Sunday, March 30, 2008

We are more than conquerors through him that loved us

Thank God for the joy and privilege of worship and fellowship again today. Every such opportunity is always very refreshing and uplifting.

Today's worship particularly lifted up my spirit as I was very tired and stressed up yesterday. Thank God for the comfort of His Words and the assurance that He is able to still any storms in my life. My Pastor shared many encouraging portions from the Word of God. But one verse he referred to especially cheered my heart. It was from Romans 8 verse 37:

".... we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Romans 8:37

My Pastor encouraged us that though we have many difficulties in this life, we are more than conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ who loved us. He has come to live, suffered and died for us. He has conquered and is conquering. His grace is sufficient for me. Thank God for strengthening my heart through this reminder!

My Pastor also printed in our church bulletin his very encouraging sharing from Psalm 42 on "The righteous one in his weariness, looking up". My Pastor shared:

One of the things which I learn from this psalm, for example, is to talk to my soul when I am depressed.

David does that in verse 5—

5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Notice that I said: “Talk to my soul,” not “talk with my soul.” When you are depressed, you must not talk with your soul. If you do that you will spiral further into depression. You must rather talk to your soul. David, under inspiration, shows us how. Ask your soul why you are cast down. No, no; don’t wait for an answer. That would be to talk with your soul. When you ask your soul why he is cast down, you must ask in a way that suggests that he has no good reason to be cast down! Then exhort your soul to hope in God, to believe Him that help is nigh and He will soon lift up His countenance upon you.
I am learning to talk to my soul and exhort it to hope in God :)

A friend also reminded me that I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13).

Michelle's hugs gave me a lot of warmth from the Lord :)

Thank God that no matter what we may have to go through in this life, we can have the assurance of His love and presence with us. We can do all things through Christ which strengthens us and we are more than conquerors through Him. What a comfort and encouragement to me! Thank God.

I took picture of these beautiful flowers at the Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The stiller of my soul

This afternoon, I felt very tired and rather stressed by certain things that have happened, and I felt rather down subsequently. I just couldn't seemed to think clearly and have to go to rest and just stopped whatever I was doing. I poured out my heart to God in prayers, telling Him how tired and afraid I felt. I know He cares for me and all things are under His control.

Sometimes the future seemed so uncertain. Others seemed to think that I am thinking too much of bipolar that maybe it will help if I just don't think about it and do something else. But how can they understand that bipolar is a part of me and to some extend my strong enemy. Unless I understand bipolar and how it is affecting me, I will be overcome and I will feel very helpless again.

I am still learning to manage my condition. I do still have much trouble learning to manage my body and mind. Whenever I am better, I am usually a little manic. Recently, I have been having more energy and doing more things. I am thankful to God that I can serve Him in small ways and these bring great joy to me to know that I can still serve our Lord and be useful despite my condition.

But I do still have much problem coping with stress and strain. As my body and mind doesn't quite synchronize, by the time I am conscious of it, my body and mind becomes too tired. I seemed to be experiencing the effect of it now. I have tried hard to slow down but still feel very very tired daily. I do get stressed up rather easily now. I fear these are symptoms that my condition is worsening. I pray that God may enable me to rest in Him daily and seek His grace to cope, and not in my own strength.

How I love to go to the beach and watch the seas and the waves. Somehow they have such a calming effect on me. I am reminded always that God Who creates the heaven and the earth, the sea and the waves, is caring for me daily. No matter what storms I may experience in this life, He is with me and His grace is sufficient for me. He Who still the storms for His disciples, can calm any storms in my life. How I look to Him Who loved me and gave His life for me!

Augustine said in his famous Confessions, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord." Truly, it is in God that I found rest for my soul.

I took this photo and video of the waves at t East Coast Beach, Singapore.

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever

Yesterday, I shared about how God's presence and His Words have been a comfort to me in my struggles with severe depression in bipolar disorder. Even though at times due to severe depression in which my brain was not able to receive the appropriate messages and I could not think or feel aright, God is still with me, He sustains me through very difficult, painful and lonely experiences and I found comfort from Psalm 130 in which I am reminded that as I cried unto the Lord from the depths of the pit I was in, the Lord will deliver me. Thank God for His mercies and faithfulness that usually after 3 or 6 months of such sufferings, the Lord delivered me and the chemical in my brain were restored, I am once again able to enjoy prayers, reading the Bible, public worship, fellowship, my family, my friends, my work, my hobbies, etc etc.

Jenalexa commented that she is glad to hear that I know in the deepest part of my heart, God loves me and I know he is there no matter what mood state I am in. She felt that this is a great testimony to others who suffer with depressive states and feel judged or condemned while in that condition.

Paula said she too finds it very difficult to enjoy things during depression. Then, she feels guilty for that and it just makes her feel worse. Thank God that He understand everything about us, even though we often don't understand ourself. She found that it's when she just let go and cry to God from the depths of her heart that she finds the most release.

It is sad that sometimes Christian are condemned for going through severe depression even when the nature of it is biological or due to a mood disorder. It is a mercy that God understands and allows this thorn in our flesh for His glory and our good. And He loves and cares for us, sustains and delivers us in His time.

Dr David P Murray did 6 very encouraging and information videos on "Depression and the Christian". In his first message on "Depression and the Christian : The Crisis", he spoke about the impact depression will have our spiritual life:

"We might say that there are three main elements in our make-up that affect our overall well-being: our body, our soul, and our mind (our thoughts). These are not three watertight and disconnected entities. There is considerable overlap and connectivity. When our body breaks down, it affects our spiritual life and our thinking processes. When our spiritual life is in poor condition, our thoughts are affected, and often our bodily health and functions also. It is therefore no surprise that when our mental health is poor, when our thinking processes go awry, that there are detrimental physical and spiritual consequences.

The depressed believer cannot concentrate to read or pray. He doesn’t want to meet people and so may avoid church and fellowships. He often feels God has abandoned him.

Moreover, it is often the case that faith, instead of being a help, can actually cause extra problems in dealing with depression. There is, for instance, the false guilt associated with the false conclusion, “Real Christians don’t get depressed.” There is also the usually mistaken tendency to locate the cause of mental illness in our spiritual life, our relationship with God, which also increases false guilt and feelings of worthlessness."

