Here’s an interesting quiz that tests your emotional intelligence quotient. Interesting, I thought. It’s not from a Christian perspective, but interesting just the same.
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Do you have pets? I do. I have two. One is a feisty little lovebird with a big attitude. His name is Chicklet. I got him when he was 8 weeks old. My other pet is Maggie. She is my 1 yr & 10 months old doggie(a Shih-tzu). I got her when she was 14 weeks old.
I love both my pets. They are wonderful, cute, the loves of my life, and a handful. I love it! If I had a bigger apartment, I’d have even more pets.
I waited a long time to get Maggie. In my last apartment I wasn’t allowed to have pets. Which was a big disappointment after I found out, because it meant I had to get rid of the dog I had previously for 10 years. I found in the past that having a dog helps my bipolar disorder a great deal.
Your family pet can be and should be more than just a pet. It is another member of your family. They feel unconditional love just as you do. They like to receive it as well as give it. They know when you’re down and they want to help you. They do that by staying close to you. Did you ever notice that?
Your pet can be a best friend, or even like a child. You can share secrets with them, and they will not judge you. They can help bring you lots of laughter and joy. They like to be touched just like you do too. Their personalities are as varied as they are for people. Some are stubborn, timid, mild mannered, mean, grumpy, shy, happy, sad, or any number of other things. But one this is common among them all... they love their master!
When you get a pet when it’s still a baby, you have to take care of it like a baby. For example, a new puppy will get you up at night for pee-pee and food. They need a vet when they are sick and at vaccination time. They need to be potty-trained and taught new things and commands. They need to be watched so they don’t get into too much trouble on their own. It’s a big responsibility, though it will help you in ways you never dreamed of.
When I’m down and don’t want to do anything other than stay in bed with the covers over my head, I realize that I can’t. Being a pet-parent means that they are depending on me to care for them. It forces me to be active and productive instead of hiding from the world. No matter how I feel, or what the weather is like, Maggie needs to be let out in the yard for pee-pee time, fed, played with, and loved. No matter what I feel like she is happy to see me when I get home. It’s wonderful having someone greet you at the door with so much love and a waggly tail.
I highly recommend getting a pet if you don’t have one and you’re struggling. It doesn’t have to be a dog that needs to be walked daily, if you really don’t want to do that. Though, personally, I’m a huge doggie fan and I think everyone should have a one. Doggies are so awesome! In the past I’ve also had hamsters and fish. My brother had ferrets. My nephew had a turtle and rats. You could also get a cat, gerbil, rabbit, guinea pig, mice, or even a horse. Anything that can help you to get your focus off of yourself and your struggles, and loves you back, is a joy every day. Trust me, it is so worth it.
Forever Different: A Memoir of one Woman’s Journey Living with Bipolar Disorder
Christine F. Anderson
Before I even started this book I was drawn to it just by the title 'Forever Different'. My first thought, as a Bipolar sufferer myself, was 'someone else gets it'. I was right. Even though this story is so much different from mine, there are many similarities. I could plainly see the highs and lows in her life; the symptoms and characteristics of Bipolar Disorder. It's a great read. It not only shows a great example of a life with Bipolar, it is also an exciting story.
This is a very exciting announcement or me! I am now a published author. My first book was released last month. It is a work that I co-wrote with author, Daphne Tarango, and 8 other inspirational writers. I am very excited about this project because it will help inspire so many who are suffering with mental illnesses.
Let me tell you all about it:
Title: Groove: Stories to Refresh How We Think and Feel About Our Mental Illnesses
Designer: Suzanne D Williams
Published: December 1, 2014 in Paperback.
You're one of the millions of people who struggle with mental illness. You struggle in silence, hoping to avoid stares, whispers, and prejudice. But society’s judgment has also become your inner voice. Guilt, shame, and low self-worth have entrenched themselves in your mind and heart like old grooves of sun-hardened soil. These false beliefs need loosening, turning, tilling, and ploughing until the old grooves give way to new grooves of God’s Truth.
