A draft of this post has been sitting in my blog crafts for over a year. I knew I wanted to write it but was scared what people might think. I knew it needed writing but worried it might become a turning point I wasn't ready for. I worried.
A fair amount of this worry was put on me by others who were actually scared themselves. People who thought out would be best if I kept my diagnosis quiet. Their hearts were always in the right place but sadly their advice made me feel more ill and less certain that I could be me.
But things have changed.
Lots of things.
Firstly I've started telling people. Not out of the blue, but if they asked how I was and clearly wanted to know. I've just simply said something along the lines of "I'm ok thanks, I've been diagnosed with bipolar and am finding my way through it slowly."
You may not be surprised to hear that without any exception I've had positive and supportive responses from everyone I've told. Some have wanted to know more, some have wanted to hug me and process on their own; some have offered support in a variety of forms and others have had questions that I've been happy to answer where I could. I guess the fact that I've told people who obviously cared might skew these positive responses, but it's been such a positive and healing period.
So what does the church think of bipolar?
My most accurate answer is that I don't know. But I do know how they feel about me as an LLM living with bipolar.
The church congregation has been unbelievably supportive and accepting, sometimes I think many of them knew way before I was diagnosed or came to accept it myself. No one has shown any shock although most of them have been shocked how hard it's been trying to get real help from the psychiatrists.
The ministry team have been a huge blessing; stepping up to t take on those things I needed to drop and result handing them back when I was ready. This is an ongoing process and I can not explain how much their reactions and offers have helped me.
The Bishops have heard and prayed with me and encouraged me that God has called me through this. I wondered if they'd want to take my licence away and I'd heard horror stories; but instead they supported me as I tried to understand how I could be an LLM despite my diagnosis.
And God. What does God think?
I've been backwards and forward, up and down with God and how He relates to me and my ministry and bipolar. At the worst times of depression I've felt persecuted and abandoned by God, something I've never before experienced. But I've come through and I've come through knowing that God has been with me through every painful minute, holding my hand and helping me heal. I know now that He knew me and knows me and knows how I will be and calls me through it all. And it's good to write it down because there may come a time in the future where I'll need reminding of his abundant love.