Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Mental Life (8)

Greetings I have decided to take a short break from this blog. Things are changing in my life and I truly need NOT to share them until I gain some true perspective. Thank you for your prayers and your support.
God bless you!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Mental Life (7)

As my depression continues to rear its ugly head, so does the list of my affirmations.
A couple of examples;
"The Our Father" (Lord's Prayer)

Abba I belong to you
Jesus I belong to you
Spirit I belong to you

Oh Lord. grant me love to overcome the lack of love I have for myself
Grant me joy to replace depression
Grant me peace to counteract anxiety
Grant me hope to overcome despair

Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd)

and others...

These help sometimes and grant me grace from God.

I'll continue to use them as long as I feel any relief. This has been a dark couple of days but there have been times of light I which I have rejoiced. Its never ALL dark. God is always with me; coming with light and love.

I hope in the power of the lord and the prayers of my support team. Thank you.

God Bless You All!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Mental Life (5)

The past 7 days have been especially difficult for me. Anxiety and oppressive thinking have been my lot. I don't know what brought this on. It feels like one year or so when I was barely making it day by day. I took a walk yesterday, as I did then and all the feelings returned. I found myself quoting my affirmations as I did then.

My Psychologist and I discussed obsessive thinking and how it keeps me hanging on to anxiety producing thoughts far longer than I was doing just a short month ago. I'm not saying I've completely back-slidden... I haven't. This is a reminder that I have to return to those skills and practices that brought me health and some semblance of wellbeing. How did I forget and neglect these basics? I thought I was progressing far faster than I really am. I guess this is normal or at least wishful thinking. What I've learned this that the need to stay with the basics never leaves... one only neglects them ... to their peril. I'm sorry if this seems overly dramatic. It is not my M.O., just a realistic account of what is happening with me.

I ask for the prayers of all my friends that I may move through this in a life-giving way.

God bless you all...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Mental Life (4)

Today is a good day so far outside of some car trouble. Janet is back to work and
recovering from some virus she has had for several days. My depression comes and goes sometimes intense other times more mild. Most of the time it just has a mind of its own, sometimes it follows events in my life that hold fear or disappointment. Anxious feelings seem to follow the same pattern. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get any better, but I am holding out hope for my sake and the sake of my family.

I appreciate all your prayers and positive thoughts. Thank you so much. I hope one day to be able to return to work. Is it my long term goal.

God be with you and yours.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Mental Life (3)

This has been a week of ups and downs. The downs were the usual ones; DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY. Some days I thought the depression was taking more and more charge of my life. I absolutely hate this. Thankfully this was short lived. Sometimes it feels like three steps forward and two steps back. Admittedly, that s still progress, but not as much as I expected by this time.

I had a great Spring Break with my children and grandchildren. I greatly aided my mood. I love those little grandchildren: Flanny, Canon, Phoenix, and Loreli. We missed out seeing Blake on the trip. They have an honesty that is so revealing and sometimes shocking.

I got to stay a couple nights extra with Erin and her family. Being so close to the ocean with such a panoramic view of the Seaside area was beautiful and calming.

God be with You.

Now, back home I have entered a more active life with walks with the dog ands workouts at the gym on a regular basis. I fine this physical exertion to be helpful in combating both depression and anxiety.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Mental LIfe (1)

I have been trying to settle in to the "Mental life" that has been my lot for over a year or so. This last week or so finds me battling some very low lows and some suicidal ideation. As I mentioned in my former blog, my depression has a mind of its own. It comes and goes when it pleases. Sometimes it arrives when situations are stressing me out, but it can almost as easily come when I am just generally in a low mood. I really close off from people when I'm in this condition. My depression is serious and takes some serious application of my bag of tricks to fight it. Just when I think I'm improving,,, BAAM ! it hits again.

I have what is called "double depression", or so I am told. My general mood, for almost as long as I can remember has been of the character of a low grade depression. This is the staple of my feelings. I can't remember when I have not had a low grade depression. It goes back to the early days of my youth ... never a real happy camper. This is no to say that I am not totally happy at any time... this is a usual and customary feeling. It means my happy level is lower than a healthy person who does not have chronic low grade depression.

Added to this is a depression of the type that drops me way below the healthy level. Think of a horizontal line across a page. Go down and draw a line one half inch below it (this is my low grade depression. Then go one half inch below this and draw another line. This will give you some idea where I go to find suicidal ideation. This is frequent of late. This is a feeling that I will never dig myself out. I've certainly had some circumstances that have lent themselves to this, but I can go there as naturally as anything else with little or no stress. This is astounding to me. "Dropping into a hole" without accompanying stress to push me in! I hate this. If you are in a similar boat as me, you hate it too.

There is no permanent answer to this for me at this point. I pray, I meditate, I do what needs to be done whether I feel like it or not, I distract myself, I talk to myself, I physically exercise pretty regularly, etc. Still depression dances and plays in my mind and this is NOT like sugarplums dancing in my head. It is painful and leaves me feeling hopeless for long periods of time. I try to help myself the best I can. I am not just lying down and taking it. I am really working at this.

