How Long?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me? (Psalm 13:2)

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar, I was told it would be a life-long condition, sort of like emotional diabetes. Along the way, I have experienced some periods of “maintenance remission” where I am mostly symptom-free as long as I remain in treatment. I’ve enjoyed these reprieves immensely, though I can never tell when they will happen or how long they will last.

Likewise, I can never be sure how long an episode of mania or depression will last. It could be less than a day or weeks on end. Being a “rapid cycler” {Yipee!}, I can move from mania to depression in about the time it took you to read this {Ugh!} sentence. I once heard of a postcard message that perfectly sums up the experience of rapid cycling: “Having a Great Time. Wish I Were Dead.”

With bipolar, I can never know how long a cycle will last. The best thing to do as I wait to cycle is to pray (to cry out with the Psalmist if need be) “How long?” In God’s own good time, relief is bound to come.

As I wait and pray, I have drawn on particular resources that have provided me a measure of relief. When I’ve been at my worst, I’ve called mental health hot-lines, prayer ministries, and phone counselors. I have a network of friends I have called. Lately, I’ve been able to express my struggle through blogging and through that now have a faithful prayer partner in Australia. On a few occasions, as I’ve reached out to others, it has become clear I’ve needed more intensive help, and I’ve gone to emergency rooms for care.

Having bipolar is like being on a very scary ride that seems to never end. You sometimes need to sit by someone who will reassure you of safety and remind you the ride doesn’t last forever.

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