November 25, 2009

thankful

Tomorrow marks a day set aside for thanksgiving. I never have truly been a lover of Thanksgiving, but this year my heart finds a new home in giving thanks for what I have.

I'm thankful for my husband, who loves me despite my failures and believes in me, choosing to see me as a woman becoming who God made me to be. So thankful for him.

I'm thankful for my health. Being sick with the various medications I have been on has opened my eyes to the emotional exhaustion that being physically ill brings a person. I am thankful that although I still experience health complications, that I am indeed, as a whole, feeling good.

and I'm thankful for my education. I'm thankful to be studying to become a teacher, something that I am (and hopefully will continue to be) very passionate about.

This year, as all years since my mother died, will be a little (or a lot) bit sad for me. I will continue to miss her, especially when we are gathered with my mom's side of the family celebrating. There is always a void that only she could fill. To be honest, I hope that no one is ever able to fill her void, for in feeling the loss, it feels like I am acknowledging how beautiful and amazing she was, and how no one will ever replace the role that she had in my life.

November 20, 2009

Third times a charm

Well, started my third medication yesterday. After missing around 10 days of work on the second medication we tried, and feeling extremely druggy and groggy every morning for a week, we decided to try another medication. It kind of feels like the game that never ends. I have hope, though, that eventually we will find a medication that will work with my body.

We have been praying a lot about the future lately. Praying for my student teaching, especially. I'm afraid that, since it doesn't seem like any of the medications are really working, that my feeling "good" right now is actually just me being manic. What scares me is that I have been feeling very energized during the day and night, and often am not getting very good sleep at night. This is what happens in the bipolar cycle. You go and go and go with tons of energy, and then all of a sudden you crash. Emotionally and physically, you crash as hard as the high you were on.

I'm afraid that I'm going to crash in January, after the buzz of the holidays and school being finished. I can't afford to not go to my school for student teaching, so I'm not sure what I will do if that happens. I'll get through it, but it's still a little bit scary.

I got an email from a friend the other day, with this quote:

You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.
ernest hemigway, a moveable feast

At first as I was reading it, I thought she was maybe quoting something I had said or written once. It so clearly reflected the pain and struggle I feel when fall begins to wrap up and winter sets in. The holidays are just so painful, and even with the excitement of establishing new traditions with Jeremy, I feel so tired inside. My heart just doesn't quite know how to rejoice during Christmas. I just really miss my mom, and grieve for the loss of my first family. Although so much has been restored, there's still a huge part of my that wishes we could sit around the table, joking with each other as a family. My mom would have loved how funny Mike and Josh have become, and would delight so greatly in who Hannah is. I just wish we somehow could have those moments. Even though I love my stepmom and step siblings and rejoice for the redemption God has granted my family, I still can't help but miss her. A lot.

Still, like the quote alludes to, I hope in the future, in the times where my heart will thaw out and I will feel hopeful again. Until that time, I will continue to hope despite my feelings, which is a discipline I am thankful to be learning at such a young age.

November 15, 2009

held

Tonight I played the song "I'll be seeing you" by Billie Holiday for Jeremy. I love this song, partially because I love Billie Holiday, and partially because I love the way the song is played throughout the movie The Notebook. Listening to this song made me think of The Notebook tonight.

And then I remembered the future sorrows that may or may not be mine. Bipolar disorder is connected medically (though not in absolute ways) to dementia. It is thought by some researchers that bipolar disorder leads to dementia later on in life. Some studies say that if bipolar is treated correctly, it will not lead to dementia. This is what we are hoping for. Still, the fear is there, and as I thought of this possibility, I began to cry.

The movie portrays such a heartbreaking story as the husband stays with his wife through the gradual, horrific battle of losing herself to dementia. It breaks my heart to think of Jeremy having to deal with something as horrific as watching a wife suffer from dementia...and it breaks my heart to think of someday being lost in my own mind, having forgotten everything I hold dear. Every memory, every person, every joy.

It's hard to believe sorrows like this are commonplace here on earth. Growing old is such a horrible experience for so many. I have so many good (i hope) years ahead of me. I have to believe that the God who has held me so far will continue to hold me, no matter what I face.

And though I face the fear of what may come, I am so thankful to be facing it with someone. So thankful for the man who came quickly to my side, as soon as I began to cry tonight, and held me until I had cried my last tear. I'm thankful for the moments I have with him now, and have to trust God to preserve us in the future, whatever the future may be.

November 11, 2009

morning sickness

Sunday night I didn't get to take my medication until later in the evening, like around 9:00. Normally I'm supposed to take the little-pill-that-packs-a-punch at dinner with food. But I was gone for supper and didn't get back until late to take the pill. That night also ended up being a late night for me. We didn't get to bed until 1:00a.m. AND then I couldn't fall asleep until 2:30 (the gift of being manic. hooray.)

