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How Diagnoses Affect Faith


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I was just wondering if anybody else felt that their belief system or their relationship with (God/dess/Higher Power/Xenu/whoever) was affected by being diagnosed with a mental illness.

For example, I was diagnosed bipolar 1 back in March. And wow, did that rock my world, spiritually speaking (and not in a good way). Suddenly every experience of God in my life was under the microscope: was that voice in my head God, or sheer lunacy? Was it spiritual ecstasy, or manic euphoria? I could go on and on, I was wracked by doubts.

The storm has settled somewhat but I am in a very different place now than when I was before the diagnosis. God "feels" farther away. Does He still hear me? Does He still speak? I believe that He does but I'm afraid to listen.

What does God think of the mad? There doesn't seem to be much of a clearly defined role in the pews when it comes to crazy people, does there?

Anybody else been here?

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Guest Guest

Well, I can't say anything about what God thinks of the MI, since I don't believe in him, and I don't think my dx had much effect on my beliefs, but I think the fact that I am intelligent but have ADD and dysthymia makes me disbelieve most conventional things as a matter of course until proven otherwise. So I don't think there was ever much chance I was going to believe in a deity. Has always seemed to me that other people are lying or living in a completely different universe. Things that are easy for them (times tables, keeping a room clean, getting a date) are or were very hard for me. Things that are hard for them ( calculus, writing, certain hobby competitions) are easy for me. And everyone runs around pretending to be happy, which I tend not to believe. As a child, I was always presented with oversimplified versions of reality with certain parts left out. So why should I believe this stuff about God?

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Guest ldo not signed in

That last post was mine also, unless someone else has jumped in. I meant to say that my dx, as a dx, did not effect my beliefs, but the underying conditions did.

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If you are a Christian, and have untreated bipolar symptoms, including delusions etc, and meanwhile have a sighting of Christ, then what?  Can you use that sighting as a deepening of your Christianity, or should you be all clinical about it and question *everything* that is ever exciting about your religion?

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Hi,

Watch the movie "What the Bleep do we know?" It seems on this site either people love it or hate it. i love it and usually watch it once a week. i also bought a book full of quotes from the movie and regularly post them on my springer thread.

What does God think about the MI? Supposedly God doesn't give us more than we can handle. but the past 2 years, i feel like i've had more than my fair share of issues to "handle." and when i got to the boiling point - thats when i started taking AD's.  and things got worse. was it the meds, my lack of resilency, God, my issues getting worse? who knows.

I think that god has given me the tools to help with my MI. I mean, i feel very fortunate to have the pdoc that i do, even though right now i'm semi-pissed at him. i like the meds i'm on, and think some additional meds will help me. (my pdoc and i are discussing this). i have this place, which i am very thankful for....because this is my "group therapy."

i dont make the best decisions about caring for myself. and that is all me. but when i use what has been given to me, i tend to feel better. is that god? idk.

You may have read that i recently bought a bible.  i bought it for a variety of reasons. i used to have another one...but i cant tell that story right now.

i feel very comfortable about my relationship with God for my future. (after death). and no, i'm not suicidal.

this is a heavy post for 4:30 in the morning.

anyway, i hope everyone is doing ok.

love,

december

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I believe that He does but I'm afraid to listen.

I think you answered your own question here. You are possibly afraid that now that you have been diagnosed with Bipolar 1, you will no longer "look perfect" in his eyes? Just a guess I don't know you.

I have an anxiety disorder, and I don't think that God loves me any less. In fact, I think that this was "part of the plan" or "blueprint" if you will.

My beliefs are that I am here to learn a specific lesson, and to perforn a certain  "task" and that my anxiety disorder fits in with that. I have to learn to live my life WITH it. It is part of who I am and what I am supposed to learn. I would say, that however unfair, that is true of all or us. The meds are here to help us, but ultimatley we are supposed to learn the signs of our, oh what should I call it? Our, "friend that isn't helpful", and learn to live our lives with it, rather than around it. This is what I believe my God wants me to do. Does this make sense?