My anxiety also comes along for the ride. It has not disappeared. I follows the ebb and flow of my depression, cheering it on as it assails me with nervous stomach, anxiety laden thinking, and being anxious about so many things, Its like depression and anxiety are doing their dance together as a relationship made in somewhere else besides heaven ... You can think of one place, I'm sure. I suppose they are having fun but I'm not.

Well I'm tired of writing for now. I will drift off to sleep with my CD playing positive and spiritual ideas to me to relieve the anxiety of this time of night.

God Be With You!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (101)

The idea of working sounded good at the time, but it turned out to be a poor decision. I realized I was unable to hold a job, but stayed in denial. I apppied for a job a month ago. I was called and told I would not be interviewed. That kind of broke through my denial. I needed to realize that now is not a time to look for work. My depression and anxiety are just too powerful. I try to hold it together, but they are relentless.

A couple of weeks ago I received word that my mental health disability had been granted. I experienced joy and sorrow. Joy because it would provide a small income in addition to Janet's and sad because it was like a door slamming on the past 50+ years of my life. I began to feel like a loser... Look at me, I'm feeding off the government! I processed this with my therapist and have come to terms with it. I've been paying into social security since I was 16 years old. This is like granting MYSELF the disability, as far as the money is concerned. I understand how lame this may sound, but it is where I am trying to be now ... to continue to work myself through the shame.

This is as far as I've progressed. I still have my ups and downs they have been lower of late and I continue to take care of myself to lessen the pain. My supporters have been wonderful.

Thanks for listening.

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (100)

The hospital stay was only the beginning of my hospital experience. I was referred to the Providence Day Treatment Center in Portland. As my anxiety and depression continued to "rage" I entered this program with great apprehension.
I was extremely anxious about going. Janet drove me there for the first three weeks. I did group and individual therapy, therapeutic art, and ate a "not-so-tasty lunch each day. I made some great acquaintances there during my stay with a whole range of problems. When I heard some of them it seemed mine were slight.

My suicidal ideation continued. Every day I awoke anxious and then the depression set in. I was feeing pretty hopeless for the first few weeks. I then found some hope through the mindfulness meditation I learned there. It helped me, in a small way to combat my depression.

When my three weeks had ended I was referred to a less intensive program that was still all day, but for those who were moving on in their recovery. I'm not sure I belonged in that program. I still felt the emotions I had been
feeling, but maybe not as deeply. I was asked to attend 3 days each week for groups and individual therapy and the food.

I had begun therapy on the "outside" with my psychologist which continues to the present. I had a prescriber of medication all along. When my insurance ran out I had to leave the Providence Program and see my therapist and my prescriber only. They gave me a tremendous break on the cost. This has turned out to be ok. I applied for a mental health disability and was denied on my first attempt. I knew I was in no shape to work, although I was in denial of this. I didn't want to be useless ...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (99)

The loss of my job sent me into a downward spiral, I felt devalued, and very sad. Anger didn't enter into it. I so wanted to retire from there, but it was not to be. After my "RIFFING" I kind of sat at home and stewed in my own juices. I applied for a job, had an interview and then turned down a second interview when my depression and anxiety intervened. I was unable to do this job or any other. I just had to accept that at the time. The depression and anxiety (from a year or so before) came to the surface, as I already said.

I began to take walks each day, write in my journal, read, and sleep. I was exhausted. I needed to be driven every place I went. My anxiety was just too strong at the time and I had lost my confidence even to drive my car. I was feeling increasingly suicidal. This feeling came to fruition at the end of May. I drove my car, against advice, headed to church, and traveled along Marine Drive looking for a place to turn my wheel and plunge into the river. I was very serious about this. Car after car kept coming in the westward direction and I was prevented from turning across the lane of oncoming traffic. I ended up at church and this meeting with my faith community gave me some relief. I, on the way home, took the same route along the river. The more suicidal I felt the more it gave me pause. I thought of nothing but my wife and children. This and nothing else kept my car on the road.

When I told my wife about my ideation she called my prescriber and she was told to take me to the hospital. I met with a counselor there who hospitalized me. I stayed there four days until I was more stable and my new meds were introduced. However, my suicidal ideation was not over by a long shot.
To be continued...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (98)

The story of my demise.
My story began over a year and 1/2 ago when I began to have anxiety "attacks" while working. It resulted in cancelled meetings, cancelled appointments, cancelled or rescheduled speaking engagements and a lot of shame. As I tried to negotiate those long months, it seems looking back, I did so in vain.

I went to a nurse prationer who prescribed an anti-anxiety medication I could use when these were coming on or in circumstanes in which I anticipted anxiety. This worked marginally for a few months until my anxiety was joined by a deeper depression. Although the mixture of anxiety and depression all but immobilized me I was trying hard to cover up at work. My job was so important to me. I was mostly successful at this at first. I was aware my work was beginning to suffer but I was trying not to let it show. Most things I did for my job were done in the face of my anxiety and were increasingly difficult. I was extremely anxious about the meetings I had with my staff and my boss. As time went on the anti-anxiety meds were not working so I began to use some of the interventions I had prescribed for others, but with little result for me.