In Groove: Stories to Refresh the Way We Think and Feel about Our Mental Illnesses, mental health advocate Daphne Tarango and nine inspirational writers tell how they've overturned the old grooves and false beliefs about their own mental illnesses. Groove offers encouragement and firsthand experiences from men and women who know what it’s like to have mental illness. You'll relate to their inspirational stories about relationships, coping skills, managing symptoms, career and home, life stages and milestones, even stories about their pets, the holidays, and much more.
Groove includes 52 thought-provoking stories, one for each week of the year. Each entry ends with a series of questions so you can reflect and dig deeper grooves on the topic for that week. As you read Groove, you'll learn how to build new grooves using God’s word and how those new grooves can change your life, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you carry yourself. You can even read and work through the questions with a small group.
Whether you're recently diagnosed with a mental illness or have struggled with mental illness for years, Groove can help you refresh the way you think and feel about your mental illness, all by believing and applying the Truth in God's word.
by Marcus Oakes
I was a typical happy kid. I had an amazing family, I loved sports, and things were good. When I became a teenager it was almost like a switch was flipped. I still loved sports, still had an amazing family, but I wasn’t happy. By the time I was 15 years old, I literally had the worst acne I have ever seen (even to this day). I started taking Accutane, and then it REALLY went downhill. I became very good at acting like the happy boy I once was, but that’s all it was—an act. I had no desire to have friends, I didn’t want to be around my family, all I wanted was to be alone and cry.
The Downward Spiral
Before I even started Accutane, they warned me over and over again about possible side-effects—one of which was depression. Being the “tough guy” that I thought I was, I believed I was made out of steel, like nothing could touch me. I learned pretty quickly that I was not invincible. With the Accutane weighing in, and not knowing that my family had a history of depression, I was hit hard…ridiculously hard.
I didn’t understand why any of this was happening to me. I was a well-known kid at my school and a very successful athlete thus far in my life, yet I had issues that I didn’t think people “like me” would have. After some time, constantly feeling like this ate away at me and I hit what I thought was rock bottom. I was ready to be done.
At rock bottom, I had a plan to never feel this way again. I won’t go into detail because it wouldn’t have been very pretty, but I was ready. Still, something held me back. I was raised to believe in God, but I honestly wasn’t too sure up until this point, especially with how I was feeling.
Instead of taking my life at this time, I decided to pray to God, hoping that He was real. For the first time, I really, truly believed He was real and I knew that I wasn’t meant to die yet.
The Constant Battle
Did I overcome everything at that time? Absolutely not. High school didn’t get much easier. My acne eventually cleared up enough that (aside from the scars that will forever remind me of the past) I looked like a typical high school kid.
As briefly mentioned above, sports was basically my life. I played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track for years. I excelled in track and field; my event was the triple jump. When my coach saw me jump before my freshman year, he basically told me I was on track to easily break the state record. I was the first freshman to be pulled up to Varsity at my school for the entire season in as long as any of the coaches knew. Unfortunately, all of this happened before I started Accutane.
What they didn’t tell me about Accutane is that it can basically destroy your joints. I went from a 5’9” tall freshman jumping high enough to dunk a basketball (too bad my hands weren’t very big yet), to a 6’ tall sophomore that could barely touch the rim. This also led to my loss of triple jump ability and me jumping much shorter than my coach anticipated later on. Losing my athletic ability added to the frustration and feelings of worthlessness. Any chance of participating in college sports was definitely out the window.
It did eventually get to a point where I understood that this was how my life was going to be: miserable (as stated by a one-time therapist of mine). I realized I wouldn’t overcome my depression and everything that goes with it, but that I would learn to cope with it and accept it as part of me. One unfortunate aspect to those that suffer with depression is that the person will often feel comfortable with where they are at emotionally, and they don’t want to be happy. I explained my situation to others by saying that there will be days that are super high (happy) and days that are super low (sad) and instead of having two extremes, I didn’t allow myself to be happy so that when I hit “the wall”, it wasn’t as far of a drop because I was already on the lower end of the scale.
