Pill Box

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What’s Happening?

We Are!

Dearest Friends,

I have a wonderful story I want to share with you.  I was at The Container Store with my sister and niece.  It was my first time ever to The Container Store.  I am thinking that The Container Store might be a glimpse into heaven!  Don’t hold me to it but, I think the odds are there.  As soon as I stepped into the first aisle, I was completely mesmerized.  My world had just become consumed with growing ideas for the use of every container!  Oh, before I move on in the story I have to mention that my niece was NOT excited about having to go into The Container Store.  I will give you one guess as to who was the first person to put something in the cart?  That’s right, my niece!  She became extremely excited when she found a wall full of all different colored hangers.  She thought it would be “the bomb” if she had colored hangers that matched the décor of her room.  My sister tapped into my niece’s enthusiasm and allowed her to choose some colored hangers.  My sister was encouraged by the enthusiasm.  She envisioned my niece’s clothes hanging-up in the closet rather than piled up on the floor!  Win!-Win! 

I am still standing in the first half of the first aisle, when my sister sweetly reminds me that we are only in the first aisle and if we want to we can come back.  She was right.  She is always right.  They have every type of storage container known to mankind.  The containers are plastic, wood, and steel, fabric, undivided, divided, small, and huge, with lid, without lid, even collapsible or solid.  I was not prepared for all the excitement.  I told my sister I needed to take inventory at home and measure some of the spaces in order to purchase the correct size containers.  Don’t fret!  I still wanted to shop.  And, since I didn’t have an agenda, I was able to peruse the store and focus on spending time with my sister and niece!  It worked out just like it was supposed to!

I told you that the store had every possible container you could need.  They even had some containers that made us wonder what it was supposed to store.  While walking around the store, we would look at things and ask each other “Why?” a lot!  Now and again, my niece would find something she thought was cool and she would bring it over to show my sister and me.  We came across the travel section and once again, there were containers galore.  Of course, in the travel section the containers are small.    My niece became fascinated in this pop-up plastic cup!  The container looked like a yo-yo.  The yo-yo twisted.  The twisting opened the container causing one of the sides of the yo-yo to come off.  What is left is a pop-up cup and saucer.  After the 300th time, my interest in the pop-up cup had faded.  I moved on to the next row.  Soon after, I heard my name “Aunt Janet”.  I said.  I’m right here!  Next thing I know my niece rounds the corner with two different styles of pill boxes.  She says I found these in the next aisle and didn’t know if I needed one.  She went on to explain them to me.  This one is bigger and is for the whole month.  This one is smaller, it is only for a week but the days are divided into am/pm.  I just thought I would show them to you.  I cannot put into words how much that meant to me!  She did not show the pill boxes to me as a joke or to make fun of me.  She did not yell from the other aisle so, everyone around us would know I take medication.  She saw them.  She chose two of them.  She brought them to me.  She explained the pros and cons of each one to me.  And left, saying I’ll put these back.  They have a lot of different styles if you need one.

A Pill Box:  A symbol of unconditional love and an item to cherish!

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A “Gift”

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Hello, Friends!  Have you ever been nervous to contact a friend because it has been so long since you last connected?  Have you ever had your anxiety prevent you from accomplishing something?  Well, I have.  It has been a long time since our last interaction and I have been struggling with how to reconnect.  I have started and stopped so many entries none of which became worthy to post.  Why am I having such difficulty?  I dwell on the fact that every day that passes is another day I let you down.  I am embarrassed.  I am sad and I am disappointed in myself.  Today, God sent me encouragement and support!

What’s Happening?

We Are!

The definition of “gift” from the Encarta Dictionary is something that is given to somebody, usually on order to provide pleasure or to show gratitude.  An example is a birthday “gift”.  I would imagine that many of us use “gift” and “present” interchangeably.  A “gift”, most commonly, comes packaged in beautiful wrapping paper, tied with ribbon and topped with a shiny bow.  When you receive a “gift” you are overcome with excitement.  It is hard to control your enthusiasm!  You become impatient.  The wrapping and bow are so beautiful yet, you are desperate to rip it apart and see what is inside.  The thrill one feels when they receive a “gift” is undeniable.  It is up-lifting.  Everyone loves to receive a “gift”!     

