Monday, May 5, 2008

Some Encouraging Quotes to ponder while managing my panic attacks

A few of my friends seemed to be going through a difficult time now either due to coping with clinical depression or other stressful situations in their life.

I am also learning to manage my mood swings as I have been experiencing them recently. I pray daily that God will give me the grace and strength to manage the challenges in my life so that it will not escalate into either manic or plunged me down into depression. That's the tricky part with having a mood disorder. A simple mood swing which anyone else may experience can trigger off relapses in me due to my bipolar.

This morning several things happened at the same time. I was taken aback by something that happened and it triggered off a panic attack. Then something else needed my urgent attention and it intensified the panic feeling that I was having. In the past years, I have experienced panic attacks whenever I am very stressed up or very tired.

I found myself kind of breathlessness, a little giddy and my heart was pounding away. Thank God for strengthening me. I prayed for grace to calm down. Thankfully, I was able to talk to a friend and she helped me to brainstorm on an urgent decision I have to made. She kindly suggested some ways for me to cope. I spoke my mind out aloud to her and it did helped me to see things from a clearer perspective.

I am thankful to God that the several situations this morning are all settled. But the panic attack didn't seemed to quite go off completely. I realized that this is the reaction of an over-sensitive nervous system and I need to be patient for it to go away. It's just like clinical depression happens when the chemical in our brain malfunctioned. It takes a while for the chemical in our brain to be restored. So in the case of panic attack, there is a surge of adrenaline flooding my brain and giving me this "fight or flight" feeling.

I did a quick search on the internet and found the following useful resources on coping with Panic Attack:

Coping with Panic Attacks by The Counselling Service of University of Liverpool

Coping with Panic Attacks by Merck Source

10 tips for coping with panic attacks by Daily Mail

I can't seemed to concentrate on my freelance work that I need to do. My heart is still pounding. I am taking a break. I am praying that I will feel better soon and can get some work done.

I am going to spend some time to pray and read the Bible. I hope to get some rest too. I am going to pray for some of my church friends, blogging friends and penpals as they are going through very tough time now. Maybe that's what God wants me to do now :-)

Meanwhile, I am going to leave you with these encouraging quotes. Hope you have a blessed day.

: the power to let go of the familiar.

Happiness : it is not how much we have but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.

Friends :

~ your friend is the person who knows all about you, and still likes you.

~ a friend is the first person to come in when the whole world goes out.

~ in my friend, I find a second self.

~ I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.

~ we do not remember days, we remember moments.


~ the greatness of a man can nearly always be measured by his willingness to be kind.

~ great people are ordinary people with extraordinary amounts of determination.

~ tough time never last but tough people do.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Blogging - Another therapeutic activity for me to cope with depression and bipolar mood swings

Dear Reader,

Do you enjoy blogging? What makes you start your blog? Or if you are a visitor without a blog, what makes you return to read someone's blog? What makes you come back to read my blog?

I thankful to God for enabling me to start this blog around February this year ie. February 2008. I have found blogging to be very therapeutic to me in my coping with my depression and my bipolar mood swings. And thank God this blog also benefits other readers as well.

I write quite regularly, as you can see. Partly because I love writing and it helps me to cope with my depression or manic due to bipolar disorder. Partly also because I desire to share with others my life experiences and God's goodness to me, as well as resources that I have found useful to manage depression and bipolar disorder or Bible verses/sermons/books/other articles I have read and found useful.

Blogging enables me to share my thoughts and feelings and to kind of release them. Sometimes by doing so, I can see things from a different perspective. When others visit my blog and left their comments, they also helped me in many ways. Comments usually bring cheers. Sometimes a short comment left by someone can really make my day :-)

I used to write long emails or letters to friends before I started blogging. Yes, I write letters :-) I am one of those old-fashioned, rare specifies. I know few people in the modern world today write letters. But I do. And I love doing so.

