I was sauntering through WordPress blogs that have “faith” and “mental illness” tags. I found very little, which is further confirmation that what we do here at Delight in Disorder is so vital and essential.
Just as I was about to take a screen break, my eyes fell on a blog with an interesting title: Bipolar Brave. The landing page immediately drew me in — a picture of a joyful young woman, next to a well-defined three-sentence elevator message:
“They may say I need to take a step of faith, and I will tell them, I did. The truth is, no matter how much faith one has, medication is nothing short of a miracle. Doctors treat, God heals.”.
You can’t get any closer than this in expressing the intimate relationship between faith and mental illness. So, I reached out to Katie and invited her to do a guest post for us. She accepted and invited me to do the same. So, here is hers. You can find mine at her site here: “Proving God: A Testimony to His Presence Amidst My Mental Illness.”
Katie sent back marvelous blog response:
The Secret to Finding Sanity After a Mental Episode
The mind is truly the final frontier. Mental illness complicates this vast unchartered territory, and when the terrain undergoes turmoil, shockwaves resonate within the rest of the body.
One of the many problems with a mood disorder is that there will come times when an episode swiftly carries you away, and all rationale and logic seem like foreign methods of orthodox, fundamental indoctrination. Conspiracy theories are now gospel, and any new experiences of the senses rue the day.
“Medication? Why, I will not stand for that poisonous mind-controlling dependency. That’s for weak sheepish patients subjecting themselves to be controlled by psychiatric chemistry, dominating doctors, and their kook theories.”
Scoffers will shun medication and believe more in the power of the will than in a pill. Anti-psychiatric conversations turn in on themselves. Utter foolishness.
Reality evades the light of truth, when the light of truth is distorted through the skewed lens of mental illness, in addition to fallacies and ignorance.
I can be so sure of this prime truth because it happened in my own life. I went from a solid individual with a sound mind to a prodigal daughter with bipolar psychosis in a matter of weeks. What sounded too good to be true – televangelist’s promises mixed with a little of my own vanity to be healed – turned out to be the launching pad of taking a nose dive off a cliff.
Insanity was a war. At first, I awoke manic and starry eyed, even the feeling of Christmas morning greeted me. I wanted the world and the world was mine, only I could not share this world with anyone else. I was a narcissist and starred in my own sitcom playing in my head. Then the paranoia ensued. The FBI bugged our house because after I sent compromising emails to my husband overseas, the internet went out for a short time. The Bible verses I added to our dialogue might have put him in jeopardy and now the government certainly listened in on any of my phone calls. Anytime I answered there was a silent gap between me and the other person’s reply so I had to repeat my “Hello?”
The anxiety and fear mounted. I saw visions of flying books like birds, parted open and landing in the soil. The first book being my memoir, decaying and decomposing by feasting maggots. Another book was a devotional book, which landed on the ground and remained intact. The last book, a composition of music for a musical, and its manuscript.
Then I saw a woman giving birth and giving up her spirit on her deathbed. The puzzling vision returned to my mind when my husband and I took an anniversary trip to St. Augustine and it was told to us that Jenny Flagler, philanthropist and college founder Henry Flager’s daughter, died in the midst of her labor. This name haunted me as that same weekend a painting with a boat named Jenny called to me. We bought it. I sacrificed it at a pier our last day as it caused so much vexation to my spirit for having bought it.
Each day was another knotted, confused battle of insanity. The fear, the anxiety, the visions. So much for healing. Even after I volunteered myself into the hospital, the battled raged, if not, harder.
Staff manipulated me. Clocks were wrong and didn’t match. Nurses mocked me. Patients took advantage of my weak ability to control any of my mind’s impulses. A male patient kissed me. An overbearing female bossed me around. I believed her…with all the screws loose as they were, my head was on backwards and I was anything but sane, or in control.
And the days I felt like a target in the Devil’s war room were some of the most terrifying, but were also some of the closest I had ever been to God. I was insane and as my family calls it, in “La La Land”; a medication guinea pig for three months off and on, and after all was said and done, no miracle of a healing happened outside of the realm of medication and the grace of God.
How do I marry those two things, medication and God’s grace? Humility. A daily dose of humility in the form of two capsules down the hatch and a grateful breath of a prayer. And I am no perfect example – most days I don’t utter a word of thanks or nod a hint of appreciation to my Great Physician.
I take it for granted. But it is granted. Granted to me that I should be sane again, back in my ol’ right mind, screwed on right and tight and sitting pretty in the seat of sanity.
There’s nothing like insanity – it’s more unpredictable than corralling cats. There’s also nothing like being well in your head, stable, clear, at peace, comforted, whole, healthy – healed.
So the secret to returning from La La Land?
1) Be teachable and humble.
2) Have a support network of family and friends to help you in an episode.
3) Work with a good psychiatrist for medications and therapist for talk therapy to come back to reality.
Don’t be too proud to forget that there is a remedy. If you stop believing there is one, your heart will likely grope in the dark for a sense of stability that once was there. The only way back will be for you to try different concoctions of chemicals in the form of psychiatric medication and that will be due course anyway if you just listen from the start.