During one of my recent therapy sessions, I was asked what would happen if I were to recognize my mental illness as a “gift”?  I did not know how to respond.  I was not sure if my therapist was joking or asking a legitimate question.  Lightheartedly, I asked if it is a “gift” may I return it.  Does God still have the “gift” receipt?  I continued pleading saying my mental Illness is not fitting into my life and I would like to exchange it for something else.  Quickly I learned that this “gift” I have been given is a final sale item and there are no refunds or exchanges.  My therapist and I joked around for a few minutes.  Then, she asked me the same question again.  What would happen if I were to recognize my mental illness as a “gift”?  We sat there in silence until my therapist suggested that I start by altering the picture I have of my mental illness.  She thought the ugly and very pessimistic picture was preventing me from identifying my mental illness as a “gift”.      

My mental illness did not come packaged as a typical “gift” therefore, I never thought about it as a “gift”!  The ugliness of the wrapping paper, which is my mental illness, provided me with no excitement or enthusiasm.  I had no desire to rip it apart and see what was inside.  I continue to work with my therapist to be able to appreciate my mental illness as a “gift”.  I have faith that one day I will picture my mental illness as beautiful wrapping paper and ribbon.  I don’t think I will ever be able to picture a shiny bow.  If you have been able to recognize your mental illness as a “gift”, praise God!  If you are being challenged to recognize your mental illness as a “gift”, be faithful.  If you are learning about the concept of your mental illness being a “gift” for the first time, pray for guidance.

I will end with a great visual my therapist shared with me recently. 

Don’t carry your mental illness on your back like a load; carry it in the front like a gift!

More Research

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What’s Happening?

I hope that every time you see “What’s Happening?” it brings you smiles.  You do not need to get out the pom-poms, jump all around and yell “We Are” every time.  Every once and awhile is fine and would be appreciated.  The exercise is good for everybody.  I want to remind you, the answer is always, “We Are”!  When we are experiencing a good day and when we are experiencing a bad day, “We Are”!

Just like every morning at our house, this morning the TV was tuned in to The Today Show.  Did you know that the first 20 minutes of The Today Show are dedicated to the news and are commercial-free!  This was one of my Dad’s many revelations after he retired.  Now, it is a standard running joke in the family.  During one of the Today Show’s brief news segments that run on the half hour, I overheard Ann talking about mental disorders.  I ran to the TV to listen intently.  I found out that a new research study is reporting that 1 in 5 U.S. teens has a serious mental disorder.  Ann went on to say that less than half are seeking treatment.  My reaction to this two sentence acknowledgement of the research findings was both sadness and confusion.  Did anyone actually pay attention to the seriousness of the study?  Was the reporting on the study just used as “filler” because they had extra time?  Were the results considered mere words to be typed into the teleprompter?  I am told I should be glad that the study was mentioned on TV and that it is always good when mental illness gets some “air time”.

After my morning interaction with the Today Show co-hosts, it was time to walk the dog.  Zoe always makes me laugh because no matter what is going on when she hears the rustle of a plastic bag, her poop bag, she starts running in circles and whining.  She knows – It’s Walk Time!  We were strolling along peacefully until Zoe heard dogs barking in a neighbor’s garage.  Then the walk turned in to a tug-fest.  No worries.  We made it back with all body parts attached!  After our morning walks, it is time for me to go to the Racetrac.  My world doesn’t function very well if I don’t get my “Sippie Pop” in the morning.  The nickname “Sippie Pop” was lovingly given to my 44 ounce Diet Coke from the soda fountain by those who I believe are jealous of my enjoyment from the simple things in life!  As I was getting in our car to go to the Racetrac, I noticed that the people on the radio were talking about Bipolar Disorder.  I have to admit I thought it was very strange.  I can go weeks without hearing anything about mental illness via the airwaves.  This morning I not only hear about it twice but also, on two different forms of airwaves!  I continued to listen to the radio program and realized that the DJs were talking about a gentleman with Bipolar Disorder who shot his TV set.  The discussion went on to reveal that the gentleman saw his daughter dancing on TV.  He did not approve of the way she was dancing so, he shot his television.  Immediately, one of the DJs said “First, I want to know why a person with Bipolar has a gun”.  I really don’t have much to say about what I heard on the radio.  I’ll just say that, it provides a good example of the most common way I hear about mental illness in public.

