About the Author

Alia Joy is an author who believes the darkness is illuminated when we grasp each other's hand and walk into the night together. She writes poignantly about her life with bipolar disorder as well as grief, faith, marriage, poverty, race, embodiment, and keeping fluent in the language of hope in...

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    • Oh I love me so Enneagram. I’m a 4w5 and rest is such a huge part of being able to cope with all my big thoughts and feelings. 😉

      • ???? Enneagram? What is this?
        Loved the article, shared it with my adult daughter and my husband. I am not officially diagnosed – I have great coping and hiding skills. But I split wide open when too many stresses come at once…….

  1. Alia Joy,
    I know that of which you speak. Though I know I suffered since childhood, I was not officially diagnosed with OCD and depression until I was 30. I am thankful there are medicines that enable me to pull the covers off from my head and get out of bed. But, like you I’ve known 26 years of side effects and living with the slothful fog they often leave you in. I guard my rest like a guard dog. I know that lack of rest and stress can easily propel me into an episode. I worry, at times, what the world must think of my not being able to go like the Energizer Bunny. God, however, has allowed me to slow down long enough to enjoy the colorful array of birds at my feeder each day. I rest and savor His Word. Among the best scripture is where Paul is asking God to remove the thorn from his side. The Lord does not remove it, but lovingly reminds Paul that His grace is sufficient for ALL of his needs. The blessings of mental illness: getting to know and experience God’s sufficient grace up close and personal, slowing down long enough for self care and rest (a necessity not a luxury), and developing a compassion for others who are also suffering with all sorts of infirmities and fighting all sorts of battles. Counting myself, with you, among the blessed. Love this post and the quote on which you end it.
    Love, prayers, and blessings for your transparency
    Bev xx

    • Love your consistent and faithful presence here, Bev. You definitely have a huge heart of compassion and grace for others and I know that some of your own suffering is the reason why. Thankful for you.

  2. Oh, the refreshing of your words and the paradigm shift to embrace my own small grace blessing of migraines! Thank you for the perspective and reminder for my own extra coffee brutal mornings 🙂

  3. Alia Joy…..
    God has truly gifted you with the ability to express your emotions and share with others through your writing. Such wisdom in what you have shared. This is a keeper to be read over and over. Thank you, and bless you.

  4. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 30 years ago. It went from being a nervous breakdown to a chemical imbalance then bipolar. The medications back then were not what they are today. I have found grace in knowing I have medications that help me now. I also guard my rest like a bird protecting her nest. Many people, even family members just can’t understand why I say no to large family gatherings sometimes. I have been reading many books from authors like Lisa Joe Baker and Jennifer Rothschild, which I wish had been published many years ago. God has helped me calm myself about stigma and just concentrate on the present moments with trusted friends. Thank you for your honesty and sharing your post. There are times I felt like I was all alone with my battle of mental illness. God is walking with us. He knows our hearts. He knows we are triumphing over this. God bless.

    • Where do you start to find out what causes the ups and downs? Your comment of declining invitations with family gatherings struck. I do this and my family thinks I’m weird…I just don’t have the energy for all that it brings.

      I use to think I had SAD..since the withdrawals happened more in the winter and around holidays but now it happens more….I’ve been thinking of calling my primary doctor but also with degree about therapy?!?

      • I would start with a primary care doctor and ask him about it. I have avoided gatherings for a long time off and on because my sisters side is 50 people and it is way too stimulizing for me. I can only take so much! I avoided my grandkids birthday parties because of all the kids but have since began to go again now that I have been on a new medication that seems to help me more. Different medications work for different people…what works for a friend might not be the one for you. It takes time to figure out which one too… I felt like an experiment for awhile! But am glad I have found the one that does help. I hope you will talk to your doctor and I have heard of SAD. I know that large crowds have always bothered me so I am not sure about seasonal. Also noisey places bother me as well. So I tend to be a home- body. If there are any other questions I might shed some light on let me know.

      • I agree with Kathy. There can be lots of reasons for feeling overwhelmed by family, crowds, and experiences that leave us feeling exhausted. A primary care physician might be able to point you in the right direction. Also, have you ever heard of HSP or Highly Sensitive Person? I have read some about it and I think some of it really helps to explain why some people just can’t handle as much sensory stimulation and why big crowds or lots of interaction can be too much. It might be worth looking into. Just google HSP or Highly Sensitive Person and it should bring up some info that may or may not help. SAD is also a legit thing that affects a ton of people. Light therapy can seriously reduce the effects of it if it is something that affects you. Hope you get the answers you need.

