We are all a piece of the  puzzle. Our lives interlock to form an image more beautiful than any single piece.

Nobody knows everything about me, but they all know something. It’s not what I convey in words, it’s also in what I do. I try to do the next right thing every day, but I don’t. Not by a long shot.

I suppose I want a relationship with God where I can get the good stuff from him and try to make myself feel better on my own. I’m not sure why I’m afraid to be honest. Fear is a knot inside of me.

We are driven either by fear or by love. It can be difficult either way. I used to say to the kids ‘we can do it the hard way or the easy way.’ True. But we can also do it by the hard way or the harder way. Sometimes that’s the choice. Perhaps if we do it the harder way God gives us more help.

Thats what I’m going to find out.

Aside

Grace!!!

At the end of the day, everybody, all of us, are just a bunch of broken people. I will never forget the words to a song that has stuck with me since I was a child. It was performed by the Gaither band, and I don’t think it was ever recorded by anybody else. Friday nights at a community center of some sort, a group of people from various denominations came together to worship the Lord. The song, Something Beautiful.

Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But he made something beautiful of my life

If there ever were dreams
That were lofty and noble
They were my dreams at the start
And hope for life’s best were the hopes
That I harbor down deep in my heart
But my dreams turned to ashes
And my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss
So I wrapped it all in the rags of my life
And laid it at the cross.

CHORUS

All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But he made something beautiful of my life

The verse that says ”all I had to offer him was brokenness and strife’ meant so much to me. The song, they would play on acoustic guitars, my dad playing, me being proud.

At the end of the day, that’s’ it. Gifts of brokenness and strife. That’s just a whole lot of my life. Me offering brokenness and Him offering healing.

We get banged around a lot in this life. Its not just Christians. It’s every single person on the earth. I speak to the church because I do believe we are called more than anybody else to offer grace and love. I think the age of ‘tough love’ has passed. That doesn’t mean zero accountability or the Lord allowing us to continue in our sin. It means being very prayerful and thoughtful if we feel the need to exert influence on another one’s life.

There are a lot of broken, hurting people out there and yes, there is a time and place for dealing with that. I just submit that our own brokenness might hinder us from offering grace to a whole lot of broken people.

And if you find an updated version of that song, please let me know.

Grace!!!

Educating

I was working on a really good posting and then life happened and it actually was an amazing moment of my intentions and others intentions coming together. I had a sponsor who said ‘look for the motive under the motive.’ I’m trying to do that.

There aren’t the same type of support group for people with bipolar illness as there is for alcoholics, but the 12 step process works for just about anybody.

Educating yourself about people’s illnesses is really important. I’ve seen in other people’s lives how the program can really come together in a family to help everybody affected by an illness. A person doesn’t have to leave their home to find information. My illnesses cause me to isolate. In meetings there are people who have had or currently have pain. Being with these people, in an environment where you can share anything….and I mean anything, and being affirmed and even relating to others helps to get you into your atmosphere. I am not a born again Christian, I am not a fundamentallist Christian, I’m not only bipolar, I am and I am not lots of things. I have never been embarrassed for what I have shared with another alcoholic.

I had forgotten about that.

Educating

Who We Are

I think there is only one person who reads this thing. At least I hope so.

I write what is true to me, and I write what I would like to see. To see from the church, from AA, from my family, from God. Just because I write it doesn’t make it so.

I have been reading about a drunk who was memorialized in the movie ‘Barfly.’ His name was Charles Bukowski. He was a drunk and a writer. Probably in that order. He drank his whole life. In fact, from time to time you’ll see the quote

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”

Whether there were interventions or therapists or even one AA meeting, I think he would want you to believe not. If you haven’t seen Barfly, I can recommend it highly just in the sense of being well performed and providing a lot of food for thought.

The relevance to me is that I wonder who I am. Am  I the Missy who hasn’t had life experience, the drinking, the illness, all of it. Would I be a different Missy if I had a PhD or had 10 children or lived in L.A..?

Is the true me a person of age 25 or 46, or am I not me yet because I’m really the Missy I will be at 50? And  who are you? If you write a book, traveled the world or lived in India would you be a different person? Are you a better person because of your accomplishments or in spite of them?

If a person has a brain tumor does that ruin who you are? Are you your brain? Drinking physically changes your brain and behavior, does it destroy the real you? If you go to heaven brain damaged, even as a result of your choices, is that who you are?

