This is a top performing thread from our old forums we thought you might like to still be able to read.
Jemma Brown 03/04/2012 00:10
I've seen quite a few people mentioning bipolar disorder and christianity around the articles on the main pages of the site and I thought I would start up a discussion thread to share experience.
I'm a born again christian and I was saved by the holy spirit, less than 3 months later I was officially diagnosed with Type II Bipolar Disorder and less than a week after that registered blind - it was a very challenging time for me to start believing that there was a God out there that loved me unconditionally! As a result I was incredibly open with people at my church about my diagnosis.
Two years on by no means do I shout it by the roof tops but I'm pretty sure most people that know me also know that I have bipolar and then I have a select few who have details of situations I might find difficult, my medication details and contact number for the community mental health team,
Recently I had major surgery which resulted in me abruptly having to change my meds, which in turn triggerd a mixed affected state episode and it was really useful having 2-3 people who knew exactly what was going on with me and about the changes to my medication I was going through, as I don't have family near me.
Saying that I always find it incredibly difficult to answer the "how are you"? question at church... How do you effectively say 'I'm incredibly manic thanks" or "I'm so depressed I've badly made it out of bed all week" an honest answer when you know you are unwell seems so difficult to come up with so I often say "I'm ok thanks you"? Quickly moving the topic off of me as soon as possible, but then are we being true to ourselves and our condition? Are we bottling things up?
vicky sedgwick 07/05/2012 14:11
Hi Jemma that's a really inspiring testimony great to hear you're clinging to God even when times are really hard.
I think it's good you feel open with people in your Church and especially those few people who are aware of your situation in more depth.
With regards to the whole 'how are you?' question I think it's something that people with mental distress of any type struggle with. The whole 'being honest' thing. hmmm. well I personally think that as long as you have those few who you open up to it's not a problem to just give a more general answer like 'fine thanks you?' I just don't think it's practical to tell the whole truth sometimes. If everyone told the truth about how they're feeling in Church it would be a very interesting morning to say the least! lol Also, with something like mental distress some people just wont understand which can lead to a lot of hurt.
I found your examples of honest answers funny as I'm sure a lot of fellow mental health sufferers would as we've been in that situation before too. For me it's a case of 'well I'm feeling so anxious I could cry actually, you?'
barry peck 15/05/2012 08:51
hi Jemma reading what you have written has been inspiring to me!
i have bi polar 1 and have recently been in hospital on a hypo manic episode, during this time i turned to god and whole heartedly re gave my life to him!
i was brought up in a christian house hold baptised as a teen....... then to my despair my mum left my dad for another christian man from a family who i grew up with this stripped my faith from me! as a 16 yr old i left home and quickly got caught up in the big bad world my life was bad i always new that there was a god but didn't understand how he works(i still probably dont properly) all i know is that he is real and loving him works wonders, this last sunday i had a txt as i was preparing to leave for church in the morning, it was my ex her son hadn't turned up to look after my daughter!! she for the first time in my daughters life (9 yrs) asked me to look after my daughter on my own with no supervision, something which would never have normally happened i told her bring my daughter over and she'd be able to come to church with me, my daughter loved it and went to the sunday school talked to the drummer after then when she went home talked to her mum about her time with me i felt truely blessed, i have only been out of hospital for 5 or 6 weeks and just want to say god is great!! amen
Jemma Brown 15/05/2012 22:29
Thanks to you both for your replies!
I was attempting to stimulate some discussion on here around being Bipolar and a Christian - I believe there is a lot to learn both about the condition and our walk with God by sharing so thanks.
Reading your testimonies has been a real blessing!
Lets keep it up I want to make this topic a place to share openly without judgement about the condition and its effects on our walk with God.
Sam Sayer 20/05/2012 10:17
I also have bipolar disorder (type 1) It's good to read the other stories on here. I tried to instigate a thread about faith and bipolar on the bipolar uk forum and it got removed. I understood the reasons why but thought it a bit sad...
