Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fight the Good Fight Against Depression




I didn't write my last post on depression because I was depressed.  I wasn't, but I know this time of year is hard for many people, and I too need to stay alert.

Tonight I watched TSN's Michael Landsberg's short story on depression entitled, Darkness and Hope: Depression, Sports and Me.  I gleaned several points from the guests that I'd like to share with you now.

The guests were former athletes, which we know is a short-lived career.  If a person's value is wrapped up in what they do, they are vulnerable for depression when it's taken away.

For many women, it may not be our sport we wish we could go back to, but our old fun self, our school days, our dating years or early marriage, our time with toddlers, our career we once had, our attractive slim body, you name it.  It's all part of aging.

But even fame doesn't prevent or cure depression.  Forgive me for not remembering all their names, but one former athlete, a Stanley Cup winner, was depressed during the hockey series.  He admits he removed himself from being in the winning photos and became severely depressed the week after winning.

So it's not fame and lack of fame that causes depression, depression is a chronic illness that can be debilitating if not managed.

Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes says you never know when that one little thing will trigger you. She fears those triggers, as do I.

But it is more than a trigger that brings on depression, it is a biochemical issue connected to triggers.  That is why medication helps many women cope.  There is a brain chemistry mix-up that medication can help put into balance.  The triggers, on the other hand, are connected to thoughts which can often be helped with therapy.

But we can't just call up our therapist at a moment's notice.  So we need someone else from time-to-time.  Some of the guests mentioned how important their significant other was in helping them cope.  Talking it out helps immensely. Unconditional love does too.

If you don't have a significant other to talk to about your depression, you might want to call a trusted friend, or call a hotline like Telecare or Distress Centre in your area.  You may need to visit your doctor and tell him or her you need help. You may benefit from seeing a counsellor.  Your work medical plan may cover the cost.

The guests emphasized the need for having their own "system" in place to help them with the threat of an episode.  I liked the sound of that and wished they would all have listed their personal systems.

I too have a system in place and I will share that in another post.  

When threatened with depression, we need hope.  Hearing others' stories sometimes gives us that hope.

If you're prone to depression, tell someone. Fight it. Create a system. Hang on to hope.  


Pray to me when you are in trouble! I will deliver you.  Psalm 50:15 NET Bible

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Christian Woman - Struggling with a Depressed Mood?



I watched an online video of a woman expressing a struggle she'd been through with a reoccurring depression.  She quoted this Scripture from Psalm 143:3-7 (MSG), saying that when she read it, it described perfectly how she'd been feeling for several months, even years.  She said in her case, the "enemy" was depression:  
"The enemy hunted me down;    he kicked me and stomped me within an inch of my life. He put me in a black hole,    buried me like a corpse in that dungeon.I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away,


    my heart heavy, like lead. I remembered the old days,

    went over all you’ve done, pondered the ways you’ve worked,

Stretched out my hands to you,    as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain.  Hurry with your answer, God!    I’m nearly at the end of my rope. Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me!"
She shared that when she came across this Scripture, she was able to view her life from the outside in.  These words seem to be describing her situation!  Her eyes became opened to the fact that God knew all about what she was going through all the time.

She mentioned she hadn't sought professional help for her depression because there was a "stigma" attached to admitting to being depressed.  She also mentioned she'd read a lot of material that discouraged the use of pharmaceutical medication.  So she put off seeking professional help for a very long time.

But all the natural cures she'd been chasing--St. John's Wort, 5-HTP, Omega 3, regular exercise, self-help books--didn't relieve the depression.

A TURNING POINT

Reading this Scripture was her turning point. She was able to separate who she was from the disease.  She decided she could no longer fight the enemy (depression) in her own strength.

She approached her doctor once again.  It took three appointments to get her courage up to get the point across that she was willing to try medication.

I want to share this story in case you find yourself in a similar situation.  Here's a general summary of what occurred:
  1. In the past, she had told her doctor about depressed feelings, but because she had merely squeezed the subject into a general appointment, the doctor didn't take here seriously. So she continued to struggle with waves of depression until her next blood test appointment 3 or 6 months later.
  2. On her next visit, she asked the doctor if depression could be from hormonal changes due to peri-menopause. The doctor suggested that if she wanted to talk about depression that she would have to make a separate appointment than what she was there for. But she didn't make it.
    Instead she went home and tried to brush it off again.  

