Christine Duncan

Precepts & Life Preservers

Tag: mood disorders

His Portion

Easter weekend has drawn to a close, and I realise two things.

One, that even with all the planning and prep in the world, mood disorders will still never acknowledge a holiday. It doesn’t get the memo to take a break. OH how I wish.

And two, that in spite of that fact, when asking for extra portions of patience, energy, focus, and peace, so as to counteract the dysthymic episodes threatening to emerge from the flurry of a busy weekend, God doesn’t just give you ‘a’ portion.

He gives you His portion.

And what a difference that makes.

We need HIS portion of the things we lack. So we can enter into the land of the living this week, and the next.

If you need to counteract the balance of all the symptoms of a brain heading towards another flare-up of chronic depression, as a believer, you need something that will overwhelm the symptoms that overwhelm. It makes sense if you think about it.

And as I was navigating the Easter weekend, trying to keep my mind on the significance of it all, and as well, the tasks and errands and gatherings of it all, and wondering how to shake the growing feelings of mental exhaustion and anxiety and the ability to cope and doubts that were surfacing in a way only chronic D can, I found the following words in my Bible.

And so, appropriately for Easter, I took them to the Cross. The words and the moods and mental faltering. I took them both to the Cross and found what I needed.

“LORD, You are my portion, my inheritance, and my cup of blessing; You hold my future.” Psalm 16:5

Lord, I need You to be my peace when everything seems off. I’ll say with Your Word that You alone are the portion I need, and the blessing waiting for me as I give you my anxiety and exhausted moods that threaten.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:24

Lord, I’ll wait on You while I function through this day. You will be more than enough for me. You will be the portion of confidence and rest, and I can place my weary hope there and it is renewed.

“Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”
Isaiah 61:7

Lord, I’m just going to claim this promise. No shame for me anymore in stumbling hard through the chaotic weekend or week, just a double portion of all things that are You. No embarrassment that I won’t be able to cut it, just strength and ability in You, and the joy that comes with that.

“I cry to you, LORD; I say, “You ARE my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Psalm 142:5

Lord, your Word says You are my protection, from myself, from my disorder, from the fears. I can do all things in You, within Your amazing shelter.

I wanted to shake off the portions of dysthymia that were settling in, and simply enjoy the easter victory we were celebrating. I was never going to be able to do that on my own.

Maybe you know that feeling.

I needed His portion of that Easter Victory.

I will continue to need His portion of that Easter Victory.

Every day.

The Cross and empty tomb promises we will. All year-long.

His portion is ours.

His portion never runs out.

His portion does not disappoint.

If you stop what you’re doing right now, and approach the living God for more of Him, you’ll get a portion that will defy anything the week can bring you.

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Today’s post is gladly part of the #LifeGivingLinkup with Sue Detweiler! Would love to see you over there! Just click on the hashtag above to open the link and have an amazing day!

Anywhere But Here

It’s an anywhere but here in my head kind of day.

It’s the part of dysthymia that really drives me crazy.

Almost literally.

Almost.

I sit here knowing without a doubt where I would like to be, or what I’d like to be doing or finishing in that moment, but my agitated brain threatens to ruin it.

And there’s no override.

I had a day to do whatever I wanted. For eight hours the world was my oyster. I had been looking forward to it for the last week.

I had several things I could choose to enjoy or accomplish. But now the day was here.

And that darned mental agitation had come rolling in.

And although a small part of me wanted to recall what I’d enjoy doing most with the free time I had, my brain was loudly opposing the thoughts, making me regret even waking up.

Already I could sense it. Isolated noises extra loud to my brain, the dog drinking out of the water bowl nearly making me bolt and whisk her bowl into oblivion. Asking my husband to repeat what he’d just said three different times, my brain tuning out without warning.

And like a heavy shroud trying to suffocate you, agitation and anxiety simmer underneath your moods, flaring up only long enough to make you second guess everything you’ve ever thought.

What I wanted to do was go down to my favorite coffee-house, plug in my laptop, plug into a lovely pastry and chocolate chai tea, and write and muse and people watch.

Sounds lovely, I know.

That was the first plan.

But I knew the minute I attempted it, it would fall apart. I know the signs well, and know it’s irreversible once it’s set in. I would fidget, I would lose focus, my brain would rage and wander, I’d feel like everyone could tell. I would want to be gone already, I’d feel anger and frustration, and I’d be worse than if I never got there and just gave up… so you can see why so many with any kind of mood disorder or depression just give up, that’s the agitated and chaotic and screaming state of your moods.

You can be exactly where you want to be, it can be the best set up in the world, but if your brain is wreaking havoc with your moods, it’s exactly the last place you want to be.

For example, I know now, looking back decades before my diagnosis, that it was my early onset dysthymia that nearly sabotaged our honeymoon. We were so young. We were trying so hard to not be afraid of the future. Clinging to God hard. We were ecstatic even just to have a honeymoon at all.

And on day two of what should have been a really beautiful day in Niagara, I couldn’t figure out what the heaviness across my chest was, why everything my sweet husband said grated like chalk on a chalkboard, and why just being asked, “well then, what would YOU like to do?” sent me into scary meltdown mode.

