The Little Green Bow

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“Please take a little green bow, and pin it on your name tag” said the lady at the registration table at the workshop on mental health, that was taking place at a church in the heart of a little village in Durban North.  “What’s the bow for ?” I heard someone say, and realised that not everyone knows that the little green bow has become significant with mental health, and October is the designated month for mental health at the World Health Organisation at the United Nations.

For the past 20 years or so I have been interested in mental health, and have picked up my ears, and availed myself of many occasions to find out all that I can on this very complex subject.   The mind is an incredible place.  That needs to be said again  – The mind is an incredible place !

The time I spent at the workshop, presented by a Methodist minister, who himself has a keen passion for mental health, and the role of the Church’s healing ministry, and of spirituality,  in the condition of the mind – set me afresh to revisit some of the ground I have randomly covered over the last twenty years.
Having been dumped into the arena of mental health, having to either sink or swim awoke in me a leaning toward wholeness, and not succumbing to a defeatist mindset.
But it was going to be a very long slow walk of discovery with no quick-fix answers.  And, as yet, I have not arrived at any clear-cut and final conclusion, after all the mind is a very vast place !!   But along the way, as in any other way of life, it is often good to take a moment, to stop and pause and reflect.  To recap, to summaries, maybe even consolidate some of the ideas that have formed along the way.     This is one such moment.

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When confronted with Schizophrenia in the family, all those years ago, with its vicious onslaught of  psychosis, and the unknown, my first response was to ask the Church for help.   I thought, as the Church, with all its wisdom, knowledge and mystery of the Spiritual Realm, would be the first port of call,  and would be able to help me in my dilemma.   Wisely the Church referred me to take the medical route, and consult a doctor.   Which I did, who referred me to a Psychiatrist, who referred me to a medical clinic with a psychiatric ward.  There began the journey with psychiatry, psychology and pharmacology.

I took the route of Psychiatry, and followed the names recommended to me, I sought out psychologist who would take a spiritual approach to mental illness.  Visited  a clinical  psychologist who recommended another psychiatric clinic.   Eventually was told by a very good psychiatrist that a behavioural cognitive approach was needed – and an authoritarian regime implemented.  And I had to apply this approach, which was beyond me because, although I can at times be firm and adamant, am not an authoritarian.
Then, rather desperately, it was decided to try a Christian Rehab Centre in the middle of nowhere, where  periods of strict routine, work ethic, counselling and spiritual input would be a recommended therapy to look for better results.   There were many tears,  but also a slight breakthrough, when responsibility was taken on to some degree.  A key to the healing process –  responsibility !

The crisis in the family, became my dilemma and this in turn set me on a quest, with no road map.  I visited support groups, joined support groups and read all that I could lay my hands on to get to know my enemy !  But with good psychiatry which oversaw the essential medication, and compliance aspects, a plateau was reached where I went on cruise control.   Still curious and asking my questions of God, I latched onto the scriptures in the Bible,  held on tightly, and kept my ears and eyes open to any ministry that spoke of healing and deliverance from mental illness.

Psychology, and psychologists became a growing interest, and were visited until  the subject was mined, but not fully sufficient to answer my questions.
Slowly the tide turned my mind from mental illness to mental health  –  and so too my approach to life in general. A change of perspective can open a whole new spectrum on life,  going from negative to positive is quite a transforming leap.   And I was strengthened !

The foundation of my search was, and still is to this day, God’s Word the Bible, with its richness toward human development,  for our growth and attainment, our comfort in the hard places of life, our guidance when the way forward is blurred and most precious of all, the  unfathomable wisdom and knowledge pertaining to God Himself, and to my life.

