Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Success Preventative

The symptoms of fibromyalgia addressed in this post include:
*Fatigue, tiredness, unrefreshing sleep
*Anxiety, depression


Written in June 2009

Will I ever be happy again?

I’ve asked this question before, and although I didn’t believe it back then in my teen years, the answer is always yes.

Sad and happy are such devouring moods. They change my view of the world as though when wearing happy glasses, I am “happysighted.” I will only see the happy, cheerful, enjoyable side of life when looking through the happy lenses. Yet when I exchange one set of glasses for another, I only clearly see the sad and gloomy side of life. Then the tears pour down.

I know now why so many people crave serenity. Serenity is an escape from oneself.

My illness affects me deeply. I feel as though my inmost core has shrunk until it is nearly impenetrable except by grief. Grief bathes my soul until even strangers see sadness in my eyes, my walk, and my voice. They feel compelled to ask me, “What’s the matter?” But the only answer I know how to give is, “Nothing. Nothing at all.” I’m simply wearing my sad spectacles, and they change my face completely.

What’s the matter? Oh, nothing. Merely that I have talent, ambition, intelligence, training, skill, and a desire to serve. But I cannot serve. I have an inability to make good – a success preventative. What is it called? Fatigue.

Fatigue binds me to my bed, to my eyelids and my sorrow. Is fatigue to be my fate? Is my life to be thrown on the recycling heap where it takes the shape of a paper plate when it should have been a novel?

So much has been given to me that I find my body to be a sponge, sodden with liquid yet with no hand to squeeze and let out a little of what I’ve received. I have no way to give back.

How this topic relates to Christian living:

Psalm 6:6

"I am weary with my groaning; all the night I make my bed to swim, I water my couch with my tears."

Friday, July 22, 2016

Meds for the Ants



The symptoms of bipolar depression addressed in this post include:
*Sad, unhappy, blue, or irritable mood
*Unexplained crying spells

*Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Written April 18, 2016

Hours after my morning blues, I could still sense the sobs that had wracked my chest, feel the limpness of the eyelids that had experienced the flow of tears. Nothing was really wrong - just the usual discouragement and disappointment I often felt while fighting off depression. I was pregnant, so I was determined not to add any antidepressants to my necessary mood stabilizer, especially now in the third trimester.

But I had taken antidepressants in the past - lots of them - and tried a variety of mood stablilizers as well, none of which worked so effectively with as few side effects as my current medication, my old standby.

On the top shelf of my kitchen cabinet, for nearly a year, rested pills and more pills - prescription meds I was no longer taking. Most of them were psychiatric remedies, with which I'd had varying success and failure. It was past time for me to get rid of them, and I finally thought I knew the simplest way to do that.

"Oh, The gate's open," I said, as our little group of me, my dad, and my 3-year-old daughter were taking a walk. "It's usually shut and locked. I wonder . . . Papa, I think I want to go back to the house and bring the medicines I need to discard. I asked the psychiatrist what to do with them, and he said I could dissolve them in water and pour them out in place that wasn't too near a source of drinking water. I was thinking that the field through that gate would be the best place nearby. But it's usually locked up. So I think I'll bring the water and the meds now. Could you stay here with Little Girl till I get back?"

Papa agreed, and I set my plan into motion. While I sat on a dilapidated bench by the community football field and popped pills into a pitcher of water, I contemplated. I thought about how relieved I felt to be freed from the fear that the meds could never be childproofed enough, and how thankful I was that Little Girl never had been the type of child who is "always getting into things."

I thought about how good it was that the temptation to down all those pills in an attempt to end my own life would now be impossible to carry out. Even though temptation of that sort seldom broke through to me, I had at different times in my life gotten - if not the actual desire for suicide - certainly the thoughts that suicide was an interesting option.

I was getting those thoughts now. What if, instead of pouring out the pitcher filled with a three weeks' supply of five different meds, I quickly swallowed the whole thing, then and there? Would I survive? What would happen next? How would my family cope with my loss?

