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Knowledge is Necessity


A Christian woman's  insights shed new light on bipolar.


 "While depression makes me feel abandoned by God, mania has always made me feel like I didnít need God."


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More Essays

Job and Me

Two Wise Beings

Biblemania

A Cosmic Bargain

Christmas Movies

Going to the Movies

Cuckoo's Nest

A Beautiful Mind

The Hours

The Adventures of Duperman

Duperman - The Adventure Continues

A Plague Upon Us?

Two Mini Essays

Oh, To Be Hypo

Voices

Out of Mind

 

 Mania - A Christian Perspective


Oh the thrill of mania!  Why would I need God now?  Things are good, my mind is sharp, quick and more clever than I thought possible.  My energy level is flying and I seem to be able to handle everything that comes my way.  Isnít life grand?  I just donít see how life could get any better.

But wait a minute.  Something is wrong.  I canít seem to control my thoughts.  Iím confused and everybody is really getting on my nerves.  Why am I clenching my teeth until my jaw hurts?  Iím out of control, where is everybody?  God, where are you?

For me, mania, has always presented a very different problem between God and me than the state of depression.  While depression makes me feel abandoned by God, mania has always made me feel like I didnít need God. The grandiose feeling that mania brings, tricks us into believing we are capable, even better at, controlling our lives than God is and that others may need God but we are doing just fine without Him.  Even if we do believe that we need Him, we often feel His expectations are suffocating and tedious.

We donít feel that we should be held accountable to God or anyone else.  I have found it difficult at times to slow my mind down enough to pray.  Why bother?  Somebody else will do it. God wants me to do what, stay faithful to my spouse?  He wants me to make a commitment to His Son and follow His ways?  I donít know if I have time.

Please donít misunderstand the above scenario and statements. They are not intended to be sarcastic in any way, nor are they meant to mock God and His Word.  They are, however, valid examples of how I have felt during relapses and when I was much less interested in my relationship with God.

The grandiose feeling of mania is a lie, a lie that the disorder brings on and one that Satan uses to bring us into sin.  While depression makes us want to withdrawal, mania lures us into the fast lane of promiscuity and filth and acting out on every whim and thought that enters our minds.  The most ludicrous lie of all is that we do not need Jesus.

We bounce from one feeling to another and wonder why our lives seem out of control and have little genuine meaning.  I have found, that mania has brought me into the types of sin that cause shame and regret.  The call of the world and all that it offers is a useful tool for Satan when we give into mania.

But wait, God has not abandoned us and He still calls.  His Word is still valid, His love is still available and He is waiting.  I know how hard it is to slow down, to even care what Jesus did, but He is our hope.  We must tuck Godís Word into our hearts, we must pray as we are able, and we must establish a solid foundation with Christ while we are stable.  My mind has been so confused with thoughts that all I could do was cry out ďGod help meĒ.  He always did. He uses people, His Spirit, and yes, even medication.

There is another aspect of bipolar, that some, but not all bipolars experience.  I am talking about psychotic episodes. These episodes bring the unreal into our minds.  We see and hear things that are not real.  We feel fear with an intensity that paralyzes us.  Oh the horrible faces we see and the grisly things they sometimes want us to do.  The demons mock us and no matter where we run, they are there! 

Our hearts pound!  What should we do?  As we sit on our beds, roaches by the hundreds are crawling everywhere. Canít you see them?  Did I take my pill?  I donít know.  How long will this last? I donít know.

Unfortunately, I am one of those bipolars who has experienced that type of insanity.  I feel psychotic episodes are one of the most horrible states one of Godís children can find themselves in.  There does not seem to be any reality and little if anything makes sense. Nobody watching understands or sees those horrible things and itís hard to call out for fear of reprisal.  

But God understands.  He does not leave!  He has and will break through. I know this. He will calm the storm, if we allow Him. Perhaps He will send someone who will ask no questions but is willing to hold us and rock us. Perhaps, yes, maybe, His voice will break through the insanity. Or maybe we will suddenly remember a verse that we tucked into our hearts just last week and now it is just enough to pull us through. Oh God, thank you for loving me.  How true you are to your Word.

The point I am trying to make is this; while we canít always pray (others will), while weíre not always capable of reading, if our commitment is to God and His desires, we will remember that commitment during a relapse.  We will ask for help, we will talk to others, we will not give up and we will know we can trust God during the good times and the bad times.  God never changes, His love and acceptance of us remains true.  Seek His face and be blessed by His presence.  The scriptures hold His truths. Jesus died for the mania part of bipolar just as much as everything else we experience.  I believe Jesus weeps with us and intercedes for us in this state.


The article above is from the author's new book, "Seek His Face He Will Provide" (PublishAmerica), with a message of hope and peace through God. Gayle has struggled with her illness for 18 years through street drugs and alcohol and divorce and suicidal ideation prior to finding the embrace of a loving God.

You can order the book from Publish America and from Amazon.com and you can check out Gayleís website.

For three free online issues of McMan's Depression and Bipolar Weekly, email me and put "Sample" in the heading and your email address in the body.

