The Adventures of Bipolar Girl

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Day 6: McG’s

Week 2 is almost over. I take my lithium tomorrow and then stop for the weekend. Despite some challenges…Week two hasn’t been bad. My mind is clear and I’ve been happy. My students have been happy and THAT’S the litmus test. If I’m not happy. They are not happy. Not because we’re all emotionally in sync or anything… it’s just that when I’m not happy I tend to become a nagging shrew and NOBODY likes that. I was a bit short today, but I’ve just been so tired that it’s harder to have my normal self-control.

I KNOW it’s because of what I’ve been eating. I’ve been craving salt for one thing and that causes me to retain water. It’s also kicked my heart palpitations at night up a notch. I’ve also had a bit of bread and my adhesions don’t like bread OR white rice (which I ate a lot of this week). It creates all sorts of gnarly business in my innards that’s both uncomfortable and painful. So my swollen digits and the bone pain in my hands and feet are my own fault. I need to get this under control before I get too far into The Plan because I am, by nature, a whinny baby when it comes to pain. I might sound all stoic and accepting here… but God knows better. I grumble and complain. My road rage is harder to control. It’s not pretty when I’m ON medication. I shudder to think what it could look like once I’ve tapered down some more.

The stuff I’ve been eating has been messing with my GERD. At first I thought I was having chest pains until I realized it was the salsa and the chips coming back to haunt me. I’ve been doing without this stuff for MONTHS… so when I try to slip it back into my diet my body rebelled. Same thing with dairy. I’m lactose intolerant. A lot of black folks are. I avoid milk, but I like me some cheese. And you can’t have cheese without crackers and salami. Right?

My problem is that I don’t know the meaning of “moderation.” So I’ve been eating myself into illness which isn’t going to make The Plan any easier to follow. I have stayed away from obvious triggers like McDonald’s (whimper) and desserts (no biggey)… but the bread, the salt, and the cheese have been calling my name. I even drank two Cokes the other day. I haven’t had a Coke in years so I thought I was missing something. I couldn’t even drink the first can. Ew. I just did not like the cloyingly sweet taste, so I poured it out. So why did I reach for the other one the next day with dinner? Doesn’t matter actually. I ended up as sick as a dog. That will be the last Coke I ever drink. I think that was what kicked off the heart palpitations again. They’d gone away for a while. Now I cannot sleep on my left side because the telltale heart will keep me awake.

It’s good that I’m incorporating exercise into my life more. The Plan is pretty specific about what I can do and what I plan to do. There’s very little room for confusion or failure. One of the other points in The Plan IS food… but as I’ve limped through this week I realize I need to be more specific and intentional about my food goals in The Plan. It’s rather vague. And I tend to not be able to stop myself when tasty food is around.

Oddly enough, while I was eating dinner tonight my taste buds just died. They literally stopped working mid-chew. One minute I could taste the food. The next minute I could’t. Ok. I could taste the onion… but onion wasn’t a primary ingredient. My sense of taste is normally impaired because of my allergies. I’m used to not tasting my food… but tonight it tasted like I was eating white noise. When I tried to cleanse my palate with water, the WATER tasted somewhere between no-taste-at-all and horrible. Ew. My mouth still tastes funny. Not the GERD funny that I’m used to. I can’t describe it, but I cannot taste anything.

Who wants to eat if you cannot taste? Maybe God is telling met that Bipolar Girls “don’t live on bread alone, but by every word that falls from the mouth of the Lord.” I watched that mock-u-mentary “Fat. Sick. And Nearly Dead.” It was eye opening and inspiring. The guy went on a juice fast for 2 months. I’d be stupid to try that now, but I like the idea of rebooting my system. For the first week he was as sick as a dog with a lot of the symptoms that I’ve worked really hard to get rid of (dizziness, nausea, tremors, diarrhea)…  so trying to incorporate that into The Plan would be the height of stupidity. It would mess with my mood and trigger episodes. I’d like to think that somebody reading this would say something to stop me if I was talking about doing that now.

But I need to do something though. My poor eating habits is probably what created challenges for me this week. I’m 48 years old and don’t really know how to feed myself properly. The fact that I’m deficient in some vitamins and overdosing on others proves it. I do not eat enough fruits or vegetables because I can’t taste most of them.

It’s a vicious cycle. I eat foods that aren’t good for me because I can smell then and I can taste them…. so I end up feeling bloaty, sick, and lethargic. My bones hurt more. But then I’m too tired to cook healthy dinners which are really labor intensive… so I eat whatever’s quick and the cycle continues because “quick” might taste good, but it’s wreaks havoc on my body. This is one point where I don’t have an easy answer or a plan. I’ve tried diets before and failed. But this isn’t about weight loss. It’s about health. I know the internet if full of information. My doctor has even given me some materials, but having the information doesn’t mean that you know how to walk it out. SO I guess I could use some prayer on this one. My goal is NOT to became some granola cruncher who won’t eat “anything with a face.”  That would be a mood changer. I get cranky when I don’t get my meat.

Next year once I’m off the lithium I might revisit the notion of a juice fast — like a 10 day one. Take a vacation, plug in the juicer, and stay near a bathroom. I could do that. For now, I think I might just incorporate fresh juice into my diet to get more of the nutrients that I’m missing. For a girl who used to eat at McDonad’s at least 3 times a week… I’m doing pretty good. I pass no less than five fast food restaurants on my way home and I’ve not been tempted to stop at any of them, but there is more work to be done. When I think of the consequences of eating that burger or pounding down those fries, it no longer seems worth it. So today, I’m not sharing a point from The Plan. I’m recognizing that The Plan could use some more refining. Today is Day 6. I’m tired and I’m hungry. Yes, I’m fat and I’m sick, but I ain’t dead yet. God and I need to have some conversation about this…

Me: God, if I shouldn’t live on bread alone, what’s a girl to eat?

God: “Come, all you who are thirsty,  come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,  and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.

I need God to show me how to eat in a way that is healthy and sane for me. I also believe that on the sixth day God created animals because he knew they tasted good? Then he created man to enjoy all the tasty goodness. The early animal sacrifices? The first were the first barbecues. But since God created plant life first… I need to at least try to eat more of it. Today is Day 6… and it was GOOD.


The Hip Bone’s Dis-Connected from…

What if I quit the lithium and the bone pain doesn’t go away?

Tonight the pain in my hip is pretty bad.

I tried ex-strength Tylenol.

No joy.

I read that Vick’s Vapor Rub could help.

I didn’t

Today was a good day,

but now I’m tired

and I hurt.

I’m not whining.

Just stating facts.

Lot’s of good things happened today too:

God has been very very good to me today.

