Friday, May 31, 2013

Which Way Is "OUT?"

Do you ever think about that verse, Romans 8:28, that says that God works all things to the good of them who love God and are called according to His purpose? When I was in the pit of depression my brain was not capable of imagining what that could look like.

 Later, when I was out, I realized that depressed people no longer bothered me. I was not afraid of catching it. I could sit with someone who was depressed and not become depressed. In fact, I was asked to go visit depressed people; that puzzled me until I realized that now I was safe to be with a depressed person. I could commiserate and empathize and if the person has the strength to look at me, they can see by my face that I am no longer there. God brought me out and the depressed person could begin to hope that they too could find a way out.

Now, having said that, I need to also say that since the MS my capacity has changed. The parameters of my playground had changed. I no longer have the stamina I had before and I cannot do many things. My body has a degree of brokenness, I've learned that I am different, but not ruined. I used to love to teach, but now even people's excitement to learn can leave me feeling drained. My capacity, my energy is different now. So I have turned to writing and have found it feeds me and has given me a way to still feel I contribute. I have also learned another good thing--to have compassion on myself. Most of the time I don't beat up on myself for not being able to do what I used to do. Now I am careful about social involvement and give support by phone or in writing rather than face to face time in the same room. And even that I have discovered, I need to do from time to time rather than daily or even weekly.

By showing me the way out of the pit God worked good out of a bad thing. Having experienced depression I can be kinder, more compassionate, and less judgmental of those who struggle with this. I can crawl down in the pit and sit with them and paint it purple. And now I can stand at the entrance to the pit with them and point the way out! I just can't do it for very long! : ) Those are good things that came about because of being in a bad place.

So, how DO you get out? The story of Elijah (First Kings 18-19) gives God's prescription for depression and burnout. Eat, sleep, and then put one foot in front of the other--for fourty days. In Elijah's case he got two rounds of the treatment! Evidently 40 days was not enough to restore Elijah and that is good to know. Each of us will have our own timetable so be kind to yourself. Do your best to not compare yourself to anyone. God always fits the prescription to the individual. Each of us is different so what happened for me to get out is not necessarily the way He will take you out. Each of us must find our particular way out.

However, Elijah's story gives us three things that all depressed people will need to do to walk out of the pit. I have added a fourth.

First Restore the Body...

Eat nutritious food. When you are depressed you need help--angels came, touched Elijah and fed him "angel food" and good, clean water. Both items probably had all kinds of micro nutrients and minterals to replace and stabalize his electrolites and whatever else was whacked out. Notice that the angel had to tell him to eat. Like an NFL player, he had physically put out with an intensity for an extended period. He needed a supernatural angel's version of Gator-aide. So, when God sends you an "angel" to help, do like Elijah and let them help.

Sleep. Some people can't sleep and others can't stop sleeping. Both extreems indicate a troubled system. If you are having trouble with sleep, please let someone know. Sleep is a blessing from God and is meant to restore you.

Move. After the sleep and the food, Elijah began his physical restoration training--a 40 day program to build back some stamina. I imagine that he talked with God as he walked; I would. I think he kept in touch with his trainer; God was so gentle with Elijah. Even the attitude ajustment that let him know he was not the only one who was faithful in Israel was gentle--no harsh condemnation. I think God saw that Elijah was still in a rather fragile state. He was well enough to do something but not well enough to do much of anything. God gave him an assignment, but also prescribed another 40 days of one foot in front of the other before he did any "prophet" work. This says to me that physical recovery takes a while and that does not bother God.

After you have some healthy food and rest, begin some mindless exercise like putting one foot in front of the other. In my experience there were not enough brain cells functioning to do anything more than that. Don't take on a rigorous exercise regimen,  like a synchronized dance class or something of that nature unless that is exactly what you need. I characterize it as having one or two brain cells functioning and you need more than that for some of those exercise classes. But each of us is different, so find an exercise that fits you but rebuilds the body and feeds the soul.

While you do this exercise that leaves your mind free, make the effort to keep in touch with God as Elijah did. In other words, talk to God even if it feels like He is not there. On the other hand, sometimes in depression it can feel so like God has abandonded you that you can't hear Him. Then it is easy to feel He doesn't want to talk to you. That is a feeling and sometimes feelings are accurate and sometimes they are not. God does want to talk with you.
Although, the Lord sent Elijah an angel, he sent a squirrel for Agnes Sansdford to watch. The Lord re-started her heart through that cute squirrel. What helps one can be different than what you need. Keep in touch with God as best you can, He is your trainer. Talk to Him even if it feels like He is not there.

A friend and I were talking this week about the recovery process. She gave me a benchmark for how to know when you are getting better. She said you know you are better when you actually SEE the cobwebs on your windowsill. You might not be able to do anything about them yet but that is okay. Before, you didn't even see them; so seeing them is improvement! There is hope.

Possible First Steps--
  • Exercise as per God's direction
  • Enjoy a cuppa and a healthy snack 
  • Take a shower and a nap
  • Watch the sun move across the lawn or the sun set or the moon rise. See something beautiful without demanding that you have an instant, dramatic WOW response because you may need to soak in beauty for a time before you feel a response.

Best Selling Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive


Friday, May 17, 2013

Children Are A Gift From God!