Essays articles   All articles


 Discussions

Michele (Nov 28, 2002): I am a devout Christian who is bipolar. In my early 20's I had a psychotic hyper-manic episode that left me depressed for years. In my early 30's I began to feel content and at peace with myself, got married, had children and started to feel like a normal human being. I had unwisely married a heroin addict and after 7 years tired of the problems, so left him. The struggle to support 2 children on my own combined with other setbacks threw me into a state of panic which progressed to a manic state then into a hyper-manic episode. It has been a year and a half since my episode and I have been very aware of every mood swing and irritability and have been working with my Doctors to find the proper medication. I seem to be doing well on Neurontin which is an anti-convulsant/mood stabilizer. I have been wondering how my faith and relationship with God relate to my bipolar disorder. This article was very interesting. It didn't give me any solid answers to the thoughts I have, but it was so nice to read another bipolar Christian's thoughts. I would love to read more messages or articles on this subject. God Bless You!!!

McMan (Nov 28): Very glad you enjoyed Gayle's article, Michele. I'm sure you will really enjoy her book. Here's my spiritual take on it, which comes from a talk I gave to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance annual conference in Aug 2002:

In the New English Version translation of the Book of Ecclesiastes, it says: "In dealing with men it is God's purpose to test them and see what they truly are." Itís the only explanation, in my opinion, for why bad things happen to good people. For all the suffering all of us in this room have endured - all the pain, tragedy, humiliation, hardship, and loss - I know we are far better beings as a consequence. We may hate our illness, but we can hardly hate what our illness has made of us.

Faithflower (May 2, 2003):  It is 2:30 in the morning and I couldn't sleep.  One of the reasons for this is that I have gone off my medication. I tried praying and relaxation techniques, but just felt I needed to get up.  Since going off meds it has been about 2 weeks) I have been searching for alternatives to this type of therapy. While searching the Web, I started finding all sorts of stuff that wasn't available before ( or maybe I just wasn't interested in looking). It amazed me. Other Christians struggle with the same stuff, which is something I didn't realize when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 37.

Like the author of the article, I have experienced a psychotic manic episode, something I definitely do not want to go through again.  That is why I stayed on Lithium for 10 years. I kinda look at those years now as lost because I don't remember a lot about them. This is what Lithium did to me. When I finally went off Lithium and Wellbutrin ( which was prescribed because of the depression I was experiencing on Lithium (!), I experienced feelings I had forgotten I had. Initially I went through some mood swings, but after a while they leveled off. Then a couple of years ago I started having semi-anxiety attacks and extreme anger problems and got really scared.  So, the doctor put me on Trazadone, then Depakote, then Paxil, then Wellbutrin and Effexor.  The latter two worked okay for a while except that I got really sleepy and almost totally lost my libido, This last problem wouldn't have been so bad had I not been happily married.  I have since come to realize that there is no "magic pill". 

Two weeks ago I ran out of meds because of my procrastination.  For the first few days I experienced headaches, confusion and extreme agitation.  Then I started feeling better all of a sudden. I guess everything had worked its way out of my system. I plan to take it a day at a time to see if I can stay off the medication. It's not that I don't believe in taking medicine, its just that for me the side effects seem worse than the cure.  I am at a place spiritually where I am very close to the Lord and spend time each day with Him. Also I read the Bible or a devotional. This has made all the difference in the world. I am praying for His guidance in this. Finally I think I have come to the point where I am starting to accept that this is the way I am and that He expects me to look to Him for my strength. I would be interested to hear from any other bipolars who have ideas. This is something that is not dealt with in the church very often, at least not from my experience.

McMan (May 2):  Hi, Faithflower. A parable:  A man was on the roof of his house as the rising flood waters threatened to overwhelm him. A boat happened by, but he refused a lift, as he was confident that God would rescue him. A helicopter happened by, but he waved it off, knowing God was on the way. The flood waters overtook him, and he found himself at the Pearly Gates facing his Creator. "Lord," he asked, "why didn't you rescue me?" And God replied, "What do you mean? I sent you a boat and a helicopter."

Your meds may have been the wrong ones, Faithflower, but you can work with your psychiatrist in finding the right ones with the right doses. You can also work with others on lifestyle and coping techniques. God works through agents on earth. Once you get treatment/lifestyle/coping working for you, you will find God Power works a lot better.

Madeleine (July 10, 2003):  This is a message for Faithflower.  I am twenty years old and I have just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (although it is something that I have been suspecting for a long time.) I, like you, hate the side effects of every medication (anti-depressants, sleeping pills, antipsychotics) that I have ever been given. I, like you, often have trouble sleeping without meds. However, I also have trouble sleeping with meds. In fact, I have trouble sleeping a lot of the time and have had this trouble for as long as I can remember (as a young child, I would read until the early hours of the morning because i couldn't sleep and i was afraid of being "alone").
i am currently taking trazodone "in case of emergency" (i.e., if it's 2:30 in the morning and i have somewhere to be the next day) and I have my Christian doctor's permission to do so.  But other than that, I like you am trying to rely on God for my strength. I pray a lot: in the manic phase, that God would give me peace; in the depressive phase, that God would reveal Himself to me and give me hope. Lately, I have been experiencing a combination of joy and peace, which is quite different than anything I have ever experienced before. Although I still get the physical symptoms of both mania and depression, and although my emotions are all over the map, God continues to draw near to my spirit. I am able to be still and know that He is God.

