The Adventures of Bipolar Girl

Comfort for the Neurotic in All of Us

Bipolar Girl vs The Active Shooter: Part I

This morning, I was sitting in my usual seat in the Rec Hall (front row, by the door) waiting for the meeting to start. When I saw this big black guy with a large rifle yelling at one of our Security guys and walking towards the Rec, I panicked. I didn’t immediately register what was happening until I heard the first shot. For an instant, I froze. Then, I heard the second shot.

“Shit!”

The word just sort of slipped out…

…just as everybody in the Rec Hall, all the students and all the staff, seemed to jump up in a singular motion and run in a giant stampede for the rear exit door. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing – a really big guy with a gun was advancing towards the room where I was sitting. Fear like I have never known before took hold of me and I ran.

The crowd by the rear door was so thick, getting out of it wasn’t going to be doable. I followed some of the other students and staff running for the exit door through the workout room. Once I was out that door, I turned left only to find that there was a railing and I couldn’t get out that way. I could still hear shooting and yelling. My adrenaline was pumping, but I wasn’t paralyzed. I was being confronted with two of my worst fears – violent death and an active shooter, and all I could think of was to hide. Survival mode kicked in and I was ready.

I found this hollow in a really large tree in the center of our courtyard and I wedged my body in there and prayed that the shooter would keep going past me. Other people decided to come and hide behind my tree. I am ashamed to say that I told them to go find their own tree. There went my hope that (in a crisis) my backbone might actually assert itself and displace the rather large yellow streak running down my back.

I didn’t have time to fret about those other people for long. The gunman was quickly advancing into the courtyard and was firing at anybody that moved. Everybody was running all over the place. I saw that he was still far away from where I was and was looking the other way… so I ran to the fire exit stairs leading to the second floor. I kept below the railing as I made my way down the hallway. I looked into the doorway to see if it was clear. Punching in the code to my classroom, I turned off the lights and the fan in one motion as I crossed the room and hid under my desk.

Door locked.

Eyes closed.
I was breathing hard.
I wanted to cry, but instead I prayed.
I started to recite my scripture:

Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. And perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…

And there I sat until they gave the ALL CLEAR.

We had our first ever Active Shooter Drill today at school complete with police officers and the emergency response team (think S.W.A.T). They had rifles and assault weapons and they were firing of A LOT OF BLANKS. Of course, I could have told you that at the very beginning of my post… but I wanted you to feel a tiny bit of what I felt today.

There was a short briefing before they began the drill where they explained everything… they even showed us a video filmed at another school so we would know what it would be like. So I KNEW that it wasn’t real… and still… when that big guy came storming towards me with a weapon raised… it felt real. The fear was real. And that fear… is the kind of fear that will keep you alive.

I actually handled the drill better than I thought I would.

My dad tried to kill me when I was a child. I had to run for my life. My sister’s boyfriend held us at gunpoint when I was a kid. Cops and a police helicopter were called in to save us. To this day, I do not remember the specifics of either event. If other people were not there to corroborate my story… I wouldn’t even believe me. But those things happened to me… as a child. I had to run for my life in fear and I have been running and afraid ever since.

Given the fact that I’m pretty much afraid of EVERYTHING… it shouldn’t surprise anybody that two of the BIG ONES on my List of Fears are: 1). Imminent violent death and 2). Active Shooters. Evidently, God was asking me to confront both of those fears today. PRAISE GOD it was only a drill!

I started crying during the informational video. Columbine started flashing in my head. My own past started knocking on the edges of my subconscious. I needed to cry in that instant because I needed to release some of the stress I was feeling… so I let myself cry. Not a big old noticeable meltdown. I think only the person sitting closest to me actually realized that I wasn’t ok… so I kept taking deep breaths… in through the nose… and making myself relax. I forced myself to stay in the moment. Eventually, I calmed down and felt ready. Then the officers told us to wait in the Rec Hall while they finalized some things. I thought they’d come back and tell us what to do next.

They thought to use the element of surprise.

So even though I KNEW that it was going to happen… I was totally unprepared for the reality of it when it did. Or so I thought. I did NOT have a meltdown. I kept a cool head despite my fear. I evaluated and assessed the situation and made a plan that kept me safe. And that was how the rest of the morning went. They did two more scenarios and with each one, my fear receded…

I would LOVE to say that I was that teacher who threw herself in front of a student to take a bullet for them or that I managed to lead a bunch of other students to safety. But I’d be lying. In my fear, I only thought about my own safety. The first scenario seemed so real. Even though I KNEW the truth, my brain convinced me that I was in danger. My survival instinct kicked in and I ran and I hid.

It was only later when I was at home that I realized how selfish I’d been. I hadn’t even thought about anybody other than myself. As I talked to God about today I started to cry. I was so ashamed. Now, it would be REALLY easy to start harshing on myself about right now… but today’s lesson wasn’t on heroism. It was on facing two of my biggest fears. Three…if you count the stairs.

During the second scenario, I did hide in plain sight with student. I kept her quiet and made her stop trying to see what was going on. And in the third scenario, I kept an entire classroom full of students quiet, calm, and in place until the ALL CLEAR was given. They wanted to leave when the shooting stopped, but we were briefed that during an actual Active Shooter event, people have to sometimes stay in place for hours as police and special response teams work to secure the scene and take out the threat. I might not have been a hero today… but I didn’t die and neither did the kids entrusted to my care.

I also wasn’t that woman in the video that was so paralyzed by fear that she squeezed herself into a corner, too afraid to move, and just wilted in tears. People had to drag her out of the building. I am happy to say that I was not THAT woman today.

During our drill, God reinforced another lesson that he taught me this week. Earlier this week, God had me confront Fear #5 on my list (catastrophic illness)… and I learned that ignorance is NOT bliss. It’s ignorant. Fear breathes and breeds where there is ignorance. Today and earlier this week, God spoke to me about the importance of being prepared by getting the knowledge, information, or training necessary to dispel the fear. Being prepared doesn’t show a lack of faith. It shows wisdom.

Having an escape plan helped dispel my fear. Knowing my enemy also helped dispel my fear. I even had a chance to sit the drill out, but chose not to. I KNEW God was calling me to actively confront this fear and break the stranglehold that it’s had on my entire life. I learned a lot of other stuff today… but I’m still processing. It’s not every day you have people shooting at you.

I am glad we did this today, though. By the third scenario, I was not afraid. I was able to take control of my classroom and keep my students safe. I was the one to run and secure both doors. PRAISE GOD I CAN FINALLY RUN!!!

Today’s drill was eye opening. I know what I need to do for when we have the drill next year. I cannot say that I felt God’s presence with me today… but I knew that he was and I felt safe in him. God forbid this EVER happen in real life… but after today, I am more prepared and less afraid. Actually… I’m still afraid… but not the paralyzing kind. I have that healthy fear… the kind that keeps you and the people you love alive.

So… I pose this question to you: Are you ready? Would you know what to do if there was an active shooter in your workplace or in the theater where you’re having date night??? OR at the mall… or wherever else you go where groups of people assemble??? Would you be the person who, paralyzed by fear, stands there having a meltdown… or would you be able to act? Would you run? Would you hide??

