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.

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