I felt compelled to write today.  I do not believe these 2 incidents were coincidences.  I like that last sentence, try to say it 3 times fast.  I believe there is a purpose to what happened today.  For a long time, I have been of the opinion that we spend all of our time talking.  We need to spend our time doing.  We, as people who are living with a mental illness, need to use our voices.  We need to tell our stories.  We know best about mental disorders, we live them.  We know best about medication, we take them.  All of this became even more apparent as I reviewed some of the news releases on the research study referenced on the Today Show this morning.  I wonder what the reaction of the public would have been if they heard the whole story?  Underneath the headline stating 1 in 5 U.S. teens has a serious mental disorder is a “tag line”.  The tag line reads “severe emotional, behavior disorders more common than physical disorders such as asthma, diabetes”.  If you read a little further you will notice that the mental disorder, in which the study is referring, is severe enough to impact their daily activities.  Almost 40% of the participants (10,123 adolescents, ages 13-18) with one class of disorder also met the criteria for another class of disorder, at some point in their lives.  The response to the findings of the research by the National Institute of Mental Health was More Research!  The researchers say more research is needed to determine the risk factors for mental disorders on adolescence, and to see whether these disorders will continue on to adulthood.

I recognize the importance of research.  I realize it plays a vital role in our understanding and healing of mental illness.  But….people can’t connect with research.  People can’t interact with research.  When people are hurting they can’t appreciate the findings of research.  More Research does not relay hope, comfort, and encouragement.  We need to concentrate on people like the 1 in 5 U.S. teens suffering from a serious mental disorder.  We need to provide them help now.  It is a tall order.  I think it is our purpose.  I think we are being asked to do it and I think we are being prepared to do it.  This feels a bit overwhelming.  It is a lot to consider.  I am going to put this entry in my prayer box and revisit later.  I am inviting you to think about this also.  This is not a job, it is a ministry and it is not a job for one, it is a ministry for many.  Let us pray for direction, strength, and good health.  Now, go and do!

Privilege

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Definition:  an advantage, right, or benefit that is not available to everyone

What’s Happening?

Today, I had my regularly scheduled therapy appointment.  It feels strange for me to tell you that I am glad I had a therapy appointment but, I am.  I am currently cycling through an episode of depression.  My episodes, just like yours, can vary in severity.  My therapist and I use a scale of 1-10; 10 being intense mania and, 1 being severe depression to rate where my mental illness is at the time. Today, my mental illness is a 2.  With my mental illness in such a deep depression, I am experiencing all of the emotions that accompany it.  I am lonely.  I am discouraged.  I feel defeated and deflated.  I feel useless.  I feel empty and exhausted.  I live in fear.  I worry about the world’s suffering and how we are going to fix it.  I feel hopeless.  I feel worthless.  I know I am a disappointment.  I want to disappear.

As I said, I am glad I had a therapy appointment today.  It was good timing.  I was able to talk about my feelings openly.  I was able to be honest without being judged.  I was given comfort.  I was given encouragement.  I was given support.  I received exactly what I needed to help push me forward.  At the very end of our session, my therapist looked at me and said, “You know, hope never dies.”  My eyes started to well-up with tears.  She continued by saying, “Hope may take off for a while, but it does come back.”  I looked at her with tears streaming down my face and said, “It does not feel that way.”  She responded very lovingly saying, “I know it doesn’t feel that way to you now.  I know you feel like you will never see or experience hope again.  I want you to know that I can see your hope and I would be privileged to hold on to it until you can see it again.”

Teammates

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Hello Teammates!

Since the inception of the blog, I have been trying to figure out a way for us to feel united.  I want everyone, those who visit regularly and first-timers, to be able to logon and immediately feel a sense of community.  A caring community where you are loved and supported no matter who you are, no matter what mental illness label you’ve been given, and no matter how your mental illness is affecting you today or will affect you tomorrow.