How true that we often mistakenly thought that our depression is due to something wrong in our relationship with God, which increases false guilt and feelings of worthlessness. The truth is for those of us with mood disorders such as bipolar or major depression, our depression is due to some chemical imbalance in our brain which cause our brain not able to send or receive appropriate messages. We can't think or feel aright generally, including spiritually.

And sometimes, sadly, our conditions can be made worst by others, even our loved ones and friends, who do not understand what we are going through and simply accused us of not trusting in God, etc etc. It is particularly difficult for Christians as we get blamed excessively for sin and lack of trust in God when we are in fact trusting in God despite our pains and sufferings, and looking to Him for mercies and deliverance.

Dr David P Murray also spoke about this widespread misunderstanding on depression:

“Being depressed is bad enough in itself, but being a depressed Christian is worse. And being a depressed Christian in a church full of people who do not understand depression is like a little taste of hell.”

As we all know there is a terrible stigma attached to mental illness. This is the result of widespread misunderstanding about its causes, its symptoms, and the “cures” available. Some of the misunderstanding is understandable. Unlike cancer or heart disease or arthritis, there is no scan or test which can visibly demonstrate the existence of depression/anxiety. It is a largely “invisible” disease. We want to be able to point to something and say, “There’s the problem!” When we can’t, we often wrongly conclude, “There is no problem!” Or, if we are Christians, we may, usually wrongly, conclude, “My spiritual life is the problem!”

This misunderstanding is addressed in the excellent book, I’m not supposed to feel like this (a book written by a Christian pastor, a Christian psychiatrist, and a Christian lecturer in psychiatry). Near the beginning of the book, they summarise what they believe and what they do not believe about depression:

“What we believe: We believe that all Christians can experience worry, fear, upset and depression. We also believe that being a Christian does not prevent us or our loved ones from experiencing upsetting and challenging problems such as illness, unemployment, or relationship and other practical difficulties.

What we do not believe; Although at times we all choose to act in ways that are wrong and this can lead to bad consequences for us and for others, we do not see anxiety and depression as always being the result of sin; neither do we

believe that mental health problems are the result of a lack of faith.”

It is absolutely vital for Christians to understand and accept that while mental illness usually has serious consequences for our spiritual life, mental illness is rarely caused by problems in our spiritual life.

Truly, there is still much misunderstandings about depression and bipolar depression even among Christians. It is often ascribed to a weakness in our character, our being too emotional, our lack of faith in God or our sins. There are times when these are true but they are not always so. Thank God that even when we don't understand what we are going through during a severe depression episode due to our mood disorders or other reasons, and others judged or condemn us or misunderstood us, God's love for us remains unchanging and He understands and cares for us. He gives us grace and strength, and delivered us in His time.

Thank God that now my family and friends are more understanding and supportive. I am thankful to God for their love and kindness as they seek to understand my condition and bear with me in my weaknesses and struggles with this chronic mood disorder. I know that at times it can be very difficult, confusing and frustrating for our family, loved ones and friends as they could not understand our behaviours or what we are going through. Thankfully there are many helps available to on how family members and friends can help to understand and care for their loved ones with mood disorder. Thank God for family and friends who cared enough to study depression and how best they can love their loved ones through this condition.

I am thankful to God that He is with me always and He has provided many people who love and accept me, including my many blogging friends! I found that though my flesh and my heart failed at times and others also misunderstood me, God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. What a mercy!

I took picture of these beautiful flowers at the Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Out of the depths - Psalm 130

My friend and brother-in-Christ, John, did this lovely video on Psalm 130.

Psalm 130 is one of my favourite Psalms in the Bible. In my struggles with severe depression, this Psalm has brought much comfort to me. From the depths of my dark and painful experiences, I learn to cry unto our Lord for in Him alone I can find salvation and deliverance.

During severe depression, I am particularly conscious of my sins and failures towards God and other people. Though depression is not always due to sin or spiritual reasons, it does have a detrimental effect on one's spiritual life. During depression, what I find most unbearable was my inability to enjoy prayers, reading of the Bible, public worship and fellowship. I do love and enjoy these things when I am well. But during depression, I can't feel any joy in these things at all. This is because depression caused the brain not to function properly and not able to send the right messages, and a person is not able to think or feel rightly. So I can't feel any joy or enjoy anything generally. But I mistakenly thought it is because I was not right with God. Yet no matter how much I prayed and seek the Lord's forgiveness, I could not get better. Usually it is after 3 to 6 months, or sometimes longer that I began to feel better.

And when others implied that I was depressed either because I have sinned or lack of faith in God, it doesn't help at all but only aggravate my condition as I began to experience a lot of guilt when there is no basis for it. Only God knows how I cried unto Him and look to Him during those dark days. I used to sing this Psalm and find comfort that with God there is forgiveness of sins and whether my depression is due to sin or not, God will forgive and deliver me. If God were to mark my sins, I cannot stand before Him. But God is merciful and I hope in Him. Thank God for His mercies and faithfulness in sustaining and delivering me time and again. I am encouraged by His love, mercies and faithfulness.

Thank God that my diagnosis last year helped me to know that I have a proneness to bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) which is a chronic mood disorder that can be treated. Thank God that now with medical helps, counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, regular exercise, Omega 3 fish oil, managing stress level, et etc my condition is under control now and I am able to live a more stable and useful life. I also read the Bible and pray daily for strength and grace from God to live for Him joyfully and serve Him despite my condition and limitations. I thank God for joy in Him daily as I experience His love and mercies in many wonderful ways.

Thank God that no matter what depths we may fall into in this life, we can cry unto Him and find comfort and deliverance in Him. And when He allows us to go through prolonged period of darkness, pains and sufferings, we can still have the assurance of His love and presence with us.

I thank God that He brought me to know more of Himself and His love for me through my darkest and most painful battle with depression. God is very real to me because of His presence with me and the way I see Him working in my life and delivering me time and again. I pray that I may be able to love Him and serve Him all the days of my life, and I will be able to love others with His love so that they too can know the saving grace of God and know His love and care.