      • If you live in PA I can recommend a really good doctor. She does science based nutrition and makes an individualized plan of what to take and eat and not eat to feel better. It’s amazing what a diet change can do in helping a person feel better and heal from the inside out! She does lots of testing to find out what your body needs. She’s a great help to my daughter and I!!!

    • Kelly, It really does help to know we’re not alone. The only way to fight shame and stigma is to tell the truth about our experiences and accept the grace that God has given us while extending it to others. Thanks for sharing some of your story.

  5. May God continue to richly bless you through what seems a poverty. Thank you for living not by the measure of society but by God’s grace and gifts – and sharing it with us. This is a lesson long in my life through limits of my own. Your reflections quiet my rebelling that my life is restricted so that I see it not as something to fight but great opportunity to receive God’s grace.

  6. Alia Joy,

    My mother in law has struggled with bipolar disorder since her early 20’s. Thank you for sharing your truth today- It has helped me understand her in a new and deeper way. And thank you for sharing this lesson about rest, which is so very important for all of us to learn. It’s something that I personally struggle with, and your post has convicted me.

    Blessings,

    Brittany

    • It’s a hard disorder to understand from the outside in because it’s a hard disorder to understand even when you have it. I’m so glad it helped give some insight into how your mother in law might be feeling. And yes, rest is for all of us no matter how strong or competent we think we must be. I’m glad these words resonated with you. Grace and peace to you.

  7. Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it, it’s exactly what I needed to read. I’m burnt out, trying to balance a full time job with church duties and at the same time not let my depression get the best of me.
    I feel like I have nothing left to give, I’m spiritually and emotionally dry and frayed around the edges. I’ve always thought that rest is a reward for busyness but the busyness never ends and so the rest never comes.
    From now on I’m going to try to live moment by moment and pay more attention to the small things that I take for granted like the breeze blowing a tree’s branches. I really hope to find the rest I so desperately need but haven’t known how to get.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your words are a message directly from God to my heart.
    x

    • That’s so much to balance and depression is no small thing to battle. No wonder you’re weary. I’m glad this message spoke to you. Jesus is our Sabbath rest and he’s inviting you to surrender to your own lack, your own spiritually and emotionally dry places and to rest in the work that has been done. Not a full stop because life goes on and you have to go to work and do the necessary things but paying attention to the presence of God with you, the small wonders and the everyday grace, does help us to breathe again. Hoping you find rest for your soul, Tracey. Blessings.

  8. Thank you! Wow! I just want to take a moment and thank you for your wonderful article! So many insightful thoughts to apply to my heart and life! I have a whole page of notes from your article that has created word pictures and a ha moments! I always allow myself to get bone weary tired……… why must the ironies of life wake me up where I almost die……. and then I wake up to live ……..

  9. Absolutely stunningly gloriously beautiful!

    I’ve had two bouts of clinical depression. One in 1994. I thought for sure, I’d beat it. It hit again in 2012.

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  10. Thank you for your thoughtful post. I have been on depression medication for years, and it took a very long time for me to accept it as part of my life. I had the thought that I was “less than” if I needed medicating for mental issues. I have finally realized that God made me the way I am. I do feel as if I seem lazy or standoffish to people, because I value rest and quiet time. It is extremely rare for me to be overextended. I live life at a slow, quiet pace, and that helps keep me peaceful. If I don’t rest regularly, I’m not very pleasant to be around!

    • Susan, would you be willing to share ways you have learned to slow down and enjoy rest and quiet? Do you have kids? If so, how do you make that work with them? I have never believed kids have to be doing all the activities that I see some parents trying to push, but I have two very gifted children and I know their brains are going to require a bit more challenges to keep them from being bored. I have ADD too and that makes it hard to want to rest or hard for my brain to slow down and shut off in order to rest, even though my counselor says that people with ADD need at least 8 hours of rest/night and usually by the time my youngest takes her nap I feel ready for one too. I’m just starting to learn to embrace naps over the need to get a few things done during their rest time.
      I’mso glad you’ve found ways to embrace rest and not overextend! What a gift! Any wisdom on that would truly be appreciated.

