The Adventures of Bipolar Girl

Comfort for the Neurotic in All of Us

Open Letter to My Landlord

Tomorrow I move out after living here for three years and I am excited. Technically, I have until the end of the month… legally, I have until September 6, but “the cloud” is moving on and I’m not stupid. In the Bible, God led the folks on the exodus by being either a pillar of fire or a cloud. Even a dummy could see when it was time to move on. While I do not see a physical cloud, I know that God is calling me to follow him away from this place. After everything that has gone on here and in my other living situations, I’ve learned one major lesson: in your anger do not sin.

To avoid doing that I have had to learn how to “speak the truth in love.” It hasn’t been an easy lesson to learn. In the past, I left living situations angry and bitter. I held on to resentment like a pit bull gnawing on a femur. I was mad at God for letting me get hurt and I cursed people. It would be really easy to curse my landlord. He’s so curse worthy, but to do so would prove I’d learned nothing. Tonight I sat down to draft an email I plan to send him once I’m gone. It’s long, but I want to share it here because it surprised the daylights outta’ me. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the not so innocent. As you read it, please pray for him and all of the people he has hurt: 

 

August 27, 2016

Hi Frank,

Now that I’ve moved out I wanted to clarify my last email to you in light of your last email to me. When I said that I hadn’t meant to offend you with my email, I meant that. But please don’t take that as an apology. I stand by everything I said in that email. You thought I was judging you based on what Sarah and her husband Mitchell had said about you after you terminated them. Actually, they said very little because a while ago I told Sarah that I didn’t want to talk to her about you. It felt like gossiping and it was making me stressed out more than I already was. In the two months before she left, I actually never even spoke to Sarah. I didn’t actually see her until the day she moved out and she was in tears.

Frank, the day I moved in a former tenant tried to warn me about you before she moved out. She told me a whole bunch of stuff about you that scared me. And it wasn’t just her. The cable guy warned me about you the day he hooked up my service. Then there was that attorney from the Civil Rights Commission representing another tenant who was suing you for violating her civil rights. SHE warned me about you too. With all of those warning, I was still willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. You were fair to me and you didn’t do anything really weird, so I tried to ignore everything that I had heard. I prayed for you and I tried not to let certain things that you did bother me.

When you raised the rent last year I knew I still wanted to stay, so I cut expenses to make it work. This year, I tried everything that I could to cut even more expenses and I would have stayed, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of giving you rent checks through April up front. You would be leaving the island with thousands of dollars of my money and I have no lease. The day Sarah left she did tell me about your legal troubles with immigration. I didn’t know if that were true, but I already knew that I needed to leave. The day that I walked into my home and you were there without my permission spooked me. The fact that I could tell that you went in other times after that upset me more. I’d told you it was ok to come in, but you had to give me notice first. You never did that. You just invaded my privacy. Even still, I said nothing. Then, when I started looking at rentals in town a realtor managing the property warned me about you, too. Frank, a complete stranger warned me about you. Other landlords that I met while looking for a place told me it was illegal for you to ask for the rent checks through April up front like that and for you to enter my home without warning. They all warned me about you. And still, I said nothing. Frank, I didn’t judge you on the words of Sarah and her husband. I judged you on your actions and the warnings of many people.

Your email to me actually wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. I thought you were going to rip me a new one. Frank, is this really how you want to be known? At first, I was scared of you. Then I was angry at you. Now? I feel sad for you. Frank, you’re in your 70’s. You’ve had a bout with ill health. If you died tomorrow where would you spend eternity? I know you don’t believe in Jesus, but he believes in you. Why else would he send so many Christians to live  on your land? We’ve all prayed for you at some point in time… me, Alan, Sarah, Mitchell… and you’ve managed to make us all go away. Alan lived here for eight years before you evicted him. You can make us all leave, but you cannot run away from Jesus or hide from the fact that he is real. You have made some choices that have gotten you a bad rep, but you shouldn’t be upset about me judging you. You should be concerned about God, the Judge who judges justly. One day you will stand before him and have to give account for everything you’ve ever done to all of the people he placed in your life. It is a scary thing to face the judgement of the Living God, Frank.

I forgive you.. IF you’re still reading this, by now you’re pissed. How dare I say all of this to you?! But from where I sit, how dare I not? It doesn’t matter if I forgive you. I’m not ever likely to see you again. It matters that Jesus forgives you and that you are not so far gone that you refuse to ask for his forgiveness. I meant what I said in my email. I am thankful that I had this place to live because I needed to heal and to get stable. Besides my obvious health problems, I have Bipolar Disorder. I struggle with deep depression and suicidal episodes. That’s why I avoid conflict like the plague. I let people walk all over me. I cry and I hide. I couldn’t figure out why God would send me to live here and then throw all that stress at me. When I moved in, I asked my friends to come for a house warming so we could pray a blessing over this place. We also prayed for you. I believe God shielded me these past three years from all the drama. I am not the scared and sick woman I was when I moved in. So, you see, I had to write that email to you because I am healed and I am stable. God used you to help accomplish that in me. So, again, I say thank you.

Please do not bother to send me another mean email. I will not read it, but I will pray for you. I will continue to pray for you. One day, your past will catch up with you, Frank. But before it does, ask God to forgive you now and let him heal what is broken in you.

Peace and grace,

Bipolar Girl

“A+” for Effort

I feel like I passed a test.