So what if I’m not dealing with the pain so well tonight.
In two months I could end up pain free.
The Plan is supposed to be a turning point in my life…
So I guess I should ask myself a question:

I could say things like health, a spouse, to be lithium-free and pain-free… and all of this would be true. I jokingly tell my students that I want a million dollars and a husband named “Chuck” but that’s out of context. You had to be there.

Besides, it’s deeper than this…

want to follow
the Lord no matter
what life brings my way.
want to love other
people because I want to
not because I have to.
want the pain —
mental, physical, emotional…
to be gone
by faith
and to never
come back.
realized that I don’t want
anything from “Life”
but I want
from God.

Today is Day 5
and I’ve only just started to count.
Hope is believing in the unseen.
Good thing the Lord sees me.




Week 2. Day 4.

Day 4 got off to a bad start.
No “bipolar” bad.
Just bad.
I wake up around 4am
to go to the bathroom.
This is after I wake up around
2am to go to the bathroom…
right after my midnight trip
to –
you guessed it
go the bathroom.
And it’s not like
I don’t go to the bathroom
when I go to bed at 10:30…
because I do.
But evidently,
I’ve got a bladder
the size of a Dixie cup.
Except for mine’s holds
considerably less.
It’s been like that since the hysterectomy
so I can’t blame that on the lithium.

Normally, I get out of bed at 5:30 but after my
4amish bathroom break I can generally
just go back to sleep OR
I lay there and pray or just breathe
deeply to relax.
I check in with my body
to see what hurts
and what I cannot move.
This morning?
The bone pain was pretty
bad and I was exhausted.
I told myself I’d just close my eyes
for a moment.
I fell into a deep sleep.
Deep enough to have a nightmare.
I haven’t had one of those in a LONG time.
I don’t know what woke me up, but just
before I was about to die
I woke up in a panic.
Then I looked at my alarm clock
and experienced a different kind of panic —
it was almost 6am!!!!
I was late.
I need to explain what my “late” is.
School doesn’t start until 8am.
Staff doesn’t have to be there until 7:45.
I get to work anywhere between 6:45 and 7:00.
Even at my latest… I’m still going to be at work
at least a half hour earlier than everybody else.
So WHY was I running around the house like
a chicken with my head cut off??
I kept telling myself to slow down
and then told myself I’d slow down
once I was in the car.

Unfortunately,  my commute
had a hair raising moment
when a driver two cars a head of me
decides to make a sharp left turn
on a busy highway onto an unmarked turnaround.
Since we were all driving into the sun
the two drivers ahead of me didn’t see him
and had to slam on their breaks. I know this
because I had to slam on my breaks
to avoid rear ending the car ahead of me.
As the car behind me raced towards me
without slowing down I closed my eyes,
certain that I was about to be rear-ended
at top speed and crushed between two cars.

Guess who spent the rest of the ride
praising God?
After that, my day was busy
but good.
The bone pain didn’t stop me.
I was fine until the end of school.

Every year
we have an “Active Shooter” drill.
This year they showed a realistic
dramatization of an event and I started to feel
my chest tighten.
My face started to heat up.
I felt like I was going to start crying.
I don’t know about you…
but Bipolar Girl can
remember watching the news
about Columbine and falling apart.
It’s one of those
things I will never forget.
It messed with my head and sent
me spiraling.
So, over the years, I have not
watched any of the news stories
about shooters
that seem to be cropping up
with alarming regularity.

It’s one of the reasons I’m so paranoid now.

As I watched the video
I realized I was becoming upset.
Not good.
I knew it wasn’t a news story.
It knew it wasn’t real…
but tell that to my emotions.

I wanted to get up and leave.
What if I had a meltdown
right there in the rec hall
in front of the entire
assembled student body and staff?
Over a video?!

I wasn’t sitting where I could clearly see the video
which made it a little less stressful…
but I had to work really hard to hold off tears
and to pull myself together.

A young woman in the video got shot
and when a Good Samaritan asked her name…
she said MY name.
Did I just get shot in the video?
Of course, all the students looked over to me
and laughed which helped to diffuse my angst
but my chest continued to hurt.
I was able to sit through the rest of the training.
I told myself that I needed to be there.
My life might some day depend on what I learned
during the training… so Bipolar Girl  got interrupted.

By the time I got home I was exhausted.
My chest was still hurting enough so that it
seemed prudent to take a nitroglycerine tablet.
I told myself I wasn’t having a heart attack
and to be still.
As the familiar headache kicked in I sat still
and tried to breathe.

Fifteen minutes later I ate my dinner
and took my high blood pressure meds.
My chest still hurts and I’m still tired.
I have nothing overly insightful or inspiring
to share. I said I’d post every day…
so here I am.

Today reminded me of why I am doing this whole
Lithium Discontinuation plan in the first place:
My day got derailed because of the bone pain.
I read online (I can’t remember where)
that bone pain could increase as you discontinue lithium
but it’s too soon for that. I only skipped two days.
I’m in Week 2… but I’ve only missed two doses.
I resume taking it tonight and continue
to take it through Thursday.
Today was NOT a side effect.
It was unfortunate that I had so much pain and that I felt
off kilter… but on the positive side?
I was able to teach my classes and have fun with my students.
I didn’t emotionally limp my way through the day.
I’m kinda limping now
but in a few hours I will take my lithium
and go to bed.

In the last two posts
I’ve detailed two points in The Plan.
Might as well take a look at the logistics of it
because I know some people are wondering:

Discontinuation Schedule:

  • 10/09-11/03: Take 300mg tab Sun-Thurs (4 weeks)
  • 11/06-12/14:  Take 300mg tab Sun, Mon, Wed (6 weeks)
  • 12/18-12/28: Take 300mg tab Sun, Wed (2 weeks)

And for those visual learners:

This is all that I have left of my current Rx.

This is all that I have left of my current Rx.

The way I’ve planned it out, I am covered during the school week. I slowed it down from the original plan in an attempt to handle potential triggers. See Week 2? That’s where I am now, but it’s really only Day 4. I’ve got three more weeks at this dosage and then I decrease even more. It’s slow and it’s steady and I WILL stay the course.

Today started badly… but it’s only Day 4.

Day 3: Let’s Get Physical

The second point in The Plan is one of the hardest for me because it doesn’t come natural to me. I’ve always been rather bookish and when I wasn’t reading, I was writing. Growing up, if I wasn’t reading or writing, I was glued in front of the tv where I could sit for hours, staring fixedly without blinking. Nobody would bother me, so I just sat there, staring fixedly without blinking.

I grew up in a really large, really rowdy family. I hated all of the noise that they made… so I gravitated towards quieter, more solitary pursuits. I was not athletic like my siblings and I didn’t enjoy being outdoors. It was only later, as an adult, that I found out that I’m allergic to trees, grass, dust, pollen, flowers, plants… and pretty much most things that grow outdoors. Add that to my phobias (spiders, crawling things, flying things, anything in the bug kingdom) and I STILL have no reason to go outdoors. Is it any wonder that I’m vitamin D deficient?

