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RubyMARCH2017


Illness

The Bipolar Experience (Book Review)

 
Hi, friends!
 
Have you read The Bipolar Experience: Your Dreams Are Bigger than Bipolar Disorder by LeeAnn Jefferies and Eva Marie Everson?
 

 
As a person who struggles with bipolar disorder, I was naturally drawn to LeeAnn Jefferies’ story. The fact that she was a top model for more than 16 years added to my intrigue.
 
I felt like I was sitting on a wicker chair on a wrap-around porch listening to LeeAnn tell her story, her Southern accent and flare on display between our sips of sweet tea. I appreciated her authenticity.
 

 
I know what it’s like to be afraid of my own mind.
 
 
Oh, I hated it, I hated it! But I learned to live within the hell of it. Because that’s what it was. Hell. With all the good going on in my life–with all the God at work–I had come to a sure truth: I knew exactly where the devil’s playground resided. And it was with me all the time. Right there, in my mind.
 
 
Most of us can only live each day as it comes. But those with bipolar disorder will either live those days bouncing off the clouds or clawing our way through the mud.
 

 
I’m thankful I’m neither in the clouds or the mud these days.
 
The Bipolar Experience is a good resource for family and friends of those with bipolar disorder. Eva and LeeAnn sprinkle facts about the illness throughout the book, but they approach it in the context of her story, not as a medical encyclopedia.
 
I could relate to LeeAnn’s goal-oriented side of bipolar disorder. It’s a little known fact that a bipolar person tends to fixate on a goal–however big or small–until they achieve it. Many times, a person with bipolar disorder is viewed as extremely productive. I could see that in LeeAnn’s story–and in mine.
 
As much as I wanted to read The Bipolar Experience in one sitting, I struggled to read non-stop because I swing more to the depressive side of bipolar. I needed to take some breaks from reading it when I found myself swinging low. I would caution those who struggle with mental illness to be aware of that possibility prior to reading it. Awareness is key. 🙂
 
The story hops back and forth through key events in LeeAnn’s life, which as, LeeAnn herself admits, is a glimpse into the life and mind of a person with bipolar.
 

 
There are times in the telling of this story when I worry that I cannot keep the reader on track. Then again, this is a book about the bipolar experience, so why should I be able to do that? After all, my life has been up and down, down and up. Around a left-turn corner. Around a right-turn corner.
 

 
I can understand the rationale for that approach. However, as a person with bipolar disorder, I found it difficult to follow her journey. People who struggle with the illness are often obsessed with things being in a specific order–to the point of OCD. (LeeAnn mentioned her struggles with OCD too.) In order to create a linear progression of her life, I had to, as a classic sign of a bipolar person, go back and highlight the year in each chapter to understand what happened first, next, and so on. Nonetheless, the non-linear approach is a good representation of a bipolar mind for those who don’t face it firsthand.
 
I know family and friends of bipolars will appreciate the chapters by her husband and daughter. They were honest, heartfelt, and demonstrated the power of a strong support system. The importance of a good doctor is a continuous thread in the book.
 
Overall, I recommend The Bipolar Experience by LeeAnn Jefferies and Eva Marie Everson to family and friends of those struggling with the nauseating see-saw of this illness. For those who face this struggle, The Bipolar Experience is a reminder that God can use our circumstances (including illnesses) for good, but only if we let Him. LeeAnn is a great example of that. I am. You can be too.
 
 
***
 
 
Come alongside… Do you know someone with bipolar disorder or another mental illness? How can you support them? Do you see signs of mental illness in yourself? What can you do to get help? If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, how are you managing your life? Comment in the box below where it says, “Leave a Reply.” Remember, you can comment anonymously.
 
 

Is it time yet, God?

 
 
Hi, friends!
 
So I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, and a meme caught my eye. I shared it on my author page because it resonated with me at the time. Thing is: I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.
 
Here it is:
 
timepicforpost
 
Let that sink in.
 
We hear that God is never late. I believe it 100%.
 