One thing that I have found helpful is to render myself accountable to a spiritual director (as opposed to a psychiatrist or therapist).  Don't get me wrong: I have a lot of respect for those in the medical profession.  that being said, I prefer to bring all of my problems to God before I bring them elsewhere, and the presence of an older and wiser Christian is helpful to me.
My comfort is in this: Our God is a God who uses our weaknesses to His glory. Through them, He teaches us to boast in what He has done in our lives and not what we have done for ourselves. hey: who knows what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was...

Johno (Nov 14, 2003):  I am 31, in my fourth year of studying for the Catholic priesthood. I am new to psychiatric treatment but still undiagnosed. I'm on Zyprexa - now and again - and it looks like I'm bipolar. I sometimes wonder whether my whole religious "calling" is merely the result of a chemical imbalance. I used to empathise with the spiritual turmoil of the likes of St Augustine in his Confessions, but now doubt whether we are are equal footing - are we dealing with the same "demons" - or  am I just a chemical imbalance on legs?. I've been through a couple of traumatic episodes, being raped while overseas 7 years ago and wonder whether this triggered my mania and current impulsive/compulsive/alcoholic behaviour - or maybe whether my mania put me in a position to experience this trauma in the first place. I realise that my psychiatrist is not a counsellor and he only wants to hear about current symptoms and whether I'm taking my medication or not. I don't even know what psychosis is, but I'm sure my night frights every couple of months are close - when I wake up not knowing where I am and stumble around my room terrified until I find a familiar item or doorknob to set me free. How can i relate with St Augustine when all I have to do is take a pill and the symptoms ease?

I study philosophy and theology and know all about the debates on human free will - yes we all have God-given free will to choose our behaviour. Sounds good in theory. How can I preach about free will or give advice to other tormented souls when I've had such a warped and unbalanced experience of life and have lost all control of my own life? How can I speak about morality? How can I speak about relationships, temperance, sobriety? I can talk a lot about suffering and failure but most people only speak publicly about their sufferings after they've seen the light at the end of the tunnel. But even the Gospel of Mark  ended originally with the burial of Jesus after he was crucified - nothing about the Resurrection appearances - but early church scribes thought it wise to tack on something about the Resurrection to leave no doubts for the faithful. Is not our faith a hope in something we can't see? Well that's all I have. And if St Augustine had taken Zyprexa would he have reached the spiritual enlightenment to inspire such prose as this..........?

St Augustine (Confessions): "Though I was so enamoured of a happy life I feared to find it in its true home, and fled from it even as I sought it......This partial willing and partial non-willing is thus not so bizarre, but a sickness of the mind, which cannot rise with its whole self on the wings of truth because it is heavily burdened by habit. There are two wills, then, and neither is the whole: what one has the other lacks."

I think I am kidding myself in this life - I need to make up my mind. God help me.

McMan (Nov 14):  Hi, Johno. The term, "chemical imbalance," is a misnomer, as we don't know which chemicals in the brain lack balance. Even assuming we have a chemical imbalance, we're talking about something very subjective and relative. Your mind is your own mind, stray chemicals and all. Yes, sometimes our illness causes us to lose control, but those situations are never permanent. And yes, some of our spiritual insights, I believe, are a gift of our illness. Your spiritual insights - whether the result of your illness or not - are only abnormal in the sense that most of the population remains hopelessly mired in the mundane. Evolutionary biologists would say we need the occasional different person to shake up the status quo.  A religious interpretation would be that it is God's plan.  Whatever the cause, it is a rare gift and you are entering the perfect calling to use it and help others.  As to whether Zyprexa would have changed St Augustine, I come down on a firm "No."  The meds we have don't work well enough to turn us into contented sheep 24 hours a day.  Someday, genetic engineering may deprive the St Augustines in our midst of their long dark nights of the soul, as well as their mystic visions, but thankfully this is not yet a worry.

William (Feb 24, 2004):  As a 30 year sufferer from bipolar 1 I found the article interesting, like one of the previous posts I am on medication that has severe side effects, I take Lithium, Zyprexa and Lexapro.

I have turned to God many times in this 30 year struggle, sometimes it helps and sometimes it appears not to help, I have tried going off my medications and it always has ended in disaster, hospitalization and courses of ECT.

I am relatively stable right now and encourage everyone with bipolar to stay on your meds, unless God sees fit to heal you its your best bet

Luxiquin (June 19, 2004):  I've never posted anything on a website before.  I'm dumbfounded that I'm doing this now and here.

I've been diagnosed bipolar three months now and my life has turned into a living hell.  None the medicines work so far; I've baffled my doctors.  I've been hospitalized and still can't seem to get anything to work.

I will write I am a Christian, because I choose not to be anything else, but I don't understand God in my life anymore. Looking back on my life I feel like all the times I thought God was close, they just seem false and manufactured. I believe I'm beginning to lose my faith.

I'm writing here because my mother insisted I should. I figure it won't hurt if I do or don't.  "Find people who are like you," she says. "Talk to them; you're not the only one."  I don't think she understands that I don't care if I'm the only one or not.

So here is my question, Why rely on God and follow His plan, when you're programmed not to?

McMan (June 19):  Hi, Luxiquin. The spiritual journey is a struggle. I believe that only through struggle do we come in touch with our own humanity and divinity. A quick read of the Bible shows God put all his servants to the test, from Abraham to the Biblical prophets to Jesus to St Paul. Abraham may have walked with God, but as long as Sarah stayed barren he refused to accept God completely at his word. All kinds of hardships and humiliations were visited on the prophets, through whom God spoke to the Hebrews. For his Son, he reserved his harshest treatment, and for the one he chose to spread the Good News to the Greeks, shipwrecks, imprisonment, being set upon by mobs, disillusionment, and on and on.