I mentioned how my weight ballooned up when I went on the lithium: 138lbs to 215lbs was a nightmare. It wasn’t that I was eating tons of food, either. The meds piled on the weight and my lack of activity made sure I had trouble keeping it off. When I moved back to Maui in 2005 I was at a comfortable weight: 165lbs. I could still stand to lose a few, but weight loss and exercise were not the focus on my life. And then my world imploded.

Talking about my life from 2005-2009 is hard. It was the worst period of my entire life. Even now, I paused at the keyboard and just stared at the screen. What to write? My bipolar was out in front leading the charge and I fell into a hole so deep I didn’t think I could claw my way out. Ok. Damn. I’m crying. I can’t talk about that time right now. Not because I’m not over it. I am, but to recount what happened to me during that time would be the mental equivalent of pulling a scab off a wound and then rubbing salt in it. My depression was so heavy and so dark that it shrouded my faith in God, and for a season, I told God to hell with His plan for me. If he wasn’t going to make the bipolar go away and if he wasn’t going to fix my life… then I was going to follow my own plan.

This is one of those failures I mentioned in the other post. It is never a wise idea to tell the Living God to piss off. My life fell apart even more and things like accountability weren’t an option. I was surrounded by Christians and didn’t really want anybody to know just how badly I was falling apart. My weight was fluctuating during that time and the bigger I got — the more depressed I became. So depressed that I started neglecting my health. Now one thing my therapists had always told me was that it was important for me to have proper diet and exercise. They kept pointing out that exercise could take the edge off the depression… but how do you pull yourself out of an emotional black hole and motivate yourself to work out? There were some days that all I could do was pull myself out of bed and snap it together enough to go to work. I’d limp home and fall back into the hole. I wasn’t sleeping which caused me to be edgy and mentally fragile.

I was isolating myself, eating poorly, and getting no exercise at all. My depression was so constant that I thought the only way out was to look for guns online. I had tried suicide twice in college, but both attempts were half-hearted cries for help. I needed something quick and permanent. It is hard to think of exercising when you plan to kill yourself. Fortunately, God intervened and saved me from myself. He moved me out of that circumstance and surrounded me with different people. Only thing is, I’d let myself go so badly and ignored my health for so long that I didn’t do anything about the debilitating pain that I was feeling in my abdominal area. The pain affected my ability to walk and I just kept gaining weight which depressed me even more. It went on for over a year before I found out what it was. I had a non-cancerous fibroid in my uterus that was 10lbs and the size of a football. It needed to be removed. In 2010 I had a total hysterectomy.

Three surgeries later, I was still dealing with the after effects of neglecting my health. I’d developed adhesions which left me temporarily disabled for five years. Walking was a nightmare. Exercise was out of the question. I was largely sedentary and, again, my weight ballooned up. At my heaviest I was 198lbs. People would say that I wasn’t fat… but scales don’t lie.  It wasn’t until 2015 that I found someone who could help me walk properly again. It has only been in the last year that I have been able to start trying to exercise, but this time my goal is weight loss or even managing my mental health although they are byproducts. I wanted to regain my mobility. I realized just how much I’d taken the ability to walk and to move for granted. In the past year I have regained my ability to walk, to bend, to go up stairs and to sit up from a prone position with only minimal pain. A few months back, I started trying to walk around the field at a local park. Now? I can walk at a pretty fast clip and I’ve taken to walking around the track at the stadium.

Turns out the doctors were right: Exercise does help manage my depression. I feel amazing when I walk around that track. Everybody else walks around looking so serious. Not me. I’ve generally got this huge grin on my face because I am SO thankful to God that I can walk. I look at the people walking up and down the bleachers… and I know that in a few months that’s going to be me. A year and a half ago I didn’t think I’d ever walk properly. Now I’m walking on Saturdays for an hour and doing a 2 mile walking video in my home on other days. I have to. Weight bearing exercise helps alleviate the never-ending bone pain.

After running a ton of tests and x-rays my doctor thinks that the lithium is causing my bone pain. I’m 48 years old with the bone structure of a 25-30 year old (says my doctor)… but the bones in my entire body hurt. A lot. All day long. That’s why I’m going off the lithium. My doctors think the prolonged lithium use is causing the bone pain. So, the exercising is good for my bones… but it’s also going to help me keep my bipolar in check as I taper off the meds. So while the first point in The Plan dealt with accountability, the second point is harder because I don’t naturally gravitate towards exercise. For much of my life I avoided it either because I hated it or it caused me to relapse.

The second point of The Plan: Let’s Get Physical.

II. Physical: I need to maintain balance in my physical activity. Too much could cause a setback and not enough will effect both my mental and physical health.

A. Walking: Every Saturday morning walk for an hour around the stadium track; do my 2 mile walking video 1-2x week; do Launchpad (for people with mobility issues) online workout 1-2x week.

B. Epsom Salt: Take salt baths 2-3x week (I have a mild magnesium deficiency which affects bone health). The salt baths help relieve the pain, detox my body, and soothes my muscles.

C. Consider massage to cope with the pain:  When I mentioned this to my mentor, she whipped out a certificate for a free massage that she just happened to have in her bag!

D. Activity: Weight bearing exercise/workout ball

When I am depressed, exercise is the last thing I want to do, but it’s the first thing I should be doing. I spelled it out in The Plan so that people could hold me accountable. I don’t expect people to ask me if I’m doing B and C, but the people in my accountability network will be asking me about and actively praying that I am physically active during this time. There’s a scene in “Pretty Woman” (one of my favorite movies) where Richard Gear talks to Julia Roberts about opera. He says, “The music’s very powerful / People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it … They either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it. But it will never become part of their soul.”

I think physical exercise is the same way. Some people seem to be born athletic. I was not one of them. For years I hated it and avoided it like the plague. Now I appreciate it… but it has yet to become “part of my soul.” But I think I’m headed in the right direction. I got up to go walking around the track yesterday. I got there by 6:45am. I started walking. Grin on my face. Headphones in my ears. I was wearing my black t-shirt with “Persevere” emblazoned on the front. All was right with my world… until it started sprinkling. I hate rain with an intense passion. But I’m on a mission to change my ways. I figured I’d keep walking… that is… until the sky opened up on us. I’ve never gotten THAT wet THAT fast before. I also haven’t run that fast in YEARS.

As I darted to my car I was disappointed in myself. What about The Plan?? There were a few diehards who were still out there walking because exercise is in their souls. Me? I got in my car, turned on the heat, and drove home. But when I got there… instead of taking off my soaked clothing, I put my 2 mile walking dvd into my laptop and started walking. Me. Exercise might not be a part of my soul now... but as I use it to help me stay safe as I discontinue the lithium, who’s to say what my soul will look like in two months’ time? I weighed myself this morning. The weight is coming off. I’m 177 lbs and dropping. I could stand to lose another 12 lbs.  It’s going to happen. I don’t doubt it. I’m ready and I’m excited. Today is Day 3.

