Bipolar and Friends

My title sounds like a weird new clothing store for people who can’t make up their minds.

There’s a reason for my “Bipolar and…” titles. While I no longer actively struggle with symptoms of my disorder, it has colored every area of my life. Now that I’m symptom free, it’s like I get to see the before and after pictures of my life because it has been so dramatically different since my hysterectomy. Now I am actively able to participate in healthy relationships. This is not to say that I didn’t have relationships before, they just weren’t too way streets where I was able to give as much as I took.

Before I was diagnosed with Bipolar, I was the human equivalent of a black hole. Y’know the kind of friend I’m talking about. People would get too close to  all of my drama and get sucked in and then wonder where they went. When I was on the suicidal Ferris wheel that was college, I had these friends who knew about my depression and kept trying to help me. What they didn’t know was that I had Bipolar and what they mistook as me getting “better” was actually me being manic. The resulting downswing into depression made them feel like they’d failed and they couldn’t deal with me or my depression anymore. There was one friend who stuck with me all the way through college. She even showed up once when I’d tried to take an overdose. She was my lifeline. We stayed friends for over 20 years until the co-dependent nature of our friendship no longer worked for me. As much as I loved her, I had to admit that our relationship wasn’t healthy and I let her go. Or rather, I let her let me go.

I am not an easy person to be friends with. I don’t think anybody with a mental illness is “easy” to be friends with, but it doesn’t mean that relationships are out of the question either. It just takes people who are willing to care even when they don’t understand. People who can look behind the mask because they aren’t afraid of what they’ll see. People who have issues of their own and have learned how to cope, because it takes another person who knows struggle to even vaguely understand what the struggle against mental illness can mean. Of course, any friendship could benefit from at least one of the participants being like this whether or not the other person struggles with a mental illness or just normal neurotic human behavior.

The other night a friend came over to talk with me. We were going to catch up because it’s been a while. The subject of my counseling came up and it was like the can of worms and the bandaid were both ripped open at the same time. I felt so much raw emotion. Tears hadn’t been on my agenda for the evening, but as I talked to her she drew me out the way that only a real friend can. She and I have always been able to just understand each other. Few of my friends really understand me. They like… some of them even love me… but few can claim to actually understand me. In talking to her I realized just how deep my fear of this counseling goes.

The book that I’d started reading to prepare for it was doing more than just “mashing” a few buttons. It was getting so deep under my skin that it hurt. I have hit an awful impasse: I do not believe the major premise of the book. In  a nutshell? They insist that because of the commandment that tells us to “honor our mother and father” all of my drama stems from the fact that I have dishonored them by resenting things they did to me. Doesn’t matter what they might have done to me to create my sexual addiction or all my fears and other hangups. What matters most is my sinful response to whatever it is that they did or didn’t do. I sinned in my response to them, so what I’m experiencing now is a reaping of my own sin. My dad tried to kill me when I was a small child. Evidently it’s my fault that this messed me up. My sexual addiction is also my fault according to this author. The actions of other people don’t matter. It’s all on me.

Every time I have tried to get to the roots of my sexual addiction the bottom has fallen out of my world. I have fallen into depressions so deep I didn’t think there was an end. Actually, I did think there was an end. I thought the only way to end my free-fall into madness was to kill myself. It is by the grace of God that I am not dead. I used to beg God to free me of my Bipolar and from the sexual addiction. And the taunting voices that used to come back at me in my own mind were horrible:

“God’s not going to help you!”
See! You prayed and he’s still not changing you!”
“He CAN change you… but WILL he??”
“What kind of Christian ARE you to struggle with this?”
“You can’t live the rest of your life like this. You might as well kill yourself.”

Even though I was surrounded by people every day as  a teacher… very few people knew what I struggled with as far as the  Bipolar. There were even fewer people who knew about the sexual addiction. I was rather close mouthed back then. Now I talk about it because my life depends on it. Silence was dangerous. How can people support me in prayer if they don’t really know what my needs are? This is not to say that I run around airing my business indiscriminately. Despite the fact that I’m pretty transparent in this blog, I’m pretty introverted around real live people. The few people that I let get close enough to me have earned my trust. I learned a LONG time ago that not everybody can be trusted with who I really am. People mean well, but well meaning people can ignorantly cause a lot of damage.

