Saturday, February 5, 2011

Looking over the last year

This week marks a year since I was diagnosed with bipolar (type 2 rapid-cycling).

Depression is a mean ugly sickness. It's something that I get get so sick of. Something that threatens full enjoyment, it taints my mind, my feelings, my thoughts. It paralyzes me and tries to suffocate me.

I've struggled deeply to accept myself, and realize I cannot change or save myself. To accept Jesus's love as I am has been a challenge for me. I have grown up thinking I had to earn approval, and it mostly wasn't ever achieved so to think that God approves of me in this ugly state of constant change, constant unknown, up and down, all around, never knowing what even the next few hours will look like is hard to grasp. This has been a journey of grace. It's been beautiful in that God is showing me who He is and the grace He loves to give. That's the thing about His love, it's because of Who He is not what I can and cannot do. (thanks to those that keep reminding me of that).

Depression is relentless and unforgiving. It's not something I can just decide to overcome, or decide to just work through.
Everything looks differently than it really is. It taints my perceptions. When things feel bad I feel like I AM BAD. It's hard to see the truth during depression, but then when it passes things are more clear again. I am trying to learn to remember the truth even when my feelings are playing tricks on me.

I'm so much better than I was a yr. ago. At that point I felt there was no help, no hope, I was useless and pointless. I couldn't stand myself but I also couldn't change it. I couldn't remember anything I wanted to. I couldn't even remember in the shower if I had washed my hair or not a minute before and I often re-washed it, and other times I got out of the shower only to realize when brushing my hair that I had not washed it. I would focus and tell myself "I am washing my hair now" and I still wouldn't know a minute later if I had done it or not. Other silly things like getting flowers from marc and being so overwhelmed about putting the plant food in water that I couldn't do it. Ugh.
I'm finding things with the kids are not so anxious and fearful. I'm having to re-train my mind to take things in stride and not fear that I won't be able to do something. I'm learning to take responsibilty for house chores and things with the kids. Normal things that seem crazy to not just do. When I'm depressed though those things seem impossible.

Some days like today I woke up and everything around me was great: Marc's home for the weekend, the kids are happy and healthy, our home is good, nothing bad going on... and yet I felt a cloud of blah over me and felt overwhelmed from the minute I awoke. No amount of thinking about fun things coming up, or good things that have happened can pull me out. Then other times everything around me can be horrible and to me it all feels good.
I long for consistency. In my feelings, my thoughts, my passions, my actions, yet there isn't much consistency because this rapid-cycling pops up as quickly as it goes. It isn't something I can predict, or prevent.

There are triggers that I can expect to bring on bipolar episodes. Going shopping, even for a specific item drives me into a high and an obsession of shopping. Not getting good sleep, even one night can throw me into a spiral of depression. Stress, sickness, hormones, they each play their part. But overall I don't even see it coming, and can't predict or prevent or protect myself from it.

I want to and I still tell myself I should be able get myself out of this, but if I really think about it and think about others going through this and how I feel towards them, I am very aware that it's not my fault, not my choice, and not understood by others. Its' a disease, a sickness, that tries to rob me from fully living, fully loving, fully experiencing. The beauty of God's love though is that He brings beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair. He uses bad for good.

God's hope and healing and love is much bigger than any of this. I've been in dark hopeless places and times, I've felt I couldn't go on, wanted to disappear or find a dark cave to escape to. I've wanted to not exist, but finding out there is something wrong that can and IS being treated brings hope that I didn't have before this time last year. I know there's progress, I know there's medicine and counseling, and support and prayers with and from friends and family.

I'm learning to accept myself at times. I'm learning to give myself grace sometimes and some slack when I can't. It it's a process and it's one that I KNOW God won't leave me alone in, and one that He continues to bring me into health and wholeness, the way He intends me to be. I know He's faithful and everlasting and one day I will be fully healed. I look forward to that day, but I'm also hopeful and thankful for the days ahead and past that I will and have been well. I'm so grateful to Jesus for His love, His faithfulness, His understanding, and His willingness to walk along side me.

The past few weeks have been dark weeks for me. The last few months have been full of rapid-cycling, so right now isn't a good judge of the last year. Overall I've realized that I can have hope, and I will with God's help one day overcome, and that I can by staying in the now, experience much joy and truth right where I am. I am much better than I was a yr. ago, and many years before that.

My worst days now are still much better than my best days in the past.

In Christ we are more than conquerors! With God all things are possible! He loved me enough to send His only son to die for me, so I may have life.
That's hope and something to trust!

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