Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The love that flowed and flowed and...

These last few days have been very interesting indeed...

Went to a wedding last Saturday (16th) and Love God was  - almost literally - tangible. Not content with just being something going on between the two lovely people getting married, Love was visible in all of the guests, the church was filled with it. I have been to many weddings in my lifetime, and I have to say that this one really stuck out for the way that everyone seemed genuinely pleased, excited and 'there' for the very happy couple. (And, refreshingly, not a whiff of falsity or forcédness at all.) I felt truly uplifted by the whole service, and did have a chuckle* when the groom admitted that he had forgotten the rings completely, so rings were exchanged at the cake fight cake and champagne reception afterwards. Just goes to show that sextagenarians get just as nervous and dizzy as the younger generations. *Did I say chuckle? CoRRection: oh how we laughed! (Sorry Mr & Mrs W.)

Copyright: The Loris
 taken in April 2010, at Portman Ravine
The sense of overwhelming Love continued on through the evening, when The Mother and The Loris went to watch a glorious sunset up at Southbourne Beach. Sunsets are just one of the things that remind me of the greatness of God's Creation. It's all so beautiful and makes me understand my place in the bigger creation picture. The sky on Saturday evening was so stunning, the sky was huge, the clouds plentiful, the colours so intense and yet the camera on my phone did not really do it justice. Sadly, my old phone does not want to talk to my computer, so the (possibly lacking in impact) pictures will have to stay there, so I've added one from April, take a bit further west down the coast, as Boscombe :(

Sunday's Love then spilled over into Monday. In fact, it's still washing around me a full week on... It's fabulous. An appointment with a dizzy doctor last Tuesday left me quite bemused, but on a higher dose of The Happy Pills and instructions to fill out a headache diary and to go back in one month. Blarg!

On Wednesday, the DMoDs caught me unaware and dragged my heart through the floor, shredding it as they went, while others set about jUmpiNg on my brain and I barely managed to feed myself a ready-made roll (thank God for mothers) before nearly throwing up. I was not amused and so didn't make it back to the EastSide, until last Thursday. Barney and Dave were most upset as I'd shut them up in my bag, but forgot to let them out to play with the New Puppy at The Mother's house.

The New Puppy arrived in a shopping bag from Sainsbury's nasty killer of local businesses. The Mother claims she only glanced at the fluffy toys in the kiddies' aisle, but when we got home, the little pup stuck its nose out and tried to eat the bread. It was a very good day, because it seemed that The Mother finally understood that, (a) toys are real and (b) being childlike in one's approach to life is much better for one's health - even though she did try to hide all the boys behind the sofa cushions...

See, people think I am strange because I love such elementary things, but to be honest, it's the only way to be.  The Cheese quite likes those with a child's heart... See: Matthew 18:1-4 spells it out...

 Well, OK, some might think that I take this verse a little too much to heart, but The Jesus has a great sense of humour and it really is OK you know.  I am so grateful for the non-stuffy Christians that I am surrounded by. There is a vast gulf between sober, mature, yet childlike wonder, awe and excitement about one's faltering steps along The Way and the sober,  mature, yet slightly imperious or disdainful and prideful march of many of the more conservative Christians I have met over the years. I am happy to be thought of as slightly anarchic in my regard to 'traditional church', but I do not denounce its teachings. Not a bit. (Well, except for the nonsensical prosperity gospel that twists the truth and keeps the poor down, homeless and hungry. But that's a disgusting heresy born straight out of the union of the father of lies with this revolting age of tawdry excess and moral pusillanimity).

I have a very good friend, PD, who is a vicar in a very tough parish in the Northwest of England. He often calls me a foaming-at-the-mouth fundy (fundamentalist), and I regularly call him a Pharisee. The truth is that we are able to have diametrically opposed points of view within the same faith, not because bickering is the only thing that Christians do (contrary to tabloid belief), but because we are held in the arms of a God that has no need to fear our witterings and doubtings. Neither can we outwit him nor can we outmanoeuvre him. He is omnipotent and omnipresent. Nothing we say can harm him - only ourselves (when we are wrong). The beauty of loving the one True God is that He bestows so much grace upon us daily that most of the time we are totally unaware of his action in our lives.

