Going Home (Inspired by John Prine’s “He Was in Heaven Before He Died” – Flashback Friday

I got the call late at night that Grandpa George had died.  He had lived a hard life.  He didn’t have the opportunity to get a good education.  He was only 11 when his mother died and he had to quit school to help in the fields and to help care for the other children.  He worked hard to get by and managed to scrape together a living.  He met a woman – Maize – at the tomato factory where he worked.  She says he was throwing tomatoes at her, so she knew he liked her.   They were married in less than 3 months.  They stayed together “until death did they part” almost 60 years later.

*  *  *

I drove alongside the cemetery in a rented Ford Focus, admiring the tombstones in the early morning sun.  My mind wandered to Grandpa’s last days.  He was able to die at home, thanks to Hospice and the care of family, especially his son Geoff (since Grandma was limited in what she could do).  Geoff fed him when he was hungry, bathed him to keep him clean, and sought to bring comfort to this man who had rarely tried to comfort others.

Grandpa George had not lived a perfect life, perhaps not even a good one.   He was quick to become angry and had been accused of being abusive. He was known to challenge his supervisors to fights.  He bullied Grandma and Geoff, who could never seem to please him.  He certainly had skills – building his house from the ground up.  He could be generous with his time, helping neighbors with necessary fix-up projects.  Yet he had a temper that could flare up at the least misunderstanding.

But he could also be playful and gentle with children, rocking them on his knees or playing “Peep – Eye” (his version of “peek-a-boo”).  He had pet names for all the grandchildren which were both endearing and practical (as I’m not sure he could remember what our real names were).

I thought of his faith.  He went to church regularly for most of his married life.  He drove the church bus and took great pride in rounding up children from homes where the parents were just happy to have them off their hands for a few hours.  He had a simple faith: child-like even.  I wondered if it brought him peace and comfort especially in his last days.

*  *  *

The sun was full in the sky as I pulled onto the gravel road that led to family plot.  I looked at the simple white crosses to the side – the graves of soldiers who died before they could marry, have children, and raise a family.  I saw the graves of infants, who escaped suffering as well as joy in their lives.  I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the life my Grandpa George got to live, the good and the bad, and prayed that he might be received into a new and better life to come.  Later that day, driving the rental Ford Focus back to the airport, I looked out on the Wabash river and I smiled.  They say when you die you go “home to God”.  I have this hope for Grandpa.   At least, I am glad that he was home when he died.  I’m glad he got a little taste of heaven before he died.

*  *  *

father and son

(image “Day 07.02 Family” from Frerieke, some rights reserved)

(To hear a very nice cover of John Prine’s “He Was In Heaven Before He Died”, click here)

Inviting Worship: Throwback Thursday

“Does our worship promote or deny access to God?”

1) We promote access by encouraging people of all ages and various life situations to gather for worship. Yet, we deny access if we speak in a language only a few can understand. My sermons could be eloquent and polished speeches, but if I repeatedly use words and phrases unfamiliar to younger or less educated persons, I’m denying them access to God. If I weave a complex sermon that lasts far beyond the attention span of the average person, I am denying access to God. If I ignore the Biblical text and just say whatever is on my mind that day, I am denying people access to God.

2) In our music, we promote access to God by selecting hymns which reinforce the message of Scripture and lift our hearts in praise. Our choir promotes access to God by singing from their heart inspiring songs of praise. Our bells, pianist and organist promote access to God by providing the melody and rhythm to unite us in praise. If we had the resources and chose to hire a professional choir, install a pipe organ, build a loft for bells, none of this would enhance our worship unless it were an authentic expression of who we are. God does not want a powerful performance. God wants genuine, heart-felt praise, an offering of ourselves and our gratitude to the One from whom all blessings flow.

3) Finally, in our time of greeting, we promote access to God by sharing the peace and love of Christ. When you approach someone with a smile on your face, offer an enthusiastic hand-shake or a warm embrace and say, “God loves you.” Or “The peace of Christ” you are providing for that person access to the Spirit of God who lives in you. If we view this as simply a casual greeting. If we use this time to catch up on the community news or simply go to our closest friends and family members, we are denying people access to God.

