Month: November 2016

Words That Hurt

I was just a week out of the mental hospital for suicidal ideation when you said it. 
“No mother who truly loves her children would ever think of killing herself.”
I’m sure you meant well…maybe you were thinking you were the first one to ever voice such a thought, that perhaps such a radical idea might shake me out of my destructive pathways.
You were wrong.
Instead, your words destroyed my newly-burgeoning sense of well-being. My optimism, already fragile, quavered and began to crumble.
You see, I respect you. I love you. I have nothing but good will towards you. I only wish I could convey to you the depth of how wrong you are.
I love my children with all the power of my fractured heart. I would gladly throw myself in front of a bullet or fight a bear with my bare hands for any one of them. They usually keep my feet firmly grounded to the earth, my reason for being and my all in all.
But sometimes, you see, the thoughts in my head begin to spiral. They’d all be better off without you they whisper. You are only screwing up their lives. Soon, they no longer whisper. They scream and shout, day and night. I begin to believe them. They’ll be stronger without you! They’ll move on and be happier!
The most recent time this began to happen, and I began to contemplate the best way to make it happen, I recognized it as a very dangerous sign. I knew the voices were false, I just didn’t know how to make them stop. So I committed myself to the hospital in the hopes that I could be safe and feel better.
Fortunately, it worked. I do feel better. I am moving forward.
Until your comment.
It took a supreme amount of willpower to prevent myself from going to a very dark place after your words, but I managed to do it. For this I thank a stellar support group and proper medication.
Mental illness is not a choice. No one makes the decision to have 
Major Depressive Disorder, to be Psychotic or Schizophrenic. These are diseases, the same as diabetes or congestive heart failure.
I recognize that I have the disease called Bipolar Disorder. This makes me susceptible to drastic mood swings and irrational thinking.
Maybe you’re one of those who has the luxury of believing such a diagnosis is bunk, that psychology is a farcical science. If you are, then we haven’t much more to say to each other.
For both of our sakes and the sakes of our precious families, let’s strive to understand one another instead. I only want to educate and inform.
I hope you can find it in your heart to listen.

 

Advent

Benevolent universe
infinite light
hold me together
keep me aright
help me to trust thee
teach me to live
walk me in wholeness
and wholly forgive
all of my frailty
my anger and fear
as I also pardon
the ones far and near
who cause me to stumble
and shake me within
open my lips now
to once more begin
to sing of your praises
unknowable worth
spark yet within me
a holy rebirth.

Crazy. Real.

So I was in the mental hospital. Again. For suicidal ideation. Again. I wanted to be done with this life, wanted it so badly I could taste it. A strong beam and a belt is all I needed.

I’m feeling much better now. Something about focused time alone, group therapy, meeting other people with the same struggles and feeling less alone, medication adjustments, and one-on-ones with counselors and doctors, makes all the difference.

I met many fantastic people. People with so many various sorrows. So many diverse difficulties. People heartbreakingly young and heartbreakingly old. I was truly humbled to be in their presence. They taught me a lot about being human, about being real, about being me.

There are no walls in the mental asylum. “What are you in for?” is a normal, even expected, question, and one that is almost always answered with brutal honesty. Compassion overflows. It’s a (hopefully) safe space.

Some people talk to themselves, and to invisible entities. Some are volatile and noisy. Some are withdrawn and quiet. Some become friends. All have something to teach. All are worthy of grace.

How do I carry what I have learned into my daily life?

It is a legitimate question, and perhaps one with numerous answers. For me, it is to focus on each day and its daily issues, and not to dwell on the past and what I cannot change. It means to examine each thought and emotion and ask “Is this true? Is this beneficial?” and if it is not, to toss it away. It means not living in the future either, where nothing is certain and fears have fertile soil in which to grow.

Some of the best people in the world have struggled with mental illness. Mine is bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Yours may be called something else. The most important thing to remember is: you are not alone.

