Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


The Spiritual Life and Bipolar Disorder

posted by Beyond Blue

According to Kevin Culligan, O.C.D, manic depression can mimic the behavior of someone growing in her spiritual life. Hey, that’s great news for me! The next time I get manic and tell an inappropriate joke to a colleague, I can say that I’m just getting closer to God, that’s all.
Here’s what he has to say, also from Egan’s book, “Carmelite Prayer“:

The spiritual life can also easily mask a bipolar disorder or what has traditionally been called a manic-depressive condition. As a mood disorder, depression has usually been linked in systems of classifications of mental disorders with mania, an agitated mood that is at the other end of the affective continuum opposite a depressed or dysphoric mood.
Manic symptoms are many: inappropriate elation, excessive irritability, severe insomnia, grandiose notions, increased talking, disconnected and racing thoughts, heightened sexual desire, markedly increased energy, poor judgment, and disruptive social behavior. These symptoms may suddenly appear in a person committed to the spiritual journey and life of prayer as making dramatic prophetic gestures, for example, standing on the street corner denouncing abortion or announcing the imminent Second Coming, or giving away one’s financial savings to charitable causes.


Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross both stress that social consciousness and service of others are effects of genuine contemplative prayer. However, the sudden extreme, and, to one’s family and friends, embarrassing character of a manic episode makes it easily distinguishable from the social fruits of contemplative prayer. Two or more of the manic symptoms noted above continuing over a two-month period can be an indicator of a bipolar disorder.
As with serious depressive symptoms, evaluation and, if necessary, treatment are recommended. Just as we suspect something wrong when a person is continually down, with low energy, and withdrawn, so we also suspect something amiss when a person is on a continual high, with boundless energy, and talking incessantly.
The diagnostic rule of thumb with mood disorders is balance between ups and downs. When we observe someone at either end of the mood continuum, higher or lower than we expect in normal everyday life, we may suspect a bipolar condition that is possibly in need of treatment.



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Sharon

posted September 9, 2007 at 10:28 am


Wow! Did you ever get this one right?!
Because of my “Dark Night” and the fact that my mother was bipolar, everyone just knew I had inherited her disorder, so no one took me seriously when I told them that I felt God was “calling” me to start a ministry for people who had been “wounded” by the church and/or “molested” as a child. I mean, after all, I was much like Mary Magdelene, with a history that wasn’t too much to let people know about. Yet, Jesus had touched my life through the power of the Holy Spirit and changed me radically.
After about seventeen years of doing things “my way” and going through three “extra” marriages, He finally got my attention. I didn’t have to marry people who were hurting, I could actually just minister to them and send them on their way.
So, when I finally got stable and was evaluated it came down to the fact that I have Major Depressive Disorder. Hummmmm
Now, if I were a vendictive person, I would write all those folks who thought I was actually “crazy,” but that is God’s job.
I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it.
In due time their feet will slip.
Their day of disaster will arrive,
and their destiny will overtake them.’

I think that’s worth waiting for.



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snooky325

posted September 9, 2007 at 10:24 pm


My health issues began with some obscure Freuduian diagnosis some kind of ego malfunction, the truth was I was evil and on the verge of losing my conscience, then to schzophrenia [3 or 4 variations] then into bipolar and now I only medicate for the manic [neurontin]. I am convinced that my spiritual quest is directly responsible for the wellness I am now experiencing because, authority is not mine it belongs to the Spiritual guide which is bring me into all truth. Now I also must admit that all the caveats of the disorders have been sign-posted and the truth concerning them all is that they are part of spiritual preparation, If anybody walks into the wilderness with only sandals an a tunic wouldn’t we consider them bi-poloar at least? JESUS you arte bi-polar, he answered so what? whats your point? There it is fear to obey the Spirit is more destructive than emptying out your bank account or identifying sin [abortion, fornications, deciet]. Do not fear them that can kill the body, anybody with a grudge can do that fear him who can kill the body and destroy the soul in hell, that place is reserved to them who do not obey the Spirit of Truth. The one who leads these nut cases from grace to grace.



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CLeo

posted September 10, 2007 at 4:13 pm


two years ago I was ‘almost’ diagnosed as suffering from ‘some form of manic depression with other components’. I was also given Clonazepam, 0.5 mg to take before bedtime, whenever I need it, because I was almost insomniac. At the time I was going through a very scary, painful and totally horrific time in my life and living in a country where I didn’t speak the language.
I notice now, two years later, that with the help of diet I can control my swing moods and irritability and even my insomnia. I seldom resort to taking half a tablet of a 0.5 mg of Clonazepam. However, when I feel threatened by something malicious or that I perceive as such I become manic, can’t give it a rest, begin to talk a lot, to rant and I eventually go into the dark night of the soul. What i’ve discovered is that whenever a recurring thought enters my mind, or a painful memory reappears I’m OK if at that moment I remember to say a brief prayer. It works for me.



