Q: I have bipolar disorder
and my life feels out of control. How do I get help?
A: First of all, thanks so much for reaching out. Often,
when we're hurting, we isolate with the pain rather than trying
to connect with others. It takes courage to seek help. But
I want you to know that you're not alone.
This disease can totally disrupt neurochemistry, and cause
all sorts of problems with our biophysical well being. I recommend
you make sure you trust on a deep level the physician in charge
of your health. And make sure they understand depression...AND
addiction. Whether you're currently using or not, I believe
there is a strong correlation between addicts and bipolar
disease. If you're "wired" like me in terms of brain
chemistry, I think it's really critical that you find a doctor
who is hip to all this. Use discernment when seeking help,
and avoid those who simply prescribe drugs without a deeper
understanding of the overall dynamic of disease/addiction.
I strongly believe that treatment for this disorder is best
achieved through a combination of appropriate medication AND
I know this thing is confusing for you, and I sure relate
to the denial that kicks in when we're feeling "normal."
It can really make us question our lives...and often even
our faith. And this can exacerbate the kind of irrational
shame that often accompanies bipolar disorder. But throughout
scripture people have suffered, questioned God, and struggled
with their faith. Many of them, in fact, were the very people
God chose to lead. It is okay to feel as though He's not listening
sometimes; the greatest names in Scripture have done likewise.
So, allow yourself some grace, and know that your questions
can never separate you from His love. He will always provide,
in His time. What we feel is not who we are. Hopelessness
is a deceit. Granted, it can be an overwhelmingly powerful
deceit, but a lie is still a lie. And the truth of the Cross
is far more powerful indeed. Powerful enough to fill the emptiness,
and to take away the bitterness and resentment that threatens
our intimacy with Christ.
I of course don't know what your situation is regarding a
church family, or whether or not you participate in any sort
of fellowship oriented healing community. But by connecting
with others, I was able to slowly dispel the lies within my
head. I'll pray you might reach out and do the same.
Below are some of the more clinical sites. And I'd also recommend
you try contacting a bipolar support group in your area (local
physicians might be able to help. You might also check on
a church-based group called Celebrate Recovery.)
Try these resources:
And I'd also look into bipolar support groups, and maybe even
12-step fellowships. They helped save my life.
Don't give up. Stay connected.
My memoir, ProdigalSong:
A Memoir, recounts the story of my own growing up
in a family struggling with this and related problems. It
has been informative and a comfort for some.
I have also written an article on the topic of bipolar disorder,
Bipolar Express: Finding God on the Emotion Locomotive.”
A full book on this same topic will soon be released.