So, as you probably surmised, I went into the hospital. This time it was only 6 days, my shortest hospitalization. AND the staff saw how much more improved I was – more stable mood, more engaged, more smiling. I spent the time as I waited for the suicidal plans to go away processing several topics my therapist set out for me.
The most influential insights I had include what I already knew but now have better words for. My core has been shaken completely. What I relied upon for energy, direction, life – my faith and rather manic relationship with the Divine – is gone. It’s not that I don’t believe; I just don’t know what I believe. But belonging and behaving comes before “beliefs” in our world now (à la Diana Butler Bass). So really I need to find a place where I feel welcomed into the community, comfortable and challenged, learn/re-learn practices of faith, and beliefs will come. A deep question: What, if not faith, will keep me afloat during this time – give me energy, direction, life? I can’t do it with willpower alone.
Another important exercise I worked on was acceptance. Acceptance of bipolar. Acceptance that this whole thing is my story (bipolar, no more pastoring, spending 18 years on it). Acceptance that I was in the hospital yet again. Acceptance that I would from time to time have the feelings that led to suicidal thoughts. I moved forward greatly – perhaps even completely forward – on these ideas.
I made some progress toward acceptance of keeping suicide off the table as something not to contemplate as the thoughts come and go through the years. I was able to identify the many triggers that happened in the month of April that led to feeling vulnerable, scared, tired and overwhelmed. In this past 2 years when I’ve felt that way I’d jumped to entertaining the suicidal thoughts as a way to push the feelings away. But now I recognize the real need. When I feel that way I need peace in the chaos and rest. So, I have a choice when I need peace and rest: turn to eternal peace and rest, or the myriad of healthier paths I can identify to help process the feelings and let them go. For some reason I still need to know I have an out.
My mom came into town to help me cope again. coping afterwards, and I hope her presence and help will help smooth my way back into normal life.
In other Grief News: Finally the day arrived when a pastor came to pick up the rest of my pastoral library (probably 400 books…). I started feeling anxious the night before, and calmed myself enough to sleep. Then I awoke very early, again feeling very anxious but dressed quickly to help carry the books out. As the appointed hour closed in, tears and anxiety skyrocketed. I had to lock myself in my bedroom as others hauled the books out and away.
For the rest of the day the grief consumed me, the emptiness opening into a deep crevasse, ice walls on each side spreading into my heart. I don’t have anything to replace what those books represented – 18 years of investment in one way of life, one life plan, one calling and vocation. I know something will show up eventually, yet day by day I search for something to rely upon just to make it through that day. One day at a time.