Of course, this all makes me go all end-timey in my thinking. I just read Revelation and I’ve been thinking about what it means to be prepared for the end times.  If Jesus were to come back tomorrow… are you ready? Do you know him??? Do you even want to??? If you don’t know him… why not?? In a way, this is just like what I learned today with the Active Shooter Drill… it’s better to get the facts and be prepared than to be ignorant and suffer for it.

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I Will Fear NO Evil: I BELIEVE I CAN FLY!!!

For my birthday we had an, “I Believe I Can Fly” party at Maui Zipline. It hasn’t been a lifelong dream of mine… but as God prompted me to confront certain fears, it became a dream… and then it became a reality. As I tried to think of what to blog, I decided to include the draft of the thank you letter that I sent to my wonderful Maui Zipline Guides: Cole, Emily, and Enrique. They were THE BEST! I highly recommend Maui Zipline. Ask for these guys!!

 

Dear Cole, Emily, and Enrique,

I wanted to say, “THANK YOU” for being a part of my birthday celebration. I know I said it when we were there… but I needed you guys to at least know a little bit about my backstory, so that you would understand just how HUGE last Sunday was for me.

My actual birthday is August 20th. We were supposed to go on that date, but Brett couldn’t make it and it was important to me that all three of those guys be present because they have helped me overcome a lot of my fears. Cole, I told you that I was afraid of heights before we started. That is an understatement. I have Bipolar Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. Because of these mental illnesses/spectrum disorders, I have spent much of my life afraid of just about everything. That has meant I have lived a very small, isolated life inside my “Bipolar Bubble.”

Even after I met Jesus in 1994, my life still was plagued by depression, rage, bitterness, and suicidal ideation. I couldn’t figure out why God wouldn’t just fix me and be done with it. I went to college at UC Berkeley and it was there that my Bipolar manifested. I had had SO much promise in high school. I was full of so much pride about all my plans. I was so conceited back then because I thought I was smarter than and better than everybody else. I got totally blindsided by my mental illness. My depression was so bad that I used to go to the top of the dorm (it was 8 floors)… I was an RA, so I had the keys… and I would dare myself to jump. I was in so much emotional pain that I just wanted it to end.

Fear stopped me from jumping. I would look over the edge and imagine that I wouldn’t just hit the ground and end it all. With MY luck, I would hit that big tree… and then that car… and I’d end up paralyzed from the neck down. I would spend the entire rest of my life trapped in my own body, worse off than I was before. Fear stopped me from ending my life… so it has served a purpose.

Following Jesus has not been the cake walk I was led to believe. All my fears and problems did NOT just go away when I met Jesus. I told Jesus the day that I met him that if he could love me knowing all the horrible things that I’d done… that I would follow him anywhere. Following him, for me, meant becoming a missionary on a medical ship bound for Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu even though I get seasick, can’t swim, and am afraid of water. We did a lot of things on that outreach that scared the crap out of me… but I trusted the Lord and he walked me through those fears.

Over the years, a lot of sh** has hit the fan in my life and I got bitter and resentful. I retreated into the protective walls of the Bipolar Bubble and pretty much told the world to go f** itself. I was mad at God and my trust levels had dropped significantly. I ended up physically disabled for five years because of a necessary surgery. My worst fear had come true: I was trapped in my own body and I was worse off than I was before. I could barely walk. I was in physical pain every minute of every day. There were so many different physical things going wrong with me, I didn’t think I could take much more. I was afraid the suicidal thoughts would start to overtake me. This was last year.

Instead, I told God that if he didn’t do SOMETHING all would be lost for me. That was just what he had been waiting for…. I needed to stop trying to do things MY way according to MY plan. That was at the beginning of last year. SINCE then, God has been doing amazing things in my life. Now I’ve been a Christian since 1994… but all that time I was bound up by fear and pain. God started showing me that I needed to confront my fear because fear was controlling me.

For the past few months, I would come to Maui Tropical Plantation and sit on that little island in the pond. I would watch the people zip by on the zipline and be excited by it. I’m not sure exactly WHEN I decided that I wanted to go ziplining… but I know that God had been prompting me for months to start trusting him again. It has been a long journey, but the walls of my Bipolar Bubble are receding. My life is beginning to be an explosion of colors, sounds, and new experiences.

Last week was my, “I Believe I Can Fly” party because I am no longer a slave to fear. God chose to have the three of you be a part of that. I do not know what you believe, so I hope this hasn’t offended you, but I believe that Jesus put just the right guides up there for me that day. I felt TOTALLY safe with you guys because I was… but you all went out of your way to make me feel special. After that first false start, I wasn’t afraid. I had told my friends to be praying because I didn’t want to just grit my teeth and scrunch my eyes up in order to get through it. I wanted to enjoy it! I had been rehearsing it at home and in my mind: I would put my arms out in Peter Pan fashion and yell, “I Believe I Can FLY” as I zipped over the pond. I had it all planned.

That day, I was able to walk up four flights of stairs – a year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that because I was afraid of heights, but I physically couldn’t have done it. I’m afraid of SWINGS and yet I was able to get into that harness and trust you guys and God enough to sit down and fly. No, I didn’t end up putting BOTH arms out as I went over the pond. I couldn’t quite nerve myself up to do that… but when I zipped over the pond, I put one arm out, in true super-hero fashion and yelled, “I CAN FLYYYY!” It was no longer a matter of believing that I could fly. I was flying and God had used you guys to help make that happen. “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint”

It may seem like what you do is all fun and games… but for me (and probably many other people)… it is SO much more. Thank you for having the courage to do what you do and the sensitivity, humour, and grace to do it well. Thank you for being part of my adventure!!!

Peace,

Bipolar Girl

 

Bipolar Girl: Fear By Any OTHER Name (Part III)

I started this post BEFORE I had my “I Believe I Can Fly” party at Maui Zipline. The post abut THAT experience is in the works, but I still feel like I need to post this one because my fears did not all magically disappear because I put on a little helmet and zipped down some wires. That was a GREAT experience and I am glad that I did it… but now comes the challenging work of walking in faith with God… of believing that he HAS set me free from fear even if it rears its ugly head.

I am no longer a SLAVE to fear because I’m choosing to submit my life to a different Master. Once, I told Jesus that if he could love me knowing all the horrible stuff that I’ve done… I would follow him anywhere.

