By Brannon Muya
Throw on your break lights
We're in the city of wonder
Ain't gonna play nice
Watch out, you might just go under
Better think twice
Your train of thought will be altered
So if you must falter be wise
Your mind is in Disturbia
It's like the darkness is the light
Am I scaring you tonight
Your mind is in Disturbia
They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones.
We often consider the desert, the wilderness to be depression for those of us who struggle with mental illness. The silence, the stillness, the raging quiet, this is how many of us envision the journey to the cross. For me personally, as someone with Bipolar, it is the manic phases where madness and time fly by that are the wilderness.
My mania begins with the excited energy and a riskful desire to rob a bank, screw a married man and dance until my feet give out. I feel I have more control in my life than ever before, the freedom to do anything. Yet like any joy-ride, going eighty five miles towards disaster a moment occurs, when I realize I am no longer in control. I want to throw on the break lights, but the breaks have little power, I cannot sleep as this energy continues to bubble and build inside me, waiting desperately to be released from my body.
The desert to me, is much less of a silent sojourn through one's mind and more of the racing energy, causing my brain to spiral out of control, as I wait desperately for it all to be over. Like the demon possessed man in Mark, I am howling at the moon, filled with unrestrained energy. I envision Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem to have been an equally manic ride. A ride filled with risky miracles, unchecked energy as he seems to sprint to the crucifixion. Jesus is a little manic, a little dissociated, a little weird.
My hope friends is that we can conceptualize our illness in this narrative of the desert, because the desert doesn’t last forever. Eventually the energy settles (quicker if you have good medication) and we emerge back into the world. It will always be a time of struggle, a time of mistakes and challenges, but can we begin to look at our mania as a call to theological reflection, to remember the excitement of a journey and perhaps learn to discern God’s voice in our manic filled desert.