We die, we say we go to heaven. Who will we be there? Good children? Self-assured 55 year olds? Who are we if we don’t sin? When my grandfather died, not 30 seconds later, my grandmother said ‘where is he right now?’

I judge other people. Sometimes my judgment is to not judge.

I feel better about myself when I’m doing things that make me healthy. I work on improving things. Change is difficult.  We could all have a little more grace around us. We don’t know other people, their talents and their limitations. A person said to me one time, ‘I would change places with you if I could.’ I wondered if she thought she’d do better than me.Yes I judge others. I don’t know what kind of hell they are in. God help me.

Who We Are

Illness and Morality

I was so interested in seeing Black Box   on ABC last night. I anticipated it for a few weeks. I knew it was going to be a doctor with bipolar illness. As far as tv shows go, this was a fine show. I wasn’t bowled over. I wasn’t concerned with how this might illuminate my friends and family. As much as I covet understanding, I was realistic. I wasn’t prepared for a side of how they represented her immoral behavior.

In my world, in all that has happened through the years, there is nobody more in need of a Savior than me. I believe the Bible is the Truth, written from God’s lips, and it doesn’t feel to me as if anybody was more determined to in some way touch the hem of the clothing of the person standing next to Jesus. I exaggerate, but I’m trying to say this with the core of my being. Only Christ wants my salvation more than me.

The thing is, I do have this illness. Let’s pretend for a moment that I wasn’t bipolar, which would be great. In that case, I would still be an addict an an intense one.

I am really truly grateful for the examples of those who have gone before me who did suffer more than me.

The problem, is I have this great moral failing. I sin. I do things that are against what I believe and I do it often. A verse I acquainted with is Matthew 7:4: In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

In truth, I don’t know that I have resisted. In my illness, there is just a mountain of sin that I don’t think I resisted. If I had courage and strength I can, but not in my own self.

What has happened with me morally, I have to bear. I have broken things that I don’t think I can put back together in this life.

So…in getting back to it….the tv show ‘The Black Box’ displayed a vulnerability people with addictions and bipolar illness have. For me, what I think. is. that. I am praying for a waterfall of Truth and Grace to wash away the fear, guilt and regret.

Illness and Morality

Shedding Depression

I never speak for all alcoholics or people with bipolar illness. My experiences are not the same. My thoughts are not the same. But, there is enough similarity that we who identify ourselves with one another can help each other. For addicts in particular, there is an uncanny ability to read one another. There is a desire to disengage and isolate.

I think people who haven’t had life changing suffering, cannot relate as well to those who suffer. I wonder if that is why addicts and those with mentally ill scorn the church. I don’t know. It’s hard to be friends with someone who never spent a night puking up their guts, arose with misery and started the whole thing over again…over and over with the minutes, day and years being consumed with it all.

Further, I don’t understand others, their own trials. On some level I have empathy and I know my empathy is not as great as the ones who are suffering in ways I haven’t suffered. I’m aware enough to say that people don’t understand without judging them for not understanding. Francis I. Anderston – “true words can be thin medicine for a man in the depths.’

When my former husband had an occasion to be hospital overnight, there was a man in his room who was  just completely out of it, dying, not understanding where he was. He kept yelling out for help all day and all night. I was there for a visit and he asked me over and begged me to help him get out of there. ‘Throw my legs over the bed, I’ll do the rest!’

You see, if I could throw my legs over the bed, wouldn’t I have done it by now?

Shedding Depression

Inbetween Articles

I think much of what I write is my wish list. It isn’t necessarily what is best for me. I have found this verse I rely on to try to keep thinking straight:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,i and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ

The New International Version. (2011). (2 Co 10:5). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

One of the tools I’ve learned in DBT is to be mindful. My tapes run on a track that plays through…some days it’s brutal. Fortunately, not all the time. So…to me being mindful is taking a thought and evaluate it. How I try to evaluate it is according to the following verse:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

The New International Version. (2011). (Ro 12:3). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

The phrase ‘sober judgment’ is always what I’m meditating on when I take a thought captive. Sober judgment. Neither more highly or lowly than I ought.

I think if I stay on that course, I’m more likely to view things more properly.

And I still have not gone to church.

Inbetween Articles

Being a Friend

I have been thinking about the friends have made and lost since my diagnosis of bipolar illness. I’m not sure if people are subtle, or if I’m daft, but I often don’t notice what’s going on. It has been offered up to me that I have a lack of self-awareness.

