For well over a year I tried to beat my alcoholism and my eating disorder on my own; by my own strength. Then it came to the point to where I was seriously contemplating going to an inpatient treatment center for both my diagnosis. And to make matters more difficult my bipolar only fueled both addictions. Then it came to the point to where the judge told me I was to quit drinking.
For the most part the no drinking wasn’t so hard. I had a newly restored faith in God and a new appreciation for the things I have in my life. Becoming free from my eating disorder was another story. My bipolar had been in charge for the previous four years controlling much of my thoughts and beliefs. My behaviors.
For a few months after the year in mental health court which I was accountable to the court or face prison, I remained sober and fairly stable. However, a few months after graduating the program I relapsed with my bipolar and began rapid cycling for the next few months.
Hospitalized for suicidal depression and suicide attempt. Episodes of mania. Jail. Periods of complete insomnia accompanied with psychosis. And my most recent, a psychosis blackout that has landed me in trouble again.
Many times I have felt the shame of my mistakes that have left me disappointed in my example as follower of Christ.
I am trying to live my life closer to Christ. A more intimate relationship. Joy cannot be conditional upon whether my chemistry is up or down. Joy is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as we realize our spiritual eyes are pointed to the future, not on this fleshly existence and its momentary fixations.
Being bipolar wreaks havoc with your life. Your whole life and all that it consists of. For every step you make forward one major act can take you ten backwards. You generally think of improvement, whether it’s during recovery or just self in general.
For many of those with bipolar, opposites do not attract. This is especially true for dually-diagnosed. Or triply-diagnosed in my case with bipolar, alcoholism, and an eating disorder. When I’m up, on the go, go, go, with a whole of energy, throw in some beers some fast music on that energy and you’ve got one really wound up guy.
The last thing I want to do is hang around those who want to slow me down. Kill my buzz. What good are you to me if you can’t stay up all night? Why would you not want to hop in the car and head to the city a hundred miles away? It’s only one a.m. What do you mean we don’t have the money to order hundreds of dollars of Batman memorabilia? (I actually did this once)
The last thing I want to do is be around people who have OFF switches. They are no fun and no good to me. This tends to complicate my life. This is why dual-diagnosed addicts and alcoholics have such a hard time staying clean and sober; especially those with eating disorders.
My own OFF switch can be just as deadly. If not worse. It’s in those periods I want to drown in my depression. I would rather replace eating with drinking. My last suicide attempt was during a deep depression laced with alcohol.
For those who deal with bipolar, there are no such things as continuity or consistency. Even with the way I enter an episode can be different from each. There may be improvements and upward movements as a trend over a long period of time. But in the here-and-now, in the day-to-day living, it seems like for every step forward we take, two steps backwards are right around the corner.
When manic, we start to build things, make plans, and begin projects. When depressed, we are too tired to care, too fuzzy minded to follow through, and too confused to have any idea what it really is we are searching for. In frustration we may subconsciously sabotage the momentum that had been won during the previous stable episode. Regardless of whether we contribute to this “break in the flow,” it will happen one way or another. Damage to progress is inevitable under these circumstances.
How can one cope on a constant roller coaster ride? There is a powerful tool that every person with bipolar, addict, eating disorder, etc must face…surrender. Some things were easier for me to surrender than others. We must give up the illusion that we’re in control, and someone will come along and rescue us from ourselves. Freedom comes after we surrender and accept that we must do the hard work.
I take two cocktails of meds twice a day that attempts to keep the episodes at bay. I haven’t worked a full-time job since 2005 and have been on disability since 2006. My bipolar makes working difficult at times. The hardest thing for me to accept and surrender is the fact that I seem to need to have someone close to me to care for me. To help me clean up my messes and watch me closely during my depressions.
It took us a long time to get here but God has put my wonderful wife by my side who has painstakingly done all these things. Bailed me out of jail. Admitted me to the hospital. Kept her eyes on me. Stroked my hair when my feelings left me leaving me feeling dull. Encouraged. She has made it a point to learn.
I believe much of the sins of bipolar are rooted in a better understanding of grace. When I am stable, I have one set of moral values. But when I am manic, I think of things I would never otherwise. Do things I wouldn’t rather do.
Do I make excuses and say I am not guilty of sin because I have a chemical imbalance that drives me away from God’s standards? How much can I say is the disorder, versus, I really wanted to anyway, the disorder just gives me a way out? Did the disorder just take away the inhibitions that hold back thoughts that were already there, just unexplored?
These are the types of questions no one can answer. When I am high, it seems nothing is considered wrong. Everything can be justified. However, not only do the high’s put extra thoughts in my head, the highs actually give me the courage to act. But when I come down, the guilt is horrendous, even if I had only just thought about it and never acted. And when I am down, I feel the remorse for what seems like losing my faith and wanting to end it all.
How can I ask for forgiveness when I am past the point of knowing what is right or wrong? Afterwards, I beat myself up for not knowing what was right or wrong. Or perhaps sometimes being numb to standards, so that I become unresponsive to warning signals? I’m always the last to realize my episodes.
Then I began to look at my up/down cycles as sin. I sinned when too high. I sinned when too low. The sin made me useless….null and void.
God can forgive anyone has committed all sins, all crimes. Being bipolar seems to be a crime against society. Unlike my past today I am very open about my bipolar. I would rather be judged for something I am than for something I am not. One way or another, whether I verbalize it or by my behavior, you will discover I’m different. But my life is a sin against God. Why? Because I’m human.
Even if some of it is beyond my control some say it is not my sin…it is still a result of original sin. I must assume responsibility for my sins. I must accept responsibility.
I can’t fix any of this. But God doesn’t withhold His love from me just because I am broken. Isn’t everyone broken? The cracks in their pots just aren’t as noticeable as the cracks in mine. Attributing the condition of my life to sin provides me with a way to redeem my life. We know Christ forgives us for our sins. He forgives us for the things we may have done that contributed to our disorder-related sins.