And for us who have placed our trust and hope in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we can have the assurance of God's love for us and His presence with us through all the changing scenes of life. Even when we cannot feel God's presence with us because of our depression numbing our brain and feelings, we can still have the calm assurance that God loves us and is with us, and He will deliver us. And one day, when our tasks here are completed, we can have the joy of entering into our eternal rest and we shall enjoy His love and fellowship forever more, never to be hindered by sins or sicknesses any more. What a blessed hope!

Psalm 130
Scottish Metrical Psalm
1  Lord, from the depths to thee I cried.
2 My voice, Lord, do thou hear:
Unto my supplication's voice
give an attentive ear.

3 Lord, who shall stand, if thou, O Lord,
should'st mark iniquity?
4 But yet with thee forgiveness is,
that feared thou mayest be.

5 I wait for God, my soul doth wait,
my hope is in his word.
6 More than they that for morning watch,
my soul waits for the Lord;

I say, more than they that do watch
the morning light to see.
7 Let Israel hope in the Lord,
for with him mercies be;

And plenteous redemption
is ever found with him.
8 And from all his iniquities
he Isr'el shall redeem.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Love Token

Thank God for His faithfulness in granting me a very good rest last night. I was very very tired and went to bed before 9pm! I am up early this morning, and very thankful to feel refreshed to serve God again for this day that He has given me.

I pray that today the Lord will help me to remember to pace myself moderately, and I will remember to take breaks and rest in Him, and seek Him in prayers too.

I thank God for His encouragement through His Words in my devotion this morning. I am reminded that I must put God first in all that I do and say daily, and strive to honour Him and do good to others. Sometimes I get too task-oriented, especially when I am manic, as I will be full of energy and ideas during the day time. Sometimes I forget to stop and pray before my tasks. And at times, I become too much of a Martha and forget to be a Mary! I tend to do too many things and forget to spend more time with our Lord in prayer and in His Words. Thank God that He does slows me down and I am still learning to recognize early symptoms of over-straining. I also need much discipline to take breaks and rest! It's hard when my brain is full of ideas, I get very excited and there seemed to be 101 things I think I should do :) Oops, there I go again :)

This morning, I was very encouraged by a short story I reread. Since young, I loved to read. I have a small collections of short stories and quotable quotes which I enjoyed very much.

This morning, I reread "Love Token" and I would like to share with you. It touches my heart and reminded me afresh of what really matters in this life in the various relationships in our life. Hope you will be encouraged too :)

Love Token

From an old woman, a young nurse learns a valuable lesson of life.

Until I met Mrs. Bench, nursing wasn't quite what I had expected. An active imagination had set visions of Florence Nightingale dancing in my head. Instead, I got the three Bs: bathing, bed making and bedpans. As student nurses, we ventured out to practice our skills on patients. That's how I met Mrs. Bench - my first patient. That morning, I bustled in with my equipment and said cheerily, "Good morning, Mrs. Bench. I'm your nurse today."

Mrs. Bench was a tiny, ancient lady with mounds of blue-white hair bunched in a net on top of her head. The rest of her body was the shade of a ripe pumpkin. "What do you want?" Her tone of voice implied I was not to get it.

"I'm here to give you a bath, and make your bed."

"Well, just march yourself right out of here. I don't intend to have a bath today."

Squaring my shoulders, I looked her right in the eye. "Mrs. Bench, my job is to give you a bath. Now, let's get started." To my alarm, big tears formed in her eyes, and trickled into the furrows of her cheeks.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"What's wrong? I'm dying, that's what's wrong. And nobody cares, just as long as I'm clean."

"Did your doctor tell you you're going to die?"

She shook her head. "No, he keeps talking as if I'll be going home, but I'm not fooled."

"Now, now," I said briskly, "have a little faith in your doctor." I ignored her protests and bulldozed ahead into the bath.

The next day, Mrs. Bench anticipated my coming and had her ammunition ready. "Before you do anything," she said, "define 'nursing'."

I eyed her doubtfully. "Well, nursing is hard to define," I hedged. "It has to do with taking care of sick people."

At that Mrs. Bench whisked back the bedspread to reveal a dictionary. "Just as I suspected," she said triumphantly, "you don't even know that you're supposed to do." She flipped the book to a page she had marked and read slowly: " 'To nurse: to tend the sick or aged: to take care of, nourish, foster, develop or cherish.' " She closed the book with a bang. "I'm ready to be nursed. Today, I've a mind to be cherished."

"Good heaven, Mrs. Bench," I said, "what are you talking about?"

Grinning broadly, she patted a chair next to the bed. "Just sit down. Cherishing's easy to learn. You start by listening."

Listen I did. That day and the days to come, she told me her life's story, taking great pains to spell out the lessons life had taught her. Finally, she told me about Mr. Bench. "He was a tall, raw-honed farmer with too short trousers and too long hairs. When he came courting, he tracked mud into the parlor. Of course, I thought I was meant for finer things, but I married him anyway."

"For our first anniversary, I wanted a love token. They were made of etching flowers and entwined initials. They were hung on a fine silver chain, and presented on a special occasion." She smiled and fingered the silver chain she always wore. "The anniversary day came, and Ben up and hitched the wagon to drive into town. In a fever of anticipation, I waited on a slope, looking for the dust in the distance that would mark his coming."

Her eyes clouded. "He never came. Riders found the wagon the next morning. They came out with the news, and this." Reverently, she drew it out. It was faded now from rubbing against her skin, but one side was wreathed with tiny hearts and flowers. The reverse said simply, "Ben and Alma. Love eternal."

"But it's a penny," I said. "Didn't you say they were silver or gold?"

Replacing her jewel, she nodded. Tears rimmed her eyes. "It's sad to admit, but if he'd come home that day, I'd have seen only the penny. As it was, I saw only the love."

I never saw Mrs. Bench again. She died that night. But she left me a precious legacy that has helped make me a better nurse - and a better person.

A few blinks to dislodge the tears, and she faced me with a clear, piercing gaze. "I hope you listened well, young lady. That's the trouble you're having with being a nurse. You only see the penny. You're blind to the love. Remember, don't be fooled by the penny. Look for the love."

I first read this touching account in 1984 and I have typed it out and kept it in my collection. Even now, 24 years later, as I re-typed this touching story to share with you, it still touches my heart and brings tears to my eyes while I was typing. I am reminded afresh of how it will be good for me to learn to appreciate the love of the people around me and not just at what they give to me or do for me. I am also learning to appreciate the love of God and not just His blessings and gifts.