My family . . . They all loved me. It was for their sakes that I could never think of suicide as the best - the right - the appropriate response to my emotional pain. Suicide, I knew, would be the most unloving choice I could possibly make - particularly right now, when I would take my unborn little son with me, away from the daddy, big sister, and grandparents who were looking forward to meeting him.

No, suicide was a fool's decision, especially for one who had as many blessings and privileges as I did. I strolled across the field, casually pouring out the efforts of psychiatrists and scientists who had made possible for me a less disturbed brain, though sometimes in connection with a disturbing roster of side effects.

Meanwhile, Little Girl and Papa had been climbing dust-coated bleachers alongside the deserted field.

"Papa, I think I just poured antidepressants into an ant hill. There's going to be some hyper ants out there."

"They'll die happy!" Papa tossed back.

Suddenly, the irony struck me. Compared to God, I was as tiny as any ant seemed to me. Yet there was this vital difference: while to me, ants were insignificant, God's Word proved that I had great importance in God's eyes.

I could carelessly cause the misfortune and demise of an unknown number of ants, and laugh about it. But God could see His human being instigate their own demise as the just retribution for disobedience - and He had clearly warned Adam - and He still cared. He cared so much, in fact, that He provided for our rescue by promising a Savior's death and resurrection on our behalf - on MY behalf.

I was not an ant, to be laughed at and left to die by drowning / poisoning. I could walk away from that ant hill with no remorse for my carelessness knowing that ants don't livelong anyway. Whether those ants got dunked and dosed had no bearing on the SMALL scheme of things, let alone the grand scheme. Neither should my existence, from God's perspective. Yet it does.

How this topic relates to Christian living:
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not, therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31). 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Being the Voice for Bipolar


At first, I didn't want to expand this blog to include the topic of bipolar disorder. I didn't. But I can't put it off any longer. A few months ago, I asked for prayer at church for God to guide me in my writing goals. I began contemplating starting a blog that would describe my personal experiences with depression, mania, and psychosis. How awful. Why would I want to dwell on my worst problems by telling the world about them?

I guess the answer is because other people, specifically other Christians, have those problems too. And a lot of us feel very alone . . . ashamed . . . disappointed with our lives . . . and especially, just plain confused.

I've been diplomatic about sharing my struggles with bipolar disorder till now. When I do talk about these issues, I purposely present them frankly and openly, but I choose my listeners carefully. Now I'm going to be transparent with "the public" - whoever takes the time to browse my blog here - and see what happens.

I need to do this because it's a calling God has laid on my heart, and because I want to fill a void. I hear so few voices even talking about bipolar disorder in the Christian community, and those I do hear seem to be voices saying: "too late," "yeah, right," "oh, brother," and "what a shame."

I want to be the voice that says:
"It's real, and it's out of your control."
"It's scary, and you'll need to have courage."
"It's okay, because you're still loved."
"You can't do it, but God can."

Let me share a verse that continually encourages me. It's found in Revelation 3:8, and the One speaking to the church is "he that is holy, he that is true" - a description of no other than Jesus Christ. Here's the verse:

"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name."

This verse has great meaning for me because I'd rather be identified as having "a little strength" than by having a lot of weakness, which is what it feels like, most days. I want always to be faithful to the Word of God and the Name of Jesus Christ - to believe heartily in both and to live up to the challenge of being associated with them by my identity as a Christian. I like to realize that no matter what I can't do - no matter what doors are shut to me - God's direction in my life will always be revealed by open doors.

That's why I encourage myself not to stand outside the closed doors, whining and banging on those doors until I make myself miserable. Instead, I try to turn the handles of other doors until one suddenly swings open, like the door to the expansion of this blog beyond the limits of Asperger's traits. I think I'm ready to walk through.

Sincerely,
Sharon Rose

The Door of Faith


God is not obligated to give us explanations or to give us healing, but He gives us a DOOR to walk through by faith. Let's take a quick look at His description of the DOOR in God's Word.

"These things saith he that is holy, he that is true . . . I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open DOOR, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name" (Revelation 3:7-8).

"Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the DOOR of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the DOOR: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:7-11).

"Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the Passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the DOOR of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the DOOR, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you." (Exodus 12:21-23).

