Thank You

To everyone that has to this day, liked, commented, looked at, corresponded, even disagreed with, besides expressing my gratitude, I want to say something to you that means a lot to me.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m fully aware that, in society at large, some may accept what I will say and even return it; some may get upset; some annoyed and for some, it will mean very little or nothing at all.

The greeting is, of course, related to a very special date in the Christian calendar. And not everyone agrees with that. Indeed people may have a completely different perspective.

And that’s entirely fair.

But I would like to take you behind the phrase to see the underlying motive upon which it rests.

In a world of the ‘agenda’, where we find people: taking offence where previously there would have been none; or posessing differing ideologies that sometimes lead to the most extreme and violent consequences; or being pressured to compromise their deeply-held faith and appease, even lie, to those that disagree with them in order to comply with the law, such a thought would tread very thin ice.

But blessings can come in all sorts of disguises and they will all have one thing in common: they will all, without exception, think the very best of and send very best wishes to those whom they are given to.

So I won’t insult you because, without being patronizing, you are intelligent, loving, caring, considerate, altruistic, benevolent and selfless enough to read behind, and understand, what I am about to say next:

A Happy Easter to you all!

Staring Into The Abyss…

What do you do if you find yourself ‘staring into the abyss?’ When things were going ok for you and then someone close to you says just one negative sentence about you, with all its inflection and the meaning of that person’s opinion of you is very clear?

You go into an complete, emotional tailspin!

Three hours later and you’re still at rock bottom.

Wise up, pull yourself together…

You are completely disconnected.

You can’t go on like this…

You hear laughter outside the window and it just drives you further down.

Catch a grip…

Thoughts of hopelessness and feelings of emptiness flood in.

Think you’re being selfish…

All you want to do is fall asleep.

Oh for goodness sake…

Permanently.

Think of your grandchildren…

Life has lost what little meaning it had…

There’s got to be a better way…

You feel completely helpless.

Think you should see the doctor…

What’s the point?

Come on – snap out of it…

Can’t.

Yes, you can…

No!

What’s gotten into you?…

Can’t even begin to explain.

Please?…

No.

Look…

NO!!! JUST PLEASE GO AWAY!!!

Ok.

Thankyou!

Voice From Above

I would like to share with you a special excerpt from Our Daily Bread, the daily Bible readings that I use to try and keep things working! This piece is very special because the writer is one of my all-time favourites. The only thing is… she is no longer with us.

Julie passed away in 2015 but thankfully the publishers of ODB still give us her writings which I have always found to be very down-to-earth, inspiring and even uplifting. Here’s one about a subject that is close to me…

Let Down Your Hair
by Julie Ackerman Link

Reading John 12:1-8

“Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.”     John 12:3

Shortly before Jesus was crucified, a woman named Mary poured a bottle of expensive perfume on His feet. Then, in what may have been an even more daring act, she wiped His feet with her hair ( John 12:3. ) Not only did Mary sacrifice what may have been her life’s savings, she also sacrificed her reputation. In first-century Middle Eastern culture, respectable women never let down their hair in public. But true worship is not concerned about what others think of us ( 2 Sam. 6:21–22 ). To worship Jesus, Mary was willing to be thought of as immodest, perhaps even immoral.

Some of us may feel pressured to be perfect when we go to church so that people will think well of us. Metaphorically speaking, we work hard to make sure we have every hair in place. But a healthy church is a place where we can let down our hair and not hide our flaws behind a façade of perfection. In church, we should be able to reveal our weaknesses to find strength rather than conceal our faults to appear strong.

Worship doesn’t involve behaving as if nothing is wrong; it’s making sure everything is right – right with God and with one another. When our greatest fear is letting down our hair, perhaps our greatest sin is keeping it up.

Search me, God, and know my heart. . . . See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23–24.

Our worship is right when we are right with God.


Change Of Scenery?

While you’re waiting on Conundrum Part 2, here’s something to chew over in the meantime…

In all the years that I have had depression, one thing has never occurred to me. Until this morning, that is…

It happened like this.

My partner was out with my sister-in-law and the two doggies walking the Divis and Black Mountains that surround the west of Belfast ( UK ).

Divis and Black mountains are 478m ( 1568ft ) and 389m ( 1276 ) at their peaks respectively. The ground is rugged and the air, even on a warm day, is bracing.

As you can see from the main photo, the views are breathtaking. You can look out over Belfast Lough towards County Down, into Belfast itself. If you look carefully, you can even see the three hospitals that I attend 😂!!  Seriously though, if the weather is just right, you can see Slieve Donard – Northern Ireland’s highest mountain. You can even see all the way to the Irish border, to Scotland, the Isle of Man, even the North of England, ( a distance of over 156km ( 97 miles! )

But me? I had a kitchen full of dishes to wash, dry and store, a bedroom to tidy, a back room to clear rubbish out of and reorganise and a bathroom to clean.

And you may be thinking: “so?!”

Well, for anyone that doesn’t have or has never experienced an adverse or an impaired mental health condition like depression they may think nothing about the two scenarios. They may not even link the two in their minds or if they do, they likely would just shrug their shoulders and get on with it.