It was this time in which my illness continued to increase with me going deeper and deeper as the months wore on. In December 2009 it came to a head and I tried with all that was within me to go on as if nothing was happening. I was fooling others but not myself. By mid January 2010 I was under the worse emotionsl illness I had ever experienced (or more to the point) thought I could experience. I ended up taking 2 months off work to go to therapy and a psychiatrist to have my medication adjusted. My nurse practitioner told me I needed a psychiatrist as my case had become increasingly complicated during that two month period of time.

When I returned to work on March 23rd I was invited into a meeting. In this meeting I was officially "RIFFED". RIF is the term for a "reduction in force". My termoil for the past year or so crashed down on me. I had lost my job. My evaluation, given me at this meeting, was supposedly not flattering. I don't remember much about it as I knew the human resources person must have been on the premises. I suspected this because the evaluation was given in front of my boss AND the other director. This was my clue that things were not going to go well for me. As painful as this was I look at this more now with acceptance. The employer had been good to me my entire 15 years. Upon my RIF, my employer offered a package to take care of me for a short time. I look back with a degree of thanksgiving for these events although I didn't feel that way at the time. In fact, I was thrust into a downward spiral...


Typos and all God Bless You!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (97)

I saw my counselor today and gained some perspective on the last year (+) of my life. I was depressed with serious anxiety beginning (in my memory) around January 2010. This condition affected each area of my life family, work, social, financial etc. I really noticed myself slipping long before I took two months off on leave for mental health reasons.

When I was riffed, it was long after (one year and three months)the beginning of my problems. I need to write the story for myself to address the guilt and shame which is part and parcel of my job loss. I have been ill for a long time and it finally hit me and sent me "down for the count" in January 2011. I enter 2011 having applied for disablity and still concentrating on getting better. I have my ups and downs and hope the ups will outweigh the downs as time goes on. I am still, in some ways, immobilized. I greatly appreciate the prayers and well wishes of many people. I received three wonderful cards, a box of Snickers and a magazine with encouraging stories last week. They really picked me up during a difficult week (the Snickers were a wonderful gift).

As for my story, I don't think I'll blog about the last year of my life and my job loss. This is extremely personal and very difficult to think about let alone write.
I am practicing "radical acceptance" of this loss in my life. I'll let you know how the story goes.

Typos and all ... God Bless You!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (96)

My daughter Beth, her family and dog visited this weekend. It was good to see them after the 1 and 1/2 or two months since the last time. I enjoyed the grandkids complete with my newest (4 months old) grandaughter Loreli (sp).

Anxiety has been almost a constant companion. We have been working on several things that bear upon the future for our family and it mainly results in increased dependence on God. Nevertheless I tend to take the preparations on my shoulders and I think that's where my anxiety comes from. I am exhausted each night by 9:00 or
9:30. I go to bed listening to a favorite CD and calm myself enough to sleep. I am trying to use my bag of tricks and not take my anti-anxiety medication. I only took one over the weekend.

I am grateful that the anxiety is of lesser intensity than the early months. It is good to have made this progress. Depression has also been present from time to time. I continue to take time to breathe and follow each breath to relax. I also use the other interventions with which I have become familiar.

I am in hopes that my troublesome emotions will diminish more and more as the weeks roll on. As good as I've felt over the past several weeks, I need to keep in mind that I am not out of the woods yet. It is humbling... in the extreme. Here's hoping I continue to heal by the grace of God and by the use of effective self-interventions. I certainly need them. I find writing this blog is very helpful also. So until the next time ...

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (95)

I had a pretty good couple of weeks until Monday. It was then I received a gigantic kick in the gut. I spent about 5 minutes on the phone and I am still reeling from the news I received. I am feeling invalidited, very sad, and little angry. This, of course, has resulted in depression of a moderate degree. I was very much caught off guard by the phone call and it affected me very negatively.

This morning the anxiety returned with full force. I dont think it was all due to the news I received, but is a large part of it. I'm using my tools and getting some relief. It seems that my cruising along in a good space for a couple of weeks ended in a rather sudden stop. I've not been keeping up very well with my tools and I certainly paid for it.

I am still rather upset by this incident. I will recover from it, but it will be a few days of concentrating on my tools and a talk with my psychologist. They tell me "this too shall pass". I know it will, but today that is little consolation, but provides some hope...

Typos and all . . .God Bless You.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (94)

Its been a good couple of days. I'm tolerating Janet's trip quite well. We text back and forth morning and evening and is she ever having a good time. I'm so glad. She has done so much for me I am so glad she can have this time to refresh. I'll be happy when she returns Sunday night.

If there has been any negative emotion that has been with me, it is anxiety. It has been mild to moderate. It seems that anxiety comes when my routine is changed in any way. Its not so good to be so married to my routine.

The anxiety responds well to following my breath and relaxing my body. I have really come to appreciate this intervention. It is very helpful. I have also been using the spiritual discipline of contemplation (centering prayer). This is extremely edifying and brings me in closer contact with God.

Well, all is pretty well with me. Erin and her family are here for the weekend and life is good. I am so blessed to have her as a daughter and friend.

Typos and all ... God Bless You!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (93)

Today through Sunday night is a new thing for me; a test of sorts. Janet left this morning for a four day personal vacation. She had tickets for a flight for which she already paid. She stayed home with me in the early days of my illness missing her vacation with her sister and a friend.