Promoting access to God in worship may require a change in the way we do worship and a change in our attitudes. We may need to make more room for such things as drama, dance, other instructions of praise, laying on the hands or prayers of commitment such as altar calls. We’ve been blessed by youth participation in choir. What if we extended this to have a junior choir or a junior bell choir? We may also need to change how we view worship. Worship is not just an opportunity to have our needs met. Worship is an opportunity to offer ourselves to God. Within this sanctuary, the Spirit helps us let go of the distractions within and around us and focus on the One who offered up his life so that we may live, now and forever.

What would Jesus do if he were to come to our Sunday service? Would he join in as we carry out our praise, our Bible study, or worship? Or would he find something in our gathering, or in our hearts which distracted us or denied others from gaining access to God?

 

Fantastic Follow-Up - How to get families who come to outreach events to return to your church.

A Troublemaker in Tribulation (a poem on Revelation 1:1-11)

This Sunday, the pastor at my church is concluding a sermon series this morning on the book of Revelation. At the beginning of the series, he identified four basic schools of interpretation — preterist (that events occurred around the late first century, near 70 a.d., when the temple was destroyed), futurist (that events will be fulfilled just before Christ returns), historicist (events describe the history of the church), and idealist (that events reveal a pattern or cycle of events from Christ’s first coming to His return.)

Revelation is apocalyptic literature and as such it clearly pertains to end times. The title also indicates it is more an “unveiling” than a “hidden secret” requiring a complex interpretive code. Yet, the symbols used are quite foreign to us of this age and do require careful and prayerful study to discover the truth they reveal.

As I followed along with his first sermon, I was inspired to compose a poem related to the passage under review — Revelation 1:1-11.  I’m calling it, “A Troublemaker in Tribulation.”

My brother John

A troublemaker in tribulation

Banished to a remote island

His words echo

Through the generations

Like waves in the ocean.

For seven heavenly ages

In seven earthly kingdoms

The Word comes to us –

A message in a bottle

Sealed and secure.

We are blessed as we read it.

              blessed as we hear it.

              blessed as we keep it.

From beginning to end.

When, troubled with tribulation,

Our world is turned upside down.

So we can live right-side up.

Forever.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:1-3 NLT)

Ironic Iconoclasm: Having a Holy Sense of Humor (Flashback Friday)

Some time ago, I was asked a thoughtful and challenging question —

In two words or less, how would you describe your sense of humor?

The first two words that came to my mind were – “Ironic Iconoclasm”. Then I wondered, “What does that mean?” This post is my effort to answer that question. First, irony comes in various forms.  I like how this on-line dictionary defines one aspect of irony –

a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other’s false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning —called also Socratic irony.

I’ve learned this form of irony not so much from the classic Greek philosopher Socrates as from my self-proclaimed Kentuckian father Veston.  When Dad wants to catch someone off-guard with a thought provoking question, he begins with –

Now, I only have a sixth-grade education, so you’ll have to help me understand this…

Dad is actually a high-school graduate who took some college courses and, in his career, received training to work his way up from a basic laborer to a top-wage-earning office worker. A second aspect of irony is captured in the literary word “sardonic”, which is basically making fun of something (or someone).  Admittedly, this is risky business for anyone (particularly for professing Christians).  When used appropriately, you can effectively cast down idols (human and otherwise).  When used carelessly, you can wind up de-humanizing someone and causing crass offense. One other aspect of irony relevant in having a holy sense of humor is in noting the incongruity between what actually happens and what is expected to happen.  This form of dramatic irony reveals the limits of human understanding and action.  It is an answered prayer for the Psalmist who cries out –

… let the nations know that they are only human. (Psalm 9:20b)

As for iconoclasm, it is good to look a little at religious history.  I found this helpful entry in a concise encyclopedia –

In Christianity and Islam, iconoclasm was based on the Mosaic prohibition against making graven images, which were associated with idolatry. The making of portraits of Christ and the saints was opposed in the early Christian church, but icons had become popular in Christian worship by the end of the 6th century, and defenders of icon worship emphasized the symbolic nature of the images. Opposition to icons by the Byzantine emperor Leo III in 726 led to the Iconoclastic Controversy, which continued in the Eastern church for more than a century before icons were again accepted. Statues and portraits of saints and religious figures were also common in the Western church, though some Protestant sects eventually rejected them. Islam still bans all icons, and iconoclasm has played a role in the conflicts between Muslims and Hindus in India.

Iconoclasm can take many forms – from aggressive physical force (i.e. cutting noses off statues, burning paintings), to more influential speech and writing that decries idol worshipping in whatever form it comes.

At its best, ironic iconoclasm is a holy sense of humor.  When not exercised with care (and prayer), however, it can be destructive to spiritual community and damaging to human lives.  My hope is I can exercise this humor effectively in what I write (and say) and when I cross over the line, you will hold me accountable.

"Do not be afraid to give reason for the hope that dwells in you, a hope that has a very concrete name; Jesus Christ."

The Spirit of Adoption: Throwback Thursday

In his book The Spiritual Life of Children, Robert Coles includes a drawing of a young black girl, kneeling beside a bed, praying. It is a self-portrait by a girl named Leola. Coles met Leola in South Georgia during the 60s.

Tests had labeled Leola with “borderline intelligence.” She became a paraplegic in a terrible car accident that took her father’s life. When Coles met her, she was living with her grandmother, trying to “keep on the move,” as she put it.

Leola loved to pray, particularly in this kneeling position, holding on to the bed. It required a great effort for her to get into this position, which only fueled her passion for prayer. Listen with loving respect at the way she described prayer, in her own words:

“I hums to the Lord, and I sings to Him. There’ll be a day, I just tells Him of my down-and-out blues. I tries to be grateful that He sent me here, and if He can see that Leola is decertifying,’ then He’ll forgive me…

There will be times when I honestly don’t know what happens: the praying goes to my head, and I gets lost, I think — it’s like, well, He comes and takes me, and I’m no longer thinking and talking. I’m just someplace else, I don’t know where. I can even look down from there, and I see poor little me, Leola and her bed, and the chair is there, too. Then I come back to me and I’ll try singing a song to Him, and I’ll feel my hands letting go, and I’m ready to be the slump on the floor that moves — and then I get up on the chair, and I can be me again, sitting, and if someone will bring me the Cheerios, they’re my favorite.”

More than anything else, God wants an honest relationship with us. God wants us to be who we were created to be. God wants to hear both our blues and our gratitude. When we openly express our genuine fears and longings to God in prayer, amazing things happen. We rise above our current situation. We are given a new outlook. We see ourselves in a different light. We are able to enjoy life more fully as children of God.

Romans says that children of God, “live according to the Spirit, not the flesh.” This does not mean we ignore the needs of our bodies or deny ourselves pleasure. Quite the contrary.

To live by the Spirit is to appreciate the sacred in the ordinary. It is to look at a child confined to a wheelchair, like Leola, and see the image of God. It is to perform daily tasks, like washing dishes, doing paperwork, tilling soil or teaching a class, with a sense of purpose that God’s will is being done. It is to cherish time spent with friends and loved ones, hugging, holding, playing, laughing and crying, celebrating the joy of being part of the family of God.

To live by the Spirit means to put things in perspective. Not becoming so obsessed with getting the goods that we overlook what is truly good. Not desperately responding to each need that seems urgent such that we become burned out and unable to do anything well. Not avoiding the demands of relationships by becoming numb in front of a computer or television screen. To live by the Spirit is to make the most of our time, being the best that we can be, giving as much of ourselves as we can to love God and God’s people.

As an adopted member of God’s family, I feel both humbled and inspired. I am humbled to think that God’s genes are not in me. I am not a cosmic-clone, a dainty deity, a majestic miniature. Though I am created in God’s image and though I may come to reflect the glory of Christ, the resemblance ends there. God is God. And I am me. Though the Spirit of God can move through me, I am not the Spirit. When I fall prone to the false pride that I am closer to God than someone else, God is sure to put me in my place with a hard dose of reality.

At the same time, when I begin to think less of myself for being human, for making mistakes, for not being in control, I am reminded of this awesome relationship we have with our Creator. In Christ, we are chosen to become part of God’s family. God longs to love us as a parent loves her child. “You are my child,” says the Lord, “in you I am well pleased.”

