No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
To live well with Bipolar 1 Disorder requires a learned ability to starve your mind’s appetites. My mind wants to explore more of reality than what is healthy; it yearns to dive into the abyss and linger in the mud. Even on meds, I have spent days arguing with accusing thoughts in my head; I have spent years haunted by ghosts from my past and paranoid delusions that simply are not reality. And over time and with a lot of good therapy, I have learned to recognize a thought in my consciousness like a weed growing or a bunny hopping: the weed and the bunny need to be recognized to the only end of extricating them immediately or watching them drop down a hole into their own nothingness. In either case, I do not follow the weed to the yard waste bin; I do not follow the bunny rabbit down the dark hole. I do not choose to spend my time on this earth in yard waste bins and dark holes.
Still, there are days that all I seem to do is weed and watch bunnies hop across the landscape of my mind. Let me be honest: I wish these thoughts were as innocent as dandelions and bunny rabbits, but they are not. These thoughts chill bone and stop heart. These thoughts infiltrate one’s core if a mind allows. These insidious, haunting, demonic (yes, I just said that) intrusions are enough to convince an angel he is a demon, enough to topple a four star general and leave him rocking himself in the corner of a padded room. And I have done just that: given myself over to the insidious belief that these thoughts are who I am. And that giving over almost killed me twice.
These thoughts ARE NOT who I am, and they ARE NOT who you are.
When we can separate ourselves from these thoughts and see them as a symptom similar to a cough or runny nose, we can begin to ignore them. We can use them to help understand our illness better, report them to our doctors, or just let them hop on by instead of succombing to them.
In the movie, A Beautiful Mind, John Nash says,
[to Thomas King] I still see things that are not here. I just choose not to acknowledge them. Like a diet of the mind, I just choose not to indulge certain appetites; like my appetite for patterns; perhaps my appetite to imagine and to dream.
Like John Nash, I choose to starve these appetites. Even though this starvation of the mind has not been easy, I have grown more and more accustomed to my “diet.” I endeavor to live a normal life, to put away insanity and to feign normalcy even if I don’t feel normal all of the time.
So, now, I pour a cup of coffee, watch a bunny. I feed the kids breakfast, pull a weed. Oh, another bunny! as I get them dressed and out the door. There are whole days where you would see me smiling, and I am fighting, fighting, weeding, letting bunnies go. There are whole days when I am exhausted simply by the activity I am ignoring in my own head.
On those days, I remember these truths like balm for my scraped-up heart:
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light–
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
I may weed and watch bunnies hop every day of the rest of my life, but I refuse to believe I cannot live free.
God bless you all in your fights,
Live free. Forward,