It may sound rediculous, but these are my first nights "alone" for over a year. I have been apprehensive the last week before her departure, but saw her off at the airport and did just fine. I am experiencing some mild anxiety and it is managable.
Its amazing how used we get to things/people and end up taking them for granted. I am guilty...

Erin is coming over from her home at the beach this Friday. I guess this will end my
"alone" time. Jeffrey and Andy are also home but are usually doing their own things. I am often alone with my thoughts when they are here. Erin and family will provide a good diversion and good company for me.

Well the more I "write" the more foolish I feel but this is the truth. I know it will go ok but I'm surprised by the feelings that have been occuring this week prior to Janets leaving. I can hear people thinking, "geez put your big boy pants on". I have an easy time slipping into "shame mode" since at my age staying alone should not be a problem. I guess it isn't a problem its just unfamiliar.

Its amazing how ones mind wonders about things. This will be no problem and my thoughts and feelings are just that; neither good nor bad... they just are. In the meantime I have my plan to access my support people if needed and using my bag of tricks. All is well and I have faith that it will continue.

Well thanks for "listening" it has been good to write today.

Typos and all . . . God Bless You!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (92)

Yesterday was my grandson's birthday. It seems like he was just born yesterday but he's walking, talking and singing. Erin and her family are coming back this coming weekend and I am excited to see Cannon and Flannery.

As for me, I have my ups and downs. The difference is that the downs aren't
as low. I would rate my depression at this point as "mild". My anxiety is rated a little above that as "moderate". I am using my bag of tricks and finding peace when the emotions come up for me.

I know this seems sudden. Depression and anxiety kind of have a mind of their own and come and go when they please. That is simmplifiing the problem, but it feels like that. I am feeling better little by little as the weeks go on.

I am using a lot of deep breathing as an intervention as my first "trick" nearly every time. Usually this greatly lessens the effect of the depression or the anxiety. If they persist, I do the next thing that needs to be done whether I feel like it or not. After this, I look to my affirmations and readings from the Scriptures I have recorded by hand on several pages of my journal.

"So far so O.K." as one man said. I am hopeful and optimistic.

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (91)

There have been the inevtible ups and downs since the last post. Anxiety in the morning. However not as intense as the past experiences of anxiety. As for depression, it has been very mild. It seems like I've turned a corner. This is pretty sudden to make that kind of pronouncenent but that is the way I feel.

I am using my bag of tricks as feelings come and go and they seem to be very effective. I am somewhat skeptical of this new found positive recovery. Therefore I am taking this very slowly... wishing and hoping this is real and not some "blip" on the screen that will eventually plumet me to more intense negative feelings. You can see I don't completly trust me feelings now. Although, I am trying to with all my might.

My psychologist told me yesterday that this is sometimes the way these disorders "act". It seems unreal to me. She also advised me to be on my guard BUT to move forward as doors open to me. Since I've had depression to one intensity or to another my entire life, this seems to be good advice.

So, I continue to pray that I will be able not to "let go and let God", but to "take hold with God" in my recovery. Yes, God is my driving force, AND I need to take steps to do what I am led to do. This morning I am absent my serious anxiety and hopeful. I know God is working my life and I would welcome relief from the "dark night of the soul" that has been with me for over a year.

I have also applied for two jobs. I am testing the doors to see if they have unlocked now. My hopes are not too high but I am optimistic. I hope this bold step will bring about more positive feelings. Just applying is a huge step for me, and it feels good right now.

Well that is how I am at this point ... having ups and downs (although not as intense) and being optimistic in terms of my recovery.

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (90)

It has sure turned into a long journey. When I sat down to do my taxes I was struck by the length of time I have been out of commission. It seems like years, but I know its not. I am feeling a lot better lately as I have learned to manage my symptoms to a greater degree. I have been a lot more optimistic about my life in general and my future specifically.

I have been through a lot of medications and a lot of weekly therapy (I'm still in weekly counseling). I have been exposed to DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and have found its principles very helpful. My support "team" is strong and I am seeing more time between conversations. They (my support team), too, have seen the changes I am experiencing. They say I sound and look so much better than I did a year ago. I hope to successfully be able to take the steps to find work. I'm pretty bored acting the house husband. Although there is plenty to do around here, I'd rather be out in the community more.

I am doing some volunteer work tomorrow night through my Rotary Club. We will be working at a dinner given for the needy in Camas ... cleaning up afterwards. It takes about an hour, and it is so satisfying. So much of my adult life has been involved with volunteer work, I am happy to be "back in the saddle" at least to an extent... giving back to the community.

Depression and anxiety are still troublesome, but no longer immobilizing. I am using the whole store of my bag of tricks and it seems to be working more often. I will continue to involve myself in my Rotary Club attending meetings and doing volunteer projects. I know I am not completely out of the woods, but I am beginning to see the trees in spite of the forest on my good days.

I know this is a real departure for me... talking about victory rather than defeat, but I am sincerely beginning to feel it more of the time. The last several weeks have seen several positive changes in my emotions. Its like someone found the light switch and turned it on so I could see. I know this sounds tremendously optimistic but I decided to go ahead and feel the good feelings to the extent I have felt the bad ones.