Who knew that he would call me to slap on a little helmet and zip down some wires with him??? In the next months and years I expect him to call me to confront a lot of the things on this list, so that I will truly be free to follow him anywhere. I worry about these things on a daily basis. Is there any wonder that I’ve battled anxiety and depression?? Pray that Fear would lose its hold on me:

Comprehensive List of My DAILY Fears:

Violent death
imminent death
fiery car crashes
murder/torture
kidnapped/raped
white supremacists
freak accidents
serial killers
spree shooters
violent death of loved ones
decapitation (fans & big rig trucks)
bank robbers/ATM robbery
terrorists
explosions
drowning
hurricane
tsunamis
elevators
airports
*intentionally left blank

Crashing
driving (tailgaters)
driving (in the rain)
driving (at night)
being a passenger
airplane travel
helicopters
motorcycles
decapitation (big rigs)
T-Bones
rollovers
fiery crash (my fault)
*intentionally left blank

 Catastrophic Health Problems
losing a limb(injury)
amputation (specifically my feet)
paralysis
total blindness
drowning
necrotizing fasciitis (look it up)
cancer/terminal illness
diabetes
heart attack
dementia/Alzheimer’s
brain tumor
unable to walk properly again
bone/joint injury
playing sports (freak accidents)
allergic reactions
unexplained illness
*intentionally left blank

Nature
cane spiders
centipedes
termites
cockroaches
flying cockroaches
praying mantis
crickets/grasshoppers
Ladybugs
butterflies
moths
beetles
dragon flies
bees
bumble bees
killer bees
wasps
ant swarms
red fire ants
bunnies/rabbits
goats/sheep
horses (falling)
unknown dogs
frogs/toads
hamsters
rats/bats
birds
guinea pigs
chickens/roosters
animals in general
bears (mauling)
critters (all others)
being crawled on
sharks (attacked/swimming)
fish (snorkeling)
snakes/scorpions
geckos/lizards
germs
hiking (violent death)
swimming (violent death)
surfing (violent death)
getting lost/ hurt
the dark/being outside
crowds
*intentionally left blank


Falling (heights)
biking
stairs/escalators
ladders
swings
roller skates
in-line skates
ice skating
skateboards
rock wall climbing
trampolines
climbing trees
roller coasters
Ferris wheels
amusement rides
*intentionally left blank



Failure
loser/insignificant
not good enough
stupid
mental
*intentionally left blank

Success
can’t handle it
fall/sex scandal
won’t find it
*intentionally left blank

Brokenness
end time apostasy
won’t ever change
mental illness
suicidal thoughts
Sexual dysfunction
nympho/frigid
depression
bitterness
church
*intentionally left blank

Abuse
physical/sexual
mental/emotional
workplace
spiritual
verbal
bullying/cyber bullies
*intentionally left blank

Rejection/Unlovable
never marry/too broken
dying alone/unloved
don’t fit in/racial
people in general
family
friends
living in isolation
being laughed at
unlovable: fat/ugly
*intentionally left blank

Emotions
rage/out of control
depression
love/unloving
*intentionally left blank

Family
my feelings for them
rejection
molestation
verbal abuse
emotional abuse
*intentionally left blank

People
men
mean people
black people
white people
emotionally draining
people in general
social interactions
physical contact
old bosses
Christians
police
*intentionally left blank

OTHER
the past
the future
the ocean
water
mountains
forest
needles
*intentionally left blank

*intentionally left blank

*intentionally left blank

I am no longer a slave to fear. I AM A CHILD OF GOD!!!

Bipolar Girl: Fear By ANY Other Name (Part II)

Last night I conquered a number of fears to get out of my comfort zone and attend an interdenominational worship night at the largest venue on the island. It was supposed to be this big unity thing… and there had been standing room only last year. When they mentioned it in church last weekend I was immediately excited and wanted to go.  Now that I have found my voice it’s kinda hard to shut me up… that is until Fear intruded. Not one second after the pastor mentioned “Deep Calling Out,” and encouraged us all to attend… Fear reared it’s nappy head.

“Oh, I can’t go. This is the kind of event where active shooters show up and kill everybody… or suicide bombers come wearing bomb vests that they detonate and kill everybody.”

Fear sifted through the file  labeled “Truly Horrible and Unthinkable Events” that is never far below the surface of my consciousness to remind me of those church folks who were gunned down in their pews by that radical white supremacists on the mainland…. or how that suicide bomber killed and injured all those people at that Ariana Grande concert a few months back… or those movie goers who got trapped in the theater during the premier of that “Batman” movie and were terrorized by an active shooter… and let’s not forget Paris.

With all that ammo to shoot with, Fear did not have to work very hard to get me to see that I shouldn’t attend this event. If I went… there was a chance that I might die a horribly violent death.

You think I’m joking.
I’m not.

This is what literally went through my mind in the minute it took me to jump from “YES! I want to go worship God” to “NO, you better not. You might end up getting killed… I should stay home… where it’s (reasonably) safe. I could pray and intercede for everybody’s safety from my home all by myself.” Fear insinuated some thoughts that began to sound like they were my own idea. Because that’s what Fear wants you to do… stay isolated without any help or hope of becoming free.

And I was content to let the thoughts of the event fade away, that is, until God kept bringing it up all day Thursday and much of Friday morning. I wanted to go… but I was still afraid. I even posted on FB to see if anybody would go WITH me. No joy. I texted a good friend to see if she was up for it. Again… no joy. If I wanted to go, I was going to have to go by myself. And that’s the thing about fear: there are some fears that God wants to walk you through all by yourself. Confess. Repent. And see the deliverance of the LORD.

God was calling out to me… deep was crying out to deep... and I couldn’t help but answer. Now this is where it gets interesting: I could have just shown up. But after the meltdown that I had last Monday when they changed the venue of the Monday Night worship… WISDOM fairly shouted at me that “just showing up” was NOT the way to confront my fear. Facing it was.

So…I went two hours early to scout out the “promised land.” It’s near my house, so I drove there and surveyed the parking lot to figure out how where I could park to address my visual limitations. I’ve hit my fair share of things in parking lots, so this fear is not irrational. I noted the layout of the lot and the exits so I could find my way out of a new place at night when my vision is not at its best. I went to the box office to see what time it was really starting and to find out where it was being held. I get anxious when I get lost or don’t know where to go. And finally, I went inside the venue to see just how big it actually was. Crowds freak me out because of all the unknown threats and the proximity of people to my bubble. So, I figured out where would be the best place for me to sit, JUST IN CASE I started to have a meltdown and needed to leave… or get air… or find the ladies room.

And in true Joshua fashion, once I’d evaluated my “Amalekites,” I knew that they were there… but they weren’t all that big. Or at least they weren’t too big for God to overcome. I drove home, changed quickly… and went back thinking I’d sit in my car and wait until it was time to get in line. Would you believe that in the 20 minutes that it took me to do that and get back there… a  line had already started to form!!! I quickly found my place in said line and watched as it grew longer still… and I was perfectly calm. I was there.. in a LARGE (and growing) group of complete strangers and I was COMPLETELY ok.

I would like to point out that when I got there… the VERY first person that I saw standing out front was my friend from church who prayed with me and tore up my Fear List last Sunday at the altar. I didn’t know that the event would have a prayer team… but it didn’t surprise me that it did or that he would be on it. The man lives to pray and intercede for people. Seeing him made me feel that much calmer. When the actual even started I was ready…. and would you believe that a big theme of the entire night was overcoming fear and allowing God to “break every chain” that binds us??? One of the last songs that they sang is the one that has become my own private anthem these past few months: I’m No Longer a Slave to Fear.” That song felt SO true last night. Still, I must confess… that while I was there… I did pray that God would keep out the active shooters and the suicide bombers because that close to the exit, I’d be one of the first ones to get killed.  SO…I’d like to give a big shout out to God for answered prayer!!!

