Monthly Archives: November 2020

Light in the Darkness

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It’s hard for me to write this. It’s hard for me to let you in and share with you how I really feel. But I get so tired of hiding. I get weary from pretending to be something that I’m not. Well, I guess that’s not entirely accurate. I’m not exactly fake. I’m actually genuine to a certain degree. By that, what I mean is that when I talk to you, I’m genuinely interested in talking with you. I’m happy to hear what you have to say. I’m concerned by what concerns you and overjoyed by what brings you joy. That’s real. I’m not faking those things. But that’s probably where the genuineness ends and the facade begins.

If you ask about me, I will probably tell you that all is well. I will give you a quick rundown of what’s happening in our lives. I may even let it slip that I’m tired or stressed, but that will be about the extent of it. I won’t let on that I spend a lot of time feeling sad and lonely. And I certainly won’t let you into my twisty world of darkness, which is where I feel most comfortable. It would make things awkward, wouldn’t it? You would be uncomfortable if I told you about it.

It’s just not acceptable.

Especially in the Christian world. Whoa! We are basically taught that we are supposed to be joyous because Jesus has given us the greatest gift we could ever imagine. We are supposed to live our lives seeing the bright side of things, being positive, being thankful…you get the idea. And if we don’t? Well, something must be wrong with us. Something is amiss, for sure.

Don’t misunderstand. I love Jesus with all my heart and soul. He is my best friend. I am in awe of Him. Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about what He’s done for me in my life already. My life would be meaningless without Him. There are many, many days when I am so overwhelmed by Him that I literally weep. I just can’t contain the emotion I feel for Him. I think you get the idea. I love Jesus with everything I have.

And, I put a lot of energy into practicing thankfulness and concentrating on positive things. I make a concerted effort to focus on joy. I redirect my thinking on a regular basis so that I don’t go down a negative path. But these things don’t come easily to me. I just don’t naturally feel thankful or positive or happy. I don’t ooze joy. I’m not perky. I’m not a ray of sunshine.

And I have felt guilty about this for years.

I have berated myself for years about the fact that I don’t find joy easily and that I have to work at being thankful. I’ve wondered what was wrong with me. I’ve questioned what I’m doing wrong. I really do have such a close relationship with Jesus, so why haven’t these things started to come more naturally to me? I have the Holy Spirit in me. Shouldn’t He be guiding me in these things?

These are all questions I have wrestled with for so long.

But maybe that’s just not who I am. Maybe it’s ok that I’m not a ray of sunshine. Maybe that’s just not who God made me to be. Maybe He needs me to be another kind of person in order to accomplish His will for my life. I don’t know, but it feels like such a heavy burden has been lifted off my shoulders just to consider that maybe I don’t have to conform to the Miss Positivity role.

Maybe it’s enough that I try. Maybe it’s enough that I have the knowledge, even if I don’t have the feelings. Maybe. Come as you are, right?

Come as you are. Interesting concept. Do we practice this, though? Do we really? Can we truly be open to accepting people as they are? Or do we want them to conform to what we think Christians should be like?

Be honest.

Because I am a faithful Christian and I know Jesus, but my mind can be very dark. And I would venture to guess that if I shared with you some of the things that I think about, you would run as fast as you could in the opposite direction from me. If I let you into my deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings, you would think I was weird. You would think there was something wrong with me. You might try to get me some help. Or, you would just stay away.

Maybe I’m just scared. Maybe I’m not giving you enough credit. Or maybe I’m speaking from experience. Yeah, that’s probably it. Either way, I keep it to myself. My out of the box, unacceptable thoughts and feelings. It’s sad, though, because what I want in this life is to be understood. I want kinship with someone who wants to hear what I have to say. Someone who genuinely cares and even understands the darkness that invades my mind.

The thing about the darkness is that it isn’t necessarily sadness. Sometimes it is, but many times it’s full of creativity and emotion that is begging to be shared. But the fear of rejection creeps in so I don’t share. Every once in a while I will, but then I may regret it and feel foolish for having done so. It’s a whole up and down cycle. But it’s in the darkness when I do my best writing. That’s when I can depict what life with mental illness is really like. And to be honest, I think that’s the purpose God has given me. So maybe I should just be brave and share in spite of the unacceptable nature. Maybe I should just embrace being weird. Maybe I won’t be accepted by many, but neither was Jesus, so what’s there to fear?