I am learning to cherish my time with family and friends and not just do things for them or make gifts for them. One of the important lessons I learned through my counsellor, Sarah, early last year, was that a meaningful life is found not only in doing meaningful things but also in having meaningful relationships with God and with others. This is a lesson I am still learning to apply in my life, by God's grace, and I am thankful that it is changing my life in many wonderful ways and helping me in my relationships with people around me.

I sometimes think I love too much at times and I get hurt too much because of it. But I am someone who feels deeply and have not learned how to restrain myself. I love my family and friends and maybe at times I tried too hard to please them or make them happy, whether knowingly or unknowingly. But sometimes it also backfired when I am more concerned about doing things for them rather than spending time with them, and loving them through being with them. Giving them gifts and doing things are ways of showing love, but sometimes spending time with them may show them greater love and they may cherish it more. I may be doing things for people, but I forget to spend quality time with them, which is more important to them and matter more to them. I pray God helps me to improve in this aspect.

It is the same in my walk with God and my serving God. I need this reminder too. Sometimes I am too preoccupied with many things I want to do for God in serving Him and I forget to spend more time in prayers and reading of God's Words. God delights in our communion with Him in prayers and reading of His Words. To be a Christian is to have a personal relationship with God. It is not just going to church and serving in as many capacities as possible. These are important and God do delights in our labours of love. But God delights even more when we love Him enough to spend more time with Him in prayers and reading the Bible. It is only by spending time with God that we can know more of His love for us and His goodness to us. It is also the way we learn how best to walk with Him and serve Him, and do good to others.

I need to still my heart and listen to God, before I busy myself with the day's tasks : ) And to remember to spend quality time with God and others around me.

Hope you will also look for love, and not just penny, in your relationships and work, or whatever you do :)

I took picture of these beautiful flowers at the Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Come unto me....and I will give you rest

I was rather manic recently, as you can see :) I have been writing long posts to share my thoughts and feelings which is therapeutic to me. Sometimes I also write long emails to share with some friends. I do have racing thoughts on most days and find it especially a relief to be able to share on this blog. Thanks all my dear blogging friends and readers, for dropping by and share my experiences. Thanks for all your prayers and encouraging comments! It's a joy to get to know all of you and to be able to mutually encourage one another and support one another as we strive to manage our bipolar disorder or depression so that we can be more functional and useful.

I am thankful to God for His mercies and faithfulness in answering my prayers and providing some freelance assignments for me. It is because I am able to work freelance that I am able to continue to write and share my experiences and God's goodness to me on this blog.

As I am rather manic, I do still have problem slowly down. I know I need to slow down and pace myself moderately as past experiences have taught me that prolonged manic and hyper-activity will lead to a severe depression episodes that can last for months at ends.

I have been very occupied in these days doing 2 freelance job assignments, developing my blogs, doing volunteer work for my church and making bookmarks for my church friends. I do enjoy these very much and sometimes lost track of time, or forget to take short breaks in between. I have been feeling rather tired at the end of each day for the last 2 weeks. I know these are early signs that I am over-straining myself. I am trying to slow down and take rests in between. I do pray that God may grant me wisdom to manage my time and strength so that I don't fall into severe depression again.

Today I felt very tired even in the afternoon and had to take a nap, which I don't usually do. As I laid down to rest, I commit myself unto the Lord. I asked for His grace to help me to cope with each day in His strength and not to over-strain. I am reminded that my strength and joy is in Him and I pray that He will not let me forget Him or let any work/activities let priority in my life.

I thank God for the joy of seeking Him in prayers and devotions every morning and evening. This evening, the Lord encouraged me with the following passages from Matthew 11:

Matthew 11:28-30

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Thank God that when I feel tired and weary after a long day, I can come before our Lord in prayers and commit myself, my family, my church, my work, etc etc to Him, and find rest in Him. It is truly blessed to belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, to have the assurance that all things are in His hands. I must not worry or be overly anxious but learn to cast all my cares upon Him because He cares for me. Thank and praise Him.

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

I took this flower at the Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee

Thank God that He is my help and strength daily.

Before my diagnosis of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) last year, I have gone through some 10 to 11 episodes of severe depressions which often lasted some 3 to 6 months or longer. During those very distressing times, I didn't know that my condition is a medical condition that can be treated. I hid my sufferings most of the time because of the terrible stigma associated with depression even among Christians. I am thankful to God for preserving me through those very difficult and painful times, and extremely lonely and confusing time. Now, I found comfort in the knowledge that God loves me and is working all things for His glory and my good even through this chronic illness.

I thank God that now my family, church and friends are more understanding and supportive. Bipolar disorder can be very confusing to our family and friends. They not only caused much distress to us, but to people around us as well. Thank God for helping my family and friends to be more very understanding, supportive, prayerful and kind. One of the purpose of my developing this blog is also to share with family and friends of people with bipolar disorder or depression, so that carers and friends can know how best to help someone with mood disorders.

Pastor David P Murray, who did 6 very information and useful videos on "Depression and the Christian" said in his 6th message on "The Carer":

As Christians, we surely want to be the person whom our loved ones turn to in time of need. And, when they do turn to us, we want to be able to help them and not hurt them further.

It is, therefore, imperative that we learn about depression and other mental illnesses in order to avoid the very common mistakes that lay-people often make when dealing with the mentally ill, and in order to be of maximum benefit to those who are suffering.

Thank God that He has provided family and friends who care and willing to learn about our conditions so that they can be of maximum benefit to us. These are tokens of God's love and goodness to us.

Even at times when family or friends failed to understand or support us, we may have the comforting assurance that God cares. He Who loved us enough to send His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ to live, suffered and died for us, continues to love us and care for us daily. And very often, His presence and faithfulness is most experienced in our darkest day. We would never have been able to survive without Him!

How comforting to remember that the Lord is with us. When we passed through deep waters or go through the fires, He is with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. May we rest in His love and faithfulness when reasons, feelings and even faith fails us. We rest in Him and look to Him alone, and not even to our faith which is often weak.

May God's love through our Lord Jesus Christ brings you comfort and sweet peace today :)

I took this picture of the waves at Changi Beach, Singapore.

"Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee." Isaiah 41:1-2

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bipolar - not a lifetime imprisonment

Recently, I shared in my post "Looking through our prisons" on how when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) in end March last year ie March 2007 after about 2o years of mood swings with about 11 episodes of severe depressions, I was both relieved as well as discouraged.

I was relieved to finally understood my confusing past and to know that my condition has a name ie bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness). I was relieved to know that it is a medical condition that can be treated, and it is not due to my being too emotional or any weaknesses in my character. It is a medical condition just like asthma, diabetes and hypertension.

But when I was first diagnosed, there was a one point of time when I was thrown into despair. When I knew that bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition and that it is cyclical in nature, which means it will recur, I was very discouraged. Every prolonged and severe depressive episode is very unbearable and painful beyond words. I felt as if I have been given a lifetime imprisonment sentence in which there will be no release from this prison. It is worst then a death sentence. A death sentence will end all pain and misery once and for all. But to be imprison in a brain that can malfunction at any point of time and be thrown into severe depression episodes over and over again, is both scary and distressing. How my heart sank when I thought of that.

Thank God He comforted through His Words, the Bible and His love, mercies and faithfulness in many wonderful ways. I realized that no matter what God allows me to go through, He will be with me in it and His grace will be sufficient for me. He promised that He is working all things for His glory and for my good. And He will never leave me nor forsake me. He makes no mistake! If He allows me to have bipolar disorder, He knows that it will be cyclical. He does not delight in my sufferings. But yet He allows it for a good purpose and I can trust in His love and sovereignty.

Thank God that my diagnosis helps me to understand my condition and the necessity to seek helps. Thank God, now with medical helps, counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, regular exercise, Omega 3 fish oil, managing stress level, et etc my condition is under control now and I am able to live a more stable and useful life. I also read the Bible and pray daily for strength and grace from God to live for Him joyfully and serve Him despite my condition and limitations. I thank God for joy in Him daily as I experience His love and mercies in many wonderful ways.

Susan encouraged me that she doesn't think it needs to be a life sentence for people. As people recover from terminal illnesses; why shouldn't they recover from Bipolar Disorder? She felt it's too bad that our doctors aren't more hopeful.

Michelle noted that the trickiest part is learning to control the disease as much as we can, to know what makes it worse and learning to live a rich life even with the illness. She have had a lifetime of illness to learn this and she refuses to let her illness still her joy! Doesn't mean she is always happy but she does always have joy even on the days she has to look really hard for it.

Susan and Michelle's sharing are very encouraging. Thank God that we live in a generation where there are much helps available. Vincent van Gogh, who experienced severe depressions and whose painting became famous after his tragic death through suicide, lived at a time when medical help was not as advance as now. Most people with mental illness like Vincent van Gogh are locked away in asylum. Mercifully, in our age, with medical and other helps, most people with depression, bipolar, schizophrenia and other mental health condition can be helped and we can live a life that is close to normal and be productive too.

I just received a very encouraging comment from Rob. Rob shared of how after 30 years of being on Lithium, he has been able to go off Lithium under the advice of his doctor. For the last 22 years, he did not have any relapse of depression and mania. He feels that those of us with bipolar should not think of ourselves as being helpless victims. There are things we can do that will help us to avoid the extreme highs and lows. Things that are just as important as drugs. Rob hopes that we know that bipolar disorder should not be thought of as something that is going to ruin you whole life. It is not a "life sentence" in that way.

I do agree with Rob that bipolar need not ruin our life. It need not be a "life sentence" of imprisonment for us. We can learn to manage our condition with the various helps available, and look beyond our condition to live a useful life just like every one else.

As much as I feel that medication is important, I too feel that other coping means are equally important. And at some point they may be more effective, as we learn to know what may cause our highs and lows, and seek to learn to manage these. At this point of time, my medication is helping me and I am thankful for that. I am also learning as much as I can how to manage my condition through other helps. It is true that sometimes no matter how best we have done to prevent a relapse, it may still happen. This is the nature of the illness. But we can still learn to either shorten these or how to get better, or if not, then at least to bear these episodes patiently, knowing that they will pass over and we will experience light and joy once again. There is truly a wide spectrum to the experiences of bipolar, our manic and depression may affect us in different ways. But the good news, is there is hope and help. Thank God that I am benefitting from different coping means now. Thank God that by His mercies, I have been able to find some blessings in my bipolar condition, and I am appreciating how bipolar shapes my thoughts and life. It makes my life more colorful and enable me to know God and His goodness and mercies in very real and personal ways daily.

I am reproducing Rob's comment here for our encouragement. Thanks again, Rob, for sharing!

Dear Nancie,

In 1976 I became manic, was diagnosed as bipolar, and was put on Lithium (and also temporarily Stelazine, a tranquilizer). I came back down to normal after a few weeks, but then slid into depression for 5 long months. I had to drop out of fourth year university that year. I got back to normal, finished my Bachelors degree the next year, and went on to get a Masters degree. I was quite normal until 1985, when I became manic again, and was hospitalized for 12 days, though this time the mania did not last as long as before, and miraculously I did not rebound into depression. Since then it has been over 22 years, and I have had no further episodes of mania or depression. I have been quite fine, and have had a very nice and productive life. About 2 years ago I started to feel that the side-effects of Lithium were getting more bothersome than before. I asked my psychiatrist about drug alternatives, and much to my surprise he suggested that I try going off Lithium and take no drugs at all. After 30 years of taking Lithium every day, for the first time in my adult life I was going to experience my body drug-free! I read a lot on the Internet about going off Lithium (most said it was very risky), and we agreed that for safety I should get off it very gradually over 3 months. I did that, and it has now been 16 months since I took any Lithium or any other drug, and I've been fine. I have had no bipolar episodes at all, and I don't have those bothersome Lithium side-effects to deal with. I watch my moods carefully, try to sleep well, get exercise each day, eat nutritiously and keep my stress level down. So far so good! I just want others to know that bipolar disorder should not be thought of as something that is going to ruin your whole life. It is not a "life sentence" in that way. I hope my example makes you and others feel a bit more optimistic. I used to feel that Lithium was my only real defense against this illness. Now I feel that Lithium and other drugs do work, and are necessary in many cases, and I certainly wouldn't recommend that anyone stop taking their meds without consulting their doctor, but I also feel that those of us with bipolar should not think of ourselves as being helpless victims. There are things we can do that will help us to avoid the extreme highs and lows. Things that are just as important as drugs. I think your blog is an excellent resource in that regard, and covers many great ideas. Keep up the good work, and be confident in your efforts to manage your bipolar tendencies. You have a good attitude. -- Rob

I took this rose at the Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

"Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. Psalm 143:8"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Because He Lives - another lovely song on Sally DeFord Music website

While searching for "Because He Lives" by the Gaithers on the internet, I stumbled across another song "Because He Lives" posted on Sally DeFord Music website.