"And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they [Paul and Barnabas] rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the DOOR of faith unto the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27).

As you read about my struggles with recurring mental illness, notice this truth: By living on Jesus' side of the DOOR of faith, I am safer, stronger, and more alive. You can be too.

Sincerely,
Sharon Rose

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Expanding My Blog


My blog has a new title, and I will be branching out into other health-related topics with which I (unfortunately) have a personal stake in.

Aside from Asperger's Syndrome and Sensory Integration Dysfunction (See Solutions for Sensory Integration Dysfunction), I also deal with two chronic illnesses: bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia. Both of these illnesses are diagnosed by filling out questionnaires and looking for a certain number of symptoms over a certain period of time.

Although I had been telling multiple doctors of my symptoms since 2002, none of them even mentioned the word fibromyalgia to me. I ultimately diagnosed myself with fibromyalgia in 2008 through reading checklists of common symptoms. Then I went to the rheumatologist (specialist in pain treatments), and sure enough, received the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. I gradually learned that doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists can do little to help with  my fibromyalgia pain, What relief I can get is temporary and not completely effective. My pain is nearly constant and travels from place to place in my body, so that I never had "good days" and "bad days," but "good hours" and "bad hours."

Similarly, though my first manic experience was in 1996, and my first depression in 1997, a diagnosis was not reached until 2000 when I was seeing a psychiatrist for help. My mania has twice in my life reached the point of psychosis, which means that I temporarily lost touch with reality, or in other words, "went bonkers." Thankfully, I recovered within a few weeks each time.

For my bipolar disorder, I currently take an anti-psychotic mood-stabilizing medication called Zyprexa (generic name olanzapine). I see a nurse practitioner who prescribes these medicines every three months, or sooner if my symptoms change.

I would like to provide symptom checklists here on the Descriptions page, in case any of my readers experience these same symptoms and can consult doctors for a diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Parenting Strategies for Aspies


The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Difficulty communicating
*Much time spent on introspection

Welcome back to myself as a blogger! It's been six months since I last wrote a post, and I want to thank those of you who have continued to view this blog and read or reread the content already on here. I also wanted to let you know about my Facebook page, which is entitled, "Asperger's Traits and Christian Living," the same as the blog. It's the best place to stay alert to new posts on the blog, so please "Join" and "Share," if you're on Facebook.

As to why I let the blog lag for six months, the biggest reason is that I'm expecting a baby, and morning sickness hit me with a vengeance this time, my second pregnancy. A friend predicted that it would be a boy, based on the fact that this experience with morning sickness was very different (much worse) than my experience with my first pregnancy, a girl. She was right! Please keep me (Sharon Rose) and my family in your prayers as we prepare for our baby boy to join us in early summer, Lord willing.

As I grow as a parent, it brings my mind back to my relationship with my own parents as a child. Both of my parents identify with the core Asperger's traits, though in other ways, their personalities are very different. I'd like to list a few ways they helped me to cultivate helpful Asperger's traits and overcome the limiting traits.

1. Starting when I was 3, my dad trained me to smile for pictures. His efforts produced a range of smiles, from half-smiles with only one corner turned up, to cheesy "show your teeth" smiles. (He literally said, "Show your teeth," LOL.) But after I practiced, the smiles became more natural, and I have been unable to NOT smile for pictures ever since. I know two ladies with Asperger's traits who simply didn't smile well when they were little, and were teased about being grumpy all the time, when they actually felt fine. Sometimes, with Aspies, emotions don't reach the face accurately, though with others of us, emotions show too readily at times when they should be hid.

2. My dad's sense of humor involved making up silly stories and seeing if he could get me to believe them. Although he didn't know it, this strategy probably helped me a lot in combating the usual Asperger's traits of taking things literally and accepting without question that others are as honest and forthright as you are. If you use this tactic for humor, I just caution that you do what my dad always did, and explain quickly that you are "teasin', trickin', and foolin'." If you string somebody along too far, they will end up feeling that the joke is on them, and will resent it. By the time I was seven, I could judge when my dad was kidding based on his tone of voice and twinkle in his eye, thereby adding to my ability to interpret nonverbal language, which is a struggle for many Aspies.