So, this non-fundamentalist here, is assisting her friend in a project, precisely because she sees one part of the same picture at a ǝןƃuɐ ʇuǝɹǝɟɟıp ʎןʇɥƃıןs. A fresh perspective is not the same as a direct threat or a step over the mark into heresy. I mean, after all, as a Jewish Rabbi, Jesus had a responsibility to teach his disciples to adhere to all the strict laws as set out in the Hebrew Tanakh (Torah, Nevi'im, Kittiim). But as he didn't conform to their opinion on what 'religion' really is ( and neither should we - see Romans 12:1), one could say that in the eyes of his contemporaries, Jesus was a heretic, but he was really teaching us all and to be  non-conformist Whoesoevers...

So, if you are thinking that Christianity is a dirty word, a fouled up religion and something that you would want to steer clear of, then I would say that you could be forgiven for believing the media hype. However, be none too quick to judge, one really ought to remember that Christians (of any brand) are first and foremost human, and therefore liable to f**k it up at some point. I'm not abnegating the whole of Christendom of her responsibility to seek to live as Christ taught us to, but it is not an easy walk, and we are prone to stumbling, grazing our knees at the very least, or - as is my wont -  gashing our faces open  upon the rocks and rubble littering the pathway through the valley of the shadow of death.

Some days I wish that I could just give it all up. But then I remember that Jesus loves us and died for us (Jn 3:16).
For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life...

... and I am one of the 'whosoevers' in that verse...


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Getting the Lovin' put on...

A Kid's drawing of a Baryonyx, (looks like Dave)
Dave wanted to go outside today, and I promised him we would go out on a bus all the way across to SW London, as long as he behaved. Anyway, he was very badly behaved and threw lots of things out of my bag whilst I was in the bath so I said he could not come out to play. Barney, though, decided that he wanted to stay behind and guard my stuff from any other dinos (he's got it into his head that Dave has contacts in the Dino underworld, which I think is really unfounded - Dave is just gobby) and told me to take the Punkyonyx out of his way. So eventually, once Dave had stopped larking about in the kitchen trying to attach knives to his stitched-in hands, we left the house.

Obviously my kinda cake...
Once on the bus, Dave went to sleep. Great. Too much nonsense earlier in the day had clearly worn him out. Still, we went and met up with the Punk Preacher and Dr Goth and we drank highly calorific Hot Chocolate complete with cream topping, and cake. MMMMMMMMmmmmmmm! CAAAKE! Cake really makes The Loris happy. Cake and Tea is bestest, but Hot Choc is great at times too. Dave, however, stole cake and then just "Blerg"ged in general throughout the evening. 

Dr Goth had called us together to deliver some amazing news for my flatmates and I which totally blew me away. I have to admit that this year has been a challenge pretty much the whole way through, and I know that God said it would be a time of preparation once I moved from my old home, but nothing would have prepared me for such generosity of spirit and life-giving breathing space. It had me choking back tears. I should have let them flow.

Yup, I hate roller coasters... urgh!

This year has been one of RoLlercoAster emotions (and I hate rollercoasters) and left my spirit in conflict with my flesh. There have been days where I wanted so much to die, but I know that there is so much more for me to do here. Not that I know what all of that is, but I do know of a few things that God has for me to do before I shrug off this mortal coil. Giving in to the Depression Monkeys of Doom (DMoDs) is very tempting. Succumbing to the apathy and the neglect of self would be alarmingly easy. To embrace the lies of the Father of Lies would rob me of who I am completely. The DMoDs do a very good job of telling me that nobody gives a crap about me, that I am stupid, or incapable of completing my studies, that people tolerate me because they feel sorry for me, that even God can't be bothered with me and that He has actually left me to drown under the downpours of The Black Dog & his Cloud and other such wicked words.