And on THAT note, I end with my Top 10 List of Fears. They didn’t just magically disappear last Sunday when we confessed them at the altar. They didn’t just magically disappear last night as I sat in the very front row in a room full of strangers singing at the top of their lungs… but I believe, by faith, that I am free and being set free from all these fear that have held me captive my entire life.

My Top 10 List of Fears (In no particular order)

  1. Violent death/Abuse: murder/serial killers etc.
  2. Rejection: Verbal or Emotional Abuse/Never Fitting in/Never belonging anywhere
  3. Nature: Critters/Insects/Animals/getting lost
  4. Falling/Crashing (down stairs, off bikes, off cliffs, in cars, planes)
  5. Catastrophic Health Problems (disease, disability, dismemberment, mental and physical illness)
  6. Unlovable: Dying alone and unloved/never getting married/ugly and broken—nobody will want me.
  7. Failure/Success: poverty and wealth
  8. Brokenness: Never changing/always being dysfunctional/suicide
  9. Family – my biological family; never having a family
  10. Sex – touch, relationships, sexuality, love, emotion

Tomorrow I am going to go zipline with three people who have helped break the chains of fear in my life. I have absolutely NO idea how I will react once I’m strapped in… there is a very real possibility that I might scream like a little girl and cry like a baby… but I am not letting that fear stop me. Zipline is a symbolic gesture showing that I trust God NO MATTER WHAT happens and that fear will no longer have the power to stop me. There is also a very real possibility that I will climb to the top of that platform; get harnessed in; come to the edge; take a giant step out in faith…and instead of falling… I’ll be flying with a big ol’ fat grin on my face and my heart singing praises to God!!!

I am still going to post my comprehensive list of fears because I think there are people who read this that are nodding their heads because they KNOW what it’s like to be trapped in your own skin by fear. This song is for me… but it’s also for them

Bipolar Girl: FEAR by Any Other Name (Part I)

The bible says that “perfect love casts out all fear.” Honestly? I have never believed that because I have been afraid my entire life… and that did NOT change when I became a Christian. Maybe it was true for other people… but it wasn’t true for me.

Up until now, that scripture has been a HUGE stumbling block for me. If that verse was true, then clearly I had failed at that part of the Christian walk because, despite having done all the “right” things (going to church; getting baptized; being a missionary AND a Christian school teacher; doing countless bible studies, small groups, seminars, women’s retreats, and prayer groups; submitting to various forms of Christian counseling, deliverance ministries, transformation groups etc…) I found myself still very much bound up by fear.

And before you say that everybody deals with fear on some levels… Bipolar Girl’s fears were different. And rather than trying to “argue for my limitations” with you (because by arguing for your limitations, you own them)… God  wanted me to confess them first to him, and now to you.

For months, God has been calling me to confront Fear because I was in bondage to it. I wasn’t living life. I was merely existing and some years barely that. My fears kept telling me that nothing was EVER going to change and that I should just kill myself and be done with it. To walk in all of that abundant life that Jesus promises, I had to let his “perfect love cast out” all my fear… but I didn’t know how.

When I talk about fear, I mean the debilitating kind. The kind that keeps you so bound up that you are unable to fully participate in life. Over the past few months, God has been showing me that I have to face some fears because he calls me an “overcomer” and he wants me to overcome them. I’ve blogged about some of those things.

But there are other fears that have become so entrenched in who I am and how I view God… that I cannot break free of those fears on my own. For those fears, God faithfully sent wise and spiritually discerning people into my life to help me defeat those inner demons. That which I can overcome, I fully intend to. That which I cannot reasonably overcome need to be broken off  by Jesus.

He’s been telling me to name my fears because, like cockroaches, fear thrives best in darkness. Where there is no light… fear will stake out a plot and camp there. Keeping me isolated and in the dark is how fear grows. The more I walk in the light of Jesus, the more the darkness in my life recedes. For weeks now, God’s been prompting me to write a “Fear List.” I needed to write an actual list of all the things that I am afraid of because God wanted to cast all that stuff out.

Would you believe that I was afraid to start writing the list? I didn’t want to start raking up stuff that I wasn’t emotionally equipped to deal with… so for weeks, all I did was think about the list. Finally, I wrote an outline, “Top 10 List of My Fears,”  to kind of prime the pump. My fears fall into some general categories and it felt safer to start with the generalities.

Then, this past Saturday, I finally sat down and started to type… a LONG list of my fears. It was very revealing. It is an act of God that I am even able to get up, get dressed, and leave my home every day… because the list of things that I am afraid of on a daily basis is staggering. I actually think of these things every day or ALMOST every day with a deep sense of foreboding: TODAY will be the day that any one (or all) of these fears will decide to attack.

No wonder I’m constantly holding my breath. When you’re afraid of as many things as I am… you start to fear for you life and that fear traps your breath inside of you. You can’t ever really relax because you exist in that moment just before “flight or flight.” Fighting is NOT an option because Fear says that if you fight, you will lose and if you lose…you will die. SO, there you sit — half breathing and half living.

Why do I say “you” when I really mean, “me??

Me…I.

I… was only half-breathing and thus, half living...

and half dying a little bit more every day as life passed me by.

Last Sunday I took my list of fears to church with me. The Plan was to take the list with me during the altar call. I’d hand the list to my friend on the prayer team then confess and repent. No, I never asked for the fear. I never wanted to be so afraid… but I had made Fear an idol in my life thereby worshiping it every day. I gave Fear the power and ability to control my life… something that only God should have the right or the power to do.

I needed to confess and repent of those fears. All these years I’ve been asking God to “take the fear away” and I would get really pissed off  year after year (especially the years that I lived in that critter infested studio)… when God did nothing to take my fears away. My fears were very nearly debilitating. Didn’t God care??? Why was he making me face some of my greatest fears every freakin’ day and NOT cast it out??!!

I only now realize that God wasn’t going to “take the fears away.” He was waiting for me to confess my fears to him and then repent. For years he had been saying, “Fear not” to me… and for years, I would argue with him for my fearing limitations and, thus, own them. I was clinging to them so tightly, I couldn’t see him waiting to cast them out. Like cockroaches, my fears stayed hidden in the dark where they could thrive and breed more fears.

Well, things have been a-changing around these here parts…

My life is being radically transformed so that EVERYBODY is noticing. God is shining so much light into my life that many of my fears have scattered like cockroaches when you turn on the light in the morning. I have been confronting THOSE fears and putting them to death. When I took that list up to the altar on Sunday, I was making a confession of faith that was like shining a spotlight on my fears.

I felt confident.

I felt free.

I felt victorious.

My friend at the altar prayed for me and had me tear the list into pieces. It felt good. But no sooner had I started to walk away from the altar, that I realized something: God never wastes anything. I felt like I was supposed to blog the list because… somewhere… out there, there are people who read my blog who feel EXACTLY the way I felt: trapped in a murky pool of fears that they don’t understand.

