How God Works Through My Bipolar Disorder
I’m tired of feeling like my illness is some terrible thing that I need rid of. Certainly, if I could be rid of my bipolar disorder, I’d let it go in a heartbeat… but as a Christian, there is a strong emphasis placed on my needing to be healed of my illness. My illness, in the throughs of mania or depression, has the propensity to cause me to sin, but at the same time, it isn’t my fault I was born with this condition.
It has become my understanding that to be healed of my illness is maybe to partake in the healing of a world’s perception of it. Maybe God could be revealed to me and others through my illness and the redemption of it. Redemption can often be defined as paying a debt, being saved or gaining control over something. Could it be that the struggle towards redemption with my illness — the gaining of control — can be a testament to God, a beacon of light, to others in the world?
I think of the following verses from the book of John, where Jesus explains to the disciples that the blind man or his parents are not to blame for his condition and neither has sinned because he has it. In fact, Jesus says to the disciples that the man was born this way so that God’s works might be revealed in him.
So how has my illness allowed God’s works to be revealed in and through me? I’m not entirely sure, to be honest.
2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” – John 9:2-3
Maybe I was born with this illness so that people like me might be a beacon of light in a world full of darkness — a world where tragic acts of violence are blamed on mental illness. A world where stigma and misunderstanding run supreme. A world where, because of stigma, mental illness is more often associated with fear, dehumanization and hurt than redemption or beauty.
Perhaps it is because I experience bouts of depression that I can sympathize with someone struggling better than some others. Perhaps it allows me to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are in pain like me. Perhaps my coming out of those lows can be a testament to redemption, glory, and healing.
Perhaps my mania or mixed states can be outlets to create in ways that allow others to connect to God. Perhaps my coming down from the highs and working towards normality can be a witness to the power of community because I am largely unable to do it on my own.
But Jesus didn’t work in perhapses or maybes… he worked in certainties. It is with the same certainty by which He spoke of this blind man that He speaks for all who live with disabilities (mental and physical).
To those with mental health struggles, He speaks of the certainty of obtaining peace. He speaks with certainty that our testimony of health can help bring healing to those all over the world. He speaks with certainty that you and I are worthy and we can help others see their worth as well. He speaks with certainty that it is our duty as Christians, both with illnesses and without, to speak truth and justice for those who struggle… for those whose stories are skewed by fear, lies, doubts and blame.
I choose to let light be shown through my illness and to be a light for those who can’t find their way out of the darkness.
Follow this journey on the author’s blog.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash