I was not diagnosed with bipolar until I was 31 years old (10 or more years too late). At that time, my career quickly slipped out of my reach.
My Career Taken by Bipolar
During my teaching career, I did more in my first five years than some veteran teachers do in a lifetime of teaching. My first year in the classroom, I asked for a job at one of the bottom five schools in the state of Kentucky. Soon other responsibilities came my way.
- My principal asked me to be team leader,
- I was a mentor teacher,
- I was the school’s representative for the local teachers’ union and
- I served as interim principal.
Sometime during those five years, I got my Masters in K-12 Administration. That was the fastest two years ever. My mania helped fuel the burning midnight oil. That is, if I even studied.
I was selected to be on the administrative slate for our district. I even had an interview at the school I was working for at the time. Then tragedy struck.
I could no longer write lesson plans. I became a wimp in the area of discipline whereas before I had been a strong lioness. It seemed as if I was losing control of the classroom. I withdrew from my colleagues which made me appear disengaged. I rarely asked for help and when I did, I felt like a beginning teacher all over again even though it was my eighth year in the business.
The anxiety and depression was liken to a ball and chain shackled around my neck. I lacked the leadership skills I once had. Now I couldn’t lead my team out of a paper bag if my life depended on it.
I am not saying that God punished me or that God wanted bad things to happen to me. I think of Jonah and the whale that swallowed him up. Being stuck in the belly of a whale would be awful. Sometimes having bipolar stinks like the belly of a whale. But, Jonah learned a lot while in the belly of the big fish.
- Jonah learned that God is in charge.
- He learned of God’s compassion and grace.
- He was used as a sign to prophesy the resurrection.
- Jonah learned about the impending coming of the Lord and the consequences to those who do not believe.
The lessons of me relinquishing control were amazing. Trust Him. Pray (a lot to Him). Be completely transparent. I can’t do it all on my own. However, I can do all things through Jesus who gives me strength. I also have learned that I must decrease so God can increase.
My Career Given
Through the years with this ghastly mental illness, I have had many opportunities to reflect on those eight years of teaching. I gained so many fabulous experiences that I would never trade those years for the world. No matter if I was manic or depressed or both.
I experienced God in a way that was more real to me than I had ever witnessed before. Bigger than sitting in the worship center of my church during worship. I learned to trust HIM and not myself, because I could not do ANYTHING apart from him. I literally had to pray through lesson plans to get them complete. On the way to school, I prayed the entire way asking for His strength. Needless to say, my prayer life increased.
When I chose to leave the teaching profession, I knew it was for the best. God had other plans for me. And of course I usually go the long way around. But I always end up where I am supposed to be.
The bipolar took a lot away from me when it took my career. Sometimes in a moment of weakness, I get upset that I did not fight harder to keep my career. Yet, bipolar has taught me that what I want is not up to me. God is always in control even when you’re in the belly of a whale. Just pray!
Have you had any experiences which were hard to endure, but you still grew closer to God? Put your comments in the section below. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.