Many people have commended me over the years for my candor and authenticity here on this blog. Not without cause, I suppose - like Ernest Hemingway said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." I can relate to that.
I have to admit, though, that I've never, or at least very rarely, let it ALL hang out. Some things are too private, or too complex, or too embarrassing, or too trivial, or involve other people, or haven't been sufficiently processed... Even for someone striving to be transparent and real, there are limits.
That's why I haven't written very much lately - for several of the reasons listed above. I've hated not writing; hated having to keep so much in. But like it or not, sometimes that's the way the cookie crumbles.
There is something I'd like to share with you, though - something I've kept quiet about for quite awhile. I'm not exactly sure why, either - it's something really awesome. Monumental, actually. Life-changing, in fact.
So why haven't I shouted it from the rooftops? The usual - fear of nay-sayers; my own doubts. But I think the time has come.
You may have noticed (or not ☺) that it's been a very long time since I've mentioned anything about my mental health and bipolar diagnosis. Well, there's a very good reason for that. I believe I've been healed.
Here's the story: Last March, I attended a conference in Calgary. One evening, the leadership team was praying for healing for people who had illnesses and other physical issues. One of them had just finished praying for a dear friend of mine, next to whom I happened to be standing. As he prepared to move on, my friend gave me a pointed look that clearly said, "Don't you want him to pray for you?"
I have to admit, I hadn't even considered it. I felt that my affliction was permanent, just a part of who I had always been and always would be. It never occurred to me to ask God to take it away - I guess I just figured that if He allowed it, He must have a reason for it, and who was I to mess with that?
So my friend piped up, "You should pray for Joy!" as he was about to walk away, and briefly mentioned my diagnosis. (What are friends for? ❤)
He turned back to us, and posed a surprising question: "Do you want me to pray for you?"
Honestly, I wasn't sure - supernatural healing has always been a bit of a mystery to me. What if it didn't "work"? What would it do to my faith, and the faith of my friends? What if it did "work"? Would I still be me without bipolar disorder? Would it hurt? Would I feel weird? Would I do something embarrassing?
I hemmed and hawed a little; he said, "I'd love to pray for you, but I won't if you don't want me to." I was about to refuse - I felt I had the disorder more or less under control with medication and counselling and awareness of my mental health; I wasn't sure I was ready for any more changes - even for the better!
But Something made me say yes. The leader then called over the Head Honcho - whom I'd grown quite close to and had shared my mental health journey with only the evening before at the dinner table.
So they prayed for me. I don't remember much of what they said, except that one of them asked God to balance the chemicals in my brain. It wasn't a lengthy or dramatic prayer, no shouting or funny noises or pushing me down. Just a simple prayer of faith, because they knew Who was listening.
They finished praying, and all was quiet for a moment. The Head Honcho looked at me and told me that in his mind's eye, he could see an old-fashioned scale, with weights - and that he could see God moving the weights and balancing the scale.
That was it - I thanked them, they hugged me, and moved on. I can't say I felt any different at the time.
So I got home a day or two later; life proceeded as usual. A week or so after that, I knew I was coming to the end of the sample meds my doctor had given me to try for 12 weeks, and that I couldn't afford to fill the prescription. So I said, full of fear and doubt, "Okay, God - I'm gonna believe that You've healed me." I looked up online how to ease off this particular kind of medication, and followed the instructions over another week or so.
And it was fine. More than fine - I felt I'd been given a new life. One month passed, then two, then three... I was afraid to trust it - afraid that at any moment, I'd fall back into the pit. But it held. Even when extremely stressful and disturbing life situations arose, they didn't send me into the usual spiral of black emotions and numbness.
It's been over nine months now, since this wonderful thing happened to me. I still can't quite believe it. I'm following the advice the Head Honcho gave me when I (finally) got up the nerve to tell him what had happened. He rejoiced with me and said to keep monitoring my mental health and nurture it carefully. So that's what I've been doing.
Feel absolutely free to chime in with your questions and concerns - heaven knows I've had a lot of them myself! I know there's a chance that this is just an extra-long stint of "normal" in between bipolar episodes; I know it could just be my own positive thinking. There are probably a thousand reasonable explanations for what I've experienced.
But I choose to believe in the healing. I know that how I felt then and how I feel now are worlds apart. For example, there have been several times when, having experienced a disappointment or particularly stressful situation, I have said out loud, "So this is what a normal person feels like when they're sad/stressed/whatever..." (Not that I've ever claimed to be normal... but that's a whole 'nother story ☺)
Thanks for hearing my story, dear Friends - I'd love to hear yours! Stay tuned for the inevitable New Year's post - in which I will reveal my word for 2018! (I know, the suspense is killing me, too ☺)