It was 2007 and I had been selected to direct a play for a local theatre group. It was an amazing opportunity and I was ready. I was full of confidence – more confident than I’d ever been in my life. I had obviously found my life’s calling, because the life force of the entire universe was flowing through me.
Rehearsals were several weeknights and weekends, on top of my full-time job. But I could handle it. I just needed to power through.
Halfway through rehearsals, I started getting tired, but there was no quitting now. I was committed. And besides, this was my life’s calling, right?
The theatre group’s leadership started checking up on me, asking if I needed help. I thanked them for the offer, but I politely declined. I was tired, but fine. I just needed to power through, right?
Until I couldn’t power through anymore.
Two weeks before opening night, I had to admit that I couldn’t keep going and they brought in another director to finish the show. The last rehearsal I led ended with me cussing out several of the actors. It was an epic failure.
What I learned later was that the extraordinary confidence was a symptom of hypomania.
Hypomania and mania don’t feel like illness; they feel like health – especially after having spent months or years in depression. I felt like I was finally free to do what I was born to do. How can that be bad?
I John 4:1
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Mental illness alters our perception of reality. So how do we know what’s real and what’s not, if we can’t trust our mind and our five senses?
We can trust God and His Word.
In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
When things are going great, I can praise Him.
Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
Staying in His Word when I’m feeling good keeps me grounded in His truth. I don’t need to always be looking over my shoulder for the next bad thing to happen.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
If I’m not in a place of depression, I can express my gratitude to God by praising Him from His Word. It’s so much easier to be thankful and grateful when I’m not down in the pit, so I need to take those opportunities to fill up my tank with praise and thanksgiving.
And if the good feelings start speeding up? If I start feeling carried away by the momentum in my life?
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
I need to remember that I can ground myself in God’s Word when the world around me starts spinning out of control.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Even if I don’t see any way possible to “be still,” I can breathe God’s Word into my mind and let Him help me. God won’t ask me to do something without giving me everything I need to do it. If He asks me to be still, then I can trust that He will give me everything I need to be still.
That includes doctors and medicines. If you believe you’re experiencing symptoms of mania or hypomania, call your doctor. Then fill your mind with the scriptures until you go to your appointment. Then be honest with your doctor and follow their instructions – including any medication changes. Then fill your mind with God’s Word until the medication changes take effect.
Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.
God will give us everything we need to get healthy, if we center our lives around His Word.
You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
When my mind is swirling, I need to know that there is a rock of truth that won’t move. I need to know that there’s an objective reality I can cling to, because my mind can no longer be trusted to perceive reality correctly.
Even with regular visits to my psychiatrist and daily medication, life circumstances have pulled my mind into chaos. Even after not having had any bipolar symptoms in over a year, my mind is still tempted to sprint away like a dog chasing a squirrel.
But I now know what to do when that happens.
II Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
I choose to fill my mind with His eternal truth, instead of the bright lights I see all around me. I’ve been on this ride before, and I know how it ends. But the more I build a foundation of His Word in my mind when it’s not spinning, the easier it is to reach for it when the spinning starts.
How has God’s Word grounded you when everything around you was out of control?
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