Day 2: The Best Laid Plans…

One of my favorite all time quotes is, “Nobody plans to fail. They just fail to plan.” So many of my past failures in life (and there have been many) can generally be traced back to a lack of  planning on my part. I step out on some grand venture and neglect to count the cost or chart the course and the end result is decidedly less that what I’d hoped for. Scripture says that “plans fail for the lack of counsel,” so even when I make plans… if I don’t run them past an objective third, fourth, or fifth party, I may still end up with a failure on my hands. SO I made it a point to get counsel before embarking on this plan to discontinue lithium. This is one area where failure is not an option. My doctor’s warning is still present in my mind, but not dominating it. Yes, I know that this COULD trigger a manic episode and I COULD end up in the hospital or worse… or I COULD be totally fine and happier than I’ve ever been because the bone pain (along with all the other lithium related problems) has finally gone away.

If I stick to The Plan, I should be completely lithium free the last week of December. I’ve chosen to chart this journey in my blog because if I do become manic, it’ll show up in my writing. One big concern is that the lack of sleep will trigger mania. If I’m up blogging at one o’clock in the morning on a consistent basis, that’s a red flag. If I start posting multiple times in a day and my moods seem all over the map — that’s another red flag. I may not know that I am manic.… so I’ve made blogging a part of the plan. Actually, the whole plan revolves around accountability. Before medication I didn’t involve a lot of people in my struggles because I was an emotional black hole — I would suck people in and they’d have no idea what happened. I’d drain people emotionally and they’d run from me which only depressed me more. Over the years I learned to be cautious about who I included in my adventure. When I used to blog anonymously I would pour out every mentally challenged detail and I had a following like a telanovella. People flocked to my blog like rubberneckers at the scene of a car crash. Each post was like a train wreck waiting to happen and inquiring minds wanted to know.

In the last several years I’ve become a lot more reclusive about my blogging. There are some months where I haven’t even blogged because I didn’t want people to have a glimpse into the private hell that was my life. Back in the day, I needed an outlet and blogging was the drug of choice. So I guess it’s no surprise that I should turn to blogging as I seek to discontinue the lithium. Am I trading one “drug” for another? Honestly? I don’t care. If sharing the continents of my mind during this stretch of the adventure will keep me safe… then I might as well start at the beginning: THE PLAN.

After getting prayer and counsel I devised a “5 Point Plan” to keep me safe. I’m a teacher and I’m anal… so it’s really detailed and it’s really organized. I ran the first draft past some trusted friends and my therapist. I hadn’t planned on sharing it here… but why the heck not? It’s too long to put it in one posts, so I’ll dissect the first part of it here. *Disclaimer: I am not advocating that other people with Bipolar should go off their meds or that my plan is prescriptive. This is what I have chosen to do and I’m sharing it as my experience, not as a a “DIY” drug detox.


Lithium Discontinuation Plan

This five point plan is designed to insure maximum safety and accountability as I discontinue using the drug Lithium. The purpose of this plan is to make sure that I have enough embedded safeguards so that the transition off the meds goes with minimal incident. I have edited the plan leaving out names and identifying information, but you will get the general idea of what this journey looks like.

I. Accountability: I need to maintain a network of support with people who will hold me accountable should my behavior change or I become manic. Those people are as follows:

A. My boss: He sees me daily and can ask students if they see changes in my behavior. He said that he believes that I am very self-aware and proactive. He shared the cautionary tale of a friend’s dad who went of lithium and committed suicide. He urged me to be cautious.

B. My mentor: I will check in with her once a week via phone for 15 minutes from now through December. She is my emergency contact and has had prior authority to make medical decisions for me.

C. “Susan:” Prayer supporter. I see her every Sunday at church and I can email her. She follows my blog.

D. Prayer Support: Five of my oldest and dearest friends.

E. Blog:  Once I actually start decreasing the meds I will blog every day. If I start to get weird, it will show up in my writing.

F. “Helen:” She is a student in my Bible Study and she is in my class. She will pray for me and tell me if she sees changes in my behavior. (My students are all young adults. No children will be impacted by this plan)

G. Dr. G: My therapist. Bi-weekly email

H. Dr. S: Document any physical problems and changes.

I. Head Nurse on Campus: Keep her in the loop in case I have any episodes at work.

This whole things is very “It takes a village,” which is SO not my style, but suffering in silence has never really gotten me anywhere. Neither has isolation… so it’s time to try something different. I have spoken with or contacted all of the relevant parties listed above and they are all on board to support me in this. Is it overkill? Maybe, but after seeking prayer and counsel… and after praying myself, this is what I felt led to do. I already feel safe and supported. Knowing that all of these people are standing by me and walking through this with me has taken a lot of the anxiety out of the equation. I was afraid when the first doctor told me I needed to go off the lithium. When the next few doctors concurred I was nervous… anxious even. Now? I’m not. I believe God is going to do something major in my life. I’m ready. I’m excited.  Today is Day 2.

Week 1: Lithium Not Yet

So I OFFICIALLY start decreasing my meds tonight and tomorrow…. but I’ll only be down two doses. My doctor thinks it’s a good plan and likes the fact that it’s so thought out and detailed. I’m nothing if you anal retentive. When I was certain that I wanted to go off the lithium without going on another medication to replace it, I knew I needed to get prayer and counsel. I’ve been taking lithium most of my adult life. You can’t become “addicted” to it, but my body… my brain… has been on this stuff for nearly two decades. Life without it is going to look different, and I wanted to be prepared. I needed to count the cost.

I stopped taking anti-depressants back in 2006. They never really took the edge off of my depression. I still got depressed and I still had suicidal episodes. The only thing I had on anti-depressants that I didn’t have before I started them was a lot of excess weight. I tried different drugs over the years. The last one that I tried, Lamictal, had, as a side effect a “lethal rash.” All jokes about scratching yourself to death, aside… every time I got any irregularity on my body anywhere, I was certain it was the “lethal rash.” It drove me crazier than I already was. Eventually, I just got tired of taking the anti-depressants, so I just stopped. I didn’t consult a doctor. I just did it. I do not recommend that.

Things are different with the lithium. I know the risks involved in discontinuing its use and I knew I couldn’t just quit cold turkey. Not unless I wanted to end up in the psyche ward or the morgue. My life is FINALLY looking up. I have no desire whatsoever to die, which is saying a lot for the girl whose retirement plan was always suicide. I have too many things to live for now, so this has got to be done right. First, I sought a friend’s prayer and advice. She’s had her own history of coming off of meds and she provided me with so much wisdom and insight I KNEW it was from God and I KNEW what I needed to do to remain safe as I come off the meds. I did not think my doctor’s plan was going to be the most healthy course of action for me, so after seeking my friend’s input I prayed and sought God’s guidance to come up with a plan that incorporated my friend’s suggestions.

