For as long as I can remember I have been different. When I was young I swung from crazy spontaneous or unreasonable ideas and actions to flat out depression with the feeling that I just didn’t want to survive, didn’t want to get out of bed, didn’t want to go to school, didn’t want to see friends.
This went all the way back to elementary school. Being raised in church I often believed I could talk to God, in my manic periods would attack others with the preaching of “God’s” words. Then there were the times I had a heightened belief in myself that I was special and that my greatness was beyond measure. I fervently believed in my enlighten moments that I was destined for greatness.
Flash forward to my teenage years. These were especially tough. I had lost my God phase and recklessly jumped into everything that seemed fun at the moment. I started using drugs and drinking at 13. I was always looking for something, anything to take me out of where I was mentally and emotionally. The problem with compulsive or depressive thinking is that the substances make everything oh so much worse. The shame, danger, hurt and so on.
By the time I was 15 I had made my 3rd suicide attempt which led to a stay in a mental institution. No one understood I was bipolar at the time and chalked up my behavior to family issues, depression or being a teenager acting out. I left the hospital with no more clarity than I went in with.
In High School I became friends with my now spouse. They were the only person who seemed to understand me, who seemed to bring a balance to my chaotic life (as much balance as you can have with bipolar).
We got married at 18 had 2 children and my beloved bore a lot with me for reasons only they and God understand. We did go to church off and on, and I made so many attempts to hear God’s voice again. But I never could connect to something I felt so very long ago. I wanted so badly to be a good parent and partner. I wanted the life I imagined having a family would bring. To the outside world I managed pretty good. Although, I never could hold a job but 1 for longer than 2 years. I had trained myself to micromanage my emotions through drinking or drugs. I found myself doing things I can’t even look at now for how shameful I was. The medical professionals kept throwing antidepressants at me, which for a bipolar only makes things worse.
The real tipping point is when our business collapsed in 2008. We lost everything. We even found ourselves without emotional support from anyone. We had lost our friends and even family support. We were at a place that we were utterly alone. At the same time our children were both on the verge of becoming adults which was a different kind of loss. My failing marriage and loss of all security, were too much for my mind to cope. I went on a drug binge that fed my bipolar tendencies on a grander scale than ever before. It was a time so painful and scary, that I thank The Lord for protecting me from what should have been my demise. For the next 7 years He worked on me till I was ready to give my heart fully to Him.
Through an emergency hospital visit, much treatment, and medication adjustments along with a move to a new town for a fresh start, God without me knowing it, had set me on a path to a change of heart and mind.
He started with my marriage and drugs. Before I left our family home to our now rental in a new town, for the first time, disgust at what I had become led me to cling to my beloved mate and finally put down drugs once and for all. Drinking came next with a DUI and a totaled car. Because I partially blacked out during the accident I ended up with a memory that I hit a family. I don’t know what I actually hit, but it was an impact that left my car limping along the road for a time, before I hit a pole My mind refuses to accept the unknown impact wasn’t a family. I still feel to this day I must have killed someone. They just haven’t arrested me yet. The police report clearly shows I didn’t, but I can never shake the horror that I did.
The Lord had through many circumstances that I can’t bear to look back on combined with the perceived tragedy finally taken my desire to be in an altered state of mind. I tried a few times to get drunk after the DUI, but it did not have the escape and emotional payoff it once had. It was such a horrible experience that I now only drink an occasional glass of wine, which most times I can’t even finish.
I became hyper spiritual after we moved. I felt like I had was asleep trying to wake up. Since I was mentally unwell, I actually believed I was in a coma and just needed to be brought out. I didn’t understand what was happening to me, but I now looking back see that it was Jesus healing me.
I still suffered from rapid cycling, days without sleep, rage, the Phantom flu (a depressive phase that actually feels like the flu), ringing in the ears, memory loss, pressured speech, visual hallucinations and skin sensitivity.
