Tag Archives: Friendship

I am not all there…. “Why”, you ask?

Because I have been in hospital since late Saturday night with excruciating abdominal pain.

First they thought it might be appendicitis,  but were not sure.  A CT scan showed it wasn’t.

Then I was sent for an internal scan at the gynaecology department – again nothing.

Blood work didn’t show anything out of the ordinary.

The pain has come down in severity somewhat,  so they sent me home this afternoon.

Tomorrow I go back to another hospital for more testing…

I covet your prayers – nothing is worse than not knowing what is going on and I am worried.

At the same time I have a measure of peace.

And – I love my friends who have cared and continue to care for me during this time.  Precious!

I hope to be back on my posting schedule soon 😉


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A taste of my Bipolar Disorder challenges

Just in case the previous post has given you the idea that my life with Bipolar Disorder is a breeze,  here are some points to take into consideration:

  1. The meds I am taking caused me to gain weight.  A lot of weight.  Trust me,  you don’t wanna know how much.  And it’s not easy to get rid of.
  2. Never thought I would be actually meeting a dietician.  Me on a diet?  Bwahahaha!  Well,  I won’t be.  Which brings me to the second point.

  3. The meds I am taking suck even more, because now I am struggling with the onset of Diabetes.  Cuz,  you know,  I gained a lot of weight.
  4. But even worse,  certain meds that I need from time to time actually seriously increase the chance of getting Diabetes.  Hence the dietician in my very near future.

    I already have made certain food changes, but I need to make some more to combat further development.  No diet – that is temporarily.  Those changes?  They are for real and most likely for life.

    Truthfully – most changes don’t bother me.  Okay – giving up drinking dry,  red wine because the alcohol in combination with my meds make me depressed,  wasn’t fun.  But giving up chips (crisps,  for the British among you) and liquorice?!?!  Real.Bad.News.

  5. I am a night owl and have lived an irregular life since…. well,  forever,  I guess.  BUT.  Right now?  I would serve myself best if I would keep a pretty regular schedule.
  6. You know,  things like going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, taking my meds at the same time every day,  eating all my meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time every day and have regular healthy snacks in between to keep everything on an even keel.

    No big deal, right?  But,  for me, it is.  Cuz changing life-long habits is hard people,  really hard.  Also,  at heart I am a rebel.  I just wanna do things my way,  whenever I want to.  *sigh*  No,  change that to *very BIG sigh*.

  7. Having to cancel whatever plans I have,  because I ended up in one of my funky,  unruly,  unmanageable moods,  be it the up or down swing.  Can be pretty challenging for friendships.
  8. If you have a friend or family member with Bipolar Disorder,  please understand that we do this not on purpose. Truth is,  I hate to cancel plans at the last moment as much as the other party.

    But trust me,  very few friends can handle being around me when I am severely depressed or getting over-the-edge hypo manic.  Even in my hypo manic or ‘just’ depressed state I am pretty intense for them.  It is not fair to expect them to handle more than they are comfortable with.  Difficult and painful for both parties.

  9. Not being understood.  A few examples.  People not understanding why I was not diagnosed earlier.  People thinking that you can or should just ‘snap out of it’.  Or that you should use your will power.
  10. Believe me – if I had a choice in the timing of my diagnosis,  or if I could just ‘snap out’ of depression / hypo mania,  or if I could change it all by will power – I WOULD.

    The problem?  It doesn’t work that way.  The biggest problem?  The people who think they know how to deal with what I have,  but really don’t.

    Because after several years and hard work,  I am now well on my way of accepting my particular life-mood-swing,  it has become easier to deal with the fall out of point 5.  Unfortunately,  it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt.  You know what I mean?

Even though there is a whole lot more to say about it,  this is enough food for thought for now,  me thinks. 😉

Any questions?  Please,  leave a comment.  I am very happy to try to answer them.


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My bio: A personal history of my Bipolar Disorder – part 2

This is a continuation from part 1  

I had lived abroad since Summer 1994 being involved in two different social projects.  For most of that time I was hypomanic and consequently achieved very much.  Looking back I also see the down right mean side of that period,  hurting people in the process.  I had sudden anger outbursts that I didn’t understand.  I could make mean and hurtful comments,  not knowing myself why I was acting that way.

Many times I asked for forgiveness and just as many times I received it.  I am very blessed with the fact that during this period I did not lose any relationships,  opposite to my time in college when I did alienate and hurt friends and lost their friendship.

Even during those years I hit an all time low and was depressed for a good year.  Since I had also become seriously ill,  I used the illness as a cover up so people didn’t know I was depressed.  After a year I was able to return to the same project and pick up my work.

The last project involved working with youth in schools and girls on the street.  I was doing way too many things all at the same time.  Suddenly,  on top of that,  I received a letter from my parents in June 2005.  This was such a shock to my system that I literally fell ill.  I had tried several times to bridge the gap between us,  but every time it was made very clear that no contact was desired.  So this was like a bomb shell.

Together with some other circumstances it caused a severe burn-out.  A stay in America for 3 months in 2006 turned into more than three years.  I am very blessed,  however,  with my counselor who has been so willing to support me over all those years,  before and after my diagnosis.  Even now,  since my sudden return to my home country the Netherlands in Summer 2009,  we continue our sessions over Skype. 

Those years between 2005 and 2010 have been excruciatingly difficult and painful.  I have lived through many difficulties (including a nomadic lifestyle) during those years,  together with working through past trauma’s and trying to find ways to deal with my bipolar traits. 

I had been very suicidal for one and a half years,  even before my trip to the States.  I had concrete and detailed plans where I would not be found alive.  It was not so much that I wanted to die,  it was simply that I could not continue to live in such pain and despair. 

The only reason I am still alive and kicking today is because the Lord saved me from committing suicide.  I can not tell you how He did it,  because I don’t know,  just that He did.  And to tell you the truth,  I wasn’t even grateful in the first few years!!!

At some stage I started to understand that  ‘being suicidal’  is part and parcel of BD.  It is not part of  ‘me’  as such.  In the process I came to realise that I have a choice in how to respond and at some point  I decided not to entertain thoughts of suicide as a way out any longer.  This doesn’t mean that thoughts of suicide don’t pop up at times,  of course they do.  But I am able to handle it,  it doesn’t endanger me anymore. 

I am glad to say that by now I am overall glad to be alive.  For the first time in many years I am looking forward to the future.  I have plans and dreams and there is a live waiting for me to live.  I am committed to live that life,  with bipolar traits and all,  to the best of my ability!

Picture courtesy of StrangeCosmos


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Ukraine trip – part 3

Well,  I came here for a true winter experience as I used to have while living here – and it has finally hit!!!  We have snow and -10 degrees Celsius.  Time for the long underwear,  I assure you 🙂  I love this kind of weather.  I woke up to sunshine on snow and a beautiful sky.  In the evening you can feel in your nose that it is really getting colder.  If it gets to -20 you feel it in your eyes too.  That’s what I mean by a true winter experience!  (Unfortunately this weather only lasted for a couple of days,  after which we went back to weary,  rainy,  grey weather,  blah.)

Tomorrow we will celebrate Christmas.  In the early evening there will be a celebratory gathering of all those that serve in some way in the church and I am invited too!  I am so excited as a lot of my friends will be there.  It will also be my last full day here in Kharkov,  so that makes it extra special to spend it with them all. 

That is how I started what should have been part 3 of the ‘Ukraine Here I am’ series…..  but it got aborted by lack of time.  Oh well,  there are only so many hours in a day and night – I figured I better spend it with my friends in Ukraine while I could, since I can write plenty when back in the Netherlands :).

During this trip I have experienced a mass of emotions – from being overjoyed to being very sad and back.  I was thoroughly impressed with myself and the Bipolar thingy (I refuse to call myself disordered or sick,  but that is a subject for another post).  I wasn’t sure how my emotions would play out with the travel and seeing old friends and my ministry related stuff.  But it turned out very manageable for which I am very grateful.  I was very alert on how I was doing and taking rest when I needed it,  even though I rather would have spent time with friends.

