Praying Out the Dark

The Fighting Caregiver

towardthefight

 

0If you know someone who has bipolar disorder, it affects you too. The first and most important thing you can do is help him or her get the right diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make the appointment and go with him or her to see the doctor. Encourageyour loved one to stay in treatment.

caregivers

Your touch can make a big difference

To help a friend or relative, you can:

  • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement
  • Learn about bipolar disorder so you can understand what your friend or relative is experiencing
  • Talk to your friend or relative and listen carefully
  • Listen to feelings your friend or relative expresses-be understanding about situations that may trigger bipolar symptoms
  • Invite your friend or relative out for positive distractions, such as walks, outings, and other activities
  • Remind your friend or relative that, with time and treatment, he or she can get better.

Never ignore comments about your friend or relative harming himself or herself. Always report such comments to his or her therapist or doctor.

Support for caregivers

Like other serious illnesses, bipolar disorder can be difficult for spouses, family members, friends, and other caregivers. Relatives and friends often have to cope with the person’s serious behavioral problems, such as wild spending sprees during mania, extreme withdrawal during depression, poor work or school performance. These behaviors can have lasting consequences.

Caregivers usually take care of the medical needs of their loved ones. The caregivers have to deal with how this affects their own health. The stress that caregivers are under may lead to missed work or lost free time, strained relationships with people who may not understand the situation, and physical and mental exhaustion.

Stress from caregiving can make it hard to cope with a loved one’s bipolar symptoms. One study shows that if a caregiver is under a lot of stress, his or her loved one has more trouble following the treatment plan, which increases the chance for a major bipolar episode. It is important that people caring for those with bipolar disorder also take care of themselves.

Recommended help for Caregivers: http://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/support/member-of-family-is-mentally-ill-what-now/menu-id-67/

This post is dedicated to Lynnie, who is both amazing and aware of me and my issues. She covers me through depression and delusions. She has bandaged cut wrists, and helped me through the blackest of despair. She has been the best caregiver ever. Thank you my love. –B
 
 

That Awful Wasteland of Alzheimers

alzheim

What is Alzheimer’s disease (AD)?

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. In most people with AD, symptoms first appear after age 60. AD is the most common cause of dementia among older people, but it is not a normal part of aging. Dementia refers to a decline in cognitive function that interferes with daily life and activities.

AD starts in a region of the brain that affects recent memory, then gradually spreads to other parts of the brain. Although treatment can slow the progression of AD and help manage its symptoms in some people, currently there is no cure for this devastating disease. AD is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German doctor. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer described changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. He found abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary tangles). alzheimers-brain

Today, these plaques and tangles in the brain are considered hallmarks of AD. The third main feature of AD is the gradual loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. This loss leads to diminished cell function and cell death. We don’t know what starts the AD process, but we do know that damage to the brain begins as many as 10 to 20 years before any obvious signs of forgetfulness appear. As nerve cells die throughout the brain, affected regions begin to shrink. By the final stage of AD, damage is widespread, and brain tissue has shrunk significantly.

How many Americans have AD?

According to recent estimates, as many as 2.4 million to 4.5 million Americans have AD. Unless the disease can be effectively treated or prevented, the number of people with AD will increase significantly if current population trends continue. That’s because the risk of AD increases with age, and the U.S. population is aging. The number of people age 65 and older is expected to grow from 39 million in 2008 to 72 million in 2030, and the number of people with AD doubles for every 5-year interval beyond age 65. In the years to come, AD is expected to pose physical and emotional challenges for more and more families and other caregivers, in addition to those with the disease. The growing number of people with AD and the costs associated with the disease also will put a heavy economic burden on society.

How long can a person live with AD?

AD is a slow disease that starts with mild memory problems and ends with severe brain damage. The time from diagnosis to death varies—as little as 3 or 4 years if the person is older than 80 when diagnosed to as long as 10 or more years if the person is younger. Other factors that affect how long a person will live with AD include the person’s sex, the presence of other health problems, and the severity of cognitive problems at diagnosis.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a general term that refers to a decline in cognitive function so extensive that it interferes with daily life and activities. This loss in the ability to think, remember, and reason is not a disease itself, but a group of symptoms that often accompanies a disease or condition. Many conditions and diseases cause dementia. Two of the most common causes of dementia in older people are AD and vascular dementia, which is caused by a series of strokes or changes in the brain’s blood supply. Other conditions that cause memory loss or dementia include:

•medication side effects

•chronic alcoholism

•certain tumors and infections in the brain

•blood clots in the brain

•vitamin B12 deficiency

•dehydration

•high fever

•some thyroid, kidney, or liver disorders

Many of these conditions are temporary and reversible, but they can be serious and should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible. Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can make a person more forgetful and can be mistaken for dementia. Someone may feel sad, lonely, worried, or bored when facing retirement or coping with the death of a spouse, relative, or friend. Adapting to these changes leaves some people feeling confused or forgetful. Supportive friends and family or professional help from a doctor or counselor can help older adults adjust to big changes.

