Friday, March 30, 2007

Eat, Drink..Hope.

Well, I should have my meds all back tomorrow. There was a conflict with my doctor's office, and that combined with my procrastination means one more night without.

As cheezy as my title sounds, I have discovered something this week that has been a lovely counterbalance to my slightly unbalanced chemical state.

I am fascinated by hope and faith, especially in the scriptures. Anytime I preach, I am tempted to rest on those two topics. Hebrews 11:1 is my favorite verse, and I love the wonder of "hope that is seen is no hope at all."

Hope is wonderful enough in and of itself, but the hope of love is a double-fisted healing elixir. I am currently in a somewhat odd circumstance that presents itself with the possibility of romantic love, and it has been a somewhat divine distraction this past week.

We are taking communion this Sunday night, and today I see it in a different light. Taking the bread and the wine says that we truly believe in the incarnation of the glory of God. What an amazingly beautiful symbol of hope. Do we truly believe in the incarnation of the Spirit of the Living God? Do we hope that His glory will put on skin and show up in the form of a city being liberated, a sex slave being set free, or a mouth being fed? Do we hope that His glory will put on skin and show up in the form of a kind word, a merciful act, or a romantically amazing letter?

Do we really believe that He would do that..for us? The bread and the wine reminds us - He did. And He continues to do so, as His Kingdom comes - here and now, and unto eternity.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

maybe not the brightest thing to do.

I'm not sure this was a good idea. In fact, I'm sure that it's not smart.

I've been putting off picking up my medication. I am currently enjoying the adrenaline rush of being a little manic, torqued person. I know that sounds weird, but the rush of cycling mood swings, even though it could potentially be destructive, feels good. Or at least that's the delusion. It is a high - I can't even explain it. It also feels scary. That's the downside. Not to mention the fact that it all rages beneath the surface, and no one on the outside really knows what's going on.

But I know how this ends all too well, which is why I am going to pick up my medication tomorrow. I promise - in fact, hold me accountable.

I want to blog more, but if I did it would look like this: I am currently feeling paranoid, unsettled, ready to start a new country, ready to run down the block, about to clean out my closet, rocking back and forth as I type, wanting to scream, not wanting to spend another night staring at this computer, tired of everything, and angry at this whole situation.

Well, let's try praying.

God I'm frustrated. It seems like I can't win. Can I be honest? I think the meds take off the edge of me that I miss. I don't want to be on meds, and I don't want to be off of them because of how I feel right now. Which means I'm screwed.

Well, wasn't that cheery?

Monday, March 26, 2007


That's an old Night Ranger song. Wait, no it's not - that was "4 In The Morning." Oh well, so much for my snazzy pop culture reference. And I just showed my age. Crap.

I can't sleep. I woke up starving, raiding my kitchen only to find cereal and marshmallows. I haven't been to the store in forever. They would have to do. Right now I'm watching Kill Bill 2, one of the greatest movies ever.

So the worship set was great last night, despite the fact that I did, however, turn into the Great Pumpkin. I could certainly tell yesterday afternoon that I was starting to lose grip without one of my meds. I was extremely torqued, resisting the urge to lop off volunteers' heads, and wanting to punch walls. At dinner I thought about taking my wine glass and smashing it on the ground, and on the way home I kept seeing visions of me driving my cute little black race car into an embankment.

Don't let that scare you. The meds usually help that, and I'm too smart to do something dumb like that (besides, I love my car.) Before this particular med, It was very common for me to have manic states where I would be so torqued that I would see visions in my head of me doing very angry, violent things. Mainly involving myself, or breaking stuff. They play on viscious repeat over and over and over, and it's inescapable and awful. I hate it, and I thank God that this medication stops that.

Sometimes I think it's good for people on meds just to experience what it's like to go without, if at all possible, without risking any danger to yourself or others of course. Makes you appreciate them, and thankful beyond belief that God gave someone the wisdom to create something so complex and incredible. Something angelic to make the visions go away.

I don't want to be on meds, but right now that is how God is healing me. And if there's ever a day when He chooses to heal me without meds, then that's just wonderful.