Fortunately the whole of today has proved otherwise. For, quite apart from the AWESOME provision of YHWH via Dr Goth and The Grizzly Polar, lover of fluffikins, I also became the adoptive mother of a Lowland Mountain Gorilla at London Zoo, thanks to my best and belovedSD. And Jookie (said gorilla girl) has been sent by SD to keep the DMoDs at bay. Hurrah! Jookie is way bigger than several monkeys. :) And she is very very cheeky, so I love her already, even though I'm yet to meet her. 

Apophyllite on Quartz stalactite, India
© Thomson Minerals
And as I sat on the bus home, shovelling sweets into my face, I thanked God with a much lighter heart. I am so in love with all of Creation around me (yes, Dr Dawkins, Creation) because of the seemingly infinite possibilities of form and function and the absence of logic and the increased need to be willing to suspend disbelief and preconception at the microscope's lens... I love that there is no such thing as a straight line. There are no real sharp edges. And yet when I start to talk about the amazingness of this rock, the third stone from the sun, people call me crazy or look at me like I have escaped from a secure hospital, but it is true: it is breathtakingly amazing and glorious. If you do not understand what I mean, please go to the Natural History Museum and go to the exhibits on minerals where you can see the elemental minerals in their raw state, and check out the HUGE array of colours, shapes, densities, masses and properties. Look at the stardust and if you can still be untouched and unmoved by such diversity then you are a deeply unhappy and dead soul. I defy you to not say "Wow!, that really is natural and not engineered or altered by man!" about at least ONE of the exhibits therein. Yeah, I know, I am a real science geeknut and love all the weird things, but, honestly, the more you look at things around you the more complex and yet the more beautiful they become.

A very scared Slow Loris in an illegal market in Indonesia.
I look a lot like him right now...

So, today has been about reminding me who I am, and whose I am. Sure the depression is immensely debilitating, but it's good for me to know that God has not given up on me and that He shows His Love in so many ways, some obvious and others not so. It is no accident that as I'm typing this that, on a random Splotify playlist, two consecutive songs called "You Never Let Go" by two different bands (yes, diff lyrics and tunes too) played and made me think of a Beautiful American couple I know (The Atria) talking about "Putting the Lovin' on Someone" - as in ensuring a person knows that they are loved and valued and who they are loved by - and reminded me that I am surrounded by Love and I am anchored to my Rock, even in this storm. And for that, I am very grateful indeed.

When clouds veil sun
And disaster comes
Oh, my soul
When waters rise
And hope takes flight

Ever faithful
Ever true
You I know
You never let go

When clouds brought rain
And disaster came
When waters rose
And hope had flown

Perfect love that never lets go
Oh, what love, oh, what love
In joy and pain
In sun and rain
You're the same
Oh, You never let go 

- David Crowder Band (Remedy)

Friday, 8 October 2010

Don't panic, Mr Mainwaring!

The crazy world of The Loris was once again disturbed by ridiculous dreams in her sleep. There are so many wacky dreams running through my head that were I to write them all down I fear that no-one would believe them. Maybe I shall set up a blog dedicated to them...

picture is from Matthew Johnstone's book:
I Had a Black Dog
lifted from the Glasgow Steps site

But I shall not write them down in this post I think. This post is really a short note (yes, I know it seems lengthy, but this a mere touch on a scratch on the surface of The Black Dog) to people who place great expectations upon The Loris to achieve several things in a day, or even a week. Sorry to disappoint, but that really is just a tad too unrealistic. Certainly there are days when a kick up the backside is needed, but mostly at the moment I am exhausted beyond exhaustion, incapable of concentrating for more than two minutes and racked with nerves and anxiety.

It is not helpful to expect a person who has an anxiety attack at the thought of leaving the house to go out and run errands. I hear the door shut behind me and want to scream; I leave the door to the block of flats and hear that shut behind me and... Oh. My. Life. I am now outside, in the fresh air and am paralyzed.

"It Dwells Behind Closed Doors
Copyright Nicolas Henri
Which station do I go from (choice of two), or should I take the bus, and if so which bus, do I even know what buses go to where I am going...? And then I realize that my heart is beating so fast in my ears and making loud swooshing sounds (as is its wont) I just know that walking will take a lot more out of me. What to do?