But one complain I often get when I write letters or emails to people and I suspect even when I post on my blog ;-) is that I write too long. I am too long-winded, they said :-) Hmm... I don't quite know how to handle this. I always feel I have so much to say and writing short messages can't quite express how I feel. There was one incident in the past, when I got scolded by a friend for writing long emails to her. She said she is too busy and have no time to read my emails :-( Now I hardly write to my friends as most of them do not reply. I am not sure whether they got the mails, whether they read them or they find them burdensome. Just waiting for a reply from them can sometimes almost drive me crazy! Now I am corresponding only with a handful of friends who haven't got tired of my writings yet :-)

Most of the time, I am sharing my thoughts and feelings and resources on this blog almost daily. And I also visit my blogging friends as often as I can. In the blogging world, I feel accepted and appreciated. Besides this blog which is my personal online diary, I have another blog which is dedicated solely to Resources I have found useful on the internet on managing depression, bipolar plus some personal growth articles. I also have some other hobbies blogs where I share my passion on making bookmarks, homemade crafts and gifts, photography, Christian articles/books and my freelance work. I am active mainly on this blog as I use it as an online journal or diary and almost daily I record my thoughts and feelings here.

Actually, I didn't know what is a blog or what is blogging until quite recently. You might laugh. But when I first started this blog, I still didn't know much about blogging. I just wanted to share my story and useful resources with others. A brother-in-Christ suggested this idea to me. I have a website but hardly anyone seems to be visiting and so I decided to try blogging instead as it is free.

When I first started this blog, I wasn't quite sure what I can or cannot put on my blog. I also wasn't sure what I can or cannot write on others' blog comment. I was a little fearful of "breaking the rules" of blogging.

One of my brothers, Daniel, has been blogging since a few years back and I visited his blog on and off. He is in Malaysia and he shares his life and activities on his blog. He is quite a funny person and so he posts all kinds of things on his blog and I always laughed when I visited his blog. So I read his blog on and off but I have no idea what blogging is really all about.

Recently, when Daniel visited me, he finally gave me the definition for a blog! He said a short and sweet definition for a blog is "An Online Diary". Daniel said my blog is my online diary and I can blog about anything I want. I can write anything that I want to write and share with the public. He reminded me that what I write on my blog is on a public domain. So he said, don't post anything that you don't want others to know ;-)

Daniel also said there is no hard and fast rule on posting comments on others' blogs. The owner of the blogs have every right not to publish any comments if they prefer not to. Same thing for me. I can choose not to publish any comments that I don't wish to.

I thank God for the wonderful experience I have had since I started blogging in February. I have enjoyed sharing my life experiences, God's goodness to me, and the resources I found helpful to me or the Bible verses/books I read with others.

One the greatest blessing I derived from blogging is that I have been able to "meet" many friends through the world of blogging. I have never expected this at all! I am learning new things daily from my blogging friends. I love to read and write. And in some sense, I have found "like-minded" people. My blogging friends are from different parts of the world and they blog about any topics under the sun :-)

I am thankful too for a few Penpals I have "met" through blogging! This is wonderful. I used to have penpals when I was a teenager. And now having penpals again when I am forty++ is really nice :-) Thanks for writing to me, dear Penpals :-)

Here's a big "THANK YOU" to you, dear Reader, who are reading my blog. Thank you for stopping by. I hope what you are reading here on this blog are helping you in some ways.

And a big "THANK YOU" too to all of you, my dear Blogging Friends, for visiting me whenever you can and leaving me kind comments to share your thoughts and feelings with me after you read my posts, or just to let me know you have visited. Thanks to all of you!

And a big "THANK YOU" also to all of you, my dear Penpals, for writing to me and choosing me as you Penpal :-)

One thing I found that is helpful in blogging is to try and remember to leave a comment whenever possible. It seems to bring some encouragement to fellow bloggers to know that what they have posted has helped others or to hear opinions others have. Or maybe just to know someone cares and have visited them. So I hope you don't mind me leaving my comments all over your blogs when I visit your blogs :-)

Oops, here I go again. I think I am getting too long-winded again :-)

Today, I thank God for all of you and for the way He is making my life more colourful through blogging.