I know first-hand that mental illness can be a very lonely disease.  There are days that even the idea of sitting up in bed seems impossible.  There are weeks when the inside of our home is our only world.  It is because of these situations, that the blog was started.  My wish is for us to feel a connection with one another.  I want us to be able to feel the comfort and support we need from one another.  I believe I mentioned to you before that when God revealed his message “Avoidance, Acknowledgement, Acceptance…Triple A!” I knew Triple A stood for Triple-A baseball.  I was much more fanatic about the meaning of Triple-A before I wanted to capitalize on it!  At this point, we are a group of people who have been affected by mental illness. In reality, we are strangers.  I can’t think of anything that turns strangers in to friends faster than sports!  Let’s be teammates!  And for no particular reason, why don’t we become a baseball team!  Don’t worry there will not be any tryouts – nobody will be cut.  Everyone is welcome.  And, drum roll, please…………….you can design your own jersey!

We need a name!  Doug and I attended a wonderful Lutheran Church on Easter Sunday.  As Doug would so eloquently tell you, “you really can’t mess-up an Easter Service”.  With that said, we went back to experience a “regular” worship service.  When we sat down in the pew, there was a countdown of seconds being projected onto the front walls of the sanctuary.  When the countdown hit zero, we heard “What’s Happening?” from the back of the sanctuary.  Then, in unison the congregation yelled “We Are!”  As the pastor walked forward, he said it again “What’s Happening?”  The response from the congregation was a robust “We Are!”  It certainly took both Doug and I by surprise.  I have to admit I was a little perplexed at first.  As the day went on, it grew on me.  I thought what a fantastic, upbeat, UNITING exchange.  I propose our team name be “What’s Happening?”  It will fit nicely on a jersey.  I plan to begin all blog entries with our team name.  My prayer is that every time you read “What’s Happening?” or think about “What’s Happening?” your first thought will be “We Are”!  It would be best if you thought about it with a little attitude because “We Are” happening!

Triple A

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Have you ever been in the situation where so much time had lapsed between visits with friends that you were nervous to contact them?  You missed the relationship.  You thought about them all the time.  You were interested in what was happening in their lives and wanted to share what was happening in your life.  You wanted to get in touch with them and yet you couldn’t.  Your thoughts were consumed by just the possibility of talking to them.  You felt sick to your stomach every time you thought about it and you thought about it all the time.  Feeling overwhelmed, you spent all your waking hours trying to distract yourself from your thoughts.  As more time lapsed, you became fearful your friends were upset with you.  You began to feel helpless.  Soon, you recognized that the hindrance was you.

I am extremely nervous writing this post.  I have been sitting in front of my computer for almost 3 days straight.  I am trying to write the perfect blog entry.  In creating the perfect blog entry, I hope to erase from your mind the lengthy period of time without a post.  Guess what?  It is not working.  I knew it was a lofty goal but, I went ahead and gave it the old college try.  I want to let you know that during the time I was not posting, I was living the situation above.  I have missed our relationship.  I have thought about all of you often.  I have wanted to share with you my new experiences, discoveries, and revelations.  I have wanted desperately to blog and yet I couldn’t.

Our yard is where I most often hear from God.  Yesterday, he called while I was on my way to our kitchen for a snack.  His message was Avoidance, Acknowledgement, and Acceptance…Triple A!  Recently, I have been learning a lot about avoidance, acknowledgement, and acceptance and the significant role they play in the management of my mental illness.  I knew that this message was in reference to my prayer about the blog.  His message was so strong and clear that after months of not even opening my computer, I immediately went to my laptop, opened it, turned it on, and began to type.  I know you all are curious and no I did not get a snack.  I was very excited to hear from God.  Now, after 3 days of struggling with the content of this blog, some of that excitement has worn off.  I have spent all this time trying to address “Triple-A” in one blog.  I finally figured out that I misinterpreted the message.  Unfortunately, I do this regularly with God’s messages.  I believe He thinks it’s funny.

I believe God intended “Avoidance, Acknowledgement, Acceptance…Triple A!” to be used as an ongoing theme throughout our blog.  He knows how valuable the Triple A is in our healing process.  He knows it may seem like a minor piece but, actually it plays a major role.  The plan for the up-coming roster of blog entries is to float between the majors and minors of Mental Illness.  The schedule predicts that our journey through the season could be rocky.  We have the opportunity to win sometimes and the possibility to lose sometimes.  Our odds of a successful season are considerably higher when we play as a team.  Most importantly, we need to put our faith and trust in our coach – without Him we will never experience MLB or win the World Series!  Let’s Play Ball!