      • Hi Jessica! Unfortunately, I don’t think I can offer you much wisdom. I have stepchildren, but they’ve not lived full time with us. The oldest one lived here for a year, but he was 15 and spent most of his time in his room. One thing I’ve read about that sounds like a good idea is getting together a group of moms with similar age children, and arranging a weekly play date, the moms taking turns hosting. That gives at least a few hours break a week.
        I work part time, and I don’t “go” much. I come home and work on custom order sewing/crochet/etc. I’m a homebody. I don’t even go to church on Wednesday or Sunday nights, mainly because I don’t live close, and it just seems to make for more hectic days. I’ve learned to get up earlier and savor the quiet morning with Jesus and coffee, then I also get in His Word again before bed.
        I don’t often volunteer myself for anything, and I keep social events limited to once a week most of the time.
        I don’t feel that I’ve been very helpful to you! I really don’t have many external demands on my time. I can just imagine how hard it is to find “down time” as a mother. I am praying for you to find time for rest in your busy schedule!

  11. Alia Joy, thank you so much for sharing this with us. You have helped me in such a significant way this morning. I was diagnosed with ADD and anxiety/depression a couple years ago as an adult. I used to be a go-getter and accomplish so much, as far as what I felt “needed” to be accomplished. I get angry at myself and sink into further depression when I feel like now I’m so limited and my husband is constantly telling me I just need to slow down. I’ve never been able to understand what he’s talking about because I feel so unproductive and I feel like I’ve cut so much out of my once-busy schedule. I also haven’t been able to do things that once brought me a feeling of joy and aliveness. But your words have helped open my eyes to other beauty like enjoying a good walk with my dog while looking up at a gorgeous sunrise painting the clouds violet and pink and the early morning fog over the golf course we walk by my house. Maybe now I can enjoy the beauty of my girls laughter and pretend play instead of trying to do a million things while letting them play on their own. Maybe now I can slow down even more to actually think to tell my husband that I need help instead of trying to do everything on my own so that I don’t feel weak and incapable. Maybe now I can see the gift of saying no to more and yes to rest so that I can do the truly meaningful heart things that add up to a legacy of love. Maybe this gift of my brain feeling all discombobulated and out of sorts will be my making instead of my ruin. Thank you for opening my eyes to that. Your words are a gift.

    • Jessica,
      I have found that sometimes God allows that “thorn in our side” because it does force us to slow down and in doing so, it gives us a new appreciation of His wonders and love all around us. I don’t view my OCD and depression so much as a disability, but as a blessing that draws me closer into God’s love and the Creation He has made just for you and me. Be gentle with yourself …. rest….and enjoy the beauty all around you that long ago you missed because you were in such a hurry.
      Blessings,
      Bev xx

      • Bev, thank you!! What a good way to think of it, a blessing that draws us closer into His love and notice of His creation. I’ve spent a lot of time getting frustrated with myself instead of admitting that slowing down is important but can also be beautiful. I don’t need to meet anyone else’s expectations or even my own often grandiose expections of what I “should” be doing. I appreciate your use of “thorn in the side” and that was definitely God speaking through you because I’ll often wonder if this is my thorn in the flesh but I’ve never been able to figure out what that means, but now I feel like Godhas used your words and encouragement to show me. Thank you for taking the time to respond! ❤️

    • Oh Jessica, there is so much grace for you! I know how scary and hard it is to feel weak and incapable and how hard we, as a society, fight against it. I am writing a whole book on weakness as a gift, the blessing of being poor in spirit or not having your thorn removed the way we imagine it should so we can go on to look like good productive Christians. I have lived so much of my life pretending to have it together and trying to do it all until mental illness broke all those pretenses. I couldn’t fake it anymore. I didn’t have the energy or ability to so it forced me to slow down. It forced me to scavenge for grace and beauty and meaning in the midst of very hard times when my mind felt like it was falling apart. And while those things have been the greatest trials of my life, they are also a blessing in that God makes himself known to those who know what it means to need. It’s such a deception that our worth lies in anything but what’s been done for us through Christ. You can rest. You can ask for help. You can admit your need. There’s no shame in that and I truly hope you’ll feel God’s peace and abiding rest as you surrender to that truth. Grace and peace to you, Jessica.

