Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Do you want to get well?"

I've almost finished reading a great book by Mark Buchanan called The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. Something he said hit me very hard and made me look at something I've never considered before. He said, "It's the most natural thing to befriend your sickness, even, after long association, to depend upon it." Buchanan carries on by talking about some of the people Jesus healed, "Their entire lives...have taken shape around their injuries or diseases."

In John 5:6 Jesus asks a crippled man, "Do you want to get well?" That seems to be an odd thing to ask a person and, to think that a person doesn't really want to get well, might make us think ill of him. We might think of him as feeling sorry for himself or wanting pity. But, when you think of it, this man had been crippled all of his life - 38 years. No one had ever expected anything from him. He had never had responsibilities. To suddenly be well would mean a drastic new way of living, a way of living that would be hard to adjust to.

And this made me think that perhaps I'm a bit like that. To be perfectly honest, having lived with bipolar disorder for my entire 40 years of adult life, my illness does - in large part - define me, even though I do a wide variety of things. The major part of my current life involves raising awareness about mental health issues and supporting others who live with mood disorders. My BP is responsible for the kind of person I've become. When I become hypomanic, which often happens, I become super creative. I value that in myself. My moods are what makes me who I am. ...though I would love to get rid of those depressions.

If Jesus asked me, "Do you want to get well?" would I say yes?

I'm sure that if he had offered to make me well when I was twenty or thirty, or forty, I would have gladly said yes. I would then have been able to go back to school perhaps and start a career. My illness has kept me from that, the stress being too great. I've tried. I might have been able to make photography a full-time career. But now, at sixty-one, I have learned to turn the bipolar - the bad - into something good. I've learned how to help others cope with their illness. I've learned to build awareness. That has become my life. I could not do these things the way I do, without experiencing the disorder myself.

But you know, although I still have bipolar disorder, I think Jesus has made me well. In helping others, I am helping myself. The work I do gives me great joy. I love the life I live.


bipolar_girl said...

Thanks for sharing.take care

Di said...

Marja - this is a powerful post. Lots to think on. You continue to teach me much about myself (I think that makes sense!)
As a side note - I read this quote by an unknown author the other day and thought of you....
""Worry is a darkroom, where YOU develop your own negatives."

My Pseudonym is Bipolar Chica. said...

You raise an interesting question. Would I want to be well? I will think on it and, perhaps, do a posting on it.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments on a couple of my postings. I feel a little better. It is so very hard to accept a helpful hand. I've been questioning why they would want to help me. My husband asked me what I would do if the situation was reversed. I said that I would absolutely lend a helping hand. He told me that's what I should do. Next Monday I'll be going to spend a little time with my in-laws so I can have a mini-vacation.

Anyway, thanks for the support and it's nice to meet you!

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Very interesting post. I, too, would have said "Yes" and perhaps only a few months ago. But now that I've started blogging about being bipolar and with my memoir coming out, I finally feel like I can contribute something to others who are suffering. But it's still something to think about!