Source: National Institute of Aging, http://www.nia.nih.gov/

Jump Me! The Vital Ministry of an Encourager

We, more than others, should carry jumper and tow cables not only in our cars, but also in our hearts, by which means we can send the needed boost or charge of encouragement or the added momentum to mortal neighbors.

        — Neal A. Maxwell

“One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. …It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others.  The world is full of discouragers.  We have a Christian duty to encourage one another.  Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet.  Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”

 —William Barclay

 “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 1:7

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Living in Alaska, jumper cables are crucial necessities.  The winters here are challenging on cars, and I’ve pretty much determined to have the best just in case.  Whether I need a jump or can give one, they have already paid for themselves.

For the non-initiated, jumper cables are used to essentially replace a dead battery.  A car that is running can hook up and provide current to a car that is not running so it can start.  It just takes a couple minutes with the cables and it is fairly easy to do.

The ministry of encouragement has been key in my life.  There are several people who have been used by God to encourage me.  A Christian brother named John Yokela, who is in his 90’s, comes to mind.  He is a solid stalwart of faith, and has helped me on my way many times.  I don’t know where I would be without his caring words.

The ministry of encouragement is similar to jumping a car.  There are people in God’s Kingdom that intervene in our lives.  They are equipped with spiritual jumper cables, and just seem to come along when we are dead and are unable to make it work.  They come alongside, eager to help and not inclined to judge.  They are there to get you moving again, and they seldom will show irritation.

We need to learn how to connect with the discouraged brother or sister.  Some of our issues are deadening, they frustrate us to the point that we just want to walk away.  Our hearts start to toughen and get hard.  Life is full of futility and coarseness.  But along comes someone with cables, and in just a few moments our situation has completely turned around.  What they’ve done seems miraculous, and the grace they carry with them is profound.

Father, send to your Church gifts of encouragement.  We are needy and we could use a jump from time-to-time.  Please provide what we need, and help us to bless others.  Give us wisdom, power and grace to reach out and connect others to your Presence.  Amen.

ybic, Bryan

 

FYI. How to Jump Start a Car:

http://www.ehow.com/how_4500480_use-jumper-cables.html

http://www.carbuyingtips.com/jumpstart.htm

 

Take the Ministry of Encouragement a step further:

http://internetpastoronline.com/

The Fishbowl and Your Pastor

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”  Anon.

“A true and safe leader is likely to be one who has no desire to lead, but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and the press of the external situation.”  A.W. Tozer

flourish-65

Having been a senior pastor for three years, and in full-time ministry 20+ years, I have had to adjust to the constant surveillance of my life and my families. To be so visible, was wearying and maybe even demeaning at times. I was constantly “center-stage.” It’s funny but these two ingredients– the fishbowl and a pastor’s love for his/her people combine to create quite the interesting concoction. There is nothing like it. But overall, the fact is we are now quite visible to all.

However there is a special momentum you see when you are a pastor, you have a real sense of things moving , (if they really are.) However your flock will keep you both humbled and elated by their antics. You also will continually fight with the idea of ownership– but you don’t own them, God does! He will make sure you understand this, over and over. The flock is His, you are only a partial excuse, out from His will.

First of all, every pastor is a sinner. They have weaknesses and faults just like church members. This is not to say that they are not to live as an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3) and are not to have met certain moral qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). But we must be realistic about their sinful nature. They will continually do battle with the old nature which is still part of their lives, and will do so as long as they live. Pastors can be pretty ignorant at times. It does seem to be that folly is the human condition. They should understand this.

Total victory over sin will not be won in this life. Sanctification will take place; victories will occur; bad habits and sins will be overcome – but there will be many battles to fight until the day of glory… Remember that your pastor and his family constantly live in a fishbowl for all the church to see – and sometimes the sight is not always going to be particularly attractive.

They are humans also! The fishbowl life has its own special work in the pastor’s heart. Sometimes I believe His call on us is the deep point He makes in order to save us. It may be true. that those who are called “pastors” are those who are the most desperate, who really need to have this call in order to save us.

“God uses prisons to train people for future roles of leadership or martyrdom.’  Chuck Colson

Pray for your Pastor, pray for his/her family. This is by far and away the most significant work you could do for them. If they preach well, tell them. They want to know (even if they say they don’t!) Encourage their spouses, they alone have to live with failure and discouragement “behind the scenes”, without an outlet. They do know the real person who is a pastor. And please remember this, they are not your servants, but your friends.

Rattlin-Red-Bird

October is Pastor Appreciation Month–

You still have time to do something– (Like an Amazon Gift Card. “hint! hint!”)

Partial Source for post: A section from an email from Grace Notes, Curtis C. Thomas
Life in the Body of Christ, Founders Press, 2006, p. 151, 153,
 

Suicide– A Second Look

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide. What drives so many individuals to take their own lives? To those not in the grips of suicidal depression and despair, it’s difficult to understand. But a suicidal person is in so much pain that he or she can see no other option.

Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness, and isolation, a suicidal person can’t see any way of finding relief except through death. But despite their desire for the pain to stop, most suicidal people are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to committing suicide, but they just can’t see one. 