      • Thank you, Alia! I’m looking forward to reading your book someday! I’m learning to say no to all the activities, now I need to learn to bring my heart and mind into discipline and take captive the thoughts that run wild and feed anxiety and low self-esteem or keep me nitpicking and impatient. Praying that in this month I begin to learn to rest and appreciate slow.

    • Jessica,

      Praying you can see God’s hand in all this. I believe this world is moving way to fast. God in His infinite wisdom is trying to slow us down to see and enjoy His beauty & workmanship. Don’t worry about what the world says-just be yourself and enjoy this life. Go for walks & watch the sunrise. Play with your children. They will love you for it & you will leave a lasting legacy.

      Blessings 🙂

      • Beth, thank you for this and a resounding yes!!! Maybe all this isn’t really an illness but a gift to those of us willing to see it as a gift and ask God how to use it to help us slow down and sit in His presence and choose the best thing as Mary did. Jesus is so often going away to be with the Father, getting in the boat to put some room between him and the people even when he’s teaching. We want to be in the thick of it always. I hope that through all of this and the encouragement of several of you here who I feel have spoken life giving words to me that I will embrace who I am now in this season and rest in that. Living loved and free.

  12. Oh, thank you for this! You are always a brave breath of fresh air, Alia. You say it all so perfectly, not just for people with bipolar, but for all of us who try to run too fast because for most of our lives we could and did. I just can’t do it anymore and I am thankful to get off the treadmill of busyness. Your words help so much. Please don’t ever stop writing!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Pam. Yes to getting off that treadmill of busyness! I can’t do it all anymore either and for that I’m learning to be thankful.

  13. Well said! I’ve learned to stop and notice and count every blessing. I certainly a blessing is named, it is claimed. My favorite hashtag is #iseeyouGod Thank you for putting all the words running through my head into a post. I am thankful for my “thorn” of mental illness.

  14. Thank for for the courage to share. Indeed our culture has robbed us of the privilege of rest. But God! His hand is still extended out toward us, beckoning us to come and enter His rest.

  15. Alia,
    As I was reading from beginning to end I was repeatedly reminded of how God works all things together for good. You have a perspective and gift that might have never have been used and expressed as beautifully and powerfully without the lens of your mental illness. Thank you for sharing your heart full of wisdom with us. Ideally, we should read this every single morning before we step into our day!

    Thank you for writing…
    Debbie Kirk

    • Thanks Debbie. I agree, mental illness has been a gift and a trial and I accept it as both. That’s how good God is, he doesn’t waste a thing.

  16. The Lord introduced fibromyalgia into my life five years ago, for all the reasons you so beautifully layed out above. Thank you for being brave enough to show up and lay your soul bare. I struggle with being enough every single day. Too often I measure my worth by my inability to ride the crazy train of our culture. Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone. Thank you for reminding me that Jesus trades His beauty for my ashes. ♡

    • Yes! We are always made whole and enough in Christ, we can’t add a single thing to what he’s already done for us and we can rest in that identity. That’s such a reassuring thought when struggling with chronic illness and faced with our own limitations. You’re not alone.

  17. Aila!
    Wow , I can so relate ! I don’t suffer from bipolar but with anxiety , kidney disease , and a rare heart and lung disease . So true that I think I’m not productive that I’m not doing what I need to do , for me I think it came from taking care of others prior to my illnesses . I was a Hospice nurse . I could tell others to rest but seems it doesn’t include myself . I have endless to-do lists and often takes weeks to get through them or I honestly just end up giving up .

    Great reminder and brags of you for shsring , these are not easy and well accepted topics with many .

    Many blessings to all of you ladies suffering .

  18. When I was a little girl I thought sleep was a waste of my time, but now I’m learning to appreciate rest helps us enjoy life more fully. But, it doesn’t mean that when we’re living under a microscope it makes it easy.
    Alia Joy you’ve courageously shared your struggle and how it’s enabled you to rest, thank-you for your honesty……

    1 Peter 2.17
    Love one another

    Have a blessed day all,

    Penny

    • I’m so sorry for the terrible mistake I made ,
      (1 Peter 1. 22 not 1 Peter 1. 17)
      By the time I realized it was too late I had already sent it.

