Sunday, January 15, 2012

A note

A note from my Everlasting friend.  She too suffers Bipolar.  May you see both the darkness of this sickness and the Grace of God...

Hi Shandy,

I have been spending way too much time on the computer lately and I was reading through some of your blogs. I was really touched by them and feel as if your honesty deserves some kind of I'm writing to you, as weird as that may be:) I'm not sure exactly the point of writing, especially as what little wisdom I might share I think you have probably already learned day by day...except perhaps to pass on a small glow of hope, maybe. I'm not sure if that is possible, or if we each must suffice with the hope granted by God's grace...but I have found even the smallest spark of hope to be very potent. I think you even had a post about hope which I especially related to as that word has come to mean a lot to me. I bought a bracelet with the word hope on it a year and a half ago and I wear it every day to remind me.

Anyway, some of this you may already know, but I have struggled with bouts of depression since I was a young teenager. Some times were bearable and didn't last long, and other times I was very close to the edge... I suppose that sounds a little over melodramatic but I was very suicidal at times...I remember at one time in college being haunted by flashes of images of my own death. I feel that it is truly God's grace in my life--strong friends with unconditional love, good counselors, caring health providers--that allowed me to function for so long and get through college and life for so many years. I was fairly depressed once I started graduate school but didn't think much of it as I knew it would end eventually...I didn't seek professional help because so many of my classmates were also stressed out and I have a hard time (as ridiculous as it sounds) admitting that I need help. I thought I could handle it on my own. It was a huge mistake. It turns out that I am actually bipolar and my mood swung up right before I started clinicals and I became more and more energetic and my judgement became worse and worse and I finally ended up not sleeping for 3 days straight and becoming fully psychotic. I had a melt down in front of nursing staff..I am still very ashamed of it—my Rock had to sit at home with me for a day while I was saying crazy things until finally he and his parents admitted me to the ER...I had to be in a psych ward for a few days....anyway. Let's just say that in a swift blow I was completely humbled. I tried to return to school after a couple of months (another bad decision) but only made it through a rotation and a half before the depression and anxiety got the better of me. Through all of this I was overwhelmed by the unconditional love of my Rock, his family, my church family, my was unbelievable. I was very depressed for that first year--paralyzed by it and by anxiety attacks. My psychiatrist kept adding medication after medication. I was very hopeless and still going downhill.

I'm not sure exactly what turned the tide because a few things happened all at once. I do remember being at my very worst and knowing that I was losing the battle and that I was at the end of what little reserves I had and crying out to God in a way that I never had. I'm not saying that everyone has to reach that point to receive help...depression is such a complex thing and even though there are many similar experiences I think it is different for each person...different reasons, different struggles, a different road to healing--and then often back to relapse--and then healing again...I fully expect to face depression again but I have been granted a reprieve for a while. Also I am a very stubborn and prideful person so it took a lot for me to learn I couldn't just count on myself. So I think within a matter of a couple of weeks I started a medication that seemed to help, my Rock basically pushed me into getting group counseling ( I had been seeing a counselor regularly but I think she was concerned and had suggested I try an intensive outpatient program designed to try and prevent hospitalization) and I went on a women's retreat with our church. It's not as if I instantly wasn't depressed, but I found hope again. I had been so embarassed by everything, but for some reason I decided to be completely honest with the women at our church and was so surprised by their lack of reaction...they expressed nothing but compassion. And shared their own struggles. The group counseling made something click--I knew in my head that depression was a disease, it wasn't my fault, etc. etc. but I don't think I believed it until I experienced a group of people being completely honest about what depression was like for them. It just struck me how similar all of our symptoms were, even though we were all so unique. I've been very blessed to make some strong friendships with women from my church--I practically lived at their houses to get away from myself.

Most of all, I am blessed by a husband, my Rock, with a deep and abiding love for me. I know I can never deserve his love. I don't completely understand it. I get frustrated at how dependent I can be on him at the worst times I can feel that he is the one thing standing between me and the abyss of insanity. I think my deepest fear is that I could lose him...I know somehow God would provide if that ever happened, but it is hard for me to exactly conceive of that at present. I mostly just try to savor every moment right now.

Well, I'm not sure how helpful all this least I hope I didn't write anything harmful or hurtful...I truly wish you the best. It sounds like you are on the journey of healing and also way ahead of me in some areas:) I almost wrote on the way TO healing, but it is definitely a process and none of us have arrived in this lifetime...I know that I will likely struggle with depression for the rest of my life (although some people don't) but it does not mean that I am doomed to stay stagnant for that whole time...there are many ways to live well in spite or even because of depression. I can't wish it away or even wish away some things from my past that probably made me more susceptible to it because then I wouldn't be myself and I wouldn't have had my life...which has been so touched by grace. I see a lot of things in your life that parallel those things that helped me--I am so glad that you met Strong man as I am sure he is a great help to you...and I am also sure that you are a blessing to him in many ways. My heart aches whenever I hear of someone else going through a deep depression… It is so hard sometimes to place others in God's hands and give them time to learn lessons in the way they need to. But many people have had to do that for me, I'm sure, and so I try to be patient.

Well, I will cease the rambling. Mostly I just wanted you to know that there is one more person out there cheering you on...and of course praying for you. I definitely believe that you will beat this and will live a life that is blessed and blesses fact you are already doing that. So much of what I thought I knew I have had to many simple lessons that some conquered long ago I had to learn at a great price...but each day, each moment that God allows me victory in spite of myself is infinitely more precious because of that. You would not be the thoughtful, insightful, creative person you are if you didn't have a susceptibility to depression.
God Bless,

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Isreal, from everlasting even to everlasting.  Then all the people said, "Amen," and praised the LORD.
~ 1 Chronicles

1553.  Notes of encouragement for other sufferers.
1554.  To have a friend called everlasting, a trait of the Most High.

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.  ~ C.S. Lewis

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