I knew that I needed to blog my Fear List because somebody reading this needs to see that they are NOT crazy. Their fears are real. Some of them are rational. Some of them are decidedly NOT. All of them keep them bound up and unable to fully receive God’s perfect love that would cast out those fears like the cockroaches that they are.

Sunday was a first step for me. There were things on that list that I’m in the process of confronting. There are also some fears on that list that I’m actually content to leave be. I’m afraid of snakes… and content to leave it that way. This Sunday we’re having my “I Believe I Can Fly” celebration where I’m going to zipline to confront my fear of heights, stairs, and falling. But there are some fears on that list that are deeply rooted in trauma and evil… and God wants me to work through those fears with wise and spiritually discerning people in HIS timing, not mine.

So for now… I’m going to post the short list of things that I am afraid of on a daily basis. I’ve confessed and repented of these fears, but they haven’t magically disappeared. On Sunday I was set free and I’m in the process of becoming free of these fears. I want other people to be set free too… and I think that comes from bringing fears into the light of day. So… as neurotic as this makes me look (wait to you see the long list), here it is:

My Top 10 List of Fears…

 

Bipolar Girl: The Parable of the Pissed Off Tendon

Once, there was a woman who, through constant overuse, developed a funky type of tendonitis in her wrist. Let’s be honest: she was trying to look cool by driving her new car with only her left hand on the steering wheel… the way that all the really cool people do. Y’know… gripping the wheel, palm side down at 12:00, thumb extended.

 

Unbeknownst to her, with every sharp turn and bump in the road, she stretched and bruised and harassed the tiny tendon… until one day, it spoke back to her. At first, it spoke softly trying to get her to change her foolish ways. It spoke in the form of an almost imperceptible twinge when she moved her wrist, but still she persisted in her silly ways until one morning, the tendon was PISSED and let her know it by shouting at her in pain language that she could no longer ignore or try to make go away with ice and ibuprofen.

There were no demons. There was no spiritual attack. She had done this to herself. In his mercy, the Divine Physician used this overuse injury as an opportunity to teach her how to slow down and hear his still small voice… to stop rushing through life at a pace that he never intended, trying to carry burdens that were never hers to carry. He taught her how to rely more fully on HIM for her healing.

And in this season of healing, he taught her how to find her voice and own it. He taught her how to advocate for her own healing. He showed her that it isn’t always the big, giant hurts that cause the most pain. She learned that she, in her own ignorance, could re-injure herself and prolong the healing process… so it would behoove her to learn what she needed for healing and for growth. She learned that she could not heal herself or heal all by herself. She needed to be part of a body that loved, supported, and encouraged her. Her healing would come as she became a part of the body… not in isolation from it.

He showed her that the power to live abundantly and to love extravagantly is not some external thing to be chased after at top speed… but that it is something that is within her, because his Spirit resides in her. He taught her that “love is her super power” and that “joy of the Lord” is her weapon.

She learned this truth from the tiny tendon with a big voice:

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
1 Corinthians 12:

During this healing season, the woman learned what it meant to be a part of the body of Christ. So rather than hate the tendon or revile the process… the woman has opted for wisdom. She would listen to and abide in the truth spoken by the tiny tendon. The healing would come in time and she would wait for it patiently, but she wouldn’t be waiting in isolation and fear because she is no longer alone. She is part of a body. The tiny tendon had taught her much and now it was time to “live up to what she had already attained.” (Phil. 3:16)

A wise man once said,If you abide in my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

The woman is now… and is in the process of becoming…free.

 

Bipolar, Fear, and Hair (Part 1 1/2)

Right now…
I’m still trying to wrap
my thoughts around
all that God walked me
through today.

Most of it was
great… thrilling even…
but one thing happened
to dim my smile
a bit and my heart is sad…
but God’s
also been talking
to me about how I now
handle disappointment:

It is NOT the end of the world.

Looking back over the years…
(by that I mean rereading an old journal)
I can clearly see that
a lot of my drama has spawned
from the fact that I didn’t
know how to handle it when
God said, “No.”

I used to get all depressed
and hopeless.
I used to feel every
rejection as a
statement about
my self-worth.
I used to get
mad at God
for allowing me
to hope in the first
place.

Fear will do that to you.
It will make you afraid to
step out. It will make you
afraid to trust God.
It will make you
fear rejection
like death.

It will make you
afraid to hope
and  afraid to
have
faith…

And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him
must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those
who earnestly seek him.

Amidst all the happy happy joy joy of today, God said, “No”and while I’m really disappointed, I’ve come to the “THY will be done” portion of the journey. I used to be afraid to say that to God… because it either meant that he might make me do something REALLY painful that I didn’t want to do or make me give up something that I really wanted. I now see that my view of God was really skewed if I thought he operated like that. Now? I no longer want to want something if God does not want it for me first.

 

God been telling me to hold
on to my plans lightly.
I’m a big fan of making plans
because Bipolar World starts
to spin out of control
when there isn’t enough
structure to keep me
tethered…
But I am reminded of and accept the truth:

Many are the plans in a man’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

And…

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord establishes his steps.

That being said… I don’t know how to write about what happened today because while I accept God’s “No” and the rejection in which it was delivered… my heart is a bit heavy. I need to be still and put my focus back on God.

Of late, God’s also been speaking to me through the life of King David. David was so in awe of God that he worshiped him naked. He didn’t care what other people thought. Tomorrow, I’m going to walk into church feeling naked. And people are going to say stuff about my hair because the change is dramatic. Their comments are going to feel awkward and uncomfortable because most non-black folks don’t know that the braids were extensions. People used to praise me all the time for my fake hair.  I’ve always been “the Black girl with the braids” for decades and tomorrow I won’t be.

People are going to be nice. Even if they hate my hair nobody is going to tell me that I look like a Russ Troll doll or a Wookie. But now that I’ve committed to this the temptation to wear something to cover my head is probably going to be really strong tomorrow morning, I normally belt it out during worship. But tomorrow…I might  be tempted to sing really quietly so that people might not look my way. I’m going to feel more exposed than I’ve ever felt and I’m not sure I’m going to like it.

God’s been asking me just how naked am I willing to be in my worship of him. Just how vulnerable and unashamed am I? Just how transparent IS transparent?? He calls me “Beautiful,” but does my beauty come from my hair or the way I sing? Do I really believe that my beauty... my identity… my worth is in him alone?

When my heart is heavy I tend to feel like Icarus. He got too close to the SUN and started to fall. Me? I want to get as close to the SON as I can possibly get because that’s why he made me. So right now.. and tomorrow… HAS to rest on what I believe and NOT what I feel. God sent me a reminder for such a time as this. My scuba diving friend sent me an early birthday gift that she had specially made JUST FOR ME. It came in the mail today. Tomorrow in worship service I want to be so in awe of God that I soar on the wings of eagles.

