Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love and Hate 
 I watched the movie Stardust last week and fell in love; what a quirky and perfectly lovely show (minus the un-shown pre-marital sex).  While the fallen star was explaining to the man-mouse what she knew about love and then confessing her love for him, she said that love can be easily mistaken for loathing.  Many times when depressed we can mistake others' efforts to show their love, concern, and support for us as judgement and loathing.
 We ruminate on others' perception and treatment of us and wish we could do something about it or that they would love us for who we are.  The truth is that some have no empathy and think that mind over matter is enough and people who are depressed are just weak minded.  While mind over matter helps, it does not take away the whole problem.  You can't just tell your cancer to go away, but positive thinking does help you, almost magically sometimes, to get well.  The same goes for depression.
 If we think positively about the people we want to love us then, when we are depressed it is easier to see others' actions for what they are:  loving attempts to help us.
 A deeper problem arises when people do not try to help us out of love.  They react in anger or guilt, and that always produces the opposite effect desired.  Getting angry at us because we do not do what you expect of us will not ever help.   Guilt tripping will only make us hide further and wallow more deeply in our self loathing.
 The solution:  Charity never faileth.  Love is always the answer for both sides.  No matter the action, if it is motivated by love, it will be the right one.  Holding on to that love when things do not go as well as either party wishes is the best thing for everyone.  Hard to do, yes, but possible and practice makes perfect.  Good luck with the positive thinking and holding onto that love.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Heavenly Cures

 Our Bishopric has issued a scripture challenge--They want us to have family scripture study every day and for every 7 consecutive days read we can give them a blue B of M paper for them to hang on the wall of the Bishop's office.  The kids love it and it has wrought a great change in our thinking.  How does this relates to mental illness?  Well, while reading last night I came across a verse that ties into my last post and gives a little bit of an answer on overcoming obstacles.  1 Nephi 14:1 says that if we "harken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks--"  So what does that mean for us?

 In comparing stumbling blocks to obstacles, we find the answer.  An obstacle is something that gets in the way or hinders your progress, but a stumbling block is moveable and usually put in someone's way to trip them up.  Typically, an obstacle is something like a mountain or fence (i.e. an obstacle course).  The obstacles make to journey more difficult, but are not in your control and not intended to make the task impossible.  Basically, the obstacle is not partial and "out to get you."  A stumbling block, in theory, is usually in your control.  You, or someone else is, trying to sabotage your progress.  In that sense, then if you are faithful then those things that are intended to make you fail are removed and just the things that are intended to make you stronger, the obstacles, remain.  So the journey is supposed to be hard, but    complete-able.

 A mental illness is an obstacle.  We can make it over them and become a better and stronger person in the process.  If we allow ourselves to be bogged down by mental illness, to make depression a bad habit,  then we place stumbling blocks in our path.  Those can be removed so that we can succeed if we turn to God in everything we do.  So let's brave those obstacles and be faithful.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bad Habits

 A long time ago--okay about a year and a half--a wise man once said to me that mental illness can be a habit once the chemical imbalance has been corrected.  He is right and I am having difficulty being wise now.  To me, wisdom is putting your knowledge into action.  So far my bad habits developed over 31 years of hard work are not willing to disappear as fast as I would like them to.  Go figure.  I am discovering, now that I know what is a bad habit and what is truly still a problem, that I prefer on most days to not try.  How sad.
 Habits are difficult to change, especially if you are afraid of hard work.  Bad habits are usually the easy way out and not beneficial in the long run.  So, staying in bed when you feel overwhelmed--bad habit.  Reading instead of doing laundry or cleaning--bad habit.  Children often help the staying in bed all day thing.  Feeding people who come up to you every two minutes and ask for a snack is very difficult to do for underneath a warm and cozy bedspread.  I have recently discovered, thanks to my sister, a way to work and be immersed in literature.  Borrow books on tape from the library and listen to them on your ipod as you do what you need to do.  You do need to delete them when you've listened to them because we do not want to break any federal laws.  Prison or incurring hefty fines are not my idea of overcoming the difficulties in your life.
 Not exercising is also a very bad habit that is so easy not to replace with a good change.  Solution:  get a friend or six to exercise with--but make sure one of those friends has a key to the church so that you can still work out when the weather is bad or cold.  Having support from other people helps when you are having trouble staying motivated.  Especially when you only feel like exercising two or three days of the month and then are sore for a week after you do finally get up the desire to get off the couch.  Those are not helpful ruts to get into.

 Changing your thinking is possible, but again it takes lots of work and consistent effort.  Trading pms for a pma is harder than I thought it would be.  Thinking good thoughts helps with motivation because what you think is what you become.  So, now that I have more control over what I think, I now realize how far I need to come before I automatically think what I want to become.  The ability to clearly see the path ahead, or the consequences of choosing that path, is slowly coming back to me.  I'd like to make the right choice, but feel unable to climb the mountainous obstacle I created stone by stone with past behavior.  Any specific suggestions on how we can trade negative thoughts for uplifting ones?