But because I did have and still do have such a condition, such an arrangement could potentially be problematic and so: enter the historic ‘realisation:’

“@#$@#€!!!, I’m stuck in the house doing all of this while ‘she’ is out enjoying herself!!!! “

I didn’t think that today but in the past such a thought might have begun innocently enough, but would have very quickly took on another and potentially harmful form.

And often it would then become the catalyst to pure, uncontrolled, self-feeding rage!

And worse… that rage would invariably become directed at my partner or even anything that got in my way!

With me, my partner has had a great deal to put up with over the years. The miracle, and I do mean miracle, is that after nearly 32 years of marriage ( nearly 40 years since we first met! ) we are still together!

And I have to be careful how I word that statement because it would be all too easy for me to add mitigation for my behaviour – there is no escaping responsibility: yes there were frightful, anxiety-filled, depression-fueled incidents, but there were good times too.

The main problem, though, with the depressive episodes was their intensity. In them, I would lose all reason; my rational thinking would be overtaken by angry emotion, my mood would plummet and things would invariably be broken ( although, thankfully, not my partner or kids. ) It’s strange but looking back, it all seems so alien now.

That was the reality then and yet the reality now is so different. I don’t know whether I outgrew the anger, or whether it’s the drugs that I’m prescribed. I don’t even know whether it’s because of Divine influence or a combination of all three.

But something did change for the better.

I’m not saying that every day is like this.

But just for today, I’m thankful it is.

Apology

My apologies to everyone who was waiting on the second part of my Conundrum post. I must have accidentally deleted the draft and now have a LOT of work ahead trying to reconstruct it.

If anyone out there knows how to restore a draft from Trash, could you drop me a line?

Thanks

Conundrum. Part 1.

Right at the beginning of my blog, I mentioned that I believed in God, in Jesus and the Holy Spirit of God. I also intimated that I have mental health issues.

I would dearly love to tell you that in living with mental health issues it has drawn me closer to God or that God has miraculously healed me or that I have become even more dependent upon Him or even that I have, through faith, overcome those mental health difficulties to the extent that I can now tell you that I am ‘cured.’

But the reality is… quite different.

Living with mental health issues can be a very lonely road to travel, both for the sufferer and for those that are close to them. That’s never through conscious choice either because although it is referred to as a ‘mental’ health issue, it rarely confines itself to the mind:

For instance: it can bring into its sphere of influence: thought; emotions; speech; hearing; sight; olfactory senses and even other physical parts of the human anatomy.

In fact there is very few areas that adverse mental health doesn’t touch and I could even add to that list, faith.

Faith can be one of those intangible elements – the sort of thing that you can’t really describe but you know it when you see it.

The apostle Paul [1] in the book of Hebrews ( ch11v1 ) of the Bible, attempts to define faith as:

“…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Now in one sense, this definition seems contradictory. For example, how can you have ‘evidence’ of something that is invisible?

We tend to think of evidence, don’t we, as that which is presented in a courtroom? But in this instance we are being asked to accept something that is invisible as being evidence of substance. I could just picture the look on the judge’s face if the prosecutor presented his evidence in a similar manner!

Yes… it’s a conundrum.

And it doesn’t help. In fact in
many ways, living with a faith makes things just that bit more difficult and that’s just for someone that doesn’t have mental health issues. For a person, like myself, having a faith can bring no end of self condemnation:

“YOU do not have enough faith or you would be cured!”

“YOU must have really sinned against God for Him not to have healed you!”

And so on, so forth. It’s a vicious circle: as well as having to deal with your mental health condition, now you have all this condemnatory baggage heaped on!

In considering how the Bible deals with mental illness, though, I’m not really convinced that it properly addresses adverse mental health either. The closest example that I can think of is that of King Saul.

In the old testament book of 1 Samuel 16:23 we read: “And whenever the evil spirit from God came upon ( King ) Saul, David took the lyre and played it in his hand, and Saul would be relieved and feel better and the evil spirit would depart from him…”

( It’s long been recognised how certain types of music, when listened to, can be therapeutic to adverse mental health and taken at face value, this account would seem to indicate that Saul indeed did have a mental health problem but the episode doesn’t have a happy ending. )

In the New Testament it is even more difficult to find any examples of mental illness. The instances where Jesus Christ heals someone that exhibits mental illness-like behaviour are described as cases of demon-posession or influence by an evil spirit or spirits.

Is that helpful? Is it even accurate? I’m not questioning the fact that Jesus Christ did heal the sick nor am I calling into question the veracity of the Bible, but it occurs to me that in an age that did not have the medical services, knowledge and experience that we have today, isn’t it natural to assume that people would draw a conclusion of demon-posession and the like because that was the extent of their experience in a rumour-ridden society such as they had.

But the question remains: is mental illness in fact a form of demon-posession or the effect of an evil spirit? No doubt, some will read this and feel outrage or dismiss the idea completely out of hand. But we should not be afraid to ask questions like these and it is extremely important to separate opinion and speculation from evidence-based conclusion.

End of Part 1.

Rejection.

Don’t you find it strange how we hear often of people having problems handling rejection and yet for those with mental health problems the issue is never rejection.

It’s acceptance!