3. Fast forward to my teenage years . . . My parents let me know exactly what kind of social behavior was annoying or inappropriate. This felt like nagging and criticism to me, but I needed it. Two of the biggies were: Don't mumble. ("I'm not talking to you - I'm talking to myself," I would reply. Yeah. Not socially acceptable, but a classic case of introspection taking precedence over communication.) Don't ignore me when I've said your name. (Extremely hard to do when I had my nose buried in a book, but I finally snapped out of it when my mom jabbed at my pride by putting up a star chart, "like teachers do for kindergarteners," as she said.)

I think three examples will do for now! In case you're wondering, my parents are still around now, still married to each other, and still two of my closest friends. My dad just doesn't do "teasin', trickin', and foolin'," like he used to.

How this topic relates to Christian living:

"Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
Deuteronomy 5:16


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Flashback 2002 - Two Straws or One



The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Anxiety or depression
*Abnormal fascination with special interests
*Difficulty communicating
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Loneliness or isolation


My mirror told me I was a pretty girl, in spite of my painful braces and pair of glasses. I had long, brunette hair that served me well as a hairstyling hobby. As a freshman at Clearwater Christian College, I was eager for new friends to bond with . . . maybe even a boyfriend.

As Daniel strutted into the campus cafe, the first words out of his mouth were, “Sharon Rose Enterline!” And he sat down on a stool next to me at the counter.

Daniel had the darkest eyes you’ve ever seen, and a skin tone that had always been tan.  He didn’t have dimples, but when he smiled, I felt like he was giving me a gift.

Now, young men who could speak English were scarce where I came from, so I was glowing with his attention.

I remember Daniel asking me, “Can you speak Japanese?”

“Yes, I’m good enough at it,” I told him.

He asked, “ Can you carry on a conversation, like we’re having right now?”

“Yes,” I said. Then I mentioned my best friend Mary.  “She’s a missionary kid, too,” I said.

“You must miss her,” Daniel stated. I noticed how good he looked in that bright blue dress shirt. Bright blue might be my next favorite color. Hmm.

“Yes,” I replied, “But our parents are really good about getting us together whenever possible.”

Then it was my turn to ask questions. “How about you?  Do you speak any foreign languages?”

Daniel frowned and looked away from me.

“Have you been to any other countries?” I persisted.

“When I was little, I went to Mexico with my dad,” he said.

“Ever go on missions trips?”

He responed with more frowns, and then turned to the cafe worker and asked, “Can I get a cookies n cream milkshake?”

“Sure.”  The guy mixed up a milkshake, put the lid on the cup, and said in a low voice, “Do you want two straws with that?”

“Not this early in the relationship,” replied Daniel, in a stage whisper. “But you could pour it into two cups. Can’t get through the day without chocolate!  So I thanked him and devoured my share of the shake.

On Friday, I stopped in at my friend’s dorm room.  “Hi, Sharon Rose!” said Jess Lynn. “Come on in. We have some spare time before our next class.”

I brought up the person who was on my mind. “Do you know Daniel Everest?” I asked. “He talked with me the other night in the cafe.”

“Yeah, I went to high school with Daniel, up in Pennsylvania,” said Jess Lynn.

“Really?”

“Yeah.  His parents are missionaries to Ukraine.”
           
“Wait. Are you sure he’s a missionary kid?”
           
“Yes. He went to my school for tenth grade, spent eleventh grade in Ukraine, and came back and graduated with my class,” said Jess Lynn.

At first, I was delighted.  No wonder we had hit it off so well.  Daniel could understand me because he had faced similar experiences!  But at the same time, I was mystified.

“I specifically asked him, ‘Have you been to any other countries?’ And he wouldn’t answer!”

Jess Lynn offered no explanation. “I guess you’ll have to ask him about it.”

Later, on our ride home, I told my mom what I had learned. “He was downright deceitful, Mom!  He knew I was an MK, but he wouldn’t tell me that he was.  Why would he keep that a secret?”

“I don’t know, honey.”

 “How am I going to tell Daniel that I found out?”

