Just a few days ago James was on a huge high. He was on his sister’s marching bands pit crew and as he helped, we could see his confidence soar. I love seeing James confident and self-assured. He stands a little taller, smiles a little bigger and is so much more independent than he is normally.
The day after the competition though, I noticed some small signs of his bipolar cycling again and felt my heart seize a little. When James begins to cycle, none of us really know what is going to happen. From a grumpy mood, to a full-blown physical explosion of aggression or some vague sadness to out right depression mixed with suicidal idealizations; bipolar seeps into the cracks and crevices of James’ psyche seeking to tear down any and all gains he’s made.
Hoping the fatigue and even the excitement of the day before was triggering some of his symptoms, I sought to have a very quiet down day where James had no pressure – just peace. I knew it was too little too late when James began to ask with an urgency that he NEEDED to see Lynn, “right now“. Lynn, is James’ counselor who has been a rock for James and the rest of us as we’ve navigated some very difficult terrain the past few years.
As I tucked James in bed, I told him the words he has heard a million times over.
“James, there is nothing you can ever do that will make me not love you. There is nothing you can ever say that will make me not like you.”
I meant every word… Oh how I meant it. I also knew though, in all likelihood, in the next few days those words would be tested as James chemistry causes him to cycle deeper into the world of bipolar darkness and rage.
Just a few hours later, when we were all soundly sleeping James was up. Though his medications normally help him sleep through the night, the chemical imbalance now over road them. Pacing, walking, filled with unbridled energy; like a thief in the night, bipolar came to rob James of his peace, his rest and his hope. Before we were even fully awake and aware of what was going on, James was coming unglued. Coping mechanisms failed, fear invaded and the spiraling began. Down, down, down James went into an abyss. No rest. No peace. Up and Down. Rapid taking. Anger. Aggression.
Today has been long. As the day has drawn to an end my sweet baby boy has headed to bed. Under my watchful eye I pray he will sleep and sleep and sleep until his mind, body and spirit have found rest. I am fully aware though, that as of now, he’s yet not totally himself. And I’m not yet sure which way this cycle will go. He will either stabilize and find his footing again or, spiral again into that horrible dark place where he feels so lost and I feel as though I can’t find him at all. Of course, it is my greatest hope that tomorrow he will awaken once again full of hope and ready to do whatever brings him joy. I am however prepared to stand with him should tomorrow and the follow days go the other direction too.
You see, I am painfully aware of the hopelessness that the struggle with bipolar brings into my son’s life. It surely seeks to bring its own form of hopelessness to me when I see him standing there and want to so deeply to heal his wounded soul and yet I am unable to do just that. Instead of giving in to that hopelessness however, I have learned that though we often live in the Valley of Weeping, God will fill that place with His refreshing springs when we trust in him. There is a choice to trust him even when it hurts – and in doing so I promise you there is over flowing gifts of his peace.
Let there be no doubt, we have medications we faithfully administer, and wise doctors/counselors who help us through the most difficult of times. How thankful we are for each of these things. In the end though, I know I could never love James as deeply and as well as he deserves without God’s help. I also know, James will never be able to withstand the overwhelming pain that bipolar disorder brings without a deep understanding that even in the midst of this horrific confusion and pain there is a God who loves him unconditionally.
Knowing the struggle James faces is a life long struggle and choosing to walk that struggle with him no matter what, I find my peace not in the highs of when he is doing well or my devastation in the lows of his frail state. Rather, I find peace and hope in my God in Heaven. He sees. He knows. He understands James suffering and my mama’s aching heart.