Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Last weekend I got to spend some quality time with my granddaughter Belle after not seeing her for a few weeks, and the first thing I noticed was how much she had grown. Her legs are longer, and her upper body has also expanded, yet she doesn’t feel any bigger. She still believes she is just waiting to grow up, not realizing she’s on her way every minute of every day.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is when my pastor tells me he sees spiritual growth in me. All I see is how immature I am; how many changes I still need to make to get to where I want to be as a Christian “adult.”

Belle will eventually become the first grader, the teenager, and the grown up she wants to be, but as it is happening, she can’t see it. It is only as an adult that she will be able to look back and see her growth over time. But waiting is hard.

For me, I have to wait until I stand before God to see my spiritual growth, to understand how each moment of my life affected my growth. It’s hard to wait, and it’s frustrating, but in the end it will all be worth it.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

BP lesson: Anger. One trait of both (hypo)mania and depression is irritability that can morph into unnecessary anger, directed at someone (or ones) we feel has wronged us. In my case, I go on the attack when I feel someone is “being mean” to me or another I see as defenseless. It may stem back to my childhood, when I was powerless to fight back against bullies. I’m more likely to think the worst of someone than I am to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The problem is, whenever I let emotions take over, I stop thinking clearly. I’m unable to differentiate between perception and truth. I blow things completely out of proportion. And the results are never what I want or expect them to be. In trying to protect myself, I make the situation far worse.

Never mind that I could be completely misunderstanding the entire situation. Never mind that thinking the worst of another’s motives puts my own on shaky ground. I have learned-or think so-from much painful experience, that when I start feeling self righteous, when I start feeling my emotions take over, it’s time to step back from the situation. I’ve written many posts and messages on social media when I was angry, and saved them to my notes app to look at when I’ve calmed down. Nine times out of ten, I’m glad I did. I should not have sent them.

Unfortunately, sometimes I forget. Even when God is right there with me, speaking to me, reminding me of how these actions have turned out in the past, I insist on speaking my mind. I insist on putting the other person in their place. When I do this, when I ignore the Holy Spirit’s advice, I hurt someone. I have lost friendships. Some family members keep me at arms length. All because I could not control my emotions.

The really sad part is that now, because of medication and counseling, I can recognize, (but only after I’ve blown up and done irreparable harm to a relationship,) that I was very, very wrong. But it’s too late by then, and I have to live the rest of my life knowing I caused pain to another. Knowing that my actions cost me a relationship with someone I care about. That’s one of the hardest parts of BP, is living with what I’ve done.

I believe this is what happens when students take guns to school. Bad enough to be a teenager, with low self esteem, fluctuating emotions and immaturity, but throw in bipolar anger and you have an extremely volatile bomb waiting to go off. When people blame it on bipolar, this is what they’re talking about. Type 1 is more likely to do this kind of thing, because their emotions are more intense and actions more risky, but as you can see, Type 2s are just as likely to hurt another. The only difference is using words instead of a gun. Instead of ending a life, I end a relationship. Sometimes irrevocably. Sometimes I wonder which is worse.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

I’ve gone from hypomania to baseline and back for so long, I’d forgotten how unexpected the inevitable crash can be. But it wouldn’t be BP II without the crash, so I’ve learned that just accepting it, staying close to my windows and light box, and forcing myself to do simple chores around the house (that I REALLY don’t feel like doing) are the best ways to get through it. (You’d be surprised how much accepting, rather than fighting its existence, helps.) Depression sucks, but it’s typical this time of year, and I’ve learned what to do to keep myself from getting too low. So if I (or others who are depressed) don’t feel like talking/hanging out/visiting, it’s nothing personal, and I AM OKAY. See you on the flip side.

Friday, December 1, 2017

So my pdoc  decided I have ADHD. My counselor has mentioned it several times before, but since some of its symptoms are also symptoms of BP, I disagreed. In a way it’s a huge relief, because it explains SO much. Why I fidget constantly. Often lose the thread of a conversation, written or spoken. Get lost in spite of clear directions. Have trouble following through/listening/keeping promises/finishing projects/staying organized/managing time/focusing when reading/remembering/controlling my emotions/filtering my thoughts before they leave my mouth. It’s not just me being a thoughtless immature person, which is certainly empowering to know.

I began taking Ritalin yesterday, and am prayerfully beginning to figure out what I’m responsible for, and what’s God’s job. Because I don’t want to blame my poor choices on ADHD but instead set up constructive tools from the very beginning, and hopefully avoid the mistakes I made in the past. To that end, I found a book called “Fast Minds: How to Thrive if You Have ADHD,” and although it’s not a “Christian” book, the strategies and suggestions are certainly adaptable. In fact, as I’ve been reading it, I can hear God’s voice nudging me this way or that, reminding me that self-condemnation is useless and that positive change begins, and is accomplished through, Him and Him alone.

"From now on..." is a phrase that should be removed from the English language and banished into antiquity. "From now on, I'm going to exercise three times a week and stick to my diet." Uh huh. Because that works, right? For maybe 30 seconds.

New Year's Resolutions are a perfect example of this conundrum. We want to change, we really do, but somehow...we always give up, within the month, or the week...some of us even within the first day. "Oh, but we can't let the Christmas candy go to waste!" Or, "It's too cold outside!" "I'll do it tomorrow." (My husband likes to point out that "tomorrow," by its very definition, never comes.)

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, speaks to this same problem.  The New International Version can be a bit confusing. "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (Romans 7:15) Anyone else have to read that one a few times to get it right? It's like the meme I saw the other day, "The only time the word incorrectly is spelled incorrectly is when it's spelled incorrectly." Umm...yeah. Moving on...

The New Living Translation clarifies that verse. "I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate." It goes on to say in verse 19, "I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway." Sounds pretty much the same, right? Here's another: "I have discovered this principle of life-that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. " (verse 21) Paul liked to repeat himself. Maybe the Romans needed it drilled into their heads more than once. Maybe we do too.

His frustration with himself abounds, "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" (24) Good question! And Paul gives us the answer: "Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord!" (verse 25 a)

Thankfully, He too, like Paul, is willing to do whatever it takes to drum this fact into our heads. We don't have to "be good." We can't be good. Not in our own strength. Not in our own power. Every time we turn from ourselves, our sins, and our frustration, He is there. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. "From now on." All we have to do is ask, and keep asking, every time we mess up, every time we "do what .

Now that's a "From now on" I can believe in.