I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
It was 1983. I was 21 years old. I had just quit my laborer’s job after a semester of unbridled addiction. I had plunged into a major depression and I spent the entire summer virtually in bed, unable to properly take care of myself. Fortunately, I was still living at home so at least I had my parents to rely on.
Eventually I was admitted, for the second time, to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, the hospital in the region that housed the most severely ill. The unit I was on was inhabited by men, some of whom were literally “criminally insane.” This was no place for an adolescent youth. This is where I received my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder Type 1 with psychotic features.
In the midst of my plight I held on to my belief in God and that somehow, I would be saved from a life of destitution and degradation. I even took my Bible with me, the one I received at my confirmation. One day I couldn’t find it. I searched and came across it, destroyed in one of the shower stalls. I was crushed. I knew I had to get out of there.
I ended up being discharged and the following January I enrolled at SUNY Buffalo State College. Despite having more bipolar episodes during my time there I managed to graduate and with time, effort and support I managed to stabilize my condition to the point where I returned to school several years later and received my credential for alcoholism counseling.
The thing that sticks out to me most during this period is that despite my troubles, I knew that there was something inside me that was more than I could conceive of. I truly believed that I had the potential to become something, even though I didn’t fully know what that was. I also had the faith that God felt the same.
I have seen this in many people I know, many of whom attend the same 12 Step program for addiction that I have for the last 32 years as well as those I know who live with mental health challenges. It is this realization that continues to keep me in awe of what can be done when one co-creates with God.
And you too are fearfully and wonderfully made, whether you know it or not. No matter your ability or challenge. God has made you as a unique individual, one that is like no other. You have something inside you that no one else does. This needs to be celebrated, affirmed and acknowledged. YOU are special.