It is so easy to take your blessings for granted.  Today I was grateful I could also buy some bananas along with a gallon of milk.  It is near the end of the month and we are running out of cash.  I was grateful I could buy what I could.  It is always revealing what you would buy if you are down to your last dollar.  It is so easy to take your blessings for granted.  God owns everything.  I had to remind myself of that.

I am one of the lucky ones.  My medication helps.  The medication, though, is an aide.  I take it and then forget about it.  For many medication does not help.  And doctors keep wanting to put others who are diagnosed mentally ill on them.  And the medications just mess up their patients.  There is definitely an over emphasis on medication to treat mental illness.  For many the side effects are intolerable.  Or the medication does not really help.

I remember one doctor telling me he could eliminate all my symptoms with medication but then I would be a zombie.  And too many doctors keep trying to do that.  Often you can’t function.  And the side effects are worse than the symptoms the doctor is treating.  If you are a patient and your doctor puts you on a new med or increases the dose of one, you need to question the doctor about everything–the side effects, how long it takes to work, whether or not it works (the time frame), everything.  After all, you are putting the drug in your body.  You need to question everything.  The doctor relies on your feedback.

You can see how impatient I am about winter.  Yesterday I noted winter was three weeks in–about a quarter of the way in.  It has not been very cold.  I only remember one extremely chilly day.  I still want winter to go away.  I never started a countdown to spring so early.  Maybe, it is time to move to a warmer climate.  I don’t tolerate winter so well anymore.  It is really too early to start a countdown to spring.  I am hoping winter will just go away.  But it won’t.  And somehow I have to stop counting the days and then weeks to spring.  Spring is still too far off.  And my countdown makes it worse.  I simply do not like winter (particularly the cold) any longer.  It is time to consider a move.  Winter has become too hard to bear.

Tilla, one of my dogs did it again.  We were about to go to bed.  My wife took her spot on the left side.  And my eighty pound short-haired black dog jumped on the bed, took my spot on the right and curled up looking so comfortable at the head of the bed.  He would not move and I slipped in bed to the right of him almost off the bed and tried to grab what blanket I had left.  My left hand wrapped around his sleeping body as I slept on my side.  The black mid-sized dog was quite cozy.  He even sighed a few times.  Thank God it was a king sized bed!  At some point he jumped off the bed but I did not notice.  I was long asleep.

Feeling shame is the worst thing about experiencing mental illness.  It isolates you.  It keeps you in a prison of your own making.  The truth is everyone has problems.  Unfortunately those diagnosed being mentally ill are singled out.  And others around them by a wall of silence tacitly agree something is wrong with that person.  And the stigma becomes internalized.  While all it really is, is another set of problems.

And the truth is the only people who don’t have problems are those “under the ground.”  Society perpetuates the stigma in all kinds of ways:  the media is one big way.  Of course, the pharmaceutical companies want to sell their drugs.  Each version of the DSM has more diagnoses and is driven by the drug companies.  They want to push their drugs.  I find it interesting we are the only country to use the DSM.  And they don’t care about the side effects.  It just means they can then prescribe more drugs to treat them.

I have become very cynical about the drug companies.  Most people want nothing to do with these drugs.  For many people they don’t work and even make things worse when you are prescribed them and you go off of them.  Medication is overused to treat mental illness.  Medication can only help you so much assuming they are even helping you, which is a very big assumption.  In fact nowadays most family doctors prescribe them.  Most people do not want others to know they are seeing a psychiatrist.  There is just too much shame about it.

We dried our clothing the old fashioned way.  We hung them up on the rail of the shower bar.  My wife was amazed:  let them hang there long enough–they eventually dried.  Our drier did not work.  We have been waiting on a back-ordered part for weeks now going on months.  It was a Maytag and we finally complained to its master company, Whirlpool.  The letter was dated almost three weeks ago and we have not heard from them.  We even included our E Mail address.  Whatever happened to good customer service?  Of course, this was the way clothing was always dried before the advent of electricity and driers.  It was now winter time and we could no longer dry it on the clothes line we had set up in the yard.  Thank God our washer still worked.  You have to do, what you have to do.  You need clean, dry clothing.  My wife, though, liked doing the laundry.  I just had to put away my own clothing.

Yesterday it hit 16 degrees and today was 34 and it seemed warm.  I wore the same clothing.  Yesterday when I went out it did not take long for me to become chilled.  I would reach for my gloves right away.  I wanted them just for the fifteen feet walk to the car.  Come April or May, 34 degrees will seem cold but today I was grateful it hit that temperature.  Your expectations define the weather.  I almost considered today to be a heat wave.  And praised the Lord for small favors.  Everything is by grace.  Even the temperature outside.

Feelings can be somewhat deceiving.  I wake up every morning depressed–at least it seems that way.  I don’t take too much stock in it.  I’ve learned, as a rule, the first hour I am awake I don’t feel good.  It usually lifts after I am up for awhile and I had my morning coffee.  That is just par for the course.  It has something to do with my metabolism.  I only get concerned if my depression lasts beyond the first waking hour.  Feelings can be deceitful.  Sometimes they are totally due to physical reasons.  And I always look at that explanation first.  I am also careful how I eat.  After a certain point in the morning, I make sure I eat something substantial and keep away from sugar.  Your diet can matter.

I read in every position and in every room.  I read in bed–although not long and I am careful what I read:  I don’t want nightmares if I can help it.  I keep books and literary magazines in the bathroom.  In fact, my wife bought and put together a small cabinet she spent hours researching just to keep my reading material neatly in the bathroom near the toilet.  Of course, the reading I do there is in bursts.  Most of the reading I do is in bursts.  It was amazing I actually made it through Keith Richard’s autobiography–all 540 pages of it.  It is really rare for me to read a novel.  My favorite room has a spot right next the comfortable though ragged Lazy Boy chair where I keep my favorite devotional, “My Utmost For His Highest”, by Oswald Chambers.  Most of my favorite books are in that room so I know where to find them when I am looking for a particular passage.  I love to read and I have never had so many books in my house.  I married a “book” person.