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Wednesday, January 31, 2024

God and mental illness: Why won't He heal my mind?

Obviously the notion entered my mind that maybe this could be an installment of the Being Bipolar series (which there may be much more material for coming soon).  But Being Bipolar is more about the disease itself, and is intended to be a resource for those looking for insight and information from someone who lives with that condition.

What I'm sharing now, on the other hand, has less to do with that aspect of my life than it does with others.  Although mental illness is certainly the precipitant.

It was twenty-four years ago this month that the symptoms of manic depression, or bipolar disorder, first began to manifest themselves in me.  At first it was wildly intoxicating, all the boundless energy and creativity that came seemingly out of nowhere.  I was still looking for a job post-college and failing in that but other opportunities were coming to the fore (like my time at Star Wars website TheForce.net, which gets a bit of interesting light shined upon it in the book I'm currently writing).  Long story short, I was bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm and optimism and sheer drive.  That those seemed to be peppered with moments of despair - like the horrible night that winter when I stripped off all my clothes and tried to freeze myself to death during a snowstorm with temperatures in the single digits - were inconsequential to how inflamed my uttermost being had become.

By early spring however, it was increasingly obvious that something was very, very wrong with me.

That was almost a quarter century ago.  But it seems like only yesterday.  In one way or another bipolar disorder has been in the background of everything that I have attempted or somehow accomplished despite the condition.  It has factored into my relationships (one of which ended in divorce), in my career history, in my choice to leave my old hometown... there has not been a single aspect not impacted by manic depression.

And all along, there has been one question that has been most on my mind: Why did God let this happen to me?

Two and a half decades later, I'm no closer to understanding the reason than I ever was.  But there has been a modicum of comfort to be drawn from scripture.  Second Corinthians 12:9 has the apostle Paul sharing with us that God told him "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"  Or as my Uncle Nub once told me: "Maybe God let you have it because He knew you could take it."

The verse continues: "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."  Which dovetails well, I think, with Romans 8:28, a verse that a colleague quoted to me yesterday:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

It has taken many years to come to this place, where I am no longer angry at God for allowing mental illness - something that at various times I have described as a "hell" - to strike me.  I better understand now that this is still a fallen world, and not all the medication and counseling remotely possible is going to change that.  I believe that God is the master Healer, and that there is no disease which is not without His power to alleviate.

But even so, disease happens.  It can occur within anyone, with all its nefarious varieties.  I suppose that I should consider myself blessed.  In two months I turn fifty and at my last medical examination the doctor told me that I've the health of someone in his early thirties.  Obviously God has let my physical well-being be good.  That is more than a lot of guys in my demographics get to have.  The only real physical malady I have is anemia, something that prevents me from being a blood donor anymore.  Perhaps sooner than later we'll get to the bottom of what's causing it, because I hate being out of the running with my friends who contribute blood.  But I digress...

With time has come understanding, and I hope a little wisdom.  And it has also brought with it an appreciation for my condition.  Had the economy not taken such a turn downward I might still be enjoying a career as a full-time peer support specialist with the state's department of mental health.  That is a job you literally must be crazy to have, I often tell those who don't know what peer support entails.  I was someone who made use of experiences and intensive training toward helping other people, who also have mental illness, and letting them have a chance at full and meaningful lives.  It was the most personally rewarding work that I have ever done and I would be doing it forever if that had been possible.  I got to be of assistance to a lot of good people.  Some of whom I still keep in touch with, just letting them know I still care about them.

Some people who God has placed in my path at times, have been close to giving it all up.  Have gotten too close to the line separating want-to-live from I-want-to-die.  I've been there too, more times than I can possibly count.  And ironically I got to be the one who convinced them that their lives are worth living.  I got to be someone who saw how precious their existences are, when they could not see it themselves.

It's possible that a lot of people wouldn't be with us still today, had it not been for God letting me have a mental illness that put me in their place first.  But I don't say that to boast.  God can be glorified in even our worst weaknesses.  If some are still alive today, that's His doing and not mine.  I'm just the instrument He chose to use.

And I can and will be thankful for that honor.

I guess the catalyst for this post is that, recently, I did something rather foolhardy and potentially very dangerous.  I attempted to move out of the way of God from healing me.  Or in other words: I tried to be made whole by faith only.

And so it is that I went a few days without my medication.

