Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More than conquerors

I have decided to change my blog name :-)

When I first started this blog in February 2008, I named it "My Life with Bipolar Disorder" because I wanted to share resources that have been helpful to me in coping with bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) with others who have bipolar disorder and their family/friends. Having bipolar disorder can be very confusing for the sufferer as well as their family and friends.

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder with extreme mood swings. It is a medical condition that can be treated. These moods shaped our thoughts, feelings and actions. We can be 2 very different persons when we are manic or depressed. There are pocket of times when we are "normal" :-)

Being depressed is bad enough in itself, but being a depressed Christian is worse because we experience extra guilt in relation to our faith. So if you are suffering from depression and you are a Christian, I will highly recommend that you read these very encouraging and helpful messages on Depression and the Christian. Pastor David P Murray noted that

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.
We need to have a right understanding of clinical depression or manic-depression. This is different from the common down or sad feelings that go away after a few day. Clinical depression and manic-depression are medical illness that need to be treated. And people who go through them need to be supported, prayed for and encouraged to seek treatment and wait upon God for restoration through medical and other helps.

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 family and friends of people who suffers from clinical depression or bipolar depression 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. I hope the resources I am sharing on this blog will help Christian who suffers from depression to find hope and comfort in God, and to seek medical and other helps so that they too can lead a more stable and functional life. And I hope too that the sharing and resources on this blog will to some extend help family and friends of people with depression or bipolar to understand what their loved ones are going through and how best to pray for them, to encourage and support them, or help them in time of need.

Personally, I went through some 11 episodes of severe depression over the last 20 years, each episode lasting some 3 to 6 months or sometimes longer. Thank God for sustaining me through those very painful, dark and confusing experiences.

Thank God that my diagnosis last year of proneness to bipolar disorder is helping me to understand that my condition is a medical condition that can be treated and the necessity to seek helps. Through 9 very fruitful sessions with a Christian counsellor last year who counsels me using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), I was helped to understand my confusing past due to the way bipolar shaped my thoughts, feelings and actions.

Thank God that now with medical helps, regular exercise, Omega 3 fish oil, managing stress level, having therapeutic hobbies, a strong support network and other coping means 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.

I thank God that I am able to share my thoughts and feelings on this blog too and it works like an online Journal or Diary for me to record my daily experiences in my walk with God and His goodness to me as I seek to understand and manage bipolar disorder. Like every one else who has bipolar, I too experience many different struggles daily with manic and depression. Stress and strain seemed to be my main triggering factors over the years. So this blog also will record my struggles to manage bipolar, stress and other challenges in my life.

In these recent months of sharing my thoughts and feelings in my journey with bipolar disorder, I have come to experience more and more that we are more than conquerors through Christ that loved us. In life we will have our portions of ups and downs whether through bipolar disorder or other struggles in our life. We are living in a fallen world. As sinners saved by grace, we daily wrestle too with sins, remaining corruptions and the temptations of the world. Having bipolar disorder can make life very difficult at times because bipolar shapes our thoughts, feelings and actions. The depression episodes are painful and awful beyonds words. I would not want to go through another extensive episode if possible. The manic episodes too have its pros and cons. But in all these, I am comforted that God is sovereign. He is graciously working all things for His glory and my good even through such painful and difficult struggles with bipolar.

I found that it is through the very difficult experiences I have gone through over the last 20 years with this disorder that I am able to know God very personally and able to know His love in many wonderful ways. And bipolar disorder do have its advantages and it's not all bad at all. By the mercies of God, I have been able to experience many blessings through bipolar and God also opened an unexpected door of usefulness for me through bipolar. My struggles with depression enable me to emphatise with others who are going through this painful and lonely struggle. It allows me to comfort others with same comfort which God has comforted me. It gives me the motivation to share with others the resources and the various ways and means God is helping me to manage my condition so that others can benefit from it too. It helps me to cherish the life God is giving me daily to know Him, love Him and serve Him and others.

Most people with bipolar tends to be able to express ourselves better in writing and other creative activities. In the recent months, I began to enjoy Photography, Making Bookmarks and other Homemade Crafts and Gifts. These hobbies are therapeutic to myself and they encourages others as I usually share these with others. I have a blog "Around Singapore" where I posted photos of some places in Singapore. Do click at the links if you wish to make use of my photographs and that which my friends allowed me to post on my blogs. Feel free to also download Free Bookmarks Templates from my Homemade Bookmarks blog and other crafts idea from my Homemade Crafts and Gifts blog.

When I saw the moving testimony of Nick Vujicic, I was reminded afresh that God is sovereign and His purposes are accomplished through weak vessels like us. Nick is from Australia and he was born with no arms or legs yet he is trusting in the Lord daily and living a life that is not only as normal as he can, but he is also doing many wonderful things too by the mercies and power of God. He is a living testimony of the power of God to save a lost sinner from sins and give him the grace to live a victorious life in Christ despite severe infirmities. Nick encouraged us to look beyond our loses through our disabilities to look at what we still have and make the most out of it. Seeing Nick going about his daily life, doing all the things which seems almost impossible without arms and legs, and yet he did it and did it with such cheerfulness, is a life changing experience. If you have not seen the videos of Nick, you may wish to watch these 2 videos I have posted on my blog and there are many more posted on YouTube. It will change your life or your perspective in life! I am thankful to my friend Michelle who posted Nick's video on her blog and shared such blessings with us. Thanks again, Michelle!

I am thankful to God that we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us because God's Words say so. Though we are weak, God is strong. He promised that His grace is sufficient for us and His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). God is more powerful than any storms in our life or any difficulties we may face. He is the Potter, we are the clay. This is not our home. We are sojourners here on a pilgrim journey towards the celestial city. God is daily sanctifying us and making us more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank God that His grace is sufficient for me and nothing shall ever separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Though I still have many struggles daily with bipolar, stress, etc etc, I am learning to look to God for grace daily and to wait upon Him for guidance and strength.

I hope I can continue to share of God's goodness and mercies to me daily in my endeavour to understand and manage bipolar and other challenges in my life and lead a more useful life for the Lord.

If you are going through depression now and you are reading this post, I pray that God will give you comfort and strength, knowing that He is with you and will deliver you. Do seek medical and other helps as these are means God has provided for us to get better so that we can seek and serve Him. Your thoughts and feelings may feel flat and down because of the chemical imbalances and you may have little energy to do anything or even to seek help. But continue to cry unto the Lord and reach out to someone to let them know you need help. There is hope and help. It takes time to find the medical and other helps that will suit you as there is a spectrum to bipolar and depression and different thing works for different people. But you are not alone! I and many others are battling this condition daily and you will find something that works for you. God will help you by and by to discover these helps as you cast your cares upon Him. With medical and other helps, sometimes it still takes time for these to work for us and to restore the chemical imbalance in our brain so that we are more functional and able to enjoy life again. Waiting is difficult. But you will get better by and by.

And thank you once again, all my dear friends, for all your prayers, encouragements and support. To get to know so many of you through this blog and your blogs, is one of the greatest blessings God has given me over the last few months! I have never expected this at all. My endeavour to help others through this blog turned out to be a greater blessing for me. All praise and glory be to God!

Hope we can continue to encourage one another and find our consolations in Christ and each other's friendship as we journey on :-)

Romans 8:36-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

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.

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