What I ended up with was a comprehensive plan that I felt good about. I ran it past the therapist and she is on board with it. Moreover, I feel a peace about it. I’ve taken a holistic approach that incorporates diet, exercise, accountability and communication, prayer and worship… while insuring that I don’t run into trouble financially, emotionally, or spiritually during the next few months as I taper off the meds. Even if I end up needing to go on some other med at a later date, if I can really follow this plan, I will be more physically, emotionally, and spiritually fit than I’ve been in my entire life. EVER.

When I started taking Lithium I’d just returned from the mission field. That in and of itself was a traumatic experience for me. I didn’t know I had bipolar when I was on the mission. I just knew that my entire life had exploded right in front of my eyes and God hadn’t done anything to stop it. I was hurt, angry, and confused. I was physically, emotionally, and mentally sick. Then came the diagnosis and the meds. I was 138lbs when I started taking the lithium. My weight ballooned up to 215lbs almost over night. I was bloated and miserable. I had severe hand tremors, dizziness, and I weaved when I walked. I felt disoriented and anxious. It threw my thyroid off as well as my menstrual cycle. I bled heavily non-stop for six months. I was anemic and weak, but I was too embarrassed to seek medical help. This only added to my fear and depression. Over the years they tweaked the meds so that I could live with them, but along with the meds came the regular blood tests. They had to monitor my lithium levels to make sure it never became toxic.

I’ve got loads of posts about the nightmare of being a “difficult draw” who has to get blood tests regularly. Over the years I suffered through so many painful blood draws that one would think that I lost count… but I remember all the really bad ones. The only good thing that came out of that is my total phobia about needles. Given my addictive tendencies and family history of addiction, I could have turned to intravenous drugs to self-medicate, but my tiny veins were good for something. I would never voluntarily pick up a needle, so drug addiction was one bullet that I dodged.

I honestly thought I’d be on lithium until I died. When I ended up in the ER because the lithium reacted to my meds for high blood pressure, the beginning of the end was apparent, but I didn’t want to see it. When I finally did come around and let them start decreasing the lithium, I was AMAZED about the improvements in my health. Problems that had previously gone undiagnosed were proven to be directly linked to the lithium.  I KNEW it was time to let it go. I just didn’t have a peace about taking on some other med, especially not some powerful anti-psychotic.  I am not, nor have I ever been, psychotic. Why risk a whole new slew of side effects without even trying to see what God might do with my obedience?

I do not know what the next few months are going to hold for me, but I know who holds me. I have done my research. I’ve prayerfully devised my plan and it goes into effect tonight. I skip the doses for Friday and Saturday and then start up again on Sunday. It’s the equivalent of me forgetting to take a couple of doses. Since I’ve done that before many times over the years… I’m not really concerned. I will do this for the next four weeks and I should be fine. There shouldn’t be any dramatic side effects.  I’m not anticipating seeing any big changes in my life until the next phase when I decrease even more.Today I worked a full day at work; came home and did my 2 mile walking dvd; I fed the dog; and I checked my email. Another normal day in the neighborhood. The only difference is that I won’t be taking my lithium before going to bed. I believe God is at the center of my plan. I believe that I am going to be ok and when I’ve finally discontinued the lithium, there will be cause to celebrate.  I could focus on the negative possibilities and stress myself out, but what would be the point? I believe that God is going to relieve my bone pain and that someday in the near future I will be able to return to the mission field. Only thing is… this time I will be healthy, happy, and whole.

If I’m right and God is prompting this… then I believe by faith that it will all happen and things will go according to plan. The verse that gives me hope? “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Luke 1:45. I believe God has got a big white ship in my future, and the only way I’m going to get there is to be healthy.

The Road Taken

Today a good friend texted me and asked if I wanted to go for a drive around the island. With all my phobias, I don’t get out all that much. I drive to work, church, errands, and the like… but I do very little driving if I have to and nothing that will take me out of my comfort zone. I always think I’m going to die in a fiery crash, so the less time I spend on the road, the better. I’m surprised that  I said yes. We went around the top part of the island on the back roads… if you look at a map of Maui.

There are parts where it’s a one lane road and you have to rely on the “kindness of strangers” because when you get to those one lane sections, somebody either has to move over to the side to let you pass or somebody has to back up. Backing up on a one lane road with cliffs and ocean on one side scares the Everlasting Gobstoppers outta’ me. In some cases, “might makes right” and people force their way through. Most people we encountered were pretty decent. This one guy, however, acted as if we were a bug meant to be squashed. He aggressively forced us to back up and didn’t even really give us time to get out of his way before plowing through. My death grip on the passenger side door handle was an indicator of my stress level. I prayed a few times aloud as we drove.

The rest of the trip went without incident and I marveled at God’s creation. I get so caught up in fear that I forget that no matter what man does… God is still in control of the world he created. Here are some pics from our trip…roadtrip1roadtrip-2roadtrip-3

I needed a break away from my total fixation with coming off the Lithium. I need to move forward, not keep obsessing about what is behind. I’ve been doing more research about discontinuing lithium and I’ve read some really bad horror stories. But I’ve also read some really promising stories that cause me to have a lot of hope. I COULD end up free from the bone pain and other remaining lithium related health problems. I’ve been tapering off of the lithium since April and I haven’t had any of the really gnarly side effects that I’ve been warned about. I haven’t even had any of the gnarly ones that I’ve read about. I did read something that linked bone pain to discontinuing Lithium… but since I’ve also read stuff that links bone pain to long term lithium use, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I opt for “don’t.”

I’m 100% committed to my plan, but I have to remember that it’s MY plan. I came up with it prayerfully and I sought the counsel of the therapist, my mentor, and a friend who has had experience with discontinuing psychiatric medications… but no matter how detailed my plan is, the only plan that REALLY matters is God’s. I believe he’s given me a choice. I could go on a different medication and he’d walk with me through it. If I did have gnarly side effects he’d be there with me through it all just like he’s been there every step of my journey with the lithium. God knew the road I’d travel with Bipolar before I’d even walked a mile. He knew about today’s journey before I even got out of bed. He knows what tomorrow holds for me.