I would think that God would think that one would have to get "mad" before you can take the next step towards acceptance. So go for it - get mad!

Breeze

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For me, I don't believe in a punishing/testing God/Higher Power/Great Spirit...

I didn't see my physical disabilities with a chronic illness as a "test" of my faith and I see no reason to do so with my being MI.

Life happens, period.

That said, I do rely on my God for strength and direction and help to get through each day...I've not been let down.

As I grew up, I had to let go of the idea of God as a grandfatherly type in long, flowing white robes who beningly smiled and appreciated my devotion. I also had to let go of the guilt of being imperfect, and let go of the fear of being whomped for doing something "bad."

I also let go of the learned idea that God threw the dice and said, "Ok, Spike gets this disease and that disorder. Let me see how she handles it..."

That said...

God is my partner in this life of mine. I could not make it if I did not have a source of strength greater than mine--since mine is non-existent at times. I freely admit that, for me, I need to know that I am not alone in this battle. God weeps with me, laughs with me, and walks with me on this journey.

Spike

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What a great thread!

I don't know what God is but I know that there is one and that he/she/it cares about me personally and loves me unconditionally.  When I take the time of every day communicating with God I actually experience a personal relationship.

I think as far as my disease goes I have been royally pissed off because the symptoms have lasted so long.  I have screamed and yelled and cursed God out.  I know he wants me to tell him how I'm feeling and he can handle it.

A couple of times throughout the course of my illness he has miraclessy (sp) took my pain away for a time.

I think he sees our illness as any other illness on Earth.  I think he has empathy with us.  I think sometimes if we have faith and lots of prayers he will lessen our suffering or give us the strength to bear it.  He may even heal us sometimes.  I don't know why he doesn't all of the time.

This disease has turned my life upside down and I don't know where I'm going to land.  But it is because of my faith that God will set me straight that allows me to keep going.

Rhonda

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Wow, great post.

Is God real/does God hear, or are you hallucinating?  Absent other symptoms of psychosis, whether manic or depressive, I wouldn't worry.  But if you only connect with God in any way when you're sleeping two hours a night and your walls are squiggly, then yeah, I'd see your concern.  As to whether mental illness and other human suffering are evidence that God isn't real, isn't good, or doesn't answer prayer -- that's *the* theological question, to my mind.  It's one I couldn't syllogize through -- just had to go with my gut.  Annie Dillard's "For the Time Being" is a nice meditation on that --  no answers, but a lot of honest feeling.

Are we afraid to listen?  I am, routinely, sane or crazy.  I think everyone is (and should be!  It's pretty high-risk.)  But usually not indefinitely...

What does God think of the mad?  Well (depending on your tradition), seeing as he had crazy prophets -- Ezekiel, for one, and I wonder about John the Baptist -- certainly no less than He does of anyone else.

Do anticonvulsants damp down those intense, Dostoyevskian religious experiences like the ones associated with temporal lobe epilepsy?  Maybe -- i can't tell if it's my Lamictal or just being out of practice -- you know, do first, feel later -- but I suspect it's just the second.

Personal anecdote: Right before I was dx'ed BP I joined a church (depressed -- trying everything).  Four months later, when Wellbutrin got the better of my lithium, I ended up weeping incoherently in the senior pastor's office, full of guilt about my current elevation and my recent suicidality (and, btw, it has been helpful to me to think that God does not like suicide).  Boy, did she help me.  She said, it's not your fault; I know you've been trying to sort out what's you and what's the disorder, but God made the whole you, loves the whole you and gave you the tools you need not only to deal, but to be something good; although you can do it, it can take years; let us help you; and, I don't care how much you don't want to, CALL YOUR PDOC right now.  And had I not taken her advice, I swear I'd be living out of my car in Montana right now, if not dead, instead of home with my kids.

So yeah, not feeling super-religious at the moment, but I feel like God gave me that.