Children are a reward from God according to Psalm 127! The following link is to a Mother's Day post by Lorilyn Roberts, founder of the John 3:16 Marketing Network that I am part of. Although it is a bit after Mother's Day I think the advice she presents is wonderful.

Lorilyn dreamed of being a mom but that dream was dashed when her husband divorced her. She's always been a fighter, so she didn't give up her dream. As a single person she tackled the daunting process of foreign adoption of two girls from Southeast Asia. This advice comes out of her experiences. Anyone considering adoption should read what she has to say! Hug a kid today.

Blessings, Carol
Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive

John 3:16 Marketing Network: Mother's Day - My Favorite Day of the Year: I pray that all mothers will be blessed this Mother's Day. I thank God for the gift of adoption that made it possible for me to hear th...

Friday, May 10, 2013

Depression Is The Pits

I keep thinking I am done talking about the symptoms of MS and then the Lord suggests something else…depression—which is a hazard for most chronic conditions.
imageDepression in my case was not directly caused by MS—it has nothing to do physically with the de-myelination of the nerves that are directly responsible for mood. In my situation it was a kind of secondary problem—it had everything to do with the chemical imbalance of my body from pushing too far by will power and made worse by my emotional response to circumstances over which I had no control.
After “the event” your body no longer functions as it once did. You suddenly find yourself unable to do things you did with ease, hardly a second thought. For me it was simple housekeeping things like:
  •  dusting and taking care of house plants
  • picking up around the house (bending over is not advised because of loss of balance which could lead to a fall, a torn up knee or broken bone)
  • doing floors
  • menu planning and cooking
  • bed making
  • gardening
Because the body won’t put out anymore, you can’t prepare or deliver lessons or keep up with the students youthful bodies—there goes your career.
With the lack of mobility your body starts looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy. Who, what am I now? What value or worth do I have? Every single referent that I looked to to tell me who I was was gone in a matter of a few weeks. Life as I knew it was over. What’s not to be depressed about?
You have to give up your independence (the car keys) so you can’t take yourself to even see a friend or go to a church meeting for spiritual and emotional nurture. You can no longer meet your own needs. Frustrating beyond words.
The avenues of nurture dry up. Any movement requires excessive amounts of energy. Motivation? Forget about it—it is non existent. The body chemistry goes out of whack and depression creeps in...but you are unaware.
Add to that the high sensitivity which you cannot turn off so you still sense people’s pain around you--and life becomes very difficult to bear. The retirement benefits of Heaven start to look really good.
The first time I was consciously aware that I was depressed, I remember standing at the sink feeling this bone grinding exhaustion while washing and preparing vegetables for dinner. I was planning for the care of our two children after I died.
I was not going to commit suicide but I was not going to fight death when it came. I could sense my spirit was almost gone. I knew when it went my body would soon shut down so with what little I had I wanted to make sure my kids would be loved and cared for. That was before I knew I was battling MS.
The Lord intervened twice, picked me up and carried me out of that desperate place. He fought for me. I could see the tunnel I was in. I knew there was no light in it this side of heaven. That was my reality.  I was emotionally flat. Without God’s direct intervention I don’t think I would be here to tell you this.
For a time I was on anti-depressants to take the edge off and to stabilize the body chemistry. Doctors can be one of those resources we are to use when needed.
The second time depression visited my house was after the second attack. I knew the attack was spiritually motivated so I did fight but I had so little endurance…so little motivation… But again Jesus fought for me and in the places of greatest darkness He revealed Himself. When God does that things change.
I want you to know that strong people become depressed; especially when they give and give until there is nothing left to give and then by the sheer force of will, they give beyond their design capacity. That throws the body chemistry out of whack.
I also want you to know that depression creeps in incrementally so you don’t notice it coming. It is usually someone else who points it out and I hope they do it gently.
TunnelIf you reach out to Jesus in the darkness He will answer and begin to slowly turn on the lights, but slowly so your eyes will not hurt. Then He will begin to teach you about Himself, slowly because the brain doesn’t work real fast anymore. He knows you and will meet you in a way that is appropriate for you.
I am so thankful for the story of Elijah in I Kings chapter 18-l9. After he defeated the prophets of Baal, Elijah outran the chariots coming down the mountain—he was bookin’ it! He expended everything he had—all his energy spiritually, emotionally and physically. There was nothing left, so when Jezebel started hunting for him to kill him he ran for his life and hid—and asked God to let him die.
whirlwindI totally get that. But look at God’s response. He didn’t get mad at him, make demands of him or shame him. He didn’t call him names. He sent angels to feed him; gave him water and let him sleep. After he had rested for a couple days and nights God told him to start walking—just put one foot in front of the other. This took him 40 days. When Elijah arrived at Mount Horeb the Lord met him.
Again, the Lord did not yell at him or tell him he didn’t have enough faith; he didn’t tell him to buck up. He did point out that there were 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal; He let Elijah know he was not the only one. That was how he felt, in a way He acknowledged Elijah's feelings, but there was no other correction. God agreed with Elijah's evaluation that Israel was in sin and gave instructions for who would come alongside to help. God did not want him to fight this battle alone. He doesn’t want you to be alone either. I encourage you to let God pick people to send to you, and don’t turn them away.
A Possible Next Step: Eat some healthy food. Sleep. Do a little mindless exercise (walk around the block or take a  short bike ride) and then slowly start to rebuild joy.
Blessings,Carol                                                                             Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive