SOUNDOFF! Religion and Recovery
Many of us draw strength from our religious faith and relationship with the divine. How has your faith helped you cope with bipolar and maintain your stability?
The faith of my youth told me that bipolar was a punishment for something I had done. The faith I have chosen as an adult, Unitarian Universalism, tells me that everyone has inherent worth and dignity and therefore we are all loved just as we are. This faith brought back my spirit and my humanity. I was able to fight for my life when I chose Unitarian Universalism.
-K.N., WESTLAKE, OH
My wife has bipolar disorder. Our marriage and family have been through some pretty surreal and nightmarish times due to manic depression. I have to honestly say that our Christian faith is the reason that real forgiveness and unselfish love is possible. Faith also gives us peace and hope for the future. When life doesn’t make sense, it sure helps to have faith that there is a loving God who has a plan for your life and has forgiven you your sins through Christ.
-Nick via bphope Forum
My faith is central to my well-being. Like my physical health, my spiritual health has to be maintained on a daily basis. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I am constantly encouraged to take care of my spirituality, and our meetings give us insightful and practical advice for living in this world.
-Name Withheld, CHILLIWACK, BC
When I was at the bottom, I latched onto a hymn called “Hope is a Star.” I learned it at a women’s group at my church. Every woman in the group was seeking help in some way, so we helped one another. To this day, that hymn is always in my mind and I sing it under my breath or out loud frequently.
-B., PORT McNICOLL, ON
I know there is a God and I’m not it. I also know He has all power and that He has a plan and I’m in it. If I look to Him and not rely on myself I will be much better off. Left to my own devices I’m in a bad way!
-D., PAWHUSKA, OK
As an atheist, belief in any of the gods has no role in my life. However, I’ve found meditation and the concept of mindfulness, borrowed from the Buddhists, to be very helpful in maintaining my sanity.
-D.B., THORNHILL, ON
My faith has been a tremendous help with my bipolar disorder. Faith looks after the things that are beyond my understanding and in that I find peace. There is the dedication of a Christian friend who has met with me every second week for more than seven years. This has helped me to stay in a state of recovery.
-W.J., CALGARY, AB
My faith is huge, whether I’m stable or not. I trust God to be the floor through which I cannot fall. I pray the Rosary every day (sometimes more than once), and it is a huge help in managing my illness. When I am at my worst lows, the Rosary is a tether to life and hope. When I am at my worst highs, it helps slow me down and reduces the cacophony in my head.
-C.H-W. via Facebook
My world fell apart in 1996, four years after mood swings started manifesting themselves (mostly manic). I was angry at God. He had abandoned me. I felt so alone. Then, after I began recovery via DBSA, meds, and therapy, I joined a men’s prayer group. When I slowly began to disclose my mood disorder and the horrors that came with it, I was shown love and kindness in the spirit of Christ. That helped me heal and find my way back to my spiritual roots.
-S.B., COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
I find that prayer as a form of meditation helps tremendously to curb my depression and anxiety from bipolar I. Also, acts of service to God have been a way to channel my manias. Often when I feel “tangled up” I will retreat to my room and read Psalms, Proverbs or other places I’ve marked in my Bible to remember that there is something infinitely greater than my moods, my problems, and me.
-A., OKOBOJI, IA
My Christian faith makes a huge difference in my ability to cope with my bipolar. It helps to know that God has allowed this in my life for some reason. Through the struggle I have developed more perseverance and deeper character. To be able to pray and know I am heard helps incredibly when I am down. I know God cares and guides me. I do not know where I would be without my faith.
-P.M., LEE, NH
When my son was in the Phoenix Children’s Hospital to be evaluated, I felt a peace inside of me just knowing that we were doing the right thing for him at that time. It all turned out for the best and he is now on medication and stable. I have always trusted in the Lord and given all my problems up to Him. He gives me a strength, understanding and peace that I need in these times.
-C., CHANDLER, AZ
If a person’s faith in their God helps them with their illness, then that’s fine for them, but different people have proved there are different ways and coping methods. Having a religious belief is just one of them for some people, but religion or faith in a god just doesn’t cut it for others.
-S.N. via Facebook
A 12-step program taught me the belief in a power greater than myself. I have learned to put it in my Higher Power’s hands when I can no longer carry the load.
-A. via bphope Forum
I pray. I talk to the Lord. I tell Him what’s bothering me. When I am crying and feeling lonely, I tell the Lord how awful I feel. It really helps me. He is my best friend. He always listens to me.
-I.R., TILLSONBURG, ON
When I attend Mass on a regular basis I feel more stable and healthy. It makes the week go more smoothly. When I am depressed and miss it, things go more roughly. Spirituality plays at least a 50 percent part of my health regimen.
-M.V., CARSON CITY, NV
Sometimes I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that if Jesus spoke peace to the wind and the waves, surely He can calm this human heart.
-J. via bphope Forum
The sands beneath my feet shift a bit less when I remember that God has my back.
-M.H.M., IRVINE, CA
On those days when my depression threatens to drown out everything else, it is in my faith community that I find peace, whether by a gentle hug or a reassuring word. They truly become the “still, small voice of God.”
-C.C., KANSAS CITY, MO
Some days I feel like I can’t keep going or I get caught up in feeling sorry for myself and asking all the whys: Why do I have bipolar? Why can’t I just have a “normal” life? I have to hang on to my faith that my Higher Power has a plan for my life and that I need to go on this journey for a reason, even if I might not know what that is yet.
-April4200 via bphope Forum
Printed as “SOUNDOFF! Faith”, Fall 2011