Jesus is the light in the darkness. He has pulled me out of the darkness many times, but He allows me to go back there just often enough so I can tell you about it. So maybe I should.

Death

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She lay there, on the ground.  Rain beating down upon her lifeless body.  She wore a white gown.  It had long sleeves with lace at the cuffs, neck, and hemline.  It was very delicate and feminine, and now heavy with rainwater, clinging to her body. 

            She was on her side, the swimming pool behind her.  Her legs were bent, her hands clasped and under her cheek.  The contrast between her dark hair and her pale skin struck me.  Her eyes were sunken but wide open with a fixed gaze in my direction, though not looking at me.  She wasn’t here, but somewhere beyond.  Her lips were a purplish red.  I don’t know if she was breathing.  She was so still.

            She must have been cold lying there in the rain.  Was she cold?  Did she care?  Was she even alive?  I couldn’t tell.  I just sat there staring at her.  Not helping her. 

I sat in my chair under cover from the storm.  Hugging my knees, I rocked back and forth just a little.  I was cold just looking at her.  Why didn’t I help her?  Why did I just sit there and watch?  Unmoved.

I couldn’t because I wasn’t really in that chair.  I was really lying on the ground in the rain.  I was the girl in the gown.  Was I dead?  Had I died?  If so, did I care?  If not, did I want to?  What reason did I have to keep fighting?  He was so good to me and they still needed me.

GET UP!  The girl in the chair began to yell at the girl on the ground.  She began to care.  She began to do something.  PLEASE!  DON’T DO THIS.  IT’S NOT TIME.  Yet, she still just sat there, unable to get up.  And she just lay there, unable to get up.

But then the girl in the chair saw Him.  He had been there the whole time, but she just hadn’t seen Him.  He was dressed in white and had this radiance about Him.  He walked to her on the ground, picked her up and held her.  He knew she couldn’t do it herself, so He did it for her.  He carried her over to the chair with the girl in it.  The chair I sat in.  He gave her back so the two could become one again.  The girl on the ground and the girl in the chair.  He breathed life back into her. 

He never spoke but she could feel His love for her.  She felt safe in His presence and somehow knew she could go on with His help.  I knew I could go on. 

Are There Others?

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I’ve been stable for nearly a year. There was a time when I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to say that. Stability. And for a whole year! Wow! I can hardly believe it. It feels good, I must say.

It was just before Thanksgiving last year when I realized that for the first time in a very long time, I felt normal. Not up. Not down. Just normal. And it was amazing. I could take normal breaths and smile normal smiles. I didn’t feel like I was looking over my shoulder, waiting for something bad to happen. I was just enjoying each blessedly normal moment as it happened.

Now, understand that when I talk about stability, I’m not talking about the absence of bipolar symptoms. I wish that were the case, but it isn’t. No, what I’m talking about is more the lack of crises in my everyday life. I’m talking about the lack of absolute chaos that had previously befallen my life. For me, stability is about my overall well-being.

No longer am I constantly in fight-or-flight mode. No longer am I constantly enveloped in gut-wrenching depression. No longer do my moods swing from high to low at the drop of a hat. This kind of chaos doesn’t define my days any longer. And while this kind of chaos is thankfully a thing of the past, I do still experience depression and hypomania, just to a lesser degree.

Stability did not come easily. In fact, sometimes memories of the days of darkness and sickness still haunt me. They creep into my mind and threaten to take me back in time. And I wonder – am I the only one who feels this way? Are there others – others who have been to the places I’ve been but are now stable and healthy? Do they remember? Do their memories haunt them like mine do me? Do they get a sick feeling in their stomach when they think about it? Do they feel violated by the mere thought of them?

And even more, do they miss it? Do they miss the days when they could feel everything deep into their bones? If I’m honest, sometimes I do. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s just a part of me that I can’t explain. And I really do wonder, are there others out there like me? I feel like there have to be. I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

To be bipolar and to feel everything so deeply is a gift, in a way. It’s also a sacrifice to put it in a box and choose stability. Anyone who isn’t a member of this exclusive club would have a difficult time understanding that statement, but if you get it, you get it. If you, like me, have chosen stability, I salute you. It’s glorious in its own way, and it truly is the best option we have. We know what lies on the other side. Some good, some bad. It’s a difficult thing to give up. It’s a difficult thing to deny that part of ourselves. Still, though the darkness sometimes calls to me, I choose laughter and light.