There wasn't any one agency that led me to attempt such a thing.  At various times across the decades I've earnestly wondered if my faith in God was not enough: that maybe He would heal me if only I had more trust in Him.

I went off the meds and instead I threw myself into prayer and fasting.  I turned toward immersing myself in scripture.  I asked for prayers from others: something which has become a regular occurrence for me and indeed I do not believe that I would be here today were it not for prayers from people dear to me.  I covet prayer now.  Which is another irony, since once upon a time I would have likely laughed at such a notion.

I tried relying entirely on having faith in God, that He would deliver my mind from the torment of mental illness.

And in the end, He did not do that.

After two days being without the meds my thoughts began racing out of control, again.  But I tried to endure.  Sought to increase my faith.  I want to think that my faith in Him is strong enough that it weathered the torture without ceasing to trust Him completely.

I went as far as could be tolerated before going back on the meds.  Blessed relief arrived a few hours later.

So, once again, God did not heal me from bipolar disorder.

Or, maybe He did.  Maybe He still is.

We are told that Luke, the writer of the eponymous gospel as well as the Book of Acts, was a physician.  Doubtless he of all people understood the wondrous qualities of human health and self-care.  I don't know what medications were available circa 60 A.D., apart from a form of aspirin known to the ancient Greeks.  But Luke was in all likelihood well versed in their array and uses.  God gave Luke a capable mind and adept hands to be a healer.  Perhaps God was not dealing out divine intervention toward the healing of those in Luke's care, but He certainly was the ultimate Author of betterment and recuperation.

I have to believe that God gave us a beautiful thing in medical science.  Something that can not so much replace God's place in healing as it does complement it.  In the employ of those dedicated and devoted to the healing arts, medicine is by its very existence a miracle of God.  In its purest form medicine is a thing wholly given over to the betterment of life.

I can't possibly contend that medical science is something God would not want us to make the most of, if it means having better and more purposeful life.

What about when medical science fails?  I have friends who in recent weeks have each lost a loved one to disease.  Is that a judgment against medicine when it could not prevent their respective passing?  No, it is not.  As I said before, it is a fallen world.  Injury and illness have been a part of that imperfection for a very long time and barring God's intervention that doesn't look to change anytime soon.  Nothing is guaranteed.  We can only trust in God and His will, that things are going to work out for the best in the end.  And that's the absolutely best answer that I can give.  But I've seen His will work out well before.  I have to believe that His will, will manifest itself as something that gives Him the glory and proves to be of benefit to us.  God operates on a vaster scale of time than we can comprehend.  And even the failures of the best of our schemes will serve to honor Him, in the end.

Personally, I believe that this lifetime isn't all that we get.  There is more past that.  What form that takes is up to the person living it.  God knows who are His.  For the one who loves God, this life and its afflictions are not the end.  There is something better waiting for us still.  I dream of having a mind that isn't plagued by mania or depression or sometimes both at once.  That is coming, in the fullness of His time.  And that is a great comfort.

I'm not going to willingly go off the medications again.  I've tried trusting God to take my condition away from me.  For whatever reason, He has not done that.  But He has provided knowledge and wisdom and tools that can make the condition much more better manageable than it would be without those things.  Here I am on the cusp of fifty, and with each passing day I feel more like what it is to not have a mind turned against itself.  I feel younger today than I ever have, and it's because of what God has provided many scientists, researchers, and engineers with over the course of the centuries and especially the past several decades.

But of course, it never hurts to pray too.

Monday, January 29, 2024

I plan on wearing my Ghostbusters uniform on opening day of this

 New trailer for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire dropped a few hours ago and I've watched it a few times now.  I'm getting a vibe that this might be the best film since the original.  It's hitting on all the right notes.  And hey, it even has the return of Walter Peck!

Watch it here:


Thursday, January 18, 2024

Reveal trailer for Indiana Jones and the Great Circle!

Word is breaking loose at this hour that Bethesda's new Indiana Jones game has finally been revealed...

Coming later this year it's Indiana Jones and the Great Circle.  Looks set pre World War II aka the "golden era" of the saga.  As for the "MacGuffin" of this particular adventure, there are hints of in in the trailer that went live a little while ago.

So let's take a look at it!

