Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Depression Quote

O My Soul:

"Trying out different medications makes you feel like a dartboard. "Depression these days is curable," people told me. "You take antidepressants like people take aspirin for a headache." This is not true. Depression these days is treatable; you take antidepressants like you take radiation for cancer. They sometimes do miraculous things, but none of it is easy and the results are inconsistent."

page 120-121 The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon

Hope in Christ &
God bless you.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Dosage and the Solar Equinox

O My Soul:

Longer days brings brighter feelings, so a few weeks ago I ask my doctor what he thought about reducing my dosage. I would give it a try if he thought it was a good idea and my wife was willing. They both said yes. I, too, was willing to give it a try. I'm tired of the side effects - random dizziness, light headed, feeling flat. So, we cut my Celexa dosage in half.

This is not working. The sun can shine all day but I feel that sinking feeling of irratability and lethargy. This is not working.

How can you know if things are turning toward a depressive episode? Check out this list and which symptoms I am currently experiencing:

1. Low mood. (Yes)

2. Increased irritability. (Yes)

3. Lack of motivation. (Yes)

4. Low self-esteem. (A little)

5. Sleep disturbance. (Yes)

6. Suicidaly thoughts. (No and thank God for that!)

7. Hallucinations or delusions. (Ditto)

8. Difficulty managing small tasks or making simple desicions. (Yes, it's getting harder.)

9. Reckless and risk taking. (No)

10. Staying home from work or school. (Yes)

11. Increased alcohol consumption. (No, but I am longing for a cold beer or 5)

12. Loss of interest in food, sex, or other pleasurable activities. (Currently, it's not a loss of interest as much as obsessive thoughts about these topics.)

13. Sensitivity to slight criticisms. (Yes)

So I'm sinking into depression but as long as I am rational I am motivated to implement the following plan:

1. Tell my wife.

2. Tell my doctor. (up my dosage - on the longest day of the year no doubt)

3. Tell my pastor and schedule a visit with him this week.

4. Line up a new psychologist and psychiatrist. I haven't done that since the move. I hate this part, but my network of helpful people is too small should I become a little non-functional. It is also way over the head of my wife to experience alone.

5. Start today.

The hardest part of all this is admitting that I won't get better without help from many other people, I feel the stigma of being on anti-depressants more than ever, and this is a lifelong effort.

So, Hope in Christ &
God be with you.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Caring for a Depressed Soul

O My Soul:

My wife is visiting her mom and sister this weekend. This is they first time they have met face to face since my sister-in-law told her mom about her struggle with depression. My mother-in-law is a considerate woman but this is not easy.

My wife asked me what she could do to help her mom this weekend. What advice might she give her mom to help her cope with her daughters depression?

Things to try:

1. Listen to her daughter's experience with depression.

2. Indicate you have noticed a change in her behavior.

3. Listen to her daughter without judgment.

4. Ask how her last appointment went.

5. Talk about depression and help find information she needs.

6. Encourage her to find a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a pastor she trusts. (The trifecta of a good professional mental health network.)

7. Encourage her to exercise, eat well, and become involved in social activities.

8. Keep in touch and encourage close family and friends to do the same.

9. Pray for her.

10. Listen to her again, and

11. Pray for her again.

Hope this is helpful.
God bless you,


Monday, June 14, 2010

The Trigger: Overseas Missions

O My Soul:

William Carey is often called the Father of Modern Christian Missions. He was an idealist, a pragmatist, a thinker, an adventurer, a translator, and compassionate of others with the Word of God.

I'm not a Baptist but I do identify with a character like William Carey.

I love the idea of Christian missions, my wife agreed. I like to travel especially off the beaten tourist path. Translation is important. The Christian Bible is translated into many (not all) but most languages in the world. Those people know the accounts of the Bible but not the "What does this mean?"

So, I have a lot in common with William Carey.

I did not go into foreign missions completely naive. Even in hindsight, I was well prepared. I was aware that the greatest stress for missionaries was other missionaries and not so much the culture in which they make their new home. That and many other things about living cross-culturally was the stuff I was already aware.

I went through a battery of psychological tests. The results recommended that I would do well. I was resilient. Blah, blah, blah.

The romance of recruitment is also nice. Church officials taking my family out for dinner. Strategy meetings to plan how I might be incorporated into the goals of the mission in a country or region. Recruitment and raising support in congregations is what I call the "Rock Star" experience. Missionaries have it as a perk whenever they are back in the U.S.

I never ever thought that mission work would be a trigger to move me from childhood depressive episodes to long term clinical depression along with contemplating suicide.

The trigger for my mental illness, my clinical depression and anxiety, was my overseas mission experience.

Future posts will focus on how the events of those years as an overseas missionary triggered a God awful depression from which I am still recovering.

until then

Hope in Christ &
God bless you.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mrs. OMS is Expecting Our 4th Child in November

O My Soul:

What a joyful surprise!

