Encouragement, Mental Health

We Chose Poorly

I have heard many people ask the question “Why does God allow suffering in the World?”  This question used to bother me, but I started to ponder it a bit and found that God doesn’t allow suffering, We caused our own suffering because we chose poorly at the beginning.  When Adam and Eve were in the garden, they were perfection.  Made in God’s own image, free of worry, free of disease, free of death.  They had a perfect relationship with God. Can you imagine walking and talking with God every day?  Having his presence with you in a physical way.  Wow.  What that must have been like. But, it wasn’t enough.  Eve was deceived and ate the fruit and Adam chose to eat it with her and this ended their perfect union.  This allowed disease and death into the world.  It wasn’t God’s perfect plan.  It wasn’t even God’s back up plan. No, it wasn’t the plan at all.  Maybe Eve didn’t realize the damage she would do by giving into Satan’s deception. She couldn’t have known but this deception allowed suffering and disease into the world.

People wonder why God doesn’t jump in and rescue us. Stop our suffering. Not allow death in our schools, attacks on our first responders and military and attacks on our country. Why doesn’t God do something?  God doesn’t do something because we have impolitely told him to butt out.  Anne Graham Lotz was quoted as saying “For years we have told God we didn’t want Him in our schools. We didn’t want him in our government and we didn’t want him in our finances and God was being a perfect gentleman in doing just what we asked Him to do.  We need to make up our mind—do we want God or do we not want Him. We cannot just ask Him in when disaster strikes.”

We, who suffer from a mental illness or any illness for that matter, may have asked God why? Why do I have to suffer with this illness?  Well, we chose it.  Not directly. Of course, no one would choose to have an illness. But through Eve’s transgression, we suffer. And we will continue to suffer until Jesus comes back and makes all perfect again.  We can choose, however, to bring some good out of our suffering.  We can share our faith in God and how He has healed us and made us whole.  How He has given us hope that, if we do not get healed in our lifetime, we will be healed in heaven.  How amazing is that?  But, we still must live in our bodies, in this world which at times is so chaotic and disturbing.  The world that has so thoroughly drove God out.  But, He will not be totally driven out. This is His world. He created it and He will have the last say. Satan may have gained some ground, but God knows what he is doing and what he will do, and it is no surprise to God. It may surprise us, but not God.  We will continue to suffer disease, attacks, pain, deviancy and more because this is the world we live in. We chose poorly at the beginning, but Jesus says “take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Encouragement, Mental Health

I am free

There is a song by Casting Crowns called “Set Me Free”. It is a song that speaks to my heart in a powerful way.  It is a song that God put into my life at a time when my world was so dark I didn’t know if I would ever see light again.  My depression was so deep, and I felt so detached from the world around me. I was going through the motions of life but not really engaging in anything.  I felt dead inside.  I continued to pray and do my devotional, but it seemed dry.  As if it were written for someone else. Someone more deserving, less messed up.  I eventually stopped praying altogether and merely would sit and cry and ask why.  Why was I going through this horribleness?  Then my husband brought home the latest CD by Casting Crowns and I listened to it hoping that music would give my soul a lift.  Then I heard it.  The song that described my life and what I was going through. It spoke of darkness and hearing voices; being wrapped in chains and living among the dead; crying in the rain and being alone with my demons.  Every word of that song identified with what was going on in my life at that time.  The culmination of the song is the setting free of this person by Jesus.  “And as the god man passes by, He looks straight through my eyes, and darkness cannot hide. Do you want to be free?” These are the lyrics that froze me.  God was asking me if I really wanted to be free.  Well, of course I did, I just didn’t know how to get free.  After hearing the song, I went into my room and I prayed.  I asked God to set me free and Psalm 91: 14-15 came to mind.  It says

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free”

I couldn’t believe there was a verse that spoke to exactly what I needed.  I was a young Christian then and hadn’t studied the Bible much at that time.  Of course, now I know there is a verse in the Bible for almost every need.  This verse meant so much to me, so I began praying it every day and listening to that song everyday and an amazing thing happened. I began to get better.  The darkness was not so dark, and my mind was clearing.  Hope and joy were returning, and I was able to begin enjoying life again.  This verse and that song were God’s promise to me that He is bigger than my illness.  I didn’t realize, at that time, that I was not believing God for my healing.  I was doubting that He would do that for me thinking this was my affliction and I was to carry it just as Paul suffered.  I didn’t realize that through my weakness, I am strong because the Lord carries me.

