Church and bipolar disorder

Church and bipolar disorder

I have bipolar 2 and I am a Christian. But I am having a hard time getting support or care for my mental health through my local church. I am a leader in my local church-so I have asked the other leadership team members for prayer. They say they will-but I have not had a time of prayer with them for my health. It is almost like a taboo topic. Some of them will ask me how am I doing. Then with a wink and a nod they move on to another topic. One man said we'll pray but lets just keep this among ourselves. Is it a common experience to have mental health issues ignored? I live with this stuff in my head everyday. My family thinks that my health is a spiritual issue. Maybe a lack of faith. Whether I'm depressed or manic or having a panic attack or hallucinating-it does not seem spiritual to me. I do have good care with my pdoc and case manager and I am on meds and getting therapy. But the church seems to fall short of what they could be doing. As for now they want to let the pros handle it. Any of you had luck getting care through your church?
Thanks

sjbarber1
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Re: Church and bipolar disorder

My husband is bipolar and we are also leaders in our church.  The church has not offered any support.  At one point a few of the men from our church prayed with my husband to believe in healing and go off of his meds.  It was a nightmare for both of us.  Do not let anyone talk you into going off of your meds.  My husband went back on meds after a couple of months, but it took awhile for him to be stabilized again.  His faith is challenged because he feels that God has not healed him.  It is difficult for us.

atorres
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I have only vaguely mentioned my problems at life groups in church.  I love my church, and my pastor has made it clear in sermons that mental illness is real, and nothing to be ashamed of, and needs to be treated with meds AND therapy AND prayer.  With the recent suicide of Rick Warren's son, I would think most churches would be more understanding and trying to help those who are suffering with mental illness.  I know Rick Warren and his wife are very involved with helping those suffering bipolar/depression/personality disorders.  Maybe check them out, their church has a website.  I'm sure it wont be long until they publish a book about their and their sons struggles.  This is something that I think is finally going to be addressed by Christianity as more than just a "lack of faith".  It is as real a medical issue as cancer.  It has been looked down upon for too long as simply a failure of the person to try hard enough, pray enough etc.  I believe God made me this way, and he allows me to feel this way, so he will bring me through it, all things in his time.  But it is not all for loss, there is a reason for it.  And he wont let me fall.

Winnie
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Thank you for sharing.  I am encouraged and I will be looking for Rick Warren to come out with a book about his family's struggles.

atorres
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The best you can do is educate your church even if you had a small bible study for it or something. The more people understand the less scary it seems. I'm lucky to have a pastor who is educated on mental health and people in the church who also have varying forms of mental health problems. There are a few people in the church who don't understand and are stuck in there ways and never want to leave their comfort zone. But thankful I have a great support system. God has given a way to heal me he has put doctors in this world who have the right medication to help me function and interact better with people in order to share the true gospel. If you break your arm you don't just pray God heal me you go to a doctor and get it fixed. That statement has help me understand that it is ok that I have bipolar disorder and I'm not unfaithful servant to God.

Shannon12
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Thank you so much for sharing.  I think  the bible study is a great idea.

atorres
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I've been in the same situation in regards to sharing my Bipolar diagnosis with friends at church, and sadly, I was greatly let down when I shared my feelings of depression at a young adult bible study and realized that my church family could not offer me any biblical wisdom about my illness. Fortunately, if you are seeing a good psychiatrist, mental health counselor, and maybe a few close friends who can keep your diagnosis in confidence, they should be enough of a support for you. I suggest that you don't share your diagnosis with just anyone at your church because uneducated people can make judgement calls accidentally if they are not familiar with Bipolar themselves. I hope that you continue to find the support you need both in and outside of the church.

Augusta87
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Re: Church and bipolar disorder

this is very tough. But any church that says , get off your meds, is crazy and dangerous. They think you have a demon or something............ leave now... don't look back...NO church wants to hear about this but you CAN slip it in slowly and educate them . just don't expect them to "cure" you. they are just as messed up sometimes in their own ways.
actually churches should be ashamed for the lack of outreach they have.

Sometimes I tell them I have diabetes and I am in pain and will take meds everyday for the rest of my life then I wait until they pray for me and say a bunch of nice stuff. Then I say" I lied...... I have another illness that it just as bad and I have pain everyday and take meds everyday and I will have to do this for the rest of my life." Then I say I'm BiPolar. and then wait to see what happens. At the end I just say, " Being Bi Polar is the same as Diabetes. God's not going to cure diabetes or set a broken bone.
Some people will never talk to you again, but screw em. I'm telling the truth. Get used to it.
Can't fix stupid.

jmb
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Re: Church and bipolar disorder

I stopped going to church altogether and lost my faith. It had started to seem that churches said nothing and did nothing that embodied the Jesus I knew in the Bible. They were all about reinforcing the values of the suburban soccer mom culture around them. My children and I did not fit in so we were ignored (and alienated in my children's case from all religion). They did not pursue any controversial social justice goals either. Plus they sidestepped science and philosophy and medicine and could not answer challenges to their assumptions. In a word, they were ignorant. So I wandered away.
I very recently felt a yearning to return to God and that meant becoming a member of a "church" again. I found a very small denomination with a very small parish (15 people!) and they are lovely people I feel at home with (no small feat for me). I have communicated with the pastor/priest and she bears with me when my illness gets the better of me and I lash out, or much more often, am thrown into a guilt-ridden depression. I have not formally announced I have a mental illness (although the very first time I went, she tried to talk to me afterward and I was so overwhelmed I said I had social anxiety and the situation was very difficult for me!
After my church experiences (including the church I was raised in that was also hypocritical) I am not going to keep faith with any group that does not accept and welcome me as a mentally ill person. I am not capable of "hiding" it so I have no choice, but even if I did I would not acquiesce in such ungodly behavior because it is simply not Christian. God does not want anyone to have to hide their true selves to be counted as his children.
I am sorry you are "invisible" in your church. I hope you will make a point of addressing them for their blindness and leave if they don't start "seeing" you and everyone else with mental illnesses. We have been an open secret too long.

kathy.brannon
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Re: Church and bipolar disorder

I would really, really like to talk to someone virtually about spirituality and bipolar disorder, and particularly church and mental illness. If anyone is interested, please reply. I am not sure of forum rules so please feel free to educate me if necessary regarding how this works.

sc
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