As bipolar disorder goes, mine tends to lean more towards depression than mania. I fight a lot of inner battles and have a lot of silent conversations with God. I have the tendency to focus on bad things that have happened and fears that I have, many of which are overblown. I often struggle to feel anything at all, which is almost worse than being negative and afraid. You can talk about fear and sadness. Even better, you can write about fear and sadness. When you feel nothing, though, you can DO nothing.
I’m forever trying to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and aim my thoughts at good memories, the goodness of God, and reasons to laugh. When I go numb, I just ask God to help me feel. (SIDE BAR: Anyone who thinks that all depression is caused by a lack of spiritual discipline has obviously never felt completely numb, or had to plead with God to make the earth spin again. Anyone can believe in God when life is good. It takes serious faith to go through depression and complete emotional paralysis, in which you can’t sense any trace of God, and come out the other side still a follower of Jesus Christ. They don’t know what it’s like to have to trust that God is near when He is invisible in every conceivable way.)
As often as I long to feel happy, happiness has always frightened me a little. Someone with bipolar disorder never knows whether happiness is just happiness, or if it’s a precursor to a period of crazed and sleepless nights, and a bunch of bad decisions that will leave a trail of emotional/relational/professional debris that rivals the strongest earthquake and the highest tsunami.
I say to myself, “Wow, I feel pretty good today. Uh-oh. Am I happy or am I getting manic?”
Well, I’ve made a big decision: I’m not doing that anymore.
That’s the enemy talking, and I’m not listening.
I’m going to stop questioning joy. Does it really matter where it might lead? I can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, let alone five minutes from now. This is the moment. Now is the time. I choose an abundant life over an abundance of fear. It’s my right. God promised it to me. Take the money and run.
Think there are no spiritual undertones in mental illness? Here is something good from God, and there is the enemy, trying to paint it black. It was subtle, but I picked up on it, and I refuse to be terrorized by joy. I’m taking whatever I can get. Pour me some sunshine, because I’ve always wanted to kick the enemy in the butt, and there’s no better way to do that than by being happy.