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Ginger Wilkinson

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:53 pm


suffering from manic depression and diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago I often try to tell my sister that it is like falling in a never ending deep dark hole. I find it easier now to climb up and out when I journal. My conversation with God helps me to climb. I still have trouble sleeping and contolling my racing mind. Reading the comments posted have helped me. I hope I remember some of your ideas. No one understands how I feel inside. I do not have a close family and it hard to talk to friends most of the time because I withdraw. Anyway so glad I found this site



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Daniel M

posted September 11, 2007 at 11:44 am


It has been my experience there can co-exist a spiritual dark night of the soul, a satanic attack, and onset of bipolar depression caused by either extreme sin or merely overwork, or simply brain chemistry.
Since these are the points of attack: for me putting on the full armor of God requires for me: 12 step recovery, constant Bible study, intense regular exercise (type varies for each person) and medication.
Group support in your avocation is helpful. and regular unity in a church are essential.
Hope this helps in your Pilgrim’s Progress.



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Dana

posted September 11, 2007 at 12:09 pm


Religion was in itself somewhat of an answer for depression. For the truth about the effects of Antidepressants and Antipshycotics google Citizens Commission on Human Rights and all the truthful data about the side effects that the drug companies do not wish you to know is poated there. Prozac had over 15,000 adverse action reports filed with the FDA and it is still on the market. Tryptophan a natural aid for sleep found in turkey meat had two adverse action reports filed and the FDA took it off the market. One has to wonder!!



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pamela mckechnie

posted September 11, 2007 at 6:54 pm


I HAVE HAD BI-POLAR FOR 30 YEARS NOW, WITH FOUR TRIPS TO HOSPITALS. I HAVE FOUND AS LONG AS I TOOK MY MED’S I FELT BETTER AFTER I FELT BETTER I’D QUIT TAKING MY MED’S. BUT TO THIS DAY, AND ALL I’VE BEEN THROUGH, I FIND PRAY HAS BEEN THE BEST MED’S. OF ALL. AS JOHN WAYNE SAID IN HIS LAST MOVIE; EVERYDAY ABOVE GROUND IS A GOOD ONE. GOOD LUCK.



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Lynne

posted September 11, 2007 at 8:27 pm


Today is a bit of a difficult day for an ex-New Yorker. I was getting a horse tacked up to ride when the news came over the radio that a plane hit the twin towers. I didn’t think too much about it at the time. When I finished the ride and came back in the barn I learned of the second plane which turned out to be a jetliner. I think the world stopped for a little while. Shock…disbelief…and then anger! How could this happen on our soil? It really made me appreciate life more because of those who lost their lives. It made me feel so much more empathy for those who have to live with that kind of threat every day! I also am now proud to be a New Yorker by birth. We are a tough breed.



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Virginia W

posted September 11, 2007 at 10:03 pm


Good Evening, I too suffer with Bipolar/Depression. Have been on meds for about 20 years now. For the past 6 months I have been in this dark hole and can’t seem to climb out. I have hit a couple of highs (which only last for minutes) and then back I go. I have also had some TIA’s(strokes) and I have a terrible time with memory. I constantly pray but my mind wanders off and then I have to come back and can’t remember what I was praying about. So miserable. Thank goodness we have a loving God that knows our every thought. This was sent to me by my cousin and she may have saved my life today. Thank you for being here. Be Safe and Take Care.



