Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gotta Have Faith

Recently a Facebook friend commented that she had named a pet "Faith", because, she said, she needed to remind herself that "I gotta have faith".  Whenever I contemplate faith it is usually includes an idea taken from "A Course In Miracles".  The idea often helps me to turn around a fearful or discouraged attitude and start again with a renewed effort to look at the world in a positive way.

Yes, we've "gotta have faith".  When thinking about it, we may ask questions like:  "what is faith?" and "what do I put my faith in?".  The idea put forth by the Course is that faith is nothing more than what we believe.  When looked at from the standpoint of our daily lives, rather than as a religious  philosophy, we can look at all the areas of "what we believe".   

We always have faith in something.  The question is:  What is the "something" that we have faith in?  And does that "faith" serve to make our life (and the lives of those around us) better?  Do we apply our "faith" in a negative or a positive way?

For example:  We have faith that the lights and power will come on when we flick a switch.  If they don't come on, do we "have faith" that the situation can and will be remedied?  It depends upon our attitude.  We can worry over what the problem may be or we can call the electric company or an electrician.  Then we can "have faith" in the ability of those people to correct the problem, or we can believe that "they" will take forever to fix it, if they fix it, blah, blah, blah....

We can bemoan a rainy day, or we can say "the world is getting a much needed bath!" Do you have faith that the "sun will come out tomorrow" when today seems miserable?

We can constantly talk our worries, be disgusted with all that's wrong with the world, put our "faith" in misery; or we can actively work to see all the good that's around us every day.  If we find our faith is often misplaced, the Course is all about forgiveness - which means to be gentle with ourselves.  Having faith in "goodness" is not hard - it's simple. 

Kindness applies to everyone.

When I had my website, I came up with a series of "Gentle Reminders" that I use to help myself, and I hope, others.  First and foremost among them is:

Keep a simple Faith.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fourth Attempt

This is my fourth attempt in as many days to get a post out.  There are three unfinished posts sitting on my "dashboard".  For some reason the issues I face are keeping me from getting them done.  I guess I'm going to just highlight them here, because each is important to me.  I do hope I can get each of them completed at some point....

Post One:  I promised in my last post to speak of websites and blogs I have found that I found helpful when it came to mental illness.  But before I did that, I wanted to speak of the "terms" and "labels" that are used in talking about mental "illness".  I felt (and still somewhat feel) pressured to get some posts out, thinking that others are counting on me... and then the thoughts (that therapists and doctors will attribute to mental illness) start pressing in - that I have nothing to give... who am I to think I "know" anything..... that I actually don't know anything... blah, blah, blah...  And as I work to get the post done, I struggle to get it "perfectly right" - something I used to be able to do (I was an "A Student" once - a valued employee once) and the literal hours go by and it still isn't what I want it to be...

So that one got put aside.....

Post Two:  The next day Beth and I were talking about what I had found.  She became upset with me, that I am putting my focus on "mental illness" rather than trying to enjoy a "normal" life.  She began her push at me that she does every few months - that I need to go back on meds and see a therapist - so that I am not "crying all the time".  (I don't take meds now, haven't for a while, and don't really want to).  The "meds or no meds" argument is something I would like to explore in my blogs... I've found websites and blogs with both sides of the argument.  And so I tried to write a blog about the happening between Beth and I, but it was too new, too personal, and I was too upset... 

And so that post went unfinished....

Post Three:  It's Christmas.  And I wanted to post a Christmas Message to my blog readers, friends, and loved ones, in fact "everyone" in the world.  But again the confusion of mind, the jumble and just "too many" thoughts, the "who am I" and "what do I know or have to give" thoughts, the depression that has had me in a stranglehold again for the last few days... for I don't even know what reason.... only that it's deep and it robs me of my ability to do or care about anything....

And so that post is sitting, incomplete - filled with love, encouragement, and thankfulness that I want to express... but can't find the "right" words....

It's Christmas.  If you're alone, afraid, hurting - please know that there is someone that caresI am thinking of you with love.  It makes no difference that we've never met.  There is a Power in the Universe.  That Power is Ultimate Goodness and Love - that is in you and in me and always with us.  And I am sending that Love to you.

To all the new friends I've met on Facebook -  Thank you... and Blessings to you as you go forth in the New Year.  Let's do our part to make it a good year... filled with the best we can be...

