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Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Tomorrow is the 25th of January, Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk” initiative to help quell the stigma of mental illness.  Celebrities have recorded brief interviews and have stepped up in raising awareness of depression, anxiety, OCD, Bipolar disorder, etc.

As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety the past couple of months have been scary.  I am a Canadian, and proud to be one.  Our neighbours to the south elected a new President and it seems the world has been in a tailspin since.  Every day the rhetoric increases, the attacks get more personal and social media is reaching a frenzy status on who is right and who is wrong.

What scares me is the increasing vitriolic hatred that both sides of the debate engage.  There is hurt and anger and a decided lack of respect.  There seems to be no acknowledgment of the other side as a human being.  Memes spring up everywhere and there are veritable twitter wars and Facebook battles over who is right and who is wrong.  Over who is telling the truth and who is lying.

We seem to have lost the respect of basic human dignity.  Regardless of whether you are a supporter or protester of POTUS, we need to come together in unity.  He needs to be held accountable.  We need to ensure our voices are raised in unison.  Can we please, please stop with the division and hatred.

I don’t like being told that as I woman “I must” feel a certain way or behave in a certain manner.  I don’t appreciate being told as a Christian “I must” say certain things and if I fail to do so I am a disgrace to Christianity.

I am a child of God.  So are you.  So is POTUS.  So is our Prime Minister.  So is everyone we meet.

I’m tired of the anger.  I’m tired of the hurt.  I’m tired of the hatred. I want to join the revolution of love.  I want to change the world with respect; with words of empowerment and love.  I can and will change how I view the world by looking through lenses of love and respect.

I short, I refuse to hate.

My mental health is always fragile in January…I’m not really sure why…but it is and I tend to cocoon more than usual, trying to stay warm and safe.

I am blessed in being surrounded by people who love me.  Who hold me when I cry, who bolster me when I struggle.  Who check in because I am on their mind and in their heart. I am blessed to love many of those who surround me.  And lately, I’ve begun to fall in love with myself.

I know I am not perfect.  I never will be.  And that’s okay.  In God’s eyes I am created in perfection and that’s more than good enough for me.

There is a South African word, Ubuntu, that means “I am because you are”.  In other words, I can’t be who I am without you.  It doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree and think the same.  It means we have the right and even the responsibility to disagree and hold one another accountable for our words and actions.  It means we are all in this life together.  It’s a way of living, an understanding, that is both powerful and profound.

If we embrace Ubuntu, perhaps we, together, can change this cruel world in which we live?

As always, I live in love and in hope.

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We are now in the season of Advent…a time of anticipation and preparation in the Church.  I used to get really frustrated with the Christmas craziness that surrounded me and how Advent got trampled every single year.

While I still believe this to be true, I realise there really is little I can do about it.

When I was a child I would not allow (yes, would not “allow”) any Christmas decorations up until after my birthday at the end of November.  Whether this means I have grown up or not, I have started decorating the mantle for Winter.  Eventually it will have some additions for Christmas, and for Hanukkah, but for now, it is simply a reflection of outdoors.  I bought two rustic stockings because I like things to be balanced.  Eventually I will hang them.

I have a lovely galvanized bucket that I filled with cedar branches from one of the bushes outside.  It looks lovely.  I have ribbon, burlap and some sparkly stuff to put down.  First I have to clean the mirror.  Today I hung a small wreath on the front door.

I’m decoupaging candles for the Advent wreath and I wrote a new setting for this year.  I’m meeting with colleagues on Thursday to discuss details for the Community Lessons and Carols service.  It’s going to be a great deal of fun.

I need to put the finishing details on the Advent Quiet Day happening in a couple of weeks.

My Christmas cards are ready, I need to address and mail them.  My Christmas presents are purchased or supplies ready to be crafted.  Keeping things very simple this year.  I like simple.

I’ve been working on a website for the Church and while it’s a work in progress, things a coming together nicely.

So, while I’m in a place where it sometimes feels like I can’t finish any single thing, I’m in a place where things are getting finished.  My house right now is a mess because there are many things happening, but I know, eventually, they will all be finished and my house will be returned to order.

Trying to stress less and enjoy more.  To be more fully present without the necessity of a plan.  A wise friend is known to mock me when I ask “what’s the plan” and the wistful reply is “for that, you don’t need a plan…it will happen as it happens”.  Which yes, does drive me mental.  But I’m learning…and that’s something.

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As you may have figured out by now, the surgery was a success.  The pain was as expected and I ended up with a secondary infection that has since cleared.  I will be taking probiotics for the next few months to balance my stomach after two rounds of antibiotics.