Suicide is not chosen; it happens
when pain exceeds
resources for coping with pain.

Because of their ambivalence about dying, suicidal individuals usually give warning signs or signals of their intentions. The best way to prevent suicide is to know and watch for these warning signs and to get involved if you spot them. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing that you care, and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.

Common Misconceptions about Suicide

FALSE: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.
Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like “you’ll be sorry when I’m dead,” “I can’t see any way out,” — no matter how casually or jokingly said may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

FALSE: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.
Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.

FALSE: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her.
Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

FALSE: People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help . 
Studies of suicide victims have shown that more then half had sought medical help within six month before their deaths.

FALSE: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.
You don’t give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true –bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

 

Source: SAVE – Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

Excellent site: http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/

More info: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/suicide_prevention.htm

Tourette Syndrome: Know The Basics

“Dropping F Bombs”

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Tourette’s disorder, or Tourette syndrome

(TS) as it is frequently called, is a neurologic syndrome. The essential feature of Tourette’s are multiple tics that are sudden, rapid, recurrent, non-rhythmic, stereotypical, purposeless movements or vocalizations.

 
 What are the symptoms of Tourette syndrome?
 
  • Both multiple motor and one or more vocal tics are present at some time during the illness, although not necessarily simultaneously
  • Occurrence many times a day nearly every day or intermittently throughout a span of more than one year
  • Significant impairment or marked distress in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • Onset before the age of 18.

 Symptoms can disappear for weeks or months at a time and severity waxes and wanes.

  

What are the first tics that may be characteristic of Tourette’s syndrome?

Usually, the facial tic, such as rapid blinking of the eyes or twitches of the mouth, may be the first indication a parent has that their child may have Tourette’s syndrome. Involuntary sounds, such as throat clearing and sniffing, or tics of the limbs may be an initial sign in other children.

  

Are any other symptoms associated with Tourette’s syndrome?

Approximately 50 percent of patients meet criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and this may be the more impairing problem. Approximately one-third of patients meet criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or have other forms of anxiety. Learning disabilities are common as well as developmental stuttering. Social discomfort, self-consciousness and depressed mood frequently occur, especially as children reach adolescence.

 

Yelling and irrational

What causes these symptoms?

Although the cause has not been definitely established, there is considerable evidence that Tourette’s syndrome arises from abnormal metabolism of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Other neurotransmitters may be involved.

 

Can Tourette’s syndrome be inherited?

Genetic studies indicate that Tourette’s syndrome is inherited as an autosomal dominant gene but different family members may have dissimilar symptoms. A parent has a 50 percent chance of passing the gene to one of his or her children. The range of symptomatology varies from multiple severe tics to very minor tics with varying degrees of attention deficit-disorder and OCD.

  

Are boys or girls more likely to have Tourette’s syndrome?

The sex of the child can influence the expression of the Tourette’s syndrome gene. Girls with the gene have a 70 percent chance of displaying symptoms, boys with the gene have a 99 percent chance of displaying symptoms. Ratios of boys with Tourette’s syndrome to girls with Tourette’s syndrome are 3:1. 

  

How is Tourette’s syndrome diagnosed?

No blood analysis, x-ray or other medical test exists to identify Tourette’s syndrome. Diagnosis is made by observing the signs or symptoms as described above. A doctor may wish to use a CAT scan, EEG, or other tests to rule out other ailments that could be confused with TS. Some medications cause tics, so it is important to inform the professional doing the assessment of any prescribed, over-the-counter, or street drugs to which the patient may have been exposed.

  

What are the benefits of seeking early treatment of Tourette syndrome symptoms?

When a child’s behavior is viewed as disruptive, frightening, or bizarre by peers, family, teachers, or friends, it provokes ridicule and rejection. Teachers and other children can feel threatened and exclude the child from activities or interpersonal relationships. A child’s socialization difficulties will increase as he reaches adolescence. Therefore, it is very important for the child’s self-esteem and emotional well-being that treatment be sought as early as possible.

  

What treatments are available for Tourette syndrome?

Not everyone is disabled by his or her symptoms, so medication may not be necessary. When symptoms interfere with functioning, medication can effectively improve attention span, decrease impulsivity, hyperactivity, tics, and obsessive-compulsive symptomatology. Relaxation techniques and behavior therapy may also be useful for tics, ADD symptoms, and OCD symptoms. 

  

How does Tourette syndrome affect the education of a child or adolescent with Tourette syndrome?

Tourette syndrome alone does not affect the IQ of a child. Many children who have Tourette syndrome, however, also have learning disabilities or attention deficits. Frequently, therefore, special education may be needed for a child with Tourette syndrome. Teachers should be given factual information about the disorder and, if learning difficulties appear, the child should be referred to the school system for assessment of other learning problems.

  

What is the course of Tourette syndrome?

Some people with Tourette syndrome show a marked improvement in their late teens or early twenties. However, tics as well as ADD and OCD behavior, may wax and wane over the course of the life span.   

  

Reviewed by Charles T. Gordon, III, M.D., 2003

 

For more help go to: http://www.nami.org/   and  http://www.tsa-usa.org/

 

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