I hope that my life will begin to take shape along more "normal" lines, but more so along more healthy lines. This is now a spiritual battle and I have faith that I will, with Gods help, prevail over depression-anxiety.

I am happy I am feeling like going back to the gym, generally eating better, and taking care of my physical body which greatly helps my mental health. Its great to once again feel the "iron" in my hands as I lift weights and start feeling more healthy. Lifting is one of favorite things. After a year off I am now feeling more and more like getting into the gym most mornings.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I work my way through and hopefully out of the "muck" as the days go by. I am realistic. I am no stranger to the ugly feelngs that come. I will need not to "drop my guard" so to speak. I am more confident than ever that I am slowly... slowly turning a corner in my life. I am praying to this end. This is how I am feeling today and as I love to say ... "I have my ups and downs."

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (89)

Had a pretty good weekend. Ups and downs were not so up and down. I think I was more depressed than anxious most of the time. I woke up with quite a bit of anxiety, but it left me for the most part when I got to our little church.

About three hours ago my son Jeffrey,(a "Type 1 diabetic) was sick and his glucose level rose into the 300s. I got him to give himself extra insulin as I was afraid of the development of keytones in his urine. We'll need to test about every 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours.

I had him test his blood about 30 minutes ago and it was still in the three hundreds. The good news is that he only had a "trace" of keytones. I need to test him about 2:30 AM and run another keytone test. I am hoping by then that his glucose level will drop dramatically.

This is the way life is. "Some days are diamonds some days are stone." Most of the day was "diamond". We watched the Superbowl with Erin and her family and the best team won (the pack is back!). As for the "stone" part, I always worry about Jeffrey when his blood level rises over 300. I will help him throughout the early morning hours test his blood glucose and manage his symptoms. I love this kid so much and worry about him and his management of his diabetes. I know I can't control this, but I sure wish I could. Some things are best left in God's hands. I need to keep trying I can leave them there and save a whole bundle of worry. I know managing diabetes isn't in the "let go and let God category," so I'm shooting for "Take hold with God" method. I pray and take action, especially at these times.

Im going to get some sleep. 2:30 comes early.

Typos and all ... God Bless You!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (88)

How are you? How ya doin'? How are you today? These type of questions are the most feared and/or hated among those who suffer from some kind of mental illness, such as depression and anxiety.

What do you say? How do you answer? Can you answer honestly? "Well, I awaken each and every morning with high anxiety. Later in the day depression sets in. I need to use specific personal interventions to even feel normal, much less healthy. A few times a week I feel as if I can't go on and contemplate suicide. I have to take about 3-4 medications (daily) to keep my head straight; as if that does it! I just want to be alone much of the time and dread conversations with people who ask me how I am."

I guarantee if you answer that way you will probably not get the question again, at least from the same person!

I absolutely hate it whan people ask me how I am, I never use the descriptive, truthful answer (above). "I tend to say "pretty well today", or "I'm getting better", or more truthfully "I have my ups and downs" (my favorite, and true!)

We all need to be careful with our boundaries. Who can be trusted with your personal business?

The boudaries we use are illustrated by "I have my ups and downs", to the paragraph with all the ugly information in it, to slugging the person in the mouth and telling them to mind their own business.

The details ARE NOT any of anyone's business. Blab if you wish, but I can pretty much assure you it will not go well for you in the long run....

Ever heard of gossip (everyone gets to know)?
Ever hear of Job's comforters (the emotions are your fault)?
Ever hear of being told to "get back on the horse" (a person who does not believe in the seriousness and reality of mental illness)?.
Ever hear of "pull yourself up by your own boot straps?" (a person who has never suffered from depression or anxiety).

If I feel this way, why do I write such a revealing blog? I do it because I wish to connect with others who have depression and/or anxiety, to offer some relief from time to time when I share some tidbits from my bag of tricks, AND I'm now 58 years old and could give a rip what people think!

So figure out how strict your boundaries need to be for your OWN mental health and handle conversations appropriately. Remember its no one's business how you are and how you feel until you decide to make it so.

As for me "I have my ups and downs..."

Typos and all ... God Bless You!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (87)

A few blogs ago I mentioned that I was going to share with you some techniques (skills)taught by therapists to assist us in dealing with difficult emotions. Tonight is the nite... I'm going to share a few of them with you.

1. Follow your breath. This a favorite of mine, as you know. This is an exercise in "Mindfulness." Sometimes you can clear your mind, close your eyes and just breathe; feeling the inhalation through your nose and the exhaling through the mouth. You can use a mantra if you wish. On the "in" breath think to your self, "I am breathing in." When you exhale think to yourself, "I am breathing out." This helps to combat the thoughts that inevitibly come when you try to silence your mind.

2. Observe and Describe. When depression or anxiety "strike". Take a moment and think to yourself "I am depressed (anxious) all of a sudden. What is the trigger." Think carefully and then describe what took place recently, either personally or situationally. This exercise helps to make sense of the emotion which is helpful to me.

3. Accept Reality. When depression and/or anxiety strike simple tell yourself "I am depressed (anxious) and this will pass. Emotions are just feelings we have that come and go, sometimes without our knowing why. Accepting reality may help.