But I’ve never considered that “God is never early.” That’s the part that has stuck with me.
 
I picture a timeline. If one point marks early and another point marks late, then there has to be a certain point on the timeline that is

 

  • Right
  • Perfect
  • Exact
  • Precise
  • Dead-on

 
Think about the birth of Christ. Jesus didn’t come early to Earth. Neither did He come late. He came at the precise time. In the fullness of time.
 

 
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son. (Galatians 4:4)
 

 
When everything was as God wanted, Jesus made His entrance onto the stage called Earth. Nothing and no one could rush his birth. Nothing and no one could stop it from happening. Everything was as it should have been for His supernatural entrance.
 
 
Same with His death and resurrection.
 

 
He gave himself to pay for the sins of everyone. That was a witness given by God at just the right time. (1 Timothy 2:6).
 
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
 

 
And with the death of Lazarus (John 11:1-44). Although Jesus knew about Lazarus’ illness, He waited a while before visiting him. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days! Both of Lazarus’ sisters told him, “I wish you had been here! Then my brother would not have died.” Jesus replied, “Lazarus is dead. For your benefit, I am glad I was not there. Now you will believe.”
 
 
Friends, I’m going to be transparent here: I have several things I think God is late on in my life. But after seeing this meme, I wonder whether it’s still early for Him to shine. Is it still too early that we’ll think we figured things out on our own?
 
 
TimeYetGod
 
 
I feel like time is running out. But I know He is never late.
 
And now I know, He’s never early. He is on-time. Precise. Exact. Perfect.
 

 
The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ – eternal and glorious plans they are! – will have you put together and on your feet for good. (1 Peter 5:10)
 
Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
 
A thousand years to you are like one day; they are like yesterday, already gone, like a short hour in the night. (Psalm 90:4 2 Peter 3:8)
 

 
So … I wait. We wait. With hope and prayer and, many times, wavering faith.
 
And just when I think time is up…
 
 
 
Come alongside… Do you agree with God never being early? Why or why not? What are you waiting for? Does it feel like time is running out? How can you choose to believe that God will be on time? Please share with us in the box that says, “Leave a reply.” Remember you can reply anonymously.
 
 
 

I Just Want to Hear Your Voice

 

Last night, I tossed and turned. Stared at the clock. Tried to get comfortable. Fluffed my pillow. Snuggled up in a fetal position. Still couldn’t seem to get there.

 

 

1:05

 

1:30

 

2:15

 

2:45

 

3:10

 

 

Sigh.

 

I guess that’s what I get for drinking coffee, which is not a “regular” thing for me. I’m usually a decaf person. 😉

 

In the past, I’ve breathed deeply, tried to clear my head, counted sheep. Even cried.

 

Although I’m not always consistent with it, one thing I’ve started to do whenever I can’t sleep is to pray. Have you tried praying when you can’t sleep?

 

  • For your husband.
  • Family.
  • Children.
  • Friends.
  • Work.
  • Finances.
  • Missionary friends.
  • Pastors and church leaders.
  • Situations and circumstances—you know, the stuff of life.
  • Oh, and for yourself.

 

You can also thank and praise God when you can’t sleep.

 

  • For His faithfulness.
  • Forgiveness.
  • His love.
  • Jesus Christ.
  • Food, shelter.
  • Protection.
  • Not giving me what I deserve.
  • Giving me blessings I didn’t—and couldn’t—earn.

 

God doesn’t sleep, dear one. He still works when we are fast asleep—or wide awake.

 

 

The one who watches over you 
 never tires and never sleeps (Psalm 121:3-4).

 

 

Isn’t that reassuring? God watches over you! Even during the nighttime hours, He’s working things out for your good, for the good of your family, for someone you might not have thought of in years. Sometimes, He wants to hear from you in the middle of the night: What’s on your mind, what’s worrying you, what’s exciting you lately. So he gently nudges you awake. “I want to hear your voice. Can we talk?” Or if you’re already tossing and turning, “Hi, wanna talk?” He longs for it!