Hopefully I'll be back on that little blue pill by the end of the day. I've got meetings all day today, and it would be pretty funny if during a management meeting I stood up, turned the table over, and walked out of the room (smirk)... although at the moment that's what I'm feeling. maybe watching Kill Bill right now isn't such a great idea ....(smirk number 2)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

That'll keep you going through the show, come on it's time to go...

Getting ready to go to the lab. AKA, my office at the church.

So day 1 without one of my meds..I think I'm okay so far. I woke up with a rager of a headache, and I definitely feel really chilled out. Have a great sense of clarity right now that is nice. But it's only a few hours into the day - who knows - I could turn into the Great Pumpkin later, which will work out great since I'm leading worship tonight.

It's days like today where I wonder if I should have a microphone in front of me. I am amazed at the high level of responsibility that comes with having a microphone in front of you, and people listening. I think there's a huge veil of the Spirit that keeps my mouth shut from time to time, and it's a good thing.

We've all had our moments - said goofy things to our congregations, had bloopers, said things in a moment of passion that maybe should've been kept at bay, leashed out in less-than-righteous anger at things, etc.

But then there are those beautiful moments where the Spirit leads, and you're reading the crowd, and in a millisecond you know exactly what to say. And you didn't plan it. But it was right in the pocket, and it was God-given, designed and crafted for those people at that moment.

I love those moments. You can't predict them, and you can't plan them in the order of worship.

The amazing thing is that I seem to be most receptive to those moments when I'm on stage broken, vulnerable, and busted. I don't know why that is the case, but it seems to be. I think somehow when we're rattled and frayed at the seams, it allows more of the annointing to be released in a way that could only be explained by grace.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Time will do the talking, years will do the walking

points of interest today:

1) I went to call in a refill on one of my meds, and to my horror, discovered that I had no refills left. Did I mention that I took my last dose last night? If you're doing the math, doctors don't emerge into existence until Monday. That means 2 days without it...not sure what that will do. We'll see. I'm trying not to worry about it. If anything, I will feel a little stoned. Party.

2) Cleaning today. On a mission. I'm going to be clean, dadgummit. I don't care what it takes. I think I just need a better system. And I think I need to care - there's that.

3) Does everyone have a change jar, and does everyone constantly find pennies all over their room as if they are taking over your domain like small, alien beings planted by some evil lord?

4) I have solved my med-induced problem of not being able to get out of bed in the mornings. I put both of my alarms across the room, so that I have to get out of bed to kill them. And it's working. I still feel like a drunk zombie when I wake up, but at least I'm moving. I'll take victory in small feats where I can get it.

5) I have not put the worship service together for tomorrow night yet. Hopefully in the morning I will come up with some inspired, knee-busting experience. (Note sarcasm)

(this was written while listening to Patty Griffin's "Living With Ghosts," which always melts my face off.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Day With Dar

After two friends referencing her, and having my therapist practically prescribe her today, I went on a Dar Williams hunt.

I don't really buy actual CDs anymore - I've given into digital living. But I figured I might be able to save some major bucks by perusing used CD stores.

I admit I am a music addict. It has always been my security blanket. If there's ever a fighting chance that someone's art might encourage me, I scour the planet for it like a crack addict looking for a really pure score.

I remember around two years ago, fighting a severely dark bout of depression, there was one song that kept me hanging on. It was Snow Patrol's "Run," and it was literally rescue for me. I can remember it sinking in like a drug as I sobbed into the carpet in my bedroom.

I don't live in a city where you would find Dar Williams just lying around. We're not that cool here. But, to my shock, I found three of her CDs, adding to the two I already had.

So Dar and I spent the day together, driving around town, on a mission. We drank coffee, covered quite a bit of ground, while she told me stories. We were in this together. It was almost like I felt as if I was looking for the rest of her. Like I would miss out on the whole picture if we didn't find all of her.

There is such incredible healing in empathy. I don't understand it. But I thank God for the holy places in art where souls can meet and find haven for a while.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I'd like a #2 with a side order of a good buzz, please.