Teach only LOVE, for that is what you Are.                                                 -  A Course in Miracles

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's 3 AM I Must Be Lonely

It's 3 AM, I must be lonely.....
That's a line from the Matchbox 20 song (aptly titled) "3 AM".  Actually I'm not lonely, but it is 3 AM. There have been nights when it was apropos, when it haunted me, but not tonight. Tonight my mind is just full, swimming with fragments garnered from two days worth of watching videos, reading websites and blogs, considering the theories and opinions of eminent and not so eminent people who concern themselves with mental health.

But before I get too far here, I've got to apologize to my blog followers for being AWOL for almost two weeks.  I haven't felt well, physically or mentally, and I took a hiatus that became somewhat an OCD type attachment to Facebook games.  Rather than see that as a bad thing, I guess I've just decided that such compulsion was what made me such a good worker when I worked! ha!

While that was going on, Minds on the Edge (on Facebook) was also posting a wealth of links to be explored.  As their postings grew, so did my interest.  Eventually I couldn't take it anymore and they lured me back!

Ok, so this post is just to say that I'll be back in the next few days, probably with a plethora of posts on the various things I've found and my thoughts surrounding them.  Because my mind is so full of it all at the moment, I can't seem to settle down to organize it into a coherent blog post as yet, and I've decided its probably going to end up as a bunch....

But it's now FOUR AM and I need to try to sleep!  Hopefully getting this much out tired me enough to do so!  Catch you on the flipside.....

Friday, December 4, 2009

A momentum is Building!

Dear Friends,

Today I finally remembered to address the problem that was preventing me from posting my story on the Bring Change 2 Mind website. Emily from that site was a wonderful help, and I was able to post my story.

This evening I went back to see if there were any comments that I should respond to. While there I read some of the other stories of consumers, friends, and family with mental health issues. The stories tore at my heart, especially those that detailed the suffering in silence and isolation that so many have gone through (and continue to go through) because of our ignorance and fear.

Tonight I ask you once again, if you can spare just a few moments, to please visit the story page at Bring Change 2 Mind and read a few. Perhaps then you will have a better understanding of why we need you.

A momentum is building. Through the efforts of Bring Change 2 Mind and Minds on the Edge those with mental health issues are coming out, and finding their voice. We are picking up the byline of Minds on the Edge that says: "If we can talk about mental illness, so can you".

And we are. The Facebook pages of these two organizations are having continual traffic. Last week the "Minds" page posted that they are in the top 7.5% of fanpages on Facebook, the Number 2 FB gathering place. The Bring Change 2 Mind Facebook page includes a very active discussion tab where people are coming together, answering questions, providing support and resources. That is great news.

However I've been concerned that much of the traffic is coming from mental health consumers and those close to them. It is really important that the word be spread to the general public and that the general public come to understand and begin to take part in helping us address the issues.

The conversation is moving forward. Today both Bring Change 2 Mind and Minds on the Edge posted links on their FB pages to news stories and blogs that are engaging large segments of the country. Please check them out: Stew Friedman's blogpost addressing the business community and how they can help change attitudes and practices in the workplace; and the Clutter Museum's blogpost regarding Elyn Saks (a law professor and panelist on "Minds" video) and how her recent post to academia is seeing a whirlwind of email links activity. The comments on the Clutter Museum page are especially interesting. Please be sure to take a look.

Whenever you can please join the conversation. Post on your Facebook or other Social Site pages, give people links to websites I've mentioned, or send them to my blog for access.

A momentum is building, our voices are coming out strong, and the silence being broken. Please lend your voice to help us push it ever forward, alleviating the fear, isolation, and stigma.

Thanks and Blessings,

There's Always Hope

Hello Friends,
Oh my goodness, what a week it's been! It's had a lot of activity (for me, anyway) and I'm not sure how I feel about that! Good, I guess... and that is different :)

I guess it feels strange because my emotions have been on a roller coaster. The "norm" for me for quite a while had been just self imposed numbness, so that I didn't have to feel anything.

Sometimes the world still imposes itself upon my desire to hide, such as when I had to try to deal with Frank's (hubby) insurance company regarding his recent hospital stay. What a nightmare that has turned out to be! It seems that since we moved to Vermont, none of the Doctors or hospitals around here are in the "network" of the insurance company. So that means that the insurance offered by his employer is pretty much useless to us. We will be required to meet an annual $10,000 deductible on top of the premiums. This is the only insurance offered by his employer, and now with him having a "pre-existing condition" getting our own through another carrier would be a problem..... I guess I hope now that the new Health Care Bill doesn't require people to have insurance... we'd be better off taking a chance of going without it, and covering costs ourself. Not sure what we're going to do. I didn't (and don't) want to think about it....