As a Christian, I look to the Bible for some semblance of comfort in my illness. I didn’t think the word had much to say about it until I looked closely at the story of Nebuchadnezzar. Did you know that this pagan king actually wrote an entire chapter in a book of the Old Testament? He ruled Babylon, and went mad towards the end of his life. As the Bible puts it, he ate grass like a cow and grew his fingernails out like claws. In the end, however, he was restored to health by miraculous means, and he praised the Lord as a result (Daniel chapter 4).

Can I do the same? Can I see the Lord’s hand in my healing, even if it comes via pharmaceuticals and therapy and modern medicine?

Yes. I can.

I can bless the Lord’s name in the thick of it, in spite of everything, and with the comforting knowledge that I am in the company of kings. Even when I don’t understand what’s going on, even when my sanity is tenuous, I can speak God’s name, for it is the very sound of my breathing.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

That’s me. I freely admit it.

Is my God big enough for me to throw myself in his lap and pound on his chest in frustration and fury?

Is my God big enough to cover me while I thrash and wallow and gnash my teeth? In the ashes? In my brokenness and anguish?

Can I admit that I am broken? And be okay with that?

Can I open my lips and thank him for all this life offers?

I can. And I will. My very life depends upon it.

 

 

Blue

The sky is blue
the clouds pure white
it is, I think,
a lovely sight
 
the breeze is slight
and quiet sits
upon the landscape
birds do flit
 
there’s beauty all
around and yet
it cannot pierce
my deep regret
 
it cannot calm
darkening mind
it cannot leave
sorrow behind
 
the black abyss
is always there
and joy and grace
are found elsewhere
 
for here am I
my frame is bent
I am all dross
without a vent
 
and if I could
be something new
I’d be a single
drop of dew
 
I’d sit upon
my blade of grass
one single morn
is all I’d last
But I am man
and yet remain
throughout the day
within the pain
 
So I pen rhyme
plan my escape
to quietly
evaporate.

The Worst Thing

What’s the worst thing you can say to someone who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?
Nothing at all.
Let me clarify: Say you’ve been having an argument. You think it would be best to just go to sleep and leave things to cool off until morning. So you roll over in bed, turn your back to me, and say nothing. 
Or you’re texting, and things have become heated. You leave the last text from me just hanging there because you’re tired of the discussion and you don’t think there’s anything left to say.
Terrible move. 
Nothing is the worst thing you can “say” to me, as someone who suffers from BPD.
You see, when you have BPD, you don’t just “let things go” in a disagreement. You don’t just “get over it” when things go wrong. Seemingly insignificant things can start a spiral of self-loathing and despair that is impossible to overcome without excruciating amounts of effort. While you may think that just saying nothing is better than saying something “wrong”, it is actually the worst thing you can do. 
Without closure, the mind of a person with BPD goes into overdrive. First, there’s the anger. We have all kinds of things we NEED to say, to get them out of our heads so they stop circling endlessly in there. But you’ve made it clear that you’re done, so we can’t. We’re stuck obsessing over them for the next 24 hours or more.
Then there’s the self-recrimination. You hate us. Obviously, you simply can’t stand us anymore. We’re worthless. Not worth the time of day. Let’s face it, we’re sh*t. 
After that comes the bitterness and fatigue. We become so exhausted from the inner monologue that we shut down and spiral into depression. Nobody cares. What’s the use in trying anyway?
I understand that sometimes you walk away because you just can’t handle the drama anymore. Sometimes you have to walk away so that you don’t lose what little temper you have left. But maybe reading this will help you understand the effect it has on me. Walking away, turning away, not returning a text, giving me no closure, is saying, to my mind, I don’t care about you. I don’t care what you have to say. You’re not worth my time anymore. This relationship/friendship is over.
So the next time you’re finding yourself tempted to just let the sun go down on your anger, reconsider. Let us have closure. Please. It means the world to us. 

Untitled

alone

in  a crowd

craving

something

I will never have

pinned

bug-like

to the canvas

where

I scrabble

and scrape

moving

without ever

going

anywhere.

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