For my entire life
I have avoided conflict
like the plague.
My flight or flight reflex
dates back to childhood.
My family brought out the
passive aggressive in me…
unfortunately
the aggressive side
was buried deep.

When I got angry
I cried.
When I was depressed
I cried.
When I was afraid
I cried.

It got so bad that my mom
used to say that I would cry
if you looked at me too hard.
She also said I was stupid
for crying.

My family thought crying
was a sign of weakness
and I was the weakest link –
goodbye.

When my bipolar manifested
I avoided conflict and confrontation
like the Bubonic plague because it could trigger
an episode and once I started spiraling out,
I’d end up crashing like an airbus
without fuel. I’d end up suicidal
and the fall out could last months.

So I generally let people walk all over me
or my passive passive side would exert itself
and I’d hide from them.
I hated that because in my heart of hearts
I wanna to be a fighter.
I felt stupid when I cried
but even stupider when I hid.
Eventually, God would convince me that I had
to confront if only to insure the safety of my
mental health.
So over the years I’ve had to confront
and there have been times that I’ve done it well
and things have worked out,
but there have been enough times that it backfired
and things got worse
that I worried about it causing my mental health
to take a nose dive…

Which is why I found myself in my current
situation. My landlord has been taking blatant
advantage of me and I’ve been too chicken sh**
to do anything about it. (God knows that I curse
on occasion, so the **  was for your benefit dear
Reader, not his)

This morning he sent me a nasty email.
(My landlord, not G0d)
I have been dreading this for days.
I had an email all ready to send him a week ago,
but I discarded it because I was afraid to make him mad.

It didn’t matter that I was mad
and had good reason to be. I have learned
over the years that speaking my mind
or even speaking the truth, doesn’t always
end up in my favor.

I’d written him an email that I actually did send.
My friend thought it was actually too nice.
I even thanked him in it.
It was nowhere near the sentiment of the first few drafts
that will never see the light of day, but it did say what
I needed to say… and I didn’t apologize for it.
I set a boundary and I told him what I needed.

That he chose to come up swinging says more about
his character than it says about mine.
And this is where the test comes in.
There is a saying: The teacher doesn’t talk
during the test.
Since I am a teacher, I get this.
There comes a time when you have to
see if your student has actually learned what you
have been so painstakingly trying to teach them.

When I read his email my heart clinched.
If I were white, I’m sure all the blood would
have drained from my face.
In the past, this is where the tears
would have made an entrance.
The ground beneath me would have
started shaking
and the world as I knew
it would have startedspinning out of control.
The hysteria and the panic
would choke me
and it wouldn’t be pretty.

But it didn’t happen.
None of it.
In that instant
(I would have missed it
if I’d blinked)
I knew I need to pray for him.
I’ve been praying for him a lot lately
because my heart was hard towards him
and I knew it. But this time?
My first response wasn’t hatred.
It wasn’t even fear.
I needed prayer.
I called a friend
who was up at 7am and
just raring to pray for me.

I went on to have a really awesome day.
My students are amazing.
I’ve been telling them the story
of my housing saga.
It’s like a tela-novella to them minusthe cheesy overacting.
I even stepped out of my zone today
to go to a special luncheon at school.
In my seven years working there
I’ve never gone to any of these monthly
gatherings. They push my Bipolar Buttons.
But today of all days I went.
I smiled.
I talked.
*I passed.

It wasn’t until it was time to go home
that my body started to react.
My chest was getting tight and I
couldn’t breathe.
I prayed and then
I took another nitro tab.

Then I knew what I needed to do.
I couldn’t run from this confrontation.
I had to face it head on and I had to do it
alone. My friends couldn’t shield me.
So I grabbed a piece of paper and I wrote
out what I would say to him so I wouldn’t cry.
I’d called him earlier in the morning
after I prayed with my friend
but he didn’t pick up.
This time, I was all prayed up.
I was ready.

I couldn’t run
and if I hid
where would I go???
I was afraid to go home,
but that’s where all my stuff is.
I’m packing. It can’t run.

When he picked up
I wasn’t afraid.
I read my script
and reiterated
what I needed from
him to close this chapter
in my life and
he agreed.

Gone was the angry tone
from his email. He was actually
quite passive. Go Jesus.
Did I mention that I asked
my facebook world to pray
before I called him??

When I got off the phone
I could only think of doing one thing:
I went back into my classroom
and started singing praise songs
at the top of my voice.
The windows were shut and it was
after five, but honestly? I didn’t care
who heard me.

I had my first real confrontation
with my first real enemy
and I didn’t crumble like an
Oreo. My hands weren’t even
shaking.
It was like Bipolar Girl had
left the building
and the only person who was left
was me.
And I passed.

I. had. passed.
It might seem like a minor
thing to most people
but it was huge for me.
This race is almost
over and I have stayed
the course.

I sought God’s
will throughout
without trying to
hide my feelings from
him or from you.
Sure
I’ve cried…
and stressed…
and been anxious…
and angry,

but I’ve also prayed
worshiped and
fellowshiped with other
believers instead of
retreating into myself
or my Bipolar Bubble.
I have allowed God
and people in
and that has made
all the difference.

We passed.

Skeleton in My Closet

For the last few years I’ve been experiencing pain in my bones.
It started out small… we thought I broke a bone in my finger.
It wasn’t broken… it just hurt.
X-rays showed something, but they couldn’t tell if it was a break.
The x-rays also revealed a old fracture that I hadn’t known I had
that had healed without me knowing.
My bones are rather weak.