SO Monday morning I woke up and I felt [literally] like crap. I drug myself out of bed, got dressed, took my pills, and got in the car. Jeremy and I work at the same place, so while he drove, I slept on the way with a pillow and blanket that i keep in the car for just such emergencies.

When we got to the parking garage, I was so tired I couldn't walk in. So I slept an hour in the car. Then I dragged myself in to work. I felt so nauseous and was [literally, again] almost falling asleep at the desk. So I clocked out and dragged myself to the "quiet room" reserved for such emergencies. I slept another hour in the quiet room. Then I dragged myself back to my cubicle. I almost threw up ten times, and decided to leave. So I dragged myself [notice a theme?] back to my car. I was so exhausted and drugged up that I didn't even drive home. Oh no, I slept two more hours in the back seat of my car [with my handy dandy blanket and pillow, reserved for such emergencies]. Then I woke up, and being too groggy to think of a better option, I drove myself home. I don't even remember the drive. [God spared me the potential catastrophes that come when you drive under medication-induced drunkeness.] I got home, dragged myself up the stairs, collapsed on the couch, and didn't wake up until it was time to go to practicum.

Moral of the story: don't take medication late at night.

Unfortunately, I didn't learn the lesson thoroughly, and once again found myself taking my pill late at night.

Tuesday = a not so dramatic repeat of monday. This time, I slept on the way to work, slept an extra 30 minutes before walking in to work, almost threw up three times, but managed to avoid the "quiet room" and the oh so pathetic two hours of sleep in the back of my car.

Tuesday driving home with Jeremy, I said: "it's just the weirdest thing. I'll feel sick and groggy all morning, but then all of a sudden it will just go away. It's just a terrible sickness...in...the...morning."

Kind of like morning sickness. Kind of like what pregnant women experience.

So here's the deal. I was 100% positive that this illness and exhaustion was caused by the medication. But there is this terrible little thought in the back of my mind that forces me to take a pregnancy test every single time I think there is even the slightest chance that I might be preggers. Here is the thought: I am extremely terrified that I am going to get pregnant, and not know for a few months. Me being pregnant while taking the bi-polar medicine could equal major birth defects. I hate the thought of being on these medications and being pregnant for any longer than absolutely necessary. Thus every time the thought even crosses my mind with some semblence of a justification, I take a test.

turns out I'm not pregnant. But I still am glad that I checked.

In other less dramatic/terrifying news, I am really tired of feeling exhausted and sick all day. And I'm really tired of NOT being able to fall asleep at 11:00 pm when I fall into bed. I will be exhusted ALL DAY, and then 9:00pm will roll around and all of a sudden I'm rip roaring ready to go. So.Stupid.I.Can't.Even.Tell.You.

I lay in bed with my eyes closed, begging sleep to come quickly, and think of stupid stupid stupid things. I try to pray, but my thoughts get interrupted by crazy thoughts like "what if I got pregnant on one day, and then got pregnant again the next day and ended up having that crazy twins-from-separate-conception thing?"

Extremely practical and helpful to hypothesize, am I right?
thanks mania. You're super great. Please stay forever.

On a more positive note, I have been extremely inspired and motivated during the 2 hours that I am not dealing with extreme illness caused by medication. These 2 hours usually lead me to great acts of cleaning, laundry doing, blog writing and homework doing. It's possible that I might actually get through this semester, thanks to my awesome little manic high. [let's hear it for the silver lining, right folks?]

That's the extent of the ramblings for this evening.
Except for one final thought.
I am so extremely humiliated at the thought that 2 weeks from now, I will look back at this post and realize that it was indeed the very insane ramblings of an very-almost-insane person. Sad thought. But I'm going to just listen to my cute little manic voice right now, which is telling me that this is indeed the most brilliant thing I have ever written.

ta-da.
the end.

November 9, 2009

mania

I'm manic right now. People have this concept of what being manic would look like: being crazy, spending too much money, having uncontrollable energy, blah blah blah. That's not how it looks for a lot of people...especially for a lot of women.

What being manic looks like for me is being inspired, motivated, having great ideas, believing you can accomplish anything, being driven, not being able to sleep because you're mind is racing with thoughts and ideas. I'm sure it's different for every person...but for me, I just turn into the type A, overachiever who wants to accomplish great things.

I used to think that that person-the accomplisher of great things- was who I really am. But apparently it's not.

