For your listening pleasure:

Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Romans 7:24

One of the whispers that began deep in my heart and has grown louder and louder over the years is this:

I am powerless over Bipolar. Without help, my life is unmanageable.

This didn’t happen all at once. For the first years of my diagnosis, I believed if I swallowed the pills and went to therapy, I could trick my illness into remission. I managed to stay out of the ER, but I wasn’t healthy. I did things like stop taking my lithium for several days so I could go camping and drink like a fish alongside all the normal people. Like a dry drunk, I was still living crazy.

It wasn’t until I fell ill again that I was driven to my knees. One morning, waking up in a tent on yet another camping trip, I woke up with a beast inside of me. She started screaming, shaking me from my organs out, until I trembled with her unrelenting, ferocious power. She threatened to throw me out of the car as we drove down the highway and off of escalators in the mall. She made it impossible for me to work in the kitchen, as the sight of a knife filled me with an unrelenting hunger to cut myself to pieces. I saw cruel and vicious, savage imagery of debauchery dancing upon every body and every surface. The voices and appetites rang through my head every minute,from my waking to the last moment I succumbed to a Seroquel- and Benadryl-induced unconsciousness.

Mornings were the worst. I remember waking to enjoy a millisecond of peace before the attacks would begin. I wouldn’t even be able to savor that moment of peace because it passed so quickly, before I was awake enough to realize it was there. And then, the thoughts flooded in, and I was again tormented.

This hell ravaged me for months. What began in late summer overwhelmed the last days of the year. I took more and different drugs trying to quell the monster inside of me, to no avail. Overwhelming torment then plunged me into the depths of depression. I finally asked Jack if he would drive me to church.

It was then that I began to ask for help from the God I believed had abandoned me to this torment. I succumbed to the idea that without help, I would die. It wasn’t until His hand literally grabbed me in a church service in Spokane that I began to live again. And when I could breathe, when I could walk without bending in half under the unknown weight crushing me, I began to submit to the overwhelming reality that I could not survive on my own.

When you get to that place, when you truly realize that this illness will kill you if you do not start to recognize it for the savage beast that it is, you need the Twelve Steps practiced by Alcoholics all over the world. Why? Because your brain, just like that of any addict’s, will destroy you if left to its own devices.

But I never chose this! I never picked up a bottle or a crack pipe! This is who I am, the same as my blonde hair or my stubby toes or slow metabolism! This isn’t fair!

I agree. It’s not fair. But this is your reality. Are you ready to deal with reality? Do you want to get well? Then, here goes. WORK THE STEPS.

Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over (MY MENTAL ILLNESS) – that our lives had become unmanageable
Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out
Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other (PEOPLE SUFFERING WITH MY MENTAL ILLNESS), and to practice these principles in all our affairs

I know what you’re saying. I agree with you that you shouldn’t have to apologize for things you had no control over.

It’s not fair.

But people were hurt nonetheless. When we admit our powerlessness and submit our illness to Something or Someone more powerful than us, we take the power away from the illness. When we ask for forgiveness from the people we have hurt–regardless of our intentions at the time of the hurting–we again steal away Crazy’s power. When we ask for help to CHANGE, we fight back the beast. Every change made with God’s help pulls us further into the land of the living.

And, don’t you want that, deep down in your secret places: to be in control, to change, to grown into a responsible, loving, productive person? I know you do.

Let’s do it together. Say it with me:

I am powerless over Bipolar. Without help, my life is unmanageable.
God, I need your help. I may not believe in you, but I need something bigger than me to manage my life.
Please show me that You’re bigger than my illness.
Please bring me the help that I need to change.
Please bring me the strength and the courage to admit my faults.
Please give me the courage to ask for forgiveness when the time comes.
I give my life over, and I pray for a new life and a new way.

Never forget how much you are loved.

The famous Christian-Killer, Paul, (read his story in Acts 9), said of God’s love:
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-35, 37-39

Let’s do this together.

Your friend in this fight,