My heart said, “what’s wrong with you? He wants to stop in old shops, restaurants, wants to hold your hand… why does this sound impossible?

And my head said it was too many choices to process, too many decisions it couldn’t filter, too many things to keep track of.

And I nearly made us go home. I broke up inside.

Poor Richard never knew what hit him. I cringe when I think of it.

And I especially didn’t know. I was miserable. Panicked. Confused.

The next day was an upswing, things returned to semi-normal, and I spent all day asking myself what had gotten into me. The trip was fine, but inside my heart I was appalled at behavior I seemed to have zero control over and had no reason for!

I’m just so thankful it didn’t last the whole week or longer, like it often can. But many a day trip or date night wound up like that.
Until I got my diagnosis.

These days, I know better how to adjust. So does my husband.

When that anywhere-but-here feeling hits, changing locations won’t help, I’ll still want to be anywhere but there. Giving myself time before I try what I initially wanted won’t help, I just give myself more time to be agitated.

What is a dysthymic gal to do?

I sink.

Oh, don’t take this the wrong way though.

I sink into Him.

When these difficult and non-negotiable symptoms rear their heads, instead of struggling, I remain still and sink into His presence.

Like when you find yourself in quicksand, the last thing you want to do is keep fighting and wriggling, you have to remain still. And if you’re going to sink, you sink into His side, you hide there, and He carries you. Fully immersed. Sunk into His goodness and mercy.

When my brain and moods and emotions are all in this impossible tangle, it’s kind of like how Paul writes in Romans 7, “I don’t understand what I do! For what I want to do, I don’t do, and what I hate, I keep doing…” and on and on.

This is not the state of the heart He desires for us. This is not how He wants us to live, exhausted and conflicted and restless, without hope. He wants something better.

In those moments, all I know is that I want that ‘something better’.

So I allow myself to sink into Him.

And every time we do, He says over us, ” Cease striving and know that I am your God.”

“My presence goes with you, child, and I give rest to you.”

“Fix your mind on Me, and I’ll keep you in perfect peace.”

“Come to Me for rest for your souls. Take My yoke that’s easy and light. I’ll carry your burdens.”

“I am your Shepherd, in Me you’ll lack nothing. I’ll give you green pastures to lay in, restoring streams to rest beside, refreshing you. I’ll guide you, protect you, keep you safe, comfort you. My goodness and mercy will follow you all you days.”

Yes, if it’s anywhere but here, I want my anywhere to be Him.

It’s not hard, it’s not complicated, it requires no ripples of new choices to overwhelm. There is nothing about Him that frustrates, that agitates, that is lacking in any way.

He is Perfect Peace.

I love the verse in Isaiah 26:3 that boldly says to all;
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

I just have to acknowledge that I need Him.

I keep my rattled mind there, fixed there, anchored says one version, (which I love) and perfect peace is made available.

I don’t know about you but that’s exactly where I want to be.

He’s where I want my anywhere to be. Everytime.

I don’t know if you have a condition of chronic depression lurking about. I don’t know if you have difficult life choices. I don’t know if you battle anxiety, shattered dreams maybe, a broken heart, or regrets that haunt, an illness that’s scary.

But better than holing up in the dark under the blankets somewhere, better than drowning it out with bad habits or addictions, better than calling it quits, He waits for us to sink down into His presence of love and peace and mercy and strength.

And I don’t know about you,
but I want my ‘anywhere but here’
to be Him.

Peace Days and Sailboats

I’ve declared today a “Peace Day.”

A day during the week where you give yourself the opportunity for some peace and quiet. Some soul rest. Some heart harbouring.

For anyone who lives with a mood disorder, {like chronic depression}, or illness or stress or grief, if we don’t allow a pause in the middle of the madness, we put ourselves at risk of winding up in the pit. And when I find myself near the pit’s edge, I have to acknowledge it and ask the Lord to meet me there, and supply the opportunity instead for respite.

This means you need to be present and paying attention, being in tune with what’s healthy.

Respite is one of the healthiest things we can seek.

I’m getting very good at knowing when I need respite.

And I’m getting even better at allowing for it.

It’s funny how we humans think respite is this sign of weakness, to be pushed against, to prove ourselves industrious and hearty. We keep denying it, while wearing ourselves out with all the denial. This stigma floats around suggesting that to dwell where there’s respite is just another form of lazy.

But at some point we all need respite. All of us.

When was the last time we heeded the Spirit’s whisper to be still?

It’s when we’re still, it’s in His shadow, that we confirm the truth that He is God the Father, and we’re His children, not more mini-gods who are invincible. It’s in respite that we shift our perspective back to acknowledging His grace, and faithful tender mercies, and whatever provision and teaching He has waiting. And that He is God alone.

The healthiest place to be.

And we can’t get that in the middle of the crush of the ongoing days.

I recognized yesterday, that I would need respite today. And it was made a priority. Not because I’m selfish. Not because I’m weak. But because He designed me that way.