I am so encouraged by what I find on this site. I'm coming out of a depressive episode at the moment and have some hope back - which is good. I'm grateful for the medication that is designed to keep me stable, my family who keep on loving me when my recent manic episode turned our lives crazy for a bit, and close friends who see me not bipolar-me. But there is no denying how awful life can be with this condition.
I would also be interested in hearing more about the effects bipolar has on our walk with God. Quite often religious delusion seems to be component of mania. Have you found this too? When I was manic last summer I went out of my way to seek out charismatic expressions of faith which actually sent my higher. I believed I had messages from God for everyone and made myself known to various church leaders. I'm not saying that God doesn't work through our weaknesses but the regret I felt subsequently was very painful. I still feel embarrassed in certain church contexts.
Currently I find Church too difficult. I love my church community and have received a lot of support when unwell. My vicar is fab. But I find myself overwhelmed by the words, sentiment and general jolliness of the whole thing. Whilst I believe it's fine to cry in Church I got weary of the tears that I just couldn't stop. So now I'm on a bit of a break and am glad of the space. I'm also reflecting on how my Church could respond to suffering and mental illness in a better way.
In terms of my personal walk with God throughout this time.... it's not easy but I do have an awareness of being held. I'm rubbish at reading the Bible at the moment but am trying to engage with him. I feel a bit like I'm starting from scratch and I've been a christian for 34 years. I am encouraged by the depth of emotion in the Psalms and David's honesty. I think my faith is changing shape and that's probably good.
I find myself praying 'Jesus, walk with me' these days.
May we know that we are held each day.
Jemma Brown 23/05/2012 00:19 Hi Samantha
I also am a member of the Bipolar UK Ecommunity (Jemmie) and have been at times a little dismayed at there harsh stance of no tolerance of any discussion about faith!
I have type 2 so Mania is less of an issue for me, the one full manic state I have had was before I became a christian... I might actually have just become a christian before it but I'm not sure.... its a bit of a hazy to be honest!
I do totally understand what you mean about church sometimes being just to hard. On these days I sit at the back hide myself in a corner or don't even make it out of bed if things are really bad.
Just the other week at the end of the service our preacher asked us to pair up randomly where we where sat and pray for each other... I struggled to explain to a few people who wanted to pray for me that I just could not handle it!
I don't really know how to explain it but its like when i am depressed I am distant from god, t alike god is inaccessible to me but at the same time I know this is not the case but I feel like I just can't connect. Maybe its the fear that connecting would just be too painful or make myself more venerable to a crisis but its not a pleasant feeling!
I too am in the midst of a depressive episode, a medication mix up caused me to spend most of January and February in a mixed state (or so physically ill due to meds mix up I couldn't make it out of bed).
I am ever thankful to be out of the mixed state but the depressive one its thrown me into has been one of the worst I have experienced. I'm getting there slowly though.
Sam Sayer 25/05/2012 21:24
Hi again Jemma,
Very much connecting with the way you describe distance from God when you are depressed. Depression is so so painful sometimes and I certainly have had times when I don't want to be in God's presence because I feel too raw and just too wounded. It's as if I can't bear it. There's a verse somewhere that talks about sharing in the sufferings of Christ. I think in my most horror-filled moments of darkness I must be close to that sharing. And whilst I'd much rather it isn't so I suppose there's meaning in it somehow!
It sounds like you've had an awful time with your medication. I really hope that you can see some progress and have a sense of moving forward. Are you able to work? I work part time but also have 2 children so that suits me. Mostly I have been able to work throughout my depressions but sometimes I have no idea how! I have had very supportive colleagues which is good.
Take care. Jesus, please walk with us.
Jemma Brown 05/06/2012 23:01
Sorry for taking ages to reply!
I dropped out of university 16 months ago and lets just say the combination of being a 'drop out', being registered blind and having bipolar disorder is not really helping in my search for work.
I feel it looks worse that i dropped out of university than if i had not gone at all, but the reasons for me leaving where largely the fault of my university not me so its a tricky one.