I continued to use sports as a coping mechanism, something to keep my mind off of how I was feeling that day. Music was also a coping mechanism; whether it was singing, playing instruments, or just listening to music, I had a new outlet. The way I felt lead me to find a genre of music that made me feel better (and disturbed my parents, even though it wasn’t as bad as it sounded to them). Screamo music became one of my biggest outlets because I felt that these artists were screaming for me and that they knew how I felt.
The Never-Ending Question
Unfortunately this coping and acceptance of my depression as part of me caused depression to practically define me. The picture I painted with my body language carried into my college years making it very difficult to get out of bed, get to class, or to even do school work. I let my normally good grades slip and I just didn’t care anymore.
I remember very clearly while walking to class, I constantly wanted to jump in front of the passing cars to end it all. As I drove, I constantly felt the desire to swerve into oncoming traffic. I had reached a new rock bottom, and all I could do was ask: “Will this ever end?”
I had seen one therapist—once—and I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to go to another one but I was running out of options. I didn’t think that anyone could help me by talking with me about how I am feeling. What I didn’t understand then, is stated well by mental health counsellor Sha-Rhonda Davis “People come to [counsellors] with deep problems, and they need to be able to trust that you will listen to them and do all that you can to help them help themselves.” Therapists don’t tell you what to do. They just help you figure it out for yourself.
I gave in and eventually went to another therapist in college, and I literally could not have gotten a better therapist at that time. I plain lucked out because it was a school therapist and he was assigned to me. I knew as soon as I walked into his office that things would be good there (mostly because he had band posters from his younger, potentially rebellious, days on his wall that I would consider equivalent to the bands I listened to). After about two months of sessions, I began to have a better understanding and felt well enough to continue on my own. I met a beautiful woman that made me happier than I had ever been and I was on my way up again.
Did I finally overcome my issues? The answer is still no. Will this ever end? Probably not, but I should not, and will not let that get me down. I’m sitting here, ten years after I first felt the desire to end my life, still fighting every single day. But this is a fight worth fighting. Nothing, and I mean nothing, could ever be bad enough that ending your life would make it better. Phil Donahue said that “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
So the real answer? Giving up is never the answer.
My conclusion to all of this is that depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, is nothing to be ashamed of but is also something you shouldn’t ignore. These issues may not ever go away but you can learn to cope with them. Don’t be afraid of going to see a therapist because people from any situation (rich, poor, famous, etc.) might need counselling, support, and encouragement, due to a problem that they might deem socially unacceptable. There are always people that are ready and willing to help you in your time of need. More people understand than you might think.
Remember: you are not alone and you can make it through. To quote one of my favorite bands, Our Last Night from their song, Sunrise “When the night is cold and you feel like no one knows what it’s like to be the only one buried in this hole, you can make it to the sunrise.”
About the Author:
Marcus Oakes has suffered from depression for over 10 years now, since the age of 15. Through these many years he has learned to face difficult challenges. Very few things have been harder for him than dealing with his mental health. He is a recent college graduate and is in a master’s program for forensic psychology. He is married to a beautiful woman and he helps her run her business, Positively Oakes, from home and he is proud of her for what she also has accomplished. Marcus has spent many days helping others work through their own issues and has learned how to use his life experiences to the benefit of others. He lives by these words: “Everything will work out in the end. If things aren’t working out, then it’s not the end” (unknown).
Every one of them calls her Sara. She insists that they should. She always seems genuinely happy to see them each week. Every milestone no matter how small is a great source of rejoicing for her too. When they cry because of difficult times, even her eyes well with tears too.
Sara loves people. And she tells all who that she loves just how much they mean to her. She is quick to say that if a person doesn’t love the people she is to care for, then fatigue will surely set in.
