11/02/2020

Seek Not to Alter Me

Posted in Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:17 pm by The Water Bearer

“Cheer up”

“Calm Down”

“Harden Up”

“Take a Breath”

“Just Chill”

“What’s Wrong Now?”

“That’s crazy talk”

“Geeze you’re a lot to take, aren’t you!”

If you have a mental illness, you might hear feedback like this all the time. Usually from those around you who feel they are being helpful by telling you how to ACT ‘normally’.

I recently watched the movie ‘Joker‘, and yep ok it was little darker than I usually like, but for the sake of research into mental illness I thought “Heck, I’m just gonna give it a go.”

Just as predicted it was dark, I mean really dark, and brilliantly acted!

As I watched intently, gripping my throw-pillow and cringing at the brutality, one statement POPPED like fireworks when I saw it. It was simply brilliant!

Joker writes in his journal –

‘The worst part about having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

This sums it up folks! WOW! I mean WOW!

I’ve been at this a long time, well over a decade, I am unmedicated and functional despite my episodes of Cyclothymia (a form of Bipolar with long-lasting episodes, some last months, others can last years). I know the tools that help me avoid episodes and the tools that help me cope with episodes, and I use them daily. When I’m feeling at my worst, I struggle to be around anyone who wants me to behave like they want, or even to behave like I would when I’m not episodic. But the reality is, I can’t keep that up for long, and often “playing sane” can trigger a spiral into an even more severe episode, making life so much harder to deal with.

I often think how nice it would be if someone asked “How you doing today Claire-Bear?”

and I could reply “I’m actually mid-episode at the moment and struggling to be here.”

and have them reply, “Well good on you for showing up and giving it a go, if you need a time out or want someone to talk it all through with, just holler.”

But I rarely reply that way, and the times I do, I usually get looks of pity or motivational speeches and well meaning advice on how to manage my mood better. Some people just back away slowly, wide-eyed, not making any sudden movements, never to ask how I am again. I’ve even had people take offence and say “well I’m here now, you could at least cheer up for me!” or “I can’t believe you didn’t accept my invitation” or “I can’t believe you asked me to leave before I was ready.”

With all the awareness around mental illness of late, when will we as a society realise that there is no benefit in encouraging people to “Be Normal” when none of us are normal all the time, and life would be very boring if we were. You’d prefer to be accepted or at least tolerated, even if you don’t have a diagnosed mental illness, because lets face it, you’re not perfect, no one is. Perhaps more of you could be authentic in your downtimes and weirdness if there wasn’t such negative feedback when you come clean?

Remember: An episode is not just a sad mood, or an extra does of energy, that can be altered to suit the crowd if you will it…And it doesn’t mean we can be written off as dysfunctional and useless either!

I am very lucky, I have a number of friends, family and colleagues who get me, they just do. They appreciate my amazing qualities and accept my horrifying ones. They don’t hold it against me when I act in ways that seem selfish or crazy, they give me the benefit of the doubt and don’t take it personally. They show support and they listen, they don’t sit counting how many times I interrupted them while in a manic state or take offense, demanding that I should “learn how to LISTEN!” They don’t get pissed off when I drop off the grid for a bit and stop initiating contact when I’m wrestling with depression, they reach out and say “Hi” with no expectations. They don’t hold against me the stances I take or excessive advice I give, they appreciate the wisdom I’ve gained from my overactive analytical mind and depth of thought.

So the next time you notice our imperfections…. instead of trying to make us act like you want, you could try saying

“That’s cool, You just do You.” or “I’m here if you need, Babe.” or a simple “I love you”.

That goes for behind our backs too, because eventually snide remarks all come out and who can tell the damage they can do to someone’s soul?

17/07/2016

Faithful Meditation

Posted in Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , at 10:15 am by The Water Bearer

yoga 2

In western culture, obtaining wholeness of mind, body and spirit has been considered for many generations as an ancient ‘pagan’ practice. Aligned with Eastern Religion… Buddhist & Hindu beliefs, Chinese medicine, Japanese fitness, and so on. As a child growing up in the modern Christian community, I heard that wholeness (Oneness) practices were ‘New Age’, ‘Inviting in Evil’, “Anti-Christian’  and so on.

Have we become so crippled by fear of everything which is not completely understood, that we have learned to avoid exploring the various forgotten gifts that God has generously given us?

Just as the counterfeit tries to use our Godly gifts for evil, so we have authority in Christ to turn to all things beneficial to our Christian walk as God intended, with God’s guidance. Just as evil intended the internet to be used to fill the world with debauchery and all manner of deception, here I am using the internet to share my truth and the Good News of Christ…And here you are reading it. 🙂

Being present amidst rushing time, and finding stillness in God’s presence, is a most Christ-like quality, and the enemy knows this. So what if he took this gift, and corrupted the message of the One True God in the process, so that future generations of Christians would avoid all mediation and mindfulness practices?

This is not to say that all meditation practices or mindfulness techniques are completely trustworthy for Christians. If, during a guided mediation, the instructor starts asking you to connect to a spiritual system that is not congruent with the truths of the One True God, then a conscious decision to reject falsehood and reapplication of Godly armour is necessary, we then need to seek God’s guidance about continuing, or we may indeed leave ourselves exposed to unwanted spiritual activity. But that is true for ALL things under the sun, discernment is crucial.

Mindfulness gives us a chance to escape earthly bonds and quieten our endless mind-wandering so that we may become open to hear and understand the still small voice of God.

“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)

As God’s people we are inflicted with various conditions that we might lose confidence in the strength of our bodies and our self-reliance, that we may seek out and rely upon the Lord, so that He may receive ALL glory for our witness. Like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12: 7-9…

“Even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

My particular psychological condition, cyclothymia, has manic tendencies, which makes it extremely hard to focus and wait for the still small voice of God. I have an extremely fast nervous system as a result of increased adrenaline, which is common throughout our family’s bloodline. The speeds of the nervous system can affect numerous issues aside from a fast/easily distracted mind, such as heart issues, arrhythmia, mood disorders, digestive and hormonal issues, and so on. The fall out of these conditions usually swing us towards a Doctor’s office, followed by some form of medication to attempt to override symptoms, yet not addressing the problem of the speed within. I write more on this topic in a post to follow. My point is that, over the 10 years since being diagnosed with this condition, I have found that I can significantly slow my nervous system through relaxation and meditation techniques. Practicing mindfulness has become one of the most beneficial ways for me to connect with God and hand my speedy nervous system into His calming care.

“Be Still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

“Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.” (Psalm 104:3)

 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

The scriptures guide us towards meditation, to focusing the mind, to take time to dwell on good things worthy of praise. There is so much new evidence coming to light regarding the healing benefits of mindfulness and alternative treatments, all which reflect Godly principles and scripture. I have come to depend on those moments of stillness in the presence of God, and I am so thankful for the revelation of it.

 

 

 

 

 

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