So from your Christian perspective, bipolar disorder is God's gift to you. The way to achieve closeness to God is through a constant round of tests. Yes, you will suffer and you will experience disillusionment, but you will also emerge a spiritual warrior. You may feel God has abandoned you right now, but be assured God is walking with you.

Ekrib (July 8, 2004):  I just read the message from the person dated June 19th and my heart goes out to them. I just had an appt today with a psychiatrist that told me i'm bipolar 2.  that feeling that you have that you're alone without God is so familar to me too, because when you're so alone with the problems that seem crazy to explain to someone you wonder why God would let you go through something like this.  If I've learned anything from this hardship is that anytime I feel abandoned by God it's me who's done the abdonment.  God promised all of us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. And i know that God doesn't lie- but my mind can.  I know He's the only reason I'm alive today and can get through this.  I really thank Him too for people like you to let me know that I"m not a freak and I'm not alone.  Sometimes we really need God "with skin on".  I'll be praying for you - don't give up!

Scott 10/20:  I've enjoyed reading the posts. I too have Bipolar Disorder which was diagnosed about 5 years ago (but like some I've had it for many years prior). It has been a long haul. For years I was misdiagnosed and give medications for depression that sent me into several almost life-ending fights with mania. My dear Wife would call my doctor and tell him that the meds were not working and he would brush her off and said   "he is in mid-life crisis  ". I left him and my next MD told me   "at least you had the fun metal illness  ". I pray for both of these individuals everyday in hopes they can heal what troubles them.

I spent long periods of time in individual therapy, group therapy, I have been hospitalized and in intensive out-patient treatment programs (IOP). My medication plan has gone from 7 meds at one time to 1 (and at a low dose).

Along the way I was blessed in finding an team of doctors in a Christian based medical ministry. Everything we do is God based, all medical management is done with intense prayer. My doc's are the messengers - GOD is the healer.

With each and every healing I have gotten stronger in faith and healthier in mind - body. Issues that I spent years on in "traditional" therapy and barely made a dent in were completely healed in one or two sessions with prayer to GOD and asking him to reveal and heal my life wounds. As I asked GOD to show me my wounds he would show me things that I could never comprehend in other treatment (they are bandaids - GOD gives the truth). I constantly wanted more healing - like a kid wants to play!

I talk to GOD all the time, and he speaks loudly. He makes all my decisions in life now. I've given it to him. It's LOVE!!! With God things and baggage that I carried for years is just not an issue anymore.

You can do this too. With God as your doctor you can be healed. Yes, you still need an MD, and you still need your meds. But it becomes effortless with the Lord.

I pray for all of you that God heals each of you the way he has done it for me. I am your friend in Christ.

With much Christian Love,

Mary (Feb 9, 2005): On Bipolar I have just been diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and am so confused. I thought I was a good Christian before but am struggling to believe from moment to moment that I am truly saved. I am 40 years old and cant bring myself to tell my Charismatic Mother that I have this illness. She has always doubted my Christianity as it is because I have never spoken in tongues. I am constantly trying to find the reassurance that the Euphoric feelings of God holding me in his arms really happened to me then all this doubt would go away. As it is I go from one belief to another and can decide on anything. I am taking Trileptal and Wellbutrin for the depression.

Rainy 3/13:   I think religion and mental illness are two complete separate things. God isn't going to cure your bipolar no more than he cured my dad of cancer. Or his paranoid Schizophrenia. Where was god then??? He cant help me with my Bipolar. The pharmacist can. The guy who write the script can.

Bonny 4/13: Dear brothers and sisters in Christ - I've just recently been diagnosed with Bi-Polar, after 38 years... "That explains everything" probably one of the most common sentence after finding out that you're Bi-Polar. When I found out, that was my first response. It hit me hard. My second was a mix of feelings: fear, frustration, sadness, anger, yet there was peace, comfort, and relief. Help was on its way. I take three different medicines- one for depression, one to stabilize me, and one to help me sleep. And they do help.

Being Bi-Polar is often a struggle and is challenging in itself, but being a Bi-Polar Christian is even more difficult and confusing.  Not only do I face the challenges of physical, emotional, and 'mental' imbalances, but now because I am a Christian, I am challenged by Satan's mastery of lies, defeat, discouragement... well any way he can to knock me off my feet. And so, I am attacked on a spiritual level. All angles of my being is cornered.

Trying to discern between my Bi-Polar 'highs' and 'lows' and spiritual highs and lows is difficult when I lose faith in God. This is when I question the existence of Him. Yet, when I am stronger in faith and trust in God, I can tell the difference, and joy, contentment, and happiness becomes a part of who and whose I am, I am a child of God. The difference between Bi-Polar highs and lows and spiritual highs and lows is this: My body dances when I am on a Bi-Polar high yet when on a low, I am just depressed and plain worn out, and I waver between feeling like life doesn't matter- neither do I, I am intensely afraid of who knows what, or I just feel numb. When I am filled with the Spirit and am brought to a Spiritual high- my spirit dances, and I just know He is there. When spiritually low, that is when I know I am either being tested, or it is a time of growth, and He is strengthening me. He is still there and loving me just the same.

God loves us all, no matter if there any differences we have. Never give up. Please reference the scripture Isaiah 41:10. It has helped me through much of this. Maybe it can help you as well.

If you have the chance, I recommend the book, "An Unquiet Mind" by Kay Jamison. It has touched my heart tremendously as Kay ( a well known and prominent Physician, speaker, and just a beautiful spirit that God has sent to touch people's lives )tells her story of being Bi-Polar. I pray that someday I may meet her to thank her in person to tell her that God has and is using her mightily to help others, including me, who face being Bi-Polar every day. Though from my perspective of the book, Kay senses that God is there, but she doesn't quite go to God for spiritual guidance and reassurance. She may very well have leaned on God in her journey after writing this book. She has written more books- which I haven't read yet but I will...

Any way, that's just part of my story. I pray you will continue finding comfort in God. And allow yourselves to be helped by who and what God sends in your life that would help carry you through life. Yet above all, know that God loves you, and He will never leave your side. Just take every bit of strength, even if it feels like your last bit, and just kneel and pray. He will listen. Be still, you will hear Him speak.

My prayers are with you all. God bless.

Scott 5/16:  Mary - For everyone, Christianity is different...  It's not about the institution of man dubbed "religion"..  Nor is it about the gifts of the spirit.  Simply put, Christianity is about your personal walk with Christ.  There are many gifts of the spirit, and, not everyone speaks in tongues.  I myself never have, though I've been gifted in other areas.

Belief is easy, faith is hard.  More so for those of us blessed, or cursed, with being bi-polar...  I think the only advice I can give you is that your faith is your own, and, no man can tell you that you're not saved.  By faith we are saved through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  It is the belief in him that saves us, not the gifts of the spirit.

Dex 5/29:  I'm 31 years old, and I've been a believer for 11 years. I've always known something was not completely "right" with me, ever since early childhood. Now I know that I'm dealing with bipolar disorder with mixed states. My conversion was not a happy experience, it was the terrifying realization that I was a sinner and separated from God. I didn't get the peace and joy that everyone else said they had, so I thought I didn't get saved "right". That terrifying feeling of dread followed me throughout my baby Christian years, into my mid 20's. Every time I read the Bible or went to a Bible study, I found new reasons why I was doomed. I remember one day when I was 22 or so I started to get these rushes of artistic creativity, just from looking at a leaf or the angle of a rooftop, and I wondered why nobody else could see the profundity of that particular shade of brown or that one sax note.

David 6/8:  I was diagnosed Bipolar at age 17 and experienced my first depressive episode at age 16. I went through two before experiencing a psychotic manic episode. I immediately went on Lithium during a manic episode that I was prescribed while in a mental hospital. I had already been saved/born again since I was twelve, but neglected to grown in Christ. I continued the Lithium for almost three years without any episodes or side effects. The lithium worked great. Well, after three years, God really put the pressure on my life through some events and I committed my life to Him. Soon after I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which many denominations will condemn, but something I can assure is a wonderful experience and will change your life in Christ. Shortly after giving my life to Christ, I had a dream telling me to stop my medication. That took place in December of 2000. On September 10, 2001, the day before 9/11, I started experiencing the symptoms of a depressive episode (ins

I will tell you this. If you haven't received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1-2 and 19: 1-7). It doesn't mean that you don't have the Holy Spirit inside of you. The Baptism of the HS is all of you being submerged into it. Look it up! There is some wonderful material about it and any Pentecostal or charismatic church can inform you of it and minister this experience to you. Just ask God for it and He will graciously supply it for you. I have experienced several attacks with symptoms, but would only last a few hours or so. I would immediately step into the victory that Christ has already brought me deliverance on the cross. I have heard testimonies of those who were also healed of schizophrenia as a result of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. But more than anything, what will keep you from deliverance and healing of Bipolar Disorder is the fear of it. I have noticed that a major method of deliverance is simply sitting and waiting on God silently.

Carol 6/13:  Unfortunately in the Christian world many are still condemned for having a mental illness. There is often shame involved for the ill person. I have struggled, also, where is God in all of this and this, after much prayer and many years, is the conclusion I have come to. We have an illness (for me bipolar also.) If we were diabetic we would not even consider not taking insulin but, as a bipolar, we think we're not "good" enough Christians, we should be depending on God more. Well, we probably should, not because we're sick but because that's what God wants ALL His children to do! God loves us the way we are right now! There is nothing we can do that will make him love us more!

Look up Romans 8, there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. That includes condemning ourselves!

I encourage you to stop believing the lie Satan is giving you that you would be better if you did this or that. Most of us really need medication. I find I am able to be more real and hear God better when I am balanced and that is when I am on medication.

Laura 6/18:  It sure was nice to see once again that I am not the only bi polar Christian out there. It sure is hard being one. I go to church one day crying and the next day singing and dancing. They don't understand. And they sure don't understand medication. I surely don't hate cancer patients for getting treatment. I am convinced that the Lord understands and thank God for that. MY husband says that he thinks that I don't know how to be happy. Unfortunately I cannot control when episodes hit, but I am happy that bi polar has brought me closer to God in the long run. Thank you Lord. His grace is sufficient enough for me. Amen.

