Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To my beloved Lisa McB (and for anyone else who has suffered a spouse battling bipolar)

Edit 5:12 p.m. EST: I have been asked to remove this post. And, I will honor this request.

EDIT 5:22 p.m. EST 11/18/2010: I am not going to repost the original text that was here. But increasingly, I am being led to post something about what I have gone through. Maybe - just maybe - God might use it to spare others the grief that I have gone through and that I have put too many other people through.

In my last post (which really was meant to be farewell for now) I publicly disclosed that I have suffered from depression for many years. I also have had to struggle with bipolar. And I do understand that I am likely giving up a lot of great potential in coming forward with that.

Well, whether I want it or not, it is a part of me. It is part of my identity, which I will have to deal with for the rest of my life on this earth. And don't think that I haven't cried out to God about it. Indeed, especially in the past two months as I have begun to regain my understanding of things, I have cried out to Him harder than ever before.

I have especially asked God why He gave me this, when it led to certain things happening which are, as best I can understand them, things He is against. Like divorce.

For whatever reason He has, God allowed me to be stricken full-bore with bipolar, which on top of the depression and very many medications that I have been given in the past several years to fight this, turned me into a very different person than what I really was. A different person than who I like to think God intended for me to be. I became someone who put the ones closest to me through hell. And I was completely powerless to do anything about it.

Bipolar, depression and all other kinds of mental illness are not a sin. Not at all. They are a kind of disease: one as real and destructive as cancer, hemophilia and diabetes. In some ways having a mental illness is far, far worse. If God had to stricken me with something, I wish He had given me cancer instead. That is something, at least, that pretty much everybody can understand.

So I would like to say some things to two groups of people. First of all, I want to address those who, like me, have been afflicted with bipolar.

Please know: this is NOT your fault! You could not possibly have wanted this or asked for this condition. And if you are like me, you probably weren't even aware of your own mind turning against you until it was too late. You know where I'm coming from, and I know where you are coming from too. The feeling of being alone in a dark, deep prison cell from which there is no light, no hope, no escape. Being trapped in your own mind, having to watch helplessly as you do things beyond your control. Things that you know you would have never done otherwise.

I know what it's like to feel rejected by God and rejected by those closest to you. They don't understand this. They can't understand it, not without experiencing it themselves. And like me, that is something that you - since you know what this is like - would never wish on anyone. Not even your worst enemies.

I know what it's like to tell God that it's just not fair. That if He was going to allow your health to be destroyed, to let it inflict harm on your flesh. To suffer something that takes away your judgment and your common sense and your spirit for living... how can that be fair? And yet, God let it happen to us.

Don't give up hope. Please, don't give up hope. And as for why God would allow this to us, the only answer that comes to mind is from the story of Jesus healing the blind man, as is recorded in the Gospel of John, chapter 9:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means "Sent"). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

That is the best that I have been able to locate in scripture during these many weeks. And perhaps I should be rejoicing that God let me go through this: that if it means He will be glorified in the end, that He chose me because He knew that I could take it.

That doesn't mean that I necessarily like it one bit. After all, depression and bipolar have cost me friendships, opportunities and even my marriage. I wish that I could see how this is going to end, so that my burden might be lessened from knowing that God is going to use this.

All I have to go on is faith and hope and trusting in Him. I don't know how the story ends. For now I'm a struggling character in a story that He is still writing. There are moments when I wish He did use someone else. But then, that would have been someone else suffering. And how much faith would any of us have if God didn't put us in places where we were in pain and misery and crying out to Him for deliverance?

In the end, God is good. Even though things are so very dark. I will be thankful that as silent as He is now, He is listening.

Now, for the second group that I want to address: the people who have to live and deal with a loved one suffering bipolar...

Your mother, your father, your brother or sister, your husband or your wife who has bipolar: you have no idea what kind of a hell they are having to endure. They didn't ask for this.

And neither do they deserve being abandoned and left alone.

Would somebody abandon a loved one because that person became sick with cancer, or hemophilia, or leukemia? Of course not! At least they should not do such a thing. Conditions such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia and everything else under the umbrella of mental illness are just as much a disease as cancer or muscular dystrophy. With much the same cause: something going wrong physically, deep inside the brain. It could be brought on by trauma or it could be neurochemical in nature.

These people who have bipolar, they are good people, who have been hit with something beyond their control. And it is a cruel thing to leave them because of their illness.

Wanna know something though? I don't hold anything against those who have left me because of my own condition. Because as I've said, you have to go through it yourself in order to understand. And this is something that I never want those I care about to have to suffer.

Folks, please: your loved ones who may have bipolar, they don't deserve to be left behind. They need to be loved and cherished. You need to love and cherish them harder than you ever have before, and I do know how hard a thing that is to ask! Just know that however much hell they are putting you through, they are being put through hell far, far worse. They don't mean to hurt you or humiliate you or otherwise bring embarrassment to you. If they are anything like what I am now going through, the eventual recovery from bipolar is going to leave them cursing the day that they were born. That is the magnitude of grief and shame that people feel when they realize for the first time how much hurt they have done to those they love most, when they couldn't have helped it.

Trust me: a person with bipolar is going through more than any person should ever go through in this earthly life. To not be forgiven for what they are by the people closest to them, is a far worse thing than the condition itself.

I am not forgiven. By God, yes. But not by those who I have hurt. And I would do anything to be able to take it all back, if I possibly could.

And those who suffer bipolar that you, dear reader, might personally know: I've no doubt that they feel the same way.

Please, don't abandon those whose own minds have turned against them. Pray for them. Be patient with them. Most of all, dare to love them in spite of their illness.

More certain am I than of how my own story is becoming, do I believe that Christ will be lifted up and glorified by those who do love and cherish and forgive those who cannot help the situation of mental illness.

All things work for the will of God. Even mental illness. The question is: how willing are we to choose to glorify Him in spite of ourselves and our pride?