Wednesday, September 28, 2005

My Medical Condition

'A great yearning for something took possession of me. I could not explain it, nor could I sleep for it sometimes, and had to pray to God to take it away, for it was consuming me. But there was no sign of blessing!'

Everyone has ups and downs (including those related hormone changes in adolescence and to the menstral cycle in females). However, extremes in mood swings (or 'mood episodes') refer to a medical condition that is widely out of proportion, or totally unrelated, to what's happening in your life. These swings affect your thoughts, feelings, physical health, emotional health, behaviours, and day-to-day functioning and can be extremely disruptive to your life. It can also be very disruptive and distressing to your relationships and family. Every time you experience symptoms at one extreme for at least 1 week, it is called an episode.

If you have read through my profile on the right, you would have read that I had heart surgery and a medical condition....I'm not sure if you have wondered what it is. Well I would like to share with you. In fact, I've posted about it in my 18th post. I have been thinking about this entry for many months already. I thought that if this blog is to serve as a help to those struggling to find out what it means to be God's people in this time and place, I should really open up. I have struggled with Bipolar Disorder (depression and mania) for a number of years now. And I've been seeing a counsellor & doctor for a while to work through the condition. It has been tough going but also rewarding (I have known myself so much more through the process). Yes I know that I still have a long journey ahead, but I am thankful that no matter what happens, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. And HE will never leave me or forsake me because I have this illness.

I thought I needed to blog this because the Australian statistics on mental illness say that 1 out of 5 Australians have some form of mental illness. So I suspect that there are many of us who are in the blogosphere who might be facing similar issues. Hope this helps others on the journey! And for all of you who know me and have suspected something was wrong for a while, you were right!

BD is a treatable disorder and usually requires long-term management and treatment. According to research, many people with BD are creative and intelligent and with proper management of their condition, lead full and productive lives. That sounds good, but I also have experienced the painful and upsetting mood swings, and at the same time, have caused pain to others as well! :-(

I wonder what the future holds? There is such a prevalence of mental illness in the world. You would have to think that there are so many Christians who are facing this too. What do we do? How can we create environments where these sorts of issues can be discussed without anyone feeling alienated? Does the church handle it better, worse or the same as other secular contexts ? How do we create environments where leadership in the church / faith communities are able to be open about such things?

I pray for a journey towards wholeness and a deepening sense and love for God, self and others. Also I would like to say to those who struggle with mental issues, be encouraged, I reckon that there are more of 'us' than we realise and that if you suspect you are struggling, talk it through with someone.

Just as I was writing, my dear friend Sondy sent me a text with the verse in Isaiah 46:4, which encouraged me a lot. "Even to your old age and gray hairs I AM HE, I AM HE who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."

Praise the Lord. I am thankful for all eternity!


Kel said...

It's strange isn't it. Mental illness - something often bought on by chemical imbalance in the brain, through no fault of the patient - has more of a stigma attached to it than something like ulcers or diabetes - which are often bought on by that person's lack of managing stress or diet properly.

I agree with you Kitty that the church as an entity, and as individuals, has not done a lot to help or understand people with mental illness. Actually, the church has probably done more damage due to them telling people they need to have more faith, pull themselves together because Christians should have hope not despair, and other such twaddle.

Bless you for your courage in sharing about your health challenges.

Susan said...

Thanks for sharing, Kitty

Serene said...

How bad can it truly be? Not all people know God is with them, so no matter how hard it gets you are still fortunate. And overcoming the stigma is often a major part of the process, in my limited experience, so that's two things in your favour already.

Peace (and health and strength) be with you.

Kitty said...

Thank you Kel, Susan and Serene for your blessing, encouragement and support. I really appreciate it! Bless you too!

Rebecca said...

hey Kitty, I've never posted here before but I check out your blog occasionally.

A big, big CONGRATULATIONS on having the guts to post on this!! I actually know quite a few (as in, about 10 I can think of off the top of my head) with bipolar. Quite a few of them a Christians, but none of them have told very many people. Personally I see this as a sign of the ill-health of our communities of faith - and change will only occur if a courageous few start to stand up and talk about what it is they're dealing with. You've shown great leadership Kitty. :)

(That all has the potential to sound patronising - truly, it's not meant to be!)