Tag Archive: Disorders


Finding Hope

English: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. *...

English: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. * Additional noise reduction performed by Diliff. Original image by Luc Viatour. Français : L’éclipse totale de soleil en 1999 faite en France. * Réduction du bruit réalisée par Diliff. Image d’origine Luc Viatour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is very frightening to fall into the abyss of bipolar depression. It is like the eclipse of the sun, plunging us into darkness and chaos. Suddenly nothing seems certain. Our dreams and hopes for the future are shattered. We wonder if we will ever be the same again. We may be so lost that we end up in hospitals and institutions, receiving frightening treatments and medicated to the hilt. We feel like freaks, isolated from society and often rejected and misunderstood by our family and friends. We may even attempt suicide as a way to end our pain. How then can we find hope? How do we make sense of what has happened to us? Hope and faith in something are the cornerstones for recovery. The way we gain that is by observing the cycles of death and rebirth in nature, joining a support group and meeting others who have overcome similar challenges, and developing a faith in something bigger than ourselves, such as a Higher Power. We may find that we can help others through our own experiences. We realize we have more compassion for others who have suffered the same trials we have. Can we go back to where we were before? No, we still have an illness. But we can learn to take care of ourselves by taking medication, getting therapy to learn to better handle our illness, and most importantly, by not isolating ourselves. We can learn to see ourselves and our sufferings as a spiritual process, one of death and rebirth, grieve our losses and move on. We can recognize that everybody has challenges to overcome, some less obvious than others. We gain a greater appreciation  and admiration of the strength of those who have overcome obstacles in their paths and realize that we have the same strengths. We need no longer  beat up on ourselves, mental illness is not a moral failing. And we can see life as more of a journey than a destination, in the final analysis it is how we cope with our challenges that matters, not our achievements. We can turn our losses into gains.

Ask yourself: What have I learned from my experiences? Have I learned to take better care of myself? Have I learned to ask for help when I need it?

The Meaning in Suffering

3 candles

3 candles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whatever is to give light must endure burning
Victor Frankl

There is no doubt that as people with bipolar disorder we have suffered greatly, a suffering that most people cannot understand. We have stood on the pinnacle of life and also in the depths of hell. It is not self-pity to recognize where we have come from, but we cannot stay there. Being a helpless victim is a form of living death. We must take the lessons we have learned from our experiences and move forward. There is a reason for everything that happens to us, even if we can’t see it at the time. Before we were ever born we were given certain challenges to overcome. It may seem strange at first to believe that we agreed to live this particular life. But if you see this life as a “school” where we learn certain lessons, it makes our suffering bearable. Does that mean that we “deserve” what has happened to us? Of course not. But our suffering can bring about a sense of compassion that we might otherwise have lacked, a desire to help others who have suffered the way we have. It may bring forth certain gifts that we didn’t know we had, and a desire to live a more meaningful life. We can take heart from others who have suffered as well. Psychiatrist Victor Frankl spent time in a Nazi concentration camp. Not only did he survive, but he authored several books on the psychology of survival, and came up with a new type of therapy based on his experiences. This shows that however bad our suffering has been, we can use our experiences to help ourselves and others. We don’t have to do anything grand, small kindnesses toward others can go a long way.

Ask yourself, “What have I gained from my experiences? What hidden talents have been uncovered by my suffering? How can I use my experiences to help myself and others?

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder (Photo credit: SheriW1223)

In the midst of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

Albert Camu

For those of us who experience the terrible mood swings of bipolar disorder, the idea of experiencing normal human emotion seems almost laughable. How do we know what “real” happiness is when the ecstasy of mania turns just as easily to despondency? How do we find that center of being within us to weather the storms of our unpredictable emotional life?

There is that point of being within all of us that the mystics call “I Am.” Simply put, this is the part of us that has never lost touch with the sublime, our “God-Center.” This is our “Higher-Self“, our ” Buddha nature” or “Christ-consciousness.” It is the part of ourselves that simply sits back and observes the storms of life, judging them as neither good nor bad, right or wrong. It is the part that accepts the cyclical nature of life, the pendulum moving back and forth. And it is the part that sees through the essential “maya” or illusion of our experiences.

By learning to see through this center of being we can learn to accept our mood swings as the unreality that they are. Does this mean we have to roll over and allow ourselves to be tormented? Of course not. Medication is essential, so is therapy, and a strong base of social support. But for many of us we still experience mood swings, though hopefully not as bad as before treatment. This is where a strong spiritual base is important, a belief in a Higher Reality that can carry us through the “maya” of our ups and downs. What is that higher reality? All the major religions agree that it is love. By that realization we can find that “invincible summer” within us.

