It's Saturday morning, and I slowly awake at 9:30 a.m. It's my turn to sleep in, so hubby has been up with the girls for three and a half hours already. He's sneaking into our room to get ready to take them out for a walk to the playground, graciously allowing me another hour or so of quiet time at home.
I want to hide under the covers forever.
Instead, I get up and eat the french toast he's made and take my morning dose of Lithium. My mom FaceTimes me from Singapore, and with bedraggled hair and puffy eyes I share for the millionth time that I'm back to feeling depressed and lethargic. There's nothing she can do anymore except listen, accept me, and encourage me in the midst of how I'm feeling.
The slow pace today is a blessed relief from all the activity and burdens I've carried for the past two weeks since my last sleep-in morning. I take a shower, help the girls get lunch, and make myself a large cup of chai tea.
With a warm mug between my palms, curled up in an armchair, you'd think I would enjoy a moment of deep restfulness. But inside, I'm agitated and can't relax. I want to; I just can't.
My mind swirls with questions, concerns, and plans that are laid and relaid. What is the direction my life is going? What should I be doing with my time? Should I focus on this area or that project? Should I dedicate to serving these people or standing in the gap for that cause? Do I need to push forward in one direction or wait to be led? How long with the lethargy last this time... weeks, months? Will I ever feel happy and healthy again?
This is just one part of one day in a life with bipolar II disorder. It's a pretty tame day, in fact. I have time for self care. I have time to be taken care of by family. Most days are much more challenging as a wife and mom, constantly on the move between my part-time job, managing home life with the littles, and navigating an ever-changing diet of mood stabilizers and anti-depressants. Always depended on by so many people, even when my own mental health seems to be falling apart.
Today, I try to give my brain a rest. I tell myself it's not the day to plan my whole future. I choose instead to focus on being thankful, even for the bipolar depression that makes it hard to get through the day.
"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope," (Romans 5:3-4).
These aren't just idle words for me. I know after nearly two decades of mental health struggles that I can be thankful for the perseverance that it produces in me. I'm thankful for how my character has been, and continues to be, strengthened and built. And I'm thankful that I hold even tighter to the hope of Christ now than I did when this journey began, knowing that he never disappoints, never leaves my side, and himself endured trials far, far greater than whatever I am going through now.
I settle into a Saturday that is slow and melancholy, forging through each minute like knee-deep mud. But the song in my heart still echoes with hope and a deep, unshakable joy, because I know there is purpose in the hard days as well as the good.
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