November 2, 2011
I felt the Lord pressing upon my heart to share my morning with you. It's now a day later and I've finally given in to that leading. I've put it off as it's not a pretty picture and it's well, humbling. I'm writing the following as I feel that there are women out there who may suffer with the same kind of extreme emotions that I have, and if there are, and if they are Christians, they may question why this extreme emotion is happening to them and why it's not, at times, controllable. I also believe there are family members/friends out there who know someone who has extreme emotions and is not sure what is causing it or why it's happening. In this case, when I say “extreme emotions” I'm talking about mental illnesses due to whatever reason, including hormonal imbalances.
So, here we go. We are diving into some REALLY thick stuff here people. This morning I lost it with everyone. You see, I had held it together for a whole week. Randy rearranged the stuff in the cabinets last week in order to have a place for my new juicer. Nice thought honey. However, what he didn't know, and I didn't realize at the time, is that this set my OCD/anxiety on high alert. Every time I went into the kitchen I found myself getting really pissed (and no i'm not going to use nice/appropriate words to cover up what was going on my head head because, for some reason, there is someone out there who needs me to be TOTALLY honest with what goes on in my head). I would notice my change in emotion and I have learned that emotions are NOT truth. So, I went right into “prevention mode”, which, for me, is singing a praise song to the Lord or quoting scripture so that I'm telling myself truth rather than riding on pure emotion.
I would experience this, easily, about 10 times a day (I'm in the kitchen a lot, and this is besides the other things that would set me off into anxiety mode during the day). This morning, I could no longer hold it in. My parents had come over for dinner last night and had brought some snacks for the boys. I ALWAYS put the bag of snacks in front of the food closet and then put them away the next morning (as we are usually heading out the door for youth group when my parents arrive). This morning, however, when I went to put those things away and pack the boys lunch boxes the bag was not there. I immediately went into rage mode. There was no time for me to catch myself and respond with a song, lashing words came out at my husband. I finally found the “stupid fish bread and the f###ing oranges” and my mind just went off with obscenity after obscenity (I did have enough strength to not do so out loud as my children were around). Then Randy finally got the children out of the house to go to the bus and I slammed the door shut and cursed up a storm letting this rage out that had boiled to the brim. I took a shower, pounded on the walls, screamed at God “Why are You allowing me to struggle with this f###ing illness called OCD and anxiety disorder? Why is this STILL overpowering me! I am in Your word! I am spending time before You daily! What the hell else do you want from me Lord!?!?!?!”
I was reminded of Paul and the thorn in his flesh. There are guesses as to what that thorn in the flesh was, but sometimes I wonder if it wasn't something like a mental illness. Something that, most people around him, couldn't understand, in fact, he couldn't understand it himself. Do you know how lonely that is? It would make sense if that was what it was since he begged God to remove it, something I've done often.
Thankfully I have a loving husband who does not take my “episodes”, for lack of a better word, personally, nor does he tell me I need to just “get over it”, “pull myself up by the boot straps”, or “There are people out there in a lot worse condition than you are. You should be thankful and joyful that you're not one of the people starving to death. Get a hold of your emotions”. (Please don't ever say that to someone in this condition.) So why, if my sure foundation is Jesus Christ, and if I'm looking to Him to be my strength every day, am I still failing and being over taken by this illness? (and no I don't mean “giving into this illness”, I mean “overtaken”.)
I think it's simply because, though I'm free in Christ, I'm still bound by sin in this world. My spirit is connected to Christ but it is still in a fleshly body that is dying, decaying, and failing every moment. So what to do. Do I beat myself up because I've failed yet again (and I'm ON medication)? Do I listen to the people in my life who say, “You must have a sin in your life that you're not giving over to the Lord?” Do I give up and run away from my family because I truly believe they would be better off without me? Just a second. I need to go get a tissue, I can't see through my tears.....
No. I will try my best to not do those things above. I will fall on my knees at the throne of Christ, who doesn't care how rageful or angry I am. Who can handle me throwing every curse word I know at Him, and who, with mercy and grace, reaches down, picks me up, and whispers to me, “It's ok, Megan. I love you. I loved you yesterday, I loved you when I was hanging on the cross, and no emotion of yours, no angry words of yours, is going to stop me from loving you right now.”
There will be many people who can't understand mental illness (I don't and I have it) and will say or do hurtful things, even sometimes in the name of Christ. I (and you others who struggle too) need to not worry about that, and know that our safe haven, if you know Christ, is at the foot of the cross. We need to remind ourselves, that some day, we will have a new body and new mind. Thank you Jesus.
So, to you who struggle with extreme emotion or mental illness, know that you are not by yourselves, and that even I, an assistant pastor's wife (many people see people in those spiritual positions and think they don't struggle with a sinful nature/imperfect body with imperfect emotions) struggle intensely with this along side of you.
To those of you who know someone and/or are close to someone who struggles with something like this, I know that it is very difficult to understand someone who struggles with mental illness or hormonal imbalance. You can't see a physical defect, and often times it seems like their emotions are a choice. Please know that not one of us (with these issues) CHOOSES to be miserable or hard to live with, or make others feel miserable around us at times. It's just like if someone is crippled in the legs and physically isn't able to control what they look like when they walk, and quite honestly, you wouldn't expect them to try to. Simply pray for the Lord to continue to be their strength and their song. And pray that He shows you how to love them and be an encouragement to them.
I hope, that in some way, this has encouraged someone. I don't believe that the Lord would have allowed me to share something so private and NOT have it affect someone positively. If you are someone who struggles like I do feel free to e-mail me. If you are someone who lives with someone/is close to someone who struggles, feel free to e-mail my husband. We want to use this thorn in our flesh to encourage others and sit in the mud with those who feel alone. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org