Some good things from the current US situation.

A friend posted about how the current President gets so upset about what he thinks of as “fake” news.”  I think it is important to state that I didn’t vote for him or Clinton – I voted a different party. That is the change we really need – to get past this divisive mentality embodied in the two-party system.  It sets up a no-win situation, where there is always a “loser”.  But I’m starting to see some good out of what has happened because people are starting to wake up and realize that the government cannot take care of them.  People are taking matters into their own hands in a healthy and healing way.

Here was my response to him –

“It all seems fake to him because he’s being fed lies by his cronies.   There is evidence that he not only does not, but cannot read.  This means he is incapable of getting first-hand information.  It is all pre-digested for him.   I no longer think of him as evil.  Just very sad and mislead.   Pray for him.”

One of his friends (unknown to me) was freaked out that I suggested we pray for him, saying that we all needed to be prayed for instead.  I replied that Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies.

While meditating on this, I read the Catholic readings for the day, and all three that were for the afternoon spoke to this.

Leviticus 19:17-18

17 “You must not harbor hatred against your brother. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him. 18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.

Matthew 5:38-48

38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

Another friend shared this, and there is a lot of truth to it. This is copied from a writer named Susan Keller. I have edited out the snarky bits.  What is left shows how much people are waking up.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it looks like Trump is actually making America great again. Just look at the progress made since the election:

– Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.
– Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to Google.
– Millions of Americans are exercising more. They’re holding signs and marching every week.
– The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.
– Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.
– Everyone knows more about the rise of Hitler than they did last year.
– Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.                                                                                                                                                                     – Marginalized groups are experiencing a surge in white allies.

– White people in record numbers have just learned that racism is not dead.
– “Mike Pence” has donated millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood since Nov. 9th.
– Travel ban protesters put $24 million into ACLU coffers in just 48 hours, enabling them to hire 200 more attorneys. Lawyers are now heroes.
– As people seek veracity in their news sources, respected news outlets are happily reporting a substantial increase in subscriptions, a boon to a struggling industry vital to our democracy.

– Live streaming court cases and congressional sessions are now popular.

– Massive cleanup of Facebook friend lists.

– People are reading classic literature again. Sales of George Orwell’s “1984” increased by 10,000% after the inauguration.

– More than ever before, Americans are aware that education is important.”

 

My take is that the best thing we can do is to pay attention to what is going on and be active. Not reactive – because to react is to let “them” set the pace.  Don’t let them rule the dance.  Look for what is broken, who is hurting.  Go help them.  We’ve long said that the government is too involved in our lives.  This is a great opportunity to take control back.  Instead of the government taking care of the sick, elderly, poor, homeless – we need to do this, through churches and other civic organizations.  Don’t worry about government funding for Planned Parenthood – make it private.  Then there will no longer be a debate from some that their money is going to something they don’t agree with. We need to decentralize everything.

Perhaps the nomination to be the Secretary of Education of a person who has nothing to do with public education is a good thing.  We have a broken system, with children who are not able to get a job or even think on their own.  Currently, children learn to read well enough to memorize test answers.  This leaves them unprepared for adult life. Parents who can afford to send their children to private schools because they are seen as better.  So why not take the template of the private schools and put it on the public one?  Now – and this is critical – it must not be religious-based (unless it covers all faiths).

Better than that – let’s start reading again.  I don’t mean current fiction.  I mean non-fiction, things that make us think.  We’ve spent too long escaping life and not facing it.  We’ve spent too long asleep.  Go to your local library and support it.  Get together with people and discuss what you are learning.

Worried about your health-care?  Go for a walk or to the gym.  Eat the healthiest food you can.  Learn to cook.

This entire debacle has caused us to stop thinking of the government as our savior.  This is a good thing.

——————–

 

(All Bible verses are HCSB)

Poem – It isn’t them

Don’t blame other people
for your problems.
Don’t expect other people
to rescue you
either.

They are not
the cause
or the cure.

Your choices
determine your reality.
Things happen
that are beyond your control
but your reaction
is within it.

What you do or don’t do
is your choice.
How you respond
in thought, word, and deed
is your choice.

Take ownership
of your life
and take
your own life
back.
It was yours
all along
after all.

There is hope after diagnosis

A guy came into my workplace yesterday, obviously experiencing the mania that comes with unmanaged mental dis-ease. He was raving about conspiracy theories and the Temple Mount – said he was even frisked by the police in the Holy Land just 50 days ago.

Little does he realize but I speak Crazy fluently, being a citizen of that country. I’ve also taken classes and read books on how to safely interact with people who are on the edge of “dealing with it”. I enjoyed the challenge of the conversation, but was also reminded of how far I’ve come.

