Religion and Bipolar Disorder

This past week’s Post Secret had a postcard that said, “My pastor always talks about how if people would find God they wouldn’t need pills. I’m bipolar but took his advice. My pastor is an idiot!!”

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An email follow-up to the postcard said, “Sometimes, God answers by giving us the tools to take care of ourselves.” This also generated a flurry of comments about the postcard on the forum.

Amen.

(P.S. For the sake of objectivity, the pastor may be talking about using recreational drugs as an escape from God or from the self, and not necessarily medical conditions requiring medical intervention like bipolar disorder. However, this postcard shows how important it is to include disclaimers and exceptions when you are preaching to a group of people.)

Author: Jane Chin

  • azureone

    I may believe in fairies or gods or spirits. What does this have to do with a chronic medical condition? My advice stick with the advice of medical professionals and your personal intellect to make decisions regarding living with bipolar disorder.

  • Quint Jensen

    This reminds me of a time I was on the road and flipping through radio stations. I stumbled across a local religious broadcast, and was outraged to hear the discussion turn to the evils of modern medicine. The hosts went so far as to tell people who used chemo to battle cancer that they didn’t have enough faith, and that they would be punished for their lack of faith.

    I know these types represent a minority, but it is a scary minority. When I was heavily involved in the fundamentalist church, I encountered individuals who told me that I continued to struggle with depression because of a lack of faith. When I finally decided to start taking medication, and I actually started feeling better, I decided to leave the church. No animosity, just an understanding that it wasn’t a healthy place for me to remain.

    To give a fair and balanced perspective, I have encountered articles from people deep in the self help/personal development field that espoused the same view of depression. They believe it is fundamentally a thought problem, not a neurochemical issue. That view is just as wrong as the “lacking faith” view, but it doesn’t seem to be as shrill, nor does it seem to have as many followers.

    Quint

  • http://www.chinspirations.com/mhsourcepage Jane Chin, Ph.D.

    azure – it makes sense – but we have to consider the reality that many people are still struggling to view bipolar disorder as a medical condition, including those who suffer from it and should seek medical help. in their case, they may be more easily influenced by general statements that may discourage them from seeking the help they need.

    quint – one can argue that the process of “thought” does involve the body’s production and processing of biochemicals, including neurotransmitters that physically make “thinking” possible, and therefore it is entirely possible that the thought mechanism itself can be affected by mental illness. however, i agree with you – certain rigid religious views aren’t too different from rigid “personal development” views that make extreme conclusions.

  • GABY’S GIRL

    I’M A WICCAN, I DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD! PEOPLE TELL ME THAT I’M BIPOLAR BECAUSE I DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD OR GO TO CHURCH THAT IF I WOULD PUT MY FAITH IN GOD THAT I WOULD BE CURED! THIS IS BULL SH*T! I’M A REGISTERED NURSE THAT’S BEEN BATTLING THIS DISEASE, YES DISEASE, FOR OVER 8 YEARS! THAT’S HOW LONG IT TOOK ME TO FIND THE RIGHT DOCTOR WHO PUT ME ON THE RIGHT MEDS TO STABILIZE ME! I’M VERY INTELLIGENT AND HAVE EDUCATED MYSELF ON MY DISEASE AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME; NOT ONLY ON THEIR DISEASE BUT ON THEIR MEDS ALSO. MY FATHER HAD BIPOLAR! BIPOLAR IS GENETIC AND A CHEMICAL IMBALANCE IN THE BRAIN! IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RELIGIOUS AFFILIATIONS! FOR THOSE WHO THINK IT DOES ARE VERY IGNORNANT PEOPLE! STOP SHOVING YOUR RELIGION DOWN MY THROAT! I DON’T BELIEVE IN WORSHIPING A DEAD MAN ON A STICK! I BELIEVE IN GODS AND GODDESS! IN HARMONY AND NATURE! HARM NONE! KARMA, WHAT YOU DO UNTO OTHERS WILL COME BACK TO YOU THREE TIMES FOLD! BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU DO AND WHAT YOU SAY; IT MAY JUST COME BACK AND BITE YOU WHERE THE SUN DOESN’T SHINE! BLESSED BE FROM ALL FOUR CORNERS!

  • John Murie

    I believe that Religion does ESCALATE mental issues . I have seen many people queuing at the altar in ” prayer lines ” hoping to be healed of their disease’s , only to go back the next week to try again and again and again . Not One sick person(s)was healed . I spoke to a pastors wife who said that an Evangelist had layed his hands on her to cure her of a hearing impairment , At first she thought her hearing was fully cured , Yet after a couple of days she realized that her hearing was still impaired and that it was just her wishful thinking that a man of God was sent to help her because she had been praying for healing . That Evangelist was another fraud ” PREYING ” on the vunerable , And that Evangelist said to the pastors wife that she needs to keep her faith all the time otherwise the Healing Effects will vanish away . How the Preachers have the Flock in their hands alongside with their WALLETS , enough said

  • tooth

    hey baby’s girl, Just because your not a christian doesnt mean your a exception to your own ignorance.. Wicca is a religion, just like any other.. So will you please stop shoving your religion down my throat?