The wordings are also very encouraging and the tune is nice. The .mp3 song sung by various people plus a very beautiful sound track can be downloaded from Sally DeFord Music website.
Because He Lives

Because he lives;
because he rose in mighty triumph from the grave
I put my trust in him, and seek to follow him in faith
Because he lives

Because he lives,
I shall find strength to stand against the tempter's power
He is my refuge and defense in every troubled hour
Because he lives

Because he lives I can bear whatever burden may be mine
I am encircled in the arms of love divine because he lives
Because he lives he will banish every shadow of my pain
Every sorrow will be swallowed up in him
For in his hand is healing for the weary soul
This I know because he lives

Because he lives my heart is filled with peace amid a world of fear
And through the blindness of the night, in him I rest secure
Because he lives

Because he lives there is no task so great that I cannot endure
I bear no heartache that his tender mercy cannot cure
Because he lives

(Repeat chorus)

Because he lives I will fear no darkness
Because he lives I will walk in light
Because he lives I will praise his kindness
Because he lives hope shines ever bright
Because he lives I will seek his righteousness
Because he lives I'll follow where he leads
Because he lives I shall conquer even death
And I shall live because he lives!

Because he lives I will rejoice in Christ and glorify his name
And with the willing voice of gratitude proclaim: My Savior lives!
Because he lives he will banish every shadow of my pain
Every sorrow will be swallowed up in him
For in his hand is healing for the weary soul
This I know because he lives

This song is posted by aldora87 at YouTube.

I took this rose at the Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Matthew 28:6

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Matthew 28
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Romans 8
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Whom have I in heaven but Thee?

Thank God for the joy and privilege to join in my church's public worship again this morning and to fellowship with my friends. My Pastor shared a very encouraging sermon with us on the theme "The Fear of the Lord" (Proverbs 1:7).

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge:..." Proverbs 1:7

Today, Pastor JJ shared with us that the basis of our fear of the Lord is:

1) The LORD is our God and our Creator
The LORD is self-existent and He depends on no one for His existence. On the other hand, we are fully dependant on Him for our existence, life and motion. Our lives are in the hands of God.

2) The LORD is a holy God
God's holiness exposes our earthiness and uncleanness.

3) The LORD is a covenant God
God Who is self-existent, transcendent and holy has chosen to reveal Himself unto a people and adopted them to be His sons and daughters. God chose to reveal Himself to us so that we can know Him and be adopted as His children. God is our covenant making and covenant keeping God and He draws us near to Himself, by sending His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to live and died for us, so that we may know Him.

When we come to know and understand who God is, we are drawn to love and reverent Him. The fear we have of God is a fear that causes us to know our own unworthiness and makes us want to respect and please God, and makes us fear to sin against Him. It is a fear that causes us to love God just as a child would love his father with respect.

This encouraging message reminds me once again of God's mercies to me in leading me to seek and know Him about 20 years ago. Through an episode of severe depression, and finding life meaningless, the Lord has providentially used my circumstances to lead me to seek Him.

I was born in Malaysia and I grew up there. More than 20 years ago, I came to Singapore on my own to work. With unrealized ambitions, and seeing the deceitfulness of human heart, I was very disillusioned. I wasn't interested in the rat race I saw around me in my job. I was disappointed with the fragile human friendships I experienced then too. Life seemed so meaningless. Providentially, as I love reading, I came across a book in the library in which several Christians testified to living a very meaningful life because they had a personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. I have always believed there is a God but never felt the need to be "religious." But at that point of time, I seemed to have come to an end in myself. I was far away from home and family. I was not able to realized my ambitions and disillusioned by friendships. I wondered whether life was worth living. But that book opened my eyes to realized that what if there is really a God? What if God really loves me and is interested in my life? And He has made me for a purpose? Which means my existence is not by accident? Wouldn't that makes life meaningful? I have never really prayed before. But that evening, I prayed and asked God to lead me to know Him through my 2 colleagues who have been witnessing to me. By God's mercies, He used these 2 brothers to bring me to church. They gave me a Bible and I began to read, go to Church for public worship and I pray on my own too. As I read the Bible, I was moved by the love of God for lost sinners. For the Bible says, that

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

To know that God loved me and sent His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to live and died for me, was very encouraging to me. Though I found much disappointment in human friendships, I found much consolations in God's love. I read with wonder of how the Lord suffered and died on the cross for us. Who will lay down his life for another man? But our Lord laid down His life for us, to save us from our sins, by paying the penalty for our sins, so that we can have our sins forgiven by the cleansing of His precious blood and we can enjoy eternal life in Him. What a comfort!

My life was never the same again. Though I continue to experience about 10 to 11 severe depression episodes thereafter until my diagnosis last year, because I didn't know that I have this condition called bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), the Lord's love changed my life. God's love gives me the courage to face many difficult challenges in my life. And no matter what He allows me to go through, I have experienced His love and faithfulness in many wonderful ways.

I love the Lord, though my love are feeble at times, and I failed the Lord in many ways. But life will be meaningless to me without God. I know that God has a purpose for my life here, even in this bipolar condition. I am thankful that through my struggles with severe depressions, the Lord has led me to know Him in very personal and real way daily. Without God sustaining me, I would not be alive today neither would I be able to be useful. I thank God for His love for me despite my unworthiness. It is my prayer daily that God will help me to know Him and live for Him.

Augustine said in his famous Confessions, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord." Truly, it is in God that I found rest for my soul. And I am comforted by the knowledge that one day when my tasks here are completed, God will take me home to be with Himself, to my eternal rest and fellowship with Him.