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night. Oil on can...

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night. Oil on canvas, 73×92 cm, 28¾×36¼ in. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” 

Vivian Greene

I am learning that happiness is a journey, not a destination. I will always have bipolar disorder. If I wait until everything in my life is perfect before I move on with my life, then I will stay in the same place forever.

As if having bipolar disorder wasn’t bad enough, I also am trying to cope with fibromyalgia. I no longer work, and even carrying out daily activities can be hard. A simple trip to the grocery store can leave me exhausted and in pain for days.

I was discussing in my last post about how I believe that everything that happens to me has a purpose. In this case, having a physical illness and not being able to hold down an outside job has caused me to re-evaluate my life. I feel that the Universe is nudging me into a different direction to pursue my writing.

I am a complete perfectionist and this is what has held me back for years and years. Again the Universe seems to be telling me “Get over yourself and do it already!”

So here I am embarking on a new adventure. Let’s see what I learn from this…

America - home of the red, white and BLUES

America – home of the red, white and BLUES (Photo credit: Treasure Tia)

Now in my previous posts I have talked about how everything that happens to us has only one purpose, to contribute to our spiritual growth. I want to tell you about how these principles have worked and are still working in my life.

First of all, I have to admit that I am still learning. I am not always very good at applying these ideas to myself. It is easy to believe in abstract ideology, but hard to practice it. However when I do practice these principles, my life becomes much easier.

So I’ll give you a little history about myself and how I have been blessed by having bipolar disorder. Understand that at the times that these things happened, the idea of anything good coming out of them would have been laughable to me (that is, if I had been able to laugh). Hindsight is 20/20.

Career-wise having a nervous breakdown and getting fired from my job of twelve years was the best thing that ever happened to me. At the time, though, I was convinced that I was a total failure. I had zero confidence in myself even before I was fired. I worked a meaningless entry-level job. Every once in a while I would try to learn a new job there to advance myself, but I ended up always giving up because I was afraid of being judged. The same thing happened when I tried to finish college.  I yearned for a meaningful job, but I was too paralyzed to go for it.

It didn’t help my confidence any when a “friend” of mine actually told me that a monkey could do my job. Unfortunately, he wasn’t far off the mark.

After I was fired, I went through the worst depression of my life. I was hospitalized multiple times and I think even the doctors started giving up on me.  I felt helpless and hopeless.

Eventually I found a support group to go to and it helped a little. I found out that it was sponsored by the Mental Health Association (now called Mental Health America). I started going to other groups that they offered and I started to see some real improvement in my moods. I also got to know some of the staff there. Then a miracle happened. I was offered a job as a peer supporter at a new mental health center they were starting.

I felt completely at home there. I knew that this was what I was supposed to be doing.  All my fear and self-consciousness was gone. I became a much more confident person and I felt good about myself for the first time in my life. The love and support I found there among the staff and the members was just awesome.

I finally had a purpose to my life. I didn’t have a college degree and I wasn’t an expert by the world’s definition, but I did have something to give. I was an expert on myself. All I had to do was share what worked for me in my recovery, hoping that what I had to say would help others as well. And it worked both ways too. I received just as much, if not more, help as I gave.

*********************************************************************************

“Stay tuned” for the second half of my post. 😉

Bipolar coords

Bipolar coords (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So in my last post I was talking about how we attract certain situations into our lives in order to learn from them. This has nothing to do with punishment or blame. It is about the Universe giving us another chance to get things right.

To me it is a comfort to know that the Universe gives me unlimited chances to correct my mistakes. I don’t have to worry about suffering endlessly if I screw things up.  Another opportunity lies right around the corner. I only have to choose to take it.

Easier said than done, of course.  I certainly don’t like the process most of the time. But in hindsight I can see the benefits of my hard experiences.

Learning from our suffering is very different from just enduring it.  It is an active process, not a passive one. It isn’t about being a martyr. It is about actively taking responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. It means humbling ourselves enough to admit that we don’t know everything and that we need Spirit’s help. It also involves the willingness to change, even if it is scary.

There is a saying that goes: “We change as we will, or we change as we must.”  In other words, we can do it the easy (or easier) way or we can do it the hard way.

Personally I am a bit tired of having my ass whupped by my bipolar disorder (lol). It often takes a crisis for me to get the message that I need to change something.  It forces me down on my knees to ask Spirit for help because I have run out of options.

But there is an easier way. It involves constantly asking for Divine help in order to see the Truth in every situation I am in, instead of relying on my flawed emotional perceptions.

English: Tibetan endless knot Nederlands: Tibe...