“I don’t know, Sharon Rose,” Mom repeated. “I’m sorry he didn’t tell you he had been to Ukraine.  You looked so cute when I came into the cafe and saw you with Daniel.  You had your head propped on your hands, turned his direction, with your ponytail over your shoulder.  I can’t figure Daniel out,” Mom concluded.

She and I were awake most of the night, puzzling about Daniel Everest, and we finally decided to go for an early-morning walk. 
           
We stopped in at a restaurant for breakfast.  As soon as we were seated, Mom put her head in her hands and said, “Sharon Rose, these boys are taking forever to grow up!  You’ve been a teenager for so many years now . . . and I’m so tired of waiting!”

A waitress hurried up and said, “I’m sorry, I got here as fast as I could.”

I did let Daniel know I knew. I wrote him a letter, which he acknowledged, and he no longer hid his MK status from me. Now at least, I knew for sure.

Many things happened as the days moved on. Acting in The Sound of Music was what I loved best about my first semester in college.  I had done a lot of acting in Japan, learning my lines in Japanese.  This play seemed to connect me with my past.

I knew that Daniel didn’t want me around, but I shamelessly chased him. After all, I was only 18, and immature in many ways.  To me, Daniel Everest was mysterious and fascinating. 

All this time, I had been confiding in Jess Lynn. “He’s got a big ego,” she told me.

I wanted to know why she said that.

“In high school, he was always talking about Ukraine and what he had done there, and kids made fun of him because of that.”

So Daniel used to be an MK who bragged.  Then, attempting to balance out, he had gone to the other extreme, refusing to talk about Ukraine at all.  Didn’t that prove that he was trying not to have a big ego?  I wasn’t sure.

My parents took my problems to my Bible professor, and he summoned Daniel to his office.  I waited outside.

When our professor called me in, I got an apology from Daniel for “coming on” to me.  We also talked about my loneliness, and how I needed to pray and wait for friendships. Daniel looked gorgeous, even while wearing orange – a color I normally hate.

My jaw dropped and my eyebrows shot up when Daniel gave me another peek into his MK experience. He described his emotions during the time he left his home in the Ukraine for Pennsylvania. “I used to cry every night,” he said. “I missed my home and my friends, and I got picked on in high school for talking about the Ukraine. That’s why I don’t like to talk about it anymore. I’d rather keep my mouth shut and fit in.”

“You used to cry every night?” I repeated, in shock. “I cried every morning, because I didn’t want to wake up in Pennsylvania, instead of in Japan. And I’m still crying now!”

But I was comforted.  The Bible professor insisted that I promise not to send Daniel any more letters or give him any telephone calls.  We were to be casual friends only.  So I agreed.

“Okay,” I said. “I understand better now. Thank you for your kindness, Daniel – truly.” 


The best thing about my friendship with Daniel may have been this poem I wrote about him – or rather, about an exaggerated version of him! These are new words to the song the nuns sing about Maria in The Sound of the Music.
             
When I’m with him, I feel stressed.
He’s my focus; I’m obsessed.
He can send me into dithers of delight.
With an ego that’s so huge,
He’s a guy I’d hate to lose.
He’s a cute one, he’s a hot one, hold him tight!
He’ll politely tell you lies.
You’ll get lost in his dark eyes.
He’s a heartthrob!  He’s addictive!  He’s a man!

How do you solve a problem like Daniel?
How do you grab his shirt and pin him down?
How do you find a word describing Daniel?
A player, a flirt, a king (of hearts).
Many a thing you’d love to hear him tell you
Many a thing you try to understand.
But how do you catch his eye?
Without him you know you’ll cry!
How can one guy be so much in demand?
Oh, how do you solve a problem like Daniel?
How do you let him know you think he’s grand?
\
The following year, guess who I saw in the office hallway when I went to pay my tuition? Daniel Everest – in a lime green shirt. He greeted me, saying, “You look different now, Sharon Rose, with your braces and glasses gone.”

I glanced away, then met Daniel’s deep brown eyes head-on. I paused, and replied sincerely, “I hope I am different.”

How this topic relates to Christian living:

Ephesians 4:32
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.