So much has happened since I last wrote.  I won’t go into the details here.  After the surgery I slipped into a deep depression.  It was hard work to care for myself once I was home again, and I wanted to be home so I could be back at work…and yet I struggled to do the things I need to do to be healthy.

I slept a lot because my body needed it.  I ate when I was supposed to, but didn’t always make healthy choices.  I didn’t get out to move as much as I should have because I was sore and depressed.  Thank God that has passed and I am back to my usual goofy self.  I’ve made some decisions about myself and my life…

I have stopped colouring my hair.  I’m going to let the silver come through, or Executive Blonde as I’ve heard it called.  I have bought some new clothes and thinned through  my closet again.  I’m enjoying my body coming back to life after anaesthetic.  I’m using my yoga mat again and while it’s very slow, it’s coming back.

During post-surgical recovery I rediscovered Pinterest.  I’ve now got great ideas for how to decorate the mantle, I began an easy makeover of the laundry room/powder room and am making over my bedroom.  I’m not sure if I’m “nesting” before winter or where the burst of energy has come from, but I’m beginning to feel more like myself.  And I like that.

I’ve made a commitment and promise to myself to get outside every day and walk.  It may be for kilometers and may be for meters, but every day I will get outside.  When you live in the beautiful corner of creation where I do, how can you not get outside?

I’m working with a budgeting program to help keep my expenses in check, my budget balanced and, as of January, begin saving a little bit each month.  I’m truly feeling as though I’m gaining control again over the things I can control and that makes me very happy.

This is my first year in ministry in British Columbia.  The folks here have not seen some of what I do.  And thus far, the feedback has all been positive.  We have recognized All Saints and All Soul’s.  All Soul’s had it’s own service last Wednesday and it was well received.  On Sunday we recognized Remembrance Sunday and it was also very well received.

This week I have a Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph with one of the local schools on Thursday, a Cenotaph Service on Friday morning at 11:00, then another one following at the local Legion, a nursing home gathering at 2:00 pm and that will wrap up Remembrance Day.  Whew!

I’m loving this community and learning more about it.  Meeting people who have introduced me to the arts community, the museum, and other such wonders has been incredible.  I’m enjoying the arts community locally and in the next city over, where I have season tickets to the Symphony of the Kootenays and the Community Theatre.

My work/life balance is the best it’s ever been.  And for that I am thankful.

 

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I struggle, at times, with depression and anxiety.  Most of the time I can cope with medication, relaxation, proper diet, exercise and rest.  Lately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed, and it’s completely understandable why I’m feeling this way.

On Friday I’m having surgery.  For the second time in my life I will go under general anesthetic.  I’m not afraid of the surgery.  The surgeon has reassured me that he anticipates the procedure will go well.  The procedures I’m having are minor, taking 20 minutes in total.  The anesthesiologist has reassured me that all shall be well.  She asked if I was nervous and I said I wasn’t and smiled.  She asked why I was smiling and I replied “if things don’t go well, it won’t be my problem…it will be yours.  As you’ll get to tell my congregation”. And we both laughed.

What I fear is the unknown.  Which is truly a silly thing to fear.  And I participate in mental gymnastics…what if I get an infection…what if it takes me hours to come out of the anesthetic…what if something goes wrong?  All legitimate questions, all with unknown answers.  Try to explain that to my anxiety.

I’m not worried about the congregation.  My Wardens and Licensed Lay Ministers will take care of everything in the parish.  My Regional Dean will look after any pastoral emergencies.  And still my innards flutter.

So, between now and Thursday morning when I find out the actual time of the surgery I will keep myself busy, which isn’t difficult to do.  The difficult part is remembering to take time to breathe, to care for myself…to do everything I can to release the anxiety I feel.

I’m staying with a good friend in the community where I’m having the surgery to make sure that I properly rest and don’t overdo things.  Left to my own devices I would push myself too hard and too soon.  I’m told it will be approximately 10 days before I can return to work…I’m giving myself 14 days.  And I fully anticipate returning to work at a bit slower pace then I am maintaining right now.

If you are a person who prays, I ask for your prayers for myself, and also for the doctor’s, nurses and support staff who will take care of me through the surgery.  I ask for your prayers for those who will care for me after the surgery until I am able to care for myself.

Thanks!

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I should be sleeping…in fact, I should be fast asleep in my comfortable bed.

Instead I am downstairs, puzzling over why I’m not sleeping.  I’m tired.  In fact, I’m more than tired…but here I am, wide awake and not the slightest bit pleased by it.