Thanks for stopping by. Do leave me a comment, if you can, to share your thoughts and feelings with me! It makes my day :-)

This is meant to make you laugh :P

Hope you have a blessed day!

Take care.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Therapeutic Walks and Photography to cope with Depression or Bipolar Mood Swings

Recently, I was feeling rather tired and stressed up after several weeks of manic plus stress at work, etc etc. I could feel that my moods were swinging. When I am too tired or stressed up, my moods tend to drop. Having a mood disorder like Bipolar Disorder, I realized that I need to take steps to slow down and prevent these mood swings to either escalate into manic or plunged me into depression. I realized that in the past because I failed to notice my mood swings or indicators that I am overly stressed or strained, over a period of time I eventually plunged into severe clinical depression that can last for 3 to 6 months or longer.

I am learning now to recognize early signs and symptoms of possible relapses or trigger factors to depression or mood swings. I am learning to manage stress better and if necessary to cut down on stress level by eliminating the things that are stressing me up. So I have cut down on some activities and scheduled more down time. I also turned down freelance assignments which I don't time I can manage or complete on time.

I cut down a little on blogging. But I found that as blogging is therapeutic to me, it's hard to really take a complete break. I love to write and writing is therapeutic to me. So I am still blogging and sharing my thoughts, feelings, experiences and what I read or find useful. Visiting my blogging friends and having them visit me is a means of support to me. This is a crucial part of my recovery and maintenance of mental well-being.

I also need to do things that will help me to relax and cheer me up. Besides praying and reading God's Words, and rest, I have been able to spend some time with some hobbies. Some activities that I have found to be therapeutic are taking walks to enjoy nature and develop my interest in photography.

So recently, I took a walk past Woodlands Town Garden which is adjacent to Bukit Timah Expressway. I didn't really go into the Garden because I was alone and I didn't want to walk alone there. Although Singapore is a safe place, it is still not wise to go to quiet places alone. So I admired the Garden from the exterior surroundings :-)

If you go to Woodlands Town Garden, you can enjoy the greenery and the unique design of the park amenities which has both Malay and Chinese elements. Sungei Mandai Kecil, a river that flows through the park, was also integrated in the design of the park. Part of this river that flows into the park was enlarged into a lake, irregularly-shaped for a natural look.

I enjoy photography a lot and so I took that opportunity to catch a few shots :-)

I really enjoy nature a lot and I love to walk or go briskwalkings. I hope I can schedule more such time as it is always refreshing to me.

How about you? Do you go for walks? What do find to be therapeutic when you are feeling down or stressed up?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Behind the Frowning Providence: Part 1 There are Dark Providences

I was re-reading portion of a small but very encouraging booklet entitled "Behind a Frowning Providence" by Mr John J Murray a retired minister and thought I will share some encouraging portions with you over the next few posts.

For you and I who suffer great pains and misery due to our depression or bipolar or other infirmities, it is sometimes hard to reconcile our understanding of what a blessed Christian life should be like with the sufferings that we have to go through or that of our loved ones. It is sometimes difficult to understand why a loving God will allow His children to go through such pains and sufferings. Other Christians may accuse us of a lack of faith and trust in God. We sometimes wonder whether we are truly a Christian and if we are, why are we going through so much troubles and pains and sufferings.

The truth is our sufferings or pains does not contradict what the Scriptures tell us of who God is, the fallen nature we have inherited through Adam's sins in the garden of Eden, what our Lord Jesus Christ has done on the cross to redeem us from, and the rich and blessed life we have in Christ when we trusted in Him as our Saviour despite the pains, suffering or dark providences we are going through even after we have become a Christian. These are paradoxes.

How can we justify the ways of God with us? As hard as it may be for us to understand some of these things, a careful study of Scriptures and understanding of the wonderful work of God in providence will unfold a new light in our darkness and a new perspective in our checkered life.

Mr Murray noted that one of the best known hymns is William Cowper's "God moves is a mysterious way, His wonder to perform". Cowper was subject to melancholy (depression) and knew more about the darker side of Christian experience than the brighter. It was out of heart-felt experience that he composed his hymn and presented in it so many precious gems of truth such as the oft-quoted lines,

Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

What is meant by a "frowning providence"? Is this something that we are to expect in the Christian life? If so, how do we cope with it?

