A "Rule of Life" for Living with Bipolar

Living with a serious mental illness means accepting that my brain functions differently than the brain of a neurotypical person. For example, I can’t binge-watch TV shows. Doing so loosens my grip on reality. I can’t stay up late at night. Sleep deprivation leads to paranoia and panic attacks. I have to watch my sugar and caffeine intake. I have to avoid intense conversations and intense people. Here is a list—a kind of “rule of life”—for living with bipolar.

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How do you make a house a home? One little corner at a time.

Because we got rid of so much stuff during our move, I've become something of an accidental minimalist. There's a spartan homey-ness to this new way of living, though. It’s easier to keep things tidy, for example. Clutter doesn’t accrue on open surfaces because there's no clutter for accruing. And I’m finding ways to make this new house feel like a home by focusing on one small area at a time.

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Goodbye, dear home

Two months ago we sold our home of ten years and moved to a smaller rental house in a different city. Matt is going through a career change and we had to move for his new job. But it all happened so fast—the house sold in four days, the escrow was only two weeks long, everything had to go, go, go—and I've found myself sort of stumbling around in the wake of all this change trying to find my bearings.

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How to Wait

My very best thinking often lands me in the precarious position of clinging to things I’m supposed to let go of or grasping for things that are not meant for me. Waiting is about trust, it's about taking it one day at a time and it's about learning patience. Waiting is an opportunity for me to find God in the tension of uncertainty. 

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Come read my new thriller fiction on Wattpad! Link in post!

Lauren was a popular blogger, happily making a living on her inspirational Mommy blog. She never intended on having the affair. She never thought of herself as the kind of person who would do that. But, of course, she WAS that kind of person. She'd wasted five months of her life on a man who didn't deserve five minutes of her time. But at least she was still alive. That other woman-Mikayla-wasn't. Mikayla was dead. Sometimes Lauren didn't know which was worse: losing your life or losing your time. Maybe they were the same thing.

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How do we know God is real?

Ever since Katherine's death, it's almost as if someone has placed a filter over reality. I no longer see things the way I used to see them. I no longer feel things the way I used to feel them. I didn't expect this upheaval to affect my understanding of God. But it has. How do I know that what I know is true? The only answer I've found is: I don't. I don't know.

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The freedom of self-forgetfulness

The saints often talk about "self-forgetfulness" and I think it is an important lesson for me as I learn to live with my mental illness. The saints held everything loosely, including their own lives. The only thing to which they clung was God’s will. And even that, they realized, was not something which they could accomplish in and of themselves but only through the power of the Holy Spirit. Clinging without grasping. Holding fast without needy desperation. There is true freedom in this kind of self-forgetfulness.

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Life on Abilify: is it worth it?

Initially, Abilify was a life-saver. My storm-tossed brain was now a glassy-smooth lake. No more psychosis, no more suspicions that the FBI was spying on me, no more paranoia. No more dramatic mood swings. No more mean voices in my head. Eventually, though, I began to notice that not only was I on a glassy smooth lake, but there was no wind in my sails, either. Everything—everything— was flat.

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"Blessed are the manic for they shall obtain mood stabilizers" #BipolarStories Part 3

No, you don’t need a brand new RV. I know you really, really think you've become an outdoorsy person. But that's just the mania talking. How do I know this? Because the real you hates camping. You’re an indoors kind of girl. You like fuzzy socks and indoor plumbing. You like books and crocheting by the (indoor) fire. You require Netflix, a full-size bathtub and a toilet at 2am every night. Camping is not your dealy-o. Just say no to #vanlife.

I know! I know! You’re gonna become a real adventurer! You’re gonna sell everything and live out of a van like all those sexy hipsters on Instagram.

But no, you’re not. Again, that's just the mania talking.

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That time Jesus said: "Blessed are the bipolar for theirs is the pharmacy of Heaven." #BipolarStories Part 1

The day I go mad dawns blazing hot.

The heat makes everything worse—like the fact that government agents are spying on me. It’s humbling to admit I have this illness. I would prefer to tell you that I’m actually a really super spiritual person; that my delusions of grandeur and bouts of mania mean I’m a mystic. But nope. I'm just your average, garden-variety crazy person.

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