Thinking of it puts me in deep deep depression... whatever future we may have had feels blown for sure...

Frank was getting ready to travel again for his job, meaning I would be alone again for a while... Beth was trying to register her car in Vermont, but had lost her old registration, meaning she had to take a flying 6 hour trip to New Hampshire to get a copy and return in that same day (of course this was the last day before her registration expired!) Worrah, worrah, worrah! I was a zombie.

I've tried to move past it.... it is Christmas time after-all.

Meeting lots of new folks on Facebook, reading blogs, and enjoying having people to interact with again actually made me feel happy one day! When Beth called that morning, I told her it also made me feel uncomfortable. I'm just not used to feeling happy; it was kind of scary... can you believe that? Beth said: "Don't analyze it, Mom; just let yourself feel happy."

It lasted a little while and felt good! It's been so long!

The Minds on the Edge Facebook page has posted a link to my blog twice. Interaction with more people and the kindly comments they made felt wonderful. Sometimes I really need a reminder that there are good people in this world, and I am very grateful. Thank you so much!

I read a nice blog about the spirit of Christmas, that told of a man who had been a true "Secret Santa" for many years, giving out $10 and $20 bills to folks in obvious need. It was such an inspiring idea, and made me think of the spiritual truth that "To Give is to Receive". So I made my own blog post around both those ideas.

But you won't find that post now. I was feeling so conflicted about not being that "good" myself that it took me almost 4 hours to write it. Thinking I should let that conflict show (because my blog is about what it's like to be me) I spoke of it in the post and tried to express what I was feeling. But it "felt" so awful to have that out there in cyber-space, that I just couldn't and deleted the post a short while afterward.

I continue to talk to Beth about the folks I've met, the support and ideas around Minds on the Edge, Bring Change 2 Mind, or individuals' blogs. Most of the time she still says she just can't come out herself yet, though she does look at a few websites and blogs. We've talked about trying to get something going around here.

Beth has talked with her Nurse Practitioner about the Minds on the Edge video, but received no apparent interest. The NP told her of a group she'd try to get her in to, but you need special referral, apparently. It's been weeks with no movement there. We'd like to do a showing of MOTE and perhaps try to get a real "face to face" support group of some kind. But we really have our doubts that just the two of us would have the ability and confidence to follow-through and not give up.

We've talked with my son, Patrick, asking if he would lend support and assistance. He seemed open to the idea, so we'll keep working with it... Things move slowly... but that's the only pace I can handle now...

Beth says she continues to make progress with her new med, though she's a little worried about coming off one other. She's had some panicky anxiety/paranoia in her new apartment, and nightmares most nights, but she's handling it... The NP wanted the Psychiatrist at the office she uses to meet with Beth, to go over her meds, and that finally happened this week. He added a mood stabilizer... round and round we go...

I ended up alone only one night, because Patrick is living with us now. He had gone to visit friends, and Frank was gone on work travel. That night I watched Rudolph. I wanted the good feelings it brings. The emotions were extreme: the wonderfulness of Christmas shared with children and my own heartbreak of no grandchildren to share it with. I moved between irrepressible smiles of joy and scalding tears of emptiness. The extremity of it scared me, but I was happy that I gave myself the opportunity to feel the joy.

Later that evening I read some of my old journals and felt my connection to Spirit renewed. When I read some of the amazing "conversations" between me and Spirit, I can't imagine how I end up going through these dry spells.

But actually, Spirit reminded me in those posts that the life of illusion we live here has little to do with our Soul connection to All That IS. That connection is never broken, no matter the crazy situations we put ourselves in here. No matter how little we see ourselves, how horrible we think we are, God knows differently. And Spirit is with us always, through all those places. We are beloved, regardless, and should act from that, giving no heed to the obscure human characters we have made ourselves to be.

Patrick and I talked for hours the next day... we drive the rest of the family crazy with the length and depth of our philosophical and spiritual discussions. But we enjoy it. He helped bring back the hope, the joy, and the ability to see myself as something other than just my shortcomings. Having him here is a real blessing.

That's just part of my week. There's more, but I've been too long already... As I said, this much activity is a lot for me! Yes, it's been a roller-coaster, but having things to do and people to talk to has felt wonderful. Handling it fairly well gives me hope that maybe (maybe) I can handle more. It scares me to be out here, and it scares me to tell people that I'm moving again. I'm afraid I'll fall back and retreat again, and I'm afraid that people won't have understanding if I do.

But I hope you will be encouraged, as I am, that Hope has returned, a little bit. There's always hope, they say.....