 

 

O my beloved, lingering in the gardens, how wonderful that your companions can listen to your voice. Let me hear it, too! (Song of Solomon 8:13)

 

 

Let me hear your voice. Your voice is so sweet. Your face is so lovely. (Song of Solomon 2:14)

 

 

 

Wow! God longs to hear from you. He desires your heart–and your voice–during your busy day and restless night. To Him, “Every syllable you speak [is] a delicacy to savor” (Song of Solomon 4:11). Oh, how He loves you!

 

 

 

I could’ve had too much coffee. Or maybe God wanted to talk. Or both. Regardless, He wanted to hear my voice. And I, His.

 

 

Afterward, sweet dreams.

 

 

Come alongside: How do you handle insomnia? Do you pray when you can’t sleep? Do you have a testimony of unknowingly praying for someone during the night, later learning that, at that very moment, they needed prayer? Or maybe you were on the receiving end. Please share with us in the comments. Remember, you can comment anonymously if you so choose.

 
 


 

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Do You Know Someone with a Mental Illness? Yes, you do.

 

Do you know someone with a mental illness?

  • Depression
  • Bipolar depression disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Another mental illness

 

Maybe you yourself have a mental illness.

 

Here are some statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) that might surprise you. Did you know that


 

One in four adults—approximately 57.7 million Americans—experience a mental health disorder in a given year.

 

One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

 

One in 10 children live with a serious mental or emotional disorder.

 

Bipolar disorder affects 5.7 million American adults, approximately 2.6 percent of the adult population per year.

 

Of adults using homeless services, 31 percent reported having combination of these conditions.

 

Despite effective treatments, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first onset of symptoms and when people seek and receive treatment.

 

Fewer than one-third of adults and one-half of children with a diagnosable mental disorder receive mental health services in a given year.

 

Racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to have access to mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of care.

 

 

And this doesn’t account for the millions of people who go undiagnosed—or are willing to admit—and accept—they have a mental illness.

 

 

I say all this because


 

I have bipolar depression disorder.

 

People near and dear to me have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, panic disorder, depression, and countless other mental illnesses. We are not statistics. Neither are the millions of people who struggle with these disorders.

 

Many people in the Bible experienced mental illness:

 

These Biblical heroes—they were pillars of the faith—cried out to God in their distress. And God answered them. He still answers today with:

  • His Word—the Bible
  • Prayer
  • Comfort
  • Support groups
  • Counselors and therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Medicine

 

Before being officially diagnosed as bipolar in 2009, I lived a chaotic life—most people never would have known. But my mental life was in disarray. I managed—and even was quite successful, using my manic states to my advantage by being super-productive to the point of becoming a workaholic. Some would call that being successful; I would call it being in bondage to my own pride:

 

I didn’t want to get help.

 

I feared others would see me as weak, crazy, or even that I had committed some awful sin. I only sought help when I couldn’t manage any longer after experiencing a traumatic situation in early 2009.

 

I got help. And you can too. Your family and friends can get help.

 

Today, I live a very peaceful and joyful life—all due to God, family and friends, support groups, counselors, psychiatrists, and yes—even medicine.

 

In the words of Michael Fitzpatrick of NAMI: “Simply put, treatment works, if you can get it. But in America today, it is clear that many people living with mental illness are not provided with the essential treatment they need.”

 

Dear one, please get the treatment you need. Use all available resources—start with God and if necessary, say yes to medication.

 

You can do more than manage. You can have your life—the life God wants for you not only in eternity but also in the here and now.

 

It’s your time!

 

I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance. (John 10:10)

 

 

Come alongside: Which of these statistics surprised you most? Do you struggle with mental illness? Are you seeking treatment for it? Why or why not? What can you do to take that first step toward a full life? How can you help your loved one seek the help he or she needs? Please leave your comments below—and remember, you can comment anonymously if you so desire.