And finally, it's only been since March, and too soon to despair about this.  If you're even feeling kind of stable right now in any way,  I'm impressed.

Regards,

sg

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I think the word "god" has so much baggage for soo many people.  I also think religion is a money making machine that  just grows with each new thought out there. 

Christian, new age, energy workers, intuitive workers, power yoga,  . We need to discern for ourselves what makes us feel healthier and more grounded or spiritual.  My personal experience is that it doesnt have to cost an arm and a leg.  I respect other peoples experiences but please be aware of those  just linnig their pockets with your money int the name of "energy exchange"

WARNING=  if you interpet a scripture from any source to go out and hurt you r self or others= not  healthy spirituality! May we all be blessed  for the gifts we have, even if we are not aware of what they are yet.  love  doxie

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I think churches by and large fail to comphrehend mental illness. One is driven along the path of the seven deadly sins by mental illness. The point being the propenisty to sin, at least as defined by the seven deadly sins, seems to be increased by mental illness. But the deal is this. This propensity is due to a biological derangement. What ever the cause one certainly must avoiding acting sinfully but the propensity to sin seems to be greater with mental illness than otherwise.  The unspoken sort of word is the mentally ill lack values. The reality can be though the mentally ill are getting nowhere the mentally can have ten times the character of someone 'normal' but there is this history of failing to show up for work, various histories of outragaeous complaints, the tendency to sit around the house doing zip and life seems to being revolving around pills.

On the other hand I think one can be very close to God while mentally ill. God is clued in as to why one is staring zonked out at the teleivision.

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Guest amybeth

I believe that my diagnosis does not affect my faith in the least bit.  I believe that my Faith affects my diagnosis greatly.  In that I mean a number of things.

In one of them is how I look at it now.  I do not look at it as punishment.  Nor do I look at it as something as sinful or brought on my bad behaivor.  I believe it to be just a part of the consequences of bad decisions ie: maybe using pot and hallucinegens earlier in life fucked with my brain chemicals.  2.  I believe that chemicals now in my drinking water and the soil and processed foods fuck with our cells.

With that said.  I believe God in his soveriegnity and foreknowledge of all of this came up with the miracle of medicine.  In my case Topamax.  I have faith he brought this to me to save me life.  My faith has only been strengthened.  My love for God and His sacrifice of His son has only grown.  And knowing His love for me has grown exponentionally.  To bring me this medicine that has worked so well.

Bottom line.  My diagnosis has made me love and adore and worship Him more and has strengthened my faith tenfold.

December Bridgette.  I do believe that life hands us way more than we can handle.  How does a mother stand losing a child?  Do you think she can handle that.  NO way.  But I believe her faith thru Christ is what strengthens her.  Otherwise I would be a puddle of doggie doo on the floor and couldn't get out of bed.  It would be too much for me to handle.  Just a thought....

amybeth

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Hi,

Watch the movie "What the Bleep do we know?" It seems on this site either people love it or hate it. i love it and usually watch it once a week. i also bought a book full of quotes from the movie and regularly post them on my springer thread.

What does God think about the MI? Supposedly God doesn't give us more than we can handle. but the past 2 years, i feel like i've had

love,

december

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I sometimes think He gave me it to deal, as far out as it sounds.

I also think I have it to be more empthic (sp) about MOST things, even non-MI

stuff.

I have adult onset ED (non-purging bulimia) and as a kid, I would judge everything

in everyone's shopping cart. Yeah, my point of view on that had changed now,lol

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i'm just glad now thier are MRI's and such, showing people there IS biology to this stuff, that it's not a charcter (sp) flaw.

And I'm glad so many more people aren't as scared to get help.

I was telling my mother when I 1st started Effexor, she went on and on about stingma.

All I thought was how great it was to have a life again.

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I recently found an article (the author has a book on the subject as well) that deals very well with the problems many christians confront with mental illness.  I bought the book for my father, and for the first time he was able to begin to understand the problems faced by both my mother and myself.  I have posted it in PDF form at ftp://ftp.brandwand.com/Exposing_the_Myth...al_Problems.pdf for any who are interested.