I've lost count of the jobs I have applied for in 16 months I have not even had an interview and the company who have the contract to help disabled people into work are appalling!
I do quite a lot of voluntary stuff... but nothing that can lead to a job at the moment which is a shame as I have journalism/radio experience as well as PR/marketing... Saying that my real area of specialism is online social media management, things like Facebook and twitter for corporate organisations.
Right now I'm looking into an apprenticeship in IT help desk support, its not really quite what I want to do, and the wage for an apprentice is appalling! but if it improves my chances of a job I'm up for it.
Emma 05/07/2012 00:08 Hiya. I have bipolar as well (type 2). The bipolar was actually the reason I came to faith - my first big major episode was a horrible time. Somehow, in the depths of it all I decided to trust in Christ, I can only explain it as it was as though I had a seam of faith in me that I hadn't realised until I was in that worst of times.
re: churches - I have been very lucky. When I eventually started going to church it was after meeting the chaplain at the mental hospital, and her church was amazing. They had a real focus on the mentally ill, and most people were a bit "mad", and the services were designed for people who couldn't concentrate and whatnot. They broke the services up into parts, and did a lot of drawing and having things to touch and listen to. I suppose it was messy church for adults. It worked very well with our congregation. It was also a small congregation with a lot of support and care from the pastors and other leaders. I think it was the perfect environment for someone just out of hospital, and I wish there were more churches like it!
That was a baptist church but I now go to the CofE. Sad to say not working at the moment but hoping to do more in the church in the near future.
EMMA 05/07/2012 11:25
Hi to you all,
I have bipolar too, rapid cycling type. Over the first year of getting ill (15yrs ago now) being sectioned, someone i cared deeply for commiting suicide at the same time and attitudes from some within the church that it was "of the flesh" and others its was "spirits" of varying kinds! I felt forsaken by God and crushed by the church, I left the church and went right away from God for over 8 years. I was so angry and questioned the very existence of God, I wanted to deny He existed but I had known Him for 25 yrs prior to becoming unwell and no matter how hard I tried to find other explanations to my experience of Him there was the core relationship of my childhood that each time I couldn't deny.
He started to draw me back 5 yrs ago. The following year I moved back to town of my youth and church of the same. I couldn't have crossed the threshold of any other church.
I havent't been able to work for 8 years (was a CPN). hardest things i have found are:
not being able to plan to do things,
weight gain with medication.
the fight to see any physical illness as that and not just a product of depression. I got diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 2009 and had open heart surgery in 2010 as i was going into heart failure. 6 YEARS of symptoms and told it was depression, psychomotor retardation .. it was coming back to relationship with God, moving and being introduced to a housegroup where someone advocated for me and the truth was revealed, had it not been so I would probably not be alive to share this... God is Good!
Sam Sayer 13/07/2012 20:25
Hi all of you again,
Just wanted to say Hi and that I hope everyone is doing OK. I was interested by what the first Emma wrote about a mental health-friendly service in the Church you used to go to. We are starting a service at our church for those who are struggling to connect with worship as we usually know it. Most of us when we are depressed (IMHO) find a 20 mins sermon and upbeat worship a bit like a good dose of salt in the wound when we feel so broken. So we'll see how that goes. Our brilliant vicar has also agreed to have 3 services looking a mental health issues and faith over the next 12 months. So that's encouraging.
Lets hope the sun shows its face over the next few weeks. I know that the deluge of rain can make me feel blue when actually I'm doing alright.
Tammy Porter 25/07/2012 21:19
I am a new member and am trying to come to terms with my diagnosis. It was 1 year after my little boy was born that I had my first episode of psychosis and the issue was raised with my psych after years of battle with serious depression requiring hospitalisation. It has been 2.5 years since I had any other symptoms and now I have gone into a mixed state with more voices. the last few weeks have seen me adjusting to new meds and trying to find the right level for me.
