Because I have bipolar disorder, I occasionally go through cycles where I have a difficult time getting along with people. It’s called dysphoria. In my mind, I’m completely right and the other person is wrong. I don’t realize I’m doing anything wrong. Sometimes I can see it afterwards, but sometimes I still can’t see what I did wrong. All I know is there’s a trail of carnage in wrecked relationships and lost jobs.
God is reminding me of something I already know to be true but somehow I forget it when I’m in a dysphoric state: Sometimes I can do or say the right thing with the wrong attitude.
Well, duh. How could I not know that?
Yet when I’m in a dysphoric state, I can’t see that.
Now that I’ve used up all my friends, I’m letting God do a little soul-surgery. I’m giving God permission to do whatever work He needs to do in my life to fix things. I’m very much aware that change happens from the inside out as Christ lives through me. In fact, I have a first draft of a book on that subject but I set it aside because I don’t feel qualified to teach on it yet (until God has changed me from the inside out more completely).
Although God changes us from the inside out, I’m also taking steps to create checks and balances in my life. I’ll list some examples below.
Limit my exposure to potential triggers.
- Check social media no more than twice a day.
- Designate one day a week as completely offline.
Demonstrate more resilience when I encounter triggers.
- Ask myself—On a scale of 1 to 10, is this worth dying for? Anything 7 or less is not worth destroying relationships or my Christian testimony.
- Ask God to love the person through me (because I can’t do it on my own).
- Walk away when I feel angry and do not go back to revisit the situation.
Practice healthy actions when I want to fight.
- Ask God to meet my emotional needs.
- Expend energy by vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, or doing something productive.
Evaluate my interactions by asking myself questions.
- Was my attitude in the situation Christlike?
- Was my response to that person Christlike?
- Did others hear the mercy and love of Jesus in my voice and tone?
- Did others see in me God’s grace and forgiveness?
- If not, am I willing to ask others to forgive me for my lack of love in handling the situation?
Take advantage of other support and information.
- Apply for a scholarship to Bipolar Advantage.
- Participate in the forums at School of the Spirit.
- Interact more with others in the Friends & Faith Group.
- Take a course on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
- Complete a Bible study on the power of words.
- Read books like: Keep It Shut, Tongue Pierced, and Bless and Be Blessed.
I’m thankful the baby in the manger was more than just a baby in a manger. God gave us the most precious gift when Jesus came to us. We don’t serve a God who is far off. God is with us. Immanuel. Because of God’s precious gift, Christ is in us and we are in Christ. He lives His life through us so we become transformed to be like Christ. And when we fail, as I so often do, we are in Christ so God sees us clothed in the perfection of Christ. Grace is a marvelous thing. By God’s grace, I will continue to let Him smooth out the rough edges in my life as He reveals more of Himself in me.