Her days start early but really she knows she should always be available. All her patients know how to contact her and she encourages them to give her a buzz anytime they are feeling like they are a little under the weather. She always has a lot on her mind and today she is thinking about James.
James found out recently that he is a sufferer of bi polar disorder. Before he knew what was wrong with him, he had visited a host of doctors who really could not tell him what was wrong. From an energetic teenager, he had become a reclusive young man who didn’t want anything to do with anyone this week and the next week he was full of energy and no one knew why. One day, on one of his low days, as he was sitting on his bed, he started thinking of how much he was a failure. He thought of his less than stellar performance at school and how he didn’t make the basketball team. He thought of himself as tall enough. He was quick enough on his feet. He recalled of how he made his first basket at the age of seven. His father played basketball all through his high school years and college days and they always had had father and son games. James knew that he was good. He just didn’t know why the coach didn’t see it.
He then remembered his perpetual tardiness. Every day he got in school five to ten minutes later than the rest of his classmates. Maybe that was it. His records should show that and possibly the coach thought of him as a lazy, unreliable student. He knew who to take all the blame. His mother drops him in school and he imagined that if she got up thirty minutes earlier or spent twenty minutes less in the bathroom, she would get him to school on time.
His heart started beating faster. He made a fist and with every passing second it got tighter and tighter. ‘A car, my own car! That is what I need’, he muttered under his breathe. His breathing got shallower then deeper. He then remembered that his father had said that money was hard to come by so he wouldn’t get a car soon. James got so angry, threw himself on his bed and tears started flowing freely. He was so sure that his parents didn’t love him and wanted him to suffer. Didn’t they know how much he wanted to be on the basketball team? He just saw pure malice on their part.
The next day, James’ mother was surprised that she was ready to go and James wasn’t there to keep pestering her about how they were running late. She just hoped he wasn’t having one of his days where he has aches and pain that just spring up from nothing and the barrage of excuses of why he can’t go to school. She certainly wasn’t ready to start negotiating with him today. That’s when they found him sprawled on the bathroom floor.
At the first meeting James had with Sara, both his parents came. To her, they looked like a happy family. James’ smile won her over. His parents said they were relieved that they now knew what was wrong with their son. James was happy too. He said the drugs were working.
Sara looked him straight in his eyes. He was young. He clearly was scared and he just was trying to act like a confident young man with nothing to fear. So she asked him how he really felt. He looked at her, then he looked away. He stared at the ceiling and one could clearly see that his lips were quivering. Then he cried, just like a small baby.
He didn’t mean to cause himself any harm. He really didn’t mean to. He said to his parents that he is sorry for the worry that he had caused them. His mother was sobbing. His father was just quiet. He was scared that if he talked, he too would cry. They spent the rest of the hour crying.
They knew little about what was going on with their son and once they had some information on bi polar disorder, Sara was certain that things would get better for them.
At the next meeting that they had, Sara noticed that all three of them were a bit ill at ease. Could they have been embarrassed about their emotional display the week earlier? Sara wanted them to relax. She explained that the intense emotion that they felt, that they still feel, was something that every person who receives news that someone that they love is suffering from a mental health issue. Any emotion that they felt they needed to express could be expressed in her office without them feeling embarrassed. James’ mother looked and her and smiled. The pep talk had clearly worked.
School had changed in ways James couldn’t even imagine. The story of what James had done had spread like a wild bush fire. He was certain that no coach would want him on his team. He wasn’t sure of what his friends thought of him now that they knew what was wrong with him. Sara listened carefully to him. His parents looked at her. They had no idea what to say to him so all hopes lay on Sara.
Sara took a deep breathe in. She then asked James to look around the room. He was puzzled. She then told him that the people sitting in that room loved him more than he ever knew. That he now has to start to know who his real friends were. Those who loved him for he was, will never change their affections towards him no matter what. She then asked him to work on changing his view of friendships and if need be, build others and strengthen the ones that already existed.