It helped a lot that I had a one room apartment to use all by myself,  with a double blessing in the form of computer and internet.  Peeps,  that saved my day!  A great,  big,  humongous ‘Thank you!’ to Alla,  you have blessed me off my socks!!  With all the listening,  talking and traveling I did it was so good to have a home base where I was able to rest and be by myself.

 It’s impossible to convey what this trip has meant to me.  I have been reunited with a special person that we were able to help in our ministry.  While with us,  she got to know Jesus as her Savior and was baptised.  It was a glorious day! 

 Both her and her daughter continue to have a difficult life,  but she has not gone back to her old ways.  At the moment she is also pretty sick,  only 37% of her lungs are working,  if the doctors are to be trusted.  Please,  pray for God’s healing touch on her body and her soul. 

Her daughter wants to study and become a massagist,  assisting people in their physical rehabilitation.  However,  she was not accepted.  In addition, the present educational system requires a lot of money…  But she has a goal and has a plan how to fulfil her dream.  Please,  pray for her too,  that she will get to know Jesus and for God to make a way for her to reach her goal.  

One of my other ‘daughters’ who spent time with us and got to know the Lord, has landed in prison with a 5 year sentence.  We don’t know where she is.  The information we need,  is because of different reasons not available to us.  We will try with a photo and info we still remember to find her.  Remember her in your prayers,  will you?  We so much want to find her and connect with her again.  She is a lonely girl with no family connections.

A third girl has gone missing,  disappeared from the radar completely…. We are sad and very concerned,  but can’t do anything but pray.   

So now I am back,  after an interesting journey – including a very delayed plane and a damaged bag on the return flight – still reeling with all that I have heard,  felt and experienced.  It will take a while to digest it all. 

Unfortunately,  my camera gave up on me during the trip,  which is still a huge disappointment to me.  I need to figure out how to get the pics off my card onto my computer.  Till then,  no pics 😦 .

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Ukraine – Here I Am!!! Part two.

 Wow,  what an experience to be back!  While I took a walk in Kiev at the open air market,  I felt like home.  Now I realize it is not like home, it IS home!

Saturday I met up with Misha and Natasha.  We worked together helping Jewish people.  They are both still involved with the work.  Even though we haven’t seen one another for about 8 years,  I guess, it seems no time has passed and we simply continue where we left off.  We walk over to the Kreshatik and the Independence Square to see the big tree (yes, the one that had given me so much trouble the day of arrival).  We have lunch with typical Ukrainian food,  yummy,  and then it is time for me to catch my train to Kharkov.

Alla is waiting for me at the train station in Kharkov and has arranged transport.  It’s nearly midnight by now,  so that is such a blessing.  At her apartment we keep telling ourselves we have to go to bed,  but we continue talking.  Finally we force ourselves to shut our mouth and go to sleep.

I have been reunited with many friends and still many more to see.  It’s been a roller coaster of emotions.  My stuff is in the process of being sorted out.  Even though it is just ‘stuff’,  it still means a lot to me.  I am glad I can give away the useful things.  My tapes (yes, I am from that generation and not ashamed of it!) I thought would be destroyed by time and dust.  Nothing is further from the truth.  To my unspeakable joy I can still listen to my favorite music!  There are two special tapes,  one that my dad taped for me with his handwriting on it, and one taped for me by my mother with her handwriting on it. I hold those close to my heart.

Furthermore,  my soft toys are waiting for me.  Each one of them carrying a story from a special person or occasion.  Like the Winnie the Pooh that my team in Dnepropetrovsk gave me many years ago.  It could sing a Russian lullaby.  When I got overstressed,  I would take a walk in the office with my Pooh singing to me 🙂 .  I can’t wait to be reunited with them and recollect the stories!