It comes after just 1 year of my new career direction. I am a chemist by training and have worked in academic research, industrial labs and consultancy before answering God's call to teach. I am a part-time post 16 chemistry lecturer. I have been well for 9 months and it seemed I had finally found my calling that challenged me intellectually as well as inspiring others.
Here is my challenge ... why has God allowed me to be ill so often when I have changed jobs so many times to find what it is He wants me to do? How am I supposed to be an effective witness, supportive wife and mother to a pre-school boy?
People point me to Job and Ezekiel and to the Psalms and say I am growing and being refined in His fire. I know they are trying to be helpful but there is only so much one can take! What is it He wants me to learn? Why is it I cannot read His word or pray? I can listen to worship songs on a good day but mostly I feel a hypocrite in saying the words.
I am searching for inner peace, understanding and acceptance. Unfortunately I have been trained to ask why and how and my mind can find no answers or rest. I am hyper but exhausted, irritated and energetic. The psychosis means I do not trust what I see or hear. I feel lost.
Thanks for reading all this,
Sam Sayer 25/07/2012 22:30
I'm sorry you are struggling so much. I hope that the meds settle down and are effective in bringing you some stability. Everything seems to take such a long time to change and it's hard to be patient to get better.
I don't really have any answers. Mixed states are horrible and trying to carry on some kind of normal life at the same time is exhausting. I suppose the only comfort I can offer is that things do get better over time. Sometimes we feel like we are at the bottom of a deep well totally alone but God is there with us. Even though we can't feel anything and the peace that passes understanding is far away.
I don't know why God allows what He does. I think I worry less these days about being an effective witness, reading the Bible and praying. When we are unwell we are less able to do normal things. And that is fine. Get others to pray for you and don't listen to victorious worship music if it makes you feel worse.
Feeling lost is horrid. I pray that you will feel carried by God at this time of weakness and frailty like a little lamb being carried by the shepherd. Hang on in there, Tammy. It will be better.
EMMA 26/07/2012 10:39
Like Sam, I don't have any real answers. I can feel the pain and struggle in your words and recognise it from my own experience as I guess we probably all do on this thread.
If we can just be with you, stand with you here while you are going through, with no answers , but here for you? You will come through but I know it probably doesn't feel that way at the moment... it certainly never does for me.
I pray that we as a thread can hold onto you in the darkness as we have been ourselves.
JANICE ELAINE 29/07/2012 16:56
It's so refreshing to read your comments on bipolar and spiritual well-being. Once when I asked a hospital chaplain for his advice, he had nothing to say. I have been a believer since my teens but drifted away until the illness caught up with me at the age of 25. I searched for spiritual understanding and, like the woman at the Samaritian well, I craved Jesus' Living Water to refresh my soul, butfelt only disappointement and loneliness. One of my relatives, an uncle, was very supportive when I was suffering long dark days, in fact I believe the Lord used him literally to save my life. This uncle showed me his favourite Psalm, 139. And in the darkest times, I knew from those words that God is with me and knows my "innermost being". I find worship in church difficult as I feel numb. I've come along way but spiritually, I still feel like a baby Christian. I long for the Lord to restore my soul. What a blessing that would be.
Sam Sayer 06/08/2012 09:49
I totally understand what you mean when you say you long to have your soul restored. It's so hard to live with this illness. I grapple on a daily basis with my need for medication to keep life on an even keel and it doesn't stop me from feeling down at times. I hope that there are other christians who can support you but also value you for who you are and not see you as a 'problem'. I also relate to the baby christian thing. I was saying just that to my vicar when I was coming out of my last black hole. I've been a christian for 34 years (I'm 41 now) and feel like the more I know the less I know. Worship can feel very tough at times - I've given up with singing some of the words!
I need to hang on to God today and believe that He is with me in all that I face and that I do have a hope and a future. I pray the same for you. That you would know God's strength and hope. We all need each other!
Tammy Porter 24/08/2012 12:22
Sorry I have been quiet for so long.
Thanks so much for all your replies - and the honesty that sometimes, we just don't have answers.