Well, I then spend a moment or two telling myself to grow a back bone and feign courage and make a decision. And yesterday, this turned out to be the wrong decision. I got on the wrong bus. Fell asleep. Got out at Marble Arch and decided instead to visit a friend in North London, as I knew I could get a bus home from there. The problem was that having made the mistake and boarded the wrong bus I had no idea where to get out. Well, OK, there were quite a few Tube stations that I went past, but I just kept thinking of all the horrible stairs I'd have to climb and felt sick at the thought (dodgy hearts make for an interesting life, what?).

Macavity (left) and Psycho Kitteh (right)
Photo Copyright Lissy Mogaji 2010

So, two hours later I arrived at my friend's and she fed me plenty of tea. I then mauled my cat, Macavity (or Pickles or the goth grumpus...), and her cat Psycho (well named!) for a couple of hours and later went home for dinner with my flatmates.

I feel pretty peeved with my brain for messing me about all the time, I can tell you. So it doesn't really help when people get cross as they expect me to have done much more than get out of bed and wash and get dressed by midday. Some days, I just want the world to stop so I can step off. Not because I want to die or anything, but just because I am tired of feeling this tired and this confused and this permanently panicked. I am having to take a year out of my current studies because of this illness, and the tiredness, and when I start to think, I start to paN1c... But it achieves nothing except to hinder me further. "O God! Please Comfort me!"

Chance would be a fine thing!

So several times a day I find myself inwardly shouting, in a Jonesian squawk, "Don't panic, Mr Mainwaring, Don't panic!".


The Loris and the Depression Monkeys of Doom

People are always encouraging one to write down their thoughts in response to counselling or when depressed to try to see what the root cause may be. I guess this post is something akin to that. There will probably be more musings on The Black Dog, but if I look in danger of wallowing or turning into a proper gloommeistress, let me know please.

However, such posts are necessary for no other reason than to encourage others who are depressed out there to keep going and hopefully to educate those who do not understand that 'depression' is not another word for 'idle' just how debilitating clinical depression can be...

*enter Depression Monkeys of Doom* (DMoDs)

These meddling monkeys wend their way in on the back of Lies or Experiences and tiNkeR about with the chemical calibration equipment for the brain. For this Loris' brain, the DMoDs fiddled about with Serotonin feedback, well, we think that's what they did, and left the heart of the Loris very black, down and heavy indeed. Mercifully the meds have provided some degree of a lifting out of the doldrums.

As an aside, I have often wondered that being caught in the real doldrums might actually be amazing (assuming you're not on a timetable!) - stasis upon the sea...

Added to travel blog by kfsandiego here
Sat there where the warm air rises and, on the horizon, the two perfect blues of heaven and the deep collide into an indigo glass, with no waves to disturb the boat, and no wind to push it along, but  just the silence, space and sense of being a part of something so much bigger must, I think, be a glorious and precious experience.  I'd rather stay in the doldrums in that case.  But I digress...

...back to the DMoDs... they are incredibly sneaksy in a vile and detrimental way. They jump up and bite your butt almost as soon as you've managed to shake them off your ankles. Some days you barely have a breath without changing from being filled with hope and a feeling of being pleased to be alive to be fully expecting the sky to come crashing down at that moment and secretly wanting to embrace this chance to escape the fear and confusion that inhabits the mind of the depressed soul.  All the while the DMoDs are cackling, chirping, clapping their hands and dancing heavy-footed upon the mush that once used to be a fully alert mind. They are very pleased with themselves

At the next breath the challenge is to use energy reserves to square up to the smugglets and you cling on to the hope from a previous breath, ever more tightly, and thank God for grace, favour and The Happy Pills. Oh yes, the chemicals are necessary to repair the damage being wrought by the DMoDs in a seemingly ceaseless tug of war over the will to live...