A good day. A nice, calm day. A day where I've made good decisions, and haven't made anyone mad yet. A day where people seem to like me.

I am even-keel, so balanced today, so "normal," that I look back on the past 2 days, and I swear I was a different person. There is something so scary about being caught in those manic cycles in retrospect. Looking in the rearview, they are ugly, selfish, irrational moments. Even starting this blog was a knee-jerk reaction in the middle of a manic state. To light a fire, call everyone to watch it burn, and then not even remember striking the match, or why for that matter.

I have this urge just for something huge to happen. I think in depression, you get so numbed out that you just want to feel something - anything. It's between that, and wanting to urgently release pressure. It's either one or the other. I can imagine now why people cut. I have never cut, although I did have one day where I was so overwhelmed, I was in my kitchen putting away the dishes, and I was holding a knife, and I thought... and then I was like, "what the &#^% am I doing????" But I can understand the need for relief. And I can understand the craving just to feel something.

Please, just something. Anything. Spirit of the Living God, remind me that I am alive.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

therapy, and why you should go.

I warned you that I might be posting 45 times a day. I have alot to say.

I think everyone should be in therapy if they can afford it. It's the greatest thing in the world - you pay someone, and they listen to you say whatever you want. You can complain, drop the f-bomb, doubt that God cares, blame your parents, talk about your coworkers, and that person actually shows up the next week to hear more.

I have to say, therapy is the highlight of my week. It is the most liberating thing I've ever done. I've discovered so many things about myself.

I tried "Christian counseling" a few years ago, only to be severely annoyed and disappointed. I would talk about these serious issues, and all they would tell me was that God was good, and everything happens for a reason, and that I should pray more.

I know all of that.

And so now, I go to a psychologist, and the thing I love about her is that I don't know jack about her. She could be an atheist for all I know. After all, I don't need spiritual help. I need someone who's a brain expert. Because I've got a brain problem. And I need help with the rewiring process from someone who knows what they are doing.

If your dishwasher is broken, you don't want to go to someone who will wax poetic about how we could make the world a better place by using solar-driven appliances. You just want someone to fix the freaking dishwasher.

I've heard preachers go off on how someone shouldn't be in therapy forever. I don't think I agree with that. I think we don't talk enough about what's really going on, because we don't want to scare off our community. And frankly, I don't believe we should just let it all rip on those closest to us. I think it has potential to be exhausting, and frustrating for the receiver.

And so I go every week, to a Mental Health center, of all places, and let it all fly, along with a quad grande americano. I can't think of a better way to spend a friday morning.

cold, hard, and calculated

I am a worship and arts pastor who manages a team of folks. I am a minister, but also a manager. I am a creative, but also have to be a left-brained scientist sometimes. I work at a mega-megachurch, and so my job seems alot more corporate at times than most people would think.

When I'm feeling a little off, I like the management world. There are days when I don't want to create, or be fluffy or "ministerial," I just wanna fire off emails, schedule things, and spout off agenda items in meetings. It's cold, hard, and calculated. And sometimes it feels good - not feeling anything at all. Because sometimes you just have to keep moving. If you stop, you'll feel, fall apart, psycho-analyze, drift...

So I don't stop alot these days. I'm a little afraid of what might come of it. I'm not saying it's a good thing, but it's just what seems to be happening right now.

Wow, yesterday was an awful blur of things. I am reading my account, and wondering who that was. Today has been interesting. Today I don't seem to be caring much, and the worst part is that I'm okay with that. It's actually bringing me a great sense of peace. I don't understand that, and I don't think it's okay. But as my friend Lauryn Hill would say, "it's reality."

Right now, I would just give anything to keep my room clean. If depression does anything, it jacks with your sense of personal organization. I am normally a clutter person, but right now, you would think I was in high school. It is ridiculous, I can't even begin to tell you. I hate it. I feel like my own personal space is suffocating me right now, and I don't want to be at home, so I try to stay away. The last thing I want to do with the little free time that I have is clean.

back to meetings.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

the freaking dawn.

I'm not so sure this as-it-happens docu-blog is such a good idea. Because I will use it.