English: Tibetan endless knot Nederlands: Tibetaanse Oneindige knoop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have discovered in the course of my journey that life and psychic growth move in cycling spiral rings of descent and ascent. Every new growth in myself has been preceded by a descent of the seed into the dark ground.

Linda Shierse Leonard

I believe that I have been given the experience of having bipolar disorder for a reason. It is here in my life to teach me. Now that doesn’t mean I am a Pollyanna about it. Far from it. There are many times when I rail against my fate. I get angry at God and the Universe. It feels like I am the most cursed person in the world.  I feel like it is a punishment and if I could just atone for my sins that everything would be okay.

But on my better days I see that it has forced me to grow as a person. I say “forced” because quite frankly, it is very painful to go through. I don’t seem to be the type of person who changes easily.  Once I get in my comfort zone, I won’t budge. It mostly has to do with fear of being judged. I know where I want to be and what I need to do, but I become paralyzed by knowing that whatever I do it won’t be perfect.

Hermann Kuhn, quoting from his translation of the Tattvarthasutra, describes karma as “a mechanism that makes us thoroughly experience the themes of our life until we gained optimal knowledge from them and until our emotional attachment to these themes falls off.”

Now karma is not a punishment. It is a tool for learning from our mistakes. And it doesn’t have to come from a past life. It is a process that goes on in our daily lives all the time.  The Bible describes it as “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

Closely related to the idea of karma is the concept of “The Law of Attraction.” Basically it says that we attract certain experiences into our lives based on our thoughts and beliefs. So for instance if you want money or health, you can visualize this happening.  It has worked for a lot of people. It is a good idea as far as it goes, but ultimately I think that it is a self-serving ideology that appeals mainly to what the ego wants. And it places blame on those who go through the very real experience of suffering every single day.

I once asked a New Thought minister about whether he thought suffering has any value. He dismissed it by saying “Not if you think the right way.”  And yet he, just like everyone else, got sick from time to time. His way of describing a cold was as ” a cleansing process.” That made me laugh, and maybe seeing it that way did help him get better faster. But it was also a form of denial. A cold is still miserable no matter what you call it. Later on, his wife died of cancer.

The word EGO can mean “Edging God Out.”  The ego wants what it wants, and if it is in line with what Spirit wants then positive thinking can bring it about. On the other hand it can be a waste of time if you don’t pay attention as to why you are in your present situation. Sometimes it is best not to fight it, but instead surrender to what is.

So basically we attract into our lives situations that we need to learn from and they won’t go away until we get the message.

“Stay tuned” for the second half of my post 😉

Namaste  (“The Spirit in me sees the Spirit in you”)

Welcome to the Funhouse

spirituality

spirituality (Photo credit: Loulair Harton)

Hi! My name is Mary Rogers and I am starting this blog to give hope and inspiration for those who suffer from Bipolar Disorder, as I do.  My goal is to give a spiritual point of view of recovery from mental illness. Although I can’t give advice, I am hoping that by sharing my story it may help others come to terms with having depression or bipolar disorder and learn how to manage it through spiritual means.

To me, bipolar disorder is like being in the hall of mirrors in a funhouse. Sometimes it is fun, but most of the time it’s not. When I look into the mirrors, reality is distorted. Which one should I believe?  How do I know what reality is if I’ve never even seen it?

For most of my life I have been captive to my turbulent emotions. They distort my reality to the point that madness seems normal and it is everyone else who is out of step. If I am suicidal it seems ludicrous to think that there is anything good in the world. In fact I wonder why anyone would want to live.

Of course, there is the flip side to the story. In my rare and brief periods of mania I feel like I can touch the sky and nothing is out of my reach.  All the circuits light up in my brain and suddenly everything seems so simple.  I fall captive to the idea that I am so spiritually enlightened that I will never be depressed again.

And then comes the inevitable fall.

In recent years I have realized that recovery from mental illness is hard work. Medication helps, but it doesn’t fix everything.  And developing a spiritual perspective is hard work also, but well worth the effort. Unfortunately, it isn’t likely that  lightning from the heavens is going to strike me and I will be magically healed.

However, I am finding that for me spirituality is an important part of my recovery. If I can see things from a Higher Perspective then it puts my suffering into a completely new context.  From that context I can move beyond my limited vision of how things are or should be based on my emotional state.

My life is a journey and I have accepted this as my path.  There is nothing that can happen to me that doesn’t have some sort of lesson for me to learn.  Everything is a gift.

I hope you will join me on my journey.  My answers may not be your answers but I hope you will find inspiration here.

See you next time!

Mary