Mr Murray said when adversity comes into our lives we tend to react in one of two ways. We may say that it happens beyond God's control and God has no power to stop it; or we may say it is an evidence of God's anger against us. Either way we are guilty of casting aspersions on the character of our Father and consequently of perverting our attitude of Him.

Thomas Boston, a minister who went through severe trials in his ministry and domestic life, due to a mentally-ill wife said:

"A just (right) view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment (demeanor) under them. That view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense; for it is the light of the Word alone that represents them justly, discerning in them the work of God, and consequently designs becoming the Divine perfections."

The Christian, although he is justified, remains a sinner in the midst of a fallen world. He is subject to "all the ills that flesh is heir to" (my note: I think this includes clinical depression, bipolar, asthma, diabetes, other sicknesses, disappointments, etc etc and death). Some of the consequences of his past sins affect his life. He is the subject of the discipline of His Heavenly Father. Satan concentrates his attack on him. His sufferings are compounded because he is a Christian. "In the world", our Lord warns His disciples, "you will have tribulation." (John 16:33)

The Bible leaves us with no doubt that suffering is a normal part of the true Christian life. Hebrews chapter 11 portrays the suffering witnesses of the Old Testament. The New Testament presents us with our great Example (our Lord Jesus Christ) who was "made perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10), and also with the many followers who "became partakers" in His sufferings (1 Peter 4:13). The whole emphasis in the teaching of the early church was on "rejoicing in the midst of sufferings." It is "through much tribulation" that we enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22).

Sadly, this understanding of the possibilities of Christian sufferings is far removed from the outlook that prevails in large parts of the Church today. The impression is given that the purpose of the Christian life is enjoyment. Everything that stands in the way of that is to be eliminated. People are looking for a problem-free Christianity. The health, wealth and success gospel is having a field today. Purveyors of such a gospel look the part. Unfortunately, the hollowness of such views became apparent when suffering, sorrow or disappointment comes. Then it becomes clear that we need a faith that is grounded in God's Word.

Over the next few posts I hope to share with you excerpts from Mr Murray's messages on Behind the Frowning Providences under the following headings:

2. God's Work in us through Depression, Bipolar and other Disabilities or Sufferings (God's Designs in Dark Providences)

3. Our Comfort in Dark Providences.

Personally, for me, understanding that all things are under God's controls including my depressions and bipolar, and that God is working my pains and sufferings for His glory, my good and that of His people, brings me great comfort. My bipolar, depression or any other sufferings or trials, are not an end in themselves. God can certainly heal and deliver me. But if He doesn't do it, He has good purposes in them. I may not fully understand or see things as clearly as He does. But understanding a little better why He allows Frowning Providences in my life, enable me to look beyond my pains and sufferings to the higher purposes that God has allowed them in my life. Then these become means to eternal spiritual benefits for me and other fellow Christians.

Understanding that my depression or manic are due to bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and it is a medical condition that can be treated brings comfort and prevents unnecessary guilts. Others who do not understand may accuse me of lack of faith in God or my being weak or emotional. But I know that God in His sovereignty has allowed me to have this medical condition for my eternal good. Through this condition, I have been brought to a closer walk with God and I have been able to serve God by comforting others who are suffering.

God's love and His Words give me great strength and comfort as I travel this checkered road to the celestial city with many ups and downs due to depression, bipolar and other challenges. God has never promised me a life without thorns or difficulties but He has promised me unchanging love (Jeremiah 31:3), sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9) and eternal life (John 3:16). He promised that He is working all things for my good even when I don't understand it (Romans 8:28). I have found God to be faithful and I can look back at how He has and is working all things for my good and for His glory. These brings me great consolations and give me courage to face each day.

