Let Sleeping Cats Lie

Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat ill...

Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat illustrator Louis Wain near the beginning of his mental illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, I went along to my course with the Baptists last Thursday…there were only three of us there! I think the others had forgotten to say they couldn’t come. Anyway, it was good – a Jeff Lucas course, which I enjoyed. I really appreciate having serious conversations with people in real life about faith, and it isn’t something I get all that often. Not that the people I see at church don’t talk about God – its just that I don’t generally see them except on Sundays.

BelieversBrain came up in conversation, as I mentioned I was up for an award (‘cos, you know, I’m quite excited!) so I gave them the web address if they want to come and read.

I’m in a difficult situation regarding the blog, really. On the one hand, I think that I could at least try to get Christian publications whether online or offline to publish some of my writing, which I would absolutely love! On the other hand that would almost certainly mean revealing my full identity. My surname is unusual – there are three or four people in the world with the same name as me. Plus the UK Christian world is rather small. So if I start using my real name, for instance in a piece of writing or if I win this award and Premier use my name, everyone is going to know. Which leaves me with a dilemma.

On the one hand – I am not ashamed of being bipolar, I am not ashamed that I struggle with self injury. I am proud of my work on BelieversBrain, and feel I have something to offer, re the whole being a mental Christian thing. I would dearly love to just embrace it and try to do some sort of activist work to reduce stigma against mentally ill people in churches. My circle of close friends are well aware of my difficulties, and have seen me ill many times.

On the other – the people at church (& the vicar) don’t know. My family, bar my parents, don’t know. Once I have told people I can never put that genie back in the bottle. The two people I’m closest to in church are charismatics, and I have no idea how extreme they may be. (I am wary of charismatics, due to the victim-blaming some indulge in, particularly with those suffering from mental illness). They may reject me, or judge me. So might the rest of the congregation. I might discover people have a whole load of negative stereotypes about people with mental health problems, ranging from the “you just need to pull yourself together” to “you are being punished for being extra-sinful”. They could also treat me like a china doll, assuming I must be protected from anything that might make me depressed. There is an outside chance that they might think I must be violent, aggressive or dangerous.

Really I just want to be treated like a normal person, as I am now. Yet if I am ill I might behave in ways that need understanding, so perhaps I am wanting special treatment after all.

The other concern I have is that I am trying to explore with my vicar a possible vocation to the priesthood. I say trying, because I have not spoken to him (aside from saying hi at church) for some months. I am concerned that if he finds out about the bipolar now (as opposed to me telling him when I know him a little better) that he may simply say that I am unsuited, and that is my future up the creek.

I think was troubles me the most is that I can never take it back , once it is told. And yet I say to myself that I shouldn’t be treating my mental illness with such shame, that it is nothing to be ashamed of. And how can I advocate acceptance by Christians of Christians with mental health problems if I am not open and honest about my own problems outside the confines of the net? But I stand to lose a lot…

I really am troubled about this, and have little time to decide (the decision about the awards is coming soon). I have been praying, but cannot discern a clear answer. It seems like it is just up to me, and I’m scared…

Well, I’m sure I will think of something. Sorry to get serious, but this is something preying on my mind at the moment. I always have the option of using a pen-name for my writing, which I may well do. It just feels like not being honest.

In other news, my cat has spent the entire day asleep on my bed, and she’ll surely grow roots into the duvet soon!

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Woman-flu

Downtown Edinburgh

Downtown Edinburgh (Photo credit: Extra Medium)

Well, I had a nice trip up to Edinburgh, spent several nights chewing the fat with my old university friend. Talked about everything under the sun and drank enormous quantities of lager. Quite impressed I managed a conversation at all, really!

However I am back in the North East and have come down with a cold. Now I remember, Shirley was getting over a chest infection when I saw her! So now I am grumping round the house complaining bitterly about feeling ill.

I am a wimp when it comes to (physical) illness. If I strain a muscle there is much groaning, when I have a cold I sit around looking sorry for myself. Right now I am feeling ok though – I followed my mum’s advice (mums are useful) and had a bath, which seems to have temporarily resolved the achy muscles, and the rest is lemsip!