The Neural Route.
Dr Caroline Leaf’s books brought an interesting insight to my mind, with her research of the Brain – the domain of the mind.   She writes with such simplicity that I could grasp some of the concepts, and was astounded at the application of the Word of God to the fundamentals of these concepts.  Just re-iterating that God is a good God, and that we are made in His image, and that is a good thing !  We are wired for love and for goodness, that is how our brain has been designed – and how it works.   But it is what we choose to think and feel, whether the positive – the truth, or the negative – the lie that determines our behaviour, that determines our lives.  She describes in biological terms how the thought life operates – from impulse, to protein to thought structure, to memory.  And how important it is to be aware of our thought life, to embrace good thoughts and dismiss the bad ones.  So important!
Her recent book  The Perfect You, describes the “finger-print” of the mind, and how the seven pillars of thought, which for me,  lines up with the seven intelligences of Intrapersonal –  introspection,    Interpersonal – relational,  Mathematical – logic analytical,  Linguistic – words, language,  Music,   Kinetic – movement  and Visual/spacial – organisational, perception and colour. – all these in one of her first books  Who Switched off my Brain.  How we operate in the seven pillars, or seven zones in our brain make us unique, like our own finger print !  It also reflects our gifts and our strengths, and how we should capitalise, and focus our education on these, and not always have academia imposed upon us.  Simply put that is what I gleaned from her books, and can’t help but to marvel when I look at the Brain, through her eyes, and see how fearfully and wonderfully we have been made !  The Psalms also declares this in Psalm 130:14

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  Marvelous are Your works.

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Always keeping an eye open for new information on schizophrenia I came across some recent blogs that offer more exploration on the subject.  Refer :   venitism.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/inside-schizophrenia/

I quote some snippets from the article.

“Wiring is frayed in more than just one region, according to a new international study – the largest analysis ever of white matter among people with a psychiatric disorder.”

” Some 40 years since CT scans first revealed abnormalities in the brains of schizophrenia patients, international scientists say the disorder is a systemic disruption to the brain’s entire communication system.
The study sets the stage for future research on the debilitating mental illness that, according to the World Health Organisation, affects more than 21 million people worldwide.”

“The researches found that poorly insulated brain wiring was most evident in the corpus callosum, which allows for communication between the brain hemispheres, and in the frontal portion of the corona radiata, a key structure for information processing. “

and further on…

 “Scientists analyzed the data of 1,963 people with schizophrenia and compared them to 2,359 similar healthy people from Australia, Asia, Europe, South Africa an North America.  Earlier studies typically included up to 100 people with schizophrenia, Jahanshad said.
The big data project was integrated from 29 different international studies by the ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta Analysis) network, a global consortium headed by Paul Thompson at the Keck School of Medicine.

ENIGMA has published the largest neuroimaging studies of autism, major depression and bipolar disorder using brain scans of more than 20,000 people, said Thompson, associate director of Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute.

The researches examined data from diffusion tensor imaging, a form of MRI that measures the movement of water molecules in the white matter of the brain.  These scans allow scientists to locate problem areas in the brain’s normally insulated communication system.

The study paves the path for more focused scientific inquiry.   A next step could be to seek what causes these abnormalities in white matter.   Schizophrenia is partly hereditary, so perhaps specific genes promote the disorder via slight alterations in brain wiring, Kelly said ”

USC has researches across disciplines seeking to prevent or treat neurological and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.”  “

 

In another blog :  discovermagazine.com/2017/janfeb/55-schizophrenia-genetic-spark

” A team led by  geneticist  Steven McCarroll of the Broad Institute, based in Cambridge, Mass; combed through genetic info from about 29,000 schizophrenia cases,  36,000 controls and 700 brain samples from deceased patients.
McCarroll found that patients who had a certain C4 gene were more likely to inherit the disease.   In healthy brains, the gene helps prune unnecessary connections between cells.  But when it runs amok, as it does in schizophrenia, the process destroys healthy brain tissue.
C4’s involvement might also explain why schizophrenia arise during the late teens into the 20’s.   It’s a period in human development in which brain circuits change and re-organise and … vulnerabilities to many neuropsychiatric illnesses emerge”

It is comforting for me to know that there is indeed further research been done on psychiatric disorders, and that scientific curiosity and continued inquiry is being made into this very complex disease.

