Sun streams through the windows of my van, golden and sure. I am singing, in and out of key, to a song from the radio. I am on my way to visit a potential preschool for my three year-old sitting in the seat behind me.
I am happy. I am alive. I know everything in my life will work out.
I feel great hope. I feel free as I dangle my arm by the open car window. It feels like I am a happy, normal person. It has taken a long time to get here. It is since the trauma of my hospital stay and subsequent leaving of Hungary.
It feels really, really good.
But it is a few short weeks later when I end up in the hospital a second time. It is a surprise to everyone, especially me. Just when things are looking up.
My counselor is sure it is because I was reducing one of my medicines. Purely chemical. I suppose this is right.
But who is the one really trying to beat us down and take us out of life? Yes him. That super villain to end all notions of any other.
And in a week's time the axis of my world tilts again. In comes the fear, the anxiety, the shame, the doubt, the joy-busters, really, the LIFE-busters.
Do I have the fight, the will to come back again?
This is what it is like to have bipolar. How this sickness tears you apart and steals your normal. And this 'normal' you come to see as such a precious gift. The ability to simply live your life.
But, I have come to realize my desire for normal is really an illusion. I am not made like other people. My chemical make-up is complex. I have to find a different way to walk my life. One which finds it can move to the other side of the fears. One which takes deep breaths and trusts it will all be okay...forever. One which finds its way through hell to heaven.
And my way to really living my life is not around having bipolar, but through it. I will write it again even if part of me is screaming to not do it. My fingers shake and my stomach knots but I will write it: 'Bipolar disorder is a gift.'
All it has taken me through especially with the delusions and often-horrific visions, is a hellish thing which I will no more call a gift than Satan himself.
Yet, how I come to the end of myself, how I know myself as one in great need, how I come to see God as the only one who can rescue me; this is a gift.
My life is irrevocably different because of what I am walking. This is true for all of us, because my bipolar is your__________. And this difference is what brings me again and again and again to God.
Jesus says 'it is the sick who needs a physician'(Luke 5:31). It is me who is sick for a Savior. I am the one first to His feet. The one who can't take her eyes off of Him. Because what happens when I do? It all comes rushing back, the pain and fear and those nasty lies hissing about me.
I don't have any of this nearly worked out. But I know I am ready to live my life. I am trusting God for great things this year. I am believing He is with me. He. is. with. me. I am not going to live afraid, anxious, doubtful or ashamed.
And when I do, I know where to go. This will be my worn and beaten path. Till all things are made new and I am face-to-face with Jesus, in the embrace which will heal me forever.
Until then, it's a gift I never would have asked for or wanted, which will lead me home.
Note: I have been writing about my journey with bipolar disorder for the last seven months. As of this post I will write more about 'living my life' and the bipolar will certainly re-appear, but it won't be the focus. My goal is to put those posts into an e-book which can be available as a resource for others. Let me know if you think that is a good idea! I will keep you posted!