"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23I am thankful to God for His mercies and faithfulness throughout my life. As I considered afresh how He provided and led me through this part-time job assignment that just ended, I am once again amazed by God's love and mercies to unworthy me.
When I was first diagnosed with proneness to bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), it was a relief to me. I finally understood my confusing past where I have experienced some 10 or 11 episodes of severe depression that usually lasted between 3 months to 6 months or sometimes longer. I struggled to get through each day. I used to wonder what sins have I committed that I have to go through these punishment time and again. Whenever I am well, I do love the Lord, love His people and love to serve Him. It must be a great sin that landed me into severe depression each time, that was what I thought. Yet during such an episode of severe depression, no amount of soul-searching, repentance and cries can bring about deliverance. It was usually 3 to 6 months later that I began to get better and more functional. I thank God for preserving me through those very very difficult times and now finally enabling me to understand why.
My diagnosis helped me to realize that my severe and prolonged depression episodes are due to my proneness to bipolar disorder which is a medical condition that can be treated. No doubt various factors, internal and external, has brought about a relapse in depression. Most of the time could be due to stress and overstraining as I am some kind of a perfectionist in my character and though I have tried hard to change, it is not easy. So unknowingly I sometimes set rather high expectations of myself or goals that are unrealistic and I am doomed to fail in my own eyes when I don't meet up to those high expectations. These often happened unknowingly as I always strive to do my best. I just can't seem to understand my limitations and how much I can really do. This has something to do with the other side of bipolar ie. hypomania. Whenever I am well, I am usually on the hypomania side. Which means I have more energy, more ideas, more creative, more talkative, more friendly and tend to take on more projects than I can handle (without realizing it) and sleep/rest less. I also will be so engrossed or occupied with various things that I neglect exercise, breaks, recreation, hobbies and sometimes regular meals or healthy meals. After weeks or months of such hypomania, a severe depression will surely follow for another 3 to 6 months or so.
My diagnosis helped me to realized that bipolar can happen to anyone. And thank God for preserving me through those very difficult times in the past and delivering me each time. Each experience, confusing though they were, have been used of the Lord for my eternal good. Through every prolonged depressive episodes, I was thrown completely upon the Lord. I have no one else to turn to. No one understood what I was going through. I thank God that through those times, He led me to seek and search His Words and Truths to understand the importance of a right relationship with Him and the great work of sacrifice our Lord Jesus Christ has done when He laid down His life on the cross for us to redeem us from sins and eternal damnation. I thank God that these Truths became very precious to me through my darkest days. I wanted to know what I must do to be saved. During a depressive episode, all my thoughts and feelings became distorted and not functioning properly. I often couldn't feel my love for God, His Word or His people. Actually, I can't feel aright generally, but I didn't realize it. I thought I was surely not a sincere believer and probably even a reprobate. So through each difficult experience, I learn afresh to look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, to seek Him afresh and to know His love and forgiveness. So those very difficult times became great blessings as the Lord sanctified me, drew me closer to Him and enable me to experience His love and faithfulness experientially. God is very real to me because of these difficult experiences. Now I understand why the Psalmist said in Psalm 119:71:
"It is good for me to be afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes."It was through my afflictions that I understand the true meaning of some of God's Words and promises.
But my diagnosis also brings about some difficulties. In the past when I was looking for a new job, I have had difficulties finding one due to my asthma condition. It is a requirement to declare my health condition in the job application form. There were times when I was rejected because they said my asthma condition is very serious as I am on long term medication. They didn't want me to be a liability to them. Actually, my asthma is not very serious. It is mild and persistent, and that is why I have to be on long term medication as I will be in danger of sudden asthmatic attacks that can lead to sudden death otherwise. But as long as I continue with my medication, I am fine most of the time. I only get asthmatic attacks during very very cold weather in December as it rains heavily in Singapore during that time. Or if the office's aircon is too cold, I will feel uncomfortable too. But I have made it a point to wear my sweater and so in the recent years, I have very few attacks. But even then it is so difficult to get a job because of my asthma.
God in His faithfulness, provided a job for me through my good friend, Dr Chin Ming Shu, who is a child psychologist helping children with special needs such as autism, dyslexia, speech delay, etc. Ming Shu is a Christian and a very kind friend. I was with her for the next 4 years plus until I left the job recently when I was severely depressed and could hardly work. At that time, providentially she had to scale down her work to attend to some family matters. I am thankful to God for Ming Shu's kindness to me over the years as she allows me flexibility in terms of my working hours and work. And she lightens my load whenever I went through depressive episodes. Being a child psychologist, she understood depression. So she never condemn me and she sympathized and prayed and encouraged me during such distressing time. I survived a few episodes while working with her and it was because of her kindness that I was able to continue working despite my depression. It was also through her promptings that I finally sought medical help in Dec 2006, and now able to manage my condition better with medical plus other helps. Thank God!
End of last year when I started to look for a new job, I encountered the same difficulties where my health declaration is involved. Now I have to declare not only asthma, but that I am on medication for manic-depressive illness or bipolar disorder. Once I declared that, I don't hear from them anymore. Mental illnesses is still very much a stigma in Singapore. But I thank God that through my friend, Grace, that I was offered this part-time job recently. And because it was a part-time assignment, I was not asked to fill up any application forms. So no one know about my medical condition and I was not rejected because of that. Thank God! Truly with Him all things are possible. Great is His mercies and faithfulness.
As I pray, look and await God's provision of another suitable job, I thank God for the assurance in my heart that He will provide for me in His time despite the great difficulties. I pray that He may enable me to once again testify of His goodness and mercies in His next provision of a job, and that I may continue to know Him and serve Him in my new job. Meanwhile, I really appreciate this little break once again :-).
"My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him." Psalm 62:5