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A story of Bipolar Disorder
By Sara Duggan

Screaming, Yelling, Pressure, Noise, Chaos, Anger. Paranoia. Depression. Hyperactivity. What happens when you mix that with a husband and children? Disaster!

I have a disorder that the medical community calls Bipolar. It means I have mood swings that are pretty drastic. I get really energetic at times and at other times I don’t have the energy to get out of bed. Sometimes this is the way we live the Christian life.

One day we are very on fire for Jesus and want to “win” souls for him and do all we can for him and other days we are dry and lethargic and only want to sit in the pew and get our “angel” points for the day.

This should not be--Not in our Spiritual life or in our Family life. It took almost losing my family and my mind to wake me up to the real power and majesty of our Lord--The Lord who is Reigning on High, who is in charge of everything that goes on in this world, good or bad.

I have always suffered from melancholy or Depression which ever you may prefer to call it. From the time I was 15, I have had vast mood swings. It started out as depression, I remember always having the urge to end my life. For silly reasons like not getting the grade I thought I should have gotten on an exam or losing a book or yelling at my sisters or not losing enough weight according to my predetermined goal for the month.

I had a tender heart at this age and to some extent still do. This made me hyper sensitive to people, the words they flippantly said and their cruel actions. I had a difficult time at high school, not academically but socially. I was a recluse and loner by the time high school ended. This caused great stress in my life as well as, working full-time and dealing with the dynamics of a modern day not truly “there” family.

During the “Good Times” as I would like to call them, I would leave for no apparent reason and drive until I could not drive anymore. The furthest I have been in this state of mind is Missouri and I made it there in 27 hours.

I have been on shopping sprees where I would spend thousands of dollars on absolutely nothing in the space of one hour--sometimes even stealing this money from family members. (The invention of online shopping has really enabled me to spend in this way because it is so simple and I can do it in the privacy of my own home.)

I would think irrational thoughts, for instance, I would think I was sent here to bring Peace to the world and save the lost souls from pain. I would talk and talk with thoughts and ideas just racing through my head so fast I couldn’t catch up to myself.

I would take my older son to all the “fun” places and buy him anything he wanted. (He really loves me in this state.) I could pull up carpet, strip a wooden floor, paint a room, hang wallpaper, sew curtains and a chair cover all in the space of 48 to 72 hours with no sleep. Pretty cool huh?

This is also a time where I am uninhibited by my shyness and meet people. They usually think I am an o.k. person. It was during one of these Up times that I met and married my husband. Up until this point he hadn’t really seen any of my dark times. Although, he did meet me in a mental hospital…you wonder huh? ( but that’s another story all of it’s own. ( pretty cool one though!)

Although the above things are really positive and worthwhile things, in my world, “if there is an up, there usually is a down just around the corner”.

I call this time the Crash. This is usually the part that most people don’t understand. Because you see, the up part is usually the time I feel good about myself and start taking care of myself. I start eating right and exercising therefore losing the “depression” weight. I usually get a job and do quite well often getting a great review and a raise within the first 3 months. But before the Crash really takes a hold of me, I quit my job. (That should be the first sign to me, or anyone who knows me that a crash is in the works.) I start to miss days at work. I’ll start sleeping, which most likely I haven’t done in 3 to 4 days, (sometimes longer) and then I’ll start eating everything and anything in site, mostly junk food, fast food and soda. I’ll with drawl from everyone. I’ll just feel lethargic and like I just want to disappear, die, whatever will rid me of this darkness. I will eventually slip into what I call the “hole”.

This is a hole that swallows me up so deeply, I can’t see or hear others around me. The only thing that is real to me are my own thoughts and feelings. They swallow me up so much that it is hard to think. Negative thoughts about me and others will rule over anything positive anyone says to me. I start to get paranoid. The “people are out to get me” kind of paranoid. I have even had times when I thought the government was following me to plan and take my kids away. (or kidnappers, I guess I have a really active imagination huh?) I would drive in such a way as not to be followed, or at my most down times, I wouldn’t even go out of the house fearful for my life or the lives of my children.

This is also the time where my children and my husband get the brunt of all my negative thoughts about myself which is spewed out onto them. I am just an evil person when this side takes over. Saying things that are hurtful and damaging to a person’s spirit let alone the spirit of a young child who only wants him Mommie to love him and play with him like she used to.

My irritability level is really high during this time. My tolerance is low. My nit picking is unrelenting. I know all of this hurts the people I love but I continue to spew the evil that is in my heart. I feel so guilty about this that I sink even deeper into the “hole”.

I would stay this way for months and months just falling deeper and deeper, wanting help but not knowing how to reach for it. Eventually I just get tired of feeling this way and want to escape, so I usually attempt to take my own life.

I have done this since I was 15. Pills, cutting by wrists, driving recklessly, running away hoping to be stranded and killed by some mass murderer, this is the insanity that goes on in my mind. How I ever survive is a mystery to me? You would think I would be dead by now? God knows I have pleaded with him in prayer, weeping buckets of tears asking for him to take me away or make me disappear, erase my existence, make like I never was born. Others would tell me good grief just kill yourself already-- Your wasting too much valuable space--The earth is way overcrowded we don’t need nut cases like you ruining it for the rest of us. And I guess if God didn’t allow me to get married and have children, I would probably listen to them and try more harsh and permanent ways to end my life. But over the years, I have come to realize I don’t want to die per se or else I would already be dead. I just want this insanity to stop.

