1/19/16

How to Talk to God When You're Crazy

Call me crazy, but sometimes I feel like I can't talk to God. 



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It's like being on a phone call that keeps getting disconnected. I dial again and again and again, but to no avail.

The way that God talked to me in the past was through thoughts. It was impressions and ideas that felt important and right. But, when I started struggling with my mental health, all of that changed.

When I'm depressed, I feel numb. Praying seems meaningless, and so does reading my scriptures. No matter how hard I try to talk to God, nothing seems to get through because I can't feel anything. I can't seem to connect with Him at all. I become apathetic and lonely because of this disconnect. I talk into the receiver, but I don't hear anything from the other end.

When I'm manic, I think thoughts are from God when they really aren't. I've had a situation or two when I felt like He gave me an answer to a big life decision. The answers made perfect sense to me. The "prompting" was perfect and there was no need to question it, even though the decision itself was questionable. And when I got stable again, I was completely torn apart about the decisions I made that I thought had been prompted by God. I talk and talk to Him, but somehow I still misunderstand what I hear.

So what do I do? When I'm depressed I can't feel God talking to me, and when I'm manic I think He is telling me things that He's really not. It's hard not to feel discouraged. How can I trust myself to know what God is saying if I can't even sort out what thoughts are mine and what thoughts are caused by my mental illness?

What I'm starting to learn is that God is still speaking to me. The way I talked with Him before my mental health challenges is not necessarily how I'm going to now. It's still a work in progress, but I've found two things that have helped me talk to God when I'm feeling crazy:

1. Trust what I already know and go from there. If it was true once, it's still true. When I get overwhelmed by my thoughts I stop and start from the beginning:

Okay, what do you know is true?

     God exists, and so does His son, Jesus Christ.

What did Jesus Christ do?

      Christ atoned for my sins and died that I may live again.

Sometimes, those are the only two things I can believe and cling to. But that's what I do. I cling to them and use them as an anchor until the turbulent sea of my mind is calmed.

2.  Trust my loved ones. I've never been one to lean on other people. I hate it. I like being independent and doing things my own way. This is especially true of my testimony. I've always done things on my own. But now, I sometimes have to rely on my loved ones to help me with my connection with God. When I don't know whether or not I'm hearing God or if I don't hear Him at all, I lean on those I love. I trust their testimonies and tell myself that if they know it and believe it, I should too.

Like I said, things are still a work in progress. I still am struggling with my communication line with God. It is really, really difficult at times to hold onto the faith that I have. It would be so much easier to give up, and sometimes I do. But when I do, I feel a little tug at my heart. A little something telling me that it's going to be alright. You know what that little something is? It's God talking back.



1/13/16

Your Mom Doesn't Want You to Date Me

I was once told by a guy I dated that his mom didn't want him to date me because I have a mental illness. 

You know what? I don't blame her. 

                           

Here's the secret: your mom doesn't want you to date me because my future is full of unknowns. Will I be able to handle my mental illness? Will my children inherit bipolar disorder? Will I be successful? Who knows. That's the scary part of life, the unknowns. So don't date me because I have a mental illness. Date me in spite of my mental illness. 

In spite of my mental illness, I am me. I have aspects about me that aren't influenced by my mental illness at all. Things like: I love sunsets and I am a hopeless romantic. I can't sleep with my socks on and I love my mom's chocolate chip cookies. I hate the smell of tuna but I love crab. My favorite color is peach, I can drive a manual car, and I'd rather go to the beach than any amusement park. I am Rachel, I am not bipolar. I am a person with bipolar disorder, and it's up to you to realize that. If you can't separate the two, I won't be offended. It just means I'm not the girl for you. 

So when will I tell you that I have a mental illness? I don't know. There's no perfect answer to this question. I've tried all different angles--I've told some guys on the first date, others I've waited for a few dates in. I've gotten a variety of responses--some great, some not so great. I might tell you on our first date that I have a mental illness. That usually means that I trust you--that I know you will take me seriously. I also trust that with this knowledge, you will make a decision to keep dating me or not. The ball is in your court, and whatever you choose is alright with me. 

If we start dating exclusively, you can count on some challenges. I will take all of your patience and understanding, more than you knew you have. I will drive you absolutely insane sometimes. I will wear you out with my tears sometimes. I will have good days and bad days. I will have doctor visits and trips to the therapist. Dating me, someone with bipolar disorder, will mean that you will have front row seats on my emotional roller coaster. We're not talking typical girl emotional roller coaster here. We're talking days when I can't get out of bed and nights that I can't sleep. We're talking panic attacks, irritability, social withdrawal, impulsivity. Sometimes, you'll feel overwhelmed, and I will too. But you know what? I will be absolutely blessed to have you, someone who supports me and pushes me to fight.

Yes, your mom is going to tell you that it's risky to date me. She's right, dating me is hard, and I won't deny that I'm a risk. But, I won't say that I'm not a risk worth taking.