John 8/1:  The following is the story of how I came to know Christ, or rather, He came to know me.

I was about to finish up my last semester at UNC when something strange started happening in my mind. I continually ruminated on past sins and felt totally cut off from God. I had studied Buddhism while in college, and had even gone so far as denying that there was a Christian God. But at some point in the dead of winter, my conscience caught up with me. I couldnít stop thinking about all the wrongs I had committed in the past. During college I had been a playboy. After every sexual encounter, I felt a great deal of remorse and couldnít reconcile my personality with the way I had acted.

It all came to a head when I was on spring break. Two close friends and I decided to go to Vegas over spring break. This was my first time in the ďcity of sin,Ē and let me tell you: it is not a good place to have a nervous breakdown. The whole scene had a carnival appeal to itóflashing lights, scantily clad women, and the majority of tourists drunk as a skunk. I felt nothing but pain in my soul as I walked up and down the strip with my two friendsówho seemed to think that Vegas was the greatest place in the world.

By the time I got back home, I was so depressed that I literally could not get off the couch. The pain inside was unbearable and I began thinking of myself as worthless. I couldnít look my parents straight in the eye. I had failed them and not paid heed to my Christian upbringing. I felt my sin over me like a boulder pressing against my chest. Thatís when I started drinking. I had to drink to fall asleep, but the more I drank, the worse I felt. Finally, I woke up one morning all alone in the apartment, with an empty fifth of rum on the coffee table. I couldnít stand it anymore. I didnít see the point of living, and I didnít understand how people could find such entertainment in all the vain pleasures of this world. I had tried every vice under the sun in my desperate search for meaning, but nothing fit.

On a Saturday afternoon, I drove around Chapel Hill looking for a priest. I finally found one, made my confession, and he showed me the hymn ďAmazing GraceĒ and a passage from the psalms. But I was too far gone by that point. I couldnít fathom a God that would forgive me and lift me up out of the dark abyss of a psychotic depression. Sunday, I called my girlfriend and asked her to take me to the hospital. I was put in a trauma victimsí cell, where the nurses constantly checked on me until the doctor came. One nurse in particular, who happened to be a Christian, let me weep and tell my story, and then said the most profound words Iíve ever heard: ďGod still loves you.Ē

Yet, at the time those words didnít register. I feared Godís wrath. When you drop down to a severely depressed state, you know there is a Godóheís the only one you can call out to. Unfortunately, you are also a broken spirit, and accepting the grace he offers sinners seems out of reach in a situation where youíve come to hate yourself and wish for death. I was transferred to Durham Regional where I received a mood stabilizer, sleeping pills, and nerve pills. My brain was shot, and my body felt like led. The medicine kicked in and I felt like my old, normal self again, and even had a great time playing cards with others on the psychiatric ward. If youíve ever been in such a ward, you will know that the people thereówhether they committed themselves, or were involuntarily committedóare humans just like you, and they are also broken spirits just like you.

Iíll never forget a man I met there and a simple phrase he imparted to me. He looked like a member of the Hellís Angels and had many strange necklaces and rings. I think he was suffering from paranoid schizophreniaóa horrible mental illness. And yet, he spoke these words to me that opened up my heart. He said, ďEvery one of us here just needs a little love. Thatís all. Itís not the medicine we need, just love.Ē My parents came to pick me up a few days later.

Unfortunately, I was feeling so good that I told the doc to take me off of all these brain washing meds and put me on the lowest dose of antidepressant. By law she had to respond to my request. But it was a huge mistake that I would realize far too soon. I had two other hospital visits in the next few months. I sincerely believed that God had abandoned me, and left me to the devilís devices. In the next few months, I was conscious of a terrible void that had replaced my soul. It grew and grew, and the medications were not doing the trick.

Finally, I was given the diagnosis of bipolar by a psychologist I had been seeing. After changing doctors, I received a mood stabilizer again, and the void gradually lifted from my soul. My perspective of myself as a degenerate sinner did not lift however. It took the words of Jesus to deliver from the abyss. So if youíre wondering by what authority I entreat you to convert, there you have it. Iíve been ďthere.Ē Iíve seen Hell. Itís in our minds at the darkest hour of our lives.

On my second hospital visit, before having received any drugs, I experienced something that would change my life. All the patients met for group time, where they made goals and reassessed them at an evening meeting. Before one of these meetings, I had been praying fervently that Jesus would make me whole again. I left my suicide-proof hospital room and went to group.

Now there was an old man there who had been committed by his family after a grave failure in communication. He loved sitting in the sun in his front yard. One day, when his family must have thought it too hot to go out, he became angry and made the remark ďover my dead body.Ē They took that has a suicide threat, and there he was at the hospital, an 80 plus year old man who had led a simple life of devotion to God. He wasnít particularly intelligent. Nothing of the sort. Instead, he was more like a child in his simplicity. And at every group meeting he would state the same goal: ď I love God. I love everybody. I donít hate nobody.Ē

At this particular meeting, the sun was going down, burning bright red and shining through the window in the group room. As he made his usual litany, a beam of sun fell upon his face, and I knew then that this was a godly man. In all his simplicity, he knew the only things in this world that really counted and he was not ashamed to voice them. At the same group meeting, an old black woman who had literally not spoken in years due to depression, broke her silence and began speaking the most profound sayings. Sayings that only a faithful Christian could utter. To this day I wish I had had a tape recorder with me to capture her phrases. They were as beautiful as the most beautiful psalm, and as wise as the wisest saying in proverbs. I cried.