It has been quite a while since that song came out and I suffered through that time.  God has been faithful to carry me in my darkness and calm me in my mania. I turn to God first  during my struggle and I often still struggle. I am still believing God for a complete and total healing and as I am waiting, I wait with hope.  When this hope begins to wane, I pull up that song “Set Me Free” and I listen to it and remember that God has set me free.  I may not be symptom free and I may suffer with this illness my whole life, but I am free.  Free from the chains of the enemy.  I am free from the despair, free from the being the victim of my illness, free from feeling like there is no hope and that I am alone.  I have the assurance that my God is working everything for my good and that He Loves me so much. I can rest in this love and live my life… free.

If you are interested in hearing the song, click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_WNDIybIXs

Encouragement, Mental Health

Trust and Confident Hope

As I was spending time in God’s word today, specifically in Hebrews, I was wondering what God was going to want me to write about today.  I came across verse 2:13 which says

“MY TRUST AND CONFIDENT HOPE WILL BE PLACED IN HIM.”

I started pondering this verse and I had to ask myself if I truly place my total trust in Him and if I have confident hope.  Confident hope…what does that look like?  The definition of hope as given in Webster’s 1828 dictionary is “A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable”.  Did you catch that?  It says a slight expectation.  Does this definition work with what the Word says?  Let’s look at the word confident.  Again, Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines confidence as: “A trusting, or reliance; an assurance of mind or firm belief in the integrity, stability, or veracity of another…”.  So, when we put these two definitions together, we arrive at a command that I think very little about.

I absolutely put my hope in Jesus.  I also trust Him in all things.  The word I have trouble with is “confident”.  I sometimes doubt that God will show up and answer my prayers.  I feel that I may be out of His reach in my sin and self-absorption when I am having an episode with my illness. I have no problem with this command when I am feeling well and in charge of my thoughts. It is easy to be confident in God when things are going well.  It’s only when I am ill that the doubting begins.  My thoughts when I am manic are, well, manic.  They do not make sense and my behaviors based on these thoughts are erratic and out uncontrollable.  When I am depressed, my thoughts turn inward and during these times, my confidence in God wanes.  It is hard to confidently trust when my mind is betraying me.  Yet I know that, without this confident trust in Jesus, I will never get better.  I have been stable for about a month now and I can see where God showed up in my life during this last manic episode.  Looking back, it is obvious that He took care of me and kept me from getting into a place where I could do a lot of damage to myself and my family. But at the time, I thought God had abandoned me to my illness once again.  This was only in my thinking.  Somewhere in my mind I knew God was with me and I needed to turn to Him for help.  I turned to the Psalms and read them aloud until my mind began to calm.  I placed my trust and confident hope in Him.  I knew He would get me through this episode as He has always done and as He will always do.  The disconnect is not with God, it is with me.  I need to tattoo this verse on my arm so when I am in the throws of an episode I can remember to be confident in Him who is faithful and always trust that He is there and always have hope that He will deliver me from yet another episode.

Trust and confident hope are learned behaviors.  They are built over time and through experiences.  If we never go through the valleys, we will never have a mountain top experience.  To grow and to mature means that we put our trust in God and we hope, with confidence not slight expectation, but with true confidence that God is going to do what He has promised and that is to make us whole.  True confidence in God will always lead to hope.

Christian Living, Encouragement, Spiritual Wellness

The Power of our Words

Words have power.  I am sure we know this on some level, but do we believe it.  We say so many things to ourselves throughout the course of a day that we are not aware we are saying. Negative things that we would never say to anyone else. Yet, it is common language in our subconscious which gets spoken to our conscious mind and out of our mouths.  I have found myself saying things like I am stupid, unworthy, unloved, unnecessary, even so sinful that God must have given up on me.  Wow! Would you ever call your best friend stupid or your child unloved? Never.  So why do we treat ourselves so badly?  A dear friend of mine always reminds me that my words have power.  That what I say can and is heard in the supernatural realm.  Satan hears us.  That is a scary thought because if he hears us, then he can use our words to our detriment.  What we say out loud can be used as a weapon against us.  We will speak these words of death about ourselves and Satan is all too happy to take these words and turn them into a toehold.  Then, he will take that toehold and turn it into a stronghold and we will not understand why we are held captive by these false beliefs about ourselves.  We won’t remember that we spoke that over ourselves and we will be left confused.  I heard a story about a man who was always fearful that his wife would die of cancer.  He spoke about this fear to almost everyone he encountered.  When he first started having this fear and speaking these words, his wife was fine. But after several years of proclaiming this, she did die of cancer.  He spoke that into being.