Am ok, doc decided that too long a time on my SSRI's at a high dose had triggered a mixed state in me. The diagnosis of bi-polar was a long time coming, but then one does not go to a medical professional when you're busy feeling that you are, in fact, superwoman!
As I write this I am calmer. Both in mind and spirit. I have learned that coffee really is not a good idea and that the evenings for me are the prime time for excess energy and paranoia.
Above all, I have come to realise that my simple prayer 'Lord, I believe - help my unbelief!' has been sufficient. JC is there, interpreting the groans where words have failed.
Anyhow, Stay strong and know you are Loved.
EMMA 24/08/2012 13:34
Really good to hear from you.
Bipolar is a rollercoaster in so many ways isn't it, I am glad to hear you are feeling calmer in mind and spirit.
So often I have thought of the picture of just having to tie myself to the mast of the ship as the storm crashes and pray that very prayer!
Sally Jacobs 29/08/2012 11:36
Hello, it has been so good to read this forum - water to my soul. I have lived with rapid cycling bipolar since my late teens. Things have been pretty stable for a few months now. My spiritual journey has been both encouraging and discouraging, but I think that's how it is for everyone. The picture that helps me most is Jesus sitting, legs dangling, on the hugest cliff. It's coming up to dawn, the suns rays just waiting to burst out. And I am there, lying with my head on his lap... 'come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened'...
The other reason I'm writing, other then to say hello :) is I'm involved in leading a mental health nursing forum on dignity. As I have limited experience I wondered if anyone could let me know of good/bad experiences of hosp/crisis team about dignity etc. I hope this isn't an abuse of this forum. If so please ignore :)
Sam Sayer 07/09/2012 19:49
Feeling pretty low at the moment and frustrated that I haven't reached the middle ground yet after coming out of major depression. I hate how recovery from depression isn't linear. Struggling to feel positive and engage all my CBT strategies. If you read this and feel led to pray for me, I would be very grateful.
Emma 07/09/2012 20:02
Of course I will, Sam. Depression is awful, I always wish it were as simple as taking a pill and being all better - unfortunately it takes time, and hanging on in there, hard as that is.
I hope things are better for you really soon, and I'll pray for you.
Emma 07/09/2012 20:06
I love that verse as well. "I will give you rest" is such a wonderful promise to me, especially when I'm suffering from anxiety and insomnia.
As to dignity in hospital - I have only been in hospital once, and I cannot recall any infringements of my dignity. I felt talked to rather than down to by nurses, the hospital itself was very modern so I didn't have the indignity of having someone sitting with me while I bathed. Overall I had a good experience - the only indignities I ever saw were fairly unavoidable - the restraint of people having a bit of an anger fit, and the needle in the bum thing! But as I say, that struck me as unavoidable. I can't think of any specially good experiences - but that may be because I have no bad experiences to contrast anything with!
Feel free to ask me anything you like.
EMMA 10/10/2012 16:41
Not sure how things are going for you now, but just wanted you to know if you happen to check the threads that I am still thinking of you and praying for you.
Sam Sayer 10/10/2012 17:17
Ah Emma, that is so kind. I'm doing better than I was thankfully. I started having weekly therapy and whilst painful it seems to be helping my mood. Thanks for your prayers. I'm touched that you were thinking of me. How are things with you? Sam x
EMMA 10/10/2012 17:47
Oh that's good to hear Sam, not that it's painful but that it is helping.
I am hanging on but finding life tough. My mum is starting to have memory problems so am caring for her, with my own deteriorating heart condition. Hard to know when low mood from real life events ends and relapse into bipolar depression starts.... I am having to keep an eye on myself!!
I have booked to go to mind and soul conference in Edinburgh ... that's giving me something to focus towards and look forward to!
I will be praying for you.
Tammy Porter 11/10/2012 13:30
Sam - am glad you are having help. I hate having therapy, but it is a bit of a safety device. Having someone that you see regularly outside friends and family removes the danger of taking offence with someone at noticing your mood changes.
Emma, do take care of yourself. Try not to take on too much.