From that day forward, and throughout the long, painful treatment process for my brain disease, I clung to Jesus for dear life, crushing my own ego, and allowing him to quench the throbbing void in my soul, and the lacerations of my heart with ďliving waterĒ that only comes with the Holy Spirit. I still have a long way to go on this narrow and dark trail through the travails of life, but I know for a fact that He is right there beside me, and if I have ears to hear and eyes to see, I will see the Kingdom of Heaven by and by. If you have had a similar experience to mine, you will know that when you hit rock bottom and the bruises are there to remind you, thereís no doubt about whether God exists or not. The only fear is that He will not accept you.

But the Christian God is, quite literally, a creator of Love and he will draw you to Him when you least expect it. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened; keep calling and the prayer will be answered; keep seeking and you will find the truth. And once you find it, lay hold of it with all your strength because it is the only thing worth keeping, and it is the only thing that will set you free. But donít take my word for it. Find out for yourself. Read the Bible. Go to church. Let God form you in his own image, and become sons and daughters of the living God.

Matt 10/17:  I envy normal people; people who can keep jobs for more than 2 years (at BEST), naturally endowed by their emotional health to lead a life that allows that wonderful "stability" that as a bipolar sufferer, I so rarely experience. Being a bi-polar Christian is easy, it's STAYING one that's hard. Since discovering the Lord seven years ago, I've been on a "Jekyll and Hyde" swing to and from each end of the moral/ethical spectrum. Six months ago, you would have found me in church at pre-service prayer...feeling God's love flowing through me. Two months ago you would have found me visiting an expensive, exclusive . Here are my two philosophies that govern each swing. "God has saved me, shown me wonders of Himself, and allowed me to worship him. I feel HORRIBLE over things I've been doing..." (Then, maybe, one year later) "God's great, but He's BORING" (as ALL things I get into eventually and inevitably become). Every spiritual high is followed sooner or later by that "restless

boredom", which causes me to backslide. So, I go...back and forth. The sad thing about this "ride" is that I've been on it so long, when I'm in the midst of satisfying all my immoral cravings, I am no less aware of God, or that I am consciously leaving Him...the sad thing is the secure knowledge that I'm going to hell...and not caring. How does one COMMIT to either God or the devil when one hasn't the capacity to commit to ANYTHING. Currently, I'm on my way BACK to the Lord because I've just realized that that horrid stench I've been smelling lately is ME. Before long I'll be back in church, trying not to notice the whispers of the congregation...rolling their eyes.

"He's back..." I look around and see the hurricanes, the wars, the hatred...I've got a front row seat to the end of the world. Where will the ball on my roulette wheel be when Jesus comes back? Will I be in church praying solemnly, or will I be slowly undressing someone I've never met? My only hope is actually a pretty valid one. Maybe I'm insane. Maybe true choice is unavailable to me. I've asked Jesus that no matter WHERE I go...I just want Him to give me a hug. Then I'll go to hell feeling a little better. I've never been afraid to take my medicine. Upon my arrival, when I see the taunting, ominous smile of satan...I'll sneer right back at him with the words..."Do your worst".

The Mattster 3/10/06: I think it's limiting God to think that he can't help you with your disorder. At the same time I think you need doctors too. I believe God does heal. He hasn't healed me yet, but I believe that he is going to provide a way for me to make it through this life.

Snowballs 5/10/06: What I take comfort in is David in the Bible. If you read in Psalms... he sure sounds like a bipolar person. And God said he was a man after God's own heart. He is whining one minute, angry the next, totally depressed the next, and the dude obviously had problems keeping his willy where it belongs, regarding that situation with Bathsheba.

But it seems that the older he got, the more he mellowed out. Now that could have been that the closer he was to God, the more he was steady. Or it could be he matured with age. It could be both. But the man took no meds, and he ruled a nation, and put away a heckuva lot of money to build a temple for God when Solomon took the throne.

Now I figure it like this. Look at Saul. That guy was nuts. Perfect description of paranoid schizo, or bipolar disorder. The Bible says that God sent an evil spirit to torture Saul. It also says that David's worship music on the harp soothed him. I find a similar result when I am feeling particularly irritable, and I put on worship music. Hmm... ya think? I know this: The Bible says that God inhabits (or, lives) in the praises of His people. The Bible also speaks of demons crying out and having to leave, or begging for mercy (see Legion in the Bible) whenever Jesus came around. So if God's around in my praises, and I put on praise music and begin praising, and the irritating feelings and stuff go away... where do the irritating feelings come from? Just food for thought.

I have been reading a lot about deliverance ministries and demonic influences, and I just wonder...

