In the manic phase of bipolar disorder, I experience racing thoughts and I seem to spend a lot of time arguing with people in my head. I know many of these negative thought patterns show up in other mental illnesses as well.
What’s happening is, my brain is misfiring. I’m not a neuroscientist, so my descriptions are simplified. But my amygdala is on high alert and is convincing the rest of my brain that something’s wrong. So my brain looks for anything around me that’s wrong and my mind starts yelling at it.
The problem is, we live in a fallen world full of imperfect people. There’s always going to be something wrong and there’s always plenty to yell at.
But I can’t live my life yelling at everyone and everything that’s wrong. Even though I’m able to keep my mouth shut (most of the time), which has taken years of recovery and lots of practice, my mind is still engaging in unnecessary drama that’s negatively impacting the rest of my life.
So, how do I end the yelling? Stop, drop, and roll.
Stop – Realize that I don’t need to keep arguing.
I can stop for one second to ask Jesus for help. Even if I have to promise my mind that I’ll be right back to argue some more, I can stop long enough to call for aid.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
At that point, I’m not even trying to stop arguing. But the very fact that I realize I’m wrong, and that Jesus is the answer, changes the atmosphere. Because I know that He hears my prayer and He will help me.
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
I don’t know how God is going to get me out of the drama in my head. Because I’ve tried to do it myself and failed. I’ve usually tried everything I know before I prayed, because I know I should know better.
But the point is, when I’m in the middle of a burning building and I’m surrounded by smoke, everything I used to know is obscured and useless.
I have to stop trying to fix it myself and trust that God will answer my prayer and lead me out of the crisis.
Drop – Go where the drama isn’t.
In a fire, smoke rises, so you have to drop below it. In an argument, drama rises, so I have to stop fighting and sit. I have to stop trying to win the argument and let go of the need to have the last word.
I drop to my knees in prayer. I fall on His grace and mercy and find His peace while I’m down there.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Lying on the floor with the fire raging all around me, I’m finally able to see it from His perspective. I can see, then, that it’s not necessary. I can see that my mind has been tricked, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a biological illness or a spiritual crisis. The answer is there, on the floor, with Jesus.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Roll – Smother the fire with the truth.
This has to do with when your clothes have caught fire. Rolling on the ground extinguishes the fire by depriving it of oxygen.
Rolling around (meditating) in God’s Word and His peace deprives the negative thoughts of fuel and they can’t survive.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
If my argument is with people who are doing things wrong, God doesn’t hit me with the truth that I shouldn’t be judging them. I already know that, and I still wasn’t able to stop. And I already know that I’m just as much at fault as the person I’m arguing with.
The truth He shows me is His compassion.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
He’s filling my mind with His love so that I can see the situation through His eyes. And when I see the other person through His eyes, the argument fades away.
Spending time in the presence of Jesus, filling my lungs with His truth, removes all the fuel from the fire in my mind and the air starts to clear.
With the fire out and the smoke cleared, I’m left with embarrassment at getting suckered into another lie. And His Word comforts me there, too.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust. …
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
His grace is sufficient for me. And I’m grateful.
How does God’s Word bring you peace when your mind is filled with drama?
Image credit: geralt