Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's Working!

O My Soul:

Completely unrelated to the church's season of Lent, I joined

Weight Watchers

and I am impressed.

I have a hard time doing any exercise during the winter. I drink coffee and watch the snow blow across the backyard. Instead of going to the YMCA, I get up for another cup of coffee. My girth has increased. My optimism has decreased. I've been a little edgy, too.

Here enters Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers is not a diet. It's an education about food and fitness. I've often wondered how anybody could cut calories without feeling insatiably hungry after a few days or weeks. Weight Watchers teaches how by helping us stay aware of the kinds of foods we eat. Is the food high in fiber? fat? or calories? What is my current weight? How much have I moved this week? Was the movement at a low intensity? moderate? high?

All this can be calculated in a simple manner. I like numbers and I like simple.

What a blessing that I have found something that may work!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog Day

O My Soul:

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. Six more weeks of winter.

I ok with this. The weather is much warmer than January. Lent is approaching and that's a good thing. Easter is just around the corner. Not only do we get to see a resurrection of apparently dead trees and flowers, we also receive the benefit of the one who was truly dead and now alive.

Blessings to you in Christ


Monday, February 1, 2010

Winter Vacation: I'm Back

O My Soul:

Last summer my doctor recommended I plan a winter vacation. He said it might help during the dark days of winter. Fortunately, my family had two invitations to go to Florida and stay with family and friends. Three days on the Gulf Coast, FL and seven days in Disney World...I had a great time.

I had a good talk with a relative about depression. I found out only recently that she has been struggling with minor depression since her teenage years and has infrequent bouts with major depression. 2009 was a bad year for her.

I have been able to sleep for over nine months. I have also been able to reduce my work schedule while interacting more with my wife and children. Even when I'm feeling bad, I'm able (most of the time) to put on the mask of a healthier person so as not to hurt my family.

However, I want to continue to improve. To do that I need to find a psychiatrist, psychologist, and a father-confessor in my new hometown (I accepted a call last fall to a new parish). This will take work...but I'm ready for it.

Also, I will probably plan a winter vacation next year as well.

Thanks Mickey and your Magic Kingdom....but

Blessings to you (the readers) in God's Kingdom with Christ.


I Trust When Dark My Road

O My Soul:

Well, well! On your first read you arrogantly dismissed the Rev. Todd Pepperkorn's book entitled

I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression

I thought, "That doesn't sound so bad." But I am clinically depressed and haven't read a complete book in over year, let alone analyze the content of one. Nor do I yet fully grasp what has been happening to me.

So I began digesting this hundred page gem - sentence by sentence and half chapter by half chapter - to completion.

My wife exclaimed after she read Chapter Two: The Place of the Family, "So that is what is happening to us!" Dad's growing anger and both emotional and physical withdrawal from her and our three children.

Through the fog of my depression, a new view of the last twenty-five years began to emerge. Teenage depression in the 1980's triggered by divorcing parents. The severe recurrence of that depression while cutting my teeth as a pastor on the foreign mission field in the 2000's. (But, hey, the 1990's weren't so bad:) Anyway, the Reverend Pepperkorn's description of his descent into mental illness is helping me become aware of my own descent into that "ghastly landscape called clinical depression" as described in the introduction by Dr. Beverly Yahnke.

Chapter One addresses the Build Up to the Fall. Chapter Three reviews The Early Signs That Things Were Wrong. The fear of anti-depressant medication is discussed in Chapter Four: The Pill That Marked Me. The rest of the book describes one husband/dad/pastor's journey to a healing that most depressed people never experience due to nothing but a crushing fear that has the capacity to suck the life-breath out of you. In fact, suicide is the topic in Chapter Nine: Thinking the Unthinkable.

The take home message is that Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant, does not forsake His people. He is near you. His death is for you. He provides doctors, psychologists, pastors, family and friends to deliver His care and cure to you.

Are you the spouse or friend of a mentally ill soul? Read Appendix 1: What to do if a loved one suffers depression.

Are you a pastor without a pastor? Read the Addendum by the Rev. Dr. Harold Senkbeil to help you find a pastor to speak God's grace into your situation.

I encourage you to read this book.

Thank you to the Reverend Todd Pepperkorn for writing this book.

Thank you to the Reverend Matthew Harrison for bringing this book to publication through LCMS World Relief and Human Care of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.


Anti-Depressant Behavior

O My Soul:

You became a runner last year. Partly to help you sleep and partly to prove to yourself that you could do it. You chalked up two half-marathons and it had a lot of helpful benefits. Improved mood, less insomnia, and lower cholesterol. All from running (very slowly) three times per week.

I recently learned about the benefits of anti-depressant behavior, such as running or walking. It's not the particular exercise that is important but increasing your heart rate to 70% of maximum a half hour per day.

Problem is ... I don't like exercising every day. I'm beginning to think of it as a needed part of my soul care. Like an anti-depressant medication, anti-depressant behavior is part of that care.

Lord, help me to slow down and make this a daily (or more frequent) priority.