There was a point in my life, actually a couple months prior to my first episode, that I really felt like I was being used by God more than ever before. I was sharing my faith constantly, reaching out to others with insight from God and He was aligning so many things. It felt like I had some sort of divine appointment several times a day, and I was hearing from God persistently. Every direction I turned, there was an assignment for me, and I had so much joy being obedient to God’s call. I thrived living outside of my comfort zone for Jesus. Walking with Him was so exciting, a real life adventure of building His Kingdom on this earth.
The thing about that season was that it was real, God really was working and moving, but timing happened in such a way that it was a lead up to my initial manic episode. It happened rather suddenly, and there was a shift from an obsession with Jesus to an obsession with being used by Him. This was when I began having a false view of reality, racing thoughts, grandiose ideas not based in truth. This is when the chemical imbalance manifested itself. This is when I got sick and ended up in a police car on the way to the hospital.
I’ve been extremely confused by the manic times in my life, trying to separate what was physical and what was spiritual. What was a chemical imbalance and what was Satan twisting the truth? What was a physical disease and what was a result of something spiritual?
I’m no professional, but over the years I’ve landed here. I DO have an illness that manifests itself through mania and sometimes depression. It IS a chemical imbalance that I cannot control. However, pride is something that I’ve always struggled with in my flesh. And let me tell you, that pride is on steroids the few times I’ve been manic. It’s magnified out of control so much so that I feel like I’m the star of a movie and the whole world is revolving around me.
This is a result of the mania, but it’s definitely an issue of mine that seems to be blown up when I’m sick. It’s a twisted mess of imbalanced chemicals, my own pride, and Satan’s lies. This is exactly why I believe it’s so important to address both the physical issues of mental illness as well as the spiritual and emotional components.
Doctors and medication, true provisions from God, are used to get those brain chemicals back in order. I take medication daily to manage my bipolar disorder, just as someone uses insulin to manage diabetes. It’s case by case for everyone as far as if they need medicine and what works for them, but taking medicine is NOT a weakness or something to be ashamed of. It’s not a lack of trust in God. It’s something He provides, a common grace from the Lord.
Faith based counseling helps to understand your emotions. I’ve had phenomenal Christian counselors who have helped sort out feelings and provide an outside party perspective. They are professionals who have degrees, as well as the Holy Spirit to speak wisdom and truth.
Digging into the Bible allows God to speak, and you learn more of His character. God has never used the Bible more powerfully than when I’m seeking truth to combat that lies that I believe when I’m manic. It’s the living, breathing Word of God. It’s where truth and hope and life is found.
Christian community provides a shoulder to lean on, people to lift you up in prayer and support. I’ve had disciplers and parents who visited me daily in the hospital, a mom who moved up to my college town to help me graduate during a time of recovery, brothers in Christ who have rallied around my husband as he was acting as a caretaker for his new wife. I have amazing friends who have loved and supported me through thick and thin without judgement. Best of all, I have an incredible husband who loves me unconditionally and seeks after God’s heart, so that I can fully trust him. These people are absolutely crucial.
An authentic, honest, and intimate relationship with Jesus is where healing and restoration are found. It’s where the power of the Holy Spirit defeats the Kingdom of darkness, and tramples over Satan and his lies. It’s where God overwhelms us with His love, displayed in the Gospel and in our lives moment by moment has He holds us so close. It’s where we find grace and forgiveness for our sins, and grow in our sanctification and holiness. It’s where our true identity is found, and where we discover who we are made to be. It’s life and life abundant. Hope and joy restored.
This is a holistic approach to mental health and managing mental illness. I’ve been blessed beyond belief to have these resources, and they are why I can live a thriving life despite this diagnosis. It’s not because of anything I did, but truly because of the grace of God. But because I had these resources, I want to share with others how to find recovery. It’s very much case by case for each individual, but these things certainly come into play.
It’s fully possible to see and hear from God without being manic, this is something I’ve had a hard time with for years. But in fact, He is bigger and better than anything I could have come up in my own head and own strength when I’ve been sick. Don’t let an illness that you had no say in and no control over dictate the outcomes of your life. You can make it through, you’re not alone. God loves you. He loves you so much and He wants to use you. He wants you to use your pain to find purpose in Him. To use your brokenness to build His Kingdom. The adventure of walking intimately with Him is real and exciting, it’s true living. Give yourself fully to that adventure of each day, and know that He is with you. He is working and loving relentlessly, and He wants to work through us. He provides healing through many different means, and He wants to make you whole.