant about the term bi-polar, now I am face to face with it and must come to terms with it.

It has only been in the last five to ten years that the subject of mental health has been discussed here in Canada on a national basis.  I am thankful that some have stepped forward to bring education on the subject of mental health.

Mental health now is one thing I will advocate on for there is a need, especially among the crowd of Christian leaders.  They need to bring education to their congregation, listeners, and viewers.  Their predecessors blamed it on demon possesion, to that I call hog wash.

I know that there is a definite need in America for education of the subject beginning with the law makers.  

My heart goes out to those in America who cannot access professionals, afford medication because of their financial lack.  I do not pretend to have an answer how to approach a solution to such a great need.

It boils down to this; We need more voices!

Triggers

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Photo By: Thomas H.: Pixabay.com

For this post I will forgo using a portion of Scripture.  There are probably some that would be appropriate but none come to mind.

I would remind the reader I am not a professional, psychiatrist, etc.  I am just a fifty-seven yr. old man sharing my journey through years of depression and being bi-polar.

Here is what I have learned about handling both of these mental challenges.  There are what professionals call ‘triggers’.  These triggers can cause relapse in our progress to a more stable health mentality.

1.   Nutriton –  I would call this a major factor in your battle.  In my times of treatment we had to eat three well balanced meals.  Our mind is an organ in the body and for it to function at it’s peak it needs proper nutrition. 

I start every morning with a bowl of cereal.  Dinner is a balance meal.  Before bed just a light sandwich(probably Tuna – a source of melotonin).

2.  The one thing that many who suffer with depression, panic attacks, and just plain nervousness is coffee and smoking.  For many that is all they have for most of their waking moments.  Both are stimulants and also create a sense of calm masking the root problem.  These should be limited, I can drink more coffee than what I really should.  Smoking is not an issue for me, I recognize this is a very hard thing to quit.  Many try several times before being successful in this venture.

3.  The next two things that my doctors stressed to me to keep away from are these: Alcohol and Marijuana.  The main reason is interactions with medications. 

These are not hard set rules, but they are subjects I have learned along the way.  Triggers will vary from person to person.  There are probably many more that could be discussed, but you will know a trigger when a certain situation causes you to regress back into depression.

The best advice I can give is to create a plan and a list of your triggers with help from your doctor/s.  Then find people who can help you maintain keeping away from triggers between doctor’s visits.

Take your first step now!

Something To Sleep On

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Mar 6:31 MSG
31  Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.

While in treatment one of the most important issues discussed by professionals was the issue of getting a good nights rest.  Sleep allows the body to regenerate from the day’s activities.  Now how long is debatable, recommended amount is eight hours.  My best friend needs only six hours, as for myself I need at least nine hours.

They spoke about issues that interfere with our sleeping patterns.  The one that is showing up among young people is the cell phone.  They sleep with it under their pillows, waking up to check for text messages, social media, etc.  Also, the blueish light that is emitted from the phone scientists are now declaring also effects our sleeping patterns.

The professionals also recommended that there should be no television, digital alarm clocks in the bedroom, for it should be just a place that the body recognizes it is for sleep and sleep alone.

Rest is so important that on the seventh day God rested.  Farmers use to adhere to a seven year cycle for resting a crop.  They would not seed that area for that season allowing the ground to replenish itself with all the necessary nutrients.  In the above portion of Scripture Christ spoke to His’ disciples that they needed to set apart some time for rest.

So, tonight give your body a gift and get some proper and much needed peaceful rest!

A Big Thank You!

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There is something that needs to be said more, more than ‘please forgive me’, that one thing is ‘Thank You’.  It goes a long way to the person who it is said to.

As a child we learned to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.  Maybe I am old and living in the past , but, I find there is a lack of appreciation in the under thirty crowd.  I come away with the feeling that they think the world owes them something.  One day they will have to face reality in a real world.

For several articles now I have shared some of my world as a bi-polar Christian.  I am usually very reticent about my personal life.

So, with that said I want to take this moment to say to all those who have let me know articles you liked.  Also, to those who have decided to follow my blog.  It is this lately that has kept me bouyant.  It has spurred me to sit at the laptop and share more thoughts on here.  It has also allowed me to try to find my style of writing, again, I am not a writer never thought of myself being one.

So, let me say a great big “Thank You“!

Prescription For Panic Attacks

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Psa 1:1-6 KJV
1  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.(emphasis mine)
3  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4  The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5  Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6  For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

No matter your career, stay at home mom, retired, etc., life today is so hectic and chaotic.  Everyone is on the fast lane with very little down time to gather our thoughts, take a deep breath and calm our inner being.

I still suffer panic attacks, mainly when shopping, they are not as disabling as when I first started experiencing them in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  

While in treatment one method they would use while in group was called relaxation.  A compact disc would play and a commentator would speak in a calming voice guiding you through descending a stairwell.  Each step would be to calm your breathing, by the end of the bottom stair you should be in a total relaxed state of mind.  For the most part of the group it did what it was intended to do.

Here is a Scriptural remedy for panic attacks.  It does require some prep work by memorizing Scriptures.  For myself this started when I was still a pre-teen.  At Bible camp we were taught the Books of the Bible.  To this day I can still state them in order.  It is a great tool.  Now instead of a relaxation disc all you need is your memory which is with you 24/7.

The whole first chapter of Psalms can be used as a tool to combat panic attacks. It is verse two that I will comment on.  It is meditation.  God had it first, others picked it up and added there own flavors.  This meditation is not Yoga, just pure Scripture.

It may be just one verse that is your favorite such as; “I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee”(Isaiah 26:3)

So, when you are facing a panic attack instead of giving in to fear use instead Scriptural meditation.  

Give it a try, it works!

 

Depression, Try This

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Jude 1:20-21 MSG
20  But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit,
21  staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!

I woke up and this portion of Scripture was on my mind.  Years, maybe two or three since I have thought about it, yet today it was weighing heavy in my thoughts. Who would have thought it!

I have learned many tools in the fight against depression, tools when used help to calm myself during a panic attack, or stopping myself from falling into the pits of despair. Then there is a spiritual tool that God told us that we can use.

We are bombarded almost daily on how our bodies should look.  Ads about exercise, diets, etc.,  Models that look like they have been sculptered by a great master.  Athletes that could be used in tv to be the fictional character “the Hulk”.

Now we look to how we should take care of our spiritual side.  I realize that there are many different approaches out there, too numerous to count.  The above Scripture is precise and succinct.  When or where you find yourself this can be done, at home, a spare moment at your desk while at work, riding the subway home, you pick the time and place. 

You do not have to a theologian to understand this tool, just take it and put it to use. No need to try and make sound mysterious, it is simple so simple a child can understand it.

So, we have discussed how to treat the mind, the body, and finally our spiritual side.  Now our triune being is healthy and whole. 

So, if you are combatting depression you now have a tool box full of tools.

Reader, depression? Try this!