If you are a Christian and you are suffering from depression now, and you are not able to feel God's presence with you nor find comfort from God's Words, do know that it is because of the chemical imbalance in your brain that is causing you not to be able to think or feel aright. Clinical depression and bipolar depression are medical condition that needs to be treated with medical and other helps. Once the chemical imbalance in your brain is restored, you will be able to enjoy God's presence with you and find comfort from His Words again. I highly recommend 6 very encouraging sermons by Dr David P Murray on "Depression and the Christian" as it will help to dispel some of the myths regarding depression and the Christian and give you a more biblical view on your current sufferings due to depression. Especially, it will prevent the dangerous and damaging misunderstanding which often leads people, especially Christians, to view medication as a rejection of God and His grace, rather than a provision of God and His grace. I hope you will seek medical and other appropriate help, so that you can be more functional and able to enjoy God, His Words, your family, your church, work, etc etc.

God's love and sovereignty is a Christian's greatest comfort admist the ups and downs through all the changing scenes of life. We may not always understand why God allows us to go through certain things, but we have no doubt at all of His love and care upon us. He Who gave His Son to die on the cross for us, will do so much more to keep us.

Thanks for stopping by. Do drop me a note, if you can, to let me know how the above excerpts has helped you. Or how has God's Words bring comfort to you in your sufferings? How has the knowledge, that God loves you and He is sovereign, strengthen you in your darkest moments?

Hope you have a blessed day!

God moves in a mysterious way
by William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6)

Another Thankful Thursday for me to count my blessings and thank God for His goodness to me :-)

1) I thank God for strengthening me and enabled me to attend the evening service last Sunday. I was unwell in the morning and the Lord is good to order providence so that I attended the evening service and heard the message that I needed most to hear on that day!

Brother Linus shared from the above verse from Philippians 1:6. He spoke about the good work that God is doing in our life through saving us and the good work that He is continuing to do in us daily. I am reminded afresh that God is doing a good work in my life daily.

Sometimes I get discouraged when I felt that I am not accomplishing as much as I desired to do for the Lord daily. Sometimes I feel that I failed the Lord miserably and failed others and myself. But in reality my expectations of myself is too high and unrealistic at times. This is part of the perfectionist trait that I seemed to have and I am trying hard to change as it is not good for me. I think I am trying to do too many things and in my own strength.

So I was quite broken halfway through the worship when God's Words spoke to my heart. I was uplifted at the reminder that God is the One who is doing a good work in me and not myself. I do my best at what God wants me to do daily in His strength. I don't have the strength to do these things on my own. When I feel that I have failed or not done as good as I want, I need to learn to let go and remember that God is doing a good work! And God is daily sanctifying me by revealing my weaknesses so that I may learn more and more to depend upon Him for strength, grace and wisdom to do His will.

We are weak vessels in the hands of a mighty God and God is working in and through us to make us a blessing to others and to share His love with a perishing world so that they too may know Him.

2) I thank God for seeing a dear church aunty, Aunty Ruth, through her surgery on Tuesday and enabling her to return home yesterday to recuperate at home. I thank God for Aunty Ruth's love and prayers for me, and her many kindness.

3) I thank God for bringing two dear friends and their children home from a long overseas trip and for delivering them from a difficult trials.

4) I thank God for the joy of ministering to a group of elderly people at the evening service in my church. These group of needy elderly are mostly living on their own in very poor condition. Thank God for opening their hearts to come and listen to His Words. I have a soft spot for elderly people and they seemed to enjoy my friendship too. I pray that they may all come to know the Lord savingly.

5) I thank God for giving me His Words to guide and comfort me as I seek to walk with Him. I thank God for giving me my family, Church, friends and blogging friends, and providing tremendous support and encouragement through them.

6) I thank God for sustaining and strengthening me as I wait upon Him daily. I am still learning to manage my condition, the stress and strain of work, family, etc etc. I am finding much joy and contentment in the Lord now as I learn to let go and let God work through me :-) Praise Him!

How about you? How has the Lord blessed you through the past week?

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a blessed and thankful day!

For more participants of Thankful Thursday, do visit Iris at Sting My Heart. It will be a very blessed and spiritually uplifting experience for you!