The pains continued to get worse
so that some days I could barely move certain joints.
I wallowed in a lot of self-pity because
I felt like it wasn’t fair.
First the bipolar
then the hysterectomy
followed by the adhesions
and then the ill affects of being
over-medicated for so long.
I kept getting hit by waves of ill health
one right after another.
The mental stuff was hard enough
to contend with
without all the physical stuff.
I wondered how much more I could endure
before I snapped and became
a full time Bipolar Girl

When was God going to cut me a break?

Some days I can barely move my fingers.
Most days I can barely turn my head.
Correction: I can move them, but it hurts.
Both my hips hurt and I’ve learned to ignore
the pain in my knees and ankles.
At its worst
I live on Advil and Tyleno.

My old doctor had no answers for me.
We ran a bunch of tests which yielded
neither answers nor relief.
PRAISE GOD for my new doctor.
She has done more to help me in the
last five months than my other doc
did in ten years.
Granted, he did diagnose
all my vitamin deficiencies
and excesses that were making
me ill.
But this new doctor?
I like her.
She gets things done.

And as we’ve worked together
to deal with all my mental and physical
health issues
it’s been like peeling the layers off
an onion.
Some of it has been unpleasant
and made me cry…
but it had to be done.

Now? All the major
issues were resolved
when they decreased my lithium.
Evidently, long term lithium use
can have a lot of really gnarly
side effects… and I,
(after 20 odd years of marinating
my mind in that stuff)
unfortunately,
got a lot of them.

So what remains?
The bone pain.
I thought it might be
arthritis since that runs
in my bio-family.
I thought I’d have to resign
myself to eventually losing the mobility
that I just rediscovered.

Turns out that may not be the case.
When I last consulted with my doctor
she’d done her homework.
Seems that long term lithium use
can cause joint pain.
I’ve got a bone density study
scheduled for next month.

What if it IS the lithium?
What if the effects can be reversed?
What if I could end up walking
and moving and living
without pain
for the first time in seven years???

Since there is no cure for arthritis,
it would be a huge blessing
if it WAS the lithium.
Imagining my body without pain
is hard to take in.
Even when I regained my ability
to walk properly
I still had pain.
Some days I had a lot of pain.

As I move from my place
a chapter in my life is well and
truly closing.
When I moved in here I had a lot
of “baggage” and a skeleton or two
in my closet.
God, the Divine Physician” that he is
got me alone so he could perform
what some would call, “soul surgery.”
The woman who moved in here
will not be the same one that moves out.

My home has been a safe place
to wrestle with God over these things
and maybe
just. maybe
during all that wrestling
he popped my joints
back into place instead of
leaving me with a limp.
As my move out day nears
my excitement is building.

I can see a big white ship on my horizon
that was just a shattered dream a few years ago.
God is going to have to resolve my
joint pain issues if I’m to go back to Mercy Ships.
They want you to be able to go up six flights of
stairs without resting.
Guess if the ship goes all Titanic you need to
be able to take the stairs fast so you don’t drown.
Doing that is just one of my goals.
Weird. I have goals now…
and dreams.
I used to be afraid to dream.
Right now I can run up stairs despite my pain
but there could come a time when God takes it all away.
I am believing him for this.

Much of my “baggage” has been unpacked
and the skeletons in my closet
have all been dragged out into the light of day.
The only skeleton that I have to contend with now
is the one that holds me together
and the pain that it feels?
Some
day
that
might
just
become
a thing of the past.

Bipolar Deja View: August 20, 2012

Every now and then I like to reread my own posts. Navel gazing with a purpose, if you will. I like to see how far God has brought me. I wrote this post just after I had to legally change my name AGAIN to the name that I’d been using legally for the past 25+ years (LONG story). It was another one of my bumpy rides that God saw me through. I needed this reminder because the current bumpy road is getting to me…so I thought I’d repost this and then breathe….

For What Comes Next…

A while back I did a series about seasons in my life that paralleled the life of my Saturn. I love my Saturn Ion even if it was listed as one of Top 10 Worst Cars Ever Made.

Ever.

They used to have an advertising slogan that I really liked: For what came next.

My life has always been about preparing for whatever came next. The trials of today were strengthening me for whatever was going to come next tomorrow. Life is about transitions: High School, college, marriage, and beyond. Unfortunately, Bipolar Girl doesn’t handle the transitions well. They always seem to be rather traumatic and jarring. And unlike my Saturn, I do not have dent resistant side panels.

Today is my 44th birthday and I am not the person I thought I’d be. I’m not the Christian I thought I’d be. And if you listen to the Lt. Governor, I don’t own the name I’d thought I’d always be. What comes next? Well, I submitted my petition for legal name change last week and I surrendered my car today to a neutral third party so I won’t be tempted to drive it illegally, and part of me wants to stick my head in the sand until this all blows over.

This loss of independence gnaws at me.
But I KNOW it’s God.

There are no Lone Rangers in the body of Christ, and yet I continually fight for the honor of being the first one. When people weird me out,  I pull in my limbs and head like a turtle on crack. God was telling me to put people first… and I did the exact opposite. I pushed them out and locked the door to the bubble. Now I do not have a choice. It is either reach out to people or stay in my house and starve. Frankly, I’ve been rather emotional and immature about all of this. It is NOT the end of the world. Life is going to be different, but I do recognize that I have a life. For that, I thank God. I never thought I’d live to 44 years old. I thought I’d kill myself before I turned 30.

