Tonight I saw my psychiatrist, who reassured me that I have been experiencing a flare-up of my anxiety disorder. [Oh yes, I have an anxiety disorder on top of bipolar disorder, adding an exponential wrinkle to both mania and depression.] All the problems with verbal recall, memory and decision-making, and the strange sensations and emotions of the last couple weeks have been somatizations of the anxiety. I’m so new to living with the knowledge I have mental illness that I still overreact to its ebbs and flows, and have yet to hone my coping skills. All of which led to yesterday’s meltdown and today’s aftermath meltdown of the anxiety flare-up.
My psychiatrist patiently explained what was going on, so reassuring, so gentle. Then, in the words I so desperately needed to hear, this wonderfully faithful Muslim doctor said, “God is great. God nourishes, cares for, nurtures us. It is God who makes us grow from 5 lbs to the size we are today. We begin and end inside God. No one is born and no one dies without God’s say so. God is great. And generous. We serve the same God, you and me, you a Christian pastor, and me a Muslim man.”
With these words I heard again that I am a child of God and received unexpected ashes on my forehead from an unexpected pastor this Ash Wednesday.