Each one of us is a unique and unrepeatable miracle of God’s grace. My wife is a miracle to me. My children are miracles.
But I do not always feel like an unrepeatable miracle of God’s grace. Unique yes. Much of the time I feel alone in this world. But more often I behave as though God puts up with me because He made me and now He is stuck with me.
Logically I know this is false, but deep, and sometimes not so deep, inside it nags and gnaws at my heart, at the security and love I feel from not only others but also about myself. It creeps into my prayers, into my thoughts, into how I love and relate to her, to them, to me.
Bipolar disorder is one of the most elusive illnesses we know of. The lives of those who live with are written like a bestselling mystery novels. The beginning opens in the middle of nowhere and every page is a twist and turn full of surprises never knowing what is going to happen next.Recognizing our thoughts are awry and our judgment is impaired is a risky business for anyone dealing with a mental illness. It all seems so sensible in our delusional state. We need to come to the conclusion there is an impairment in our functioning that prevents us from living life normally. Then again I hate that word, “normal.” Who says what is normal?
Sometimes life is the best teacher. Not an easy teacher. Just gets the job done when others can’t.
I’m on a quest. A journey. One that will take time. I didn’t get here overnight so I can’t get out overnight. And honestly I’m ready for it. I need it, yet I’m apprehensive about it. A journey to better maintain my bipolar.
Incorporating manic behavior, or even depressive, into a recovery-belief system is a dilemma, perhaps the ultimate bipolar dilemma. What is good in our lives is often tinged with the excessive and grandiose things we think and believe that stay and linger long after an episode has us sidelined.
Am I crazy, or is there a place in our lives for a variation of what is often viewed as a delusion or fading vision of positive afterthought? Often, it is the stigma of being deemed crazy that forces us to let go of our more upbeat selves. What hits home worse is being stigmatized by the very health professionals who claim to be on your side and your own family.
How can we hang onto what feels at the time of an episode of fairy tales existence, yet has the underbelly of manic excess, which ultimately drags us down? Is it possible to sustain some semblance of hope and acceptance, or am I just plain crazy? Many times we don’t want to let go.
As every stereotype has the value of truth captured within it, so grandiosity and seduction have their valued qualities. Often, black and white thinking, the antithesis of open examination, has us discard our more creative selves in favor of stability and survival. A killer side effect.
Do we need to discard it all for the sake of sanity? A lot depends on regaining some self-respect after an episode leaves us hollow and bereft.
There is a recovery period after an episode and that’s what I am looking for. A long term period. A better way to manage. A time when I may question myself or find it difficult to understand how I could have followed a line of thought and action to such excess.
Eventually, I want to come to a place of balance, recognizing what’s gained from a “brilliant madness.”
I’ve been in recovery before. It’s about second chances. Leaving the door of insight and openness ajar can help us retain what has value from even the most extreme and chaotic impulses.
Life is a good teacher. Sometimes the only one who can get through to us. The next time I’m ready to throw away every grit and particle of an experience because of remorse of letting myself go emotionally and intellectually, I have to remember to glean from my memory the biochemical facts of my diagnosis. I also have to remember the possible consequences if I get in legal trouble.
Gather in what I feel is true and what has touched my heart. There is no need to judge myself harshly. Be kind to myself and from that place evaluate my extremes. Discern what mania offered me in the light of day and embrace those elements of true caring. Question what I cannot sort out and put it aside for the time being. Fullness of thought sometimes only comes with time.
And still I struggle.
Not only does God know me, He has always known me. He is the One who formed me. He is the One who knows intimately each and every detail of who and how I am.
I write about dark things in order to understand the Light. Most readers don’t get that. Also? Perhaps this is what happens when good isn’t good enough anymore. Because of my bipolar I will never be good enough. Perhaps this isn’t what freedom truly looks like. Perhaps this is all He wanted from me in the beginning – to be myself, resting in His grace.
I’m stubborn and hardheaded, there’s no doubt. I’ve picked fights. But it’s time I pick a fight with myself. Pick a fight with my way of thinking. It’s time to be willing to commit myself to battle my bipolar in order to break free from the cycles of concessions that have enslaved me.
Am I outnumbered? Yes. Both internally and externally. In this world the odds are against me. I am every mistake I’ve ever made. I am every person I’ve ever hurt. I am every word I’ve ever said. I am made of flaws.
But I’m also too positive to be doubtful. Too optimistic to be fearful and too determined to be defeated.
So somewhere in the middle I’m going to pick to a fight.