MY plan for today looked decidedly different than God’s plan for me. I planned to go walk for an hour around the track; go to Target and pick up some things to help me implement my plan; do some yard work; wash my hair; play with the dog… I did not plan on going on an impromptu road trip. I’d be lying if I said parts of it didn’t scare me. Why is it that people expect the car CLOSEST to the cliff to yield the right of way??? I think the car most likely to fall down an incline and into the ocean should have dibs on the road. The other car should be doing the backing up or hugging the wall. But all fear aside, I’m glad I went. It was a BEAUTIFUL day. We stopped at a gallery on the other side that I didn’t even know existed. We went to a restaurant I’d never been to and I ate food I’d never tasted before. It was a detour on my journey to be sure, but I can wash my hair any day. And the dog? She’s acting weird. For some reason she’s decided that she’d rather hang out on top of a box in my closet than play with me…


But I’m good with that. There are some things in life I accept that I will never understand. Like why… after all these months I decided to register to vote today. I have been apolitical since I voted for Arnold because “The Terminator” was my favorite movie. I realized then that Bipolar Girls in the grips of depression are not the most informed voters and that I should leave voting to people who really cared. All I’ve cared about for over a decade was whether or not I’d live to see another decade.

I’ve only had one ear open to all the debate floating around this current election and the candidates. I admit that when it comes to the issues, I’m ignorant. My health (mental and physical) has always consumed my focus. I am neither Republican nor Democrat

I’m Bipolar Girl and that trumps politics.

From what I’ve read and from what I’ve heard… neither candidate reflects my values and both of them scare the crap out of me. I wish we could chuck them both and start over. I mean… if these two are the best this country has to offer, we’re doomed. There’s a verse in scripture that scares me more. It talks about “the elect” being deceived if that’s possible. It’s an end timey reference and I’ve always worried that I would be one of those deceived elect. Scripture also talks about believers falling away and I worried that I would be in that number. When I look at the growing Christian tide of support for The Donald I get the scared. I feel like the minute somebody slaps on the “Christian” label people want to believe it so badly that they will believe anything. How do you tell all those mentally stable people that the Emperor has no clothes? Donald Trump does not reflect the Jesus that I love. He does not reflect the God that I’ve committed my life to even though there have been times that I have wanted to end that life. My faith in God was what always stopped me from making a permanently bad choice to a very temporary problem. I do not see Jesus in Donald Trump. I see Donald in Donald Trump and I cannot in good conscience support him.

But I cannot join Camp Hillary either. Wasn’t the woman under investigation for wrong doing? The details never quite filtered into the Bipolar Bubble… but still, anybody who was even considered unethical enough to even vaguely warrant an investigation (or call for an investigation) should not be elected to the highest office in the land. I can’t vote for her in good conscience either. So it would make sense if Bipolar Girl just didn’t vote. But for some reason the dog in the closet spoke to me. No, she didn’t literally “speak” to me. I’m not tapering off the lithium yet, so I’m not hearing voices or hallucinating. The fact that she was afraid of something (I think the neighbor’s weed whacker) and she was hiding… that spoke to me. I haven’t voted in decades because I’ve been afraid that, in my mentally challenged state, I’d vote for the wrong person.

I needed today to remember that God has a plan for the the United States… even though we are a very divisible nation that is no longer under him. In a larger, more eternal sense, I don’t think my vote matters. God will work in, through, and around whomever gets elected. His plan is greater than our collective plans. At the risk of offending friends and people who read my blog, I think the Christians who are rushing to support Donald Trump are deceived, but I won’t argue with them. I’m apolitical for a reason. I cannot vote for him. My conscience won’t allow me to. But they can vote for whomever they choose. Hillary? Her stance on many issues spits in the face of my Christian values… but as far as I know, she’s not claiming to be God’s chosen candidate. As far as I know, she’s a non-believer and she acts accordingly. I cannot expect her values to reflect mine. Donald? Supposedly he’s a Christian and he’s convinced a lot of well meaning people to believe this and to support him because of it. This is not the face I want to represent Jesus to the non-believers of the world.

Yet no matter who I vote for… the journey this country will travel is already marked out. God knows what this road will look like even if we don’t. Personally, I think The Donald will usher in the Apocalypse and it will be the end of the world as we know it. But what do I know? I’m just a Bipolar Girl trying to come down off her meds. God has given us choice and everyone must vote their conscience. Just remember… no matter what man (or woman) does, God is still in control of the world that he created. And that will make all the difference.


Plans Fail for Lack of Counsel

Today was an excellent day and yet I find myself hesitant to write about it. I usually try to pull some object lesson out of whatever I’ve experienced so that people reading my blog might glean some nugget that might aid them on their own journey. Today? I’m not really ready to share today, but I need it to be recorded for posterity.

I met with my mentor and we discussed my plan to go off the lithium. This is not a new plan. No less than six doctors including the one in the ER and the Cardiologist have all told me over the past year that I had to get off the lithium. The only reason I held out was because I wasn’t ready to let go of my safety net. I was afraid. I’ve been on it for some 20 years. The side effects that I’ve had to deal with over those years with this and other meds was enough to give me pause. All of the meds my doctor recommends to replace the lithium come with their own lovely little stable of side effects. Which makes me wonder: If the side effects you are potentially taking on can lead to diseases and conditions you don’t yet have… why bother?! A few of those alternative meds can lead to psychotic episodes or rare diseases. Some of the more “common” side effects are some of the very same side effects that I had when the lithium reacted with my high blood pressure meds and sent me to the ER. Some of the other side effects are the exact same ones I had when they diagnosed my vitamin B1 and D deficiencies. I was miserably sick because my body lacked VITAMINS. Things settled down once I started taking supplements, but even that wasn’t without it’s side effects for me. I do not want to revisit that level of sick ever again.

With this ongoing bone pain I’ve finally come to accept the fact that getting off the lithium needs to happen sooner rather than later. The pain is getting worse and it’s affecting more parts of my body. They ran the tests, and the scans. They’ve taken the x-rays. My doctor is not sure, but she is fairly certain that it’s the lithium. And if that’s the case, there’s no point in waiting until January to wean off it. Going off it may not make the pain go away, but then again, decreasing it made so many of my other un-explainable, chronic illnesses/symptoms go away… that I’m ready to try it. All those symptoms just vanished as if they never were. Some of them had plagued me fore YEARS so I thought I just had to live with them and suffer in silence. Only thing is… I wasn’t really living. I was existing and I wasn’t sure how much more “existing” I could do.

I feel like God has said that I have a choice. I need to break free of the lithium. That much is a given. I couldn’t stay on it even if I wanted to and I don’t want to. The choice is whether or not I’m going to start taking some other drug to replace it. I don’t want to do that either. If there is a bad side effect to be had from a drug, I will have it. Getting sick when you are single is hard. Getting sick when you are single and mentally ill turns the cool-aid a whole different color. When I got really sick I felt totally helpless and alone because I was. I spent so much time sick and depressed… it got to the point where I couldn’t take it. I doubted my ability to go on. I doubted my faith. I wanted to die… and if I’d gotten any sicker, suicide was always my exit strategy.

