Finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder

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 I took this picture at Changi Beach, Singapore.

Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for your prayers and encouragements. Thank God for His many mercies.

The stress and strain of preparing for Chinese New Year (on 14, 15 and 16 Feb) plus the family obligations related to it have drained me and worsened my depression over the last 1 week. I was very unwell the whole week and especially so yesterday. Last night I began to question the purpose of life and began wishing the Lord will take me home soon.

Thank God this morning the Lord strengthened me. I felt better and was able to go for my church's morning service. The Word of God sang and preached comforted me. I realized that the sense of life being meaningless and wishing to be gone, are signs of worsening depression. Whenever I am better or well, I do find life very meaningful and fulfilling in Christ as I walk with Him and serve Him and His people.

I am thankful that my medicine is helping me and I am preserved from prolonged severe depression which I used to experience for months for some 18 years prior to my diagnosis 3 years ago. Now my relapses are more manageable though it takes time to get well and careful management while waiting upon the Lord. Occasionally it takes a dip and I go very down, like last evening. Strain and stress does worsened my condition and it is a challenge daily for me to learn to manage them. I thank God for His many mercies. I know I would not have made it this far without the Lord holding me tightly. Thank God that we have our Lord Jesus Christ!

Today I was re-reading portions of a book written by Marja Bergen, one of my fellow blogger, entitled "A Firm Place to Stand: Finding meaning in a life with Bipolar Disorder". I was greatly encouraged by Marja's sharing of God's goodness and mercies to her, and His abundant love in her struggles with the ups and downs of bipolar disorder. I am comforted by the reminder that God is with us through the ups and downs of life, and He is working all things for His glory and our good, even through such illnesses as depression or bipolar. He has a plan for our lives and even this is working together towards His divine purposes.

Marja has also written the following very encouraging article on finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder. Hope you will be encouraged by her sharing too.
Finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder
by Marja Bergen

Mental illness is not all bad. I have lived with bipolar disorder for over forty years and have found it has many benefits. I couldn’t imagine living without it and am not at all unhappy with my life. In many ways, I value what this illness has made possible for me.

With effective medication to keep symptoms under control, people with bipolar disorder can live a close-to-normal life. Yes, moods will fluctuate and cause occasional problems, and treatment will need adjustment. Suffering will always be part of my life. But I accept the way God, the Great Potter, made me. I am rich on many levels.

Like many people with this disorder, I am very creative. I receive a lot of pleasure from photography and using my imagination. The deep emotions I experience, although painful, are a source of richness; I feel completely human. My frequent hard times have helped me appreciate the good times and I make the most of them. Spiritually, I’m stronger for having had to deal with great trials. The fires I’ve passed through have refined me.

Most of all, I appreciate the compassion I am able to have for others who suffer from depression and other mental health issues. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1: 4 hold true for me. I praise God “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received.” God has shown me his love, and I want to pass that love on to others.

Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to be part of a church community that has supported me and helped me grow spiritually. With the Christ-like love they have shown me, I have come to understand how great God’s love is. In turn, I now help others through a support group and one-on-one, in person and through my blog. I feel fulfilled. The language of suffering I’ve learned helps me connect with people in trouble. I am able to understand them in a way many others could not.

I feel a bit like Patch Adams in the Robyn Williams film. While Patch is a patient in a psychiatric hospital, he discovers his ability to connect with people. He learns to understand his severely disturbed roommate to see the person behind the illness and helps him through his problems. Not only does this delight Patch, it makes him a well man.

Patch eagerly tells his doctor he is well and needs to leave the hospital. I connected to another human being, he said. I want to do more of that. I want to learn about people. I want to help them with their troubles. I want to really listen to people. Connecting with other people gave Patch joy. It gives me joy, too. When God places you in this role a role he made for you joy happens. Walking with people through some of their toughest times is rewarding and a privilege.

