There is more fiction up here : A Calling of Light
This is a post from September. I think (you may not) it is interesting to compare where I was to where I am now. Not that now is better or worse, but it was different. I think you can hear the difference in my voice.
I just spent four beautiful days in the cool mountains. It was an awesome break from the summer. My friends (who own the cabin we stayed in) are fantastic.They understand my bipolar and support me through it. It’s nice to be somewhere where you’re not ON.
So some news from my recovery activities: I was called to do another presentation on Thursday. It’s a group of nursing students. I also facilitated my support group today. (Our regular guy was out of town). I had nine people and they were great. They kept talking and the time went fast. We discussed seasonal affective disorder (SAD), building a morning routine, and coping with the holidays. On the art therapy front, I am unable to do any origami. Way too hard! So I need to find something else artistic to do. Any ideas?
So today I am going to talk about God and bipolar. I am NOT here to tell you what to believe in and that’s for sure. I support all faiths and those with no faith. If you have a mental illness, I am here for you.
In order to be in “recovery”, one component that is encouraged is a spiritual one. I know this doesn’t mean any certain faith. If you have that, it’s great. But I think this also means that whole concept of a “higher power”, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.
So I will tell you about my faith journey, complete with the highlights and major pitfalls.
I started attending church at the age of thirteen. My best friend in high school belonged to a United Methodist church. So her parents would pick me up and take me on Sundays. I loved it…I got to be with other teenagers and got to be away from my horrible home life. I was active in the youth group, played volleyball, went to church camp, you name it.
Fast forward to college and severe depression. I rarely attended a Baptist church I could walk to from my dorm. It was tough.
When I was about 25, I was manic and joined another United Methodist church but did not really attend much. I was too busy being crazy.
So I got married and my husband and I started attending a very well-to-do United Methodist church nearby. We were incredibly active…volleyball, Marriage Encounter, Sunday School, Bible Study. There were a lot of other young mothers there and we bonded over babies. Our kids were all baptized there. We had a great pastor.
As our kids got a bit older, we started to notice how ridiculous many of the members were. We felt they were really there to show off their money and their clothes. I went manic and made a few enemies and some friends who frankly, were just confused. So we downsized to a smaller church and became fairly active there.
Years went by and I hit a serious depression. Life looked pretty dull and so did church. I was hospitalized and had a terrible experience with that. And one night at the hospital I got about as low as I have ever been. I prayed and asked God to send me a tiny sign or anything to let me know that things would get better. And you know what? Absolutely nothing. I was left down in that pit.
The rational side of me decided that God was a bunch of bunk. Now this didn’t mean I actively went around telling people I didn’t believe in God. I was pretty quiet about it. Then I just stopped going to church for 12 years. I did tell a couple of my long term church friends that God had let me down and I wasn’t sure I believed. I think they were pretty surprised.
About two years ago I started missing church. So my husband and I found a very small United Methodist church north of where we live. It is extremely friendly and has a strict policy of being “welcoming” to all. This includes same sex couples (which can be controversial at some churches), so I figured they might be flexible with the mentally ill. I like this church and the beautiful picture window it has behind the pulpit where one can reflect on the wonderful scenery outside.
Now I am STILL very confused about God. I’m not so concerned with church. Our church focuses on being good to others and the church does a lot of mission projects. I figure it doesn’t hurt to do this kind of stuff regardless of my belief in God. And I like the music.
So during this Labor Day mountain trip, we went to church with our old church friends. They had a definite old-school pastor there. He talked a lot about the judgment day and how we had better get right with God. But it was a nice service and the pastor was very friendly to us afterward. I don’t think they had many guests in that tiny town.
I have asked God for forgiveness for many things. For my crazy behavior while manic. For my neglect of my family while I was depressed. And assorted other sundry sins.
But there are a couple of things I just can’t ask forgiveness for. These are things that are against the Bible, perhaps, but are things I would do over again in a heartbeat if I had the chance. So God and I are at a bit of an impasse there.
I think I am more along the path of belief now, but it is very tentative. I have suffered long and hard at the hands of this bipolar and even more so the stigma of mental illness. I believe I could have achieved so much more in my life had I not had this curse.
But I had better figure it out. Because our good friends talked us into going on a three day weekend called “Walk to Emmaus”. My husband will go one weekend and then I will go the next. The weekend is designed to bring one closer to God and to become more of a leader in the ministry of each church.
I do read a short devotional each morning. And the other day there was a passage that really spoke to me: “Grow strong in your weakness.Some of my children I have gifted with abundant strength and stamina. Others, like you, have received the humble gift of frailty. Your fragility is not a punishment, nor is it an indication of a lack of faith. On the contrary, weak ones like you must learn to live by faith.” Those statements really spoke to me. I DO feel fragile and frail.
Whether God exists or not, is still a question for me. I hope this weekend away in October will give me some perspective.
Regardless of your beliefs, I would encourage you to seek a spiritual side to your recovery. My involvement with things spiritual has made my recovery feel better rounded.
At least God is an easier concept than origami flowers.
hugs to you all,