My name is Baylee Dunn. I am among the one in five adults in the United States of America who lives with a diagnosable mental health condition. In my case, it is Bipolar I disorder with Psychotic Features. But, this has not always been clear. I suspect that I had my first episode around eighteen years old, during my senior year of High School. The episode followed the loss of a close family member. It was very mild, but still warranted an emergency room visit. At the time, I was catatonic, unable to process my surroundings in an effective manner. So, I was sent home with some medication, told that effects of stress and grief would likely wear off, and that I would be fine in a few days.
I had my second episode when I was nineteen. I was a college sophomore, studying Psychology, and convinced that the ailments of life would allude me. Therefore, I was oblivious to the fact that sleepless nights, coupled with long days, grief from losing another loved one, and mood swings were somewhat normal. I came home from college in the Summer of 2018, and was hospitalized for 31 days in between two separate institutions. And, finally, in 2019, I was diagnosed with Bipolar I with Psychotic Features.
The Summer of 2018 was one of the lowest points of my life. I was delusional, I was paranoid, and I felt as if I had no purpose. I did not know the reason the Lord would have me endure such a trial. “Is God still good?” I wondered. Or, “Is He even here?” In the midst of my paranoia, my mind far from the grips of reality, it felt as if God was abandoning me. It felt as if He had relinquished His grip on my life and let me go – go down the path of darkness, go down the path of shame, and go down the path of sorrow. I felt as if my brain were so broken that it would never be restored. But, God, through His lovingkindness and tender mercy, provided for my every need. And, through this season of life, I learned three lessons — pause, pray, praise.
To take a pause means “to interrupt and action briefly.” Often, I have found, that the practice of pausing amid a hardship to allow my heart to feel all of the emotions, my muscles to release all of the tension, and my mind to process all of the thoughts that come along with a difficult experience is a gift from God. The pause is to allow my lungs to inhale the goodness of God and to exhale breaths of gratitude and thankfulness. Pausing poses an opportunity to pray and praise the One who stills the storm, calms the seas, and is forever holding you and me.
The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” So friend, when your heart is burdened by the circumstances of this Earthly life, shift your gaze to Heaven. Pray to the Lord. Thank Him for all that He has done. Praying postures your heart toward He who loves, sees, and cares about every burden you carry.
In our weeping, in our mourning, in our most difficult moments, the Lord is there. He never leaves nor forsakes HIs children. We can praise Him in our storms, friends. Praise is a powerful weapon against the darkness.
I pray that whatever season you are walking through today, you would know that the Lord is near. He is close to the brokenhearted. He binds up wounds, breaks strongholds, and restores what has been broken. The Lord is good, always. He is for you and with you.
Be blessed, friends!