Mrs. OMS is doing well. Resting a little more, but also bargain shopping at local rummage sales. I'm always surprised at what she can find for so little. Nesting has begun.

The children are overjoyed. Asking questions. Trying to decide which of their toys they might give to the baby. The youngest doesn't let me go to work without specifically saying good-bye to the baby.

I, too, am overjoyed and thankful. I'm thankful to God that we have this opportunity to care for another person. Mrs. OMS and I have a strong and strengthening marriage (even in spite of my anxiety/depression which is not true for all marriages).

I also feel deeply content with this and all the other changes that have taken place or the last year. More later. Until then...

Keep us in your prayers, and

God bless you and yours

Monday, June 7, 2010

How to Become a Runner

O My Soul:

I'm looking back at my running logs from two and three years ago. I want to start running like I was two years ago. A spring and fall half-marathon. A few 5K's.

I know how I left running. The question is how did I ever start in the first place. Here are a few lessons I've learned.

1. Start moving more. Do anything to get off the couch or out of bed. Mow the lawn. Walk the dog. Take the steps instead of the elevator. Once I get moving I enjoy moving.

2. Buy a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps per day. Every step counts. The walk from my desk to the coffee pot. Anything and everything counts. Just get to 10,000 steps. It's just far enough that I have to plan a short walk. The hard part is not walking 10,000 steps. The hard part is walking it again tomorrow. However, after two weeks of 10,000 steps every day I begin to sleep better.

3. Buy a good pair of shoes. I love my ASIC gels but there are many, many kinds to choose. My only advice is that you buy a good pair of running shoes ($75+) and not a cheap tennis shoe. If you don't listen to me you will listen to the inevitable pain of shin splints.

4. Buy a heart rate monitor. I can not stress this one enough. Why do people quit running? People quit running because they run too fast for their physical fitness. I set the heart rate monitor to beep when my heart rate gets lower than 116 beats per minute and greater than 132 beats per minute. As my fitness increases, my speed increases, and all the time my heat rate is the same. So don't go crazy about how fast you are running.

5. Transfer some walking steps to a slow running pace. The pace of a fast walk is about the same for a slow run, but you will work harder at the run. What is the difference between walking and running? While walking you always have one foot on the ground, whereas, while running you will have both feet off the ground for a moment in each stride. So, run for 30 seconds for every 2 minutes on your walk and work up from there. Your patience will reward you in spades.

6. Rest. The most important part of running is not the run but the recovery. Add an extra hour for sleep and you ought to be ready to run again in 24 to 48 hours. Maybe a little longer. If it is much longer you are running to fast or...too long. Scale back a bit. Your body will respond much faster than you may think and it really is enjoyable if you remain in your fitness level.

7. Sign up for a 5K. A 5K is 3.1 miles and you can walk that far in one hour. Sure, there is going to be some kid who runs it in 15 minutes. But so many people are there to have fun, talk about their running, have a picnic with family and friends. It is a social event. Have fun.

These are a few things I've learned about walking, running, and socializing which are also great anit-depressants. And good for the soul.

Hope in Christ &
God be with you


Friday, June 4, 2010

Hymn: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee, Neumark

O My Soul:

This is a beautiful Christ-focused hymn. I listen to it not often enough.

Lutheran Hymn "Wer nur den lie ben Gott lässt wal ten" played in Reed Organ.

Words: Georg Neumark, 1641 (Wer nur den lie ben Gott lässt walten); first published in his Fortgepflantzer musikal­isch-poetischer Lustwald (Jena, Germany: 1657). Cather ine Winkworth translated the words from German to English in 1855, and published them in the Chorale Book for England, 1863.

Music: Neumark, Georg Neumark, 1641

The Lutheran Hymnal #518
The Lutheran Service Book #750 (entitled: If Thou but Trust in God to Guide Thee)

Lyrics (Original translation):

If thou but suffer God to guide thee
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He'll give thee strength, whate'er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days.
Who trust in God's unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught can move.

What can these anxious cares avail thee
These never ceasing moans and sighs?
What can it help if thou bewail thee
O'er each dark moment as it flies?
Our cross and trials do but press
The heavier for our bitterness.

Be patient and await His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whatever thy Father's pleasure
And His discerning love hath sent,
Nor doubt our inmost want are known
To Him who chose us for His own.

God knows full well when time of gladness
Shall be the needful thing for thee.
When He has tried thy soul with sadness
And from all guile has found thee free,
He comes to thee all unaware
And makes thee own His loving care.

Nor think amid the fiery trial
That God hath cast thee off unheard,
That he whose hopes meet no denial
Must surely be of God preferred.
Time passes and much change doth bring
And set a bound to everything.

All are alike before the Highest:
'Tis easy for our God, We know,
To raise thee up, though low thou liest,
To make the rich man poor and low.
True wonders still by Him are wrought
Who setteth up and brings to naught.

Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word: though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.