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Stephen

posted September 11, 2007 at 11:19 pm


For a long time I resisted any negative labels the medical establishment wanted to impose on me. Having read several commentaries on the field of psychiatry and medication by Gary Null, Dr. Peter Breggin (a board certified psychiatrist who does not believe in psychiatric meds), Dr. Thomas Szasz (another board certified psychiatrist) and the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights (which in the interest of full disclosure is affiliated with Scientology), I believed I was making well-informed decisions not to medicate due to side effects. However, I completely ignored the evidence that my mother, who is bipolar, was able to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Math, a Master’s in Counseling Psychology, teach for 5 years, work in the Marketing Department of a semiconductor company for 17 years, raise 2 kids, and babysit a developmentally disabled/autistic grandchild for 20+ hours each week while on lithium, depakote and now lamictal. Without these meds she would not have been able to withstand the stress.
I have unipolar depression/anxiety and ADD and the age of 40 finally decided to go on Zoloft which stabilized me initially and now Strattera (a non-stimulant medication for ADD approved by the FDA in 2004). I am much more alert, less sluggish and lethargic and able to focus, something that previously was not the case and which interfered with my relationships and career in the business. I have gone from having suicidal impulses to having a renewed sense of purpose that comes with making the commitment to go to grad. school and become a special education teacher.
If people don’t believe in medication or other types of medical interventions that is fine, but they have no right to impose their beliefs/opinions on other people. The outcomes and results of both anecdotal and “scientific” research can be manipulated by those collecting testimonials and financing studies depending on what they are trying to sell, whether that is medication, therapy, exercise and/or religion.
I have also discovered that your emotional well-being is reflected in how you approach each of these therapies. The frequency and intensity of each activity/interaction can either reflect a lack of discipline, laziness, enthusiasm, energy and depression on one end of the spectrum or, at the opposite extreme, a manic intensity fueled by anger, anxiety, perfectionism, the need to control your environment, unbridled ambition and an insatiable desire for attention.
At the end of the day we each have the right and responsibility to discover what works best for us. I elect to use a combination of yoga, tai chi, aerobic exercise, hiking, medication and Taoist reflections on life. It keeps me balanced and engaged, learning from my mistakes and successes, and moving forward, enabling me to make a productive contribution to the world.



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ramangshu

posted September 14, 2007 at 5:20 am


It says ‘Where science ends,philosophy begins’. If you don’t believe in God , please use his name as a mental attribute where we post all our complaints , agonies , anxieties , success & failure , happiness & sorrow.It’s like a cupboard or a hanger where we hang all our clothes, clean and used.I once asked my mentor ‘do you think there is God?’ He answered to me in an oneliner : ‘Whenever we discover or invent something we look ahead and see there are numerous of them left in the pipeline.Please get at the end of the tunnel and then ask this question.’
I think anti-depressant medication is no answer to depression .It only contributes to slavery of the medicine and it’s intake routine.



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Larry Parker

posted September 19, 2007 at 10:14 pm


Just a reminder that bipolar disorder/severe unipolar disorder can cause one to doubt one’s faith in G-d as well as strengthen it.
But don’t believe me. The Quaker theologian Parker Palmer testifies to this (so to speak) in the podcast Therese put up the week of September 16-22.



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Reality

posted September 20, 2007 at 10:14 pm


What makes the world go around?
Who is the Master of science?
Since we have free will, we do have choices.
Therefore, if we know right from wrong, but choose to do wrong,
Why do we blame? Where is responsibility?
Manic/depressive……….Bi-Polar……….
Are they the result of poor choices, experiences, history?
Or they result of chemical imbalance? If so, then what?
Know cause and understand the effect.
There is a Supreme Being. Can you disprove otherwise?



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patty

posted March 27, 2008 at 1:57 pm


stephen,
your commentary has helped me greatly!
first let me say i am so sorry that cchr influenced you. it is part of scientology and both are misinformed. i unfortunately wound up in scientology in a quest to search for life answers after a broken heart. i can say from experience they are both highly misinformed and if one is sensitive, as i am, it can induce a bit of mental instability. that’s a whole topic for another day! : >
now i am dating an individual and he is currently in a full blown psychotic bipolar episode. thankfully he has a very loving family as this his fourth breakdown my first with him. it is heartbreaking and humbling. i see the benefits of medication and have a whole new view on mental illness and medication. it is all so misunderstood. i feel of late that most people can’t grasp its devastation until they either experience first hand for themselves or with another.
your mother is a wise woman. i have a friend who is bipolar and has created a very successful productive life and has been a gem in guiding me through to be more supportive and understanding what we all can of this. It is hard on the person experiencing this. My heart is filled with compassion.
Sounds like you have found a combination of great tools! Many blessings to you!
To Reality – I’m not sure what you were getting at in your post. Sometimes there are organic issues with the body. You never know what a persons journey is to be. So I hope you are understanding cause and effect and in your knowing realize you do not know it all.
cheers!
patty