I'm not much of a video game player anymore (though I still want to eventually finish Fallout: New Vegas) but this might tempt me to get a new console.  Well, of course a new BioShock game would make me want that even more :-)

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

"Why We Fight": Three qualities I aspire for in my writing

I am a writer. I chronicle things.  Including both mundane and wondrous happenings in my life.

I write, laboring under the notion that examining one's own being will further illuminate that magnificent thing known as "the human condition".
I don't write for power, or money (though I have earned a little over the years).  I don't even write for "the masses".  Having a fan base never really appealed to me. I am just as happy writing for the few people who would read and understand and maybe appreciate the effort.
I write MUCH more than I let on here.  Most of my writing is for Facebook, not this blog.  But there are very few Facebook posts I make that are public.  Like I just said, what I compose isn't necessarily for mass consumption.  Even so, if you are reading these words now, wherever they are found, you are honored as much as I am thankful.
The day may come, sooner than later, when I do open myself up more for "the masses".  I hope three things will happen on that day.
First, that those who I most appreciate won't abandon me.  I promise to never let something "go to my head".
Second, is a mission that I believe God has always intended for me.  And that is to be a "flame spotter".
One of my jobs is to look for people who believe they are alone, who know something is wrong with the world and choose to live in defiance of that.  But they don't know that there are others who are just like them.  They find themselves lonely, with barely any hope.
I look for the fires.  Sometimes it calls for making myself seem ridiculous, so that they might better see me and come out of hiding long enough to make contact.  I am someone who tries to bring encouragement to those who need it more than most.
Someday I may take that to the next level.  If I ever disappear along with my dog Tammy, you will know.  Make of that what you may.
If you are one of the rare fires, I may already have my eye on you.  Be of good cheer. Alfred Jay Nock called us "the Remnant".  We are few in number, but one thing we are NOT is alone.  Remember that.  When the masses of men try their damndest to bring you down to their level, you can stand firm.  And know that you are admired by the ones who matter most.
Maybe writing for a larger audience will reach more of those who are important to me.
The third thing that I hope happens on that day is the realization that I have chosen to serve God in my writings.
It has been God all along, who has been my inspiration whenever I've written my op-ed pieces or religious essays.  I've never credited Him nearly enough.  I hope now, that I'm in a place where at long last I have real growing faith in Him, that He will be honored all the more.
I don't know how exactly but I need God to be honored with the book I'm writing.  But it has to be done with consideration.  All along it has been on my heart to make this a work that ANY person can be interested in reading.  As much as I don't like to do this, the subject of God must be treated gently.  Not too hard and not too soft.  If this was a Christian devotion things would be different.
But it's not that kind of book.  There will be a LOT of unpleasantness within its covers.  And in a perverse way that is going to be one of the draws that many will have toward my book.  I need it to be grasped though, that it has been something higher than myself which has brought me this far.  I'm going to honor that, as best I know how.
I really hope that I can finish this sooner than later.  There are things being written about that are funny, that are horrifying, that are ridiculous, that are sad, but also uplifting and maybe inspiring.  In the end it will be what it is, and more people will learn about this peculiar creature named Robert Christopher Knight and his wacky world.
I hope it will be time well spent.
And I hope that it will do honor to God and the MANY people He has put in my life along the way :-)

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Only Hope For America: A video commentary by Yours Truly

Have had a lot of thoughts over the past few days and weeks about the upcoming presidential election, and the general state of America.

If you've ever read "Isaiah's Job" by Alfred Jay Nock, and you found it resonated with you, then this video may interest you too.

Monday, January 08, 2024

The Berenstain Bears learn about sound economic policy

I knew it!  I just knew that I hadn't imagined this.  A cartoon from 37 years that I saw only once ago and I still remember it!

Around the mid-Eighties there was an animated series based on the beloved Berenstain Bears children's books.  The show ran on Saturday mornings on CBS.  It was pretty good as I seem to recall.  And often quite humorous.

Well, the other day one of the episodes sprang to mind as I was reading the news about the latest attempt to avoid a government shutdown.  It involved the Bear kiddies learning all about money.  How those little green pieces of paper don't have value on their own.  Instead they must be backed up by something with real tangible worth.  In the bears' world this happens to be the purest honey in existence.  Without that backing, as the kids' father puts it there would be total chaos.

In other words: fiat currency is a very terrible thing for a society to have.

This is wise economics from a nearly forty year old animated cartoon made for youngsters.  Even a child can understand the enormity of it.

