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Friday, December 28, 2018

I'm no artist, but...

For a number of years there's been an image in my head of what it's like to have bipolar disorder.  Mainly, the aspect of it that's the most agonizing to endure.

Not looking for pity or sympathy for myself.  Just trying in some meager way to evoke what it is like for many, many people in this world.  Because I do know firsthand.  Maybe someone will see this and it might change a heart or two.  Perhaps even more.

I made this graphic earlier tonight.  It's the best way that I know to convey it:

The inescapable sense that you will forever be outside looking in.  The person who those you love knew so well, disappeared.  And now there is this imposter, who only too often gets shut out and away.

And so there you are.  Looking at a world you once loved and were so thankful for.  Looking but can never touch again.  Seeing them warm around the fire together, laughing and being happy... but you are not there.  You have been banished to the hinterlands of your own madness.  Exiled away, and you did not want this.  And you still love them.  They will never know how much you dearly love them so, despite the years and distance still to be.

It is a hell all its own.  A hell let slip by God Himself.  You are there alone in the cold, outside looking in.  And many are the moments when you pray for death and sweet release from it all.

In spite of how circumstances in my own life are drastically better than they were a year ago, this has been an especially brutal holiday season.  Depression raged back to life just in time for Christmas.  It did much the same two years ago, when Christmas was spent alone in a hotel room in San Diego, an entire continent across from familiar faces and voices.  Had it not been for my dog Tammy being with me all along this way, well... God knows what I might have done.  Tammy keeps me going.  We take care of each other.  She knows when the darkness hits and she knows when to cuddle up extra close.  Just one more bit of evidence why I will always believe that dogs (and cats) possess a soul.  And maybe more soul than too many of us human beings.

The depression has passed for now.  And there are more people in my life also.  Yet, I still mourn and doubtless always will mourn the loss of those relationships over the years because of my condition.  When you love others like that, you can't hold it against them.  Even so, you are still there.  Outside looking in.  And you never stop asking God "Why?

If you know of someone with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness, please: don't shut them out of your life.  I know, also better than most: being with them in even a peripheral sense is an unenviable experience.  It drains others of their cheer and spirit.  But please, don't abandon them.  Encourage them.  Listen to them.  Pray for them.  Not knowing if God is hearing you because of your own broken mind, that is one of the worst things about this also.  If they know you are praying to God for them, that can be a precious tether of hope for them to hold on, to keep going, to bear through until the break of dawn after the long dark night of the soul.

(And tried that I did, I was unsuccessful in locating the original source of that image.  It matters that the creator gets credit for it, and no infringement is intended.  It just perfectly encapsulated it better than any other I found.  So if you know where it came from shoot me an email at theknightshift@gmail.com about it.)