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Chris

posted July 4, 2008 at 11:50 pm


Stephen and patty, I thank you for your posts. They are helping me in making my decision to go see a psychiatrist for meds.
I have traversed many a path in search of enlightenment. I utilized Zen, Taoism, Tai Chi, Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism and studied some of Gopi Krishna’s work on the rising of Kundalini causing psychotic episodes. I thought all of my episodes were spiritual experiences.
I had been in therapy and my therapist had sent me to one psychiatrist who had me on anti-depressants. I had a severe side effect from one and tried several others to no avail. Then I gave up, but continued with therapy and new age explorations into ETs, possessions, channelled materials and other things. Then, my therapist sent me to another psychiatrist. He was the one other psychiatrists sent their patients to when all else had failed. After 15 different medications failed, I gave up.
I have spent the past 20 years on a roller coaster thinking I was having spiritual experiences. I also became very adamant about using herbs and supplements, no allopathic medicines for my “mood swings” which were just a result of my spiritual awakening.
Well, after a kind soul informed me she could not deal with my “roller coaster” and knowing my moodiness and fears had greatly offended her, I had to step back and witness my behaviour from the observer position. And, now I have a recommendation for a psychiatrist from a kind soul who is on a very spiritual path, but understands that we are all spiritual beings on a human path and sometimes our bodies need some help. Also, I am an asthmatic and have been on high doses of prednisone 5 years straight, not to mention on and off most of my life, and reading the side effects of that has opened my heart to my struggles and realizing I do need some help from someone who can assist me with my brain chemistry which is very out of whack.
We are all on a very individual path and sharing our information can be helpful. When one becomes dogmatic in thinking their way is the only way, well, that can be quite detrimental to some people who are in a very vulnerable state. I know this from my own experience. I have many friends who only believe in herbs, omega 3 fish oil and supplements. I tried that for many years and it has not stopped these severe mood swings. Perhaps for some it may, but I need to acknowledge my path.
patty, I admire your strength and compassion for being there for your boyfriend. I have lost many friends because of my depressions and then my crazy thinking in manic episodes. I do have one friend who does not judge me and value him greatly.
So, I currently utilize omega 3s, some B vitamins and will be seeing a psychiatrist in the very near future. I also practice TM and some Buddhist mantras to get me through depressions and some manic phases. One day I hope to feel somewhat normal and not feel like a stranger in a strange land.
Namaste,
Chris



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Chris

posted July 4, 2008 at 11:52 pm


Stephen and patty, I thank you for your posts. They are helping me in making my decision to go see a psychiatrist for meds.
I have traversed many a path in search of enlightenment. I utilized Zen, Taoism, Tai Chi, Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism and studied some of Gopi Krishna’s work on the rising of Kundalini causing psychotic episodes. I thought all of my episodes were spiritual experiences.
I had been in therapy and my therapist had sent me to one psychiatrist who had me on anti-depressants. I had a severe side effect from one and tried several others to no avail. Then I gave up, but continued with therapy and new age explorations into ETs, possessions, channelled materials and other things. Then, my therapist sent me to another psychiatrist. He was the one other psychiatrists sent their patients to when all else had failed. After 15 different medications failed, I gave up.
I have spent the past 20 years on a roller coaster thinking I was having spiritual experiences. I also became very adamant about using herbs and supplements, no allopathic medicines for my “mood swings” which were just a result of my spiritual awakening.
Well, after a kind soul informed me she could not deal with my “roller coaster” and knowing my moodiness and fears had greatly offended her, I had to step back and witness my behaviour from the observer position. And, now I have a recommendation for a psychiatrist from a kind soul who is on a very spiritual path, but understands that we are all spiritual beings on a human path and sometimes our bodies need some help. Also, I am an asthmatic and have been on high doses of prednisone 5 years straight, not to mention on and off most of my life, and reading the side effects of that has opened my heart to my struggles and realizing I do need some help from someone who can assist me with my brain chemistry which is very out of whack.
We are all on a very individual path and sharing our information can be helpful. When one becomes dogmatic in thinking their way is the only way, well, that can be quite detrimental to some people who are in a very vulnerable state. I know this from my own experience. I have many friends who only believe in herbs, omega 3 fish oil and supplements. I tried that for many years and it has not stopped these severe mood swings. Perhaps for some it may, but I need to acknowledge my path.
patty, I admire your strength and compassion for being there for your boyfriend. I have lost many friends because of my depressions and then my crazy thinking in manic episodes. I do have one friend who does not judge me and value him greatly.
So, I currently utilize omega 3s, some B vitamins and will be seeing a psychiatrist in the very near future. I also practice TM and some Buddhist mantras to get me through depressions and some manic phases. One day I hope to feel somewhat normal and not feel like a stranger in a strange land.
Namaste,
Chris



