Hallelujah

Last Updated: 10 Jul 2019
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I thought I would be able to write a lovely message this week about how the holiday season is about miracles, revelations, belief and giving, but my brain isn’t cooperating.  I have been mentally unstable for about two months now.  I’ve dug and dug into my bag of coping skills, and have just barely kept it together. 

Recently I heard the now ubiquitous Leonard Cohen song, “Hallelujah”.  Though many artists have recorded the piece, Cohen has indicated he prefers k.d. lang’s version most (see hyperlink below).

There are hundreds of interpretations attributed to Cohen’s lyrics; some clearly refer to stories from the Old Testament.  All he’s said is that “there are many kinds of Hallelujahs”, and “All the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value.  It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life…with enthusiasm, with emotion.”

What does this have to do with my stability/bipolar? “Hallelujah” is generally defined as “an expression of praise or joy, or ‘God be praised.’” I can’t record or interpret all the lyrics here,  but there are a few lines that, to me, also echo the anguish of mental illness, and the epic battle we face each day:

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya  
(mania?)

She tied you to a chair
She broke your throne and cut your hair
And from your lips she drew hallelujah 
  (depression?)

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Is to shoot someone who outdrew ya 
  (rage?)

It’s a cold and broken hallelujah (we forge ahead)

Here’s something I can offer:  that through all the pain, unfairness, instability, manias, depressions, and stigma– as well as the miracles, joys, and wonders, there is always faith: under no circumstances is your life without meaning.  

Hallelujah.

About the author
Beth Brownsberger Mader was diagnosed in 2004, at age 38, with bipolar II disorder and C-PTSD, after living with symptoms and misdiagnoses for over 30 years. In 2007, she suffered a traumatic brain injury, compounding bipolar recovery challenges that she continues to work on today. Since these diagnoses, Beth has written extensively about bipolar, its connection to PTSD, physical illness, disability, and ways to develop coping skills and maintain hope. She also writes about bipolar/brain disorders and family, marriage, relationships, loss, and grief. Beth finds the outdoors to be her connection to her deepest healing skills, where the metaphors for life, love, compassion, and empathy are revealed, and how her bipolar and other challenges are faced head-on with perseverance and determination. Beth served as a contributing editor/featured columnist for bp Magazine from 2007 until 2016, and as a bphope blogger from 2011 until 2016. She returned to blogging for bphope in 2019. Beth continues to work on her unpublished memoir, Savender. She holds a BA from Colorado College and an MFA from the University of Denver. Beth lives in Colorado with her husband, Blake, and her service dog, Butter. Check out Beth’s blog at bessiebandaidrinkiewater.wordpress.com.

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