I have chosen to stop the lithium now and not replace it with any other drugs. I am working with my therapist to implement a plan to wean me off the meds in a safe way. After a lot of pray I developed a 5 point plan that will include a lot of accountability because abruptly stopping lithium can have fatal consequences. I might be mental, but I’m not stupid. I took today off and I met with my mentor to go over the plan that I have developed. If she thought it was a stupid plan I’d have scrapped it because I really do believe that plans fail from lack of counsel. It took a couple of hours to outline the plan to her… but when I was done, I felt like she had a really good understanding of it and so did I. She helped me refine a few things, but overall she thought I had a really good plan in place. Talk about a Kumbaya moment. I could write more, but I’m tired. I’ve determined that as I’m weaning myself off the meds I’m going to blog every day. I’m not expecting literary masterpieces. I need to document the journey.

One of my doctor’s concerns is that stopping the lithium could result in mania which could put me in the hospital or be dangerous/fatal. I figure that if I’m blogging every day and start to get weird it’s going to show up in my writing. I’m nothing if not transparent. I also know that there are other people with Bipolar who might be going through this or something like this. I’m either going to end up being an inspiration or a cautionary tale. I’m voting for the first one. So I plan to document my journey. I cannot promise editing or cutesy graphics to illustrate my points… but I can guarantee honesty and transparency.

I am NOT seeking advice. I’m NOT seeking opinions or judgements. I am NOT asking people to agree with my decision. I know the risks. I accept them because I think God is in this. I’m not telling all people with Bipolar to go off their meds. But for me? I’ve been on Lithium for 20 years and the benefits are no longer outweighing the negatives. The new meds? I have no confidence in my ability to take them and NOT have really bad side effects.

It dawned on me that my doctor is expecting the worst. They kinda have to do that given the litigious society that we live in. God forbid the worst case scenario plays out, but if it does, she did warn me. But what if I experience the “best case scenario?” Since decreasing the meds I’ve had so many problems just disappear. What if the bone pain just goes away… and the only health problem I’m left with is my acne and my high blood pressure? I am ridiculously mentally stable right now and I’m on the lowest dosage I’ve ever been on in. my. life. Mentally stable and physically healthy? I haven’t experienced that since High School.

My mentor was excited by the time our meeting was over and so was I. A new chapter in my life is going to unfold. In so many ways I feel like God has brought me full circle. If you’re going to be a doomsday prophet or try to mother/smother me, please don’t. It’s not helpful and just might trigger all sorts of gnarly mood swings. I need prayer and I need emotional support more now than I ever have. Comments are enabled and I will respond if I can.

It’s late. I’m tired. Good night and God bless.


This has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with my post... but I find it funny.

This has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with my post… but I find it funny.

Forgive or NOT to Forgive. That Is the Question.

Actually, there’s no question about it. God commands us to forgive. Jesus’ entire raison d’etre is to be the ultimate expression of forgiveness. There is nothing on earth that anyone can do to us, compared to what was done to him, so when it comes to forgiveness, all of us are like kids repeatedly asking, “Are we there yet.” We wonder how we can forgive certain people of their sins against us. We back bite and quarrel because we don’t get our way. We slap on the victim label and let festering wounds of unforgiveness grow. Who am I kidding? I use the royal “We” when I really mean me.

I struggle with unforgiveness. I wonder how I can forgive the slings and arrows of outrageous people. I wake up at 3:07 in the morning unable to sleep because I let the sun go down on my anger. For the past few months God has been talking to me about trespasses and debts. As a child I memorized the Lord’s prayer and the 23 Psalm. I wasn’t a Christian then. I thought I was and I believed that if I didn’t recite both of them religiously every night repetitively like a mantra, then Satan would come and take me to hell. Not sure WHERE I got that theology, so I’m glad that was one of the first childish ways I put behind me. Zeal without knowledge gets you nowhere.

I’ve read two different translations of the Lord’s prayer. One version tells us to forgive the trespasses of others. The second translation says to forgive the debts of others. My friend and co-worker pointed out yesterday that another translations says to forgive the sins of others. No matter which  way you translate the verse, it begins and ends with forgiveness. God has been talking to me about this and I’ve been struggling to apply it because whether it be trespasses or debts or sins, my first response is never forgiveness. Me? I get angry. I stay angry. Then I get angry about the fact that I’m angry because no GOOD Christian nurses their anger. I decommission myself from active and fruitful service to God when I let anger eat me up from the inside out. I’ve been praying about this… that God would help me see it for what it is early so that I can deal with it. The only thing about praying to forgive? God’s going to put people in your life who will piss you off so that you have to practice what he’s preaching.

So, who’s pissed me off now? A co-worker has been mashing my buttons for years now. In the past I’ve ranted and raved to God about this person. I have prayed that God move this person on to a different workplace. Somewhere they’d be happy and better suited…. and out of my hair. I keep a running list of people who I’ve prayed for God to move on. Mostly it’s people who haven’t been good for the students or don’t mesh well with the staff or people who mash my buttons. Sometimes God moves them on. Other times he shows me that he’s not moving them anywhere. It is my prayers for them that must change. In some cases, I am probably the only person praying for this person regarding the problems that concern me most. I never pray that bad things would happen to them. I pray for “God’s highest and best for them.” If that highest and best happens to be at a different company, then praise God and glory to Jesus.

I do not think God is going to move this co-worker. I’ve been praying for years and nothing has happened except for a growing list of trespasses. This coworker  (who I will call “Pat” because it’s a nice generic unisex name. Remember, protect the identity of the not-so-innocent)… pushes my buttons on a regular basis. Yet Pat has never done anything outright sinful to me. Pat doesn’t owe me a debt either. Yet, Pat has a tendency to trespass all over my boundaries and smiles while doing it. Yesterday I wanted to smack Pat. Instead, I ran to a friend. I wanted to vent. I wanted to talk about Pat and give vent to all my anger under the guise of getting prayer. The person I wanted to vent to is Christian. She would have prayed for me, but God stopped me before I got to her door. The thing is –Pat does that.

Pat talks trash about many of our coworkers to me. At first, I used to join in and then I just started feeling slimed. God showed me just how wrong that is. Talking about people behind their backs profits nothing and nobody. It isn’t forgiving. It’s the evil, opposite of forgiveness. I could have pulled out the dirty laundry list of all of Pat’s alleged trespasses and it might have made me feel better in the moment, but it wouldn’t have helped me or Pat in the long term… and it wouldn’t have helped the friend that I dumped on either.

God is also telling me to put “childish ways behind  me.” This is all so middle school. We get mad so we want to trash talk people. It’s in the same vein as that woman who followed me  home last week. For whatever reason, she felt that I’d trespassed against her so she wanted to make me afraid. She was mad and in her anger she tailgated and followed me home. How juvenile was that? I prayed for her. I got other people to pray for her. I need to pray for Pat and not because I want to pray Pat off the island. A trespass is a trespass. I’m fairly certain that Pat is mad at me and took a few moments to rip into my character to somebody else willing to listen. IF I do the same thing, then I’m no better than Pat.