Well,  this all popped up before the Mental health workshop at the Methodist Church, so I went well fired up to learn more.  Being Church, of course brings one to the brink of the Spiritual dimension of healing and deliverance from mental illness. A whole new field of seeking and finding.    And that door has yet to be knocked on to open up wider to the mysteries of the mind.
However, in this sphere of inquiry there are no formulas or equations or quotas or logical answers.  It is a question of trust, faith and patience, to allow God to do His work as He sees fit.  He is in control, knows all things, and He has a purpose in all that happens …..  and He works in mysterious ways.   One day His purposes will be revealed to those who are seeking answers, understanding and healing.
Because the Word of God says in Matthew 7:8
For everyone who asks will receive, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 

So, perhaps this side of Heaven, I will not know all there is to  know about mental illness,
its madness, its reasons and its cures.   Until then I will continue to apply the Scripture of  Romans  12:2
 And do not be conformed to this world, but  be  transformed  by  the  renewing  of  your  mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

But…., one day when I enter the Pearly Gates I’m heading straight for the Hall of Inquiries and when I find the writings on schizophrenia, maybe even this little blog post will be there too, who knows?   Then I will give it a wrap, ….. and put a little green bow on it !!
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Happy thoughts for good mental health  People !

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Mirror Mirror on the wall …looking at Nacissism.

 

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The article on Self-esteem sparked me to take a long muse down a road named Narcissism.

So to really get into it I want to share with you a poem I wrote about my self !!!

 Shades of Self

Knowing me, knowing you is a song often sung,
But do I know me?
In solitude I am so fine. And am always right.
Can climb the highest mountain, reach the height.
Yet in conversations with you, my halo dims, the varnish shifts, my layers thin.
And if I look closely I see some shades of me I did not know.
So I’ve gathered them together, my collectables if you like, to share with you.
Straight from the shelf,
Not all good-looking, theses shades of Self
There is the Wannabee, the Lookatme, the Knowitall and the Toldyouso,
The ever-present Babbler, and don’t forget these too –
The Mender, Bender and the Defender, all to often the Pretender, the Spender – and the ever ready Opinionator too.
Now, herein lies some stories, characters in tact.
Weave the threads, bring in the gold.
Let it show perhaps too,
Your shades of Self,
In your story told.

I remembered a picture somewhere of a good-looking Greek fella who fell in love with his own image mirrored in a water brook.   He had met a beautiful girl, and they fell in love. But it didn’t work out because he just couldn’t get past loving the image of himself !!

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Sounds a lot like the dysfunctional marriages of today !   Self-love in personalities can play havoc with harmony and happiness.   And it’s not just a case of having a pretty face or a beautiful body.  It’s not silly vanity, or an inflated ego, it is far more serious than that and reaches deep into the personality.     Narcissism is no new thing !  Indeed its an age-old human condition wired into the human psyche.  If it is not transformed, or goes unchecked, it goes to the extreme and becomes a personality disorder that has a huge and devastating impact on the lives of other people.  It is a very serious condition, and almost always goes undetected by the carrier.

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orange butterf;u

We all have a Self, so likely there will be some degree of narcissism in all of us.   I once asked God if He wanted me to be a butterfly why did He not just make me a butterfly.  I liked being me, I really liked myself, why did  I  have to change ?  I thought I heard Him sigh a heavy sigh, but He did not answer, and just let life’s circumstances continue to flow over me.       Now some years later, I get a glint of why I had to transform from a worm to a butterfly, it was so that those living with me would have a fighting chance to survive my bossy, over-bearing ways, and self-opinionated personality.
(So sorry Family !)

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I  have an enquiring mind,  but I am not a psychologist.  So to get more light on the subject and delve a little deeper into narcissism, I investigated, and came across a site that gave several Psychological approaches, or theories, on the subject.  If you are interested you can Goggle     https://ruveydacelenk.com/2014/12/23/narsisistik-kisilik
Don’t forget to click on the Translate button.    It will give far more understanding on this very complex subject.   But best as I can understand it  (and that took some time !) I have come to some understanding of the Self.

In the development or construction of the psychological Self or Personality, Observations made, form Perceptions – right or wrong.  A response can go up to protect the Self, or a resistance to challenge the perception.   So even in our tiniest beings, – where and when most of the Personality is formed – observations lead to responses, that cause us to make a choice that helps us to deal with the emotion or feeling  we have observed or experience in life.
Thus the Personality, the Self, is formed through a defence or resistance response (flight or fight), and either route can lead to a distortion – the Lie !    So construction of the Personality (through our thought-life which builds the neuron patterns in our brain) determines what we believe about our Self.