Bipolar disorder will always be with me, and I suffer many high and low moods. But, I don’t feel I’m a victim of the disease. God has helped me find a way to make my illness work for me instead of against me.

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ (Jeremiah 29:11) God has a plan for each of us. Though we might have a severe illness such as bipolar disorder, God has work for us to do. Eventually, we can use what God has given us even the bad and turn it into something good.

Marja Bergen is the author of Riding the Roller Coaster: Living with Mood Disorders (Northstone, 1999) and a new book for Christians about living successfully with bipolar disorder (to appear). She is the founder of Living Room, a faith-based Mood Disorders Association of BC support group. Her blog, marjabergen.blogspot.com, deals with mental health and faith issues. She can be reached at info@candidsbymarja.com.

This article is published on the website of CanadianChristianity.com and reproduced here with the kind permission of Marja.


Take care and have a blessed week!

Warm Regards,
Nancie

18 Kind thoughts:

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

I just hate bipolar depression. it feels as if it will just swallow you up until you disappear. been fighting with it some myself of late. I am so glad it is rarely a problem for me. I pray you will keep doing better. Love and huggles!

Barbara said...

Hi! Nancie

As awful as you feel and have felt, this post shows how much youhave recovered since yesterday. To be able to, and want to write in such a way is inspiring and shows how much life there is pumping away in you in spite of how you feel.

I know that I do not suffer the same depths that you do but I have struggled big time this long, cold, wet, sunless and icy winter. Upbeat one day and another day feeling that life is just too much.
Beneath it all though I know that is now who I really am. My real life is hidden in Christ and His life is in me no matter how it looks at any given moment.The ups are His and the downs are His. Believing that and taking the next step is what gets me through the hard times.

Good to know that we do not suffer alone and that there is purpose in it.

More Than Conquerors said...

Hi Michelle,

Bipolar depression is indeed awful. Thank God that He is with us and works His good out of it. Thank you for your prayers. I am praying for you too.

Love and Huggles,
Nancie

More Than Conquerors said...

Hi Barbara!

It is so good to hear from you. I was just thinking of you last evening and I went over to your blog to read your story. But I was too tired and could only read a small portion. I love to know more about you and how the Lord has helped you. I hope to return to read your story soon!

Thanks for your visits and kind words of encouragements. Thank God for seeing you through your own tough times! Yes, it is such a comfort to know that we do not suffer alone and there is a purpose in it. Our lives is hid in Christ and He loves us dearly no matter how we feel or what we go through. This is such a blessed assurance. May God bless and keep you in His love daily!

With love and prayers,
Nancie

Joyfulsister said...

Hi Sis,
Depression takes a whole lot of energy and leaves you with so much fatigue, and just makes your body feel every ache. I have been there and stress just makes it worse, so I'm glad you listened to your body and got some rest. Continued prayers my sista...

Luv ya lots Lorie

Serendipity said...

Hi Nancie, hope you are feeling better now. Sorry I've not been visiting, have been on a break myself ;-) Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. Likewise :-) God bless you! Take good care now and don't over exert yourself.

More Than Conquerors said...

Hi Lorie,

It's so good to hear from you. Yes, depression is exhausting. I am still learning to manage. Thank God for His many mercies. You are in my thoughts and prayers too, sistah.

Luv ya lots
Nancie

More Than Conquerors said...

Hi LS and Happy,

So good to hear from you! I have not been able to do much blogging or visiting too. Hope you are having a refreshing break and LS is feeling better. Continue to keep you in my prayers. Take care and God bless you!

With love and prayers,
Nancie

Wendy said...