Of course, the highs can be intense and incredibly uplifting. When everything is back in perspective and you dare to take a peek at the bigger picture and recognise that there is a long and winding path through the valley of the shadow of death, but that you are not on it alone. But if you stay looking at it too long, you might start to think.  And thinking, at times like these, is very dangerous. Very dangerous indeed. A thought creeps in, and is pounced upon by a DMoD who takes great delight in playing it through, showing you a false Oraculum of Gloomland in which the Bandersnark, Trip Up Bird and Jiggeripokeri are waiting around every bend, hiding in nooks and crannies and overpowering you in the tasks you have ahead. Of course, this is all a lie. And sparks off very bad dreams.

And dreams have loomed ever larger and more terrifying as the illness is progressing. I don't know if this is 'normal' in depression, a side effect of the medication or quite what, but I just wish it would STOP! Thank God for praying flatmates. Tonight I'm hoping to have dreams filled with cupcakes recipes and crafting ideas, where my spirit is resting and not fighting.

Tonight I have
hope. Tomorrow is another day but right now, I'm staring it down and feeling confident I will squish the DMoDs one tiny bone at a time...


Thursday, 7 October 2010

Get out of the Rain, out of the Shadows and into the Sun (well, kind of, the Sun of blogland, anyway)*

Barney James, Dave and The Loris are: a rather shy and yet confident sheep (they are so fickle), a pauciloquent punk dinosaur who wants to be a dragon (pronounced drag*in) and their adoptive, erm, me (The Loris), respectively. 

Heilun Coo on Mull, on shore of Loch Scridain
Copyright: Ribbons,Manson,Smart (RMS) images
Barney J followed me home one day when my friend JM was over from Australia. I think it was because we were talking about going up to Scotland in search of Heilun Coo. I suddenly found myself looking into the eyes of this curly lamb and, well, he did ask if he could just trawl around the toy store with us... And then he asked if he could come to the Highlands, well, how could I say no to that ball of fluff? It was only recently that Barney James actually told me his name. He was just known as The Lamb with No Name for the whole of the Scotland trip. See, Sheep are fickle creatures.

A distant relative of Dave - this poor 'gator was
hoping to snack on tiny tots the day The Loris, Dr Goth &
The Grizzly Polar went to Drusilla's...
Dave, however, is another story altogether. He is much smaller than the Barnster, but is full of confidence - maybe it's because he's been around for several millennia. He is a Baryonyx, which, for the uninitiated, or non-Greek speaking among you, means "Large Claw" (not sure why, he doesn't seem to have any claws at all, although I have a sneaking suspicion that he keeps them well hidden). Dave says (well, he communicates through a series of what sound like belches rather than roars, and he coughs a lot, as he tries to breathe fire... he's very 'special'), anyway, he says that his parents ate mostly fish. Mostly Dave just eats whatever is on my plate when I'm not looking. Dave's quite a success story in some ways, he was trapped under a Triceratops butt in a pile of dino fluff in a box at the Natural History Museum in London, so my friend Dr Goth paid a release fee for him and we sprang him from his prison.

So there you go. That's us. Oh wait, the boys want to say something...

A box of frogs...

Hello there, blogsters, it's Barney Jim McTavish III here, or is it XXXIII, I can never remember, oh well... Anyway, ah yes, The Loris has forgotten to write anything about her. Don't tell her, but that silly overgrown alligator and I think that TL is mad as a box of frogs on amphetamines. (You'd better not mention the drugs either, she doesn't know that we know all these things - we go out on the town when she is busy studying or sleeping.) The Loris sleeps a LOT. Just not at night time. She talks to her other friends (pfffft) and we overhears that she has to take something called The Happy Pills and a whole bunch of other strange pills, all of which are legal. I never knew that before. Dave is keeping a beady eye on her. (It is a proper bead too, like mine.) The Loris looks after us very well and we are well fed and excited about being treated like REAL toys.

Oh no, Dave wants to say something...

*Belch*cough*...... (it's repeated a few times. He just says he likes The Loris but not to tell her that he drank her wine...)

Baaaaaye for now!
/Baaaney James

Thanks boys for your kind words. :) But Barney James, I think there is plenty of evidence here that you and your 'friend' were the culprits what pilfered the pink stuff .... Tsk Tsk!



*No, not blatant lyric steals, honest... (But you'd better get used to it, this rabble are just a little bit menTal. Just quietly.)