Land of Confusion

     The lights of the city are mere streaks of color. At the moment, I have no idea I’m in trouble. Every thought I’m having is brilliant. Every word, succinct. My mind is well-oiled, superior, efficient. Part of me is irritated at having to pay attention to the road, as I chase squirrels in my mind, enchanted with myself. Why can’t I feel this way all the time? If only I could write all of this down, I mutter, my fingers itching for a pen. Must remember. Remember what? I’ve forgotten already.

     On the car radio, Carrie Underwood is singing “Jesus Take The Wheel.” I sing along for a while, then cock my head. “You mean it, Lord? You want me to let go?” Of course! Why didn’t I see it before! What freedom to trust God! I slowly let go of the steering wheel, my hands hovering an inch above it, not quite daring to put them in my lap. I smile knowingly, honored by this test. Whatever happens is fine by me. God knows best. 

     Gradually, the car drifts to the right. The dirt crunches beneath the tires and the car rolls slowly to a stop. I smile. See? Nothing happened. I knew I could trust God. He kept me safe. I beam, humbled by His love. But I must not underestimate myself! Oh, the things that I can do!

     I pull the car back onto the road. The sky is blacker than ink. I don’t know where I am. But it doesn’t matter. God will take me where He wants me to go. Humming, I proceed down the winding road, oblivious to the speed limit, and let go of the wheel …

     What’s described above happened to me in 2006, one of several manic episodes I’ve had. About 2.6 percent of American adults suffer from bipolar disorder, characterized by periods of mania and depression. 1 in 4 adults have a mental illness of some sort. That means that if you’re in a room with 3 other people, and they’re ok, you’re the one.

      Ok, so that’s not funny, but you get the idea.

Most people know that Robin Williams died by hanging on August 11, 2014. [Edited to add: this article clarifies the reasons for his suicide]

Regardless of the reason for his suicide, I also suspect that he had bipolar illness; the highs and lows of his life seemed only to confirm my suspicions. It was interesting, over the next few days, to hear the various comments people made about why he did it. What he was thinking. And how selfish of him to do it. How people could know such intimate details I have no idea, but they were saying it. And then going on with their lives,  unaffected. Again, his wife does not believe he did it from a place of depression, and that is important to note. It is not a judgment that we ought to make.

      But before we knew this additional piece of information, a number of my friends and I found ourselves comforting each other. It was as if one of our own had lost the battle. I have lost dear ones to mental illness, and said nothing, out of shame, or wanting to protect them. There are lots of euphemisms that can be used on a death certificate. Those close to them probably know the true cause of death. And yet, I said nothing about the disease, about my own struggle. I protected myself, but I also protected the illness. In a way, I contributed to its power, by saying nothing.

     I’ve had it better than some, I know. At one point I thought I’d live out the rest of my days in an institution. At other times I’ve been “this close” to being homeless.  But I’ve also been able to work as a nurse, raise a great kid, enjoy many aspects of life.

     In the past I have admitted freely, to anyone who will listen, that I’m alcoholic, that I have depression, that I suffer from anxiety. But to tell them I have bipolar is to risk rejection, misunderstanding, even mistrust. And I like being able to function in society without prejudice.

     However, I wonder if some of my anxiety is because I’ve hidden this part of me.

     So, again, my fingers are itching for a pen, a keyboard, a way to explain. And maybe, to help someone.

And I’ll definitely be talking about God. Because God is not a delusion, nor the author of confusion …  He is my Rock, and the only reason, I believe, that I’m still here. He’s given me work to do, and one of these jobs is to help others who may be limping along. We may be doing a 3-legged race sometimes, but we’re still moving forward. Just keep breathing, and don’t quit.

 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

You wait in darkness
For answers that you can’t see
You know what you deserve and
You’re wondering why your life is
Not what you thought it should be
When the night breaks, your heart still aches
How can you face the day, you just

Keep breathing, you’ll make it
Don’t give in, you’re not done yet
Sometimes all that you can do is
Keep breathing and believing
Don’t let go, just hang on tighter, a little longer
When you feel like you’re dying
Keep breathing

When every moment
Is almost more than you can take
You’ve got to know some tomorrow
Will bring you a breakthrough
That’s the reason why
You’ve got to get through today
When the night’s gone, you will be strong

Keep breathing, you’ll make it
Don’t give in, you’re not done yet
Sometimes all that you can do is
Keep breathing and believing
Don’t let go, just hang on tighter, a little longer
When you feel like you’re dying.
With every breath you bring in hope
You’re letting go of all your doubt
When nothing is easy, you’ve got to keep going
Even when you don’t know how
You don’t have to know how, no

Keep breathing, you’ll make it
And don’t give in, you’re not done yet
Sometimes all that you can do is
Keep breathing and believing
And don’t let go, just hang on tighter, a little longer
When you feel like you’re dying
And keep breathing.

Don’t give up,
Cause you are not done yet

And keep breathing

From “Keep Breathing” by Kerri Roberts

6 thoughts on “Land of Confusion

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