As for what I’m doing now…I didn’t make it to church on Sunday, because I felt absolutely shattered after getting back from Edinburgh on Saturday. I did think I might go to Evensong, but the only time I’ve been to that I felt completely bewildered throughout and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing/saying/singing at any given time!

I’m doing a course on Thursday evening with the local Baptists – my church doesn’t do that kind of thing, unfortunately, but the Baptists do (and their courses are full of young men!) Apparently it is a Jeff Lucas one – so was the last one and I enjoyed that so it should be good.

I am still prevaricating about going to London for the award ceremony – I would like to go, but lack the funds. I could use my savings or my credit card, but I think the parents would be less than pleased about that! I might ask mum if she could sub me some money. The trouble is that it is £119 for the train ticket, then about that again for every night in a hotel. I would like to go for 2 or 3 nights, so it will be expensive! I have friends in London but it seems the height of rudeness to ring up and say “I’ve been invited to an award ceremony, for something you are not interested in and only one of you could come along anyway, can I come and stay with you?” My friends are not a hotel! (Also, it would be really cool to just walk into the old pub and surprise everyone!)

We shall see. Need to get a move on though, as if I’m not going I need to tell them sharpish.

In other good news I randomly won a Bible through the Woman Alive facebook book group thingy. I am being lucky at the moment! I like winning things. I am also slightly obsessed by Bibles (I have many many many different types and have a disconcerting habit of feeling and smelling the bindings. I have found that people are embarrassed if you do that in public, for some reason)

My room in my new house is now almost ready, I now have an absolutely massive desk! And a filing cabinet so I have somewhere to put my degree/A-levels and whatnot in.

On the subject of ideas, which I was opining about recently. I have discovered that my fancy new Bible software is so good that I think I could produce at least a few blog posts about more general Christian subjects (i.e. not mental health related). I think I might just do that, I think. Though Believer’s Brain would always be my priority.

Anyway, that’s that. Apart from one thing – why does no one comment on Believer’s Brain? I see in the stats that people are reading, but no one says anything! Or presses the “like” button! Am I writing crap and no one has told me? Am I boring? I need feedback!

*walks away grumbling*

Blog Award

Well, thank you to Nicole from Riding the Wavez for giving me a One Lovely Blog award for Believer’s Brain. I’m posting the thank  you and whatnot over here at Oodly because this is the personal, less serious one sort of thing. So, the rules are:

One Lovely Blog Award

 

Thank the Person who Nominated You: Thank you very much Nicole! Everyone go look at her blog!

List 7 Random Things About yourself: Well,

  1. I have a skeleton in my study, who I think I have mentioned before. He is very nice.
  2. I get strangely excited by new stationery.
  3. I am addicted to women’s magazines (Chat, That’s Life, Take a Break)
  4. I crack my knuckles all the time, I’m afraid. It irritates people.
  5. I can cross only one eye at a time.
  6. I have hairy toes. (Yuck)
  7. My godmother says I have the mark of the devil on me, because I can bend the first joint of two of my fingers. Not sure if that is a good explanation of that…maybe unclear.

Nominate other bloggers:

Well, my favourite people are:

  1. If Narky, Feed Profusely
  2. Chaos and Control
  3. Songs and Sonnets
  4. Giant Fossilized Armadillo

That’s it! They’re all great.

Woo-hoo and hoorays and stuff

English: An IKEA Billy bookshelf, 80x106 cm, f...

English: An IKEA Billy bookshelf, 80×106 cm, finished in birch veneer and with the optional CD rack at the top. A extra shelf is leaning against the right-hand side of the bookshelf. Svenska: IKEAs bokhylla Billy i dimensionen 80×106 cm i björkfanér. Inkluderar CD-insatsen som var tillbehör. Ett extra hyllplan lutar mot hyllans högersida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m going to Edinburgh! I’m visiting my friend there from tomorrow for a few days. A few days of drunkenness, no doubt!

