Just Snap out of it!
When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2003, most people in my circle did not understand what that meant, both for me and for them. I had some family say it was just female problems. Some said that I was faking it. Some said it was just a bunch of mumbo jumbo, I even had one person say I was demon possessed. Woe! That was a shock. But the thing that bothered me the most was when people would tell me to “just snap out of it”. Those five words were so hurtful.
Did they actually think my behavior was on purpose? That I was in control of what was going on inside me, that was manifesting in these odd behaviors? Well, in a word…yes. You see, my family and friends had never encountered someone with a mental illness. They didn’t understand all the nuances such a diagnosis would bring. I didn’t understand any better, I just knew that if I could just “snap out of it” I would! But I couldn’t. I wasn’t in control. Has that ever happened to you?
I’m sure that you were hurt by words spoken over you in ignorance by people you loved. I know that understanding and acceptance for you and your family was a long, hard road. Maybe it still is. I would like to tell you that it gets better, it does, but it never gets to the point of comfortable. My closest family members, my husband, and my children, understand and accept my illness as a part of who I am. But I still have people close to me who would rather not discuss it and if I show symptoms of mania or depression, it shuts them down. They just don’t want to deal with it. I don’t want to deal with it, but it is a part of me that is not going to just fade away. It’s hard. It’s scary. It’s tiring. But, through it all, I have never been abandoned or judged by Jesus!
When I don’t understand or have been hurt by words spoken out of ignorance, I know I can turn to God for comfort and healing. I can lose myself in his love and grace and know that I am His child and am truly loved. I am not trying to imply that my family and friends do not love me, they do, a great deal. They just don’t always understand my illness. That’s ok. I’ve learned that being on the outside is difficult and no matter how much they try to empathize, they will never totally understand. I may never totally understand. But God does.
If you find yourself buried in negativity and misunderstanding by your friends and family, turn to God. He will always help you to feel better. To feel whole even in your brokenness. It is in those moments that God shines. He will bring light into your darkness. He will bring his healing salve into your hurt. Trust Him. The next time someone says, “just snap out of it”, maybe you can smile through your pain and know that God does not expect you to “just snap out of it”. He’s in there with you. And if you are reading this as a loved one, please know that we cannot “just snap out of it”. Our illnesses are part of who we are now, so please try to understand and support us. We love you.