Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To my beloved Lisa McB (and for anyone else who has suffered a spouse battling bipolar)

Edit 5:12 p.m. EST: I have been asked to remove this post. And, I will honor this request.

EDIT 5:22 p.m. EST 11/18/2010: I am not going to repost the original text that was here. But increasingly, I am being led to post something about what I have gone through. Maybe - just maybe - God might use it to spare others the grief that I have gone through and that I have put too many other people through.

In my last post (which really was meant to be farewell for now) I publicly disclosed that I have suffered from depression for many years. I also have had to struggle with bipolar. And I do understand that I am likely giving up a lot of great potential in coming forward with that.

Well, whether I want it or not, it is a part of me. It is part of my identity, which I will have to deal with for the rest of my life on this earth. And don't think that I haven't cried out to God about it. Indeed, especially in the past two months as I have begun to regain my understanding of things, I have cried out to Him harder than ever before.

I have especially asked God why He gave me this, when it led to certain things happening which are, as best I can understand them, things He is against. Like divorce.

For whatever reason He has, God allowed me to be stricken full-bore with bipolar, which on top of the depression and very many medications that I have been given in the past several years to fight this, turned me into a very different person than what I really was. A different person than who I like to think God intended for me to be. I became someone who put the ones closest to me through hell. And I was completely powerless to do anything about it.

Bipolar, depression and all other kinds of mental illness are not a sin. Not at all. They are a kind of disease: one as real and destructive as cancer, hemophilia and diabetes. In some ways having a mental illness is far, far worse. If God had to stricken me with something, I wish He had given me cancer instead. That is something, at least, that pretty much everybody can understand.

So I would like to say some things to two groups of people. First of all, I want to address those who, like me, have been afflicted with bipolar.

Please know: this is NOT your fault! You could not possibly have wanted this or asked for this condition. And if you are like me, you probably weren't even aware of your own mind turning against you until it was too late. You know where I'm coming from, and I know where you are coming from too. The feeling of being alone in a dark, deep prison cell from which there is no light, no hope, no escape. Being trapped in your own mind, having to watch helplessly as you do things beyond your control. Things that you know you would have never done otherwise.

I know what it's like to feel rejected by God and rejected by those closest to you. They don't understand this. They can't understand it, not without experiencing it themselves. And like me, that is something that you - since you know what this is like - would never wish on anyone. Not even your worst enemies.

I know what it's like to tell God that it's just not fair. That if He was going to allow your health to be destroyed, to let it inflict harm on your flesh. To suffer something that takes away your judgment and your common sense and your spirit for living... how can that be fair? And yet, God let it happen to us.

Don't give up hope. Please, don't give up hope. And as for why God would allow this to us, the only answer that comes to mind is from the story of Jesus healing the blind man, as is recorded in the Gospel of John, chapter 9:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means "Sent"). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

That is the best that I have been able to locate in scripture during these many weeks. And perhaps I should be rejoicing that God let me go through this: that if it means He will be glorified in the end, that He chose me because He knew that I could take it.

That doesn't mean that I necessarily like it one bit. After all, depression and bipolar have cost me friendships, opportunities and even my marriage. I wish that I could see how this is going to end, so that my burden might be lessened from knowing that God is going to use this.

All I have to go on is faith and hope and trusting in Him. I don't know how the story ends. For now I'm a struggling character in a story that He is still writing. There are moments when I wish He did use someone else. But then, that would have been someone else suffering. And how much faith would any of us have if God didn't put us in places where we were in pain and misery and crying out to Him for deliverance?

In the end, God is good. Even though things are so very dark. I will be thankful that as silent as He is now, He is listening.

Now, for the second group that I want to address: the people who have to live and deal with a loved one suffering bipolar...

Your mother, your father, your brother or sister, your husband or your wife who has bipolar: you have no idea what kind of a hell they are having to endure. They didn't ask for this.

And neither do they deserve being abandoned and left alone.

Would somebody abandon a loved one because that person became sick with cancer, or hemophilia, or leukemia? Of course not! At least they should not do such a thing. Conditions such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia and everything else under the umbrella of mental illness are just as much a disease as cancer or muscular dystrophy. With much the same cause: something going wrong physically, deep inside the brain. It could be brought on by trauma or it could be neurochemical in nature.

These people who have bipolar, they are good people, who have been hit with something beyond their control. And it is a cruel thing to leave them because of their illness.

Wanna know something though? I don't hold anything against those who have left me because of my own condition. Because as I've said, you have to go through it yourself in order to understand. And this is something that I never want those I care about to have to suffer.

Folks, please: your loved ones who may have bipolar, they don't deserve to be left behind. They need to be loved and cherished. You need to love and cherish them harder than you ever have before, and I do know how hard a thing that is to ask! Just know that however much hell they are putting you through, they are being put through hell far, far worse. They don't mean to hurt you or humiliate you or otherwise bring embarrassment to you. If they are anything like what I am now going through, the eventual recovery from bipolar is going to leave them cursing the day that they were born. That is the magnitude of grief and shame that people feel when they realize for the first time how much hurt they have done to those they love most, when they couldn't have helped it.

Trust me: a person with bipolar is going through more than any person should ever go through in this earthly life. To not be forgiven for what they are by the people closest to them, is a far worse thing than the condition itself.

I am not forgiven. By God, yes. But not by those who I have hurt. And I would do anything to be able to take it all back, if I possibly could.

And those who suffer bipolar that you, dear reader, might personally know: I've no doubt that they feel the same way.

Please, don't abandon those whose own minds have turned against them. Pray for them. Be patient with them. Most of all, dare to love them in spite of their illness.

More certain am I than of how my own story is becoming, do I believe that Christ will be lifted up and glorified by those who do love and cherish and forgive those who cannot help the situation of mental illness.

All things work for the will of God. Even mental illness. The question is: how willing are we to choose to glorify Him in spite of ourselves and our pride?


17 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow.. very moving. Hope all works out.

Anonymous said...

Chris, my friend, I know the depths that you hurt over this. Divorce is one battle I HAVE been through, and it's never easy to get over. The only advice I have on this comes in two stages:

1) Commit any reconciliation or reunion in this relationship to the Lord. Ultimately He is the only one who can bring it about without dredging up a lot of bad feelings on one side or the other.

2) Move on with your life. If you don't, the mental stress will be unbearable. If you do, you will be giving the Lord the ability to bring more good things into your life and process the healing of this deep, spiritual wound that divorce has caused in you.

You are in my prayers. Please don't bring my prayers to nought because you stubbornly cling to things of the past.

Sign me...
Ol' You-Know-Who

BW said...

2nd Corinthians chapter 1, verses 3-7

Alex D said...

'Prelude to Parsifal' by Wagner?

Why?

Chris Knight said...

There are no more words to conjure.

Anonymous said...

Chris
I am sorry to hear about your ailment, as a frequent reader of your blog, I had no idea. Please know that there are people out here who enjoyed reading your posts, and think that you should continue to do so. Your blog was one of my favs, because it was so varied - updates on topics close to the heart of any geek, to moving posts such as this one about your illness. Thanks for sharing and it gives us who know you only remotely a topic to pray specifically about.
Please consider your continued writing, and just concentrate upon seeking the Lord in prayer day to day. Some of us are given heavy burdens to bear every single day of our lives, some are granted burdens for only a short time, it is up to the Lord. I think though, that such extreme travails are only given unto those that the Lord knows can carry on and endure.
Hang in there my friend, I look forward to walking with you someday on the Heavenly shores and chat in person.

jessicaash2003@yahoo.com said...

Glad to see you back. Having been through major depression myself (to the point of trying to commit "police-assisted suicide"), I think I can empathize.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

My friend, it is a fallen world. Even so what you are going through is one of the cruelest attacks that the enemy can do to a child of God. I do not doubt that as you are gifted in so much and do devote it to God that Satan assails you. But take heart. For He who is within us is greater than he who is within the world. You are in the prayers of so many. Happy Thanksgiving!