  3. Then another episode hit. This time, she reached for a Bible and read the above scripture.  She related to the words in the Scripture--that her heart was heavy like lead and that she felt she was in a black hole.  She prayed for wisdom.
  4. She made another appointment with her doctor specifically to discuss depression.  Before arriving she'd practiced the words she wanted to say.   She forced herself to say she was there because she was depressed.  She said the big "D" word!

    This time the doctor took her seriously, gave her the name of a therapist and started her on low doses of anti-depressant medication.

She cited six ingredients helped in her recovery:
 
Therapy - having someone on her side and testing her thinking
Medication - an antidepressant to balance her brain chemistry
Exercise - she joined a Tai Chi class
Relationships - she made new friends in her class which led to social outings
God's Word - she did more regular Bible study and took steps on what she learned
Fulfillment - she spent time on things that would bring her happiness such as volunteering and taking courses.
 
I share this with you, because there are so many depressed women wandering around that are like this woman.   Climbing out of depression isn't easy.  Each woman should pursue the best course of treatment for herself.  It may require moving beyond the stigmas associated with depression and weighing the opinions others have about treatment.

Depression is a serious illness, can be debilitating and even life-threatening.  A person with depression should not be looked down upon, and if you suffer with it, you aren't damaged or weak.  

Keep looking for what it is you need!  Be brave and tell your doctor. Sign up with a counsellor.  Get exercise and choose a good diet. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Should Women's Ministries Go Viral? Should we Keep up with Business Trends?


Notice my blog is called Ministry to Women, not Women's Ministry.  My goal is to somehow minister to women through the words of my blogs not to provide women's ministries ideas.  But today I do want to address that topic. 

I don't know for sure, but I'll bet women's ministries in the local church are going the way a lot of things are--by the wayside.  But that doesn't mean women aren't having fellowship in other ways. At least, not the technically savvy women.


Ministry Online 


Technology and its addictive nature sees young and old alike creating and maintaining relationships virtually.  Even my senior mom uses email and does web searches.  


We can find anonymous support through online forums or chatlines. We can interact in blog comments and Facebook posts.  We can sign in when it's convenient and exit when we've had enough.  We can educate ourselves through reading fabulous articles and using online Bible tools.


There is freedom.  We can do online ministry at any time of day.  We don't have to sit in a room of other believers and hold our breath waiting for our turn to speak.  We can leave a chat room if a conversation gets annoying.  


CHANGING TIMES IN WOMEN'S LIVES


In the past, women craved connection and relationships beyond their own families so much that they joined a missionary circle or Bible study. I did it too.  When my kids were young, my ladies group was my sanity place.


A few years ago, each member of my family got their own computer.  No more waiting our turn.  I used to spend free time gardening, doing crafts and reading, as well as hours on housework.  (I actually used to reorganize closets for something to do).   


I had purchased painting supplies just before getting my new computer, hoping to paint some pictures.  Once I got my computer I didn't touch the supplies until recently!  (I wonder how the craft industry is dong?)



In part, I know we're all missing out on other aspects of real life.  The computer wins a lot of times and in person friendships are put on the back burner.  Some of our closest friends are those on Facebook.

I laugh time and again when a woman declares she is disconnecting from Facebook only to return a few days later.  There are just too many positives about interacting online for us to condemn it!  


I know I feel less lonely with online friends.  My senior mom who lives alone also says she feels less lonely. 

WHAT DOES WOMEN'S MINISTRIES LOOK LIKE TODAY?


This begs the question, do we really need face-to-face time any more?


If you have a "women's ministry" at your church what does it look like?  Is it tea parties and coffee klatches?  Is it something for the seniors, or is it relatable to young tech-savvy women?


My blogs are my way of reaching out to minister to other women in one of today's languages.  It's quick and easy to access, and available worldwide and during all time zones.  I have had blog visitors from around the world. 


Is there still a need in the church for women's ministries?  How should it look?  


Should women's ministries be taken more viral?  How so?


Should women interact with women from other churches as a norm? 


Should women share helpful websites, Facebook groups, and para-church ministry resources with each other?


A New Concept


Internet savvy women are rarely going to make connections in person as quickly as they can online.  Those with open policies accept friend requests from complete strangers.  In my circle, it's usually women with a ministry or business mindset who do this.  I can't speak for all.


Popular working concepts today are work hubs, cribs, and incubators.   As a work from home entrepreneur, I'd love to sit in my church's coffee shop from time to time to do my writing--a form of a hub.  But it's only open Sundays. 