But God began to really go to work preparing my heart for letting Him in. I began blogging my thoughts, walking my dog regularly, keeping a schedule and trying every spiritual idea I could find. Meditation (couldn’t focus), mindfulness (yea right), and finally I came to a sermon on Joel Osteen. I don’t recommend him as he is a wealth and happiness preacher rather than on the gospel, but God can use any means to speak to someone. I began to get a desire for God instead of the false spiritual paths I thought would heal me.
As I began to finally head toward the path Jesus was calling me to, my mom happened to ask me to go to a conference at her church. I was in a more open mind about God, so what could it hurt?
Well, as I sat in the audience listening to the speaker, I began to look around at the other people attending. I felt like a fraud. I didn’t belong there. I was never going to be like them. I was mentally unwell. How could I believe God would ever want me? And I thought… “God if I am supposed to be here play Oceans by Hillsong during worship. If you want me here than prove it by playing that song”. Here is where I want to warn people to be prepared when you ask for what you think you want. The thought had no more left my mind when a person sitting in front of me interrupted the speaker by standing up, turning around, began to look around, and said “for those of you who feel they don’t belong here you are wrong. Every person sitting here was just like you. No one starting out on the path to Christ is perfect. You are supposed to be here because God has brought you here”.
My eyes were huge, my jaw felt like it was on the floor. I knew it was Jesus speaking through that person. My mom and my aunt were sitting on either side of me and when I asked during a break, they confirmed that they heard and saw it the way I did.
At home that following week I began reading the bible not knowing where to start. He graciously gave me a scripture to read over and over until it grew to understanding in my heart.
Psalm 1:1-3 (KJV)
1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
After 2 weeks of reading and re-reading this scripture, I caught myself singing Amazing Grace as I was moving about the house. I got to the verse “I was blind but now I see” and there… right there I was suddenly aware of what He had done for me. All the years of teachings suddenly grew weight.. I saw the cross, the grace, the sacrifice, the long suffering, the wrath, the endless beyond measure, loving God of Moses, Jacob, Noah, Daniel, the disciples, my precious God met me right where I was and opened my heart and mind to receive Him. I dropped to my knees sobbing with repentance and gratitude.
What amazes me is that His grace is so sufficient for me and yet he went on to heal me of bipolar. I had found myself on a day the year following… frustrated at my disease for robbing me of normalcy. I had just lost a client due to my symptoms that day. I began to drive home from the job and had to pull over to get out of my car and scream. I didn’t understand why God wouldn’t just heal me. I had prayed face down, pleaded and had faith. But at that moment standing there I gave up. I didn’t want to climb this mountain anymore.
As I stood outside of my car just staring out at the field next to me I decided to play some Pandora for encouragement and the very first song that came on made me weep.
I really heard the words, felt he wanted me to hear it at that moment to understand that this life is just a season and I began to realize that even if I was sick until I went to Heaven, suffering on earth isn’t comparable with the glorious eternity He has in store.
But instead of just an encouragement it was His comfort and assurance until He healed me. Through the next few months I began to notice symptoms diminishing. I became so well that I was able to legitimately quit medication. Not because I thought it a good idea, but because I was no longer symptomatic.
I still have residual traits of bipolar. The memory loss, sometimes talking too fast, and occasional ear ringing. But no more compulsive thinking, compulsive behavior, extreme emotional highs and lows, rage, physical pain, creating pain for others, or hallucinations. It is a freedom I have never known. I thank The Lord for saving me from the shame and suffering of the unbearable brain disfunction of mental illness.
I don’t know why he healed me and still others continue to suffer, but I do pray my testimony brings others hope. I have become so in love with God that I now spend every free minute with Him. I constantly seek His council through scripture, I pray without ceasing, I bring every frustration, joy and everything in between to Him first. I have become homesick for Heaven, a place I have never been as I contemplate less and less about this temporary life and live my life focused on being obedient to Him and the day I can finally go Home.
I pray everyday, that The Lord uses me, and although I will never be sinless or perfect until I get to Heaven, that when I see Him face to face He will look at me with love and say well done my good and faithful servant.