Fifty billion other things WAY worse than this could be happening to me… so while I am not jumping around thanking God for this… I am thanking God through this. I’m also asking people to pray. I found the coolest scripture today that I’d like to share. It’s rather long, but if I have to go all long winded, I’d rather be long winded about something that really matters: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

I could fake like nothing is wrong or that I’m not stressed out, but what good would that do? Talking about what’s wrong and asking people to pray? I run the risk of getting a lot of unsolicited advice that just might mash my buttons even more… but then again, I just might get the prayers that I’ve been asking for that will result in deliverance from God. Somebody quoted a scripture to me last night:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

What’s gonna come next after all this is over? I’m going to get my name back, my car back, and a whole bumper crop worth of character. But more importantly… by obeying God I’m going to come to know him more. Aside from that nothing else really matters.

 

A Demon Behind Every Bush

When you’re mentally ill,
it’s hard to know what’s
you and what’s real.
When I’m depressed
the edges of my reality start
to blur and Suicide takes
advantage of that to slip in
amongst the shadows
and wreak havoc with my mind.
Then, when the episode has passed
and I am still alive, it all seems so
surreal.

Like it happened to somebody else.
And I can’t get back the time lost.
It’s gone and I wonder where it went.

As a mentally ill Christian
it’s hard to tell what’s you,
what’s real, and what’s spiritual attack.

Ah. The S-word.
Which is closely preceded
by the D-word and both of
which can severely mess
with your sanity
unless you remember
that, as an adopted child
of God, you are not alone.
You’ve got the Father,
the Son
And
the Holy Spirit
all ready to kick some
ass on your account.
(Yep. I said, “ass.”
Deal with it.)

This particular roller coaster ride
has been particularly bumpy.
This past month I’ve had more ups and
downs that I should’ve been able
to handle on my own.
By now, I should’ve been
suicidal.
But I’m not.
I generally cannot take this much
pressure before those thoughts
start crowding me in.
Eventually, I cry out to God
and he catches me
because he always has.

Because of the bipolar
I am not quick to see spiritual warfare
when it happens.
Spiritual warfare. What a loaded topic.
Unlike some Christians, I do not
see a demon behind every bush
because I have an illness that predisposes
me to dark thoughts and even darker places.

As a new believer,
people would tell me that all I had to do
was “rebuke Satan” to get rid of my depression.
I was told to “plead the blood of Jesus.”
“Take every thought captive…”
And a whole bunch of other stuff that is
straight out of the bible,
but really didn’t help.

Mental illness is not a demonic stronghold
any more than diabetes or cancer
or brain tumors.
All of which are very real and can kill you
if not treated incorrectly.

There were some things wrong with me
that could only be fixed by medication.
But to rule out the spiritual in favor
of the pharmacological is also to err.
There are many things that pills can do
but ward off Satan is not one of them.

I have been so busy trying to stay
ahead of my mental illness in all of this
that I’ve forgotten that I was warned.
The week I moved in
an exiting tenant warned
that there was something
seriously wrong here.
That was one reason I had a
housewarming/blessing ceremony
shortly after moving in.
Despite the shiny white facade,
there is darkness here and I’ve
seen other tenants touched by it,
but it’s never knocked on my door.
Why? At the blessing my friends
prayed for all kinds of good things
for me — notably a “hedge of protection.”
And I have felt totally protected here
until now.

The “cloud is leaving” and I aim to
leave with it. Not before for it. Not after it.
I’ve learned my lesson about running ahead of God
or failing to go when he goes.

All of this is real. I’m not making it up
because I’m mental. I’m being surprisingly
stable about all of this.
Yes, the roller coaster has been bumpy,
but the ride is almost over.

And as I prepare to leave I see a
section of the bigger picture that I’ve failed to see.
There is spiritual warfare going on here. I’d even
venture to guess that there’s been some
psychological warfare too.

I have never had a true enemy before,
but my landlord has willfully set himself
up as an enemy to any tenant whom he cannot control.
Last night as I prayed for him,
I realized I shouldn’t hate him (even though I want to).
I should pity him.
He’s like that scorpion in the fable that stings the fox
causing them both to drown.
He did it because that was his nature.

My landlord hurts people
because he knows no other way.
That is his nature.
Now it’s my turn to get stung.
That I find it stressful and upsetting
doesn’t make me mental or a bad Christian.
It makes me human…

a human who’s  also under attack.

I can now see elements of spiritual warfare here
outside of my mental health issues. The kind of stuff
that pills can’t help. I could throw pills at Satan…
all day…
but I don’t think that would help much.

I also realized something else:  I’m mad
and it’s ok to be mad.

Satan has been ripping me off and…
I want what has been taken from me.
I watched a video on YouTube today that perfectly
sums up how I want to end this post. It’s a mite
long and heavy on the cheese
but it speaks into this present darkness and shines
a whole ‘lotta light…

A Very Merry UnBirthday

My birthday started out around 4am.
I woke up stressed.

By 5:30 I couldn’t lay around in bed any more so I got up to bake… and take out the trash… and clean the toilet. I went in to work today on a Saturday which also happened to be my birthday… at 7am. I know. When I’m stressed I can go one of two ways: I can either be too depressed to even get out of bed OR I can have so much nervous energy I can’t sit still. My mind races and I just have to be doing. Even thought I don’t have a definite place to live yet, I’m preparing to move by faith. So today was packing and cleaning day. I hired two students from school to come help me because I thought it would help with the stress.  I was too embarrassed to ask my friends to help me. I would feel more in control and less of a loser if I just paid somebody to help me.