Jake said...

Ditto to what has been said, and happy (late) Thanksgiving Chris!

By the way did you fry any turkey for this holiday?

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris, this is one of your Facebook friends. Listen brother, the last person is right: Satan is trying to destroy you and destroy you hard. Every time you write one of your little thoughts about God and Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven like you did yesterday, it lifts up and encourages all your FB friends who read it and if they're like me they share them with others. God gave you more talents and gifts to work with than anyone I know and you do use them for God! More than anyone I know to. If you were being quiet and selfish with your gifts and not using them for God then, Satan would leave you alone. You're a leader Chris and people look to you to show them how to keep living and fighting for God. Keep doing what you are doing your reward will be great. If others won't see that then it is their loss. God is faithful even when others aren't. And Chris I hope you had a good Thanksgiving but it looks like you did that fried turkey you made was B E A U T I F U L !

Chris Knight said...

Jake: I fried two turkeys this year. Some said that they were my best yet in what is now my ninth year of doing this. I don't know about that, but they were in demand enough at the dinner table :-)

Anonymous directly above: thanks :-) Five people are now wanting me to fry turkeys for them for Christmas next month. Time to go into business!

Anonymous said...

Chris, as avid reader and fan of your page please don't be led into believing that depression or any form of mental illness is the work of Satan. It is an unfortunate reality of being human.

I'm not going to bash your faith as it brings you hope, which in turn brings strength but I am disappointed to read people mark a very human condition such as depression the work of satan. To do so dehumanises the reality of the condition.

Chris Knight said...

To the anonymous person who left that comment earlier this afternoon:

My comprehension of things doesn't include whether or not my condition was a direct work of Satan. Though as one who does hold to a spiritual perspective of life, I could accept that. But as you said, it could also just be "an unfortunate reality of being human".

As one person said above, it is a fallen world. I doubt Satan is really running around nonstop 24/7 causing everything bad that befalls us mere mortals. There's more than enough disease and situations that befall us, and even worse things that all too often it is we as humans who are the cause of it. Contrary to what Flip Wilson said back in the day, the devil does not make us do it all.

However, that said: I do absolutely believe that nothing happens beyond the sovereignty of God.

And I will confess: that is what I am having a very, very hard time grasping and struggling with. Most especially as a follower of Christ who has cried out to my Lord and Savior like never before about why He let this happen not just to me, but how it hurt and drove away some of the people who I have loved and cared for most. How I hurt and drove them away, because of this happening against my will. Against my control.

I have told people that it would have been better if God, if He had to make me sick with something, to give me leukemia instead. Not only because that is something that people do understand, but also because that's not something that affects your mind, your free will. My free will was tossed aside because of this illness.

How do I reconcile that spiritually, with what I know of God and how He does grant us that liberty to choose our actions?

I had come to believe that God gives us the freedom to choose whether or not we love Him and we love others. I thought that extended to what we do with our daily life.

And then, for God to allow a thing that takes that away and leaves the barest semblance of free will, if even any at all...

I don't understand it.

And have I become sad, frustrated, even angry at God for letting this happen? Especially considering it has destroyed so many relationships that I have treasured?

You bet I have.

God let this happen. And I have no answers why He did.

All I have to cling to, is hope and faith that there was a reason. Why there is a reason for all things that He allows to happen.

Has my faith been tested and stretched? Is it almost at the breaking point?

Yeah, I'll admit that. I don't see how a person can go through all of this and it not nearly destroy their faith.

I don't and won't blame Satan for this. I do know that God let it happen.

And I have to keep trusting in Him that He isn't going to let this be in vain.

Chris Knight said...

To the anonymous person who left that comment earlier this afternoon:

My comprehension of things doesn't include whether or not my condition was a direct work of Satan. Though as one who does hold to a spiritual perspective of life, I could accept that. But as you said, it could also just be "an unfortunate reality of being human".

As one person said above, it is a fallen world. I doubt Satan is really running around nonstop 24/7 causing everything bad that befalls us mere mortals. There's more than enough disease and situations that befall us, and even worse things that all too often it is we as humans who are the cause of it. Contrary to what Flip Wilson said back in the day, the devil does not make us do it all.