Today is marks the 17 year anniversary of the last time I was in a mental hospital. There is hope after a diagnosis. Since I started taking care of myself, I’ve had the same job for 16 years, I’ve been married for 12, I’ve published four books and I have excellent credit. You can have a mental disorder and be fine – with proper care (a lot of it is self-care).

Like many people, I went through the trap of thinking it was a temporary thing and got off the meds (which weren’t good for anyone anyway – they no longer prescribe the one I took) and went off the deep end again. I went to the hospital again (both times self-initiated) and got on different meds that gave me clarity so I could start taking care of myself. It is hard to be “normal” when the high is so vivid and interesting. Everything is connected. Life is 31 flavors when high with mania – but only vanilla when “normal”. I’ve learned how to be in the middle.

A lot has to do with getting enough exercise, eating right, and enough sleep. Writing helps me a lot. But Americans aren’t into self-care for anything – do whatever you want and damn the consequences – and blame them on someone else. This is true with every disease we have.

The only way out is to –

admit that there is a problem,

that it won’t fix itself,

that it is chronic (think heart disease, not the flu),

and that you have a lot you can do to help yourself get better. It isn’t all about the meds – but they are important.  Look through my “Survival” book list for books that will help you help yourself.

 

Most of all – remember that a diagnosis is not a definition.  You are a person who has a mental health diagnosis.  You aren’t the disease.

 

 

Live like you love yourself

If you spent all the money in your bank account, would you be then surprised that you had nothing left? Then why are people surprised when they have spent a lifetime of inactivity and eating badly and then get sick? It is exactly the same thing.

Are we so divorced from cause-and-effect?

Or perhaps we have had our power taken away from us and been told too often that others have to do things for us – by teachers and politicians and ministers.

But perhaps even that isn’t fair to say. Nothing can be taken away from us that we aren’t letting happen.

We have given our power away. We have let others take it away from us. Rather than get angry about that, realize it is time to take it back. It is time to take back your health and your life. It’s time to eat like you love yourself. It’s time to treat yourself as a valued guest in your own life.

It is time to remember that our bodies are temples of the living God. We need to treat them like that and not as garbage dumps.

Step by step

How is health achieved? One step at a time. You just have to get out there and do it.

You have to be active about your health. It’s not something you can find in a pill. The simplest thing you can do is to go for a walk. There’s no special equipment to buy, no gym membership required.

Sometimes I come up with every excuse possible for why I can’t go on a walk. I’ll tell myself I don’t have enough time. I’ll get lost. I’ll be too far from the house when I want to pee. I’d rather make art. I want to sleep in.

I don’t like exercising. But I do like that I have exercised. I like how I feel in my body after I’ve moved it in a purposeful manner. But I think more importantly I like how I feel in my head for having made a commitment to myself, to my body, to my future, and having gone through with going on a walk.

Some mornings I don’t have a lot of a lot of time to go for a walk but I realize that even 10 minutes is better than nothing. Even five minutes is better than nothing. And then I resolve to get ready earlier to go out earlier the next day. And I forgive myself if I don’t. And then I try again.

Taking care of your body is like putting money in your bank account. It is worth every step. It pays you back double in a stronger body and lower stress levels.

My work schedule has changed so that we go in 30 minutes later and therefore leave 30 minutes later. Rather than lamenting getting out of work at six, I have chosen to celebrate going into work at 9:30 because that gives me 30 minutes in the morning I didn’t have before to go for a walk.

I could have used that time to make art. I’ve chosen to walk instead because it’s important. I know people who say that they don’t have time to eat well or exercise. They don’t get that if they don’t do both of these things they won’t have any time to do anything because their life will be a lot shorter and a lot less worthwhile. Who cares if you live a long time but your body is feeble because you didn’t take care of it? The years of your life are important, but the life in your years is important too.

We only have one life.
We only have one body.
It is your choice how you use them.

walk

(This picture was taken by me on my walk this morning. I recited all of this into a dictation app on my phone so I could encourage you.)

Free pass

Many years ago I was in a group of friends who lived in Atlanta. One girl kept making snarky comments to me one day. She would say something rude or condescending about everything I said or did. Either she didn’t usually speak to me or I didn’t notice her comments, but that day I did.

I finally worked up the courage to speak up. I said this to her with our friends present. Bullies have a hard time when there are witnesses. “Are you a bitch all the time, or is today just a special day?” She was silent. I continued. “Because all you have done all day is cut me down and I can’t think of any reason for it. If I’ve done something wrong, let me know.” She never answered, and she has never spoken to me again.

It was very hard for me to do this, but I had to. I was shaking inside, but I knew I had to say something. Verbal abuse is exactly the same as physical abuse, and must be stopped as soon as it is noticed or it will get worse. If you ignore it, you are allowing it to happen.

I once had a coworker who thought it was acceptable to walk up behind me and hit the back of my head several times a day.

I have relatives – blood and in-laws – who think it is acceptable to slander me, steal from me, and lie to me.

I am here to tell you that nobody is ever allowed a free pass to abuse you. Nobody. This includes but is not limited to managers, bosses, spouses, parents, siblings, friends, ministers, and strangers on the street.

Nobody has permission to harm you in any way.

First, let them know how their actions make you feel. They may not realize that they are being a bully. If they sincerely apologize and never do it again, then let it go. If they do it one more time, walk away. You do not need people like this in your life. It does not matter who they are. Nobody gets a free pass at harming you.

You are valuable. You are a child of God. You are unique and precious. If they cannot recognize that, then that is their loss. You cannot make blind people see.

Rumi says in “The Way That Moves as You Move” (rendered by Coleman Barks)
“You have read about the inspired spring. Drink from there. Be companions with those whose lips are wet without water. Others, even though they may be your father or your mother, they are your enemies. Leave, before they kill you.”

Jesus says:
“You assume that I have come to bring peace on earth, and you are mistaken. I have come to set fire to the world, and how I wish it was already burning! I have a mission that I am called to, and it will overwhelm me until I have completed it. I’m not here to join people together but to divide them. Families will turn against each other in their households. I’ve come to bring a sword, cutting old family ties. I’ve come to turn sons against fathers, daughters against mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law. Your worst enemies will be members of your household. Anyone who loves their family more than me cannot be my disciple.” (MT 10:34-37, LK 14:25-26, LK 12:49-53 – Condensed Gospel version)

We must follow the Truth,
regardless of others around us,
regardless of their authority
or connection to us.
If they are harmful to us,
we must walk away and cut all ties.

Only God is above us, not them.

It is better to be lonely than with someone who abuses you.

Low

I read a post about how to help someone with depression. It said that you should encourage them to talk about it. That is insane. Sure, there are often things that need to get out. But there is no “cure” in just talking.

We must remember that our bodies are not separate from our minds and spirits. What affects one part affects the rest. We must stop thinking about depression as a mind issue, but a body issue that affects the mind.

My personal experience is that it is far healthier to take them for a walk outside with you while you talk. And feed them healthy food. Then show them how to take care of themselves.

I’ve hospitalized myself twice for bipolar disorder, so I’m not on the sidelines pontificating here. I’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness for since 1999, and in that time have learned how to take care of myself so well that my psychiatrist only sees me once a year. This means I do far more than just take my medicine (which I do, twice a day). I eat well, exercise, journal, and make art. I am a regular person with a regular 40 hour a week job. I do not rely on others to take care of me. I have learned to not blame others or situations for how I feel.

We must get back in touch with self-care. We do not have to ever experience depression. It requires a lot of work but it is worth it. No longer will we feel overwhelmed and controlled by our moods. This does not mean that we are “up” all the time. The point is not to just feel good all the time, but to feel everything with intention. We have control over how we feel.

Depression is a symptom of an imbalance – not enough sleep and exercise being part of it. Perhaps these examples will help give perspective –

When a tire is flat because it has a hole in it, you don’t put tape over it and drive on. We don’t say it is “depressed”. We look for the reason for the problem and fix it.

We don’t diagnose plants as “depressed” when their leaves droop or turn yellow. We find out what they are getting too much of or too little of and fix it. Too much or too little sun, water, or nutrients will make a plant droop and then die. The same is true for people.

When a car has run out of gas, we don’t say it is “depressed”. We put gas in it, and ideally we put in gas that doesn’t have additives in it. Better gas means that the car runs better. Food is the fuel that our bodies use. Better food, better results.

When we spend all of our money in our bank account and don’t put any in, we don’t say that the account is “depressed”. We either need to not waste our money or make more. Our energy levels are the same. We cannot continually expend energy without rest. However, too much rest is also bad. Our bodies are made to be used. Exercise builds up our “bank account”, but we also must take time to get enough sleep and schedule in times of inactivity in order to rebuild and refresh.

Talking about it is a waste of time. You wouldn’t expect a person with diabetes to “talk about it” to get over a low blood sugar episode. You wouldn’t expect a person with high blood pressure to “talk about it” to lower it. Certainly, they both might benefit from a little research into what they are doing or not doing for their health, but then they will only truly get better if they start acting on that realization.

Search for what you can do to help yourself. Start small. Keep doing it. It is easy to look at the big picture and feel overwhelmed. It is easy to come up with reasons why you can’t do it. Mental and physical health is not easy. Nobody else can do it for you. Your best source of medicine is to take care of yourself in any way you can.