So that’s why I’m awake at 4:07 am. God wouldn’t let me sleep. Sure, I’d let the sun go down on my anger, but he’s going to have the Son come up on it before dawn. I forgive Pat. Talking to Pat isn’t going to accomplish anything. I’ve tried and only got angry when my words fell on deaf ears. God has told me “Don’t cast your pearls to pigs.” Talking about Pat to co-workers would be wrong. It colors they way that they see Pat and it’s not fair to them. I used to do this. Now I’m putting that childish way behind me. God has convicted me that it’s wrong and that, in this, it is I who needs to be forgiven.

So after I prayed I tried to go back to bed. Nothing. I couldn’t sleep. I’ve got heart palpitations along with the high blood pressure. Under stress I can actually hear and feel my heart beating through the left wall of my chest. It’s a freaky, creepy feeling. It’ll go away if I take nitroglycerine, but I don’t like the headache that goes along with taking that tiny pill, so I try to avoid it. That’s why I turned on the light at 3:30 and started blogging. I’d talked to God. I’d prayed about it. I even realized that I needed to talk to my boss and ask him to pray with me about Pat. I was certain God would let me go back to sleep. Unfortunately, the tell-tale beating of my heart was so loud in my chest that sleep was out of the question.

I knew I had to blog because somewhere, out there… somebody else has a Pat with whom they are pissed off. I don’t know what your Pat did. Maybe it was a trespass. Maybe it’s a debt owed. Does it really matter? Your Pat may not even know that you are mad, or maybe he or she does know and doesn’t care. Again I say, “Does it matter?” I have yet to figure out what forgiveness really looks or feels like. I know it doesn’t mean that I fake like I like Pat and pretend nothing’s wrong, so I have to believe that God will eventually show me how to really forgive from the heart. For now, I am going to take the nitro and get back into bed. I have an hour before I have to get up for work. My students need well rested me. Not tired and cranky me. I end up being short tempered and snappy and it never ends well. If I’m not careful, I’ll have to be asking all of their forgiveness by days end.


BPG foto


Faith is NOT Blind


Faith is not blind. Faith is having your eyes wide open to who God is and how he works. It’s about seeing him for who he is and loving him, not because you are blind… but because you can see. Clearly. When I first became a believer I was blind. I was ignorant to who God really was, so when he acted outside the grid of my understanding I got mad. I got hurt. I felt like he abandoned me and I was afraid to question him so I stuffed my questions really far down and tried to act as if I was ok. When deep down, I knew… and so did God, that I wasn’t.

Today I had questions. I didn’t think I had questions when I woke up this morning. But these questions have been simmering in “the crockpot” for some time now. Left too long, unanswered questions can give way to bitterness or anger or resentment or self-pity… or a gnarly seething cauldron of negativity.

Most of my questions were “Why” questions. Y’know.. “Why had God allowed z,y,x” to happen to me?” Why hadn’t that dream or this dream come true? Why had he allowed that person to hurt me? Why had he allowed me to make such poor choices that lead to really bad consequences?

Once the questions starting pouring out, it seemed like they wouldn’t stop. And as I questioned, I realized that I was angry. Now there are some folks (g00d Christian folks) who insist that it’s wrong to ask God, “Why?” and an even bigger sin to admit that you are mad at him… but since we serve an omniscient God, it stands to reason that he knows what I feel even before I do. Case in point, I didn’t know I still harbored those questions, so I didn’t know I was still harboring anger towards God… but he knew. He walked me through my most recent trial and then led me to this realization.

My faith is stronger now than it’s ever been. What reason could I possibly have to be mad at God? He just got me through a really horrible situation with my landlord and I didn’t morph into Bipolar Girl. He didn’t deliver me from the trial. He walked me through it with eyes wide open. I didn’t like a lot of what I had to go through, but I knew it was God and I knew it was necessary.

Which brought me to today (Saturday). I’m braiding my hair which will take 2-3 days. I generally watch movies while I’m working to make the time pass. The movie I picked? Not a great one. Kind sappy. Heavy on the extra cheese.

The lead character had had some trials and found herself  in a church looking up at a statue of Jesus  and yells, “What do you have against me??!” And the omniscient God who hears all of our prayers while they are still thoughts, heard her. He heard me, too. For the thoughts that I didn’t even know that I had took form and became prayers. God knew I had those questions and had waited for just the right time to prompt me to ask them. I wasn’t on my knees in prayer. I was braiding my hair on a hot Saturday watching a so-so movie.

A month ago and I would have seen those questions as doubts. I would have felt all manner of bad for doubting God. Today, I see that God is the only one to whom I could take my questions to  because he’s the only one who can answer them.

After I finished giving breath to my question I told God that I love him because I do. After all the bad things that have happened to me over the course of my life, I still love God. I love him more now than when I first met him because I know him. He knows this just as surely as he knows that I have questions. Yet, God, in his wisdom, may or may not give me all the answers that I seek. I’m ok with that. When Christ returns, I will know fully even as I am fully known. Pretending like I’ve got it all dialed in or that I’m some spiritual giant when I’m not profits me nothing. The questions I have stand in the way of me growing into the image of Christ able to love people when they do the unlovable… the unthinkable… and all the un’s in between.


Now it’s Sunday. Hours have passed since I started writing this post, but I know I’m on the right track because God answered me during the church service this morning. He didn’t answer every question I had, but he gave me enough of an answer that I was positive that he was listening and that he knew exactly why I had those questions. He was glad that I had brought my questions to him, trusting that he would answer. He needed me to lay some things down at his feet and not pick them back up again. He needed me to open my eyes and to see myself as HE sees me.

And then he needed me to rise and receive from him, not like a child with my eyes scrunched shut offering up wishes as if he were Santa Claus. He needed me to be more mature in my faith than I was yesterday or the day before yesterday or all the yesterdays past. I needed to see him and know him for who he is. If I don’t ask questions out of some misplaced belief that God cannot handle it when I do, then I am never going to mature. God has grace for my questions and mercy for my doubts. “Have mercy on those who doubt.” Jude 1:22. God said that before I ever dared to doubt.

When I left church, I walked out feeling a little lighter than when I went in. God, in his omniscience, answered more questions that I didn’t even know that I had. Not because he had to, but because he KNOWS me and knows what I need to know even before I do. Always before I do.

Now? It’s almost bedtime as I finish this post. I’m listening to my new neighbors sing really bad Filipino karaoke. My eyes might have been opened this weekend, but tonight it’s time to close up my ears with my earplugs and finish braiding my hair.


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