In the end, my friend helped me realize that I’m afraid that this counseling is going to mash a whole bunch of buttons and I’m going to nosedive into an endless pit of depression. Living alone has it’s benefits… and I love living alone, but what if I do spin-out because of this counseling? I could OD and nobody would even know for days. And before any of my friends reading this get all nervous: I am not suicidal and I do not want to die. But at this particular moment in time, I do not want to do this counseling either. How can God point me in the direction of something that seems so dangerous for my mental health? It wasn’t my idea to do the counseling, but I trust the person who suggested I do it. If I need to go through this counseling in order to be set free from my addiction, then no matter how many of my buttons are getting mashed, I have to do it. I didn’t think God would ever heal me of my Bipolar, but he used a hysterectomy to free me from overt symptoms. He might be planning to set me free now and maybe there is no need to fear depression. Besides, the biggest difference between now  and every single one of those other times that I tried to get to the “roots” of my addiction and my depression, I was alone. I had friends… but I wouldn’t let them in. I didn’t want them to see the “real” me.

This time it could be different. The “real” me is tired of hiding from what people might think. I let this one friend in. It’s time to let others in. It’s also time to talk about this process because I know that I’m not the only Christian woman going through something like this. And if I don’t want to talk about it, they probably don’t either.

I was with another friend today. I haven’t known him long, but felt like I could let him in. I told him about the time I did the cardboard testimony at church. He was surprised that I could have gotten up and actually done that given my testimony. I could do it because I knew that nobody in my church would judge me. I knew that my friends there would love me no matter what messy past was scribbled on my sign. I know that my real friends are going to read this and pray. Tonight I post because I’m really thankful for the friends I’ve had. I’m thankful for the ones who were there before I was diagnosed. I’m thankful for the ones who were there when I struggled to deal with the meds and the side effects. I’m thankful for the ones I’ve had in the last five years when I began to see my need for deeper healing. But I’m most thankful for the friends  that I have now, because they help the “real” me be me.

About these ads
  1. Carolyn Harris
    May 16, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Wow… just hit me over the head with a shovel! This is so very powerful. You are so strong. I wish I could hold up a mirror before you, and show you the woman I see through your words.

    It is always easier to see others and name their strengts and weaknesses. For example, I hate going to Nurses meetings. We have to go downtown and meet with maybe 100 other nurses from all over the city. A daunting process.

    I looked around the office and could see all the nurses felt the way I did. I looked at them and hiding my fear said, “I feel sorry for all the other nursing today”, they looked at me and asked why? I explained that we are THE HARLEM HOTTIES and all the tohers would have to just ‘deal with us’!

    Now whenever they get nervous, they bring up being a Harlem Hottie and march of to wherever they need to go. (The average age of The Harlem Hotties is probably 58- LOL). Whatever it takes to feel good about yourself. I pulled the most outrageous thing out of my hat!

    Honey, I am not sure I agree with what you have written about this book you are reading. First it is too simplistic. God created each of us with all his love and creativity. Blaming a victim for a perps sins is wrong. A child is not causing an adult to sin… that is plain wrong. A baby dooes not cause an adult to abuse her. It just doesn’t work that way.

    I do believe we cannot excuse our adult sins because we were damaged as children. At some time we have to take responsability for our own actions. Adults take responsibility

    I am so glad you are going for counceling. I just want to say, “Be proactive”. Make sure you agree with this persons thoughts, ideas and values. Anyone can call themselves a Christian and it means nothing…. God gives us his spirit so we can discern. Discernment is also an adult responsibility.

    I know yhat His spirit will be befoe you and behind you and beside you on this journey!. God Bless your trip, and safe journey. Love You!

  2. May 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Carolyn,

    I’M the one who’s blown away. I’m always whining to God about how nobody ever leaves comments for me. There is a part of me that deeply needs to engage with people and I don’t know how. Thank you for everything that you said. As for the book? I was glad to hear your thoughts… because I’m still struggling to believe parts of what I’m reading. It IS a reputable counseling ministry and it (and the books) are pretty well respected. I know a lot of people who have actually read the books and done the counseling and they are all normal, well adjusted people. If they were all nut-jobs I’d be less inclined to do the counseling… but as is, I’ve determined not to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water, no matter how murky said water seems to me right now.

    Thank you for your support, your friendship, and your prayers. I love you too. :)

  3. January 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    YES, COMPLETELY FORGIVEN AND LOVED BY JESUS. That is so refreshing to see. I never understood His love fully, until I actually felt it, after coming to my knees in repentance. I couldn’t understand how someone could love me after I had fallen away.

    Going to catch up on more of your posts.
    I started this site for girls with addiction, we’re not alone!
    http://www.femalepornaddicts.wordpress.com

    -an EX-femalepornaddict

  4. January 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Hello Ex-femalepornaddict! Welcome to Bipolar World!

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I visited your blog. Thank you for taking such a bold stance and for reaching out to other women. Thank you for trying to encourage me. You’re right — we are NOT alone and part of victory is accountability.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 97 other followers

%d bloggers like this: