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    Bipolar disorder and religion
    Alex_K71 posted:
    Hello All,
    First, i really hate having mental illness. Being new to having bipolar disorder (only diagnosed for a year now) I start to get really confused with religion and myself at times. When my major episode that landed me in the hospital first occured it caused me to be very much fixated on religion, my soul, and any kind of spiritual deity (god, satan/antichrist, angels, Jesus etc..) and I often ask myself why? It has not really ever been explained why this can happen. Often, (normally when sleep deprived) I start obsessing about spiritual matters, trying to figure out questions that I probably shouldn't, but what bothers me is I often take it to the next level (not on purpose) I start thinking crazy stuff like, Im any one of those deities mentioned above and I hate it. I certainly don't act out any of those "delusions" (like start blessing ppl, or corrupting them) but just even thinking about it makes me mad. I start thinking, Im a fallen angel, or Im the antichrist, or maybe Im god, or jesus or whatever and it just snowballs into one giant mess in my head as many of you could imagine. What scares me the most is believing that maybe some of the negative deities or negative things are true, like, Im going to hell for falling, or, I sold my soul and.... whatever. It starts to interfer with things in my life or when Im being really mental, start questioning if I even have MI and I think these things b/c they are true. Having crazy, vivid, dreams does not really help either. For instance, Im a normal guy for the most part (aside from having mental illness), I work, I study Biology in college, I have family and friends, goals and aspirations, I dont try to hurt others and be as kind as possible, but if I catch myself in some kind of situation that would be considered sinful and my "mental illness" is roaring, I beat myself up about it in an almost obsessive way. Its pretty bad that I cant even admire a good looking woman, have a normal sex life anymore, or anything related without thinking my soul is dammed, im dirty, or god hates me. I even turn down potential girlfriends or avoid the topic of dating with girls that are interested in me bc of that sometimes. Its annoying, I just want to be a normal human being without always fearing for my immortal soul being dammed and have normal human experiences just like everyone else. I sometimes even get afraid that the counselor will give me bad advice and Ill end up in hell..... so frustrating. What makes matters more difficult is that my mental illness gets involved with such a delicate topic, religion and spirituality, nobody knows the answers and everything is based on personal belief. So it seems kinda one sided. Is there anybody that has similar issues or thoughts about it that could help shed some light on this for me? Im at my wits.
    slik_kitty responded:
    welcome to the board. are you on meds and in therapy? grandiose thoughts, such as those you describe, are quite common to bipolars and are a sign of mania. if you are not on meds you need to be on them and if you are on meds then you need a med tweak. do you tell your pdoc about what you are thinking? it is very important to tell your pdoc that because it is a common sign of mania.
    Alex_K71 replied to slik_kitty's response:
    Hello Slik_Kitty, I am on meds, and take them all the time. They really help with the depression, I cant think of the last time I have had depression since I have been on them. Ill talk to my Dr. about the thoughts in the next meeting I have with them.
    WolfFaerie responded:
    Hi Alex! Welcome to the board! You asked alot of great questions many of which Kitty answered for you. Like you, I've only been diagnosed with bipolar 1 with psychotic features for over a year now. I've gone thru alot of ups and downs with it. I've mostly deal with the depression side of bipolar though lately been dealing more with my psychotic features.

    I'm also a person of faith to be exact Christian faith. I believe in God. I also believe that God helps those who help themselves. This part of my belief gets me into trouble with other people of faith. I can't remember where exactly the verse is that states my belief but do know that it's in the Bible. I've had many people of faith tell me that taking meds is not something that I should be doing and let God be the healer of my mind/body. But I've found that not taking meds is just as bad for me. I don't want to end up back in the hospital for not taking my meds either.

    By educating yourself about bipolar disorder will give you a better understanding and a way to cope with this mental illness. I've lived with some form of mental illness from the time I was 7 years old. I've also had therapy on/off again from the same age. I know the value of a good therapist, pdoc, and support system can get you thru this mental illness.

    I hope this helped you out some. Feel free to ask more questions because there are no dumb questions to ask with mental illness.

    CER714 responded:
    Hey Alex,

    Just got on here. Noticed that it's been over a year ago, but I thought hey, what the hell.. I'll respond just in case. I read your post and related to it completely. I also felt frustrated with the people that gave you their input. I know they meant well, but the feedback couldn't have possibly helped you. Not sure if you've gotten things stabilized yet.. But, I myself have recently delved into the religious insanity. Talk about confusing. I was diagnosed about 5 years ago, and thought I had experienced every type of mania there was. Until this... What was supposed to be a harmeless bible study, turned into way more... As we speak, I haven't been able to get in to my doc to get my meds tweaked.. And right at the moment I might be able to discern my thoughts, but I'm sure in an hour or so, I will feel like the devil is just trying to pull me away from God. The vice that's in my head will start to do it's torure on me.. It's so horrible to be confused about something like this... Religion is so vast and intangible.. For the wimsical bipolar brain, it becomes a huge scary mess!!! Just when you think you're a special chosen child of God.... Well, I'm sure you know what happens after.... Feeling a complete disconnect from reality... And this is happening to me while on meds... So, yeah Alex... I know exactly how you feel.. Right down to the guilt feelings... Hopefully we will continue to analyze this disorder and gain new perspectives... I really don't understand why there's such a strong link with religion and Bipolar disorder... hmmph... My father was a preacher.... With Bipolar disorder.

    Just felt like venting,


    Hang in there
    monkeybee replied to CER714's response:
    This was the exact trigger that caused me to go into mania like I have never experienced before. It was amazing to feel like I was in Heaven, but terrifying to believe that demons had taken over my mind and that they were going to kill me. But I still believe that Jesus is my Savior. I'm still not sure exactly what was spiritual, what was delusional, and what was Biblical over the last 6 months and I'm working with someone to help keep my beliefs in check. Its scary and the utter chaos in your mind is overwhelming. I have only just started taking meds again and I'm hoping that they work quickly. I also am fearful of taking them because I keep thinking that its demonic and that the meds will take my salvation...which I know is not reality...but, every time I take them, I am scared.

    This is a common trigger, maybe, but it stinks! I'm sorry that you had to go through it; I hated it and I was SO embarassed!
    bipolarvet responded:
    I have Bipolar Type I and I've had feelings of being especially spiritual (Christ-like, mystical, etc.) since I was a child. These feelings have come and gone, and I'm now almost 60 years old. All I can say is that I think in some ways bipolar does make people more inclined to mystical experiences, feelings of oneness with God, and intense dreams and strong spiritual feelings. A lot of poets, musicians and artists have bipolar, as is shown in Kay Redfield Jamison's book, "Touched By Fire," which traces bipolar in many poets going back centuries. In ways having bipolar can be a good thing in that it opens us to rich experiences of a spiritual and creative nature. What has not been so good for me is that I can start thinking I'm different, special, and even better (or much worse when I'm depressed) than others from a spiritual perspective. This makes me feel isolated, alone, and painfully "different." As the years have passed I wish I could say I've completely solved these matters. I haven't. But I do have a greater sense that really everyone is spiritual, whether they know it or not, and the feelings I have are not so strange as I sometimes think. In some cultures, those of us with bipolar are called shaman and are seen as having value for the different ways our minds work and that, along with our awful suffering, we also have heightened awareness in some ways that can be channeled productively. The trick is to recognize our own ordinariness and bond with other people as well. Hope this helps some.
    bptwin replied to bipolarvet's response:
    Like many people who have already replied I can relate to this issue. One trait that I noticed in bi-polar people is the tendency to obsess over certain areas of our lives. For me, I have learned that obsessive thoughts are the real enemy. They drain mental and physician energy. They sap you of precious time that could have been invested in a much more rewarding venture. And they rob you of joy and peace. When you look at things logically you wonder....why do I give into these thoughts which cost so much, but leave you so bankrupt?

    For me, I could never resist these obsessive thoughts (especially about religion) because I felt like I was constantly in an existential crisis -- I didn't know who I was, I wasn't sure if I was gonna make it to heaven, I didn't know if I would have a career or just be stuck in a dead end job. For me, I was always facing major life and death issues and the many times the only way out was to get caught up in the whirling tornado of obsessive thoughts.