He now clearly needed something to keep his mind occupied. He really wanted to play basketball but that, at the moment, was not possible. It could happen in the future but he needed something to keep him occupied now. Sara said that during the week, James should sit down and write a list of things that he believes he is good at and then during the next session, they would pick one that would be his after school activity.
At the next session, James came alone. Sara was surprised. He said that he needed to make that hour a time when he could freely express himself without the fear that his parents’ feelings would be hurt. He said that he had a bad week. He had been depressed and he couldn’t tell his parents because they believe that since he is taking his medication, he should be fine. He needed to be told that what he was going through would not be taken care of overnight. There will be ups and downs and what he needs to learn is how to be ok when things are down. He said that he discovered that going for a walk helped to boost his moods. Sara was happy that he had discovered what could help him and she encouraged him to talk a walk every time he felt overwhelmed. She then gave him some brochures which she told him to give his parents. They would learn a lot from it, she said. She reminded him about his list. He took out an A4 sized piece of paper from the back pocket of his jeans. He must have been carrying it around everywhere he went. She reached out for it. As she unfolded it, she saw James’ face drop. When she looked at the writings on the paper, she noticed that on it, he only had written 1 thing.
Am good with cars
A smile crept up to her face. James had thought that it was a short list but Sara thought it was the most impressive thing he had done so far.
James went on ahead to get a job working with cars. His parents supported him and were happy for him when he had saved up enough to buy a second-hand car. He was so proud of himself. He still did experience the effects of his illness but this time round he had people to talk to and ways to let off steam.
About the Author
Flora G Aleana is a freelance writer and currently working for Article Writing Service. From the experiences of several years in the writing profession, she is capable to deal with academic as well as non-academic papers.
I’m writing a book about my life. In my research I watched a documentary called The Stephen Fry Story: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (Click here to watch the 2 hour documentary ). It’s a fascinating portrait of Bipolar Disorder. It can help those of us who have it feel not so alone, and the people who love us understand us more.
The greater general population travel down a standard ‘road’ in terms of their moods and personalities. The bigger personalities often wander all over the road from side to side, but they are still within the borders of ‘normal’. People with Bipolar Disorder go way beyond those boundaries on both sides of that road. It is a very difficult life which can be dangerous in either direction. Like most with this disorder, and as much as I have desperately and painfully longed to be ‘normal’ all my life, I can honestly say that my view has changed. As it turns out, ‘fitting in’ and being ‘normal’ are two different things. Wow! Who knew?! What I actually wanted was to fit in. Honestly, one of my biggest fears, even in the midst of my faith, is that God will bring me through this disorder and out the other end to finally leave it behind; only to find ‘normal’ is boring or restrictive.
I have learned that the stigma placed on me, or that I’ve picked up myself, is not who I am. So much of the negative thinking in my head, was not my own. It was false, uneducated, shameful, fearful myths. Our words are instruments of destruction, and are among the most dangerous weapons in the world.
I was told once “You do not know how to count your blessings, because if you did then you wouldn’t be depressed.” This kind of uneducated lie is exactly the kind of myth that the public needs to be taught the truth about. Sufferers know that judging others by their appearance, words, actions, lifestyle, sex, culture, age, size, or mental illness is about as efficient as judging a book by its cover. The world needs to know this too. Once we can escape the barriers that are preventing progress, relationships will improve, needed medical attention will happen; healing will take place.
Stephen Fry said “I asked many of my fellow Manic Depressives… if they could press a button to release them from their Bipolarity, would they do so? Most, despite traumatic moments in their life, said ‘No’. So, after all this, what would I do? I wouldn’t press the button and live a normal life; not for all the tea in China.”
I say “I agree with you Stephen. I wouldn’t press that button for anything in the world.”
What about you…What would you do? Would you choose to opt out of your mental illness? Share in the comment section.
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