Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bitter or better?

Thank you Anonymous Mom, Susan, and Tery for your comments on my last post.

You're right, Tery, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are not fun. In fact they can be unbearable at times. But the question is - what kind of person do you become as a result? If you don't become bitter, you become better. (I'm quoting someone here, but not sure who.) I truly believe that. If we can survive the storms and fires of life we end up becoming stronger people. We end up with a lot to offer. We end up joyful and at peace, in spite of it.

I'm 61 years old and have lived with bipolar disorder for over forty years. Since I began relying on God at the age of 42 (as the result of a bipolar crisis), I have gradually become stronger. Many things came into play as part of this life of faith:
  • my belief that God loves me the way I am. I did not suffer from feelings of guilt or shame. My illness isn't my fault, so why feel guilty?
  • the courage to be open about my disorder (I was fortunate - I didn't have to work - so was relatively safe in letting the world know)
  • the purpose I found in trying to reduce the stigma through writing about mental health issues. This sense of purpose - God-given - makes me feel strong and well.
  • the Christ-like love and support I received from church friends
  • the compassion I feel for others who suffer as I do. Another purpose - I want to help in some way - to love, as God loves me.
Having bipolar disorder isn't what makes me happy. But I'm happy with the way this disorder has challenged me and made my faith in God important to me. It's my ability to become a better person as a result that I'm thankful for. God has helped give me this positive way of looking at it.

Eugene Peterson's paraphrased version of the Bible says this: "...every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." (Romans 8:28)

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