As a person who has struggled with bipolar disorder for most of my life, I can tell you first-hand how messy and clumsy life can get. More often than I would like to consider, my thoughts, actions, and feelings, have caused remarkable pain to those whom I love intensely, hold closely, cherish deeply, and rely on intrinsically. Sometimes it is a prolonged season of depression where I withdraw from my wife and children to the confines of my bed because my blankets and my heart are both too heavy to lift. Other times, the thunderous noise of the pounding of my anxious heart create such a splitting headache or a feverish panic that I explode in unreasonable outbursts; with those who walk this life beside me taking the damage. My emotions can become so big that the uncontrollable crying and over-the-top laughter take up all the room in my relationships. These same emotions can also become so small that even the littlest hands in my life that are reaching for a small part of me come back mostly empty.
For the longest time, I struggled with the aftermath of living this way. Mostly, the struggle was a long stream of “should-ing” on myself. I should be stronger. I should be different. I shouldn’t have done that or said that. I should have been there or not been that other place. I embraced a worldview that saw the rest of the people around me as being normal. The rest of the world was okay, while I was most certainly not. Something was definitely wrong with me. Everybody else seems to have it all together; just look at their Facebook profiles and Pinterest feeds! Compared to everyone else, I was a disaster!
This line of thinking created a loop. Struggles and their consequences led to guilt, shame, and stigma. Living through guilt, shame and stigma enhanced my struggles, which led to painful consequences. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Perhaps you can relate.
“I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.” – Psalm 139:14 (GWT)
One thing I am truly grateful for is the death of this loop. You see, my loop was based on a lie. The lie took many different forms over the course of the years. I should be stronger. I was not enough and not ok. I was a disaster. Regardless of the form the lie took, the central theme of the lie remained: that somehow I was not enough. I am so thankful to a unfailing God and a year spent with a group of men from a step study I just completed who have helped me learn a fundamental truth that shatters this lie. I am perfectly made by God… just as I am. EVERY part of me is amazingly and miraculously made, which includes my Bipolar Disorder.
You see, God crafted me. He artistically spent His brush-strokes and harmoniously played His melodies and I am the resulting workmanship of His hands. God created me, bipolar disorder and all, to be exactly who I am. God is weaving His story of love, redemption, salvation, and hope through the very fibers of my life. He is penning a poetically epic classic in the epoch of His revelation to and through me. In all His artistry, God is sharing a simple truth: I am flawed in the eyes of my own expectations and sometimes even in the judgement of others, but I am priceless and perfect in the eyes of my Creator.
You, too, are beautifully and artistically crafted and designed. Regardless of your hurts, habits, or hang-ups. Regardless of what you may think or feel.
Mental Health Champion & CRMH Blog Contributor