 

For more information on mental illnesses, please visit NAMI, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the National Institute of Mental Health.
 
 


 
 

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Playing Tug-of-War with Angels

“Right now, we’re just playing tug-of-war with angels.”

 

The doctor’s voice ushered in reality for us. Our NeeNee–the matriarch in the family–was dying. Doctors resuscitated her numerous times that morning–the day before  Thanksgiving.

 

It was now our decision: To sign or not to sign the DNR form.

 

My husband, his step-mom Tracy, and I. No one else in the family had made it to the hospital yet.

 

The three of us looked at each other, tears streaming down our faces.

 

“We hate to do this to you,” said the doctor, “but we need to know now.”

 

We knew NeeNee wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. She was ready to go home.

 

“Do not resuscitate.”

 

I walked behind the doctor to the room where NeeNee lay, Tracy beside me. My husband left to pick up family  members.

 

Our NeeNee lay motionless in the bed. I held her left hand while Tracy held her right hand. We cried alongside her, prayed over her, but most of all, we loved on her. She was non-responsive, even before the doctors disconnected the machinery. But we knew she could hear us.

 

Periodically, we watched her vitals, slowing with each passing moment.

 

Still, she held on.

 

A chaplain came and prayed with us.

 

We waited for the others to arrive. Minutes seemed like hours, but Tracy and I treasured every moment with our NeeNee. She took deep breaths every once in awhile, as we reassured her, “It’s okay. Go on home.”

 

I caressed her hair and rubbed my index finger on her cheek. Every once in awhile, I leaned in to kiss her and tell her I loved her. Her vitals would spike and then slowly decline again.

 

“It’s okay, NeeNee. Go on home.”

 

I held her hand and remembered the day I met her–a beautiful smile that welcomed me into her family. She knew no strangers and loved all who came around her. She was the family historian–a storyteller who could take a 5-minute tale and turn it into a 30-minute epic. She remembered everyone’s birthday and anniversary and freely gave out of the little she herself possessed. Her heart was toward her family.

 

Now her heart was failing her. She was tired and ready–ready to leave this world of physical pain and enter into paradise with her Savior. Her sister, mother, and father would be waiting for her there too.

 

And yet, the angels tugged at her. We tugged as well.

 

Pulse.

15-0.

15-0.

15-0.

 

Outside the room, I heard a noise. Turned around to see some of our family members. “They’re here,” I said.

 

15.

0.

0.

0.

0.

 

I bowed my head and cried. She waited. They arrived. She let go of the rope. Quietly, peacefully, she entered eternity. No more pain, no more exhaustion. God, in His mercy, extended her the ultimate gift–not only the freedom from pain and exhaustion, but also the gift of Himself.

 

But why grant me such a gift? Why would God grant me the gift of ushering a beautiful soul into His presence? To witness the passing of a Godly woman–a daughter, a sister, a wife, an aunt and friend to many? Why would He have me share this life-changing occasion with Tracy? Why?

 

Love.

 

The love that took NeeNee home is the same love that shone down on me that day. It’s the same generous love God shines down on me every moment, every day (Psalm 84:11). God’s perfect love transcends suffering and pain–NeeNee’s and mine.

 

In death and in life, we play tug-of-war with angels. In death and in life, I want to let go of the rope.

 

We love you, NeeNee, and we’ll see you soon.

 

NeeNee

 

Come alongside… In what ways are you playing tug-of-war with God? How can you let go of the rope?

 

Affiliate Disclosure

Daphne Tarango is a participant in affiliate programs with Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, DaySpring, Church Source, Hazelden, Life is Good, Positive Promotions, BloomThat, CesarsWay, Christian Strong (via Conversant and ShareASale). These advertising services are designed to provide a means for sites like DaphneWrites.com to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to said merchants. Some images and articles may contain links to products on merchant sites. Should you choose to make purchases through those links, please understand that I will receive a small commission. Please do not feel like you need to use these links to make any purchases. The links are only for your convenience. Thank you.

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