    But I am learning that there are other ways out. Through months, if not years of trial and error I am learning that I need to be grounded, I need to have balance, I need to have clarity and I need to identify one step at a time. I need to give my mind the assurance that it doesn't have to figure everything out today. I just need to take it one step at a time.
    monkeybee replied to bptwin's response:
    You have learned to control the obsessive thoughts? How are you learning to be grounded? Obsessive thoughts have always been cause for me to lose control. I believed as a teen I was a reincarnate hippy and dressed like a hippy (to an extreme) and thought no one else on the planet was as cool as me...but I was irrationally obsessed with the 60's. I was once obsessed with Mary Tyler Moore to the point I would cry and wished I could be her...the same with Molly Shannon and Abraham Lincoln and a few times people who were physically in my life. I was so extremely politically active that I thought no one got it except me (and I was super liberal, now ultra conservative), I came out as a lesbian in high school and believed and felt strongly I was gay but I'm not. I became a christian almost 10 years ago but wasn't obsessed like I have been lately. Once that started, I really lost control and I believed that no one else understood what they could have. At the same time, I knew I couldn't tell anyone because I knew they'd think I was crazy...but I was sure I wasn't. I have always thought if I could just get control, it would be fine. But how? How do you not give into the thoughts once they are obsessive? One minute you are reading the Bible more frequently and the next God is talking to you. They sneak up on you. I haven't accepted my issues as an illness for many years (or maybe ever) and coming to terms with it is still challenging. And despite the evidence, I still think, "but I'm so normal"...and really, when I'm not experiencing these things, I am. Sorry to ramble, ramble, ramble, especially about me...ugh. But I just poor husband, my poor kids. They deserve a wife and a mom who is stable and will I ever get there again and stay there? Is it through meds? Is it through faith? I just don't know.
    monkeybee replied to monkeybee's response:
    Sorry if I sounded insulting at the end of that post. I know that being mentally ill doesn't make you crazy or not normal...I just get frustrated. And I know there is good in it too...and I know that you all don't care that much about what I am thinking. And I know I just keep rambling. Sorry...and I hope everyone is having a great weekend!
    mercygive replied to monkeybee's response:
    Hello Monkeybee and welcome to the board. There is a wealth of information here to help you better understand your bipolar illness. People here do care and we try to support one another. This board has been slow for a while. This is a good place to ramble. You can ramble here anytime you want. Just about everyone here has rambled at some point. I have rambled here a lot because there is no one in my life who really understands what I go through with the exception of others here on this board.

    Medications, exercise, meditation and therapy really help to relieve some of the noise in my mind when my life gets crowded with worries and obsessive thinking. I got used to living with my ups and downs too. Using a mood chart can help to anticipate and distinguish between normal periods and episodes. I also enjoy a spiritual life and try to find a balance. There are times when I am paranoid and tormented with fear, that I believe God is warning me that I am in danger, and when I become obsessed with that fear thinking and begin to act on it, I know that I need to make an appointment with a doctor -- the sooner the better.

    Are you being treated with medications for bipolar illness? Do you have a therapist?
    Choose life, God's Grace and humor - mercygive

    monkeybee replied to mercygive's response:

    Thank you. I have already learned how awesome and supportive you guys are in just the few weeks I've been on here. I was diagnosed with Bipolar I at 15, but I didn't understand or believe it and stopped taking meds at about 20. Since then, if I've been symptomatic, it has been controlled and I mostly wasn't even aware except for depressions which I excused away. For the last 6 months though, I've had psychotic symptoms and delusions, which I haven't experienced before (or didn't realize I did at least, my psychiatrist had me on Zyprexa at the time though). I finally had to admit that there was not a logical explanation for my thinking and it seems like I have just gotten worse and worse, with periods of normal, since. I went back to the same psychiatrist I had when I was young just last week. He put me on Lamictal, Abilify and Klonapin. I have already been sleeping better most nights (I think because of the Klonapin?) but I am not well. And I feel so ridiculously afraid of the implications of this and I just remember the hell of the 5 years I really struggled in my teens and then at least, I was not delusional and psychotic. I just don't know how I will be able to tell if the things I am thinking and believing are real or not. I am afraid to tell some of the things I think because they are so off the wall, but I still believe them and I don't know how to not believe them. And my 4 year old, who has always had a together mom, suddenly asks "who are you talking to" or "why are you crying?" She already can recognize something is not right, But, I have just spilled all of my guts on these posts. I don't have a therapist, I saw one after the other when I was young and never got anywhere. And, I so want to pretend that it is just fine. Anyway, I know it will get better. I know it will.
    bipolarvet replied to bptwin's response:
    I agree with bptwin that staying grounded is incredibly important. I find meditation especially helpful in staying grounded. Also going on walks, especially in nature, cooking, and gardening help me keep my feet on the ground. And of course the medications, which I believe are essential for those of us with serious bipolar disorder.

    It's nice to see how others are coping with the challenges of this illness, especially when there is progress in managing it. One key for me that took me many years to accept is that the illness does not go away. What can change is the skills I develop to manage this chronic condition. As I develop these skills, I still have some very bad times, but I have more coping strategies and can get through them better without succumbing to a major episode. And thankfully there are some good and even very good times as well.
    monkeybee replied to bipolarvet's response:
    Yes, that is great advice from bptwin and all of you! I am over the top emotional right now. I'm so sorry! I am in end of the world mode and keep talking without thinking. I keep panicing and I'm feeling low anyway. You must think I'm the most self-absorbed person alive. I probably need to leave you guys alone. I probably need to just go away. I don't really know what to do. I am probably sounding irrational and every time I type something on here I realize I probably don't have the right etiquette and I probably sound insane I just feel like I'm not here. And more than likely you aren't thinking anything at all about it. I just feel like I'm gone. I just don't know what to do about it. I feel like this is so much more than I am able to deal with. Being grounded seems so far away.
    monkeybee replied to monkeybee's response:
    I am so ridiculous, I am so sorry.

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