4. Pros and Cons. When you are depressed or anxious say to yourself: "What are the pros and cons of this feeling. What am I getting out of this?" This seems like a weird exercise, but it is advanced and may not make sense to you until you are further along in your recovery. Some of our emotions may be goal driven.

5. Opposite-to-emotion action. This means when you are feeling depression or anxiety do the thing that needs to be done next. You don't want to do this, but do it anyway. Dishes, a phone call you need to make, paperwork, work that needs to be done outside, take a walk ... In other words when you are experiencing troubling emotions DO something you DON'T want to do. This is very effective for me.

Well there are five things to add to your "bag of tricks" to overcome difficult emotions like depression and anxiety.

My week has been "up and down" and "down and up. I have had many occasions to to use these interventions. I hope they are helpful for you as they have been for me. I am feeling pretty well tonight as Erin and her family are visiting. That is always a good and peaceful time for me.

Typos and all ... God bless you!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (86)

Our new little dog Max got loose about 4:00 AM. Janet was putting him out on his outdoor cord to go to the "bathroom". He slipped her grasp and ran away. She came to bed having given up locating him. It was my turn and after an hour I found Max and put him in his indoor kennel for the "night".

Why would this dog (a smart breed border collie) run out into 26 degree weather? It is bitter cold with the breeze and yet "there he went!" More importantly, why do I leave the safety of my personal interventions only to once again succomb to deepening levels of depression and anxiety? Sometimes I just get tired of being "inside in the kennel." I want to be free: healthy like others I know.

I know I am in denial. This is a long haul AND I've grown very tired of this illness. Sometimes I think if I could just get loose; "off the cord" I could be normal again. Thats all I want, to he normal ... healthy. I fantasise stopping my medication and by some miracle by "prayer and contemplation" I could just be better. I could "keep it together."

I know I need to "stay on the cord." I know that if I am ever to be "heathy" again I need to take my medication as prescribed and continue to do the things that are supposed to help me overcome this illnesss, or least facilitate some semblance of mental health. I know I need to meditate, stay in contact with my support team, and "intervene" by using the contents of my bag of tricks if I am EVER going to move toward health.

Sometimes I grow weary of being "good". I just want to feel "right" and I am dang tired of the routine I have established and the bag of tricks I need to continue to use. I am one who believes that one can be normal and yet far from healthy. So I will continue to scratch and claw my way to health by using the techniques that have gotten me this far. I want to be "off the cord"; but now I must remain joined to the tether which keeps me closer to God and thus closer to mental health and the life I have enjoyed in the past... a life that seems like forever and has grown very small in my personal "rear view mirror."

That is my life goal at this time: keep on keeping on; attatched to God ... and not give up.

Typos and all ... God Bless You!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (85)

The depression has decreased some over the past few days. I have had increased anxiety during this period, but things seem to be evening out for the most part. This depresion was deep and "hostile". I experieinced the darkest thoughts I have for quite a long time.

What did I do? I followed my breath in medidation using a mantra. I solicited support from my support team. I did things I did not want to do. I thought through the emotion for triggers.

My triggers were the death of a friend and the funeral last week. I really liked and admired this person and felt tremendouss loss when he died. Another trigger was an anniversary of the beginning of my deep depression last January. This onslaught was exacerbated by my being riffed at work that happened two months later. I began to feel like a loser at this point and this too, for many months, persisted.

I had overloooked this aniversary concept of my intense depression until my good friend Georga reminded me. What are friends for? To whom can I be a friend to today?

Typos and all ... God Bless You!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (84)

The past two days have been dark ones for me. The depression hitting hard and staying ... and staying ... and did I say staying? It felt as though I've been pursued by something that continued to bring depression to the forefront. I hate to think of it in this way, but it best descibes it. I've said earlier in the blog that I sometimes believe depression and anxiety have a mind of their own. The mind of depression certainly made its frighteninig move through my spirit the last 48 hours.

I have have been having very troubling urges toward suicide; like I have not had for months. The ideation lies beneath the surface regularly, but this time it was an urge toward full-blown suicide. Little lethality, but an urge.

I prayed "all day" as appropriate and then tonight I lit a candle. I sat before the candle in contemplation, I used "Savior as my "sacred mantra and sat in silent contrmlation. Having just finished this 45 minutes I can report the urges have been reduced.

I don't know if this sort of thing would work for others, but it was literally a "God send" for me today. Jesus was my companion through the contemplative exercise and I was rewarded with peace. This was my experience.

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (83)

I think an effective way to face depression-anxiety is with gratefulness. I believe that anyone has human life can be grateful in some manner. I understand that, perhaps, by definition, mental illness does not induce gratefulness.

At my lowest point and now I could identify someone in my life that brought thankfulness/ gratefulness to mind. I have, at many times, listed people I am grateful for in terms of their consistent support and assistance during my past and current depression-anxiety. I could name many.