I can't sleep. Let me rephrase - I don't want to go to sleep. Because if I go to sleep, tomorrow will be here. And I don't want tomorrow right now. I just don't. But all I want to do is sleep. Because at the moment, I am not caring about much. So I'm not sure what to do. I'm hoping tomorrow this cycling will not be an issue, and it will be a somewhat normal day.

"It's darkest just before the dawn".... Is that biblical? Where the heck is that, I wanna know, because I am starting to be annoyed by that statement. It's a cruel tease, I think, because what if it's dark for a really long time? What if there are expectations of us while we are in the darkness? Are we expected to grow, to change, to have revelations? Because all I'm having are breakdowns. Is there some grand, holy mantle in the midst of depression that I am supposed to be assuming here? Am I missing something?

okay, enough already - tired of hearing my brain. here's the part where I flip channels for 2 hours and oversleep. God, I'm believing here - help my cynical, pathetic unbelief.


It finally passed. It always does. The rapid cycling, I mean.

Bipolar is a fancy word for having severe mood swings. Before meds, I was going from normal, to a torqued workaholic, to depressed, to back to normal - sometimes cycling through all of these moods over a few days, sometimes even from hour to hour. This is known as ultrarapid cycling (occurring every few days) and ultradian cycling (occurring during the course of the day). I could wake up fine and happy, then be depressed and sobbing on my floor at 2PM, and then working addictively and obsessively by 5. It was exhausting.

Now that I'm on meds, I still cycle, but it is not as severe. I cycled pretty hard today from around 11-6. I'm pretty wiped now.

I can actually feel it starting to creep back in now as I type this sentence. which sucks, because I thought I was done for the day. I suddenly feel as if I am going to explode. Adrenaline is racing through my arms. I don't know if I can continue to sit in this coffeehouse without screaming. Which is why I left the house in the first place. Nowhere to go. I was up above it. Now I'm down in it. It'll pass. It always does. I just have to ignore it. or enjoy it. One of the two.

(this post was written while listening to old school Nine Inch Nails remixes.)

No one's talking. I'll start.

Madness. (at least that's what it feels like)

My life has become a trifecta of the above. I work at a church, I am an artist, and in 2006 I was diagnosed as Bipolar II, with severe depression. (Bipolar II is just a nice way to say you're not as crazy as all of the really crazy people.)

As I was driving home today in a bit of a manic state, listening to Nine Inch Nails and speeding, I realized something. I needed a place. A place to talk, and a place for people to listen. A place to post right in the middle of a mood swing, or a panic attack. A place to vent and wonder if I really have faith sometimes. A place to be honest and candid, in the moment, as raw as I would allow myself to be. I have days when I hate meds, and days when I embrace them. I have days when I really feel like I'm going crazy. I figure I might as well document the journey, hoping a few hitchers will jump in alongside.

There are a few people in my life that know about my diagnosis. But I feel like no one in the world knows what really goes on beneath the surface. My fear is that there are many out there who also feel like they are losing their minds, and need to be reminded that they are not alone in what feels like moments of madness.

When I was first diagnosed, God told me very clearly that He was "shining the light in the darkest places." I really feel that God is calling me to expose every ugly layer for what it is, so that His Spirit can move through every wacky detail, reaching out to hopefully at least a handful of others.

What's it like to be an artist who lives with the fear of meds crippling their creative abilities? Is it okay for depression to drive artistic creativity?
Can inspiration live and thrive in what feels like a totally screwed up life?
How do I minister to the masses when I can't even get out of bed or pick my crap up off the floor?
I haven't read my Bible in 5 months, and my prayers are, "Jesus, Help." Should I quit my job?
Where is God in all of this?

These are questions I have, and hope to explore here in this venue.

My hope is that artists and ministers who struggle with lovely mental issues will be encouraged here.

So this is the place. I'm warning you. This could be messy. I could ramble and not make sense. I could be completely irrational, desperate, and scary sounding. I could post 45 times a day. Or maybe go weeks without.

We'll see.

(this post was written while listening to Radiohead's "Amnesiac")