January 23, 2017

Help For Those Tossed About

The reason you are reading this is because somehow I survived. Young and dumb, I once ventured out on a boogie board on the north shore of the island of Oahu, near the famous and frightening Banzai Pipeline surf reef. Did I mention I am from Kansas?

I wasn’t in Kansas anymore and that surf was not safe for anyone (even according to the sign I saw later). Today, I credit God for telling those waves to spit me out on the sandy beach because getting back to the shore myself was entirely impossible. For what seemed like an eternity, I was tossed about. One moment a force with no mercy brutally slammed me on the floor of the sea, piling twenty feet of water above me. The next moment I was yanked up to the top of the waves. For one second the water was knee deep with a pull back out that was strong enough to knock me down. Then seconds later, water thirty feet deep landed on top of me. This exhausting cycle was something from which I couldn’t break out in my own strength.

Such is the mental health reality of those who struggle with bipolar disorder: one moment there is euphoria (mania) and the next moment they bottom out in deep dark depression. It is a vicious cycle from which they can not break loose. The energy and ability to function quickly dissipate and without help from something or someone outside themselves… life slips away.

Seeing people being jerked between these extremes leaves me with the impression that they are in the grips of something cruel. We know it is one of the devil’s schemes to wear down our minds (Daniel 7:25) and what better way to do that then to twist us far in opposite directions. The string of a yo-yo would break if it were subjected to the level of thrust common to bipolar disorder.

Battling the Beast

The Bible refers to the devil as a “beast,” but not because he looks like Chewbacca from Star Wars. The devil is called a beast because he is cruel to the core of his being. There is not one drip of mercy in his nature and tossing people about mentally and emotionally apparently brings him sick pleasure.

Those I know who struggle with bipolar/manic depression seem like a paddleball toy in the hand of an angry kid. One moment the ball flies high and fast only to be yanked back and smacked hard. What is fun with a little rubber ball is not so fun when it’s your head.

The Bible says Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and liberate people from his clutches. Both of these are things we can not do in our own strength. We need someone outside ourselves. This is precisely why God sent his Son, to do what we couldn’t do –break free.

Try God First

This monthly Spiritual Dimensions of Health and Wellness column is to make the case for turning to God first, turning to

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