Friday, December 31, 2010

Have You Gone Mental (74)

Greetings and Happy New Year to all. The last week have been a veritable whirlwind as we had about a "thousand" people at our house. I got to see my daughter and her partner and almost all of my grand children, all my kids except one and experience the most love ine place than in a long long time. Two of my daughters' families stayed in our home.

The chaos was not the best thing for me, but I tried to choose to be in the moment and continue to meditate on peace. The greatest chaos was caused by our dog Max and Beth's dog Lilly. Max is a male and Lilly a female... we thought they would get along famously... wrong. So we shuffled the dogs between running wild in our house, time in the cage (kennel) and time outside on the dog run. It was totally NOT what we expected, but the challenge continued.

This morning my meditation was on peace. I am longing for the peace of mind that comes from being present in the moment and keeping my thoughts free from catatrophizing. This is very hard for me. I wish for peace of mind, which is extremely illusive, peace for all my famliy and friends, and of course peace in our world.

We (Janet. Jeffrey,and I are taying in Bellingham for a few days, as we do every New Year. We attended a wonderful Jim Brickman concert last night which was both inspiring and very entertaining. Afterward we returned home to Jim (Jeffrey calls him Uncle Jimbo) and Solomae's home to watch the Huskies win over mighty Nebraska (the Dawgs were two touch down underdogs and "we" beat them 16 to 7. Jim recorded the game while we were at the concert and we averted our sight and hearing whenever we encountered a conversation about the game so we could watch in anticipation like the game was being played at 10:00 PM. What a total rush!

Now I wish and I hope this year will be better than the last for all of us. I hope to experience a "let up" in my depression and anxiety and I am trying to keep faith that I can return to a more productie life as time goes on. The last year has been horrendous.

Thanks for reading my journal again this morning. I truly appreciate your prayers and thoughts as the year progresses. I hope to "pay you back" in some way as I hold my friends and family in my prayer as 2011 begins and progresses.

Tyose and all ... God bless you.

Ter Soultender

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Have You Gone Mental? (73)

I have been suffering from bronchitis and then pneumonia over the last few weeks. It has been a lot of coughing, fever, productive coughs, sore ribs, etc. I've been on two different antibiotics, two different inhalers, three trips to the doctor and deep, deep depression. I began to ask myself a question I truly do not ask frequently: Why do I believe in a God who allows suffering? I am a Christian and believe that suffering comes from a couple of different reasons. This may be a failure to take care of myself physically, emotionally, spiritually or mentally. In other words, it can be laid at our own feet. Other times we suffer due to forces outside ourselves that are not our fault. These reasons vary.

My daughter Erin shared with me a pamphet called Reasons to Beleive in a God who Allows Suffering. I want to list the reasons to believe from this little pamphlet from RBC Ministries. I will list them without comment to allow you to meditate on each one from your own perspective:

1) Suffering comes with the freedom to choose
2) Pain can warn us of danger
3) Suffering reveals what is in our hearts
4) Suffering takes us to the edge of eternity
5) Pain loosens our grip on this life
6) Suffering provides opportunity to trust God
7) God empathizes with us in our suffering
8) God's comfort is greater than our suffering
9) In times of suffering we find one another for support
10) God can turn suffering around for our good.

I hope some of these resonate with you as they have with me. While I may not buy the whole list, I find several that speak to me and call me forward to be a better person and to live authentically, acording to my faith.

Typos and all ... God Bless You

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Have You Gone Mental (72)

Its been sometime since I have blogged. Three of four of us in our family have been ill or in some way incapacitated. Generally illness: bronchitis, flu, throat infections pass in due time.

Janet tore her meniscus in her right knee about a month and a half ago during a trip to our daughter's house in Colfax. She had surgery Friday (three days ago). Friday night found her in moderate pain be cause we think that a third shot after surgery helped get her through the night after surgery (just a theory). Saturday found her in much worse pain. She is using a cane to go to the bathroom and other places around the house with my help, as needed. Today (Sunday) is a little better. She slept better last night and is getting the "Dr. House" method of cane utilization down to a science.

A blessing for us was her good friend Terri who came for the weekend to help. She did some hands on things with Janet, went to the store multiple times, and made us about five meals to keep us fed very well (like I need that). She has been a friend of Janet's for about 20 years. She was an angel. She went home this morning to her apartment in Seattle. Sue, Janet's sister, brought over a cassarole today which was very good. Her visit along with her Mom and her niece made her day more pleasant. Our kids at home have been helpful as well.

Adding lots of well-wishers on the telephone really brightened her days too. I was feeling bad about her pain but much better about the care she received and that I could be a part of that. The healing will continue and Janet and I will be spending the main part of each day together the next few days. She is really an amazing person. I know this type of blog is different, but I had to share with you that as helpful as Janet has been to me as I deal with my depression-anxiety, I get a chance to return at least part of the favor to her. She has done more for me that I've done for her, but it feels good and had a good affect on my depression (because I didn't feel worthless). My anxiety has been focused on her. She will get better and better, but my worry does not subside; and that's ok.

Well, that's been my life this weekend.

Typos and all ... God Bless You!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Have You Gone Mental? (71)

Today's entrée was mainly depression. I had a good day with Erin and her family but the undercurrent remained. My son is pretty sick today. He has a bad cold and fever and, as happens when he is this ill: high blood sugars and keytones in his urine.

I love Jeff to the extreme. When he hurts I hurt. Today was one of those days. I tried my best to act "normal" for the family. I began to feel flu-ish and have not felt good much of the day. But enough whining. I'd still like your prayers for my son Jeff.

I have felt the depression and frustration with it. I have tried to just let it happen and observe how I handle it... kind of like an outside observer. Sound weird? Well it kind of felt weird.

I continue to work on my spirituality this evening as I treat my son's keytones and high blood sugar. I test him again at 12:30 AM. I've been praying and meditating, holding my son foremost in my mind and asking God to send healing to his body. Before I give you the idea that I am a snake handling fundamentalist, let me say I do believe in prayer and sending God's healing energy to people. I do this for family and friends as well as people I see suffering anywhere I go.

I guess I need to hold myself up in prayer more often for my own depression-anxiety. I do this but need to concentrate more effectively. I hope to one day minimize the depression-anxiety cycle; those ups and downs that occur almost daily.

I feel like I should be a lot further in my healing sometimes. This feeling is shame based so I am continuing making it a habit to NOT give energy to it. Being imperfect, this is impossible, yet it is my goal. I set about to acknowledge my depression - anxiety, accept it is there, but not dwell on it. A verse from the Christian Apostle Paul says, "You'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best not the worst; the beautiful not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (The Epistle to the Philippians, Chapter 4)

This one of my favorite writings. My struggle is to bring it to pass in my own life. It is my goal and what I believe will be part of healing of my depression-anxiety. If you too suffer, it may be helpful to you.

You must be ready for an end to my ramblings for today. So, be kind to yourselves and those around you.

Typos and all ... God bless you!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Have You Gone Mental? (70)

Become totally empty.
Let your heart be at peace.
Amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings,
Observe how endings become beginnings.
(From the 16th verse, Tao Te Ching)

This is kind of a departure for me. I have been reading the Tao Te Ching as part of my meditation practice. This part of one verse stuck out to me. This a recurring theme in my life and I trust in yours as well.

The verse asks that we become empty (which I take to mean receptive). It then commends us to allow our hearts to be at peace. This speaks to me of the personal responsibility I have to allow peace in my heart. Jesus gives us peace, and we need to allow it to occur by setting ourselves free or disengaging ourselves from the hustle and bustle of life for a time, taking several deep breaths and just being still. This is so hard for me. I am used to going 90 miles an hour. In this lengthy bout with depresssion-anxiety full speed is probably 10 but it sure feels like 90!I need to allow myself peace..."amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings".