I was thinking today about all of the seasons that I had ideas that were grandiose and life changing. Thinking about the times that, as a high schooler, I pitched these ideas to people, confident they would support me. (Who wouldn't support ideas as great as mine?) And now I look back and feel embarrassed...you know that sick in the pit of your stomach embarrassment that comes when you tried really hard at something, worked with everything in you to accomplish something, and then find out it was all just a practical joke? That's how I feel. Extremely embarrassed and disillusioned.

I don't really know who I am anymore. Depressed me doesn't feel like "me"...it definitely isn't who I want "future me" to be. "I can do everything watch me accomplish things most adults can't even accomplish" me was who I thought I was. Now I'm seeing that she isn't me either.

There's a part of me that is extremely terrified that once the medication evens me out, I'm going to be boring and unmotivated and never accomplish anything worth talking about.

There's also a part of me that is terrified/confident that I will never stop having cycles of suicidal depression.

And then there's a part of me that wishes I could just be manic me all the time. Think of how clean my house would be, how amazing my lesson plans, how many books I could write, how much piano I could play. If only.

I was thinking the other day about a season in my life, probably when I was about 17 years old, that I read the story of Joni Earekson Tada. She is the woman who was paralyzed in high school and has been in a wheel chair all of her adult life. When I read this book, I remember specifically praying, giving God permission to do whatever he needed to do so I would walk faithfully with him, so that he would be everything to me. I even told Him he could let me get paralyzed if that's what it would take for me to be close to him and used for his kingdom.

I was also thinking about my mom, and how when her cancer got really bad, she lost the use of her left arm and hand. She had been a near-concert pianist. The most heartwrenching memory I have of her is a time when I walked into the living room where she was trying to play piano. She had finally lost all use of her fingers, and she couldn't play piano anymore. She sat on the bench and wept. It was the worst experience of my life. Way worse than seeing her die. Way worse than seeing her dignity stripped from her. Piano was her life, the way she praised God, the way she connected with people (she was a piano teacher for many years), the passion that had defined her for her entire life. And she lost it. It was stripped from her, leaving her with a crippled hand and a chronic disease.

I was trying to think what this must have been like for her, trying to imagine her confronting God, and realizing that the Lord is always using these experiences for our good. I wonder if perhaps my mom, after having been stripped of this major "definer" in her life, found more of her identity in Jesus, and in being chosen, saved and redeemed by Him.

And then I thought of myself, and how I don't know who I am anymore. And through many tears and frustrating thoughts of "what-ifs", I found my heart wanting to not be defined by my illness, but rather to be defined and identified as a daughter of God, chosen and beloved, the Bride of Jesus, sealed as a part of His family.

I realize with feelings of agony that life on earth is just really really hard. I don't even know how to think about the future without fearing what may come...but I suppose I am also learning that the traces of beauty and redemption that God leaves along the path of suffering are indeed worth it. Oh, that I might know abundant life in christ, even in the midst of sorrow and suffering. That I might be found fully identified by Christ, no longer a slave to sin and the consequences of sin, but made alive by the resurrection of Jesus. He is making all things new. Oh, please, let that include me as well.

November 6, 2009

my lot

I have been feeling really good lately. Other than a bit of grogginess from the side effects of the medication I'm on, I have been functioning very well. I wake up tired but happy, energized, glad to be alive. I fall asleep happy, [still energized...am I manic?] and glad to be alive.

But in the secret whispers of my heart, I have been wading through fear of the future. Even writing this now, tears flood to my eyes...tears that I have tried to suppress.

I'm so afraid of who I will be 10 years from now. Will I always have to be on medication? Will I be a stable mother? Will I love Jeremy well? What about my dreams, my hopes, my grandiose goals for my life? Will I be a good teacher? Will I be sad all the time? Will I get to live overseas? Will I ever get to live out the dream that I've dreamed since I was 7 years old?...will I get to be a missionary?

I think toward the future and I feel so defeated and hopeless. I hate this illness. I hate it so much. I used to be such a risk taker, so fearless, so capable.

And now, I sit crumpled in the corner of my heart, pondering whether I will be able to stand the "me" that I am becoming. I wonder if I will regret or resent my life. I wonder if God will be able to use me, if any missions board would believe in me enough to support me.

I feel crippled. yes, that's the word. I feel like my heart, my emotions, my hopes are crippled.

I think about the book Hinds Feet on High Places, and I wonder if my fate is the same as Much Afraid's...to walk with the companions Sorrow and Suffering. Is that God's will for my life?

Oh, I have such a hard time embracing that. I feel so self-righteously entitled to a season of life that doesn't include sorrow or suffering. And to be honest, for a few months I actually thought I might be emerging from 10 years of sorrow into a life of knowing God's presence, rejoicing, serving and feeling alive. It doesn't appear that is the lot God is giving me.