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bigbutter

posted July 14, 2008 at 10:45 pm


just want to thank all of you for this information on manic depression and it’s effects, i myself don’t suffer from the disorder but have dated a man who has been diagnoised as being a manic depressive/bipolar/schzophrenic. Although a lot of the behaviors that would surface I had a little knowledge about but he is still in denial period. I believe that his diagnoises must have started years ago because he has spent all of his young and teenage life in and out of youth authority and now most if not all of his adult life in jail where he is presently, but this person is very dear to me because at certain times he has a very giving heart at other times he is very, very violent. My question is how do I continue to try to befriend this guy when he refuses to accept the fact that he has an illness and refuses to take the meds that have been prescribed



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Linda

posted September 6, 2008 at 7:33 pm


Chris,
My experience has been very much like yours. I have always been called “moody” and after my mother died recently I had a major episode (my worst one of the two or three I had in my life). I finally decided to undergo treatment and follow it through after having tried things for my other episodes including anti-depressants, diets and supplements, spiritual routines and therapy over the years, but giving up on them after a while. I was once very committed to a yoga path involving the raising of kundalini, and I still practice many yoga techniques on my own and study different spiritual paths. However, my conviction that my committment to my spiritual path, the lengths I was willing to go to, and the emotionality that I long held as an indication that I was extremely spiritual and that I was special, was what turned out to be one of my psychiatrist’s indications (among many) that I was no doubt bi polar 1 with 100% certainty.
I’ve had a hard time accepting it, partly because from one day to the next I can still “decide” to consider myself a full fledged yogi, or just give up completely and allow myself to become completely distracted and immersed in “the material world”. I am currently on 1500 mg of apo-val and a small dose of seroquel, but I still have a long way to go before stabilizing, having lived over 40 years without diagnosis or treatment. I still have some very lofty spiritual goals and without them I would not be me, but I hope that eventually I will find the right path to achieve them and the right course of treatment to follow it. Thanks for your comments, it helps alot to not feel alone.
Linda



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oem hanger

posted August 18, 2010 at 2:05 am


nice post,I like the post thank you



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Jay

posted January 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm


I can appeciate your struggles (reading the posts above) and sincerity in seeking an authentic spiritual life while living with bipolar disorder. For a different perspective on bipolar discernment (what is true inspiration, what is due to bipolar) please visit the link provided. I have been medication free since 1990, but it has been a long journey and I have been very fortunate. I use a combination of natural remedies, meditation, tai chi, and spiritual healing. May God bless.



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carina

posted January 20, 2012 at 7:34 pm


I believe that society puts so much preassure on individuals to be normalized.. these preassures come from family, friends etc.

I don’t really believe that everyone diagnosed with bipolar really has it. I think that ” mania ” is perhaps a natural response of the spirit to having had to live in an unatural way according to society, and not the spririt. I think it is the spirit’s way of getting authentic, and back to It’self, when it has betrayed itself.. I think that to allow a person with mania to be self expressed is vital.. usually these people have gifts.. more creativity.. that average. and as someone diagnosed w bipolar, but doesn’t beleive in the diagnosis.. only experieced mania as a side effect from all the drugs they put me on!
when I was manic, I felt and was close to Jesus, as I usually am, and as other countries value one’s spiritual journey more than this country.. I just think for me it was natural. I have a strong connection to Jesus. and know he wants me healed, strong, energetic and clear. also, I know that sadness is a part of life. it is said that when He was alive, he bled tears, and was a man of many sorrows.

It is also said “The Joy of the Lord is our strength”

after being around psychiatrists for 3 years, I am not buying into what they teach anymore, nor the multi billion dollar industry of psychotropics which doesn’t seem to heal.

I beleive there is a gentler way back to wholeness, self expression, and healing.



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tamie

posted August 30, 2013 at 10:27 am


HI

I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2005. i have had three manic episodes and 2 depressive states withuin that time. the last depression i had was about a year ago, and i found it resuklted in a change in my personality. particularly i found that my spiritual life dwindled. i could not pray or read the bible. and would feel anger rise up in me when people would try to encourage me to trust God or stay in the word. i know that my only salvation is in the word of God so the hostility i fet towars things of God only made me afraud that i was becoming apostate and this further triggered the depression. i am no longer as deep in the depression as i was, but i find my spiritual life is still pathetic. i find it very hard to believe that i am a christain, i get angry when i see others rejoicing in the things of God coz i am not there. I feel i am not as giving and kind as i used to be. its like i have become another person but i dont have the will power to change. anyone ever felt like this?



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