But, there is hope for us.  When we search the scriptures, we see many verses about our words.

“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel”

                                                                                                                                                          Proverbs 11:17

                “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body”

                                                                                                                            Proverbs 16:24

 The Lord says to speak kind words to ourselves that will nourish us and bring health.  Those words are powerful, and we should take heed and obey.  But, what happens when our self-talk comes out of our unconscious and just flows out of our minds unchecked?  I have said to myself many times “did that just come out of my mouth?” I am surprised at the things I say to myself and the only way to stop this from happening is to take every thought captive.  We need to think before we speak.  Slow down and really think about the words that are forming in our minds. Paul says…

         “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”

                                                         Romans 12:21

Choosing to focus on right things that are true, noble, peaceful and right in God’s eyes is a great place to start changing our words. If we can change the focus of what our minds think on, we can change our words which will change our behaviors.  We can build ourselves up instead of tearing ourselves down.  We need to stop speaking words of death over ourselves.  Something as innocuous as “that was really stupid” or “I’m so dumb” have such great power.  We need to replace those words with more affirming ones.  I have words of affirmation from God’s Word taped to my mirror so I see them and say them every day.  It makes a huge difference in how I speak to myself during the day.  You may want to try this yourself. But regardless of how we do it, we need to always speak blessing and favor over ourselves.  We are the workmanship or God and made in His image.  There is nothing unworthy about us and by speaking death over ourselves we are minimizing what Christ did for us on the cross.  We are forgiven and loved and children of the Most High God.  We need to start talking to ourselves with words worthy of our station.

Words have power.  I am sure we know this on some level, but do we believe it.  We say so many things to ourselves throughout the course of a day that we are not aware we are saying. Negative things that we would never say to anyone else. Yet, it is common language in our subconscious which gets spoken to our conscious mind and out of our mouths.  I have found myself saying things like I am stupid, unworthy, unloved, unnecessary, even so sinful that God must have given up on me.  Wow! Would you ever call your best friend stupid or your child unloved? Never.  So why do we treat ourselves so badly?  A dear friend of mine always reminds me that my words have power.  That what I say can and is heard in the supernatural realm.  Satan hears us.  That is a scary thought because if he hears us, then he can use our words to our detriment.  What we say out loud can be used as a weapon against us.  We will speak these words of death about ourselves and Satan is all too happy to take these words and turn them into a toehold.  Then, he will take that toehold and turn it into a stronghold and we will not understand why we are held captive by these beliefs about ourselves.  We won’t remember that we spoke that over ourselves and we will be left confused.  I heard a story about a man who was always fearful that his wife would die of cancer.  He spoke about this fear to almost everyone he encountered.  When he first started having this fear and speaking these words, his wife was fine. But after several years of proclaiming this, she did die of cancer.  He spoke that into being.

But, there is hope for us.  When we search the scriptures, we see many verses about our words.

“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel”

                                                                                                                                                          Proverbs 11:17

                “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body”

                                                                                                                            Proverbs 16:24

 The Lord says to speak kind words to ourselves that will nourish us and bring health.  Those words are powerful, and we should take heed and obey.  But, what happens when our self-talk comes out of our unconscious and just flows out of our minds unchecked?  I have said to myself many times “did that just come out of my mouth?” I am surprised at the things I say to myself and the only way to stop this from happening is to take every thought captive.  We need to think before we speak.  Slow down and really think about the words that are forming in our minds. Paul says…

“take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”