 

Bipolar, Fear, and Hair (Part I)

Up until yesterday, I hated my hair with an intense passion. I have done everything in my power to hide my real hair from people because I’ve been afraid of what people would eventually come to see if they saw it. Growing up, I was told that I had “bad hair” and was made to feel like it was ugly and unacceptable… and, by extension, so was I. For the last two decades, I have painstakingly braided my own hair while hiding out in my house so nobody could see me looking like a Mexican hairless.

And before you start thinking, “It’s just hair,” think about all the bizillions of dollars both men and women  all over the globe invest in trying to find the “right hairstyle.” I might have issues about my hair… but so do a lot of other people. Unfortunately, my hair issues are laced with fear which affects my belief in who I am… and when we start messing around with our identity, Jesus gets pissed. My identity can NEVER be found in my hair or any other body part. My identity can only be found in him.

For years he has watched as I’ve struggled with my hair/identity issues, but it only became a huge source of fear for me just recently. I’ve had tendonitis in my left wrist since April, consequently,  I haven’t been able to unbraid my hair. Part of it has been braided since January. If I don’t re-braid my hair every four months or so, I risk losing my hair because it starts to dread up at the roots or just plain fall out.

Two months ago I re-injured my wrist while I was washing it. In a fit of rage I took a pair of scissors to the back of my head and just chopped off all of the braids at my nape up to about my ears. I could hide it under the remaining layers of braids, so nobody noticed plus it was a lot easier for me to wash it. Turns out… I actually LIKE that look, but it didn’t help me with the rest of my head which was beginning to look rather ratty.

I have a skin condition on my scalp which I pick until it bleeds. It only flares up when I’m stressed… which meant most of the time for Bipolar Girl. I would have these large scaly flakes or raw open scabs which looked OH so attractive. Since I wear a beret to work and bandanas everywhere else, people have no clue, but I know. And I hate it. Not being able to do anything about it made it worse because I knew that I needed help… but I couldn’t think of anybody whomI felt comfortable enough around to let them see me without my hair. The one friend I thought could help had moved to the mainland. I didn’t know what to do and time was running out.

With my birthday coming up, I’m planning to go zipline as a gesture of overcoming my fears and stepping out in faith with God. I’m calling it my “I Believe I Can Fly” party. I’ve been working on the component parts of my fear like going to the top of the bleachers at the stadium to work on my general fear of heights and stairs. What I haven’t been willing to deal with has been my fear of my hair, or rather, who I am without my hair.

Like I said, growing up, I was told that I had “bad hair.” That’s a thing with Black people. You either have “good hair” or you get cursed with “bad hair.” Good hair is long, straight, and as close as you can get to the look and the texture of white people’s hair without actually being white yourself.

Growing up, I was also told that I had “caintcha/dontcha hair” (can’t ya comb it/don’t ya try). I was told that when my hair is wet it looks like rats have been sucking on it. I was subjected to a lot of things that now look like cruel and unusual punishment to me… and all in the name of trying to replicate that elusive look of “good hair.” I was made to feel that my hair (in it’s natural state) was ugly and needed to be hidden.

The only timesI have ever felt pretty in my life was when I hid behind the curtain of synthetic hair that I have felt chained to my entire life. All that cruel and unusual stuff that they did… to try to make me be not  so ugly??? Most of it invoked fear and shame… and let’s face it… it’s hard to feel truly beautiful when you are walking hand-in-hand with those two imposters. I learned to base my identity on something so transitory as hair.

Sadly, some of the tools that were used to weave fear and shame deep inside me are actually used by to a LOT of women. Just to be clear: I am not opposed to these things on principal. If it makes you happy… hacuna matta. Have at it. It’s your hair…but if you do these things because you feel that they are the only way to be pretty or acceptable, there’s a problem and it’s not with you.

Growing up, Fear and Shame used these tools to hijack my identity:

  • Weaves: My hair is short and really kinky (“nappy”). Growing up, I  was mistaken for a boy on at least one unforgettably traumatic childhood moment that left a scar on my memory. I think shortly after that was when they gave me my first weave. That was WAY back in 1974 before weaves were really a thing. The person who did it wasn’t very skilled. In the one photo of me from that time my hair was a shiny, glossy black much like a Barbie doll and it wouldn’t lay flat. I was missing my two front teeth, so I had this gap-tooth, witchy look about me. All I needed was a pointy black hat to complete the ensemble. I think I was around 6 or 7 years old… much too young to learn that people thought you were ugly. Today, I can see that my mom probably did it to help with the humiliation of being mistaken for a boy... but all it really did was teach me to hate my own bad hair.
  • The HOT Comb: Whoever came up with that idea was a misogynist. You take a metal comb which you heat on the stove. Then, you put some scared little kid in a chair. You tell her that if she moves — she’s going to get burned. You put hair grease around the edges and then tell her to hold her ears out of the way because if she doesn’t— she’s going to get burned. Then you run the hot comb through hair that’s sizzling from all the grease. She’s sitting there vainly trying to keep her ears from slipping out of her greasy fingers… all the while sitting there smelling burning hair fearing that she’s going to get burned.

 

 

  • Chemical Relaxers: Just think… skin and scalp burns or hair loss if you leave the chemicals on too long.
  • Braided extensions: Growing up, one of my sisters used to braid my hair. I’m fairly sure she was a masochist. She would braid my hair so tightly my eyes would feel like they were squinting. I’d have really bad headaches and have to sleep with my head off the bed, so I wouldn’t mess up my hair.Now that I do my own hair… I am in control of how tight it is. I control the length. And, up until recently, I controlled when I braided it. I was in charge of creating my own identity. I forgot… Jesus gets angry you start screwing with people’s identity. I’m not saying that Jesus gave me tendonitis to teach me a lesson… but God wastes nothing.God has used this healing time to show me that I can control a lot of things about my hair except for the deep roots of bitterness and fear that I face whenever I think about my hair. When I take the extensions out, I’m confronted with my real hair. I see how ugly I really am. I fear that if people saw my naturally nappy hair… they would think that I was as ugly as I’ve always known myself to be.
  • Bald: Once, a stylist assured me that she knew how to work with black hair. She didn’t. She put chemicals on it and my hair fell out in large patches. I was forced, by necessity, to opt for a short flat top. There have also been a few seasons where I just got fed up with my hair issues and cut it all off. Everybody has ASSURED me that it looked cute… but every time somebody would mistake me for a dude I would be crushed. I was starting to fear that I might have to cut my hair off since my tendonitis has been slow to heal with repeat re-injuries.

And then came last night. If I intend to have braided hair for my “I Believe I Can Fly” party… I needed to start working on my hair now. Using my custom made splint, I can do things that might otherwise hurt… but it’s awkward. I tried taking some braids out and found that it was do-able!! I was finally able to unbraid my hair and I was relieved to find that rather than find it broken off and falling out... it was actually longer that it normally is.

What happened next is going to have to wait for part II of this story arc. I’m on a mission and it involves overcoming more of my fears. I will post more before the day is over.