I think about the verse in Psalm 16: the Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup. You support my lot.

He is my inheritance. He is my cup. He supports that which he gives me to walk through.

Oh God, the simplicity of knowing you and loving you have never really been mine, not without the puffy eyes and choked voice that comes from my journey with sorrow and suffering.

How long, Lord?

How long? Will I really be like this forever? Is it not enough that I've dealt with this for 15 years? Oh Jesus, I need your salvation now more than ever. Be my refuge, please. I have no where else to go.

November 4, 2009

prayer

So I'm reading this book right now. Slowly plodding through the deep issues associated with prayer. Does God hear us? Does he respond? Does he change things according to our prayers?

It has been a very refreshing read for me. Philip Yancey is the most thought provoking, honest, bold writer I have ever read. Especially in the real of Christian books. He isn't afraid to challenge Christian's thinking, and he definitely isn't afraid to question the way God does things... but he does so in a non-blasphemous way. It's really just another way that he honors God: by exploring Who he is and why he does/doesn't do the things He does.

I really want to learn how to pray. I want to believe in it. I want to know God. I want to want to want to be with him daily. I wish my heart desired him more. I'm not afraid of being honest with God...but to be brutally honest to all three of you readers, there is a secret part of me that is still hoping there's a way out of reality as we know it.

What I mean is, I still secretly am trying to find a way to not be an eternal being, to not be accountable for life, and to not long for significance that will probably never be mine. I'm trying to find ways to love God and trust Him in the midst of all of this, but right now it feels like every dream I have ever had, every aspiration, ever hope, has been smashed by the hammer of BI-POLAR syndrome. Not to be dramatic...but any decision I want to make, any dream I want to pursue, is overshadowed by the one question: what if I fall apart again? What if I can't handle the weight of it. What if I never feel good on medication? What if what if what if?

I'm trying really hard to believe that God knew the plans he had for me long before i was conceived. That he know I was going to be bi-polar. He knew how it would affect our life, our marriage, our future family, our ministry. And still, here I am, still emotionally unstable, possibly manic, wondering if God actually hears or responds to anything I pray.

I wish my heart could conform to the image of His Son.
Until that day, I suppose I'll just keep reading about Prayer and hope that something will eventually soak in and change me.

November 3, 2009

new life

I have been missing my mom a lot lately. I'm not quite sure what triggered this longing, but I find myself thinking about her throughout the day, remembering who she was, wishing she were here to see me all grown up. I wish I could talk with her about marriage and family. I wish we could have been friends as adults. I know that God isn't a thief...but still, I feel robbed at this point in time.

I also find myself grieving not only the present, but the past. There were so many things that I experienced when I was younger, things that I didn't know how to process. Now I look back and see the shambles of my childhood and adolescence, and I feel so much sadness for the situation. This fallen world brings so much pain. Death is not what we were created for, and I think that no matter what age a person is when they die, we still feel a huge sense of loss and longing for things to somehow be made right. I know that Christ is making all things right. I know that this is not the end of the story. But knowing my mom for only 15 years doesn't feel right or good at this point in time. Seeing my sister call someone else mom, no matter how great our step mom is, doesn't feel right.

I miss her. She would have loved me and comforted me through this season in ways that only a mother can do.

I remember the night we found out her cancer was "back", our pastor came over to be with us. We were sitting around the couch, crying, talking, and he asked if he could read any of our favorite verses. My favorite verse at the time was Revelation 21:4. Now, reading the entire passage, my heart finds such hope in what's to come.

3And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,

4and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

5And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new "

[revelation 21:4]

I can't wait for the day that God is among us, wiping the tears from my eyes, eliminating death and suffering and pain and separation from us. I can't wait for the day that He makes all things new. Until then, this life in the body is carrying out the death of Christ, and in that death finding new life.

November 2, 2009

all better

I have been feeling really energized lately. Even happy sometimes. I don't cry for no reason these days. It's...strange. Strange how quickly things change. Strange how normal I feel. Strange how hard it is to remember being sad.

There's a certain unknown factor that us been added into the mix of decision making/planning for the future. Everything that I want to do, everything I aspire to, feels limited by the possibility of longterm depression. Can I teach? Could I live abroad? Could I dare to be a missionary? I dream and hope, but in the end if just feels like too much of a risk.

I know life is complicated, and things are always going to have an aspect of difficulty...it's just hard when I realize that I am the complication. I am the difficult aspect. I'm resigned to trust the Lord with my happiness and to try desperately to be content where I am at right now. I don't do so well most times, but baby steps are all I can manage.