As far as I can remember, I've been an outcast, especially in the church. I sensed it even at a young age, but I didn't grasp it enough to know why... I was a freak of nature-- at least I was in the company of mirrors and in my bedroom, alone... Hey I'm Arianna. That daughter of Valerie's, the one with bipolar disorder NOS. I was already struggling with my mental illness by the age of 3yrs. I was like a lion caged in the body of a little toddler, which grew with me even to and through my teen years. In my early teen years, I believed my disorder was a monster inside me and could never be tamed. I often wished I was "normal", as my mother sometimes wishes she had a "normal" family. But, with that out the window, I had-- and still have to learn to live with and embrace this monster that lived inside of me... I began to befriend it.
There are times it still leaps out of me and almost swallows up family and friends. Also, my days of living through the years have been filled wishing I was someone else, never born, or worse..... dead. Mental illness has been, and is a struggle that I have fought since birth. And though I began cutting at the age of 14... I have been self-harming much longer. I often beat myself up over mistakes I've made-- even the ones that happened in my childhood. With shame being the trigger of it all, and all this self-inflicted abuse being a punishment for just being myself. To be honest, I often struggle to understand why I do these things, and often don't know why I even have these problems... If anything I wish I could stop these things... but, when you are addicted to something, you are dependent on it, and it is not as easy to break lose as most Christians believe.
Most of the beliefs of my being a monster were formed from several phrases that, I'm sure anyone with mental illness has heard...
"True believers cannot be depressed."
"You must be in sin."
"You must not have enough faith."
"Mental illness is demonic possession."
Do any of these sound familiar to you guys? To the young children who grew up to adulthood with these things being said of you as gossip, or directly at you, or even said to your parents... I want to tell you this one thing; you are not in the wrong to be depressed. Your depression, your mental illness is NOT you. Would you point to a handicapped man on a wheelchair, with an amputated leg, and tell him that his disability is his identity? If not, then do the same for yourself, and realize you are not your disease. You're not necessarily faithless, in sin, or possessed just because you have these problems... I grew up believing the voices out of the home and I never trusted the Lord for his wisdom and truth to pierce through, so you guys aren't alone in your experience...
I'd love to say I'm used to my illness... if I told you I was then it would be a lie. I can be terrified of myself. Afraid I''ll self destruct... hurt others,or I'd soon kill myself. I've been so unpredictable that I was terrified of the idea of even stepping outside of my room. I don't always have control over my thoughts... and actions, and at those times, I'd do anything to regain that control. I never chose to be this way. And if I could I would pray it all away... but, sometimes God lets you go through this flame of refinement to build your faith, and perfect you... I have often went through this refining fire, and sometimes it held the illusion of hell to me... But, unlike hell's fire, this fire was there to design me into the person the Lord made me to be... It's a process, a war, and it can take a long time to overcome, and more times than not, it continues untilwe are 6-feet below... But, still God can use it. And He continues to use it for His purposes.
"Be at peace with yesterday. Be wise with today. And be secure with tomorrow."
In Christ Alone,
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