“Growth runs after a man in pursuit of knowledge, only to find him dreamily staring at a beautiful mind open to change. Long sentence I know, in short, if you wanna grow you need to know you are signing up for change as well. The right direction is never simply forward.”
Recently I’ve had a lot of challenges come my way. Actually it all started March last year after my stay in a psychiatric hospital. March till August of 2015 was the ‘theory’ section or season, since then its been all ‘practicals’…
In March last year I finally got to a psychologist who was able to penetrate my many layers of vagueness, plus God sent me a mentor who was perfect for me. She was highly intelligent, funny, wise, experienced in life and had a library’s worth of book knowledge. During this ‘theory’ period I also dealt with a lot of things from my past and faced many lies that have had free rein in my mind for years. I had formed a lot of new thought patterns, bushwacking through my brain like crazy for weeks… I wish I could write them all down, but to be honest, some of them I’ve forgotten, but they did change me before leaving the memory palace (my memory palace is quite tight on space).
The most important lesson that everyone hammered on was the whole idea of having an inner locus of control. For those unfamiliar with the term, it comes down to this: you take control of your emotions by choosing what you will allow to have influence over you. Will it be external conditions, like people and their opinions, circumstances or events in your life? Or will you look inward; to your worth, how loved you are, which by the way, are infinite if you believe according to the Christian doctrine. Will you let the fact that you have God-given purpose determine your mood? Yes sometimes we can’t avoid allowing externalities in to our “bubble of impact” like the death of a loved one or a job change. But for the most part we can manage our emotions, and then we develop a deep river of joy that flows continuously, independent of the emotions whizzing about on the surface. Yes, when you suffer from a mood disorder like bipolar it is not that straight forward, I realize that. The emotions that the illness brings into life are, in my mind, more from the inside than the outside, and although we can’t avoid them from coming, we must try to manage them.
Back to my story, I made the ‘theory’ my own as much as possible, but I knew a ‘practical exam’ would be necessary to make it part of my core operating philosophy. And the practical came. I started a new set of experiments and my results did not make sense. For three weeks I grappled with it. It consumed me, my thoughts were slave to this dilemma and it even spoiled my birthday. After much research and countless alternative testing methods, I finally found my answer. But 2 days before the problem was resolved, I crumbled under the self-inflicted pressure. I cut myself and gave God the angry face (to put it very mildly). My psychologist saw me the next day and we spoke about the problem and he encouraged me that I would find the answer, It didn’t help much. As I left the building, I felt like ranting at God, but instead I found myself telling Him how much I loved Him and that I will not let this control me anymore but that I will instead trust Him, believe in His will and focus on God’s glory. Much more was said in those precious minutes, and in my soul a switch flipped. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I had been revived, I had peace again.
Since then a lot of things have gone awry in my life, like yesterday I found out I don’t have a bursary this year and so I will have to pay for my master’s degree myself. It got to me for all of five minutes and then it was in God’s lap. On the other hand, if you have been reading my blogs you would know that I went through a depressive spell recently, now you might say “where was your inner locus of control during that time, huh?” Well truth is, it is not that straightforward. For most ‘normal’ people, emotions are mostly responses to internal and external influences, for us though, emotions also have another source, the chemical party upstairs. This party doesn’t lend itself to being controlled all that much, but we must try keep it on a leash.
If you are reading this and think you might not be in control of your emotions, I want to encourage you and say that God wants to restore you to a place where you have perspective of what really matters and what you should ponder on. This in turn will help you to judge your emotional responses much better and exercise the necessary self-control to maintain a healthy attitude and celebrating life instead. It’s one thing to manage the mood disorder-related ups, downs and sideways, you don’t need the burden of the outside world’s nonsense as well.