My brain won’t shut off…I need a dimmer switch, or a pause button so I can properly turn it off and sleep.

The past month has been a veritable roller coaster of emotions…I presided my first wedding and baptism in BC.  Both were incredible experiences.  I have my second wedding this Saturday.  I have been to the doctor to address some of my medical issues and surgery will be needed in the next while.  It’s day surgery, but recovery will be at least two weeks…likely in November.

I’ve learned I have sleep apnea and am using a CPAP machine.  It’s taking a bit of getting used to, and is meant to improve my quality of sleep, but right now I am dragging through most days.

Yesterday an empty glass bottle fell from the top of the fridge onto my right big toe.  It hurt incredibly…so much so that after a few hours I took myself to hospital and discovered that it’s not broken, but there is soft tissue injury.  The bruising is horrific, and the toe feels better, so long as I keep it elevated.  When I try to walk, it’s not a pretty scene.

I’ve become used to walking everywhere I live…and today I had to drive to a local appointment…which I knew I needed to do to get better, but it sure did bug me. I guess what it comes down to, I don’t like being less-than-abled.  And I certainly don’t like asking for or accepting help.

I have incredibly kind parishioners who have offered to help with errands, etc., and me, Miss Independent, prefer to do it myself.  Which, for now, I can do…albeit slowly.  Under doctor’s orders I have to rest my foot for a week, staying off it as much as possible.  I’m used to walking every day and not being able to do that is throwing off my much-needed routine.

Argh.

My Mam turns 80 on the 23rd of August and I am flying to Ontario on that date, spending 6 days there.  While there I will see some people, but not everyone I want to as there’s just not going to be time.  And as we plan for the celebration for my Mam, I can’t help but remember my Dad and how he made it to 79 11/12.  I’m convinced he died because he didn’t want to write his driver’s license exam.  In fact, he died of pneumonia.

I miss my Mam.  I miss my brother.  I miss my best friend.  I miss my grands.  And yes, I miss many people in Ontario.  But Fernie is home to me.  I have an incredible congregation and I’m making friends.  I have traveled the area and am learning my way around.  My sense of direction isn’t getting any better.  Every day I stop and look around.  I live in the Elk Valley and am surrounded by mountains.  Every day they change.  They are a part of me.  And I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Perhaps I’m feeling homesick for Fernie before I go back to Ontario?  Is that even possible?

After my Dad died I wanted to do something to memorialize his 80th birthday.  After a great deal of prayerful consideration and lots of research I decided to get my nostril pierced.  It would have driven him batty that I did so, and I must confess, that’s part of why I did it.  Every time I see it, I smile.

For my Mam’s 80th birthday I wanted to get another piercing to mark the occasion.  So again, after prayerful consideration and a lot of research I decided to get my daith pierced.  The daith is the thick cartilage in the ear.  Daith piercings have been used to alleviate migraines, which I’ve been getting.  And I must admit, while the initial piercing did hurt like mad, I have not had a headache since.  The ring that sits flush against my ear is barely visible, but it reminds me of my Mam.  I wonder what she’ll say when she sees it?

If I had to name one emotion right now it would be unsettled (is that an emotion)?  My pain level is higher than usual due to the healing ear and healing toe.  I know my pain will get better just as my toe and ear will heal.  I’ve realised that when it comes to personal illness, I’m not the least bit patient.  I want to be well, and I want to be well RIGHT NOW.

So I’ve journaled about my frustration, and I’ve prayed.  I tried yoga, but hyper-flexed my sore toe when I stood up…yet another brilliant move.  I’ve made a list of things I must do this week.  And a list of things that must be done before I fly out next Tuesday.

I can do the things that need to be done.  I know I can.

But first I need a good night’s sleep.

So, I’ll bid you good night and try this sleeping thing again…g’night.

 

 

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begins a sonnet by William Wordsworth.

There has been so much hatred in the world…so much violence…so much intolerance and I’m struggling under the weight of it all.

Speaking of weight…today I was out and about running errands in the community where I live.  I was at the check-out in a store and two ladies were complaining about the weather.  I said I was glad for the cooler temperatures and one looked at me and said “I can see why”.  Curious, I asked what she meant.  She replied “you have your own built in coverage for warmth, you likely don’t like the heat”.

I opened and closed my mouth trying to find something humorous to say in return, but instead found myself on the verge of tears.  What she said was hurtful and dare I say, cruel.  Yes, I am overweight.  Yes, I don’t like extreme heat.  But I don’t think what I said warranted that kind of response.  I took my purchases and left.  I continued on my errands and came home feeling deflated and defeated.