Let’s just say things did not go as I’d planned. I’m not going to go into detail because a year from now when I run across this post, I don’t want to remember the details. One of my student helpers screwed up. Royally.  Sadly, I didn’t handle it well. Let’s just say that my anger was out in front leading the charge. By the time my day was done I was angry, my back hurt, and my hands were purple (long story). When I dropped the last student off at school I was all set to drive home and have a Pity Party of One.

As far as birthdays go, this was probably one of the worst.

But when I got home I went on Facebook and saw all the well wishes from my friends. Friends from church. Friends from my old Christian school. Sorority sisters. My friend Greg (who I’ve known for 30 years) and his mom who has always loved me. I might not be the most functional crayon in the box, but for some reason people like me. People love me. I have been stressed out and angry most of today and I really wanted to cry. But rather than let me wallow in it and feel bad, God gave me a bigger picture to cry about. I hate getting all sentimental and all, but when so many people reach out to tell you that you’re loved, how can you not cry? That kind of stuff will soften even the hardest of hearts. When one of my friends stopped by with hot fudge sundaes for me and my last helper, my heart melted in a few key places. She remembered my birthday outside of facebook.

Which makes me think of my first real birthday. I might have been born 48 years ago today, but I didn’t start living until January 1, 1994 when I was adopted into the family of Christ. My birth family and I had long since parted ways. I have 15 siblings and not one of them speaks to me. Today was just another day to them. I doubt any of them even remembered that today was my birthday. My family has always been a sore spot for me. Especially on holidays and birthdays. Especially since I work at a place where family is central to the culture. My students cannot understand why I have no contact with my “family.”

Just this past week I decided to stop telling my students that I come from a family of 15… because all that is to me is a number. This past week I started telling people that I’m adopted because the Bible says that I am. On January 1, 1994 I was adopted into God’s family because He loves me. And while that means I automatically have a gazillion “brothers” and “sisters” all over the world (which freaks me out on so many levels), I look at the people that God has actually brought into my life to get perspective. The friends who are really family. They are the family that my birth family could never be. Don’t get me wrong. My bio-family is not bad, evil or wrong. I don’t hate them. I don’t get them… but I stopped hating them. And on most days I don’t even miss them, but I do miss having a family.

And on days like today, when it would be easy to bemoan the fact that they don’t love me… I was showered with love from people who really do care. My Maui Mom called, texted, and left a lovely message. All four of my adopted sisters contacted me and a whole slew of friends left kind FB messages. My back hurts; my half packed home is in disarray; I don’t have a confirmed place to live yet; my landlord was in my place again; and my hands are going to be purple for a long time, but I feel loved. Instead of crying I had a time of worship and I busted out with some jams for Jesus.

There is no  point in grieving the death of my family anymore. That relationship is long since dead, but I am very much alive. And since I’ve decided to celebrate my adopted family, it makes total sense for me to celebrate my adoption date. Since I can’t legally change the day I was born, I will acknowledge it every year, but I’m going to celebrate January 1 as my birthday. Not only was it the day that I was born anew, but it was the day I became a part of the larger family of Christ. So, to the people who have adopted me and call me “sister” and “daughter”… thank you for loving me. I love you. And I am now able to love you all because He love me first.

FOR “the good”

 

It’s been a few days since I last posted. A lot has been going on. Went to see a place on Monday, but it was clear that I could not take it. Oh, I would have taken it sight unseen… and once I actually did see it, I was ready to beg him to rent to me. That was until  I had to do the equivalent of threading a needle backwards as I tried to back my car out of the narrow driveway. Seriously. The only part of my driver’s test I never passed was backing up. I don’t back up well. To date I’ve hit a car, a pole, a rock wall… all in my sad attempts to back out of parking spots. I asked God to give me wisdom as I looked for a new home. I’d have to be an absolute idiot to let desperation drive my choose that place. It was hard to email the landlord and tell him to take my name out of the running… but it had to be done and I did it by faith. The minute that I accepted that I couldn’t take it, I got an email about another place.

A room for rent??? Why God?? WHY??

 

Roommates never seem to get me. It’s a well established fact that Bipolar Girl doesn’t play well with others. I have had countless shared group living situations and they’ve almost never ended well for me. On page 2 of Care and Feeding of Bipolar Girls it clearly states that we need lots of personal space and quiet. Guess I’m the only one that ever read that book. When I live with people, bad things happen. Everybody else walks away all happy happy joy joy… but I limp away with battle scars. So, I wasn’t even seriously looking for shared situations. But housing on Maui is hard to come by if you’re single, don’t party, and are 420 unfriendly. I had to resist the urge to hate my landlord for forcing me into this situation. I also had to seek God’s face on this. I might want to continue to live alone, but was that his plan for me?

With all of this drama in my home life, I started to look at what had been unfolding around me the last few weeks. Most of it was not good. Ok. None of it was, but scripture doesn’t say that God only uses the good things for our good. It doesn’t even actually say that all things are good. It says (and I quote):  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

I would be lying if I said that the major events of the last month have been good. My student dying? My friends getting evicted? Finding out I have less than 30 days to move? Not having a place to move to? Scripture also never said to fake like everything that happens to us was “pure joy.” James tells us to “consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds.” I would have to be delusional of the 420 variety to think that any of those events were actually good, but that’s where I needed an attitude shift. Considering them “pure joy” isn’t the same as the events actually being joyous. The first option involves perception and perception can control my reactions.