      Penny

      • Ha! That is totally something I would do. 😉 No worries, I’m often slow to get to respond to comments because of that wide margin I set between writing,posting, and responding. Thanks for your encouragement, Penny.

  19. The feelings you have stirred in me through reading your post today are almost too hard to translate through typed words. You have made me stop and really think about how I view rest and dealing with depression. I must confess that I am so hard on myself when it comes to this subject. I have days, usually Saturdays, when my mind has such a hard time focusing on the tasks at hand. There’s so much I should be doing, but all I my mind can focus on is the rain drops hitting the roof. I get angry with myself on these days because I feel like I’ve failed “again”. I think I need to stop being so hard on myself and look at these days from a different perspective. Instead of feeling defeated by depression I can look at it from the perspective of, yes today is a difficult day, I choose to rest and let my mind listen to the rain, tomorrow will be better.

    • Christine, grace upon grace is extended to you. You haven’t failed again. Depression is no small battle and that in itself takes up so much energy to survive. And your’e doing that, you’re surviving. Listen to the rain when you need to. I wrote this post awhile ago and thought of it when I read your comment, maybe it will resonate with you? http://aliajoy.com/for-those-soul-heavy-days-hope-for-the-weary/#sthash.lXOtRmRd.dpbs Praying tomorrow will be better but that today you can rest secure that it’s going to be ok even if all you can manage is listening to raindrops.

  20. Thank you so much for sharing and reminding me that I am not alone. So many people do not understand and it makes it hard to go on day after day without feeling guilty for not being able to do all that others are doing. Praying for all of us as we allow God’s rest to renew us and for wisdom to use that renewed strength in the ways that God will call us.

  21. Oh how your words kiss my spirit this day. “Rest” is my mantra this summer. As I continue to sit in His presence, He’s still re-teaching me how to rest. Thank you for sharing your vulnerable heart, Alia Joy. Your words make Kingdom difference. Sweet graces to you as you abide in stillness with Him. ((hug))

  22. Favorite quote: “Endless productivity as a lifestyle spends our lives with less return than what we invested. We seldom break even.” Love this post…thank you.

  23. It might be silly to mention milk and crackers with med, you may already know, and about not certain juices. Sorbet and sprite also work, and I am not on meds. I do understand this completely, none of these things are caused by God, he’s the healer, but spiritual warfare go on and the mind becomes the battleground. I think Alia is comparing it to a blind person having heightened other senses. I recently wrote a post to help understand Jesus even better. It was called, ” You Have To Bleed “, and I didn’t mean literally. When you understand suffering and grief, you can understand Him, and see why He loved us and was willing to die. I hope it helps to know His great love and willingness to heal. Just take your medicines, love and help others and believe He will.

  24. Thank you. Your strong, honest and beautiful voice is so needed in this crazy world, constantly trying to push margins entertain if the pages of our lives. Never stop writing. I always feel so blessed to read your words of courage, giving up, coming back. 27 years of fibromyalgia, makes me appreciate your words all the more. Yet, they’re full of life and learning to any age and person who is fighting to have the eyes to see, and ears to hear. Thanks, Alia Joy. Graced, to have found your writing.

  25. If you Google Kelly Brogan you will find a knowledgeable physician that treats depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety using mostly natural treatments which may be helpful to avoiding the side effects you mention. Thank you for sharing your experience from the heart!

  26. 🙂 The gift of righteous prayer is priceless. We all need it and to give it is selfless. This gift of prayer I give to you and many others 🙂

  27. Alia,

    Thank you for being so open & honest about a touchy subject for some. Mental illness is hard to diagnose & deal with. Remember we are fighting a spiritual war & the devil wants the mind. Praying for all here that you can take one day at a time & really learn to appreciate God’s wonderful creation. Give yourself permission to take time out & do simple things like walking, reading Bible or listening to good music. This world is to fast paced & people are missing out on the joys of life by rushing through each day. Play with children & leave a legacy for others.

    Blessings 🙂

  28. Thank you Thank you Thank you for this! I suffer from a chronic illness which is also an invisible illness. It’s so hard to deal with with the American lifestyle. I’ve been accused of being lazy and only doing what I want to do. But in Jesus I find fulfillment and rest. It is very hard to know when to rest when I’m so behind with the basics and before I know it I over did it again. And I had no warning. I am so gratefulfor this reminder to refocus and get rest. Thank you!