Monday, May 30, 2011

Depression Part Four

I just feel led of the LORD to write another post about depression. There are so many people that suffer from this mental illness and several of them are christians. I know because I am one of them, so is my mother, and so is my daughter. Some day, I believe, the scientists and doctors will discover that almost, if not all, mental illnesses are genetic. It is my hope and prayer that this post will bring some encouragement to those christians who do suffer from mental illness, especially depression.
It was very hard for me to admit that I had a problem with depression especially after hearing from so many other christians that it is the most selfish of all emotional problems. For those who don't have depression and may not understand, let me give you a little insight. It isn't something that I want to have nor is it something that I desire. It is a chemical imbalance that happens to my brain. It occurs whenever things get out of whack. Why and when it happens, is not something that I can just control. If I could, I would just wish and work it away. But that is impossible. I have heard from others, "Just think happy thoughts and then you will be happier." Okay, how does that work for someone who has heart problems? How does that work for someone who has pancreatic problems? How does that work for someone who has hearing loss? I do agree that there are times when I do need to change my thoughts, and if I can, I do try. But there are other times when there is nothing that seems to help and I just have to wait it out. And for those of you who still might think that mental illness is demon possession or oppression, where do you get that idea? If it is from the Gospels, then you must also believe that blindness, deafness, and physical crippledness are also from demons...because that is what it says in the Gospels.
Here is what I believe. I believe that most mental illness is genetic. I also believe that it is influenced by sexual hormones and that is why so many women suffer worse when their hormones are fluctuating. It is also a fact that more people who live in the "darker" areas of the world have more of a problem with depression. I heard that suicide among teenage Alaskans is 10 times higher than the national average, especially during their dark winter months. I sure know that I feel much worse during the shorter, cloudier days here in western Washington.
So, I do have some good news. There are some ways to help yourself. I am going to list the things that I do that help me and maybe they can help you too. I am not an expert, I just offer my suggestions.
1. Go see your doctor and get a good check-up to make sure that there are not other problems that may be causing your mental illness.
2. Be honest with yourself and with others. If they don't understand, that is their problem. There are others who will.
3. Take medication if the doctor believes that it will help. It may take several different ones and many months or years before you find one that works well for you. I use Savella, which is not an anti-depressant, but it helps my fibromyalgia and my mood.
4. Realize that anti-depressants do have side effects and may cause you to need other medications to help. All the anti-depressants that I tried gave me high blood pressure. I now take a very low dose of Benicar and am back to normal.
5. Exercise. You must do this! I ride a recumbent bike every day and when I feel really bad, it gets a good work-out. I tend to get angry when I am depressed and riding that bike helps work out that anger. I can get up to 20 miles an hour for about 10 minutes and by then I get to feeling better. I also do water aerobics and am very busy in my yard.
6. Take vitamin D. This really helps some people. I take 3000mg a day and so does my daughter. I have seen it help her.
7. Move to a warmer, sunnier climate if need be. I would if I could, but I can't so I don't.
8. Eat less fat. I have lost almost 50 pounds by eating less than 20grams of fat a day. Eat smaller meals of about 300 calories each and eat more often. If you eat 300 cals. or less a meal, you can easily have six meals a day. I tend to have three smalls meals and three snacks. It has worked for me. I no longer eat high fat, high calorie foods. I still eat most everything I like.
9. Take magnesium. I don't, because I no longer have any internal female organs. I have heard and read that magnesium can help those who have PMS. Look it up online.
10. Get in your Bible. Find many verses of encouragement. Write them in a book, put them on cards, memorize them, do whatever you can to have them close by when you are feeling really bad. I especially encourage you to memorize John 17:17, "Sanctify them through thy truth, THY WORD IS TRUTH." When those stupid thoughts try to overrun your brain, cling to God's Word because it is the truth. It is the only truth in this world. It is the only truth in your life.
11. Remember that "THIS TOO SHALL PASS". While you are in the depths of depression it may feel like you will never feel better, but you will. You have before and you will again. It will take time, but God is with you for He promised that He will never leave you nor forsake you.
If you would like to talk to me more about depression, please do. I know how awful it is and I know that there are times when I don't want to have anything to do with anyone, but the rest of the time, I want to pray for you and help you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guilt Trip

