Spirituality and Mental Illness

September 16, 2010

Having mental and physical disorders and maintaining a spiritual balance can be difficult and confusing to say the least. How can I suffer these horrible feelings with a loving God in my life?

First of all, let me tell you my concept of God or a higher power of my understanding as they refer to it in 12 step programs. I tend to over complicate and think too much about certain things yet I find life is easier when I dumb myself and make things simple and easy to understand. For instance I have a God in my life that probably differs from the one you have. He is simple and easy to understand because I would drive myself nuts otherwise. It’s a blind faith in a being outside of me that guides me, helps me and is there with me no matter what. I call him or her God out of mere convenience. It’s a more palatable name for most people and the most common reference amongst my peers. Personally, it doesn’t matter what I call Him or Her or even It. The point is that somewhere along the way of my struggles I discovered that there is this power greater than myself that works in my life.

I spent so many years bashing religion and even God because of the hypocrisy of it all. It didn’t make sense that followers of God no matter what religion were pushy and didn’t live up to what they preached. Once I entered a 12 step program for drinking and drug addiction I found that I had to have a “God” in my life or else I was destined to die if I continued on my downward spiral of a life or worse I would live to watch it crash and prolong my inner agony.

My God is pretty vague and unspecific. I am open to the fact that it might be something inside of me acting as as God or it could be the electrons in the air I breathe. God could be anything and I don’t want ot bother myself with details. The one that I pray to works for me for the most part. I took a leap of blind faith and it works. I found that the more I did to help others and to remain on a path of righteousness I felt better. I could go on and on about my reliance of God. The important thing to me is I found a “God” that works for me most of the time. I try to work for him. Faith without works is dead as the religionists say.

Here’s the rub. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and anxiety. Sometimes, the anxiety gets real bad. I can pray all I want and it doesn’t go away. It’s the same when I am depressed or manic. I’ve learned that it’s part of my life and who I am and I have to accept it and go through the pains and take my medications and don’t blame or get mad at God. Otherwise I’ll give up on Him and then I’ll have no God and go back to old behaviors and probably drinking and doing drugs.

A friend of mine who suffers from similar things warned me about praying during episodes of anxiety. He said I could get angry and lose faith if I’m not careful. I have to take action to take care of my “mental illness”  as I refer to it.

That’s how Ideal with it. I pray everyday to an unspecific power that I call God asking for his direction for the day. If I have any anxiety, depression or mania I don’t expect him to remove it immediately. I take my medication and do the things I was taught to handle it like eat and talk about it to someone. Overall it makes my spiritual life stronger and my mental breakdowns and anxiety is tolerable. Deep inside I know He’s with me through the pains of life and I have accept the terms I have been given.

The best phrases I’ve heard and used, as corny as they sound, are one day at a time and this too shall pass. I remember this no matter what I am feeling and going through and in the end I come out better.

I am happy and grateful despite my handicaps due to my strong faith in a God that may or may not exist. It doesn’t matter. He works with me and for me if I ask. Just not in the time frame I want.


June 19, 2010

The word sad is defined as being affected by grief or unhappiness. That’s where I’m at today. I’m sad. I feel grief. One year ago today my Father dies. My adopted Father for those that don’t know. I was “adopted” when I was eleven years old by my fourth and fifth grade teacher and her husband. Technically, they were my legal guardians. Although, I never call them Mom and Dad that’s what they are to me.

I’m not sure if I’m sad because I’m supposed to be or if the memories are coming back from last year and it’s causing the sadness. It could be living with my Mother that I feel her sadness. It’s probably a combination of all of the above. I’m not sure if I’m depressed or not but I definitely feel sadness. I’m not used to feeling real feelings that normal people feel over normal situations. I’m used to feeling emotions for things that “normal” people wouldn’t. Things like obsessing over women or things or crying or getting angry over little things like stubbing my toe or having to get out of bed. I haven’t felt that way for a long time over silly things so when something real hits me it’s unusual.

It is a strange thing that people seem to react to dates, anniversaries, holidays birthdays and such. We’re supposed to feel a certain way because it’s a certain date. This is the day that your Father died so you should be sad. It’s Christmas so you should be happy and giving. It’s your birthday and depending how old you are you are supposed to feel happy or sad. Do the actual dates trigger the feelings based on memories or does the body naturally react knowing what the day means? Some dates I skip over and forget they even exist and then I remember and look back to how I felt that date and it seemed appropriate to the date.

All I know is that the past week a lingering sadness has been building up to today. I feel sad. I can handle it today for I have a greater being in my life today. I have friends and family to talk to today. I have a good life despite my loss. I miss him and he will live on in my very existence.

Bill Marlin

August 12th 1931-

June 19th 2009

Don’t – a Spoken Word Poem Video

June 16, 2010


June 12, 2010

I have spirituality today that flows through me most of the time whether I want it to or not. I prefer having it. Many people judge me by the subversive art, writings and music I create and don’t think that it’s humanly possible for me to be a spiritual being. At times I’ve struggled with the outwardly contradictions of my creations and my spiritual beliefs. I’ve had people ask me “YOU believe in god?” I always laugh it off and say yes. They either accept my answer or they don’t. Usually it’s not an issue.

What is spirituality? Merriam-Webster online dictionary has several definitions.


1 : something that in ecclesiastical law belongs to the church or to a cleric as such

2 : clergy

3 : sensitivity or attachment to religious values

4 : the quality or state of being spiritual

It defines Spiritual

1 : of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal <spiritual needs>

2 a : of or relating to sacred matters <spiritual songs> b : ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal <spiritual authority> <lords spiritual>

3 : concerned with religious values

4 : related or joined in spirit <our spiritual home> <his spiritual heir>

5 a : of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena b : of, relating to, or involving spiritualism : spiritualistic

I believe it’s a personal thing. It’s a personal relationship with a “higher power”. It’s something outside of me that flows inward. It is relative to a “spirit” but not a standard definition for me. I believe in keeping in close contact with this “spirit” through prayer, meditation and through some of the people I hang out with that I can maintain a spiritual balance. It also requires action. I can pray and meditate all that want but nothing is going to change if I don’t make an effort in living my life the best I can. Hopefully I can help others in the process.

In the past year and a half or so I have learned some key elements that have helped strengthen and maintain my spiritual being. First of all “God” as I chose to call him, has become more important everyday. He is the most important part of my life and if I expect to have a useful pleasurable life I need to grow spiritually. I’ve learned that I must take actions against my will on a daily basis. Do what my selfish brain doesn’t want me to do like be there for friends and family and even strangers. Helping others is an important factor to my spiritual well being as well. I’ve also learned that it is not about me. Despite my self absorbed projects and creative ventures I must remain aware of contributing to society and my fellow man.

I believe in karma. Whatever happens to me is a result of something I did. If I do the right thing in most situations then the right thing will happen. The while do unto others as you would have them do unto you way of living is the best way to go. If I treat everyone well then I usually get treated well and feel good. If I treat people like shit then I get the same back.

These are pretty simple concepts. I don’t want to debate religion or God. I am merely expressing my views that grow everyday I act on them. Overall, I appreciate life today. I am grateful for my God, friends, family and you.

My art, writings and music are merley pains and darkness within me being released. Once I get them out creatively I usually feel better. It doesn’t matter whether I draw pictures, write stories or songs about serial killers, Satan, demons, sexual perversions, and if I curse. It’s part of who I am and I am still a spiritually developing human being finding my voice and my way through this sometimes-crazy thing called life. I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

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