For quite some time I've been loosing my hope. It seems like it's been getting dimmer and dimmer and I had gotten to the place where I thought maybe I wouldn't get better, and that no one could help me.
With the prompting of some precious friends I went to see a christian psychiatrist yesterday. I've spent the last 8 years seeing various OBGY, nurse practitioners, and my family doctor for various kinds of depression. With most of my babies I had PPD (post partem depression) and then after Sarah in 2004 I started having a lot of PMS problems around my monthly cycles. In 2008 I was diagnosed with PMDD (pre menstrual disphoric disorder) which is basically a fancy term for REALLY BAD PMS! For me it lasted up to 2 weeks, and as the years have went on (and babies came) I've had more breakthrough depression. In the last 6 months I've just felt worse and worse. Sometimes feeling like it was all I could do to get out of bed. I just have felt so tired.
Yesterday 2/2/10 I was diagnosed with Rapid-Cycling Bipolar (Type 2) as well as ADHD.
The bipolar came as a shock to Marc and I both in most ways.. yet there have been times where he and I both have wondered about bipolar. I am grateful that Marc was with me yesterday, to be able to let Jesus put pieces of our puzzle together. We both were truly amazed at how much the questions the Dr. asked me were so right on and described my struggles so accurately. I had no idea that he would later explain that I had bipolar, yet now as I process it all makes so much sense.
For me I always thought of bipolar as really high euphoric highs, and lots of crazy actions, and then low and then ok and then cycling through again. Honestly I didn't know much more; I haven't personally known anyone who is bipolar.
My type of Bipolar has what are called hypomania where my high/manic episodes are milder and for me they aren't euphoric happy highs, they are more obsessive addictive highs. In the past that has come through in lots of various stupid "obsessions" that at the time were all I could think about, all consuming.
In attemp to disperse the shame and embarrasment these highs haven't been anything I've shared with people, they are times that only Marc and I knew. I just couldn't share with my awesome doing well christian put together friends (and family) about the crazy obsession I had at the time that kept me up late at night, and conflicted with everything I care about. It has made these ups and downs feel very alone for me. I know that we all have our struggles, but I just couldn't see anyone else around me being and doing as terrible as I was! (I know this is a lie by the way).
I knew at the time that what I was obsessing about and so hooked on were not important but I could not help myself. One episode of high came through me buying insane amounts of fabric ($1000 plus) for making cloth diapers which at the time was my home internet business, many Other times it often came as hours and hours of being on the computer reading and writing on my mom board and cloth diaper board, or natural living board. I would block out everything around me and it was a way for me to escape the chaos of my life around me. These things gave me a high, and a feeling of "pleasure" that obviously weren't from God, and I knew that but I couldn't help it. The Dr. explained that often bipolar type 2 manic episodes come in the form of buying or spending money, in hyper focusing on something, or talking and thinking about things at a fast pace, which Marc and I could both relate to. Marc actually laughed outloud when the Dr. asked if I sometimes talk at a fast pace and for long periods. Marc has in these times often asked me... "Honey could you just put a period after that, could you just finish a thought, please just a period, you're stressing me out". He always said that playfully but he meant it. I could go on and on with how these manic times play out for me. For me those times aren't euphoric happy highs, they are obsessive highs. Oh, another example is when I spent months totally obsessing about eating healthy, about switching our family to organic or natural foods, and I spent many hours at the store reading labels and online researching.
And when I am in my lows, it was really low. I feel completely consumed with a feeling of being overwhelmed. EVERYTHING in my life feels like too much during these times and they often last for months at a time. My sweet children were overwhelming, my house, my dishes, the laundry, maintaining friendships, ministering Jesus's love, everything was just too much. During these times it's felt like my life goes on hold. Everything stands still until I get my feeting again, and often these times last several months.
Then like a switch I'd be ok... ups and downs come and go so quickly for me which is so frustrating and I feel so out of control.
I also have what my Dr. described as "Rapid Cycling" bipolar. That means I have more than 4 High/low episodes in a year. For me I cycle through often and feel completely out of control. I can feel the chaos coming on, but I can't do or say or convince myself of anything to pull my self up and out.
Spiritually it's been a very discoraging alone place as I have not understood why I can't see God's love and truth and just stay in that place. I've felt like such a failure especially for God. The dreams and compassion I've had and the deep love and concern for people who are hurting just disappears for me.. and no "Knowing in my head what's right" helps me. I am sad to say that many times, for many years I have ran away from my sweet Jesus instead of to Him.
My immediate response to anything hard is to pull away, to pull inside myself and shut off. My Jesus and My husband and children have felt the pain of this many times.
