The World According to Bipolar Girl: In Response to a Friend
Since I started blogging back in 2004 God has lead many other people who have struggled with Bipolar Polar across my path. I had not expected this. I’d originally started blogging as free therapy because I felt so isolated and alone. I didn’t have anybody to really talk to about my disorder and I was very much ashamed. Add my embarrassment about my incest issues and the sexual dysfunctions related to it… and you had a very wounded woman with nowhere to go.
Becoming a Christian did not eliminate my woundedness. In some ways it made it worse because I’d look at people in church and in my bible studies and wonder why God would surround me with people who appeared to be so healthy and so whole. I didn’t always have Bipolar Disorder, but even before it manifested my basic personality leaned towards being very intense and very melancholy, but I was also really intelligent and I was told that I had tremendous potential. Watching Bipolar chew up and spit out that potential was a nightmare that nobody else seemed to understand… except the people I met when I started blogging. They knew and understood because they’d lived it.
Blogging opened up a world of support for me that I could never have expected. Along the way I have made many cyber friends who shared their stories with me as I shared mine. My initial blog was on a Christian website, so the support I received was always coming from another believer and even the people who were not struggling with Bipolar Disorder generally had something comforting to share.
People can be so ignorant when it comes to mental illness. Well-meaning Christian people can say some really stupid, religiousy stuff that does more harm than good, so I found it helpful to unburden myself in my blog because keeping that stuff locked in my head was like holding a loaded gun to it. Right now Bipolar Girl is not doing too well. I could sit and wallow which would be a sure fire way to end up in a depression OR I can try to look beyond my own circumstances.
One cyberfriend that I’ve made here is struggling with Bipolar Disorder and a hysterectomy. Since I’ve walked the same path I have some idea what she must be going through although it sounds like her road has been much harder than my own. My heart grieves for her and there’ve been a couple of times when I almost reached out to her via email, but stopped myself. I mean who am I to be offering advice? I’ve you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you KNOW that I do not have my act together. I would not say that I am walking in “victory” with God… but I will say that I am walking.
I’m persistent. I have a hope that no matter how defeated I might often feel — God is God. He sees me and my life and nothing about it surprises him even though it might often be uncomfortable for me. That’s when I’m reminded that this is not a “How to Blog” or a “Bipolar for Dummies” blog. I’m no an expert. I don’t pretend to be. I have not “mastered” this illness, but I am living with it. All I seek to do is provide comfort from my own experiences with Jesus Christ. My friend posted some questions in a comment after one of my recent posts. I thought it would be best if I answered her in a post. I’m pretty long-winded most times and that response was going to take a while. But she asked me and I care enough to try to answer. Here is my response to her first question. She asked about wanting to go away and leave all the people who know she had Bipolar behind her and start over. I hope she’s reading this:
- Do u feel bipolar is a part of u? Not that u let it define u, but that it comes with u?
I do believe that Bipolar is a part of me just like if I had diabetes or some other illness. It’s part of my brain chemistry and it has impacted my life in major ways for more than 2 decades. I do not, however, let it define me. Even though I’ve called myself “Bipolar Girl” for over 18 years, that’s more for other people’s benefit than my own. When I let the disorder define me, it owned me. It was very nearly the death of me. When I treated it like a “dirty little secret” it owned me. I had no support and nowhere to go with my thoughts. Blogging helped change that because I now had a place to vent the thoughts that should not ever stay cooped up in my mind because those thoughts were dangerous.
When I tried to go to new places and “reinvent myself.” My disorder would always manifest. It wasn’t a question of going someplace where nobody knew me and starting over. It was a question of learning to share with people who could handle it. It was a question of learning to share appropriately. Most people cannot handle mental illness in all it’s flamboyant colors. They might think they can, but I’ve learned from experience not to overwhelm people. This is a sure way to lose friends and ruin relationships.
That’s one reason I blog. I can say a lot of stuff in a blog that I don’t share with most people. There’s even stuff that I don’t share in this blog because I know my friends read it. I have another blog where I don’t use my name and nobody knows me. I also have that site where I journal the details of my sexual addiction. This is not the forum to air that laundry, but I can’t leave it hanging around in my mind flapping in the breeze like piles of dirty laundry that refuses to come clean.
I have lost a lot of relationships because of my disorder… but for all the people who could not accept me or my illness…. God has blessed me with a whole slew of people who know me and accept me for me. The trick is not to give up on people in general which is hard for me. But just because the people in your life cannot handle the reality that is Bipolar, does not mean that God intends for you to be alone or to keep running. Some people you will have to let go of (it might even be family)… but God doesn’t leave voids. He has given me friends and family on two continents and a couple of different states. I believe that he will do the same for you in his timing. Do not give up. I say this to myself as much as to you.
You might end up moving and if that’s the case, you have a chance for a new start, but you will also find that Bipolar will go with you. I found out the hard way when I moved back to Maui in 2005 after being gone for seven years. I tried to keep my Bipolar a secret and things imploded. It has only come through self- acceptance that I have found some measure of peace and that is my prayer for you.
There was more to her questions… but I think this is enough for now. I will respond to the rest of her questions in my next post. My prayer for her is that she persevere through the strength of Jesus and that he would give her comfort. I pray that he sends her people who are safe and who will stick around even if they do not fully understand her. I pray for an outlet for my friend and appropriate places where she can just be herself. And I pray for mental wellness — for her and for me. I never thought the dark place would ever recede and it was hard to have hope that it would… there was no way that I could envision my life now back then.
I had to wait on God and trust him and I know my friend knows this, but it bears repeating: I had to believe that Jesus loved me no matter how I felt and that even if my own mother abandoned me and all my “friends” left me… Jesus would never leave or forsake me. And he will not leave or forsake her either.