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Manic-Depressive Life, Manic-Depressive Faith

February 22, 2011

It should be no secret to anyone on this blog that I suffer from bipolar disorder (formerly manic depression), although more along the lines of the depressive spectrum. I’m pretty positive that this affects my outlook on nearly everything and how I deal with life sometimes.

I can be a real downer. For days, perhaps even weeks, at a time. I am not a sparkling ray of sunshine 365 days a year although you’d never know it if you met me at my job. I’m pretty much Bubbly Betty or Cheerful Charlene.

For a lot of people, it’s disconcerting to meet someone who’s constantly down on themselves and their lives when they’ve got so many blessings and things to be thankful for. But let’s face it: we all have our own problems and our own sinkholes to patch up. Some are a bit more expressive than others.

I talk too much, want too much, need too much.

My neuroses are building. Badly. I’m worried that if someone doesn’t respond to my email, they suddenly either hate me or pretended to like me and don’t want anything to do with me. Sure, emails get lost in the shuffle but after I email a person twice or three times without a response, I start to wonder if they pretended to like me but really can’t stand me now that they’re away from me. Or maybe they’re just really busy and I’m hurt that other people get priority over me.

I judge others and deem some people socially awkward. Either it’s the case of “pull the beam out of your eye, fool!” or takes one to know one. I’m always overanalyzing every move I make, everything I say, and lie down in bed at the end of the night reassessing all the ways I was stupid and things that I should’ve—could’ve—done better.

I nearly live and die by what people think of me. This is what drives my emotional rollercoasters. If I receive praise at work, I’m riding on Cloud Nine. If I’m given a tiny bit of criticism, I automatically assume who ever critiqued me (usually kindly) thinks I’m a total idiot and probably can’t stand seeing me. I could kill myself over a social failing.

Seriously. That is how pathetic I am.

I have talked to dozens of people in the past few days about spirituality and wonder how they are able to maintain such faith in the face of so many obstacles. I begin to wonder, Well, maybe I’m not really a Christian. My faith is like that seed that takes root for a while but fades away when trouble comes. But then Tim Keller reminds me in The Reason for God that the message of Christianity—the Gospel—is a message for broken people, for people who don’t have everything all together, for those who don’t have it all figured out. People in the Christian Church are screwed up individuals who rely daily on the finished work of Jesus Christ and his daily intercession on their behalf.

When I first became a Christian, I thought the people of Israel and the Apostles were idiots. How could you possibly turn away from God when He’s done all these amazing signs and wonders? How could you possibly forget?

Nearly 13 years later, I too am an idiot. I identify with Peter’s lack of faith and the forgetfulness of the children of Israel. (Not a parallel sentence, sorry.) I am constantly forgetting all the great signs and wonders of the Almighty Jehovah and ranting and railing against Him about the lousy manna I keep getting. It would have been better if I’d stayed in my metaphorical Egypt! At least there I never had to worry about provisions!

I’ve begun drinking beer to take the edge off of my rough days. Not a whole lot but when I’m very depressed, I can consume a good three beers (which is enough to make this lightweight tipsy). Some people might not like the fact that I drink beer but hey, when it’s between thoughts of committing suicide and getting a bit tipsy (and it really does come down to that some days)—pass the alcohol!

I’ve debated cutting myself off from people for a time to kill my need for man’s approval. Every form of isolation I can think of: church, Facebook, Twitter, even this blog. I named this blog This Journey Is My Own after a favorite song by Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) artist Sara Groves who sings about needing the approval of other people rather than seeking the only approval that matters: God’s. I can’t think of ending this ghastly obsession any other way except by becoming a hermit or through death.

I’m in a pretty dark place right now. A dark place that has me wondering whether going back to the psych hospital might be the right thing for me to do. (Despite the fact that the sexual offender masturbating by my bed five years ago still haunts me to this day.) I feel like I’m sinking. I feel like I can’t take anymore. I’m doing really well in my job and my husband really loves me but my rose-colored glasses have suddenly become foggy. Visibility is zero and I’m too afraid to keep going and see what’s in front of me, to see what will happen.

My faith ebbs and flows on the tides of my emotions. I don’t know how to change that or how to stop it. Platitudes don’t cure me. My prayer life is dry and empty. My mind convinces me I’m all alone even though people try to tell me otherwise.

I think about hanging myself daily.

Good call, God. Better that a baby be aborted somewhere else than be born to me and tortured by my very existence.

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