Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


A Bipolar Serenity Prayer

posted by Beyond Blue

I absolutely loved the following Serenity Prayer post by Larry Drain of Hopeworks Community. I am going to refer to it as often as I can because therein his words, I believe, is the guts of our recovery … To get to Larry’s other blog posts, click here.

A friend one time told me that the serenity prayer was the best description he knew of successful recovery from bipolar disorder. He described it a little differently than you normally hear:

God- Life is about more than me. There is a meaning and design to the world independent of what I think or feel. The first (and maybe biggest) trap of bipolar is to convince you that “it” is all about you and the measure of how things are is how you feel. “Life is not about what I can or cannot control, thank goodness, because so much of this is beyond my control.” There is a “higher power.” There is someone to turn to when I feel all alone and powerless and all feels loss.

grant me the serenity- “Grant”- that means it is a gift. It is not something I earn or create. Serenity is not something that I accomplish. It is something I accept. And again it means giving up my need to control. “If everytime I say control I could change it to manage or influence my life would be so much better.” Serenity is a focus on here and now. It is not being angry or sad about things gone wrong, or anxious about things yet to go wrong. Serenity is about taking things as they come.

To accept the things I cannot change- acceptance is such a major part of dealing with this. So much time is needlessly worrying about “what I got”, and not enough about “what I do with it.” Control is a focus on what I got. Management is a focus on what I do with it. A first rule of walls- “No matter how much you bang your head on them it doesn’t create a door to walk through.”

the courage to change the things I can- To live with bipolar means to be scared. There is a good reason some people call it a “terminal disease.” Positive steps are sometimes so small that they don’t always even seem a step. There are enough wounds and scars that you can’t help but worry sometimes about what is next. “And sometimes it so hard and so tiring and seems so impossible you just don’t want to try. Giving up seems to make such good sense.”

And the wisdom to know the difference- The beginning of all is to know. “Knowledge is necessity.” A big part of knowing what to do is knowing what you got. Another major part of wisdom is staying focused. Looking. Not assuming that because something feels so it doesn’t make it so. Wisdom also means realizing when you are not being so smart. The smartest thing is to be able to see our foolishness quick enough not to wreck.

It is important to realize that these things don’t just happen sequentially. It isn’t just do this first and this second and so on. Each one feeds into the other and the other feeds into it. Serenity helps give you courage, but courage increases your serenity. Wisdom helps to develop both, but each of them also increases wisdom. It is a net in effect. The serenity prayer in a real way is a safety net to keep you from drowning in the high waters of bipolar.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Amen

To visit Larry’s blog, click here.

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  • Cookie

    Wow…I know a few people that “suffer” from Bi-polar and this REALLY needs to be handed out with the MEDS that are so easily handed out..have them read it and THEN sign for their meds…just might see a whole new out look on their Bi-polar!!! Prayer works no matter how it is written or whom it is written or said for..wonderful poem..

  • Skylark

    another thought here to add: more things are wrought by prayer than
    this world dreams…every waking moment
    can be a prayer for strength for the task
    at hand and an acceptance of self. The
    need is for balance between concern for
    self and concern for others needs.

  • Andy K

    prayer does change things. oftentimes it’s only the simple clarity that comes after emotional turmoil. the difficult part is that when you’re in the pits, it seems like it will never change, yet, It Does …

  • Your Name

    I was diagnoised with bipolar 2 about 10 years ago after a 25+ year career as a Psychiatric Nurse. I learned so more more after experiencing the symptoms. I have since retired and found it is more work dealing with it as a patient. I understand peop;e alot more.

  • Anne

    I was diagnosed about 6 years ago – what I don’t understand is how can I still feel so low on Lithium and occasionally i’m happy. I cannot cry! I don’t cry when I laugh, I don’t cry at the movies, I just don’t cry at all. One of these days I’m gonna explode! I miss the good days so I do. Sure I’m not suicidal – I never ever have been, but I’m not happy either… I would snap at the chance to get off meds. But I listen to and respect my doctor as well – but I don’t think he respects me – he cannot begin to fathom how I felt before I was on meds. This is not living to me, it is existing… I’m numb and hollow :(
    I like the prayer by the way. Please look up St Dymphna – her prayer for nervous illness, it gives me some solace.

  • http://mybipolarexistence.com depression

    I hear this all the time, Keep it Simple. I really like all the information you have here and will check it all out.

  • melzoom

    My friend’s seven year old asked me to explain the ‘Our Father’… not being Christian but having a Lutheran background, I wasn’t sure what to say, so I went line by line trying to use words a kid would understand.
    Our Father, who art in heaven– Dear God, up in Heaven
    Hallowed be thy Name— We honor your name
    Thy kingdom come.
    Thy will be done,
    On earth as it is in heaven — Let the day come when everyone follows your commandments here on earth and we are blessed with an earth that is as peaceful as heaven
    Give us this day our daily bread– Each day, we are thankful that you give us what our body needs
    And forgive us our trespasses
    As we forgive those who trespass against us — Please help us forgive others as you forgive wrongs
    And lead us not into temptation,
    But deliver us from evil– Help us know right from wrong
    I realized how important it is to take the things we know by rote memory and dissect them from time to time to renew the understanding and remember the power of the words.