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I was raised and Confirmed in the Roman Catholic Faith.  I can truely say that I am thankful for the postive influence it has had on me.  I have struggled with the negative.

I do believe that faith has made a big impact on my life.  Not so much doctorine or dogma, or even going to church (which I don't do very often).  My parents have been very good to me, and have been like having Jesus at hand during my greatest difficulties.

With that said, I do believe in a creator.  I don't believe that you need to follow a certian religion or path to commune with the creator.

I once read somewhere that religions are like rivers, they all flow to the source.

If your faith, or religion gives you strength and hope, that is good.

If you feel that your mental illness is a curse by the higher power, that is bad.

I have fealt and gone through the questioning of God and God's will.  I was so wrapped up in my own drama that I believed that my mental illness was brought upon me because of the sins that I have commited, will commit, or have not even realized I commited.  I thought my every action was being judged by God.  This made angry at God.  I would have one way conversations with God demanding that I be treated fairly, meaning that I not have a mental illness.  "God, I would say, life is hard enough, why must I allways be like the pheonix, and rise from the ashes that the illness has debilated me to."

This line of thinking eventual made me aware that I was way to caught up in my self.

Too self important.  To worried about me.  I needed to take the meds and just let go.

Do what I can, realize my limitations, and quit playing God in my head with myself.

I think that my mental illness has given me the gift of compassion. 

I think that my mental illness has led me on a path of finding my own spirituality.

I believe that my mental illness is not a curse, I believe that it's not even me. 

It has driven me to find a place where it does not exist.

That place is in the gap between my thoughts.

The fewer the the thoughts, the more I find my higher self and the less I indentify with my ego and it's thoughts that weaken me.

Do I believe that you have to believe a certian way to be saved?  To have everlasting life?  To be born again?

No.

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Whatever else, attribution of mental illness to demonic posession was, for almost 2000 years, more accurate than science/medicine; it at least located the cause as being outside the individual  ;)

Tommy

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my faith was not affected by my diagnosis, since I had figured out I was majorly depressed on my own. no news there. My faith was affected by my MI.

I grew up a devout christian, albeit a mystic one. I did read the bible often, and it gave me strength to think there was a kind and loving being up there. My best friend turned me on to Wicca (read: nature lover, magic practitioner, polytheist) and I was very devout for a couple years. I hoped I could use my will to turn my life around despite the hardships.

Then the bottom dropped out. To make a long story short(er)  I was laying in bed, twisting and writhing with mental anguish, laid off w/ no hope of employment, with an unwanted pregnancy and failed love affair (w/ my husband of 7 years); trying to plan the best way to end it all and when; and simply, I prayed. I prayed for one night of solace- just ONE- from a goddess, a god, ANY body, and no one answered.  I felt more alone than ever.

I figured, if god does exist as a conscious entity, then he/she is a sadist of some sort.  Some people hold the view that god does not interfere at all in our lives, we are wholly responsible for everything and need to deal with it ourselves.  If so, that's fine with me, but I dont see any reason to bother with him/her (it) if they have better things to do.

Hope I am not offending.  I feel pretty strongly about being left in the cold. (can you tell?) like an orphaned child left to starve alone in the street.

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Hi All,

to cold - sorry it took me awhile to respond.

it sounds like i have some of the same issues of you in not judging certain people. and being patient with others. sometimes those 2 things are very difficult for me.

sorry if that is off topic.

Now, if God will just tell me what to do with my life.  ;)

love,

december

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Supposedly God doesn't give us more than we can handle

I just had to comment on this falsehood! God does not give us any more than HE can handle! Not what we can handle..big difference in my book! ;)

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Is God real/does God hear, or are you hallucinating?  Absent other symptoms of psychosis, whether manic or depressive, I wouldn't worry.  But if you only connect with God in any way when you're sleeping two hours a night and your walls are squiggly, then yeah, I'd see your concern..