This hasn’t happened a lot lately, but I have been able to look beyond my current circumstances to some of the positive outcomes. When I did that I could actually see evidence of God using some really crappy circumstances to work together for my good. My student’s death? It forever settled any questions that I still might have about eternity. Beyond the normal grief, I haven’t felt hopeless about her death because I have the assurance that she is with the Lord. My friends getting evicted? I had been praying for God’s “highest and best” for them. This situation on this property with our landlord is going to implode. Evidently, God deemed it best to get them out before it did. As far as I know, they are now happy on the mainland.

And as for me?? I hate that I have 13 more days to find a place and move all my stuff but have nowhere to go. The good? Because of my landlord, I  had to ask for a raise at work. It took forever for them to get back to me and I lost my place, but they granted it on Thursday. I am going to be getting a raise. And in trying to budget and cut my expenses, I traded in my old car which never felt safe to me, and I got a car that I LOVE for significantly less money. And because I’ve been doing all this budgeting, I got a surprise when I checked my bank account the other day: I have WAY more money in it than I would normally have at this time of the month. And because I tend to pace when I’m stressed, I’ve managed to lose some weight in notable places!

If all of this isn’t God working all things together for my good, I don’t know what is. And lastly, God started helping me to accept that I can’t afford to live alone anymore. It’s not even what he wants for me. I used to be a part of an international interdenominational medical ministry. I got to live and sail on a big white ship and write about what God was doing. I saw me traveling the world and writing books. It was adventurous and required a lot of faith. I knew God sent me there, so I was devastated when my mental health started to unravel and I had to leave. My faith took a direct hit. I couldn’t figure out why God would give me a dream and then dash it on the rocks. Living in such tight confines with so many people pushed every button I had. Plus I had no idea I had Bipolar. I was just a young Christian who had a dream, but didn’t have enough faith to hold on to it. It took me years to get over the death of that dream. That’s one reason why I could never quite accept teaching. I can teach, but what I wanted to do was write. I resented teaching because it wasn’t my dream.

The other day I happened to see the FB page of that ministry. Understandable given the fact that I like their page. There was a call for volunteers. On a whim I went to their website and for position, I typed “Writer” instead of
“Teacher.” I’d been asked before to come back as a teacher, but that idea was repugnant to me. I nearly choked on a furball when my search turned up one open position for Writer. I read the description and started crying. THERE. There was the thing that had been calling out to me from the corner of my soul. I couldn’t go back before because I needed to get a handle on my mental health issues. THEN I had the hysterectomy and I had to get a handle on being disabled. And finally, I had to accept that my heart wasn’t right and God couldn’t use me until it was. I left the organization in 1997 ill, broken, and bitter. It has been a long road to healing, but the dream… my dream is, once again, in my sights.

One big concern that I’ve had is that I could end up in a cabin with four other women. Bipolar Girl would have to learn how to play well with others fast. Realistically, I can’t go from living by myself for six years to living with a bunch of women. I need to start out small: one roommate. NOW I can see the wisdom of why I need a roommate. At first, it looked like punishment. Now it looks like preparation.

I go to check out a room for rent at 3:30. A year ago.. heck, who am I kidding? A month ago the idea of living with somebody would have robbed me of all of my calm. Now? I accept that it’s the next logical step. Plus, I’m not mentally unstable. I might have a mental illness, but I am functioning really well. So… now that I can see some of the ways that God has been working a bunch of really crappy things together for my good, I just have to be patient. The last part of that verse? It talks about people who are “called according to HIS purpose.” I don’t know for sure yet if his purpose is for me to return to the mission field, but if it is, I want to be ready to answer the call when it comes. Having a roommate is going to help me get one step closer to that.

Psalm 151

Let everything that has breath
praise the Lord.


I have breath.
Lots of it:

I praise the Lord
because despite my housing woes
I’ve never been
homeless. It’s been touch
and go a few times,
when I was at my most
mentally unstable,
but there was always
a friend with a room
or a couch.
Hell, one year I slept
in a sleeping bag
on the floor on top of
garbage bags
on wet carpet in a
room where the ceiling leaked.
But I was thankful.
Damp and stiff, but thankful.
Praise the Lord for friends…
and garbage bags.

Let everything that has breath
praise the Lord.

I praise the Lord for family
though mine has abandoned
and disowned me.
Growing up they bullied me
and one molested me.
My mother said I was
stupid and would never
amount to anything.
I was weak and they pointed
that out at every. chance. they got.
Sure, some of them might have
loved me, but it was a very
dysfunctional love. They are not
bad people. Merely broken.
They taught me how to fear and distrust…
but God taught me how to forgive them.
I survived my family
and for this I am thankful.

Let everything that has breath
praise the Lord.

I have breath. Lots more of it:

I thank the Lord for friends
who are like family.
Friends that are the family
that my family could never be.
God put those friends in my life
and for this and to him I am thankful.
Four friends recently emailed/texted/called me
to love me and help me through this trial.
I can love them
because he loved me first.

Let everything that has breath
praise the Lord.

I thank the Lord that I can walk.
Yes, I have weird pains, but two years ago,
I thought I would never walk properly.
And now I can. Despite the pain.
I can walk really fast.
And for this I praise the Lord.

Let everything that has breath
praise the Lord.

I praise the Lord for my job.
Bipolar Girl has had a lot of jobs.
Working while mental isn’t easy.
Yes, I’ve had periods where I was too
unstable to work, but God always provided
for me and now I have a job that I love.