The Spirit of God helps us achieve a healthy balance between false pride and low self-esteem. We are freed to be who we are and become the best we can be, growing in love and faith. In Jesus Christ, we become children of God, forgiven and free.

stories-yet-to-be-written:  Basketball by mikkel.staff on Flickr.

Majesty vs. Mania: Delight in Disorder Tuesday

When I consider your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which you have set in place,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4)

There have been some stages along my journey with bipolar when I’ve done rather well. We often tried to squeeze in something special for the family during these times. On one such occasion, we rented an RV and took a trip through various New England states, winding up in Maine at Acadia National Forest.

The scenery at Acadia is breath-taking. On a morning walk, I discovered a clearing in the woods. I did my devotionals sitting in the crag of some large stones while watching the sun rise over the mountain top. It was awe-inspiring. Wonderful. Humbling.

Unfortunately, this majestic setting was not able to keep my self-absorbed – and absorbing – mania from striking. I began to rapidly cycle. This put a serious damper on the trip. Still, nothing could take away from the beautiful creation we were able to experience. In spite of my radical mood swings, it was a vacation to remember.

God gives us amazing things to keep our hearts and minds looking outward, toward the LORD. Even when our Self gets in the way, God keeps calling us onward to see the beautiful sights ahead. The challenge is to resist the inward pull that tries to rob us of our appreciation for the ways of God, and to let go of all within us that distracts us from delighting in the LORD of all creation.

Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. For a signed copy, directly from the author, write to me — tony@awaywithwordsforyou.com .

Purpose in Pain

Dr. Paul Brand was a leading expert in the care of lepers (what is now called “Hansen’s Disease.” He wrote that rather than pain being a problem, it can be a tremendous blessing – a gift. The greatest problem lepers face is not pain, but the lack of pain. Lepers lack the sensation in their nerves to warn them of an injury. They could step on a nail and not know it. It would then become inflamed. They could develop gangrene and lose their feet, their legs, or worse.

Pain protects us. A workaholic may suffer a mild heart attack to warn him to slow down before he suffers a fatal one. Friends may feel the pain of conflict reminding them to work on the relationship before it is torn apart. The pain of spiritual hunger may motivate us to seek God before we are forever lost.

Nobody wants to feel pain, but pain can draw us closer to the God who protects us, who comes to us when we are hurt and heals us.

The Bible says –

 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

 God has a purpose for pain. Pain protects us. Next –

Pain purifies us.

 One of the great mistake parents make (and I include myself in this) is that we try to prevent our children from experiencing pain. Nobody wants their child to have to suffer, to go through disappointing experiences. No parent sits back and says, “Gee, I hope my daughter gets an F on her exam.” Or, “Boy, I hope my son gets cut from his team.”

No parent wants their child to feel pain, but if we try to prevent it from happening, we’re doing them a disservice and, very possibly, setting them up to fail and feel even greater pain as they grow up and move on in life.

Pain is not something we should seek out, but it’s also not something we should avoid. Joseph did not want to be a slave, he didn’t want to be a prisoner – but he didn’t try to escape. He faced his situation with faith. He knew God was with him, even in the darkest moments.

Pain has a way of stripping us of arrogance. When we feel pain, we are more likely to ask for help.

 We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

God doesn’t want to inflict pain on anyone. But the truth is, we often need to feel a measure of pain to prevent us from doing even greater damage to ourselves.

God has a purpose for pain. Pain purifies us.

Finally,

Pain produces character in us, which leads to hope.Finally,

The most spiritually mature people I know are people who have experienced great pain.

Many of you have struggled, have suffered greater pain than I can even imagine. I feel a little inadequate telling you about the benefits of pain, of God’s purpose in pain. The best I can do is point to examples such as these and others where people found hope even in the midst of pain. Like the Apostle Paul, many of you have discovered that –

Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope… (Romans 5:3-4)

The greatest example of one who was willing to accept pain to produce hope is Jesus Christ. Jesus suffered more than we can imagine – the rejection of his faith community, the betrayal of his friends, the ridicule of the crowds, the torture of the soldiers, even death on a cross. He accepted this suffering because it was part of God’s plan to bring us new life.