Stop! Look! Listen!

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Dear Friends,

First, I want to let you know that I think about you all the time.  I have not been blogging because I have been overwhelmed with “events”.  I am going to therapy and it has been life-changing.  I can’t wait to share my experiences with you.  My mom came to visit and we had an awesome time together!  We solved all the world’s problems in 2 days!  I am flying to California tomorrow by myself.  I am so anxious about going that I have felt paralyzed for about 4 days!  Doug left 4 days ago for California and I am meeting him there.  My plane leaves tomorrow at noon.  My stomach hurts, my teeth are clenched, my shoulders are tense and my hands are shaking – these are only my physical symptoms.  I am not afraid of flying.  I am afraid of leaving home and traveling alone.

As usual, I became side tracked and went off on a very long tangent.  I did not write to let you know about my dilemmas.  I wanted to share with you what I just experienced on my walk with our dog, Zoe.  I was telling you, I have been preoccupied with the “events” happening in my life.  Sometimes I become so focused on the “events” I miss the whole world going on outside my own.  Actually, I can become so overpowered by my emotions that my emotions rule my life.  Yesterday, when I was trying to get yard work completed, a plague of love-bugs attacked.  For those of you who are not familiar with love-bugs, they are 2 black bugs stuck together that fly around for 24 hours and then die.  I don’t get it either.  Today, I wanted to wash the car and a second plague of love-bugs attacked!  It is so gross!  I am beside myself and I am not quite sure how to handle it!  I have become so overwhelmed with the preoccupation of how I am going to get the car washed, I can’t do anything else.  I must wash the car because it is covered with dead love-bugs.  I have been told that if the love-bugs are left on the car too long they will take-off the paint.  After agonizing for hours, I decided to wash the car in the garage this evening after it cooled down.  It makes me so anxious to wait to wash the car that I decide to walk Zoe. 

Zoe does not usually go on afternoon walks.  I think she was appreciative.  Zoe is an anxious dog and gets very loud when she encounters people or dogs.  This afternoon we walked during the heat of the day so, we didn’t meet anyone.  It was nice.  There was no need to chastise her or pull on her leash.  We were on our way back to the house when across the street I saw a bird swoop down low across the field and then disappear up into the trees.  I yelled “Zoe, that was the bald eagle!”  It is not uncommon for us to see a bald eagle.  There is a bald eagle’s nest on top of a cell phone tower adjacent to our neighborhood.  Our normal view of a bald eagle is through our binoculars.  I had never seen one this close.  It was breathtaking.  As I stood in the middle of the street and watched the bald eagle swoop down and soar away it felt like everything I had been worrying about was swept away with him.  I stood motionless.  I was in awe of this majestic creature.  All of a sudden, I heard a rustle in the trees and from the trees emerged the bald eagle carrying a large tree branch in its talons.  I watched as he struggled to fly back up to his nest.  I imagine he was struggling due to the weight of the branch.  I correlated his struggle with mine.  The image of his struggle provided me a picture of how much I have allowed my preoccupations and emotions to weigh me down.  As the bald eagle made it back to his nest, I watched as he transferred the branch from his talons to his beak before landing!  It is an experience I will never forget. 

In the past, I have received signs from God.  I admit that my preoccupations are the cause of ‘static’ in my reception of God’s signs.  My preoccupations can not only delay my realization of God’s signs but also my interpretation.  Today, I believe God revealed to me life without ‘static’ or without preoccupations.  I can recall every detail of those few moments that I stood in awe of the bald eagle.  I actually stopped moving.  I stood looking in disbelief.  I tuned out all my worries and anxieties and listened to my surroundings.  Today, I realized and interpreted God’s sign.  My interpretation is that my preoccupations and anxieties are overwhelming my life.  I need to learn to ‘Stop!’ and be present, I need to learn to ‘Look’ and not let the world pass me by, and I need to ‘Listen’ and acknowledge what I hear.  Stop!  Look!  Listen!

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