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Bright Spots in the Darkness is Available!

It is here! Bright Spots in the Darkness…Meditations When You Are Depressed  is here! It is time for depression to come out of the church closet. Christians can be depressed. Yet there is stigma in the church if you suffer depression.  Well meaning people will say: “Just get over it.” “Think about good things.” “Confess your hidden sin.” “You must not be reading your Bible enough.” Instead of help you may find judgment. There is hope! God has not forgotten you. You have a disease. You are not alone. There is treatment. Jesus’ Beatitudes can help us walk through depression. Bright Spots show how. Bright Spots was birthed out of my experience with depression and by seeing many people throughout my ministry suffer with depression, too. There were very few, if any, Christian books of meditations for those with depression. Bright Spots does not offer a cure. Severe depression is not usually solved quickly or with self-help books. Depression is too complicated to be simplistic. But it does offer inspiration from a fellow traveler.  Where can you get a copy? An e-book or softcover are available You can order from my home page at www.rickqualls.com  from Westbow Press  Amazon books &…

Bi-Polar? Life Hacks For The Holidays

As a child every Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday I would become sick. Don’t misunderstand. Mine was a “Leave It To Beaver” childhood. It was an idyllic 1950’s childhood where I was loved and cared for. I would get so excited I couldn’t contain myself. There were long trips to visit grandparents we didn’t see often.Sears and Warads offered extra catalogs with large children’s sections of fascinating toys. Wish books we called them. I studied them and marked the pages, so mom and dad wouldn’t miss my favorite requests. And I was an ardent believer in Santa Claus…even after I learned it was Santa Qualls that brought the gifts. The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year. Today, as an adult with bipolar, I can still get sick during the holidays. By the time I became an adult the ugly face of depression cycled into my life.  The winter and holidays can now trigger a bipolar-depressive relapse. As the days get shorter and grayer my spirits began to fall. Fortunately, recent years have been better because of bipolar life hacks I have discovered. Here are a few. Winter days and holidays are better when I keep my routine. I stay…

Who Is Your Guide In Life?

Who Is Your Guide? Be careful who you follow. Once we were religiously following Suzy Q, a nickname for our GPS, as it was showing us a new route to Chicago. At one point Suzy lead us on a shortcut between Interstates, Suzy guided us down the mainstreet of a tiny town of about 50. Soon she guided us to turn off Main Street and led us down a gravel road that ended in a pasture. I unplugged Suzy and used a map. Be careful who you follow. “Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” (Psalm 25:4-5) In Psalms 25 David is in conflict. His enemies are unnamed but he speaks of being alone, afflicted, and anguished. David is confused about the way to go. We, too, have a multitude of choices and paths in life. What career to pick? Shall I have a double shot latte or a caramel cream molatta? What career will I pursue? Will I get up in time to exercise this morning? …

The Danger of Narcissism In The Church

A couple new to the community were church shopping. One of their newest friends, a member of First Community was gushing over her church. “Our pastor has the greatest sermons! Humorous, deep, and easy to understand, he never goes over 21 minutes. “You’ll love our music, We are always learning the latest contemporary music while we sing traditional hymns. We have classical music and rap. We have it all. You will have the finest musical fare. “And we love our new youth minister. The kids play games every meeting but also have serious Bible study. Why, they took a mission trip last year to Mexico. It took six months to get one of the boys back from a Mexican jail but he’s finally home. “And just look at our building. It’s the best in town. Not a thing needs to be done to it. Our trustees have spent all the money necessary to for upkeep. “How? We have endowment funds that pay for everything in the church. You don’t even have to bother with giving.” The young couple decided they would visit First Community but they wanted to check out the brand of coffee and make sure there were pastries…

Halloween Is Not A Time To Stigmatize Mental Illness

“Come quick it’s an emergency,” our 7 year old grandson said. He has a three year old brother and immediately we wondered what happened. With two active little boys you don’t know what will happen when you look away for a moment. “Come quick it is an emergency, follow me!”  “What is the emergency!”  “Quick we have to save the world.” With relief we followed and proceeded to save the world from “bad guys.” (You can relax we battled evil and won.) For Halloween the boys will be wearing costumes of Ironman and Captain America. For a few moments they will get to put on “courage”, “boldness.” and a desire to “save the world.” They will have fun dressing up for family members and I’m sure they will have a sugar high continuing into the following day, although their mother rations the candy. (As a grandfather there is no one to ration my candy intake!) Halloween can be fun, trying on an alter-ego and deciding which candy to eat first. But some costumes, most of which are adult costumes, can be offensive to those of us who suffer mental illness. Costumes like “psycho schizophrenic murderer”, the Psycho nurse, “Gone Mental,”…

How Do We Learn To Forgive?

A billionaire collected live alligators. (Billionaires have strange hobbies.) He kept them in the pool at the back of his mansion. He decided to throw a party, and during the party announced, “I will give twenty-million dollars or the vice-presidency in my company to the man who can swim across this pool full of alligators. “ Suddenly there was a loud splash. The crowd cheered a man on as he made it to the other side unharmed. The billionaire said, “That was incredible! I didn’t think it could be done! Do you want the the vice-presidency or the money?” The guy says, I just want the person who PUSHED me into the WATER!!! Who pushed you into your pit of alligators? We all have hurts. People who have abused, betrayed, or cursed us. How can we learn to forgive? The first thing to decide: do we want revenge more than forgiveness? Do you prefer hurting more than healing? Sometimes we don’t want to be emotionally free from the pain of the past. Forgiveness begins with God’s strength. Your ability to forgive comes from having experienced the forgiveness of God. Jesus teaches us the process of forgiveness in Luke 6:27-28 ”But…

What Do People Say When You Are Depressed?

