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|The Bipolar Matins|
|Written by uppitywoman|
|03 January 2009|
An essay I wrote after being awake for about 36 hours in a hypomanic episode. A person of faith, I believe God carries me each moment and is especially close when I am weakest.
This is one story of how I try to live by faith.
I have been awake since about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. In that time, I have accomplished little of significant value. What I have been through has been a hypomanic episode that ran over me like a freight train. What started out as a rush has turned into a state of disarray that I will try to record in a manner that will, hopefully, be comprehensible.
Initially, I felt creative and wrote a great deal. I realize now it was poorly crafted meandering material, much like this will probably be. All I knew at the time was that I was filled with energy and didn’t need to sleep. In fact, the sleep medication I had taken had no effect whatsoever. I was going ninety miles an hour all night. Through much of it, I heard Dick Van Dyke singing, “Me and My Shadow”, playing in an endless loop in my head. Hate the song, not particularly partial to Dick either, but we spent the night together anyway. I have no reason to offer except for the fact that parts of my brain kept firing salvos at other parts all night long. The doctor has explained it to me, but I still get the facts confused. All I know is that I was unable to make it go away.
Twenty-four hours later, as Thursday morning dawned with Dick and a sense of having done some wonderfully creative things, I still felt energized, but as the morning progressed, the energy had an increasing edge to it. I soon found myself battling to maintain emotional and behavioral control as I felt instability and irritability setting in. I spent the rest of the day on a rapidly moving roller coaster, feeling like I was going up again, only to have gravity take over every time.
The feeling I had as the day progressed was one I recognized as the down side of a speed or acid high. Having been taken to a place where I could do anything, I was left with an extended hangover that made me hate the high, while wanting to go back to relieve the teeth grinding, jaw clenching irritability. The fun is over, but the ride keeps going, making you feel sicker by the minute.
It’s past 5:30 on Thursday evening now. I feel a raw unsettled exhaustion, but in spite of the fact that about two hours ago I thought I was going to collapse, I am writing. I am writing because I am getting up again, and because I finally found the words to pray. Nothing much, just a “help me” kind of prayer. Then I was able to pray for others who came to mind.
On Wednesday, I had pulled out my old Lutheran service book and hymnal, because I wanted to sing a seventeenth century communion hymn. It felt good to play it on my guitar, but my voice has not aged gracefully, so I shut the book with frustration and left it on the desk. I noticed it sitting there, Thursday, after I prayed. I flipped it open and found myself looking at the Brief Order for Public Confession. I began to cry as I read the words, I have grievously sinned against thee in many ways; not just in outward transgressions, but also by secret thoughts and desires which I cannot fully understand, but which are all known unto thee.
There are many things I don’t comprehend about my brain chemistry or my inner demons. I have to say along with the confession that I do not fully understand them. But I am understood by God, as are all my frailties, known and unknown to me. The blood of Jesus covers the sin and reminds me he remembers I am made of dust. He knows I would choose for various courses in my life to go a different direction if I had the power to do so. Intentions matter to him.
I returned to the book and there found mercy and grace in the Matins sung hundreds of years ago:
O Lord, save thy people and bless thine heritage.
Govern them and lift them up forever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
And we worship thy name ever, world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord:
To keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us:
As our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted:
Let me never be confounded.
Confounded I have felt, anxious and confused. I’m certain I will never be able to live without the medication I hate. Like many of my weaknesses and failures, I want to banish them and be done with them, once and for all. I cannot imagine what it is like for those who are living with the severest form of bipolar disorder.
God sees beyond my uncertain present to my certain future. And the path he has laid out for me includes this. I am not saying he caused this or desired this for me, but he planned for my need by calling me into existence in a time and place that has advanced methods of dealing with bipolar disorder. This has a purpose I may not see now, but suffering is never wasted—not if God is in the midst of it. Above all, he has said his grace is sufficient for me. Like Paul, I will take comfort in that as I am able, learning to rejoice in my weaknesses, so may I boast in the Lord alone.
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