My diagnosis of Bipolar 1 came with many gifts – although most would say curses. The biggest gift is knowing the voices are not a sign of insanity. The diagnosis helped my world make sense. Finally.
Each moment is a process of will verses surrender. Learning how to understand the cycling and what my triggers are have made my life manageable; and I am now able to exist and function. Discovering how to unwrap the emotions, thoughts, and words has been a difficult journey. But I still have a long road ahead and obstacles to face.
The voices are the biggest hurdles for me as they try to wreak havoc from one direction to another. How does one deal with an onslaught of voices calling for your end or one single voice reminding you that you do not matter?
Most people tell me it is all in my head. My retort is usually paused, as gutturally responding to ignorance can trigger heightened anger. The voices are real, folks. Of course they are in my head. Duh.
I believe the only reason the voices are held at bay is because I have faith in God. I know without a doubt this is the only reason I am still alive. Some might not believe in spiritual warfare – but I absolutely, with firm resolve, do. In fact, I experience it on another level as I can hear them and see their shadows.
So how do I deal with a chorus of negative voices who nip at my heels and sometimes hold my head against the ground? I start to sing The Shelter of Your Presence, a Terry Clark song, loudly in my head. At times, the voices are so loud, I cannot remember the words and in those rare moments, I am paralyzed. The lyrics are simple but hold immense power.
The Shelter of Your Presence by Terry Clark ©
In the shelter of your presence
In the safety of your arms
I will make your love my refuge, from all harm, from all harm
I will cast my cares upon you
Find your peace in every storm
In the shelter of your presence
In the safety of your arms
Is this the best approach to battling the voices? Yes, it is the only one that works for me. The medicine provided by doctors never silences the voices. The reason this song works is because my soul sings it for me when I have no voice, when I cannot hear beyond the shrieking, when I am crushed by heaviness and because it holds truth: His Truth.
I have to remind myself, daily, through my love for Christ and His precious mercy, I have a shelter from the biting wind and I can deflect it.
There are repercussions in attempting to silence the sadistic voices. Even now as I attempt to share my process, my battle plan, and describe how I deal with the voices, I am having a hard time breathing. I can feel the fear rise in the form of a ridged stone towards my throat. My heart is skipping and pausing erratically, making it hard to focus and I feel the pain. However, even in all this, I can sense the words of this simple song rise from beneath the shadows and silence the voices. Because of Christ, I can keep moving.
Being a follower of Christ is not meant to be easy. We are to suffer like Christ suffered.
We are each wonderfully made. I believe God gifted me with Bipolar. This may sound ludicrous to you, yet having this condition has strengthened my walk with God. I rely on Him more than I have ever done in my life. I am also not ashamed to have this “condition.” Bipolar does not define me but instead makes me stronger.
Recently, I have added to my battle plan by sharing my story. And sharing is a battle.
I can hear people, actual people, snickering at me when I share my diagnosis. I had one boss hold my “condition” against me. I have heard people throw the word “bipolar” around as if it was easy to diagnose when they have no clue what the word or condition even means.
Bipolar Disorder is usually characterized by changing moods and this is where people misuse the term. But just because someone is having mood swings, does not mean they are automatically bipolar. The condition is tough to diagnose.
Bipolar highs (manic) and lows (depression) come in either slow or rapid cycles. A person with bipolar can cycle through many highs and lows in a day or over a course of weeks.
Hypo-mania (highs) brings a sense of indestructibility which can lead to financial issues, little to no sleep, extreme happiness, and rapid thoughts. Depression (lows) brings lethargic energy, feeling numb, inability to experience joy, and hopelessness.
One of my doctors decided to change my diagnosis, after some neurological testing, to Borderline Personality Disorder, even though I had documented manic episodes, and six months later, after a lengthy hypo-manic episode, I was $20,000 in debt. My doctor felt awful and changed my diagnosis back to Bipolar.
If a trained professional is challenged in diagnosing Bipolar, why do regular folks think they know more?
I am taking a risk sharing this with you. I can hear the chorus of voices chanting “They are going to think you mad. You are going to be locked up and shunned.” This new step undoubtedly comes with drawbacks. However, God promises I will not be harmed so I place one foot in front of another, and I keep moving forward.
No matter what you are going through in life, remember God has you at all times. Make God the foundation of your battle plan that way, even if you fall, He will carry you through and keep you from harm.
Psalm 91:9-13 NIV
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.