  • your bottle and lollipop

    Well being a man of faith don’t shove your pills down my throat because i believe in miracles. i was put in a mental institution because of shoving my religion down your throat with a glass of listen instead of destroying. All pills did were wipe away my memory gave me blurry vision where i couldn’t read my bible unstable balance, constipation overactive salival glands most of all drowsiness, slurred speach, hair loss {beard region} overall deterioration of mucsles and bones, a stutter depression grinded teeth in sleep, vivid dreams. the feeling the pills gave you was like a hug from the grotesque sewer monster. Also addiction to a sleep aid for insomnia i never had so when it comes to religious “nuts” kick em there instead of thinking science can solve the problem. Or choose to believe wholeheartedly in the healing power of Jesus Christ Lord savior redeemer Sanctifier king of kings and lord of lords. ohh yeah i didn’t press charges either

  • Alan

    Hey everyone, I totally believe in miracles like the last post and also see the life-saving and life-giving effect of medication (one type of which keeps me mentally stable) This isn’t a drugs versus God thing, both have a place in dealing with illness. Personally I praise God for the medication that stabilizes me but believe only He can ultimately cure the root of my depression in which ever way he decides to do it be it by cognitive threapy or direct healing. Also a note to Christians who believe that only the faithless get depression you should read your bible…check Psalms or Lamentations for examples of Godly men who suffer from depression. See ya

  • Alan

    In essence I agree with you all. I am a Christian who suffers from depression and believe in both the efficacy of medication and prayer & healing. I thank God that I have medication that keeps me stable but believe that medicine will not cure the root of my illness and that God at any time of his choosing can do this according to his will. Why does culture still insist on a false faith/science dictomy when the two can go hand in hand? As for Christians who believe mental illness is due to a lack of faith…please read your bible, Lamentations or the Psalms, in which Godly men continually struggle with this problem. Peace to you all.

  • B. Nune

    Quint- What made you finally decide to take meds when you were involved with the fundamentalist church? I am at my wit’s end with a family member who relies only on God’s healing and would appreciate knowing what made you take that step for yourself.

  • T

    I to am a believer in Jesus Christ an healing power and miracles. We must have faith, and also use wisdom. Doctors arent always right. so i think it’s a bit foolish to only put our faith in the hands of man. I do thank God for giving doctors the wisdom to diagnose, and for the medication that has been developed to help us. So, keep believing, because God truly has the power to heal ANY form of sickness, illness…ect. But, if its his will, some people don’t receive healing, but still continue to glorify God, and that is So encouraging, to see that they didnt turn their back on God because they didn’t receive a healing, they accept it just wasn’t Gods will. He could have rescued Jesus from the suffering he had to endure, but it was his will, that Jesus Christ, shed his blood for our sins, that we may become sons and daughters, an be redeemed. I suffered from deep depression, and maybe i should have sought medical attention, but i didn’t, i was stubborn, an a bit in denial. But when i found Christ, and truly turned my life over to him, and began to seek him faithfully, by building a relationship with the Lord, THAT is when my depression was gone, no more thoughts of suicide, no more lack of self esteem,no more lack of hope for a better future, no more seeking love and happiness in all the wrong places, because i found everything i need in Jesus. And that’s one of My testimonies. God uses us all for different purposes, which means, we wont all have the same testimonies. So maybe healing wasn’t yours, but it is possible. (my aunt has been healed from Lupus.. her doctors were amazed, but she was seeking the Lord Diligently and Faithfully, an when she felt the holy spirit leading her to trust God for the healing, and stop taking the medication, she Obeyed. and took God at his word.) God bless you all.

  • kb

    Psychiatrists will tell you good and evil do not exist, all you need is a pill and a diagnosis. They commit the greatest evil I have ever witnessed by silencing God’s voice.

    • Margot Prinsloo

      Please read my story I am 100% sure I was not mad or parenoid I had a burning bush experience. God called me back to his side. I was shown things that came true after 5 and a half years. I am now serving God and I can honestly tell you I still hear His voice even after drinking my meds. Praise God!!!

  • Margot Prinsloo

    I am a teacher. I was diagnosed after having a burning bush experience with God. Since I was so far from His blessing I could not identify my Father’s voice from Satan’s. Lets just say God won I did not commit suicide nor kill my precious 3 month old baby girl. I apparently had a high and low which caused me to become parenoid. Yes I was told there were no voices it all came from myself. I have been taking bipolar meds for 5 and a half years now. Not trusting my Father’s voice again. I was hurt in an accident after being disobedient to something He asked. I did not trust myself and God was forced to show me He was really talking to me. A Kia delivery van’s loading bin of 500kg fell on my foot sqaushing the muscle against my foot. Why am I telling you this? I was shown this accident during the burning bush experience after God said He was going to show me my death. Satan wanted me to believe I was going to be involved in a vehicle accident. It turned out I am no the same person I was 5 and a half years ago! I am bipolar and still on my meds but my highs are when I hear God’s voice and my lows are when we are not on speaking. Did anyone have an experience like this where you were 100% sure you were not mad but you were hearing things that you could not explain? Please send me an e mail, my e mail is: margoprinsloo@hotmail.com