And while I don’t really want to,
I praise the Lord for my landlord.
This situation is causing my weakness to show,
but when I am weak; HE is strong.
God is showing me that my faith is stronger
than I thought it was and for this I thank him.

For years I knew my faith was in trouble.
I was drifting. My heart was hard. I was closed off
and I was afraid that I would be lost to God forever.
Then he sent a John the Baptist to my house.
Actually, it was a friend named, Christy.
She told me to prepare a way for the Lord.
She assured me that the Lord knew all my
secret shames and loved me still. She assured me
that he would make a way for me, but first I had
to make a way for him. My home was in the way.
God never meant that man should be alone.
Isolated like I’ve been these past six years
it’s easy to believe that I have no real place
in the body of Christ. I am weak and dysfunctional.
I am stupid and I will never amount to anything.
The world wouldn’t miss me if I were gone
and — you get the point.

God knew that it was time for me to leave
so you could say that my landlord is an
“instrument of God’s will” meant to move me forward.
I’ve been thinking that he’s a tool, so I guess I was right.
Same thing. Different connotation.
I wouldn’t be moving were it not for him.

God is moving me forward
to what…?
I don’t know. But I know the God that
I follow… that I have been following all these
years. My eyes are wide open about him.
I accept the good from him as well as the bad.
Today my head is clear. Despite yesterday’s weird 3:30
wake up call. I am able to see and praise the Lord.
All of this… everything… will pass… and I will be ok.

Let everything that has breath
praise the Lord.

 

do you see what I see?

 

Waking up at 3:30 on a Saturday was not on my personal agenda.
Pain woke me.  But I can’t really find the words to adequately describe
what I was feeling. I have never felt a pain like that in my life.

Ever.

You know the pain you get when you get a charlie horse in the night?
It was like that only worse. And it was in the front of my feet, so that it
hurt to flex them. I tried to walk it off (as if it were a charlie horse)
but that only made it feel worse. It felt like blood was jammed. I might not be able to describe how it felt, but I can describe exactly what I thought: bilateral amputation.

Rational or not, it’s what I thought. So there I was pacing
in my living room in the dark. I was having trouble standing
and walking. I started reciting The Lord’s Prayer. I knew I needed
to forgive my landlord for all of his trespasses literally. He was
in my place again yesterday and my heart was hard. As stupid
as it might sound to you, I think the pain in my foot was a “heart issue”
But not the kind you might think: giving in to hating my landlord
would be so easy. He’s giving me so much material to work with.
My heart has gotten hard towards him. I don’t want to turn the
other cheek because he’ll just find another way to punch me in it.
Then I realized that I’d tried to fix the problem with my foot myself
before calling out to the only person who could, so I stopped. I’d talked
at God, but I hadn’t talked to him. So I stood still and just said, “Help.”

As clear as if he’d spoken it to me, I knew I had to take a nitroglycerine tablet.
Which didn’t seem rational since I wasn’t feeling chest pains. I didn’t think
I was having a heart attack, but it felt like my blood was not circulating
out of my feet properly and somehow those teeny tiny pills help with blood flow.
It also seems like I’ve been popping those things like Tic Tacs this week. When they first gave them too me I was afraid to take them. If I took them I thought it meant I was admitting to having a heart attack. If I took it and I was wrong, I was afraid it
would give me a heart attack. Rational or not, it’s what I thought.

People don’t seem to get how fast Bipolar Girl’s mind can go from zero to irrational.
By definition, “mental illness” means I’m not always going to be rational.
No, it didn’t seem “rational” to take a high blood pressure pill for a pain in my foot, but
I took it anyway. You have to put it under your tongue and then wait, so I waited.
I sat on my bed and took it and I kept praying. I told God that I cannot deal
with a health crisis now. And then I thought back to all my other health crisis-es.
They were of my own making. Things would start out small, but I’d be too afraid
to seek help. Weeks would go by. Months would go by. Sometimes even years.
And I would suffer in silence as if suffering in silence had any virtue.

That hysterectomy I had in 2010 could have been avoided. I knew in 2004 that I had
fibroids. I should have monitored them over the years, but I was afraid. I felt the pain.
What if I had cancer? What if the pain was life threatening? By the time I finally
did seek help, I had a 10 lb fibroid the size of a football. That, like so many
of my other problems, was of my own making. Too afraid to confront. Too afraid of
“what if?” I am Fear’s bitch. I asked God to forgive me. I asked God a lot of stuff and as I lay on my bed
the pressure that had built up in my foot began to lessen. Words, these words, began
to crowd my mind. I didn’t want to walk, I wanted to write. Rational or not, what I felt
this morning was what I felt. And since I know that I’m not the only person in the world
experiencing trials, I know that somewhere... out there… somebody else was feeling and thinking
what I was feeling and thinking.

My foot and my leg still feel weird, but the pain is gone and so is the terror. I am not going to lose my foot. Amputations might be a thing in my family, but it’s not going to be my thing. I’m going to make a phone appointment to talk to my doctor. Now that I’m calm, I  see that all of this could have been a salt thing. I put a lot of salt on my food last night. A LOT of salt. Sad, but salt is my comfort food. Because of the high blood pressure, I’ve scaled back greatly, but he’d been in my place again and I was angry. I felt violated.  I was upset, so I turned to salt
and I was liberal with it. So in a round about way… the foot thing could have been a high blood pressure thing which actually did need to be treated with the nitro. That’s why I have it. If I hadn’t called out to God, I wouldn’t have thought to take it. It didn’t seem “rational.”