I also have had things and places that have brought a lightness to my life in some way. I like music both listening and playing. I enjoy water. Rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans come to mind. My faith community is stablizing to a great extent. In addition, I really enjoy lying on my back under a clear blue sky, look up and see the contrast of the stately evergreens in contrast to that sky. I enjoy sitting in the lot at Fort Vancouver and looking across the beautiful grounds. Sitting at Beaches on the Columbia brings a similar response as I gaze at the Columbia River and its beauty.

I am grateful for the people and places that grace my life. I am grateful for each and every person who supports me in prayer and good thoughts. The same feeling is present for places and things that have brought light to my life.

What would life be without gratefulness? For me it would not be worth living. This may be a bit extreme but the emphases may be difficult to overstate.

Typos and all ... Be grateful ... God bless you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (82)

Yesterday was a difficult day when I attended the memorial service for my friend. It caused an evaluation of my own life. He was praised through multiple testimonies and stories. Most all touched and resonated with me in some way.

This caused me to wonder, "what is a life "well lived?" How can a person with mental illness of any ilk to grow and change to the point that they are remembered in the ways my friend was.

All my life is full except a job. That doesn't take me where I want to be. Yes, profession plays a part, but there are so many ways to meke a life count for something. Going through depresion-anxiety I have often wondered if I would ever be "better" and become the person God so desparately wants me to be. I believe this trial will strengthen me in the long run. I am beginning to notice days when I feel pretty good along with the days that feel I am standing at the door of hell.

I will not give up on becoming a productive member of the human family. I will rise again whether it takes one year or five years. I found so many more at the memorial service yesterday who are praying for me and sending positive thoghts my way it way. It overwhelming. Thanks to God! I will one day return to a life that is less stressful and I will, by the grace of God, oversome the illness what has gripped me for over a year now.

So thank you Mary, Kit, Suzanne, and Chris for expressing your love and caring to me yesterday. You are precious. It is my dedication and the prayers of the people that will help me overcome this painful disease. I need the grace to "never give up." That is my prayer and commitment.

So many times, it is so painful thal I just want out. Many of you can identify with that feeling. So many times I wish I could be instantaneously healed or just "check out" through suicide, all these feelings have greatly decreased through my couneling and meditation.

That morbitity aside I want to live and live life to the "full". Thank you to all whose prayers and kindnesses have brought me this far. I love you in a special way.

Typose and all ... God Bless You

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (81)

Greetings all...

I'm still caught between reflection and grief over the death of my friend. My reflection? I will one day die. I am living now and need to be a positive influence in everyone's life I am providentially allowed to touch. Some may think I've had my chance. Counseling, mentoring, preaching, teaching, coaching and spiritual direction have taken the bulk of my career up until now. I hope to return to coaching and spiritual direction one day. They are wonderful and effective ways to reach individuals positively and see lives change. I absolutely love it when somoene comes up to me and tells me how I've affected their life in a positive way.

I am the product of many such people who reached out to me to mentor, coach, direct and counsel. There was Howard, Loren, David, Tom, Ken, John, Sonny, Peter, Ric, George, Peter, Erin, and many others. I am of all men most blessed. All these individuals had/have a positive affect on my life. I pray God will provide the opportunity of ministry for me as I move through my life. That is my goal.

My anxiety-depression? They go on apace. Up days down days, up part-time, down part-time, all over the place. Sometimes I'm calm sometimes I'm in breathtaking termoil. Suicidal ideation persists from time to time. Very few urges come, but thoughts remain. This is frustrating. I am becoming adept at breathing through these feelings and to redirect my thinking. These and many more techniques are finding themselves entering my life. Sometomes this is so difficult. Those of you in the same "boat" know.

I am keeping a daily numerical data card to help me. I'll share some of these interventon in one of my future blogs. For now, when you feel depressed or anxious, breathe deeply and follow your breath as it enters your nose. Feel it to again as you exhale. Remain mindful of your breach as you feel it enter and release. This will help center you and bring you clarity. Talk to yourself... "everything is going to be alright... this too will pass". Find a phrase that will serve you well as you exhale. Above all, dont give up... NEVER. ... EVER give up.

Typos and all ... God Bless You

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (80)

I lost a friend today.
He went to his reward.
I'll miss his smile and his humor.
I'll miss his sarcastic joking.
I'll miss his honesty and integrity.
I'll miss his warm friendship and the
way he complimented me at every turn.
I lost him once in March when I lost my job -
we had worked together over 20 years.
Rest well my friend, Your life, your
profesionalism saved many from the "pit"
of their addiction; from personal demons.
Your life on this earth has ended - seems unfair.
I hope to see you again in that peaceful place.
But until that time I'll grieve ...
I lost a friend today.

Have You Gone Mental? (79)

I took my 83 year mother to her heart doctor yesterday. Its so difficult to see Mom age and becomne more feeble. In about 2 hours we were back home after a fair diagnosence by he doctor.

It was revealing to be present at this visit. Its was dificult for her as well. She douen't get around very well (walker cane, oxygen) when I am much advanced personally, physically.

I wss feeling fear and shame as I witnessed first-hand how uch she is suffering at this time.
I don't ow how long she will be with us, but I want to make her last yars pleasant as far as it is up to me.

Typos in all ... God Bless You

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (78)

Well I couldn't have guessed this, but I have bronchitis again! I took a time to spend my time recuperating and didn't blog, but I couldn'thelp it.