However, that said: I do absolutely believe that nothing happens beyond the sovereignty of God.

And I will confess: that is what I am having a very, very hard time grasping and struggling with. Most especially as a follower of Christ who has cried out to my Lord and Savior like never before about why He let this happen not just to me, but how it hurt and drove away some of the people who I have loved and cared for most. How I hurt and drove them away, because of this happening against my will. Against my control.

I have told people that it would have been better if God, if He had to make me sick with something, to give me leukemia instead. Not only because that is something that people do understand, but also because that's not something that affects your mind, your free will. My free will was tossed aside because of this illness.

How do I reconcile that spiritually, with what I know of God and how He does grant us that liberty to choose our actions?

I had come to believe that God gives us the freedom to choose whether or not we love Him and we love others. I thought that extended to what we do with our daily life.

And then, for God to allow a thing that takes that away and leaves the barest semblance of free will, if even any at all...

I don't understand it.

And have I become sad, frustrated, even angry at God for letting this happen? Especially considering it has destroyed so many relationships that I have treasured?

You bet I have.

God let this happen. And I have no answers why He did.

All I have to cling to, is hope and faith that there was a reason. Why there is a reason for all things that He allows to happen.

Has my faith been tested and stretched? Is it almost at the breaking point?

Yeah, I'll admit that. I don't see how a person can go through all of this and it not nearly destroy their faith.

I don't and won't blame Satan for this. I do know that God let it happen.

And I have to keep trusting in Him that He isn't going to let this be in vain.

A Reader In Reading said...

Chris, I had to go through 15 years of torture of mental illness. Like you it is what made a wreck of my marriage. Today I thank God for bringing me through it because it made me closer to God than ever before. And in time He brought my wife and me together again. We are now parents of two beautiful girls. Don't give up hope! God has you in the hollow of His hand even if you don't see it now. I will keep you and Lisa in my prayers. You are too good a writer and thinker to let this destroy your life. God has great things. For BOTH of you.

Chris Knight said...

A Reader In Reading:

What you have written, I am reading during a particular moment when I am feeling hopeful and optimistic, and believing that God has not forgotten me. That He has heard my prayers and calling out to Him.

And then there are times - far too many, I am ashamed to admit - when I can't but feel that He is distant, uncaring, hasn't heard me at all. At those times I even wonder if He has ever heard my cries of repentance. And that can become a very difficult thing to have on your mind: is there salvation for those who God doesn't hear?

But right now, at least, I do believe as you do: that God is at work in this, and that He is bringing me closer to Him with it.

I pray for many things. One of them being that at the end of this, that my faith in Him will be unshakable and as certain as anything has ever been in my life. I am not there yet. You don't go through all of this without having your faith rattled to the core. But I do choose to believe that He will use this for my benefit, though it is so very painful and full of grief right now.

I am glad that He has blessed your own life, and that He has brought you through your own long dark night of the soul (because that is what this really is, as you no doubt know). And thank you for your prayers.

Anonymous said...

Chris
To make a very, very long story short -
Back in 96 I was engaged to a fine young woman whom I loved very much, but our marriage was canceled by her father against our wishes. Being a Christian and raised to respect authority, I didn't challenge him, though losing her was simply one of the worst days of my entire life, ever. To this day I have not been able to have another long term relationship last and my heart has remained broken at its very core. Though I have never been married I feel as if I went through a divorce I did not consent to nor desire in any way.
I share this to let you know that it is not unusual to have long term struggles that seem to have no end nor solution, in spite of prayers. I have found some help in dealing with this burden in a Christian book called: Night Shift: God Works in the Dark Hours of Life, by David Shive

Please seek this out and give it a read, I think it may help you some.

Hang in there brother

Admit it: You WANT this to be a real game...

The game that really lets you battle Hell on Earth!  Guaranteed to send Dianne Feinstein into a frothing frenzy, make Chuck Schumer&#...