This self-constructed Self, called self-esteem – taken to the extreme becomes Narcissism.  Now Narcissism constantly needs to be guarded to portray a desired, acceptable and presentable Self –  which in fact can be a False Self.   And come hell or high water it demands to be protected and respected, and will emotionally annihilate anything in its path that will want to obstruct it !!    And in fact, in my opinion, it should be respected – (I did not say tolerated !)  for it is who the person is or has become,…. and that is  holy ground – the very portal of hell or heaven !!
That is,  until Truth be told,  that will help to deconstruct the Lies, that cause us to limp, often exhaustively, through life because we have to  prop up the False Self, through fear or performance, to be made acceptable by others, who don’t really care or even matter !

So could you say we need a saving of the Self ?  My answer is yes !  Because we are all created with this amazing power called the Will, our choice, our desire – good or bad.
The Will, our choice,  is our ‘distinction’ from other created species, and is accommodated in the Mind – the headquarters of the Self.  It is at this point of decision where we can embrace a thought or expel a thought.  If,  we can discern, examine or judge a thought for what it is, we can build a positive construct, if we expel or disregard a wrong thought (negative) it evaporates into a gas and is diminished !  Now that is power – the power of our Will, our choice, our decision – that plots the course of our life.
So it would seem that the forming of the Personality, the Self, or the Soul can form self-distorted constructions (neural pathways) that can, and will manifest eventually in psychological development or disorders, and even deviant behaviour.

What I have gleaned from Psychology is that there is more, much more.   In dire cases, the Self or Personality can fragment or split (sometimes necessary for surviving the hurt, shame and pain of trauma), can dissociate itself and form other “selves” or personalities, display patterns of obsessive behaviour, self sabotage on inferiority or insecurity, or roar and rage in smouldering silent angry rebellion. Anxieties and depressions are almost the order of our modern societies.  Could these be signs of the  True Self  wanting out?

worm to butterfly

Well that is my understanding and opinion, and I suppose I am entitled to it, because after all I’m just a recovering narcissist !

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But  wait there is more, this distorted Self is not the True Self.  So how do you get to dig out the True Self from all the cacophony of voices, distortions and misconstruction.   Perhaps then an exercise in the deconstruction of the distortion  – the Lie, is a place to begin, enter the psychologist, the healer or the Truth.
After wracking my poor brain on the theories of Psychology and narcissism, I asked myself what is the truth of the matter.  So I turned to the pages of the Bible, the book of wisdom, – by the way a must read, –  to look  a little deeper for the soul and for the spirit.  I came across some of these Scriptures that told me that indeed we do have a soul and a spirit. Of course, in Theology there is more, much more than just the psychology of man, in fact a whole magnificent story unfolds of the restoration of Mankind.

Psalm  139:14    I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

Proverbs 18:14   The spirit of man will sustain him in sickness , But who can bear a broken spirit ?

1 Thessalonians 5:23    Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and                                               may your whole spirit,  soul and body be preserved blameless…..

So, as humans we are made up of the body,the soul, and the spirit.  Three engines, if you like, that should function in harmony.   The body we know, the soul is taking a little longer to know, and the spirit  (the subconscious) which is almost unknown to most.  The spirit is very important, because it is here where The Lie operates.  It hides itself, like the coward it is, – so undetected, can continue to reinforce even entrench more lies, with invading thoughts, false belief systems, false identities, deviant behaviour, in fact all things devious and deceitful,  that cause immeasurable torments, sadness and sorrow in the soul, and play havoc with our happiness and our lives, and the lives of others, especially those near and dear to us.

The Truth of the matter is that we are made in the image and likeness of God.  God is love, and God has a will. His will is His desire.   We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made because, like God, we too have a will,  a choice, a desire, that operates through decision.
We carry, in us, the original blue print for Love and for the good, the lovely, the honourable, the pure, and all the value and virtues of goodness.  So when we have to make a decision, when we have to make a choice, it should  be for the good, for the love of the Self, because our original Self is designed in our Creator’s image.  That’s good self-esteem, and ‘narcissism’ at its best !!
That’s what our souls long for, the magnificent Self.

But of course we do not know this when we are tiny tots, rebellious teens or ambitious adults, growing our personalities. So we just develop along the lines of survival, need and greed to feed the Self.   That is unless we come to  know and accept the love of God, through Jesus Christ,  Who loves us with an unconditional love,  (warts and all) and wants to set us free from the Lie, to be who we really are – our True Self, in Him.  His task is the task of unique restoration, as we are all the same, yet each one so unique in their personality.     We  find this out when we search the Scriptures that mirror and reveal who we really are, and what lurks and is hidden beneath the surface in our souls.