I've been working on my anxiety-depression using a new method, which I believe I alluded to lately. Its called Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It is a very focused method (supposed to be more effective in a group) that I am beginning to learn about. I don't think I am still ready to join of group of people I don't know. The experience is still one think that puts me on the edge of a bad anxiety attack. This is difficult because I love people, I just can't stand to be around too many of them OR around a group of people I dont know.

I've been enjoying time with my kids on the phone and in person. It is somewhat energizing. Erin have kept in touch the most and my friends George and Peter have also been faithful in their encouragment in person and by telephone.

I passed by my former place of employment this week and remembered, tearfully, how much I missed that past of my life. This time of anxiety-depression has taught me to make my family and home the greatest joy. Work was taking its place.

Well there I am a little positive stuff and a little negative stuff. A little pain and a little pleasure.

Typos and All ... God Bless You.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (77)

Greetings all...
I finally have all the paperwork into the Social Security Administration for them to consider my disability. You may be surprised at this but my depression and anxiety have overcome me so much that I have difficulty performing even menial tasks. Spending in crowds is frightening. Speaking in front of a group is impossible.
Clear thinking is a thing of the past.

As I'm mentioned several blogs ago, a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder has been considered for me. My depresssion is disabling I want to sleep "all the time". Fear strikes at a moment's notice and anxiety shifts into gear. At this point I get frenetic. I want to clean, and do laundry, dishes, etc.

I am working on using the techniques from DBT (Dialectical Behaviorlal Therapy). They have some merit. I can do some of them, but I am far from being able to respond to life as I used to. My Psychologist is orienting me to these methods of healing and I hope it helps.

Many of us feel helpless and hopeless at one time or another. I do not have the corner on this market. I know many of you suffer also and I think of you and remember you in prayers.

The key techniues I'm working on now is doing things with my body movement and/or my hands. Thanks to an old friend I can now go to the gym on a regular basis (My goal is 3 times a week). I like writing, but that keeps me too much "in my head". I play my piano from time to time. I do not do crafts, but nothing beats holding a piece of iron in my hands and curling, military pressing or bench pressing it. It is magical. This is supposed to help me ... Let It Be! Bench pressing is my thing... though I'll never surpass my record of 465 pounds when I was 44 years old. But I digress ...

The idea is to find an actiity that takes me "out of my head". In other words one that takes me out of needing to think and labor over conversation and contemplation.
These too are important, but I think too much and too seriously ... take myself very seriously which is one of my problems. I just need a break from thinking how ill I am in favor of something somewhat mindless to promote my healing. I am committed and resolute to find this healing.

I hope you've taken something from my rambling. Get out of your head!

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hae You Gone Mental? (76)

My depession raised its ugly head over the weekend. It was real powerful. What did I do? I used some "DBT" techniques: following my breath deeply in and out and being mindful of each breath; I also used the method of obsserving and describing and my feelings of depession; finally I used the technique of distraction by getting involved an activity (such a playing wih my puppy and playing my piano.

These helped to some extent and I warded off self-desructive feelings, which has been an "old aqutaintance". It was hard work. I didn't want to do these things. I had to force myself. I just want to check out, recline in my chair and "veg" in front of T.V. My life may be taking a different course than it has been. Do these horrible thoughs happen to you?

Like I say, I am learning some DBT (Dialectic Behavioral Therapy). Within this framework, I'm learning 17 skills which provide resistance to depression and anxiety. I hope with practice this will he consistantly helpful. I will know it helps when I have fewer feelings of wanting to die.

I am enthuiastic about this form of therapy to control my wandering thoughts that often lead my feelings in a negative direction. My psycholigist is very helpful in this method. I strongly recommend it. I found a workbook: "Depressed and Anxious: the Dialectical Behavior Workbook for overcoming Depression and Anxiety."

I know how difficult depresion and anxiety is ... from experience. I know how hard it is to improve. If you wish to officially follow my blog I will pray for you as you deal with this disorder.

Thanks for reading.

Typos and All ... God Bless You

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (75)

The Holidays gave me much joy and a little pain. Having my kids and grandkids around was a joy. In addition I suffered the anxiety of being in close quarters with quite a few people. I had to check out for periods of time to my bedroom for short stints to calm my anxiety and then I could return to my loved ones. It was not them, it was me.

Another joy of the Christmas Season was taking a volunteer shift with my son ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at the Washougal Safeway as a service project through my Rotary club. Having Jeff with me helped to ward off some of the anxiety I had "doing my duty" there. It was difficult, but rewarding.

Unusual for a former preacher, I hate to ask for money. In addition strangers have not been my "longsuit" since the beginning of my illness. Jeff talked to me and kept my mind on wishing people Merry Christmas and thanking them for their gifts: nickles, dimes, quarters and many bills! After two hours we were finished and the next couple Rotarians came on. Jeff and I drove to Camas and had an ice cream cone. Ice creme has a soothing effect on me.

The days since have been up and down as usual. I am concentrating being thankful for the good and also the "bad". There is something to learn here and I am determined to do so.

I hope your Christmas Season was blessed as mine was.

Typos and all ... God Bless You