How do you get off a guilt trip? I have no problem getting myself on one, but getting off is tough. It seems that I mess up even when I don't mean to mess up and more often than I care to know. It seems that even when I have the best intentions and purposes, it winds up backfiring. Recently, I got mad at my sweetheart kitty. His morning meowing was starting to drive me crazy. He had been fed, loved on, petted, played with, and talked to. But it wasn't enough. Well, morning is my devoted time to the Lord. Usually Kitten Boy will fall asleep while I pray and read my Bible. But not on this day. He just would not be quiet.
So, I got angry and put him outside where it was raining like crazy. He stayed on the back step where he wouldn't get wet and just stared in the backdoor. I instantly got on a lovely guilt trip. However, as I went back to my prayer time, the Holy Spirit seemed to say that I needed to focus on this guilt trip. Why was I feeling guilty? I had thrown the cat outside in the yecky weather. No, The Holy Spirit wanted me to get to the sin of the guilt trip...the cat would be fine outside, so, why was I on this guilt trip? Focus, Alice. It was easy...I felt guilty for my sin of getting angry. That was the problem. I admit that I have allowed the sin of anger to once again rear its ugly head in my life. It was a bad sin that I had dealt with a couple of decades ago, but realized that I had let it come back and control my emotions.
I confessed and repented of my sin right then and there. Whenever I am now tempted to get angry (which is still quite often), I use God's Word to fight it, instead of giving in and then winding up on another guilt trip.
Then, last night, I was getting on one of the worse guilt trips, the kind that make you so upset that you just want to cry, you just want to hide, you just want to run-away from life. I felt that I had unintentionally hurt a very good friend. She didn't say anything to make me think it, but I just sensed it. (Sometimes I really hate my overactive imagination.) I won't go into all of the details, just suffice it to say that I felt horrid when I went to bed. My brain would not stop feeling guilty. I even tried to focus on the true problem, but I couldn't think of a sin. What the Holy Spirit revealed to me was that I need to really pray and seek God's will before I do anything that is "out of the norm". It is a good lesson that I need to learn.
This morning I was able to put this new lesson into practice. I was getting ready to do something, that in all likelihood I will wind up doing anyways, but I hadn't taken the time to pray about it and to seek God's will in the matter. It just happened that I had something else that I was in the middle of doing and it needed my immediate attention, so I wasn't able to finish doing what I had started to do. And then my beloved came home from the gym and told me to wait before I acted. Praise God.
So, I am thankful for guilt trips, for the Holy Spirit who is trying to teach me a new lesson, and for the lessons themselves...even when they aren't very fun.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A mom's a mom

"A son's a son, 'til he takes a wife. A daughter's a daughter all of her life." This was a favorite saying of my mother. It was meant to make me understand why my older brother didn't spend much time with us after he got married. They spent much more time with his wife's family and since I was a child I didn't understand why. So, my mom explained it to me by using one of her favorite sayings. (It still didn't help me to understand.)
It wasn't until I became a wife eight years later that I finally got the idea. A woman is just more comfortable with her own family and the husband is usually willing to please his wife. I know that is a fact in my marriage. However, this saying has taken on a deeper meaning to me as a mother of an adult daughter who is autistic and has mental illness.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined having a child with disabilities. My hopes, dreams, and prayers were for several "above-average" children. (Actually, I know now, it was my pride that wanted my children to be "above-average".) Not only did God have other plans for me, He had plans that were deeper and wider than my mind could comprehend. He would allow me to have at least four miscarries. He would allow my only child to be different. He would use that child and her disabilities to change me in tremendous ways. He would humble me. And He would make it so that I would have my daughter for the rest of her life (or mine.)
It is hard to be a mother of an adult child. Even though she is technically 29 years old, she is really only 10 years old. Her behaviors are so immature. Her thought processes are so strange. Her social skills are extremely limited. And there are times when she just drives me crazy. Just when I think that she is making real progress, she goes and proves me wrong. It can be so frustrating.
Her life has always been "two steps forward, one big step back." Today, we learned about the "big step back" at work. (For those of you who read her Facebook postings, I apologize for any and all that have been inappropriate. I don't have Facebook, so I had no idea what she was posting. Until her boss told us of a couple. I am so embarrassed.) She was doing so wonderful at her new job, that I had become relaxed in her accomplishments; forgetting about the "big step back", or hoping that it just wouldn't come. But it did! Pray for wisdom to make things right.
So, God used my mother to be a "prophetess". Little did she know that when she began to quote one of her favorite sayings that I would have a daughter for the rest of my life. And I thank God that I do. I wouldn't trade her for anything nor for everything.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Two