Now? I’m exhausted. I’m going to edit this and then go back to sleep. I’m not anxious. I’m not angry. I’m not particularly afraid. I have absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to be doing today. I’ve pursued two leads for housing, but have to wait until Monday to check out either of them. Of all the emails I’ve sent for places I’ve seen on craigslist I’ve heard nothing viable except for these two. So it’s a waiting game and patience is not one of my virtues. This morning’s roller coaster right was of a short duration. I know I would have looked crazy to anybody hobbling around in the dark praying. Rational or not, it’s what happened. Roughly two hours of crazy, now I feel normal. Tired, but normal. I wonder how long the ride would’ve lasted if I’d cried out to  God first?

I also wonder how somebody else might have perceived the events. I even thought about texting my alcoholic landlord to see if he’d take me to the emergency room, but I squashed that thought. I have no intention of asking for  his help and I have no intention of ever going back to the ER again unless I actually think I’m dying and in
which case it would be too late for them to help me.

Now, I’m just rambling. I doubt most people would see the last two hours the way I saw them. Most people cannot see what I see. I’m not sure I see the hours between 3:30 and 5:30 the way that I saw them. I’m just glad
that God saw me and answered me when I called. I see God in what happened this morning.  Do you see what I saw?

All Aboard

In this instant
I have reached a place
that is beyond feeling.
It’s not a place I’ve ever
been before…
because Bipolar Girl
feels deeply.
She feels darkly.
And when her feelings
get too deep and too dark
they turn deadly.

 

But I’m not in that place.

I’m not suicidal.
I’m “hard pressed on every side,
but not crushed;
perplexed,
but not in despair;
persecuted,
but not abandoned;
struck down,
but not destroyed.

And yet, I honestly
don’t know
what I feel.
My head hurts
but that’s different.
With all the anxiety
and uncertainty
my body has been
rebelling.
I hurt.
I’ve needed to take
my nitroglycerine
to cope with the hurt.
It gives me headaches.
So I know I feel my head
but that’s a different kind of “feeling.”
And on top of all the home
stress and the chest stress,
my left leg and my feet
have been bothering me again.
Since both my mother and my sister
had their legs amputated before they died,
(mom had both of them)
I’m terrified of bilateral amputation.
It seems to “run” in my family.
And the more I stress out about
home and heart and limbs

the harder my heart
seems to beat
as if it’s trying to burst
out of the confines of my chest.
Death by heart break?
That’s lamely melodramatic
even
for me.

Switching doctors when I did has
only made me less likely to seek help
now that I’m under so much stress.
When I’m stressed I draw
inward. I circle the wagons.
I do not ask for help easily,
so it’s my own fault
that when I fall down
there’s nobody to help me up.
My friends love me
but they can’t fix this.

And yet,
there is Someone.
I know
without a shadow
of a doubt
that GOD
is in this with me.
He ordained this.
Nothing that is happening
to me right now surprises
him even though it’s surprising
the crap outta’ me.

I see God’s hand working
even in the midst of my
storm.
If you’d read scripture,
you’d see that Jesus
does some of his finest
work in the midst of storms.

(INTERMISSION)

Ok. I just got off the phone.
It rang mid-post.
My sister by faith
called me to pray.
I have seven
sisters by blood
and not one of them
has ever loved me
or been there for me
like she has.
We prayed and I
felt so much better.

I also got a call from a
potential landlord.
He knows my boss.
We talked on the phone
for quite a while and he
feels my pain.
He was even going to call my boss tonight
and I will get to see the place on Monday.
At this point,
I don’t even care what it looks like.
It could be a hole in the ground
and I’d take it.
I can live anywhere for a year.

And, get this, another potential emailed
me and warned me about my
current landlord. He’s a realtor
so he did a search of the name and came up
with some dirt on my landlord.
He told me not
to trust the guy.
Little did he know that
that ship had already sailed.

My panic
my anger
my fear
my lack of sleep
my leg…

None of this
is an indicator
of my lack of faith
in the Lord.
It merely proves what I’ve
always maintained:

I don’t like roller coasters –
real or metaphorical.

When I talked to my sister
I told her that trusting in God
would not get me off the roller coaster.
Paul, the apostle, would attest to that.
He was the one who originally penned that he
was “pressed down, perplexed, and persecuted.”
He felt my pain before I ever did.
Perhaps I’m feeling a teeny tiny fraction of his pain.

If you know anything at all  about Paul,
you know that he was afflicted.
Some people insist that he had a
hunchback.
I disagree.
If you really look at what he writes
you will see telltale hints that
Paul just might have had his own
Bipolar Boy cape.
When he was up
he was really up…
but he had his downs.
He never tried to hide that either
and yet some people will insist
that he was always joyful.
He wasn’t.
But he was faithful no matter what
he went through
and so am I.
Even Jesus admitted
to being “overwhelmed to the point of death.”

Stress is real.
It’s human.
We feel it.
God knows it.
We don’t have to hide it.
We need to confess it.

Paul was, like I am,  on
a roller coaster
of God’s design.
And Paul knew, like I do, that that
we weren’t alone.
If God designed the ride
he would see us through it.
And not only that…
Sure, I might be on a roller coaster,
and I might hate what it makes me feel…
but Jesus is in the seat right next to me
and he can shoulder all of my feelings.
Even the ones I can’t understand.

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