I pray that none of us would ever suffer as Jesus did. The crosses we carry are not like his, but our hope is –

 If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! (Romans 8:17, The Message)

 When you struggle, have hope. Know that God has a purpose for your pain. Instead of asking God “Why?” ask him, “What do I do now?” Never give up. Have faith in Jesus Christ, who leads us through the dark valleys into greener pastures where we will be comforted by the love of God and enjoy peace with him forever.

You may be feeling pain today. Physically. Emotionally. Relationally.  Spiritually. God may not take your pain away, but God will help you through it and give your pain a purpose.

Strength In Pain Pictures, Photos, and Images for Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter

Abounding Grace, A Faith Journey, Loving to Write, Making a Difference, My Lord and Friend: Friday Featured Followers

Where Grace Abounds : In which human frailty encounters Divine Strength

My name is Heather. I’m a Christian, happy-to-stay-home wife of one wonderful husband and homeschooling mama of six terrific children. It is from this perspective that I view the world and share my thoughts here.

Celeta’s Journey : Just a gal learning to exhale the world and inhale to Word!

Oh how He catches my breath! For me, a significant part of seeing is to put my faith into action through writing about and sharing my growth experiences…what started as an exercise to document spiritual growth, quickly became much, much more…my consistency in writing still leaves a great deal to be desired, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t steadily growing me…He is…each and every day…into a beautifully woven tapestry that is the me he designed me to be…

Kris Atkins Writes : Who has two thumbs and loves to write? THIS GIRL.

Kris Atkins, MFA knows that putting “MFA” behind her name is somewhat pretentious (as is writing about oneself in third person), but she wants to be kind of a big deal. After all, her home already smells of rich mahogany and leather-bound books, so she’s halfway there.*

Kris likes words a lot, as well as magic and great characters. So she combines all three and writes fantasy stories for young adults, new adults, and one day maybe even old adults.** She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In addition to writing, she blogs about living with bipolar disorder and is passionate about mental illness awareness. She loves being outside when the sun is shining, chasing her crazy shiba inus, pretending she’s an interior designer, and drinking absurd amounts of Diet Dr. Pepper. Denver, the second best city in the world***, is her home.

Jessica’s Journey : “We’re all fallen, but we’re not broken. There is the hint that we are going to get up again.” ~ Amy Lee.

  I am Jessica. 24 years old. I live in MA with my parents and my cat. I am on here to share stories, poems, and struggles relating to my depression, anxiety, and OCD. I have been through a lot, and am still having issues to this day. I want to help make a difference in the world, even if it is just for one person. I want to inspire others and help people through their problems when they feel “stuck” and don’t know where to turn.

My Lord, My Friend : For Such a Time as This

The book of Lamentations is a book of sorrows, which if read, all will be able to relate to the sorrow, the grief and even the anguish that is painfully, yet poetically painted all upon it’s pages.

Lamentations V19 “Remembering my afflictions and my misery, the bitterness and the gall.”

Yet life is not meant to be totally misery, and hopelessness. Nor is the book of Lamentations, it like all the other books in the Bible have the underlying message of hope.

Lamentations V22 “It is of the Lords mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion will never fail.”

His compassion will never fail no matter what you have gone through, what you have done, what you have become. even though sometimes it seems that the consequences to our actions lead us to feel like God is against us, we just need to switch our perspective from the right now to the forever. There is nothing that you can or will do, that will make God dive up on you. Yet we in our mourning, trials, tribulations and lamentations are quick to point the finger of blame and walk away from the biggest fan in our corner. He cheers for us even when we’re in a losing streak and the loses are coming thick and fast. He doesn’t leave us and choose to support another team, in fact in these times He reminds us there’s hope, and even offers to get in the ring with us. But sadly, for whatever reason, in the midst of our battles we never turn back around to look for the outstretched arm waiting for the tag, to take control and enter the ring for us.

To turn around and accept that hand, to believe in him, to ask him to be the Lord of your life, means you are not alone. Even in the midst of your trials He will be offering help.