Nelya has been my hair dresser in Ukraine and honestly,  she has been the best ever.  She just knows how to deal with my hair and how to make me look nice.  This time I have chosen the colors myself.  It is on the daring side…  I had little time to choose and have second thoughts about the endeavor.  According to Nelya and some other friends it turned out nice.  I still need to get used to it.  Luckily, there is still time to change my mind before I leave…

The strangest thing of all is,  that meeting with friends that I haven’t seen for nearly 5 years  is so absolutely normal!  Each and everyone has the same feeling.  We simply continue where we have left off,  as if there hasn’t been a gap and hardly any communication during that time.  Time has no meaning in this respect.  How awesome!

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Ukraine – Here I Am!!! Part one.

Have a blessed,  merry, joyful,  wonderful,  fantastic,  special Christ-celebration!!!

Since the holidays are celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar here in Ukraine,  we will celebrate our Christmas after the New Year,  on January 7th. 

After an eventful trip,  I arrived at Borispol airport.   Since nothing was said about filling out a declaration form,  I asked someone near the passport control area if you have to fill one out.  Answer:  ” When you have more than 10.000 $ to declare,  yeah.  Otherwise,  no.”  

Okay…  I am used to declaring all my silver rings,  my golden chain,  my guitar and my laptop and all my money,  no matter what currency.  Since at this moment I can only dream about having 10.000 $,  (let alone carry it with me 🙂 ) up I went to the passport control.  Handing over my passport with a smile to the stern looking guy (no,  that has not changed),  I was ready for the questions:  “Where are you going?  Which purpose do you have for this trip?”  ” How long are you staying?”  etc.  Nothing…  My dear passport got a stamp and was returned to me.  Nice!

Then up to the baggage claim,  prepared to go through customs….. which meant simply walking through the exit!  No one wanted to look in my bags,  check my money,  other valuable possessions or ask difficult questions.  No queues that meant waiting for an hour or so.  WOW,  some things have changed!

Directly after the exit,  one gets bombarded with offers for rides,  taxi’s,  hotels, apartments etc.  I automatically responded in Russian:  “No, thank you.  No, thank you”,  and found my way to the exchange.  Grivna’s,  the local currency,  are only available in Ukraine and not in the West. 

Outside I found the ‘marshrutka’  (commercial mini and bigger busses traveling a certain route) to the train station in Kiev.  The airport is about 35 km from the center of town.  I had to wait and was sitting there,  simply enjoying the change and the sameness of the airport.  So many memories,  accompanying Jewish people to the plane for Israel,  flying myself back and forth to the West.   Everything the same,  and yet so different…

Traffic in Kiev has become crazier then I remember.  I see only foreign-made cars,  with here and there a Volga and maybe one Zhiguli or Lada.  Strange.   Traffic jams everywhere.  The city was never built for this amount of cars.  The trip to the train station,  which should take half an hour,  takes an hour and ten minutes…  because president Yanukovich decided to ‘open’  the tree in the center of town,  at the Independence Square.  We are jammed!

I just got to terms with all my luggage at the train station and somebody comes flying at me: Katya!!!  We hug and scream,  hug some more and scream even louder.   We provided quite a spectacle and  I am sure we made somebody’s day :).  Katya decided it was best to go by taxi,  since it was now rush hour and to travel by subway with luggage is even crazier than the traffic on the ground.  Again,  this takes us at least twice as long, since we are jammed!  Thank you,  president Yanukovich – not!

Katya talks a mile a minute and I talk twice as fast.  What a joy,  we can hardly contain it.  So much to talk about,  especially since she got acquainted with and married to Nikolai  (Kolya for his friends,  and now I am one of them,  hehehe).  We eat and talk and I am told that everything is arranged.  I will stay in their one room apartment for the time I am in Kiev and in Kharkov I will stay in Alla’ s  (Katya’s mom and my once-upon-a-time team member) one room apartment.  Katya and Kolya will go to his mom,  and Allochka is going to visit them till half January.  I am overwhelmed with their goodness!  What a welcome!!

Photo of Borispol Airport is Public Domain

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