But where do we begin ?  The key is Christ, to accept Him and invite Him into our hearts and our minds, to read His Word, the Bible, and by reading His Word a transformation begins to take place in our thought processes.

Romans 12:2….. , but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may                                          prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Now we are lining up our thoughts with His thoughts, His Will – His desires, which are good and favourable toward the Self, (for we are His workmanship, His creation) , and our decisions will become positive decisions that will be for our good, our development and for the prosperity of our soul, and our lives.

Jeremiah 29 : 11    For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

It is however necessary,  to implant the Word of God in our hearts.
James 1:21   …. , and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

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Is this all just religious talk.  The answer is no, because this is what the Word of God,  has the power to do,  – it is  a game changer  !

Hebrews 4:12       The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged-sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The Truth, and only the Truth will make us free to be who we blue butterflyreally are, and destined to become.

We are complex, us human beings, but with the help of God, and when we begin firing in all three engines of body soul and spirit – can be magnificent in our inward parts, no longer deceived or broken, or functioning out of deficit or the Lie,  but made whole, in the right image and with a healthy, life-giving self-esteem.

Narcissism is nothing more than Pride – the very thing that caused Lucifer to lose his place in heaven, and raise hell on earth !
Narcissism is identified in the Greek fables.   In the eighties it was labelled Self-esteem, and is found in the Trolls of today’s world we call Virtual Reality  – the Internet and Social Media.

We are in the age of consumerism and humanism.  The era of  ‘the selfie’ !  Progress and development are accelerating.  We can reach higher, farther and faster on any level.    We need to take care that in our humanism we do not lose our humanity.  We need to hold onto a belief system that puts people first.  Today’s advanced technology may well pave the way for our younger generation to go into a kind of emotional isolation or “flight mode” –  desperately seeking purpose and attention, trying to escape from the gaping holes in their souls.    Or is it just sheer ignorance of the Truth about the Self, – the Truth that actually  keep us real and mentally and emotionally grounded.

Masks

Perhaps its time for change, from face book to face-off to face-to-face, where real interaction with real people help us to see ourselves a little clearer with warts and all.    A getting to know the real me, the real you, – and that will take a whole lot of courage because emotional pain is almost unbearable, and will distort any image .
Bring out the mirror, take on Truth, get a little more honest, a little more humble, a little more real,  then, observe the personality bloom like a sweet-smelling magnificent rose, for all around to enjoy.

So lets boot out nauseating narcissism, give the selfish Self a big shove to make room for others  –  and bloom where we are planted in the garden of humanity,  – or even too in the cesspool of life.

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1 Peter 3:4   rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty          of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

 three butterflies

My Dream Reader/s

I hope to attract not only one, but many dream readers. In my mind’s eye I have arranged signature reading spaces into which they may gather to read the writings of my mind, and if liked, will respond with curiosity, reflection and integrity.
The Mindful Reading Space :  Readers who like to think on life and life-matters.   Readers with good mental health – and those who minister to the mind, even those who may have a battle of the mind. Observers, Students and Researchers – especially into schizophrenia , neuroscience and brain functions.
Readers who like to inquire into the things of the mind, especially the mind of God, and the Bible, which is the mind of God.

The Health and Wholeness Reading Space : Readers who have insight and knowledge on health, healing and wholeness –
especially on nutrition.

Caring Reading Space:  Caring people who care about others and their communities.  Readers who have compassion, and tell of the expression of their faith and their compassion viz. Community Co-hearts.

Faraway Friends Space : in eager expectation I would like to hear from my Faraway Friends whom I have corresponded with over the last few years through my CareSA Chronicles newsletter.

Family Space :  Last, but not least, my family so dear to my heart, who I know will bring me to the base line of simplicity, honesty and normality.

The General Reading Space :  there awaits, I am sure, a number of readers who will bring me a glimpse into their own
wonderful worlds and fascinating minds, where I will see faith, hope and love in action.

These roomy spaces are open, friendly, hopefully comfortable – and waiting for your arrival.

Welcome to my mind –  I mean Blog at CareSA Foundation.