Recently, I was thinking of the way my diagnosis of bipolar disorder have affected my perspective in life. When I knew that bipolar is a lifelong condition, I was at first very discouraged. I felt as if I have been given a lifetime imprisonment sentence in which there will be no release from this prison. It is worst then a death sentence.
There are different kinds of prison in this world. When I was diagnosed with proneness to bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), it was a relief to me because it helps me to understand my confusing past. With medical helps, counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, regular exercise, Omega 3 fish oil, managing stress level, et etc my condition is under control now and I am able to live a more productive life.
But my diagnosis last year did at one point of time throw me into despair. When I knew that bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition and that it is cyclical in nature, which means it will recur, I was very discouraged. Every prolonged and severe depressive episode is very unbearable and painful beyond words. The nature of severe depressive episodes is such that our brain can become so malfunctioning and can't receive/send the appropriate messages which cause our thoughts or feelings to be either blank, flat or distorted. Depression robs away all joy and hope, and makes living itself very difficult. I am often tempted with suicidal thoughts during severe depression episodes and I often pray that the Lord will take me home. The inability to enjoy my family, church, friends, work and even God Himself (as my brain simply can't function), makes life very meaningless. The hopeless I faced each day is beyond words description. Day in day out, night in nigh out, every hour, facing such hopelessness and helplessness is like living in hell. Oh, how the Lord preserved me! I cannot imagine how I could have survived those distressing episodes without God's mercies and preservation. Though I couldn't feel God's presence with me at times due to the chemical imbalance in my brain, God is still with me to sustain and deliver me.
When I knew that bipolar is a lifelong condition, I was at first very discouraged. I felt as if I have been given a lifetime imprisonment sentence in which there will be no release from this prison. It is worst then a death sentence. A death sentence will end all pain and misery once and for all. But to be imprison in a brain that can malfunction at any point of time and be thrown into severe depression episodes over and over again, is both scary and distressing. How my heart sank when I thought of that. But thank God that He will never allow us to be tempted or tried more than we can bear. I found comfort in God's Words and His love, mercies and faithfulness. I realized that no matter what God allows me to go through, He will be with me in it and His grace will be sufficient for me. He promised that He is working all things for His glory and for my good. And He will never leave me nor forsake me. He makes no mistake! If He allows me to have bipolar disorder, He knows that it will be cyclical. He does not delight in my sufferings. But yet He allows it for a good purpose and I can trust in His love and sovereignty.
I prayed much for grace to submit to God's will, to trust in Him and His mercies, and to live for Him despite my condition. Bipolar disorder does not define me nor my life. It is merely an illness just like diabetes, hypertension and asthma. People with these illness can live a life close to normal despite their limitations. So with medical and other help, people with bipolar, depression and other poor mental health illness can also live a life that is close to normal and be useful and productive.
There are different kind of freedom. I realized then that I still have the freedom to make choices. Would I smile when I see my family, church and friends or would I weep? Would I rail against God in bitterness or would I ask Him to strengthen my faith and give me grace to live for Him despite my condition? Would I allow my condition to rule and ruin my life, or would I seek to find and apply whatever help that is available and within my means to make use of? Would I allow my life to waste away in despair and hopelessnes, or would I look to God for strength to be useful and helpful to others by giving them hope in their own sufferings? In other words, what would I do with the free will that was still mine?
I decided to live as fully as I could, as the Lord enables me, to look for ways to transcend my physical and mental limitations by making use of my available mental capacities and expanding its use to help others. I could choose to be a role model to others who suffer in various ways, or I could wither and die, emotionally as well as physically and mentally.
There are many kinds of freedom. When we lose one kind, we must look for another. We can look at our illness and our limitations, or we can look through them. I thank God that He is strengthening me day by day and giving me the grace to trust in Him, to look beyond my condition to see His love and faithfulness, and to make use of whatever helps He has provided for me to help others too.
I thank God for the joy of developing this blog which is not only therapeutic to myself as I journal my thoughts and feelings. It also has been helping others who are suffering from depression and bipolar. I thank God that I can share His goodness and mercies, for it is only when we view our pains and sufferings in the light of the sovereignty and love of God, that we can find hope and help in our prisons. In God is our freedom and liberality. One day we shall leave our earthly prison to go to a far away land where the roads are made of gold, there are many mansions for us to live in, there will be no more pains and sorrows, and we shall enjoy our Lord Jesus Christ's love for all eternity. Maybe then we can understand a little better the path He has chosen for us. It shall redown to His glory and we shall be awed by His love and faithfulness, through all the changing scenes of life. What a mercy! And what a comfort! It is these thoughts and knowledge that gives me the courage to face each day joyfully in the Lord, looking unto Him alone who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He who laid down His life for me, loves and cares for me daily. Praise Him.
My friend, HH Sau, took this lovely photo at Combodia.
"For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness." Psalm 18:26