So in your time of Lamentation, take hope. Just because the sun is covered by grey clouds doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. It will shine again!

So why not believe Him and take the hand of the friend who will never leave?

Looking Up: Delight in Disorder Tuesday

I lift up my eyes to you,

to you who sit enthroned in heaven.

As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,

as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,

so our eyes look to the Lord our God,

till he shows us his mercy. (Psalm 123:1-2)

I remember a time in therapy when my counselor simply asked me to sit up straight and look at him. Somehow, the mere act of looking up was enough to lighten my load. There is something therapeutic about looking up, particularly when we look up as an act of reverence.

When I receive the blessing at the end of a worship service, I look up and breathe in the power of the Holy Spirit.

At a Billy Graham conference, I felt inspired as I looked up and joined countless others in songs of praise.

Driving around the Adirondacks near our family cabin, I look up and see the lofty mountains and am in awe.

As I awaken in the morning to my son’s voice and looked up into his smiling face, I am reminded I have a reason to carry out the day.

At night I have looked up at my wife getting ready for bed and been grateful for the gift of her companionship.

Looking up to see the hand of the LORD in the works of creation can pick us up when we feel down or put us in our place when we are over-inflated with ourselves.

When we respond to life that often casts us down by looking up to God, things are simply bound to start looking up for us. We are better able to face what lies ahead with confidence, assurance, and grace.

Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. For a signed copy, directly from the author, write to me — tony@awaywithwordsforyou.com .

Extremes, Music Therapy, Representation, Derealization, Coping: Mental Health Monday

I Go to Extremes” (Kris Atkins Writes)

Looking back over the years, I was hypomanic my freshman year of college. I got entirely too little sleep, spent way too much money, and ate a ridiculous amount of food. I hung out with my friends constantly, thinking I was charming, witty and funny, when in reality I was probably more along the lines of loud and obnoxious. I took a wide variety of classes, from ballet to mass communications, public speaking to American Sign Language, chasing after various grand ideas. The year seemed to a great one but when it was done I was left with debt, horrible grades, and 20 pounds more on my frame. My euphoric high came to a screeching halt the day I broke up with my serious boyfriend.

Healer, Heal Thyself” (a day with depression)

I came up with a music therapy intervention that not only meets the criteria for at least one part of my piano improvisation midterm, but is also useful for me in my everyday life! I was playing an ostinato (repeated musical pattern) in Mixolydian and kept thinking: “this wants to be a movement intervention, but it’s so tranquil.” I kept imagining myself slowly raising my arms above my head and inhaling, then lowering them and exhaling – like one might do as part of a warm-up for yoga.

Time to Write a Broader Spectrum of Mental Health” (Katherine Locke)

Books that show characters with mental illness not in crisis tell people in crisis that there is a life after crisis. That it’s possible for you to fall in love, get a job, go to college, make new friends, win the big sports game, climb the mountain, or do whatever you want to do. Even if you’re not Perfect. Even if you’re still struggling some days, or more days than not. Even if sometimes, you fuck up. Even if some days, you really hate that you rely on a little blue pill and a therapist to keep you alive.

These books are needed. We need to start writing them. 

Derealization/Depersonalization Disorder” (Gentle Kindness)

There is a blur between the parts that are your body and the things that are not your body. It is similar to being in a dream, if you can recall what that feels like. You may be doing things with your hands in the dream.

But these are not really your hands. Your hands are on your body, which is lying in your bed.

The hands that seem to be yours in the dream , are just a part of the dream, a part of your mind, and they are no more real than any other part of the dream.

Having an Episode & how I’m Coping” (teripatricia)

I’m not completely well at the moment. I hate admitting this, even to myself. I’ve posted a lot about the importance of talking when we’re not feeling ok, but in reality, it is quite a difficult thing to do.

At present, I am going through what I believe to be (based on past experience) a dysphoric mood. In the context of bipolar, dysphoria means a mixture of the symptoms of elation and depression at the same time. So even though I feel low and sad, and have negative thoughts, I also feel intensely agitated and restless. It is a very uncomfortable and overwhelming experience and for me, one of the most unpleasant aspects of bipolar.