And I’m spending today dwelling in His respite.

His wonderful shadow where I sit with a good book, some music, and a candle shining.

His warmth where the tiny pastry blossoms emerge from the oven, smelling like apples and berries and honey, making me drool if I’m to be completely honest.

His peace magnified while I take my time rinsing Tupperware and the boatwright’s lunch containers, and marinating chicken, shuffling around in my comfy clothes, singing with the stereo.

I’m not doing anything special really, but in this scheduled respite God takes the time to do something special in me.

Making yourself a do-nothing day leaves room for God to have an intimate do-something day. With your heart. With your soul. Respite and restoration rolled into one.

I love the word restoration. It embodies the very pulse of God. Restoration. That’s His delight. That’s His master plan.

My husband, the boatwright,  was commissioned with restoring an old and very important sailboat a little while ago. There is much planning, anticipating what might be hidden, what will have to be peeled back, what could be revealed, salvaged, saved, edited out, and tossed to make room for the new finishes and parts that will have to blend with the original.

You can’t just dive in and rip things out or patch surface areas over, willy-nilly.

The process can’t be rushed. Everything goes slowly, steadily, with beauty and seaworthiness as the final result in mind. Full restoration. And my husband revels in it. To see something given back it’s purpose. So it will shine.

How much more invested in our own restoration is the Father?

And while the restoration of that sailboat takes place, in the midst of the dust and sanding and replacing, there is what? Respite.

No slapping waves. No harsh sharp sun. No pushing and fighting across the winds.

Just respite.

Like us. Time to start making time for respite. So we can be properly and fully restored by the Master Builder and Life Preserver.

And it can’t be rushed. So allow enough time. Often.

I’ve declared today a “peace day.”

And more than body puttering, and soul cooking, and heart cleaning, I reach for His respite, and discover the next restoration.

The Bible says He will carefully and purposefully mold and shape me and fill me, so I can be used to the fullest extent of His purpose for me. That’s no small thing.

We can’t take that for granted. And we can’t allot a small amount of time for that. This restoration could take a lifetime.

But will be worth it. His respite for a lifetime?

Yes, please.

So, I guess my challenge is a tender one. Will you make time soon for a peace day, for respite linked within restoration? More than apple pastries or sailboats, will you make it about Him remaking you into His proper and divine purpose?

So when you are released from His care, into the raging, sparkling, tremendous life seas, you surge forward and shine like you’ve never shone before?

Can I Thank You?

I’m sitting here with a breakfast bagel on one side of me and Dr.Pepper on the other and feeling festive on this New Year’s Eve.

And typing away with an all-consuming desire to just say, “thanks!”

Early today I hummed and hawed and thought about imparting some great and profound starting-off-a-new-year wisdom that would instantly take the internet by storm but….

Can I just take today to say thank you?

When I started this journey back in May, I had no idea the kind of sweet friends I would make through this blog. The kind of amazing support I would get for stepping out and declaring that believers are not immune to mood disorders and mental health worries, and that it was time to be real about it in my life, and maybe inspire others to be more real about it in their own.

That a ripple would happen, and that there would be people near and far, (hi Budapest!) who would start to read along with the ramblings and musings and prayers of some random woman living with her chronic D and her growing faith and all the befuddling things that come with the two, and all the empowering and healing things the Life Preserver encircles us with each day.

I’ve really got to thank you.

Thank You!!!

Your encouraging comments here and on the Facebook page, your emails and private messages when you felt alone and swallowed up by your situations, your prayer requests and your testimonies and your amazing journeys and life stories that change mine… thank you.

Your sharing and your giving and your voices make my world this amazing place to be…. thank you.

Your compassion for your families and friends that make you ask questions and seek counselling and find help, and your openness in your phone calls and coffee visits and your hugs… thank you.

Gosh, my prayer and hope is that I’ve been some help to all of you, even a smidgen of the way you, the reader, have been a rock for me.

That you read along, and cheer, and cry, and wonder, not to mention question why I drink Dr.Pepper with my breakfast on holidays, makes this an amazing place to be.

How can I ever thank you???

I have a prayer with all of you in mind. Will you mind that I’m praying it for each of you already?
That the Lord truly cover your 2015 in rich blessing and amazing adventure. That you would know all year-long Who holds you under His tender and mighty wing, no matter what. That you are never alone, that the Life Preserver has preserved your life for a definitive reason, and that He begin to reveal the “What Now” of your journey. That His Joy would override any heartache, any drama, and disappointment, His Joy which is never dependent on our circumstance, but on His faithfulness. And that you would pass the message on, and pay it forward, that we are all amazing to the Father, and cherished more than we can understand.

Cause if I can say you’re amazing, how much more does the Creator, who created you exactly in His image?

Exactly.

So I lift my thanks for you all, and wish you all the biggest and brightest prayer for the coming season. You will never know how grateful I am to have you on this leg of the journey with me.

Chronic Dysthymia, Dr.Pepper, and all.

From the bottom of my welling-up-with-tears heart….

Thank you.

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