The final phrase says to "observe how endings become beginnings". A lot ended for me when my current mental illness got the best of me about one year ago. I lost peace of mind, I lost my job which with it included several personal long-term professional relationships, a hearty income, and the most fulfilling job I have had in my life. I have lost the respect of some who have seen me suffer with deblitating depression and anxiety. Don't you notice that many who know little of our plight have the BEST advice: "You just gotta get up on that horse again"; "just have faith in God"; "just fake it till you make it" and so on, ad nauseum. Oh I wish that worked for me.

This illness has formed an ending for me. I do not know if I'll ever be the same again. There are emotional ups and downs, physical inadequacy, and lack of mental sharpness. This and the severe self flagellation: "You are one lazy so and so. Get up off your dead butt and get a job. Mind over matter is the key. Just do it. Get back in control of youtself and take your life back.

It has become obvious to me that I will not have my former life back. I can't do the work I have done for the past 30 years. In fact, unless one just gets himself in the zone, stops feeling his feelings and just keeps going and going there is no way to return to my former profession. I have fallen and I can't get up.

I know I am experiencing an ending that will spawn a wonderful beginning when the time is right. Whether I am disabled or full of life one day, there must be a new beginning. The old life is gone. Practically and professionally it has passed away.
In the terms of those who try to encourage me to move on, I can say: My horse is done gone, I have become unable or unwilling to fake anything anymore, and one of the only things I have not lost is my faith. Yes! I have a deep faith in God and mental illness. Did you think this was possible? I didn't used to not so many years ago. But over the years working with the chemically dependent and the mentally ill I have seen faith that is very deep and very sincere as the demons continued to attack and the battle raged on.

Endings become beginnings. It happens all the time. I have faith it will happen for me ... and if appropriate for you!

Typos and all ...God bless you!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Have You Gone Mental (69)


I had a good dose of depression today and instead of feeling my way through it, I pulled a method out of my bag of tricks: DISTRACTION0.

One must be careful when using this method. IT IS ADDICTIVE. It can become a habit without too much effort and could be harmful to our growth. In fact, sometimes this can become a knee-jerk reaction. As you know, it is more profitable to feel it and think our way and act our way through.

Distraction masks the feelings involved with depression. Here is what I did:
I woke up in anxiety, as usual, ate a light breakfast, took my morning medication and moseyed off to my favorite restaurant to sip a couple of Diet Pepsis while I read my current selection. This one is from Wayne Dyer. Although I am not a new-ager, I have enjoyed reading so far in "Change your Thoughts, Change your Life". This book is an effort on the part of Dr. Dyer to provide an essay on all 81 chapters of Lao Tsu's Tao de Ching and is quite interesting.

After my reading I left for an Eye Doctors appointment. I have Glaucoma. My eye pressure levels were excellent today. I picked up several medication samples and filled out paperwork to receive assistance from the Merck Corporation to obtain a particular eye drop (I take 3 eye drops multiple times each day). Shoot, I digress...

I then went to the bank, the post office, back to the bank (poor planning) and back home. I sat down for awhile and had lunch as I busied myself with some paperwork, which I often thought was only for middle managers (which I used to be but am not now). I then went to Janet's Orthopedic Physician appointment where we experienced the pre-op stage of surgery for next week on a "torn meniscus".

We then returned home where I turned on the TV and watched re-runs of Special Victims and NCIS. We began building Janet's Snowman Village. After a while Jeffrey asked for help on his Senior Career Research project (I can't believe he is a Senior!) which lasted from 8:30 until 10:30. I took a break and then began to blog. Law and Order LA is on TV now and I am kind of "wound up" after a busy day distracted from my depression.

I'll go to bed after an hour or so of TV. Did I make any headway on dealing with my Depression/Anxiety. Probably not. But today felt a heckuva lot better than most other days. This level of distraction is like being the "energizer Bunny": frenetic. non- stop and no need of batteries, only work, play, and a small slice of interaction.

I don't recommend this on a daily basis, but sometimes it just feels good to not feel so bad.

Typos and all ... God bless you.

P.S. I gave up on the Roman Numerals. I never was much good at them.