Last time I blogged about being happy and this week I am going to give you some verses that might open your eyes or make you reflect. This may be boring or dry, but I like to do Bible studies of certain words and thought I would share this one with you.
"Old Testament Definitions:
Asher: to be straight. level, right, happy, go forward, be honest, prosper, bless(ed), guide, lead, relieve.
Ehsher: happiness, how happy!, blessed, happy.
Shawlaw: to be tranquil, secure, successful, be happy, prosper, be in safety.
It is mentioned 20 times in the Old Testament, 7 times are in Psalms. Twice it is found in Psalms 144:15," Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD." (see the rest of the chapter to see why they are is because of God's goodness and blessings.)
New Testament Definitions:
Makarizo: to beautify, pronounce, esteem, fortunate, call blessed, count happy.
Makarios: supremely blest, fortunate, well off, blessed, happy(ier).
It is mentioned only 6 times in the New Testament, twice in Second Peter. Only once written by Paul to the church, Romans 14:22, "...Happy is he that condemeth not himself in that thing which he alloweth." (see the rest of the chapter to realize that this is the freedom that we have in Christ.)

The first time the word is mentioned in the Bible is when Leah, the first wife of Jacob, names the son of her handmaid "Asher", which means happy. Genesis 30:13.
Deut.33:29, Israel is happy because they have been saved (preserved) by the LORD.
I Kings 10:8, King Solomon's soldiers and servants are happy to serve him and to hear his wisdom.

Job 5:17, "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth." (Wow, that doesn't sound like fun.)
Ps. 127:5, Happy is the man who has children (and lots of them.)
Ps. 128:2, Happy is everyone that fears the LORD (see vs.1).
Ps. 137:8-9, (This is yecky!) Happy shall he be who takes revenge on Babylon.
Ps. 146:5, "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help."
Pro. 3:13, "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding."
Pro. 3:18, Happy is everyone that retains wisdom. (Interesting!)
Pro. 14:21, Happy is he that has mercy on the poor. (not focused on self.)
Pro. 16:20, Happy he that trusts in the LORD.
Pro. 28:14, "Happy is the man that feareth alway..."
Pro. 29:18, Happy is he that keeps the law.

John 13:17, Jesus says that those who serve as he has served will be happy.
Acts 26:2, Paul is happy to give his testimony.
James 5:11, "...we count them happy which endure..." (amazing)
I Pet. 3:14, Happy are those who suffer for righteousness sake.
I Pet. 4:14, Happy are those who are reproached for the name of Christ.

It is amazing to me to see from God's Word what brings true happiness. The truth always seems contrary to what the world believes. There would be a lot more happy people (myself included) if we would realize what is true.
If the Lord wills, I hope the truths about Godly happiness can be put into an easy to read book. I believe it could be a great encouragement to christians, especially those who are going through some trial or is discouraged or who is messed up in their thoughts."

I never did get around to putting this into book form, but I do hope that this blog form has been a blessing and encouragement for you to be happy in the Lord.