  • Sue

    i use the serenity prayer and footprints all the time to get me thru moment by moment…this brought me to tears when i read the courage section ~ There are enough wounds and scars that you can’t help but worry sometimes about what is next. “And sometimes it so hard and so tiring and seems so impossible you just don’t want to try. Giving up seems to make such good sense.” ~ this is exactly how i feel!!

  • Jeri

    I have struggled with depressive episodes all my life, but it’s been worse the last 10 years. But the real me is upbeat, happy and full of joy. I also was diagnosed with Bi-Polar couple years ago after a counselor talked to me for just 20 minutes, I was not a happy camper. Now my latest label is Rapid Cycling Mood Disorder, so I am a real headcase, I guess. But I refuse to believe that. Now with my meds being cut way back and trying to live life for the Lord, and read as much good info as I can, I am doing good for now. The real fear is when will it collapse and go back into the pit of despair.
    I thought the above serenity prayer was excellent and a very positive way of looking at life. Hang in there everyone, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s Jesus!

  • Julye

    I love this prayer, I too suffer from PSTD but my son is the one who has bipolar and right now he is in jail because he doesn’t seem to be able to control himself. I plan to copy this and send to him. Thank you so much, for some reason it seems so hard to get help for a person with mental illness and I also know that it is hard to accept that one has a mental illness. It seems this illness just came out of the blue, one day he was fine and then all of sudden he got ill. It’s really sad. But thanks again..it’s a beautiful prayer and I know it will give him hope..

  • Chi

    Hi everybody!! Now i know i am not the only one with a problem like mine. I’ve never made any trips back to Africa since past 3 years i left my country.I have a valid A – DIRECT AIRSIDE TRANSIT VISA from United Kingdom to my country issued in New York but no money for plane ticket. I have a plan to go to my country to submit my old passport and get a new passport even to visit my Dad and my family members and come back. I pray to God that there is someone out there that will be able to help me, please contact me (prof4real2005 AT yahoo DOT com)to take my information that you can use to buy me a plane ticket. THANKS. MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS. prof4real2005@yahoo.com

  • Your Name

    I try so hard to pay attention at Mass and so hard to concentrate while praying daily, I pray. I AM bipolar, I do have AADD, I am scared all the time that God thinks I’m not trying hard enough. I pray the rosary, chaplets and Novenas. I beg for mercy. I beg for help with my illness(s) both physical and emotional. I recently went to a healing service and asked for my physical and emotional illness to be cured. My biggest problem is that I do not want to be these things. I want to be normal. What would I be like if I didn’t take the pills and I relied on Jesus to help me? My pit of despair, would it get bigger? The Serenity Prayer is on the outside of my Missle so I see it daily. My problem I just realized is it is one prayer I do not say enough.

  • Debra

    I try so hard to pay attention at Mass and so hard to concentrate while praying daily, I pray. I AM bipolar, I do have AADD, I am scared all the time that God thinks I’m not trying hard enough. I pray the rosary, chaplets and Novenas. I beg for mercy. I beg for help with my illness(s) both physical and emotional. I recently went to a healing service and asked for my physical and emotional illness to be cured. My biggest problem is that I do not want to be these things. I want to be normal. What would I be like if I didn’t take the pills and I relied on Jesus to help me? My pit of despair, would it get bigger? The Serenity Prayer is on the outside of my Missle so I see it daily. My problem I just realized is it is one prayer I do not say enough.

  • SimonE

    The truth in accepting Jesus is that his sacrifice completly turns away God’s wrath against us for all time. You can choose to believe that your own efforts may keep away God’s wrath, and try by praying and doing enough of what you may consider to be the right amount of the right thing, but this is called living under law. Of course our own efforts will never be enough against God’s requirement, and that is what Jesus taught to the religious leader who believed he had kept all of his Law. Living under law leads to the feeling of condemnation, as we fail in our efforts … therefore problem not solved! The alternative, living in the Spirit of God and accepting Christ’s sacrifice as having wholly satisfied God, gives freedom from the need to perform for God, and so from the condemnation that has resulted from failure. It also gives freedom for us to bodly approach God without fear, and to experience Him as a loving heavenly Father.

  • Jill

    Love what you said SimonE. I just have to remember that everyday. I have not been diagnosed yet and I don’t know if I can wait that long to get help, every day is a struggle and fear is horrible. I feel condemned and I wish I could get rid of it. Help me!
    JiLL (buckie48192@yahoo.com)

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