The Church I love so much, that I have loved all my life, is voting on something incredibly close to my heart.  As a member of the rainbow community, the issue of same-gender marriage is important to me.  As a priest with many friends in the rainbow community, as it stands right now, I am not allowed to marry them in the Church.  The same Church that I love is pushing me, and people like me, aside.

My parish is holding a prayer vigil for the duration of General Synod.  Each day an email goes out and is posted on our Facebook page with prayers for the daily activities.  We are offering prayers for the marriage canon, but also for Indigenous rights, for visiting dignitaries and for audited financial statements.  We are praying for ears to hear, hearts to be open, for mouths to speak the truth in love and in faith.

Tomorrow’s gospel is one of my favourites, the Good Samaritan.  The epistle speaks of praying without ceasing, and that is what I have been doing.

For me, the gospel is about love.  The promises of our Creator, Saviour and Redeemer are all about love.  God never told us who to love.  God gave us the gift of love.  We are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves and to love God above all else.  There’s no division of who gets more love, we all get the same because, in the eyes of God, we are all the same.

Tomorrow’s homily will be about praying without ceasing and loving your neighbour.  Tomorrow afternoon I am meeting with a couple who are to be married in August.  The day after they are married I have the honour of baptising their infant son, the mother and the Godfather.  It will be my first baptism in BC and, as always, a very emotional moment in the life of the Church.

My fondest hope and prayer for the family is that their child is raised knowing only what love is about.  That he never experience hatred and if he is exposed to it, he will know how to rise above it to show what love is all about.

If only we could focus on that which unites us; as children of God.  If we could focus on that which aligns us, rather than that which divides us, what a wonderful world this would be.  We would know the kingdom of God as we would be living it.

So now I will rest my weary body.  I will tend to my fractured heart.  I will rest in the knowledge that there are those who love me, as I am.  And for the rest, all I can do is love them as Christ loves me.

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When I was Chaplain at Diocesan Church Camp nearly 10 years ago, there was a favourite hymn we sang during communion…very simple tune, very simple words…

Let it rain, let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

I had the honour, for several years, of being invited back during Staff Training Week to celebrate Eucharist and inevitably the song “Let it Rain” would be shared.  It was awesome.  Occasionally, one of the staff would rap the words to Jesus Loves Me over the melody and while it may sound strange, it was actually very powerful…

Jesus loves me, when I’m good, when I do the things I should

Jesus loves me, when I’m bad, even though it makes Him sad.

Let it rain, let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

It’s been raining here for more than a day.  It started raining last night and has continued.  Usually I walk to the nursing home for the service on the 4th Sunday, but today I decided to drive because it was raining hard, was cold and I was simply feeling lazy…

I’m not sure what’s up, but my get up and go has got up and gone…I’m feeling lethargic, tired and somewhat cranky.

Let it rain…let it rain…open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

Today is also Trinity Sunday, one of, if not THE most difficult homily to preach.

How do you describe something that is indescribable?  One person who is three persons?  One being who his three beings?  Huh, what?  Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier?

I pulled out an ancient source the Creed attributed to St. Athanasius.  It has 42 petitions that attempts to describe and define the Trinity.  It’s wordy, and awkward, and frustrating. I started reading it in Church today and at the half-way point, dropped the service book on the floor, threw my hands up and said “I give up”.

Let it rain…let it rain…open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

Then I started talking about relationships.  For Lent I challenged the congregation to deepen their relationship with God…yes, the Triune God.  I suggested that when we strive to identify or label something, sometimes it diminishes the significance of that relationship.  So perhaps we are better to not label it, but simply to explore and enjoy it.

Was it a cop out?  Possibly.  Did I cheat the congregation?  I don’t think so.

Will I preach the Trinity next year?  Um, not likely.  But then again, I do love a good challenge.

I am supposed to go out of town tomorrow to do some exploring.  The weather forecast is the same for tomorrow as it is for today…generally I like doing things in the rain…I love to dance in the summer rain…but this rain is definitely not dancing rain…it’s ch-ch-ch-chilly.

So I may instead spend the day relaxing.  Maybe a few chores around the house, yoga, writing, meditation, soak in the tub, movie watching, perhaps a short walk…I have provisions in the house so I don’t have to go out.

Regardless, tomorrow is a day off.  A day relaxation.  A day to unplug and simply be.  Perhaps part of my day will be spent staring out the window, watching the rains fall…

Let it rain…let it rain…open the floodgates of heaven, and let it rain…

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