Bipolar, Sex, and God

It’s because I’m a teacher that I tend to think of my spiritual walk in terms of tests. I’ve blogged at great length about tests and how God has helped me to overcome some major obstacles in my life. The thing about tests though… is that people can get so hung up on passing or failing that a wave of test taking anxiety will immobilize them, and despite all their preparation and study — fear will cause them to fail.

I have failed many tests in my life.

When I was at Berkeley, I failed Math 16A… but for some reason they let me go on to Math 16B (which I failed). I had to retake Math 16A again and when I failed it a second time, I quit taking math. I believed that I was no good at it, so I quit.

A lot of people approach the Christian walk that way. They try. They really try. They read their bibles. They go to church. They pray until their knees hurt. They attend seminars and bible conferences. They do book studies and join gender appropriate Christian support groups (think AA with a biblical slant minus the booze). They do all the right things, so if God fails to deliver them from an area of sin or pain in their lives, they hit a wall. Some people redouble their efforts. If they are like me, they do all that stuff that I mentioned a few lines ago — but they do it more. Or they do it “harder.”

What the hell does “pray harder” actually mean??

Not knowing what that means causes people to exhaust themselves searching for whatever combination of works that will serve as the magic password to induce God to release whatever mojo into their lives that will change it or change them. And if that doesn’t happen, they quit.

They walk away from God because either they think their faith isn’t strong enough, or there was never really a god anyway. He is a figment of the collective Christian consciousness. They had fallen for the smoke and mirrors of the Great OZ and when he didn’t show up for them… they got hurt and angry. That was why I became an atheist in college. I grew up believing I was a Christian because I went to church as a child and I owned a bible. I did not know that being a disciple of Jesus required a bit more than that. It required belief in Jesus and his atoning sacrifice on the cross… and I had no real clue what that even meant.

In college, I failed that test. When tragedy hit my life I walked away from Jesus the way I walked away from Math. I had failed the test (or rather God had failed mine) and I saw no point in trying to follow him any more.

One of my tragedies was my belief that my older brother had molested me as a child. Going to college seemed to blow the roof off of this topic. I became obsessed with discovering “the truth” of what he’d done to me and my mental health started to suffer. This is a LONG story and if you care to dig through my older posts, it’s there. My point? I needed an outlet to talk about what I was feeling, but therapy had never really helped.

When I discovered the internet and the fact that I could write an online journal about whatever I wanted to write and do it anonymously…cyberspace became my confessional and I approached it with the religious fervor of a Catholic waiting for absolution from her priest. There wasn’t anything I didn’t share in my two original blogs because nobody knew who I was. I had done some really horrible things and needed to off load. I was a ratbag.

I was the Queen of the Ratbags… but God loved me; Jesus died for me (and all the ratbags like me). The Holy Spirit lives in me enabling me to walk a life that gives glory and honor to God. I didn’t have to continue being a ratbag. I understand this now, but I used to be weighted down by a lot of guilt and shame that used to choke my faith because I was still living the life of a ratbag.

When I used to try to tell people what a “wretched person” I was, they’d invariably say that I was being “too hard” on myself. I tried confessing to people… but in their desire to accept me and to love me, they were never quite willing to come right out and call it what it was — sin. I was drowning under the weight of unconfessed sin.

Because of my belief that I’d been molested, I lived my life a certain way. I believed that guys only wanted one thing, so to protect myself, I became a manipulative seductress who would control them before they could control or hurt me. I believed that the total sum of my worth as a woman centered on who I was as a sexual being. I’ve done things before and after becoming a Christian that I am not proud of and in the process, I sold off parts of my soul.

Christians always talk about King David being “a man after God’s own heart,” because that’s what the Bible says about him. I’m convinced, however, that if CNN had been around in his day that whole Bathsheba affair would have tanked his political career. By his actions, he said, “I did not have sex with that woman” LONG before Bill Clinton even existed. I have always thought that if I ever did step out into my gifts as a writer and a public speaker, then sexual sin would be my downfall.

I have written much in cyberspace about my addiction to porn and other things. I used to think that if I told my good and wholesome Christian friends that they’d be disgusted and revile me. I have found in the past year that this was a lie. A year ago my Christian walk was circling the drain. The combined weight of my mental illness and my physical disability was being crushed under the weight of something they call “cognitive dissonance” which, is essentially, when your behavior is at odds with your belief system.

My own sin was causing this dissonance. We all sin. The bible says that we “all sin and fall short of the glory of God.” God’s solution to the sin problem?? Confess it and repent.

I’m not passing a value judgment. I simply stating a fact: I had a lot of sin that I’d confessed to God… but confessing to God seems like a no brainer to me. He’s OMNISCIENT. He already knows what I did anyway, so I see no point in NOT confessing to him. It’s his job to love and forgive all those who are sincerely sorry.

My guilt and shame was rooted in my fear of people and being rejected by them. That thought haunted me and kept me isolated from people and prey to depression and suicidal thoughts. Praise GOD! I have learned the secret of appropriate confession: only tell the people who REALLY need to know. Ask God for discernment about who to let in on your secret shames because, if entrusted to the wrong person, a sincere confession of sin can become ammo.

In the past few months God has had me sit down with various people and make myself vulnerable by telling them my secret sins… the ones that I carried around like a death sentence all these years. The first person I told, I cried as if my guts were being twisted. It wasn’t any easier with the second person, but the fruit of that conversation was liberating for me as well as the friend who listened. God has led me to appropriately confess my sins to godly people and that has led to emotional, spiritual, and physical healing for me.

I feel like King David when he danced and praised God naked. He had good cause to praise the Lord and wasn’t afraid to show who he really was. He made himself vulnerable to judgment, but didn’t care what people thought. I think I’m approaching that place where I am so in awe of all that God has done for me that I’m willing to make myself vulnerable in my worship of him… and I don’t care what people think.

Today I passed a test. I “said what I needed to say.”

I sat with a new friend and confessed some things that I believe will finally close the door on my murky sexual past. My friend prayed with me and I felt free. I felt validated, not judged because it felt like the last piece of the puzzle was finally falling into place. As long as I had secret sins hanging out in the closet of my mind, Shame and Guilt were always going to be able to taunt me. Because of unresolved issues with my brother, my father, and my stepfather, Anger, Fear, Bitterness, Resentment, Self-Pity, and Rage would always be able to set up shop in my heart… but after doing that 90 Day Heart Health Challenge… I’m not about to let THAT happen.

Today was about confession and repentance… but it was also about surrender, forgiveness and moving forward. All these years that I struggled with depression?? I wasn’t depressed. I was angry…. angry that the sinful choices of other people had robbed me of my innocence and angry about my own sinful choices that I had made to cope with my own brokenness. God’s word on this??

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Bipolar and Fear

The only way I can describe last night
is to say that one minute I was fine
and then the next minute
I dropped into a dark
scary place.

I went to the Worship Night
on the other side of the island.
It was packed.
I don’t like packed,
but I was ok with it.
That isn’t what set me off.
I hadn’t wanted to go
because I was exhausted
but it’s moving locations
in two weeks…
and last night might’ve
been one of the last
times for me to go.