If only more people had grasped the concept.  This country would not be headed toward the disaster it is hellbent on achieving.  It is indeed chaos and there is not going to be any avoiding it.

Here is the episode: "Raid On Fort Grizzly".  Well worth watching.

Saturday, January 06, 2024


 All this time for the past several years I've been trying to write a book.  About my life especially regarding the impact manic depression has had on it.

I've been working on a number of bits and pieces of it, going back and forth on those.  But there has never been a "plan" per se.  I've been assembling fragments but this project lacked structure.  I was stumbling around without a clearly defined plot.

For a very long time, going back even to before I left my hometown and set out across America, I've been trying to crack the basic outline for my book.  It has been something that has driven me crazy... well, you know what I mean (I hope).

I haven't had the shape of it.

Until today.

I finally cracked it.

Like a bolt out of the blue it hit me late this morning.  Maybe God was waiting to show it to me.  Perhaps I needed to be in a better place before I could be shown this.

Hot dang.  This is going to get made.  It's going to work.

I think that this is going to become something very special.

The first draft of the outline is now a Microsoft Word document.  Chapters and sections are already falling into place.

Working title of part one: "The Page", but that may change.  This is still very early.

My confidence just got a major boost.  Lord willing, I'm really going to be able to do this.

Okay, me go celebrate now.  Tonight's dinner: pepperoni pizza with a good helping of sriracha sauce (the original from Huy Fong).

So stoked now.  I'm looking forward to sharing it with others.  This is gonna be KEWL...

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Latest "episode" of my new video series

Still very early in this endeavor. Right now I am mostly working on camera angles, lighting, a better intro sequence... and my own presentation.  I used to publicly speak better than I do now and I have to wonder if the meds I take to manage my manic depression might have taken some of that away.  But there's no way to improve without jumping in and DOING it.  Perhaps I will indeed improve with time.

Anyway, here's the latest episode.  In which among other things I reveal my nearly forty years-old quest to obtain an object I've had my heart set on from the moment I saw it.  Lord willing that my book sells, I hope to get one.

Aaaand, on with the show!


Tuesday, January 02, 2024

The Knight Shift turns TWENTY!

 Twenty years ago today, on January 2nd 2004:

"Here we go, fast and furious..."

I'll be honest: I really never thought this blog would make it past the first year or so,  It would be something for me to play around with and then I'd get bored and abandon it.

This has not happened yet.

I think The Knight Shift fulfilled a need in my life.  To actively chronicle the human condition of this one very peculiar individual.  That has been a thing of evolution, that I can't but be impressed by as I look at many of the thousands of posts I've made over the years.  Especially those early ones.  I was much more writing about politics then, for one thing.  Today, not so much.  I can put it no plainer than this: politics is one thing that I have grown bored with.  I'm more of an ideas man, not an ideologies man.  Although lately the desire to be more proactive about that has been growing in my mind.

Well here this blog is, twenty years old today.  When it began I was 29 years old, married, about to be diagnosed with a mental condition, trying to make my first movie, still full of "piss and vinegar".  Today I'm about to turn fifty, writing a book about life with that same condition, am unfortunately divorced (but still hopeful for that kind of happiness), have made a number of movies and recently started writing the story for a new one, and I think I've inadvertently become more seasoned.  The Knight Shift has touched upon all of that and more.  Including but not limited to: movie reviews, recipes, documenting a run for public office, taking on a major corporation, shared the thoughts and turmoils of being a manic depressive, took an extended respite and came back to write about being on the road across America for over a year, posted lots of pics of my miniature dachshund Tammy, shared the loss of loved ones, celebrated the gaining of new ones, and... well, you get the idea.

I'm hoping and praying that this blog will continue for another 37 years at least.  I want to write about seeing Halley's Comet for the second time in my life.  The first was a disappointment.  Would love to make up for that.  A much better appearance of Halley would make a fine place to retire this blog on.

But in the meantime I'm counting on God to continue to provide new ideas, new experiences, new people from which to draw writing inspiration from.  I'll be honest, this site took a blow after Dad passed.  I lost a lot of drive about many things.  But I like to think the old mojo is coming back.  So long as there's even just one reader, I'm going to do my best to make this a site worth visiting.  You have my promise on that.

So Happy Twentieth Anniversary to The Knight Shift!  I'm looking forward to seeing what the next twenty years will bring :-)