This morning we sang one of my favourite portions in Psalm 73 (This Psalm can be sing to the tune Wetherby or Wiltshire which can be downloaded (.mp3) from here. You can also download from Free Reformed Software Page, the Psalter with Tunes or Psalm Tunes Midi Files)

Psalm 73:25-28

Whom have I in the heavens high
but thee, O Lord, alone?
And in the earth whom I desire
besides thee there is none.

My flesh and heart doth faint and fail,
but God doth fail me never:
For of my heart God is the strength
and portion for ever.

For, lo, they that are far from thee
for ever perish shall;
Them that a whoring from thee go
thou hast destroyed all.

But surely it is good for me
that I draw near to God:
In God I trust, that all thy works
I may declare abroad.

Edward Griffin preached a very encouraging sermon titled "Whom have I in heaven but Thee". This is one of my favourite sermons. Edward said the Psalmist, Asaph, had experienced a severe trial from the infirmities of his own heart; which trial, together with the manner in which he was relieved, is described in this beautiful Psalm. He had been “envious at the foolish when” he “saw the prosperity of the wicked,” and had indulged in unworthy complaints against divine providence. But the glory of God’s faithfulness and truth so opened on his soul, and the comparative emptiness of all earthly things, that with more than recovered spirits he exclaimed, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.”

Edward wrote:

Such a temper of supreme delight in God will operate in unreserved and universal submission to divine providence. While God is more beloved than all other objects, the withholding or removal of every thing besides him will not awaken a spirit of unsubmission and rebellion.

While the Christian has such supreme delight in God, he will not be inordinately leaning on friends or wealth or any worldly object for enjoyment. No high expectations will be formed except those which centre in the supreme good. Lightly valuing the things of time and sense, he will scorn the restless pursuits and unsatisfied desires of the covetous; and holding the commands of God in supreme veneration, he will practice deeds of liberal charity.

Sensible that prosperity gives and adversity takes away only those things which are least desirable, neither by prosperity nor adversity will he be greatly moved. Ever assured that God, the supreme good, is safe, he will dismiss all anxieties respecting future changes, and come what will, he will “rejoice evermore.” Calmly resigning the management of all affairs into hands dearer than his own, he passes his days in unruffled serenity, and knows not the distrusts of jealousy nor the uneasiness of unbelief. Having a greater regard for the divine will than for any earthly comfort which that will can bestow, he has learned “both how to abound and to suffer need,” and “in whatsoever state” he is, “therewith to be content.”

The result of this supreme love to God will be faith, trust, self-denial, obedience, and an unreserved consecration of all that we are and have to him, to be disposed of according to his pleasure, and to be employed in his service, how and when and where he is pleased to appoint.

Read the rest of this very encouraging sermon from my Believers Encouragement blog at "Whom have I in heaven but Thee".

My friend, Heng Sau, took this photo at Saipan.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Psalm 73-25-26

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Because He Lives, I can face tomorrow

Michelle posted a video on YouTube on the song "Because He Lives."

Christianity Today has a touching account of how this Song was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither during a very difficult time in their life.

Inspired by the miracle of their son's birth, "Because He Lives" poured out of the Gaithers' grateful hearts. The song clearly affirms the hope believers have in Christ. We can face tomorrow, with all its uncertainty, as we realize that God holds the future and makes life worth living.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:

This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

This beautiful song reminded me once again that because God is with me, I am able to live a meaningful life despite my bipolar disorder and other struggles or difficulties in the many challenges I face in life daily.

In this life, we shall have our portions of ups and downs, wellness and sickness, success and failures, richness and poverties, etc etc. But because God gave His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins, and He rose again on the third day and is now living in Heaven and in our hearts, we can find strength and grace in Him to live for Him daily. In Him we find forgiveness for our sins, and daily grace to live for Him. No matter what He allows us to go through in this life, His love remains unchanging and is especially felt in our most difficult times. It is He that will continue to sustains and strengthen us. And one day when our tasks here are completed, He shall take us home to be with Himself, where there will be no more tears, sickness and sufferings. And we shall enjoy His love and fellowship for ever more. What a blessed hope!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living, just because He lives.

What an encouragement!


Various people has posted some videos on YouTube on this song:

"Because He Lives" with videos of beautiful pictures with Bible verses:

1) "Because He Lives" posted by gervis1

"Because He Lives" sang by writer of this song, The Gaither:

Read Christianity Today's account of how this Song was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither.

1) "Because He Lives" By The Gaither Vocal Band/Mark Lowry posted by hoover4000

2) "Because He Lives" By The Gaither Vocal Band posted by hoover4000

3) "Because He Lives" By The Gaither Trio 1972 posted by hoover4000 (with Gloria explaining the circumstances surrounding the time she wrote the words to "because he lives" and then the gaither trio sings it (from 1972)) (This is very touching. Must see!)

4) "Because He Lives" - Canadian Homecoming posted by willbonner

"Because He Lives" played on piano/organ:

1) Posted by jflowers10

Because He Lives
Words and music by William J. Gaither

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

    Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
    Because He lives, all fear is gone;
    Because I know He holds the future,
    And life is worth the living,
    Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:

This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

    Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
    Because He lives, all fear is gone;
    Because I know He holds the future,
    And life is worth the living,
    Just because He lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict'ry,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives!

    Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
    Because He lives, all fear is gone;
    Because I know He holds the future,
    And life is worth the living,
    Just because He lives!
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

This "Because He Lives" is posted by gervis1 on YouTube.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Mark 8:36

Philippians 3
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted lose for Christ.
8 Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness, which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Photography - Another therapeutic Hobby

Thank God that with medical helps, counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, regular exercise, Omega 3 fish oil, managing stress level, etc etc my bipolar disorder is under control now and I am able to live a more stable and productive life. I also pray and read the Bible daily to find comfort and strength from God.

When I started to do brisk walking regularly end of last year, I began to discover the beauties in God's creations in many wonderful ways. I am always comforted to remember that God Who creates all these lovely creations, has also created me. He loves me and is taking care of me daily. Through brisk walkings, I also began to enjoy photography as I will try to take photos when I go brisk walkings.

I have never expected myself to be able to take pictures. But with the help of advanced technology that the digital camera provides, I am so delighted to be able to capture some of these beautiful creations of God and precious moments with my family and friends. It gives me a lot of joy when I can take good photos.

I find that it is very helpful and therapeutic for me if I can find activities that I enjoy and which can enhance my life so that I can relax, enjoy it and have a sense of achievement. It helps me to de-stress. I can forget about all my stress and problems and just enjoy this hobby or recreation or activity. Photography is one of these activities. I look forward to snap some photos whenever I can and I am eager to go new places or try taking new objects or places.

In particular, I love to go to the beach and watch the waves. Somehow they have a soothing effect on me and I feel very relax. I loved to take photos of the beach and the waves. I also love to take photos of flowers, plants and animals.

I am also finding much joy in using these photos to make bookmarks and other crafts. This is another therapeutic hobbies for me! For some Free Bookmarks Templates, visit my Homemade Bookmarks Blog :)

Visit my "Around Singapore" blog to see more of the photos I have taken and that of my friends.

1) I took the first 4 photos at East Coast Beach, Singapore.
2) I took the next 2 photos at Changi Beach, Singapore.
3) I took the last 4 photos at Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

Brisk walking - helpful and therapeutic

Thank God for discovering the joy and helpfulness of brisk walking and regular exercise end of last year while recovering from an episode of severe depression. I was encouraged to do brisk walking or other form of exercise for between 30 to 45 minutes daily as it can work like anti-depressant.

I do brisk walking around the neighbourhood of my home as regular as I can. Sometimes I go for long walks at the beach or gardens. I also signed up for a trial-membership with an all ladies gym near my home which had a very special offer at that point of time. I did brisk walking on their treadmill between 30 to 45 minutes daily, 3 to 5 times a week. I was on 20mg fluoxetine (common brand name is Prozac) daily at that point of time. After 1 week of doing brisk walking regularly, I was able to lower the dosage of my anti-depressant. And after 2 months, I was completely off the anti-depressant. Now I am on a mood stabiliser, 100mg Lamotrigine (brand name is Lamictal) and anti-psychotic, 25mg Quetiapine (brand name is Seroquel) every night. My doctor said I will probably need these 2 medication life long as they will help to stabilise my moods in the longer run. But whenever I fall into severe depression, I will need to take a short course of anti-depressant to lift me up to a more functional level. Then I can benefit from exercise and other helps.

Thank God for providing various helps for me as I strive to understand and manage bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness). With medical helps, counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, regular exercise, Omega 3 fish oil, managing stress level, et etc my condition is under control now and I am able to live a more stable and productive life. I also pray and read the Bible daily and finding much joy, strength and comfort in God to live for Him.

I find brisk walking and other form of regular exercise are good to help me to fight depression. I think they are also good for general physical and mental health, and in preventing heart disease.

For those of us with physical or other illness or our age above 40, it may be good to check with our Doctor before we start regular exercise or vigorous exercise so that we do not injure ourselves during exercise or do exercise which is not suitable for us. Those with knee problems in particular, should be very careful with what kind of exercise we do, or what to do before and after exercise. Best to consult our physician.

For me, I do enjoy brisk walking a lot and I am beginning to enjoy nature and God's creations in many wonderful ways. I also picked up photography and am deriving great joys in capturing some of these beauties in God's creations with my digital camera.

I find myself physically more stronger and healthier when I started regular brisk walking and exercise. I found that mentally I am also more alert and happier after my exercise. I managed also to lose a bit of weight which has been troubling me for many years and making me very sluggish and lethargic. Therefore, I do personally find brisk walking very therapeutic and helpful in my recovery from depression as well as maintaining my physical and mental well being now.

There are truly a wide spectrum to the experiences of those with depression and bipolar depression. So sometimes brisk walking or regular exercise may be very difficult for those of us who are severely depressed as we are depleted of all energy or we simply didn't have the desire or will to do anything. We may find waking up in the morning itself is very very difficult. There will be times when a family member or friend's accompaniment for a walk maybe helpful and motivating. And whenever we are well enough to go for walks on our own and get the sunshine, I think it may be helpful to our physical and mental well being. And when we are no longer severely depressed, regular exercise or brisk walking may help in maintaining our physical and mental well-being in complement to our medical and other existing helps.

My friend and brother-in-Christ, George, emailed me this helpful and informative Powerpoint presentation on the advantage and importance of brisk walk especially in preventing Heart Disease.

Download this Powerpoint Slide on Brisk Walk : briskwalking.pps

In this Powerpoint Slide, it is documented the following :

Heart Disease is one of the most common diseases afflicting today's workers.

Caused by excessive stress, smoking, high calorie diet, sedentry lifestly, this disease is the no. 1 killer of today's employees.

Sedentry life style, smoking, high calorie diet, stress, alcohol may lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and over weight. These in turn may lead to angina, heart attack, cardiac arrest and heart failure. The end result may be blockage in coronary arteries or clot coronary arteries or constriction of coronary arteries.

With all these health problem, our family and job may be greatly affected. Expenses over medical treatments may increase or loss of income due to poor health. We may also experience much anxieties, sadness and loss of peace of mind.

Only we can do something about it. And we can start with a simple step TODAY.

It is recommended that we take a brisk walk for 30 minutes daily, every day.

For over 40 years now, studies have shown walking to be the best form of exercise that people of all ages can do.

  • Regular walking can increase the levels of good cholesterol.
  • Regular walking is a positive habit to replace smoking with.
  • Regular walking makes the heart work more efficiently and improves blood circulation. Blood vessels become more elastic and the amount of oxygen delivered to the tissues increases.
  • Walking is one easy way to deal with tension, anxiety and stress. Studies show that people who exercise regularly can cope better with stresses of life. Walking recharges our batteries after tension and stress have drained them of power and energy.
  • Regular brisk walking improves muscle tone, makes your heart stronger and gives you that bite of fitness. Do it regularly for 30 minutes every day and enjoy that feeling of fitness from within.

Caution for those with knee pain: walk at normal pace. Do knee stretching exercises as shown in two of the slides.

Simplest - Cheapest - Easiest

Effective & Safe
  • Reduces Stress
  • Helps quit smoking
  • Strengthens the heart
  • Massages the legs
  • Strengthens the muscles
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Improves blood circulation
Build it in your daily routine, 30 minutes ever day.

Strengthen your heart and your health, walking 30 minutes briskly every day.