Welcome to the Hope Shot where I will explore mental health and addiction recovery from the perspective of the eight dimensions of wellness - Mental, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual, Social, Vocational, Occupational and Financial. It is my personal belief that every person has an incredible potential to grow in each of these areas. The key is understanding how to tap into it and realize one's goals.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
The Patience (and Perseverance) of Job
"O that I might have my request,
and that God would grant my desire;
that it would please God to crush me,
that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
This would be my consolation;
I would even exult in pain unsparing;
for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
6 v 8-10
When I think back on the days of the past when I was in the
throes of active addiction and suffering terribly from bipolar disorder I often
felt tortured by the madness I endured. The mania I had was often short-lived
and was accompanied by delusional thinking that resulted in grandiose messianic
beliefs. The crash that followed was in many ways just as debilitating.
Depression and hopelessness led to thoughts of suicide. There were occasions
where I could not bear living this way, only wishing for a way out. Death
seemed like the best option.
But despite all of the pain endured I never turned my back
on my Higher Power. And God never turned God’s back on me. I’ve heard many
stories of people who have either blamed God due to their unfortunate circumstances
of being cursed with such afflictions and have thus denied God’s existence.
In the biblical Book of Job, the story is about someone who
endures trial after trial, and was tested by God who allowed Satan to attack
him. Through Job’s trials, all is lost including his health, his wife even
tells him to curse God and commit suicide, but he remains strong and faithful, “Through
all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” (1:22).
I chose (and sill choose) to believe otherwise. In my
darkest times I recall praying to have my suffering relieved. Now, this could have
something to do with my religious upbringing. But I now believe that I needed
prayer to alleviate my mental and emotional pain. Prayer was the starting point
I recall the two times I was hospitalized at the Buffalo
Psychiatric Center. The conditions were very difficult to endure. The other
patients suffered from a wide variety of severe mental disorders. I was
uncertain what the future would hold for me. Would I remain in this institution
for years like some of the others?
There was one particular young man who I recall was dealing
with persistent psychosis. He would walk around the day room spelling his name.
That’s it. I asked one of the aides what had happened to him and the aide
responded that the patient had “taken too much acid.” This alarmed me,
considering that I had dabbled in psychedelics myself in the past.
So when I was there I would pray. Hard. Some would call
them “foxhole prayers,” but it was more than that. I sincerely wanted to be
relieved from my condition.
I was eventually discharged and was, by the grace of God,
able to return to school. But this was not the end of the line for my BP
symptoms. I continued to abuse substances and had more hospitalizations at the
Erie County Medical Center. It was a very confusing time for me. I struggled
with my illness but I did not lose faith. And I did not blame God.
One of the primary characteristics of my journey to mental
wellness has been patience and persistence. Mind you, like I said, I had times
of doubt however I never gave up. I attribute this to a combination of belief
in God, a viable support system, hard work, and being willing to step out of my
comfort zone. Slowly but surely I began to see results.
When I eventually stopped using substances in 1988 my
symptoms subsided considerably. I still had to endure two more hospitalizations
(in 1989 and 1995) but I was able to achieve the life I had always prayed for. Since
that last episode I have not had to endure any further significant mental
In the end, I believe that our lives, whether they be intertwined
with mental illness, addiction, or not, can be enhanced by our relationship
with the God of our understanding. It is through this relationship that we are
able to endure the pain and struggle life brings. This is what perseverance is