Hope in Christ &
God bless you,


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Few Years of Red Hot Calm

O My Soul:

I've mentioned a few of my lessons learned from childhood depression and now I'm moving on to early adulthood. (continuing to remain an anonymous blogger)

After college, I was doing really well. I was given a great job with a wonderful company. I held out the prospect of going to the seminary even though I delayed with full time work and part-time study on another graduate degree. I married an incredibly bright and beautiful lady who is a daily blessing to me.

I remember a few times when I was stricken by strange fears. One was on the day I went to see True Lies in the theater with a friend. Great movie...bad day. I was in bed most of that day, overwhelmed with a strange but profound despair that led to exhaustion. I remember thinking that there is no reason for this but good Lord I can't move!! I did go to the movie. Enjoyed it but was in bed most of the next day. Too much emotion, energy, everything.

I had other days or so like that but nothing that lasted longer than a day or two.

I also had an internal edge (anxiety) most of the time. I didn't talk about it much. It came out at times (mostly yelling at my poor wife). As uncomfortable as that was for me it seemed fairly normal. I never did know how to control my emotions and frankly was convinced it would be too hard to try. So I would either wear them on my shirt sleeve or be poker-faced. I didn't think of myself as an emotional person. Boy, was I wrong.

It is only in hindsight that I now realize I am more emotional that rational. Not that I can't think or do think (except in a depressive attack). It's just that I now realize that I experience emotions of all kinds at very strong levels.

That strong emotion could be described as a red hot calm.

I was told by a psychologist that I don't present myself as depressed. When people read me they don't see the intensity of emotion that I am experiencing. I said, maybe you should ask my wife and kids about that one.

But 10-15 years ago, I was not even much aware of the intensity of emotion I was experiencing. I was calm but it was a red-hot calm. Overall, I could control it.

However, a series of events were about to come that would bring me to my knees not just for a few hours or days but rather years. A time was about to come when anxiety and depression would not be something I experienced as a bad day but as something to which I would become enslaved.

But those posts are for another day.

Until then-

Hope in Christ &
God bless you.


A History of the Cure of Souls (with reference to depression)

O My Soul:

A History of the Cure of Souls by John T. McNeill is a book I highly recommend to any Christian interested in the care and cure of souls. It is a quick overview of how the church has always been about applying God's Word to hurting and hardened souls. First, surveying the Old Testament and then moving forward through the history of the church to finally examining different confessional traditions.

Here are a few quotes from Chapter VIII: On the Cure of Souls in Lutheranism-

"The Christian life is strenuous, but Luther will not have it be gloomy. We must recognize the devil's devices in melancholy thoughts, and counter them with innocent delights. Music is a God-given means of arousing gladness...Music is the best cordial to a person in sadness, he wrote; it soothes, quickens, and gladdens the heart. And again, 'Satan is a great enemy of music. It is a good antidote against temptation and evil thoughts...

"The Lutheran confessions of faith reflect Luther's main emphasis on confession and absolution...In the Augsburg Confession (1530) three articles are devoted to these topics (xi, xii, xxv). The signers profess that they continue to practice confession and absolution, ordinarily in preparation for communion, but without requiring the enumeration of sins: for in that case consciences would never find peace.

"The private cure of souls was actively pursued and frequently discussed by Luther's early followers. Hardeland explains in this connection the work of Jerome Weller (d. 1572) and Erasmus Sarcerius (d. 1559), the former stressing the comfort of the tempted and the latter seeking to strengthen church discipline.

"The most outstanding of such works came from the pen of the Strasbourg Reformer, Martin Bucer (d.1551). His On the True Care of Souls appeared in 1538 in German and Latin versions.

"Ezekiel 34:16 furnishes the scheme for Bucer's fivefold ministry in the cure of souls: to draw to Christ those who are alienated; to lead back those who have been drawn away; to secure amendment of life to those who fall into sin; to strengthen weak and sickly Christians; to preserve Christians who are strong, and urge them forward in all good.

(an extended section on how Bucer's writings were later used to support Pietism. Spener liked Bucer but disliked confession absolution. after leading the reader through the main lines of Lutheran thought from the Reformation, Orthodoxy, Pietism, Rationalism, to the mid-20th century, the author make three generalizations:)

"The Lutheran tradition reflects a free revision of medieval methods, particularly the retention of the confessional in altered form.

"Secondly, the earnest pastor has usually devoted much time to the visitation of parishioners, holding interviews in which he has sought the healing of souls and the quickening of religious devotion.

"Finally, stress on the mutual care of souls on the part of laymen.

In my opinion, the author appreciates Pietistic theology in Lutheranism more than I do. However, he gives a great outline of the great Lutheran thinkers and practitioners of the cure of souls throughout our history. He does the same with the Reformed, Anglican, Puritan, Baptist, Roman, and Armenian church bodies. This overview is helpful and a stepping stone to other authors on this topic.

And remember:

Hope in Christ &
God bless you,