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Actually I do not disregard any spiritual experiences whether they occur when I am manicy or psychotic or hallucinating. Whenever I can feel at one with the universe, I'll take it. I am not willing to dismiss these experiences just by defintion of a symptom of a Dx. Granted my pdoc has said that minus mind altering drugs or changes in my brain chemistry I should not be having such intense feelings but I still remember and relish such moments. 

Do anticonvulsants damp down those intense, Dostoyevskian religious experiences like the ones associated with temporal lobe epilepsy?  Maybe -- i can't tell if it's my Lamictal or just being out of practice -- you know, do first, feel later -- but I suspect it's just the second.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Some of my intense feelings of connectedness to the universe may be due to some temporal lobe symptoms. What I am striving for is a way to have these feelings. My meds may actually be damping them down at times but the meds do not always stop such thoughts and experiences, for which I am thankful. 

I am looking for spirituality in my life. I have been working on meditating. My pdoc suggested that I might use meditation time to get in touch with my spiritual thoughts and feelings. However, because my intense feelings in the recent past have been tied to changes in brain chemistry, I have been reluctant, even scared, to travel there. But spiritual awakenings may in themselves cause changes in brain chemistry. So which comes first? I don't know.

Erika

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I think the word "god" has so much baggage for soo many people.  I also think religion is a money making machine that  just grows with each new thought out there. 

Christian, new age, energy workers, intuitive workers, power yoga,  . We need to discern for ourselves what makes us feel healthier and more grounded or spiritual.  My personal experience is that it doesnt have to cost an arm and a leg.  I respect other peoples experiences but please be aware of those  just linnig their pockets with your money int the name of "energy exchange"

WARNING=  if you interpet a scripture from any source to go out and hurt you r self or others= not  healthy spirituality! May we all be blessed  for the gifts we have, even if we are not aware of what they are yet.  love  doxie

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Doxie:  I really respect and thankyou for your thoughts.  I believe the same and your outlook is a very good one.

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I was just wondering if anybody else felt that their belief system or their relationship with (God/dess/Higher Power/Xenu/whoever) was affected by being diagnosed with a mental illness.

For example, I was diagnosed bipolar 1 back in March. And wow, did that rock my world, spiritually speaking (and not in a good way). Suddenly every experience of God in my life was under the microscope: was that voice in my head God, or sheer lunacy? Was it spiritual ecstasy, or manic euphoria? I could go on and on, I was wracked by doubts.

The storm has settled somewhat but I am in a very different place now than when I was before the diagnosis. God "feels" farther away. Does He still hear me? Does He still speak? I believe that He does but I'm afraid to listen.

What does God think of the mad? There doesn't seem to be much of a clearly defined role in the pews when it comes to crazy people, does there?

Anybody else been here?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

At first my dx had no effect but as the dxs started piling up and i became severely MI.. well it rocked my believe system quite a bit and made me question everything that I knew, but now I am back, although I still question at times.

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  • 4 weeks later...

For me, I was diagnosed with stuff/seeing therapists BEFORE i really knew what I believed in terms of faith etc. I am a Christian--my faith was formed through my own experiences and interactions w/ people outside of my family, and not something I was really raised into. I believe that God loves me and everyone-MI or not- and doesn't see us as defective or less-than. But I don't think it's wrong to use things like meds, therapy etc, or that it is a sign of "weak faith".. I think that though God made us to be the way we are, it is dealing with "this world" that is the issue- and w/ me if things like certain medicine, strategies, etc help me function.. then I should use them, but ..I still find my ultimate comfort and source of hope in God. Prayer, meditiation, etc really helps me slow down my racing thoughts.. and feel loved/like I have a future, even I feel like the whole world is against me

But sometimes I have a hard time w/ Christians who I worry judge those who are have M.I's.. so lately I have been keeping a lot of my faith to myself..

I guess diagnosis/the MI label doesn't so much affect my views of God, as it does my relationship with people from my church etc..

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