Thursday, October 1, 2015

When I Am Not Sane

"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."  (C.S. Lewis)

On any given day, I am somewhere on the mental illness spectrum.  This is a spectrum of my own design, as I am not an expert in diagnosing psychological problems.  All I know is, by spending a lot of time in my own brain, and part of that time in what would be labeled mental illness, that's there's not always a clear line between sane and insane.  It's usually a combination of both.

In recent years, most of the time I have been fine.  My emotions are under control.  I get tired and anxious or discouraged, but usually a new morning gives me new perspective.  There are times, though, when I can feel myself slipping down that spectrum.  Since I've been at Ground Zero before, I know what it feels like to slide.

When the future looms dark and seeks to consume me.
When anxiety strangles my ability to face what is in front of me.
When discouragement becomes failure, which becomes hopelessness.

I know what it feels like to have Emotion become Reality.  Where everything, all aspects of life, are so consumed by that Emotion that it defines what is Real.  Where your brain is a black abyss and you are falling but you can't scream because you don't know how.

It's there, in the slide, that what I believe matters more than anything.

What I've learned about emotions is that I can rebuke them.  I can take them firmly by the scruff of the neck and demand that they submit.  But that will only be successful if I am 100% confident that what I am yelling at them is Truth.

God is in control!  He is powerful.  He is sovereign.  He is good.  He loves me.  I have been rescued.  I can forgive because He forgave me.  I can persevere because He gives me the strength.  Everything that happens to me has purpose.  This life is not all there is.  The best is yet to come!

The things my emotions yell at me are not true.  The fear, the despair, the hopelessness....they are not Reality.  My brain does not create Truth.  Truth exists outside my brain and I will not allow my emotions to call the shots.

Some days, the fight isn't there at all.  Other days, the battle is fierce.  Sometimes, I just retreat--into chocolate, or television, or a nice big pity party with balloons and cake.  But if I want to win--if I want victory--it all comes down to what I believe, and how firmly I believe it.

The problem is that when I am high on the spectrum and feeling good, Truth doesn't matter to me so much.  Because who cares?  But the hard work must be done there--the wrestling, the working out, the strengthening of my convictions--because otherwise, it all will collapse under the weight of my emotions when I slide further down.

I realize it's not always simple.  Traumatic experiences, personality, hormones, medication....all influence that slide, and sometimes the battle needs outside help.  If I ever get to Ground Zero again, I will get help a lot sooner than I did the first time.  But my first line of offense would be to get others in my life to help me fight the battle for what is True.

Here's to finding and believing the Truth.  Want to join me?

"Alcohol is a depressant--it deadens parts of the rational brain.  The happiness you may feel when you are drunk comes because you are less aware of reality.  [God], however, gives you joyful fearlessness by making you more aware of reality.  It assures you that you are a child of the only One whose opinion and power matters.  He loves you to the stars and will never let you go." (Tim Keller)

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