Sally - hi! I have only been in hospital once, 9 years ago for severe clinical depression. The staff were amazing, they listened and challenged me when appropriate. I must say, that thanks to some generous friends, I was able to go private. God was there in the midst of it all, ensuring I received practical, medical and spiritual help through various people.
I decided not to go to the conference in the end, just could not face the long journey and the thought of having to concentrate all day! despite seeking an opinion from my psych, the DVLA ignored his opinion and revoked my licence :-(, which just re-enforced the decision. I could have got the train, but the business of it all is too much.
I seem to be doing ok at the moment, thanks be to God,
Sam Sayer 11/10/2012 17:34
Hi Tammy, Glad you are currently doing Okay. Nice to hit a good patch. Sorry about your licence. I would really struggle without use of a car. How are you managing? I hope you live near a decent bus/ train network.
I would love to go to the conference but Bristol to Edinburgh for a day is a bit of a no brainer! They should have one a bit more central too!
Hope the good days keep rolling.
Sam Sayer 22/10/2012 20:56
Hi all, How is everyone doing? I'm having a rubbish few days which is probably due to a bit of a cold lurgy. Hate how that can bring my mood crashing down and into despair. I also had a very miserable experience of Church yesterday - if I had been feeling well I would have said it was a good service - but I felt overwhelmed by the amount of words and my lack of connection with the sentiment being expressed. The theme was about being saved... and telling/ showing others. As awful as it sounds I have no desire to share my faith verbally. I can't really talk about it any more. It just sounds lame. It's as if my mental suffering has wiped away my ability to be certain of my faith. I don't have the strength to think it through or remind myself of what I used to believe. I know that this is OK and that God sees my heart but I long for this part of me to be renewed somehow. Does anyone else relate to this?
Hope you are all doing OK and hanging on in there if that's what's needed.
EMMA 24/10/2012 18:59
Tammy, really sorry to hear about the licence. Its hard to not take on too much as i live with my mother but i am desperately trying to maintain spaces of R&R, bit scary as i know my mood has slidden and its that feeling of teetering on the edge of the precipice.
Sam, I can relate I have been there and had those thoughts and feelings. What helped me a bit when a step away from that place was realising that most people experience these struggles even without a mood disorder but they don't very often admit to it.Not sure why it helped but I feel more OK with myself in that place now.
Jane Pinkerton 14/11/2012 03:20
Hi, I'm new to this site and found it amazing! Years ago, an old friend set up bi-polar scot.org for me and others but it's long gone now. That was about 15yrs ago. I was initially diagnosed when my son was 4 ( he's now 21). I've had some pretty poor experiences when sectioned in England, N.Ireland and Scotland. I've had the bible taken from me as some nurses felt it increased my manic state. I feel a mixture of anger and amusement as I write this ( : I accept I have mental health issues but they were most definitely made worse by some meds and some staff (dr.s and nurses). It was a great psychiatrist who ended the section cycle I had fallen into... That took roughly 7 years. Just reading some posts brought back some sad memories - "lest we forget" came to mind. I feel compelled to involve myself a little more...
EMMA 21/11/2012 10:55
Hi Jane, good to meet you (so to speak) on here. your comments about "some meds and some staff" making things worse cast me back over my journey of mental health services .. and I know exactly what you mean. I would say, for me, getting through the system of mental health care has been a harder journey at times than the condition itself! I seem to be coming across people again and again within christian settings with bipolar disorder or with family with bipolar with the same story ... and with a sense of powerlessness over there own situation or to make it different.
Mary-Jane Wallace 01/12/2012 12:42
Can anyone reccommend a Christian treatment centre/counsellor in the South of England that can respond to a diagnosis of bi-polar affective disorder in both a medical and spiritual way? I would be reeally pleased to hear from you if you can.
EMMA 05/12/2012 15:09
Hi Mary-Jane, I haven't had any personal experience. There is a directory
on this site... not sure if that would help you? I know its not the same as a good recommendation.