I can't even begin to describe the amazing strength, love, and beauty that is in Marc. He has been my rock, he has been Jesus with skin on for me, and often at the expense of his own desires, needs, and dreams. His heart and calling for ministry has been a struggle over the years as at times I have required much more of him than he could or should ever have to give.
Jesus is truly showing me that HE alone is my source, my sustinance, and my Husband can't save me.. as much as I want him to or he wishes he could. It's not God's design. He's a jealous God that wants to be my first love, and He wants all of me. I'm slowly (with slow steps forward and several steps back at times) learning to trust and go to my Saviour for my needs. Apart from Him I really am nothing.
It's such a process of learning to die to myself, my desires, my selfishness, my fears, my lies... to live, to be Jesus's and to find true life in Him.
I don't want to just survive my life, I want to live and love and have His joy for myself, for my husband, and for my children, and for those around me that so need me to show them how much Jesus loves them.
I have struggled the last day thinking about what a stigma, especially among christians that there is towards depression. I have so often heard (through some of my close friends) that these battles are only spiritual, and that pysically there is no sickness.. just a lack of faith and trust in God. I am surrendering to Jesus's healing in me through the hand of my Dr's, the form of pills, in ways that I too have in the past struggled with wheither those things were ok or not. I still struggle at times. I wish I were able to pray it away, or feel so blessed to not be depressed, or trust Him enough to just "think positive" and overcome my situation. I'm learning to let Jesus in, to be real and to be quiet and ok to just be in His arms, with all my struggles and sins, and to let His blood cover me.
His word says He gives us all we need, that He is our portion, that His strength is perfected in our weakness, that I can do all things through Him, that apart from Him I am nothing, but with God ALL things are possible.
I'm only beginning to see that He truly does love me, as me, and He's ok with the process of loving me through my human weaknesses. He is willing to wait and let me come to Him, He is so tender and gentle, yet His love is so strong and never swayed.
I am laying down my pride, with Jesus's help. I am not this put together everything is easy and happy person that I wish my life was, but I am Jesus's and He is enough for me, and He is making me more like Him and rewriting my story.
As I've begun to process and think about how this diagnosis will play out in my relationship with those I love, I have to admit I've allowed fear to creep in, but it's just that, it has no power over me and I am asking Jesus to help me only listen to HIS voice in my life. My expectation is to Him, and what others think really doesn't matter as much as I think it does. My fears that my family will see me as a broken Mama and a broken wife, and an unpredictable, irresponsible, scatterbrained, LAZY person are just that, fears, not from Jesus, and not what matters, and according to my husband they aren't accurate either.
So I'm not going to allow this to "label" me as forever broken, but to allow it to be the hope that I WILL get better, and that Jesus is working on me.. and that this process is a process worth working through. Gulp.
I know some as christians do not like labeling and feel it puts a spiritual weakness or target on us to believe we aren't ok... but for me this is hope. Hope that there is something going on in my mind and my body that needs the healing power of Jesus, the love of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and that there's not just "something wrong with me that won't get better, and that is just because I'm a sucky person".
I walked out of that Dr's office yesterday feeling hope for the first time in a very long time, and for once I felt understood. I praise God and thank Him that he brought me to a Dr. that loves Him and does what he does for God's glory. I thank Jesus that he knows his work, and that he knew what to ask me, what direction to go, and ultimately he is a hand extended from Jesus, to help me.
I'm hopeful that the new combination of medicines will be what my body needs, and I'm praying that the transition will be smooth.
I'm also wanting to let Jesus do his healing work on the inside of my heart too.
There are lots of wrong patterns and things that I've done and not done because of the bipolar, and I am hopeful and believe that God will continue that work that He began until the day He comes.
Please pray that I will continue to run to Jesus, that I will let Him love me, and that I will trust Him with what I can't see ahead.
Please pray for Marc and I as Jesus helps us heal and deal with things that we've experienced in our marriage and that we would learn new ways to be and love each other, the ways that God intends.
Please pray for my precious children. My heart hurts when I think about all they have been through because of where I've been at.
Please pray that God will restore the years the locust have eaten.
He has been so faithfully helping me over the last year to really be there for my children, and I'm learning to not pull back from them. There's so much that I need Jesus to teach me, so many patterns that need His light and truth, so I can be the Mommy he has made me to be.
And to my friends and family, I'm sorry for the many many times when I haven't been what you've needed or wanted. I have many many times wanted and tried to be and do differently than I am, and haven't been able to. Thank you for sticking with me and for praying for me and believing that God can and is working inside of me.
I love you all!