They say I have a “mood disorder”. Something called Bipolar. What’s that you ask? Supposeably I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that makes it hard for my body to balance out my hormones. This causes drastic changes in mood. Really High, Highs and really Low, lows. I am not balanced. Most people are balanced so they have no idea what it is like to be me, they just label me “crazy” or in Christian circles, a “sinner” who needs to get right with God so that he can heal me.

There is medication out there to stabilize ones hormones. I am currently taking one to handle the high and one to handle the low. In theory, this is supposed to balance me out so that I can live somewhat of a “normal” life. Well, we’ll see.

The damage to my family is repulsive to me. I have harmed my son’s heart in my estimation, beyond repair. (but nothing is impossible with God)

When he was 5 he ran away from home twice within a 3 day period. Once during the day, in which, His grandfather found him wandering the streets--Another, at night, in a dangerous neighborhood. My heart cried out to God to find him, and He brought him back to me via the police.

His little heart just wants his Mommie back. The one who held him, who read to him book after book after book. He wants the mommie who played baseball and soccer with him. He wants the mommie who took him to the park and the library and took walks with him. He wants the mommie who put him to bed with songs like “silent night”, “away in the manger”, “Jesus loves you”, and “you are my sunshine”. He wants the sweet Mommie who stayed by his side until he fell asleep, who said I love you, who read to him the children’s bible and said a prayer with him.

I don’t know who or where she is. I am her, at least I think I am. I don’t look like her because I have gained nearly 130 pounds in the last two years. I see myself in the mirror and don’t recognize myself. I don’t feel like her. I am just numb--kind of blank, not really feeling anything. It could be the medication, maybe, but is this all he has to look forward to? Isn’t there something I can do to change this mess and get back to “normal”?

Up until last month (September 2002) I would have said no. I was resigned to play out the crazy me, and let it take over and stop fighting. I was o.k. with the idea of living my life in and out of mental hospitals, out on the street, hoping maybe by some miracle someone would put me out of my misery. But something happened that even I was not ready for.

I went on a little Retreat with my mother. Something her church had put together. I went mostly to get away from the kids, the noise, the chaos, but mainly, just to sleep. God on the other hand, had a different plan for me that weekend.

He pushed me to my end, He had his saints praying on behalf of my soul. I came to the end of me and the beginning of him. The weight that I had placed on my heart long ago, not even realizing I had placed it there, rolled away. I finally walked into his door. I had knocked before but “I” kept getting in the way. I couldn’t see Jesus because “I” was so big. He wrapped me in his arms and enveloped me with his love. I was soaked in the Love of Jesus. Nothing in all my life has ever felt this good. Believe me, I have tried many things in this world to satisfy the longing and emptiness in my soul. Most would work for a little while, but I was always searching never turning my heart to the One being who could fill me up forever, to the point where I would never thirst again.

It’s like the last two years and to some extent the last 7 years have gone by without me. I was here but someone else lived those days for me. I can’t quite explain what I feel inside but I know now, that Jesus lives in me and is here to stay. I can’t help but be happy. My faith in God makes me happy. He is so amazing. Nothing can bother me. Not even a bad mood. He has everything in control. Everything! Do you really get that? Everything--from the chaos in the world, to the spilling of the milk, to the lost cat, to the crying baby. Everything! Nothing is a surprise to him. We don’t have to worry about a thing because God is the ruler of the Universe. Everything has to pass through him and if it passes through him, It will be used for his purpose, which is to bring about his Kingdom. That is so calming to my spirit. Worry is such a waste of time. We have more important things to do. Like, loving others, helping the widows and orphans. The lost need seeds planted so that the Holy Spirit can yield a new eternal soul.

Do you have family members that are unsaved? Do you have family members who are saved but are living in such a way that in unpleasing to their Father? Do you have co-workers that challenge you to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Do you have children that are going astray? Stop! Stop what you are doing and pray! Don’t you see the pain? We need to love, to share, to be involved with these people. How will they know if we just hide out in our church in the same pew every Sunday? I am not saying church is bad or wrong. I am just saying that sometimes we try and make the life God wants us to live fit into our lifestyle. We don’t see the truly needy because our eyes are on our own. Do you have a rebellious son? Pray for him. God loves him far more than you ever could. If you pray, then stop worrying, God will give his saints what they pray for. He will set your sons life back on the path to the Cross. It is a given. He said he would so believe him and get on to the next person in need.

Do you look down on others? Do you judge others? Do you live in apathy? Pray! Help the single mother. Care for the Teenage girl who is pregnant and all alone. Offer support to the new mom who is experiencing Postpartum Depression and an overwhelming uncertainty about her ability to parent her newborn. Bring the rough neighbor kid to Awana’s. Always pray!!! Give the homeless man a nice warm blanket. Bring a card and flower to a shut in just because. Set up a time where people can come to have their cars fixed for free. Offer to help repair a home for someone who needs it---Not just for the people in “YOUR” church, but the world. How will the people in your neighborhood see Jesus unless you bring him to them? Most won’t come to the church but they will see his light if you offer it to them. Pray, Give, and the Holy Spirit will enable them to Receive.

I am told that Bipolar is a lifetime disorder. I will be on medication to balance my moods for the rest of my life. That’s okay with me because I know who is really keeping me sane. The Lord is my balance. For those of you who are naturally balanced, don’t be a Bipolar Christian. Let the Lord of the Universe Balance you out. He can give meaning and purpose to your life on a regular basis, not just on Sunday’s. Pray! Open the Eyes of our Hearts Lord. Show us the True meaning of Worship and Service to You.

God Bless you and keep you!

Sara Duggan
ã 2002 http://www.geocities.com/mommie-care/ppd.html

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