Nancie,
It was so good to see your comment on my blog! I have been praying for you, and had just been specifically thinking about you when you commented:) You are a very special lady, and greatly used of God! This post is amazing. I am amazed that you can post at all, but then when I read what you wrote, I realize that God is using your suffering just as I wrote in a post recently, to crush you like herbs and they let out the most wonderful aroma--even so the aroma of Christ in you is coming out through your being crushed, and, like the herbs must be crushed to be used, so must His purpose be with us, His followers. But, I wish I could somehow relieve you of your depression, dear. Let me encourage you that your life is so very valuable. God has blessed me to know you and, though I don't suffer as I once did from depression, He has encouraged me through your life, that when I do, I can still be an encouragement to others, and greatly used as you are, because we have the same God. He has not left you, He is using you even when you don't realize it to bring Himself glory!
My love and prayers are with you,
Wendy

More Than Conquerors said...

Wendy,

Thanks so much for your prayers and encouragements! They mean a lot to me. Thank you for helping me to see that I can still be used of the Lord to bring glory to Himself even at such a time as this. It is by His grace alone and all glory be to Him!

I am thankful to God for friends like you and many others who are always there to pray and listen to me. During severe depression, I have a tendency to isolate myself which actually make it harder to cope as I will then feel very alone. But it is hard to communicate when I am severely depressed.

I am thankful that now with medical helps, my depression is not as severe. There are pockets of time when I am more functional. During such times, I feel an urge to communicate. Besides communicating more with God, I also feel the need to reach out and share with God's people who can pray and encourage me and remind me of God's love. So I thank God for you and your willingness to accept me, pray for me and encourage me!

May God bless you abundantly for your kindness to me. You are in my thoughts and prayers too. Take care!

With love and prayers,
Nancie

Pia said...

Lord, Heavenly Father, i lift up to you nancie. Father, you know what's going on in nancie's life. you know her pains and discomforts. Lord, i ask in Jesus' name for healing. complete healing from this disorder. Father, your hand is not too short to reach out and touch nancie's body. i'm believing for the restoration of her health. Father, thank you that you are in control. we can completely trust you for whatever is going through in our lives. i pray, Lord, that you lift up the spirit of nancie and remove all traces of depression. Father, i pray that every cell in her body to function the way you designed them to. help nancie in dealing with the everyday chores and stresses that's been caused by this disorder. Lord, i believe that just one touch of your favor can turn things around for her. just one touch of your healing hand can make her whole once again. Father, i humbly ask for your mercy to be upon nancie. not our will but yours be done. and we bring back all the glory and praise to you. in Jesus' mighty name, amen.

jo.attalife said...

I don't even have bp but am suffering enough with depression. Except for God's grace, where would we be?
Nancie I'm praying for you from my corner of the world. You are so loved.

LivingforGod said...

Never give up, Nancie! God is for you and with you. He is using you to bless and encourage others. You are in my prayers. Hugs.

I've recently posted, In the Valleys, on my blog at http://bornagainandblessed.blogspot.com/2010/02/in-valleys.html . You might find it encouraging.

More Than Conquerors said...

Thanks for your, Pia! I am so encouraged to hear from you and very touched by your concerns and prayers. I thank God for you. I keep you in my prayers too. May God keep you and family in His love!

With love and prayers,
Nancie

More Than Conquerors said...

Thanks, Jo, for your prayers and encouragements! It is a joy for me to hear from you. Yes, except for God's grace we will be undone! Thank God for His mercies. May He bless you and family too! Thanks again for your visit and encouragements. Take care!

With love in Christ and prayers,
Nancie

More Than Conquerors said...

Thanks, Urailak (LivingForGod), for your encouragements and prayers! It is such a joy to hear from you. Thank God He is for us and with us through the valleys in our life. I will go over to read your post soon. Thanks again and take care. Hugs back to you!

With love in Christ and prayers,
Nancie

Jessica S. said...

Dear Nancie,

I wanted to say "hello" and thank you for your e-mail.

May our wonderful Lord continue to give you His comfort, peace, and strength.

Prayerfully,

Jessica

More Than Conquerors said...

Dear Jessica,

Thanks for your prayers and encouragements! Thank God for His many mercies. May He keep you and bless you too. Take care!

With love in Christ and prayers,
Nancie

 

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