I don't know if women would actually pull all their crafting materials, laptops, and so on out to work on them in a hub setting or not.  It may just be a glorious idea.  But there is power in networking.  


Perhaps our new woman's ministry could be more of a work huddle, mastermind group, and the like.  Instead of working out at a gym, maybe working out with our Christian sisters is an idea.  


When, as an at-home mom I went to Curves to workout, I went as much for socialization as exercise--especially because I was new to town and needed to make connections.  At the first club, women spoke to each other.  At the second club, no one seemed to interact.  I know every woman's idea of working out is different, so there's no one-sure solution.


I always imagined the power of there being a juice bar at these clubs.  I know eating or drinking sugary drinks after a workout isn't good (except for protein drinks), but as a stay-at-home mom and someone new to town, I had time to kill and would have loved to sit at a bar to unwind and meet new women before returning to my cave.  Could this be created as a church ministry?


Perhaps we need to rethink what the church is.  Is it a place we meet on Sundays to hear a message and then disperse?  Should our social times be limited to coffee times with special speakers?  When we talk about gifts in the body, should we think about the gifts of the fitness minded, the artist, the decorator, the IT specialist?


Perhaps we need to look at how today's women like to spend their time, and then create opportunities to bridge the gaps. 


Let me know your thoughts.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Live in God's Potential

Photo Credit, R.Garde

Living in God's Potential

A speaker on TV shared that while she had suffered terribly in a car crash, God had a purpose in it. He HAD protected her life by allowing her to live, but had not protected her from injury and damage to her body. She walked through several years of rehabilitation. 
Doctors had given her a grim prognosis, indicating there would be permanent brain damage and probably limitations to her life. 
God had spoken a different story to her, however. She knew his words, promises and plans superseded the plans of the doctors. God assured her there was a full life of purpose to be lived with the only restrictions being from God himself.

Our Unique Callings 
Our unique God-driven inner callings can't be understood by those around us. No one hears from God about our life like we do.

We often get caught up in trying to explain ourselves to others. We all feel pressured to justify our lives by what we do.

We all want to look good, successful and happy to others.

Like this speaker, however, the only opinion we need to worry about is God's. The only path we need to walk is his. We don't live to please others, we live to please God.

When we tap into the mind-boggling revelation of the awesomeness of God, we do not need to live in the confines of worldly thought. In order to realize God's awesomeness, it is good to read about it in a Bible, so that we are fully aware of his potential, and thus our potential.

What can you do today to realign your thinking with God's. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Planning for 2015 with a God Plan

Artist - Rosalie Garde, 2014


God's word teaches us that he plans the best path for our life.  It doesn't teach that life will be easy or straightforward, though.  God often tests us.  He uses challenges to develop us.  Often, the test is a test of our belief in him.  The test is to prove whether or not we will trust him in the difficulties and in the desert.

God created us for his pleasure and he derives pleasure from seeing us enjoy life.  He gives us skills and abilities to use and enjoys watching us use them.

We may have ideas of what should happen as we develop our skills and abilities.  When things don't happen as we've imagined, doubt sinks in.  At those times, it may be helpful to fall back on our face before him to ask for clarity.  Drawing toward him is a much better choice than giving up our dreams and running away.

How to Run Toward God for Clarity

Especially as one year closes and a new one is about to open, many women evaluate their lives.  They constantly crave for that something more and want God to reveal it.  When our calling feels dead-ended or boring, we crave new revelation from God. Especially as 2015 unfolds, we want a plan.  How do we get it?

First, pray the communication between you and God is clear, repenting of sins that may be in the way.

Second, invite God into the questions you want answered.  Let him know what you need clarity on.

Third, go on a "plan hunt."  40 days is a popular biblical time frame.  During that time do daily Bible and Christian book studies and make notes in a journal. Mediate on the themes. Trust God will speak through those times.

Fourth, fast something--TV time, Facebooking, computer, coffee, food.  Doing so helps set your mind in a "zone" where you will be more spiritually sensitive.

Last, listen for common themes.  Watch what happens next and take it seriously.  If new people show up in your life, consider them sent by God.  Watch for invitations to events or to join groups.  Pay attention to what calls to you and investigate it. Spend time on developing your passions and hobbies.

If nothing new seems to be revealed, keep doing what God has you already doing!  Remember, if God has the best plan for your life, the plan you're on is THE BEST one!