People say all kinds of things when they discover you are suffering from depression. Here are some unhelpful things you might here. “There is always someone who is in worse shape than you are.” Depression is not a competition. Comparing illnesses only induces guilt. Yes, others are hurting. But that is not the point. Don’t discount your illness and its effect on you and others. “You are just sad.” No. Depression is more than sadness. We all are sad at times but depression is a disease. Depression effects physical health such as, sleeping habits, brain chemistry, appetite, and the slowing down of speech and actions. Oppressive negative thoughts accompany depression. Depression effects your spirit. You may lose meaning in life. You may question your faith and prayer life. Depression is a disease that effects your whole life. It is far more than sadness. “Cheer up! Have happy thoughts.” Negative thoughts overtake the sense of joy or cheerfulness that you once had. Why does this happen? No one knows. It may be brain chemistry, a genetic dysfunction, electrical impulse that have created patterns of thinking that are negative, or even tragic events may have induced a depressive state. No one wants…

All Shook Up!

All Shook Up! Remember the Elvis song, “All shook up”?  “I’m in love…I’m all shook up.” Leaders of all kinds are seemingly wanting us to be “All Shook Up”…but not because of love. Tweets start twittering tongues from news sources, and social media. There is no love in tweets from celebrities, politicians, or friends. There are real threats and false threats, genuine news, and “false truth’s”. Molehills are made to look like mountains and mountains ignored. There is much ado about nothing. And so we react instead of responding. To react is to blame or excuse, to become distant instead of drawing close, to hoard not share, to be unapproachable not approachable. The stomach churns, the hair on the back of the neck stand up and emotions take over our thinking. What does the Bible have to say about responding to pervasive fear. “Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us.” 2 Thessalonians 2:2 First, who is the person telling you about the future? How do they…

How Do You Manage Anxiety When You Are Depressed?

Before I was treated for bipolar depression I also developed an anxiety disorder. For example, I found it difficult to eat in public. When we had church functions my stomach would knot up and my hands would shake from apprehension. As pastor, I was able to walk around doing informal greetings with members. Walking and having short visits allowed me contain my anxiety. By the time the event was over I hadn’t eaten anything and was exhausted. It is not unusual to have an anxiety disorder along with depression. Some of the feelings overlap but they are different diseases with their own emotional and behavioral symptoms. Anxiety and Depression Together Although I take medication for both depression and anxiety there are still days when anxiety spills over into daily life. How do you manage anxiety this anxiety? Here are some tips from other patients with anxiety disorder. Remember to take your medicine. Forgetting or neglecting your medicine may cause a relapse. Discuss with your doctor your symptoms, when you become anxious, behaviors, and your inner feelings. Together you will develop a regimen. But if you don’t take your meds they can’t help. Practicing disciplines such as Tai Chi, yoga, or…

How To Manage Thoughts Of Shame

The other day I answered the phone and was greeted with, “This is a phone call like you have never heard before. My name is Jim and I can tell you how to make the cash roll in!” I hung up. Get rich schemes abound. Manipulative people take advantage of you for their gain. Are you being conned by the master manipulator, depression? Depression twists your thinking,convincing you of lies that cause shame. Shame takes your life and feeds your depression. Shame is a set of beliefs that you are defective, worthless, that you deserve misery. Some of these thoughts may ruminate in both our conscious and unconscious mind.  These thoughts may include:  I’m stupid. I’m unattractive. I’m a failure. I’m a bad person.I’m selfish. I just don’t have what it takes. I hate myself.I don’t matter. I’m defective. I shouldn’t have been born. I’m unlovable. These automatic thoughts steal from you and feed depression, worsening its hold on our lives. Depressive illness may bring on these thoughts. We can then be manipulated making depression worse. How can we manage these thoughts of shame? The acrostic SHAME can be a pattern for breaking this downward shame cycle. S—Support groups. You…

When The World Turns Cold

It was cold even for the children. In school we had drills about where to go if a tornado was coming. There were fire drills when teachers led us outside in orderly lines. And we had drills should a nuclear bomb explode. We were instructed to get beneath our desk and not look at the explosion.  Even children felt the cold of the cold war. There was the threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis when Russian missiles were pointed at the United States to be launched from Cuba. Our parents understood what was at stake. Even though we didn’t understand the cold war, it took away some childhood innocence. Perhaps some of the unrest of the ‘60s grew partially from these experiences. I thought my grandchildren would not grow up under a nuclear cloud. The nuclear saber rattling with North Korea, the threat of war with Venezuela, bring back cold memories. Sadly, there are those in evangelical Christendom that are all too ready to go to war. There is nothing in the teaching of Jesus that encourages such action. If you read the “red letter” editions of the Bible (those where the words of Jesus are in red) we have…