petitionary prayer and faith

as i have done for the past three years or so, i went to morning prayer today. and i wondered, why should any of the prayers we pray matter? why should god who created the universe care or help me to finish my semester at school or to have more wisdom?

a few years ago, i wrote a paper on petitionary prayer. my thesis was that petitionary prayers play an indispensable role in our sanctification process: as our prayers get answered (or not answered) we learn about the character of god and as we pray we experience god of the universe as our god.

i don’t know how job or st. paul kept up their faith in god. sure when things are going well, you can believe that god is for you. ironically, at those moments you might forget about god because you don’t need god to help you. but when things are going badly and take a turn for the worst, people tend to turn to god and ask god for help. and in such difficult times, god may be more real to you and you may rely on god more for everything because you can’t rely on anything else.

but what happens when a bad thing happens and another bad thing and another bad thing happen to a person? i don’t mean that things that happen have to be viwed as “objectively” morally a bad thing. but when someone feels that gods is not with them, that god is not for them, what happens to one’s faith?

i’ve been told in the past to seek god more in times of trouble: read the scripture, spend time in prayer, and rely on your community of faith. but what happens when those things fall through as well? then i suppose, you still read the scripture, pray to god more even if you are praying that you don’t know what to pray, and tell others to pray for you.

i’m reminded of prosperity gospel – people counting on god to bless them b/c they believe that god is good, and perhaps also b/c they believe their works warrant their blessing. most people would say, no god never promised happiness just that god would be with us through it all, the good, the bad, the happy as well as the sad moments. but what does it take for one to say, god is not for me (as opposed to god being for you, showing you favor). more importantly, when you have been pushed to the edge, to your limits, how can you turn back to god?

god doesn’t test us more than we can bear, right? the bible says so. probably god knows what your limits are. but when you feel that you have been pushed and pushed to the point you can’t bear the pain, suffering, disappointment, despair anymore, what then?

top five reasons 2008 is going to be great!

1. it’s not 2007! 2007 was a hard year for me. i was in and out of the hospital. i didn’t do well over all. i continued to gain weight. i kept getting triggered by by various things, even while watching the elf!

2. new community? i may take a break from my current church to make new connections. and my church is also getting a new pastor which will be refreshing.

3. romance! i feel ready to date again. i’m hopeful about this. i don’t know why. i just am. and since i have lots of knowledge about what i don’t want, figuring out if the relationship is worth keeping will be a piece of cake. ūüôā

4. my niece is turning 4! she’s a little girl now. she’s really thoughtful and just lovely. i’m looking forward to spending more time with her.

5. DBT group – okay. so i’m not totally looking forward to joining a group therapy that is going to be so intensive that it’s going to kick my butt. but i think the work will pay off in the long run. i’ll be able to cope with feelings and impulses better. and hopefully that will translate into fewer hospital visits.

note to self: top five reasons for not killing myself

1. there will be no self/consciousness as i know it. sure enough i believe in an after life (a happy one at that – one with jesus). but will “life” after death be of the same kind as life as i know it? i don’t think so. (and this is a bad thing?)

2. people will have to tell my nieces and nephews that they used to have an aunt who loved them alot! i mean a lot! and my family members (especially my siblings) and my friends would be heart-broken. (but would they prefer a living aunt/sister/daughter/friend who is suffering immensely from depression?)

3. family reputation (especially that of my mom and dad) will be ruined. (i see no way out of this one.)

4. if i should fail in killing myself i will once again end up in the ER then in the psych ward for only god knows how long. and my doctors might decide to do ECT on me, what is left of me anyway. (the best deterrent for not killing myself if there ever was one)

5. i can’t think of the fifth reason…maybe god would be disappointed? (i don’t really believe that god would be disappointed. i mean, isn’t god permitting me and apostle paul with the thorn on his side and all to suffer?)

no you didn’t! top five comments my clueless mom and dad made about me in the past 10 days

1. who’s the parent?

my dad told my younger sister that she better marry me off or make me lose weight!

2. as if!

i said to my dad, how can you write a book on how to be wealthy (happy) when your own daughter has made so many trips to the hospital? my dad told me to read the book.

then i said to my mom, how can you help strangers as a psychologist when you can’t even understand your own daughter who has depression? my mom said, depression is not my specialty.

when i asked them both if they have read even one book on depression on my account my dad said, depression is basic knowledge.

yeah, whatever (my response).

3. psych ward vs new otani hotel in tokyo

when my dad found out how much each intake to the hospital costs he said, that’s why i’m not worried when you’re in the hospital. staying at the hospital is cheaper than staying at new otani hotel (where we stayed when we were in tokyo) and because the hospital even feeds you.

4. silver lining

my dad said to me, i’m hoping that when you get over your struggles, that you can write a book on happiness and help others.

okay maybe this one doesn’t sound so bad out of context. maybe you had to be there. it would be okay that my dad made this comment if he made even one comment about how difficult it might be for me to live. and the fact is that this comment and the comment above are the only acknowledgement my dad has made about my hospital visits and my depression. he just doesn’t get it!!!

5. duh???

my sister made the comment (in response to something i did or something my mom said) that it’s more important for me to be alive (meaning not kill myself) than it is for me to not smoke. my mom responded by saying, i wish she would quit smoking at least.

ok, so between having a daughter who is living but smokes and having a dead daughter, she would choose the second option if it means i won’t be smoking anymore?

top five new year’s resolutions

i’m determined to do the following during the year of 2008!!!

1.¬† lose about 60 pounds/30 kgs.¬† i gained a lot of weight since my last depression episode.¬† i know that at least one of my medicines are facilitating weight gain.¬† i’ve been exercising three time a week for the past six months.¬† i’m going to try to go to the gym 4 time a week during the new year.¬†

2.¬† by the end of january i want to quit smoking for good.¬† i don’t know if i can.¬† but i’m sure going to try.¬†

3.  i want to finish my program in theology by the end of spring semester.  i think i want to write a thesis on nothingness in order to fulfill graduation requirements. 

4.  i want to come off of effexor completely.

5. there shall be no 10th hospital visit!

that’s all for now.¬† ūüôā

antidepressants

so what psychiatric medicines are you on?  my main antidepressant is effexor.  but since my last hospital visit, my doctors are slowly taking me off it.  they took me off ritalin completely, which i think is for the best.  i was on lithium only for about a week and a half before they realized it may not be working for me.  i am still on abilify and lamictal.  i think abilify is the drug that is/has been making me gain weight!  oh well. 

i told my mom and brother that i am coming off of some medicine and they were so excited.¬† they can’t wait until i am completely off psych meds.¬† my doctor and i know, however that i am on psych meds indefinitely, for as long as relapse is a possibility.¬† it’s kind of sad that my family and friends have such a hard time accepting that i have uinipolar depression.¬† one of my friend said, if you have bipolar depression, you really need meds, but i don’t understand why your doctors prescribe you so many pills.¬† i’m like, what duh???¬† the difference between bipolar depression and major depression is simple.¬† with bipolar depression, one has extreme ups and extreme downs.¬† with major depression, one only has extreme downs, hence the name unipolar depression.¬†¬†i sometimes wish i were bipolar so that i could be super productive and not need sleep, etc.¬† but that’s really silly, isn’t it?¬† it’s hard enough to cope with unipolar depression.¬† coping with manic episodes is not something i honestly wish for.¬† in this instance, the grass does not look greener on the other side.¬†

getting back to antidepressants and psych meds in general, contrary to what some people might say and/or believe, they are not “happy” meds which magically deliver more self confidence or happiness!¬† it’s actually rather depressing that with meds, i don’t start my day off way down the “normal” range of feelings, but am brought to a level of manageable feelings/mood which is where most people naturally start of their day.¬† so yes, i’m thankful doe my meds.¬† no life doesn’t get easier with meds that i’m taking.¬† life becomes manageable and at times even bearable.¬† and without meds, life is a torture, the kind of torture and sickness that would have one wish for death.¬† (read sickness unto death by soren kierkegaard if you want an analytical¬†exploration¬†of despair!)

speaking of which, i better take my night time meds. 

sleep

i stayed up until 7 am this morning and then slept through out the day today. what i realize is that when i’m feeling good, as i did last night, i just don’t want to go to bed. and sure enough today i didn’t feel as good this morning. so i’m giving up on the regular sleeping thing and i got a cup of coffee for the night. hehe

i’m trying to consolidate my blog websites but it won’t happen succesfully until i get my website up and running. does anyone know a book or a site that is easy to understand yet informative enough on how to build a website? i have a domain name and a remote server already.

so since this is my first real blog here, i thought i’d have a little confessional moment. i am big on avoidance. it’s not even procrastination where people do other semi-productive things instead of doing what they dread doing. for me, i just avoid doing all things when i have something i have to do that is emotionally difficult. so i’ve been in bed a lot or because i have been in bed a lot because i don’t feel so good.

another thing is that i am trying to recover from unipolar depression. sure illnesses don’t define you. like that’s in question? but it sure colors everything you perceive and every decision you make, or don’t make. i’ve been in and out of the hospital a lot in the past few years, especially. they, the doctors, are trying different combinations of drugs on me. one medicine worked for a while but stopped working for whatever reason, so i’m coming off of that medicine. anyway, long story short, it takes a lot of effort for me to do anything, anything except for blogging. so i’m rather prolific most of the time.

i study theology, having studied philosophy previously. i love it, but it’s become difficult especially with hospital stays and “bad” days and so forth. so i am considering a career change. but not because i want to, you see? it is not the greatest feeling to have in the world to know you can’t pursue what you felt was such a meaningful aspect of your life.

as much as studying had/has giving my life meaning, i am also musically/artistically inclined. i used to play piano for a long time, which i couldn’t keep up so i gave it up pretty much completely. but i still paint and when i’ve got lots of energy, then i take photographs too.

life is a torture for me most of the time. i’ve written else where that life feels to me like someone is holding my eye lids open when all i want to do is blink. and it’s true that at times i just want the pain and suffering to end. let’s face it, i feel like that most of the time. but then there are times when i am distracted enough that i actually forget that i don’t want to live. and at those moments i feel thankful.

there is a whole lot of religious seeking/searching that is going on with me right now which i would like to write about at some point. but maybe i’ve said enough for now.