I found out about the move
on Saturday and have been
apprehensive ever since.
The new location is huge
and I don’t do huge.

So I pepped talked myself
into going.
I even dug out my PINK
skirt for the occasion.
I have a long flowy one
back from my missionary days,
and I feel really pretty and
feminine when I wear it.

For all intents and purposes,
the evening was good.
I thought that I was fine…
but the subject of fear came up,
and THAT was the trigger.

God has been talking to me a lot
these past few months about overcoming
my fears and being set free from them.
I have been facing fears head on since Christmas
and my life is better for it.

Last week I signed up for swim lessons
despite the fact that the water
scares me senseless –
I almost drowned
TWICE...
because of my own stupidity.

I KNOW I’m not a strong
swimmer… and yet twice I put
myself in situations where
I was surrounded by water.
Anybody with common sense
who wasn’t a strong
swimmer would have had
stayed out of the
water the first time it happened.
This fear is an easy fix. I should
have done it years ago:
TAKE SWIMMING LESSONS.

I’m planning to zipline for my birthday
even though I am afraid of stairs
and afraid of heights. Every Thursday
I go to a place where I  jealously watch
as old ladies, little kids, and men and women
of all walks of life put on those little helmets
and get hooked to those little cables
and they trust the process enough to step
off the platform
and fly.

Me? I’ve always been afraid of falling to
my death in some freak accident,
so I live on an island and I almost
never fly. I haven’t been in a plane
for over four years and before that
not since 2005 because I’m afraid to fly.

So…I’m planning an “I Believe I Can Fly” party
with a few friends because I’m tired of letting my fears
stop me from doing things
I REALLY want to do.

Given the number of suicidal episodes
that I’ve had in my lifetime…
I find it ironic that Bipolar Girl
is terrified of violent and untimely
death.

Then again, given the sheer number of
things I’m afraid of…
it shouldn’t surprise me
or anybody else.
With so many fears about life
and everything in it
death has sometimes felt
like my only option.

What surprised me was last night.
On the drive home it started to rain.
I’ve conquered my fear of driving at
night now that I’m only marginally impaired.
I have ALWAYS been afraid to drive in the rain
because that’s when all the multiple car pile ups
happen…. so I don’t drive when it rains
unless I absolutely have to
because on most sunny days
I am afraid that I’m going
to die in a horrible car crash.

As I drove, I was tense… but I was still ok.
I was ok when I finally pulled into
my driveway and went inside my
room. I had to confront my fear
of personal attack and home invasion
as I tried to find the right key to go in the lock.

In the movies…
the stupid woman who is trying to get into
her car at night or into her house
on a quiet street is ALWAYS
the one who gets grabbed from behind
by a stranger and forced into her car
or her home only to be raped
and murdered
in the first scene.

You think I’m joking
but every day of my life
I am afraid of these things
happening to me and no amount
of prayer has made these thoughts
go away.

The list of my fears would go on for pages.

Was it the fact that my dad tried to murder
me and my sister when I was a child that
made me like this?
Could be.

The incest?
Being held at gun point
by my sister’s boyfriend as a child?
All of these are possibilities…

But given all the counseling
and therapy and deliverance
sessions et all that I have
been through in my life…
one would think that
my phobias would be
gone by now.

This is why I spent so much
time in the Bipolar Bubble —
because the world outside of it
scares me shitless.
The people who live in the world
outside my bubble scare me.
The past scares me.
The future scares me.

I know that NOTHING
can separate me from the
love of God that is in
Christ Jesus…
but knowing this
hasn’t made the fear
go away.

I love the Lord.
With all my heart
I love Jesus
but I am sick to bloody
death of being bound
up by so much fear
because “perfect love
casts out all fear…”

So what does that verse
mean for me??
Quoting that verse to me
when I’m in crisis
does not work.
It’s cruel.

Last night when I finally made
it to my room I was hit by
a wall of fear so thick and so dark
all I could do was cry.

When I lived alone I could do this…
crying is a valuable outlet for me.
Trying to cry with a housemate and a dog
asleep in the next room made me feel
like the walls were closing in on me.
I wanted to call a friend…
and then realized I didn’t have my phone…
I panicked.

I am not a big fan of the phone…
but not knowing where it was
made me feel like I was lost and
alone.

I figured that it was outside in
my car… but it was nearly midnight
and I am afraid of the dark...
or rather the serial killers that
are assuredly lurking around out there
just waiting for stupid and unsuspecting
women to come outside to go to their
cars looking for cellphones.

I’m also afraid of the gauntlet of flying bugs
that I would’ve had to walk through
if I’d turned on the outside light…
or the rabid dogs that are laying in wait…
or the Chupacabra that doesn’t really exist…
(except for in excitable minds like mine).

Hell. If I’d gone outside and a cat ran cross
my path, I would have SWORN it was
an unspeakable creature intent on ripping
me to shreds.

From the relative safety of my keyboard
I can jokingly say  recount all of this…
but then again, I have a clothespin
covering up the little built in camera
on my laptop, so that cyber stalkers
can’t hack into my camera
and see my every move.

It is an act of God that I am able to leave
my home every day.
The combined weight of all of my fears
used to be paralyzing and demoralizing.

And I have always been like this…
except for when I was manic.

THEN I was Queen of the World
and nothing stopped me until
the mania ended and the fear
and the paranoia set in.

I know the roots of each and
every one of my fears.
I can trace most of my fears
back to specific causes or events.
And I believe that God is
planning to set me free of all
of it.

Victory is at hand.
I just can’t go running back
into the Bipolar Bubble
when things heat up.

Jesus said that the truth
would set me free…
but he never said it would be easy.

Last night, I feel into a fitful sleep
and woke up a mere four hours
later. I felt like I’d been stepped on.
I contemplated taking a mental health
day… and then the still small voice spoke
to me:

I needed to let people in…
so I emailed two men
who are like brothers to me.
I emailed my mentor.
I posted on Facebook
that I needed prayer….

And then I waited to see what God
would do and he did not disappoint.

I didn’t like what I was experiencing,
but I knew that I was smack dab
in the center of God’s will for me.
A wise person recently told me,
“If you don’t quit — YOU WIN!”

Perseverance is my middle name.
God is telling me to find my voice.
God is telling me to own my voice.

When I got to work I continued to
communicate and the more I
found… and then OWNED my voice…
the more the fear receded.

I’ve heard that fear is like cockroaches.
It thrives in darkness
but will scatter
when you turn on the light.

The past week has been
as exhilarating as it has been
exhausting.
I finally trust
the Divine Physician
enough NOT to jump
off the table during
the middle of the
surgery.

Right now
I’m exhausted and
i’m falling asleep at the keyboard.
…and it’s not even 8:15.
Time to put this post
and me to bed soon.

God heard all the prayers that were lifted up for me today… and my day ended up being as amazing as it was unexpected. Tonight is going to be different. I am not afraid tonight and I’ve got a whole slew of people praying for me. I’m not hiding and alone. I know that this too will pass….

“They overcame over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
    and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
    because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
    because he knows that his time is short.”

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