                                                         Romans 12:21

Choosing to focus on right things that are true, noble, peaceful and right in God’s eyes is a great place to start changing our words. If we can change the focus of what our minds think on, we can change our words which will change our behaviors.  We can build ourselves up instead of tearing ourselves down.  We need to stop speaking words of death over ourselves.  Something as innocuous as “that was really stupid” or “I’m so dumb” have such great power.  We need to replace those words with more affirming ones.  I have words of affirmation from God’s Word taped to my mirror so I see them and say them every day.  It makes a huge difference in how I speak to myself during the day.  You may want to try this yourself. But regardless of how we do it, we need to always speak blessing and favor over ourselves.  We are the workmanship or God and made in His image.  There is nothing unworthy about us and by speaking death over ourselves we are minimizing what Christ did for us on the cross.  We are forgiven and loved and children of the Most High God.  We need to start talking to ourselves with words worthy of our station.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Missing Memories

Many times, I feel my illness does not allow me to be present in my life.  I am too distracted or depressed or manic to be fully in the moment.  Things go on around me, life happens, and memories are made, but I miss out.  Somehow, I just cannot get into my right mind to be a participant in all the fun.  I try to pay more attention. I try to make mental notes of things I want to remember, but, somehow, I usually forget.  My husband or my kids will speak of an event that took place in the here and now and I will not be aware of many of the things they are speaking of.  I know I was there and I did participate but my memory just isn’t working.  Why is this?  Why can I not recall?  It is so frustrating.  When your kids say, “no mom, that was my sister” or one of the boys say, “mom, I wasn’t even there”, it sends up some red flags.  It has now become kind of a joke with my family.  But, to me, it is very serious.

Then we get into events that have happened in my past.  Now I do remember many things, but I may not remember them the exact way they happened.  What I remember usually differs greatly from what my family or friends remember.  This goes back for many years. I don’t remember my wedding correctly, the births of my children are a bit foggy and their childhoods are a little sketchy.  Not every memory is skewed, but enough to make me take notice.  I must ask my husband if I remember something correctly or if the event I remember even happened. I used to have a very sharp memory, often remembering things others did not. What changed?  What causes this?  I am not old (I am only 50), nor am I senile, so what’s up?  I began to do some digging. I suspected that a lot of my memory problems could be attributed to something external. Could it be my medication?  Well, guess what?  I looked into the medications I take, and most antipsychotics cause memory loss.  I take many antipsychotics, so I looked up how they do this.  The result of my search led me to this explanation.

The potency of antipsychotic medications can have a detrimental impact on cognition and memory functioning. Over time, you may notice that your memory has gotten worse, you become more confused, and can’t remember as much information. This is because your neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine have been largely influenced by the drug.” (Mental Health Daily). 

I have been taking these medication’s for at least 10 years.  Does this explanation mean that I can expect my memory to continue to worsen?  Will I get to a point where I can’t remember at all?  Panic is beginning to set in.  Will I lose my memory?  And then God pulls me back from the edge.  No matter what happens to me and my memory, God is always there.  He is right there.  I cannot worry about this because I learned long ago that worry and worship cannot live in the same heart.  Worry sends me into anxiety which then leads to a crash and depression.  I cannot allow that to happen.  The Lord says, “Do not be anxious about anything”.  If I believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God, which I do, I must take this as a command.  Not as a suggestion or even as a thing to ponder. No, it is a definite command and I must obey if I am to live in God’s will.  Difficult, yes but highly doable.  I know you suffer from, most likely, the same side effects and troubles with your memory just as I do, and I know you depend on God to help you through each day. But we must allow God to bring restoration to our memories.  He can restore what has been taken from us, give us back what is lost, and I believe He can and will do this for us.  We need only bend our knee and ask.  He is faithful and just and we love Him because of who He is.  I may not always be scattered in my memory but for now I am waiting on God to restore me and make me whole. But while He is working I will remain scattered to the enjoyment of my family. There is nothing funnier to them then to poke fun at memory impaired, slightly fractured, but always lovable Mom.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Your True Self

Do you know who you are?  Are you familiar with your true self?  This is a question I used to ask myself often.  “Who am I?”  I could not answer this question because I didn’t know the answer. I could never remember a time when I didn’t have symptoms of my illness.  They began when I was in High School and continue to this day and they defined me.  I could never show who I really was beneath the illness because I didn’t know I was ill.  I would show behaviors I didn’t have an explanation for. I would either be really up or really down.  I remember lying to my Mom and telling her I couldn’t go to school because I was having cramps.  The reality was I was so racked with depression that I couldn’t get out of bed.  She never knew.  I am sure I acted in ways that the people around me thought odd but they never pressed me as to why.  I couldn’t have answered that question anyhow.  This unknowing of myself continued well after I was diagnosed.  Instead of a frightened girl acting strange and down, I became a woman defined by my illness.  I, at that time, was afraid to figure out who I really was,  It was a question that stayed with me.  It was not until I started serving God with my whole heart that I found out who I really was.  I was a child of the Most High God.

I lived in fear that people would find out I was Bipolar. But as I began to read and study God’s word I found that fear is a liar. In Colossians 3: 9-10 it says that “I have put off the old man and have put on the new man. which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me” (AMP).  Again, the theme of renewal.  Once I learned that the old me no longer existed and I was made new in the light of God’s grace, I began to give myself grace.  I quit beating myself up for being depressed or being manic. This was my new reality.  Symptoms are going to happen.  My illness is not going to go away.  So how does this mesh with who God says that I am.  “I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works” ( Ephesians 2:10); “I am a partaker of His divine nature” (2 Peter 1: 3-4); ” I am a believer, and the light of the Gospel shines in my mind” (2 Corinthians 4:4).  There are so many verses that tell us who we are in Christ.  This knowledge allows me to  be authentic in front of others.  I no longer have fear that people will judge me based on my illness. I know they will, but I put myself out there anyway.  I have learned that I mean more to God, and am loved and cherished by Him so other’s opinions  do not matter.  The only way I am going to change the landscape of the stigma centered on mental illness is to brave enough to talk about my experiences.  But I can do this now without fear.  Jesus was criticized and judged while He walked this earth and He was perfect.  I am beautifully flawed so what makes me think I will not be judged as well.  It goes with the territory.  But you can know who you really are in light of the Scriptures.  Look them up, meditate on them. Get them down deep in your soul so you know who you really are.  You are not others opinions of you.  You are not even your opinion of yourself.  You are a new creature in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:17).  Begin to see yourself through this lens and you will soon discover your authentic self.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Renewal

Romans 12:2 is said to be the verse for mental wellness.  It says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to rest and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV). So what does “renewing of your mind” look like for someone who suffers from a mental illness.  Paul is writing to the Roman’s about many things such as faithfulness,  righteousness and God’s love but the renewing of the mind is the aspect we will be focusing on.

The renewal of our minds, for those who suffer from a mind disorder, has a slightly different emphasis then what Paul stated. Not that I am adding to or taking away from Scripture. I would never dare do that. I just see this verse as a more encompassing verse for me.  When I was first diagnosed, I had no control over my own mind.  It went hither and thither whenever it pleased.  But one day I was reading Romans and 12:2 jumped out at me.  Renew my mind.  That is exactly what I needed to do. Renew my mind. But how?  As I read  in the Amplified Bible, it phrased things a bit differently. It said ” do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of  your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in his plan and purpose for you].  This emphasis on maturing spiritually is not new to this blog. I have touched on it before.  It seems that spiritual maturity is important to God. He mentions it many times in the New Testament.  But this verse goes a little further.  It says that as you spiritually mature, your mind will be transformed and progressively changed.  This word progressively is a key word.  Our minds are not transformed over night.  Our illnesses are not overcome in one day.  This takes time.  Most likely the rest of our lives.  But in order for our illnesses to not dictate where our minds go, we need to become spiritually mature.  How do we do this? By focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes.  It is so simple, yet so difficult.  When our illnesses are raging, controlling our minds and training them to focus on anything is difficult. But when we are in a calmer state. When our minds are not numb from depression or raging in mania or just anxious, this is when we need to focus our minds on godly things.  It is during the calmer times that we are able to read and study and tuck the Word into our hearts so that when we are suffering, we can reach in and pull out what we need to calm our distress.

Reading, studying, and memorizing Scripture is a joy for me. But I do know that it is difficult for some.  Pray. Ask God for wisdom and the ability to memorize and understand what Scripture is saying and how to apply it to your life. This is a process. It requires dedication and perseverance but the rewards are endless.  The renewal of your mind is vitally important.  If we do not renew our minds, we continue in the same cycle of getting ill and allowing the illness to dictate our behaviors, getting a little better, and then getting ill again.  If we can continue to mature spiritually, our minds will be transformed  by the power of the Holy Spirit and we can stand on the promise of renewal. Our minds will be healthier and a healthy mind will improve every area of our lives.  Know that this is a verse we can stand on. It is a promise from God and God’s promises are yes in Christ Jesus.

Christian Living, Encouragement

Big Dreams

Have you ever had a big dream? One big enough that when you thought about it, it made you nauseous?  I have.  Faithful in the Midst Ministries is that big dream.  God first planted this dream in my heart back in 2009 at a Winter Jam concert I attended with the youth in our church.  I didn’t know how God was going to bring this dream to reality so I just tucked it away.  Every time I would think of starting this ministry, I would immediately talk myself out of it.  It was too difficult to do. I mean, after all, I have a mental illness that precludes me from doing anything other than trying to manage my day.  How could God expect me to put myself out there for all to see and know.  It was just too much.

But, through the years God has been faithful.  He has led me to this place in steps.  The first step was to get certified as a Christian Life Coach which I did.  I thought  this would be it and God would not want me to use this knowledge for anything other than personal growth.  Wrong. The next step He took me through was to get my Bachelor degree’s in 2011. I obeyed and graduated with two degrees, one in counseling and one in coaching and, again, I thought I only earned those degrees for personal knowledge. Wrong again. Next step, I was not to pass up opportunities to talk about my illness.  This one was the most difficult. There is quite a stigma attached to mental illness, as you well know. So when I told  people about it, I just  knew they were judging me, or so I thought.  But, again I obeyed. Fast forward a few years and I tried to start a Coaching business but I failed because my illness starting taking center stage in my life again so I gave up. Battling my illness was a full-time job so I must have heard God wrong about this dream to start a ministry.  Maybe it was someone else’ job. So I sat on this dream for the next few years, until now.  I kept hearing God say,”why did you give up?  I am Yahweh Nissi, the God your banner. I am powerful enough to defeat any foe, even your beliefs about yourself, even your illness.  I had to listen because I knew God was right. He is always right.  I was failing because I was believing the lie of the enemy that I was not qualified, or well enough to start this ministry.  But then I thought, who better qualified to speak about mental illness and how God can heal and restore you then someone who is living it everyday.  Yes I have the education, but the life experiences are where I speak from.

If you have a dream that God has put in your heart,  go for it!  Do not let the lies of the enemy stop you.  The only reason he is putting those lies in your head is because he knows you are going to do something amazing for the kingdom of God.  Put the devil on notice. You will not be stopped.  God can overcome your doubts, your depression, your anxiety or any other barrier you have put up.   Simply believe that He has a plan for you, a plan to prosper you and not harm you, a plan for your future ( Jeremiah 29:11). I don’t know your dreams or your plans but God does because He gave them to you.  Do not let someone or some wrong belief paralyze you.  Your dreams are worth going after.  Who knows what God has in store for you.  Every day, put your feet on the ground, make the  devil tremble at the sound of you pursuing your God-given calling and God will do great things through you.  I promise. Believe.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Meds: the good, the bad, and the ugly

I was reminded today of how dependent my son and I are on our medications.  My son suffers from Unipolar depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Bipolar tendencies and I suffer from type 1 Bipolar disorder.  He takes three medications to keep him stable and I take six.  I had a Doctor appointment today with my primary Doctor because I have been having symptoms of type two diabetes.  I went to get this checked out and  he was not surprised I am having these symptoms because one of my medications that I take a very high dosage of, causes weight gain (and boy do I know that) and type 2 diabetes.  Great.  So, while my Bipolar is somewhat stable right now, I have to deal with the ramifications of taking medications to make me better only to make certain other conditions worse.  He did blood work and told me I was going to have to lose weight.  Great again.  He said I have to believe in my mind that I can lose weight and get healthy. Actually, I need to depend on God to help me lose weight and get healthy.  I need His strength, His guidance, and even a little tail kicking just to keep me on the right path.  I know you have suffered from something very much like this.  If the meds cause you to gain weight, affect you metabolically, make you sick if you do not take them, I feel your pain.

So does my son.  Today he came downstairs very ill.  I asked him what was up. He said he was out of one of his medications so he couldn’t take it last night. He thought it was no big deal except he was up all night going through withdrawal which continued into this morning.  Fortunately, I had picked up his medication at the store after my Doctor appointment so he could take it ASAP, but he had to call off work because he was too sick to go.

He and I do not like being this dependent on medication and dealing with the side effects,  but it is a part of our life now.  I know God heals supernaturally and can do it anytime He wishes, but for me and my son, He has chosen to heal us through Doctor’s, therapy, and medication.  I have to be ok with that.  But it means counting pills to make sure I have enough for the week. Planning in advance if I am going to go out-of-town. Dealing with the side effects and the sickness when I miss a dose.  If I want to wake up in the morning without feeling ill, I have to take my medications by 7:00 p m and be in bed by 9:30. I miss out on a lot of fun family time but it is the price I have to pay to stay level and sane.  But God always reminds me that I would be far worse without the medication so I take them, without fail, every night. And now I have to deal with the illnesses these meds cause, and more than likely, meds for that as well.

If you are in the same place, the only advice I can give you is to tell your heart to God. Let Him reassure you He is in control. Depend on Him when you are feeling ill and when you are feeling better and accept that it is just a part of your life. I had to walk this road too and am still walking it. Acceptance is difficult, but necessary.  Invite the Holy Spirit into your wellness plan and accept His gentle nudging away from that peanut buster parfait and instead have a banana.  I know it is not going to be easy for any of us to get healthy and lose weight and if you do not need to lose weight than kudos to you, but for the rest of us,  I believe with God’s help, we can accomplish anything.  But, take your medicine no matter how much you don’t want to. I am.

Encouragement, Mental Health

A Quiet Spirit

I know when we are in the midst of our mess, no matter what it may be, a quiet spirit may be hard to maintain.  We tend to rail against our situation, saying “it’s not fair”.  We want resolution, possibly even revenge.  We want to be angry and self-righteous, and we want to have the biggest pity party ever to be had.  But that is not what God says we should do.  We may be mad at God for our circumstances and the last thing we want to hear is the Holy Spirit tapping on our heart trying to steer us in a different direction. A direction that leads away from our problems and into God’s perspective.  I know when this happens to me, I tend to dig in my heels and try to stay in my mess. To revel at how much I am suffering and how I don’t deserve this. Misery loves company so if I  can find someone to commiserate with, then all the better.  But when I sit down with my Bible, only to complain to God about where I am and how He let this happen, I am reminded that Jesus suffered so much more.  He was abused, battered, beaten, accosted, and yet, He went through His pain without a word. He didn’t run and complain to Peter at how unjust His punishment was.  He simply went to His Father to gain strength to endure.  Wow. How I fall short of the mark. Jesus always had a quiet spirit.  Even when He was indignant at the money changers in the temple, He still had a quiet Spirit.  I wonder if I can achieve this?

Having a quiet spirit has never been something that has been described about me by others.  When I am manic my spirit is everything but quiet and when I am depressed, I am turned inward and self-demeaning, my spirit is disturbed and anxious. Everything but quiet.  So how does one attain a quiet spirit?  We must turn to the Word of God for this answer.  We read in 1 Peter 3:4 “but let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled , not over-anxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God”. (Amp. Italic’s mine). So, seems pretty black and white.  God has set down in His Word  as to what a quiet spirit is.  Self-controlled, calm, not anxious, serene, spiritually mature.  Can that be the answer?  Once we become spiritually mature, will a quiet spirit be the result?  I feel this may be the key.  We, as sufferers with mental illness, need to put more due-dilligence in becoming mature believers. Our spirits, because they tend to be a little out of control at times, need to be reigned in more sternly than others. ( at least mine does.  If your’s does not, then I apologize). But speaking for myself, my spirit can run away with me and before I know it, it has control.  I need to make sure I am subduing it and not the other way around.  The only way I have found to do this is to spend time with God, both in His word and in His presence.  Prayer calms my spirit and when my spirit is quiet, then God can speak into my life; the Holy Spirit can come alongside of me and guide me into all truth. I have a tremendous calling upon my life and I cannot live this out without the Lord’s help. So if being spiritually mature is an answer to this question, then I’m all in.  I have become a serious student of the Word and the more I know the more peace I have and peace leads to a quiet spirit,  Try spending time in the Word and prayer and see if your spirit quiets before your God.  I know it will.