I have long held the opinion that this illness, as with others... it says in the Bible right there that illness isn't something God wished for us (Jesus said to the man "I will, be thou healed."). So who brings illness? I'm of the opinion that our cursed world has illness cuz of that ole' dog Satan. Now if you want to look at mental illness like it's a demon picking on you (in my opinion, highly possible- look at Saul. King Nebuchadnezzar, the man with the demons named "Legion", the list goes on...), or you can look at mental illness as an illness brought on Satan instead... Or maybe stuff just happens to people. I distinctly remember a few verses in the Bible where it says to get the elders to pray for you, and taking communion with a wrong heart and that's why there were many sick and asleep. Can't quote where it is right now but I can find it, given a minute or two. See my email below if you'd like me to. It's up to you how you want to look at it. I hesitated to say "a demon possessed me" or the proverbial "the devil made me do it". We make choices. At some point in time, we all make some kind of choice. Either way, I figure bipolar and mental illness is NOT a thing of God. That would be covered either by the fall of Adam and Eve, or it's a demonic thing, or brought on by a bad choice, etc. In any case, for whatever reason, therefore, if God chooses to, He can heal it.

I've been off meds for about four years now and I have had major depression that I fight with. I have even got to the point where I'm going "God, take us home now." But I don't get suicidal, because I've got a kid to raise, and I know it's just not an option. I'm past that point now. I never will go there again (two attempts in the Navy, one time of thinking about it often when I was first diagnosed. Neither hospitalized.) I've learned too, unlike before, that God loves me. Right where I'm at. He loved David and he was a murderer and adulterer, and lied to the entire nation of Isreal. He loved Paul, who killed and persecuted Christians. He forgave Peter, after denying Him. He forgave those crucifying Him. He sees me as what I will be, after He's done fixing me. He doesn't see me like I see me. So I figure I'll be all right. To kill yourself, yer telling God He made a mistake. God doesn't make junk, and he has a purpose and plan for everybody. Even me.

Granted, my lifestyle is way different than what it used to be. Alcohol is a depressant. When I tried suicide before I was drinking heavily. I blew 700 bucks in booze in about two or three weeks. I got to where I was putting away a fifth of Jack Daniels by myself, per night. I control my sugar intake. (Excessive sugar makes me VERY irritable, I've found). I no longer have the mindset that the shrinks told me in the secular psychological world that I "just can't help it. This illness is what makes me act like an idiot." That's crap. Regardless, whether you can "help it" or not, if you act like an idiot, you still have to pay the consequences, so you gotta just deal.

My mother was disabled in many ways and she still worked, and did lots of things. Life is what you make it. Sometimes you need help. Sometimes you just gotta suck it up. I am learning to suck it up, but I still have a LONG ways to go. Example: My house is a pigsty. I don't budget all that well. I could probably have a job right now, but I keep staying home trying to do freelance art work and going to school. When my kid starts her defiant mode and the noise, I can only take so much before I yell. I'm workin on it.

However, I practically live at my church, and I play the keyboard there and sing on the worship team. I'm there four, five nights/days a week, and for the most part I'm reliable. This week I completely forgot about Sunday night and slept through it for some reason. And I wasn't on my period. I usually airhead out on my period, but not other times unless there's major stress going on. So things are pretty normal right now so I'm wondering what's up. Keeping an eye on it. So... I'm looking out now for a mood or something. I'm making it a point to keep in touch with church people so I don't automatically hibernate. I'm taking advantage of this sunny weather we're having to boost my "good feeling". There's something in sunlight that fights depression.

There's another point. I was on a drug to fight depression. Sunshine already fights depression. Yet the meds made me sensitive to sunshine, so I couldn't be in the sun. What is UP with that? That don't make sense.

I think man really messes up what God has already put here to fix our bodies. But I won't jump on my soapbox about meds anymore.

This is a disorganized post, and it's mostly because I'm just shooting from the gut. I didn't set down and organize it into a nice, neat thesis statement, etc. I could do that, but... Ya. You get the picture.

Point: Is bipolar a spiritual issue, or a physical ailment, or both?

Michael 7/17/06: I really related to the article. It's interesting that as a believer we trust our Lord Jesus Christ as someone who has healed us already. "By his stripes we are healed." I have had many miraculous experiences from doing the Lord's work. One time I asked God if he wanted me to speak to people I would have to see a sign. I prayed and my brain came up with the word "elephant." So if something around me declared the word...elephant..I would preach. Nothing happend. Then I said I should not put God in such a tight box. I then tried the word "Bill Crosby" (jello comercial) then nothing happend. But doesn't the bible tell you that the Holy Spirit will tell you what you should pray? I left home and saw on someone's profile the word "elephant" as it was his only favorite movie there listed. I thought to myself: heres an opportunity: I wrote the young man a message about "Crying out for the lost sheep." I went to bed soon after.

Then next day I went to church and I checked an internet message response. He wrote me a huge message back. Somehow the Holy Spirit used that short message I had sent him to bring him to a repentance and search for God on his knees. The God, in his mind, he had let down by his college backsliding. He prayed and felt the Holy Spirit come on him as he says..Praise God He can use anything. Then I was a cheerful spirit and went to breakfast. On my way back from breakfast to my room a door of a room drew me. There was a small quote on it by "Bill Cosby!" I realized then that I had made a mistake in his spelling but God knows proper spelling Amen? I read the quote: "A word to the wise ain't necessary, it's the stupid people that need advice." This quote spoke of the needs of those lost or stupid who need to hear about Jesus.

I am bipolar 1 and was diagnosed that semester. I was also diagnosed with religiosity. but what is that? I think for people with Bipolar we need to put faith in the system of bipolar to identify with what we are feeling. So wee need to put our faith in God and in the bipolar...as it exists in the lives of many!

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Gayle Darhower


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