My friend Shirley has been my friend since university, in fact she is my sole remaining friend from my time there. She was with me when I developed bipolar disorder, when I was suicidal and self harming and taking overdoses, and when I was a bit manic and talking nonsense. And she is still my friend. Even though I piled the crap on her by being so unstable, even though I was undoubtedly a royal pain in the arse who hurt lots of people, she is still my friend. I cannot repay her for the friendship she gave me then – and the fact that we have maintained a friendship since, when I’ve been well as well as ill.

She is my only friend who is a Christian, although becoming less orthodox than I am now. Not that that matters to me! She is my only friend who I can discuss spiritual matters with, and she knows a great deal and holds a lot of wisdom about God. I really like that I can talk about that kind of thing with her, and I don’t need to watch my words in case I offend her, or accidentally speak heresy, because we are comfortable enough with each other to disagree, and still be friends.

I’m excited! It’s been a while since I last saw her. Last time we went to Amsterdam, which was good except that she was quite tired and slept a lot (after some pot-taking) which was not ideal. I think next time we go away we will go to an all-inclusive resort somewhere sunny, and pootle about doing whatever during the day and drinking at night. I think that will suit us both.

In other news I have been building flat-pack furniture with my dad. Sadly I am very bad at this. It is really frustrating because, although I understand how to build the furniture, I simply lack the wrist and finger strength to actually do it in a safe way! Like my mum says, she wouldn’t trust any car that she had changed the tyres on because she is not competent to tighten the nuts up properly.

That’s about it. All excited now, and I’m going to have a lovely time!

See you when I get back.

Too Much Time

Gospel Graffiti II

Gospel Graffiti II (Photo credit: Peat Bakke)

I have too much time on my hands. As I discovered recently, working full-time made my mood change, and not for the better. I am still struggling with guilt that I left the job, but when I saw a psychiatric nurse today she said that it is a good sign that I could recognise a potential problem and take action, before having a serious episode. I suppose she is right in a way as I have never managed that before, always carrying on until I become ill and have the whole nurses coming round every day thing.

It was a productive meeting, actually. We talked about my mood swings that I’m having at the moment and came to the conclusion that it is probably to do with the whole working/dipping then moving house thing. She suggested that I get some more of my “home comforts” set up as she thinks that I may be someone who needs certain objects in order to feel secure. That sounds like I need a comfort blanket or something but I do feel better with familiar things around me and, of course, many of my things are still in boxes and the house is not quite home yet. I am particularly looking forward to getting my pictures back – I have a large frame with lots of photos of my friends in London on it, a piece of the pub carpet (!), a poem that used to be on the pub wall, several crosses of differing types and some religious posters.

At least I have Sammy, my skeleton. And Freddy, my skull.

Back to the original reason I decided to write this. I have too much time on my hands. I am feeling quite active again and would like to do something. I have here, and I have Believer’s Brain, which I absolutely love writing, but I fancy doing more. Not on the same subject (mental health & Christian faith) but similar. I’m not sure. My interests are quite narrow, mostly being in the Christian side of things. I can’t write fiction well, not since starting medication 10 years ago. I would quite like to do something more evangelistic, or something aimed at youth. I’m thinking internet-based and writing here, due to the whole shyness thing, but I’m not sure what.

I had, once, a website that drew on the parallels between the vampire myth and Christianity (yes, I know, the vampire legend is about the perversion of Christianity) and tried to make it into a “surprise them with the Gospel” thing. Though I’m not sure that that would be effective and might lead to people being annoyed. Though it was fun to write…

I don’t know…but I want to do something. Blogging is harder, because you have to update regularly. I would quite like to give advice to people. That sounds like I’m up my own bum and think I’m great, but I would like to use what wisdom I have to help others, and the people I can imagine being able to help are teenagers, particularly those suffering mental health difficulties and/or those who are Christian. I can give a more nuanced approach than many of the “one size fits all” Christian online advice places – for example highlighting that there are Christians who do not adhere to a conservative viewpoint, and presenting their views alongside those of conservative/evangelical Christianity.

I’m just thinking out loud here, but it would be interesting. Will have to think some more…