I think the first time I noticed that was when a friend, a roommate, in college confronted me about my drinking. We were conversing, she offered it up that I was having problems with it, and I told her I wasn’t, that I was quite happy, and she listed me at least 3 things I had just told her I was unhappy about.

It has happened in counseling. I was saying that I don’t get encouragement from others, and the therapist pointed out something she said 10 minutes ago.

I have had friends stop calling me or taking my calls. In the past, I have, I guess been confrontational, that is to say I have asked directly, and they deny it, but eventually I realize that I need to let it go.

A friend in passing will talk about how they enjoy dressing up and wearing nice clothing, and in retrospect I realizing she’s trying to tell me something.

I ask a friend to coffee and she says let’s wait until the kids are back in school even though her kids are in college.

I don’t even know how often this happens with other people. I just lack a bit of self-awareness, I do put myself down a lot, I care what people think. i don’t think people are saying good things about me, and I have been told a lot that it’s none of my business what other people think about me.

A lot of what goes on with me is the depressive aspect of my illness. 

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not easy to be friends with me. There are a lot of factors going in to who I am, but at the end of it, I would like friends and I don’t know how to get them and keep them. I know this and want to change it. I’m working to change it.

I guess what I’m asking is ‘will you be my friend?’

Being a Friend

The Ushering in of Easter

Ok, it’s Eastertime. People who don’t usually go to church will go on this day. I am not an exemplary church goer. My excuse is that C.S. Lewis and Bono didn’t/don’t like going to church. That is an excuse for me, whatever their reasons. What is really happening is that I am scared to go. I’m scared to be around a bunch of people. I’m scared of coming in the building and going out. I’m scared of taking communion because my hands might shake too bad.  I’m afraid of dropping the offering plate.

I don’t like shaking hands with people and saying ‘God loves you.’ I’m not fond of singing.

Actually the only part I care about is the sermon. It has to be clever. Unfortunately for me, churches post their sermons online, so i don’t have to go.

I’ll admit that I have been hurt by people and I don’t want to be in that position anymore. I’m embarrassed by the way I look and feel.

There are reasons for this that are beyond the scope of the subject matter.There are a lot of things I could quote about C.S. Lewis, but i think this encapsulates it most neatly for me:

When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; . . . I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.

C. S. Lewis, “Answers to Questions on Christianity,” God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1970), pp. 61–62.

In the end, I cannot deny that it is conceit. Not just conceit, but selfishness to refuse to engage in the body of Christ.

The other person i like to use as an excuse to not attend church is Bono. It seems clear to me that Bono really has a spiritual relationship with God of some sort, but that is beside the point. His point is that the church isn’t fulfilling its obligations to humanity. He is absolutely correct on that score. The church doesn’t do enough. We never do enough. I don’t do enough.

Unfortunately for me, God hasn’t called me to be a mouthpiece for ending world hunger. It would be cool if he did, but he hasn’t. He isn’t a prophet or a theologian, he’s a man with a mission and his job is not to talk to me about whether or not I should go to church.

Deep down, honesty tells me that I need the church desperately, and the church needs me desperately.

There are days when you just have to put on your big girl panties and do what you know you need to do. I like to ask myself ‘what would the healthy thing be to do?’ It is impossible to share insight with you unless I am there.

Wish me luck.

The Ushering in of Easter

Guessing games

Not every person’s mental illness is defined as the same way as another’s, but they do share characteristics that lend themselves to diagnoses.

Allen J. Frances, MD was the chair of the original taskforce whose purpose was to write a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This is the go-to book for psychiatrists and  other mental health professionals.

In much later years, he expressed that he wouldn’t have gone about it in the same way. What I understand to be his position in later years is  that too many people are being diagnosed with all kinds of traits that are now deemed to be disorders, when in fact, they are not. The Annals of Internal Medicine: The New Crisis of Confidence in Psychiatric Diagnosis has an excellent article on this.

I think we know more than we used to about human behavior. I think people share character traits that we can  use to categorize them. I think it’s a witch hunt though. Too many diagnoses and too much medication. That is true. Completely.

That said, it’s none of anybody’s business what I think about my mental condition. I can share my thoughts and you can accept or reject them, but either way, am I not a person with an illness? Am I a sicko who labels herself bipolar, or am I really bipolar? How would knowing the difference help you at all to show me caring and the love of Christ?

Guessing games