Health Disorders and Spirituality
by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.
If you or your loved one is suffering from a
mental health disorder have you ever wondered where your
Higher Power is? (For the purposes of convenience, I hope I do
not offend anyone by using the term "God". I know
that for many of us, God can mean many different things). Or
perhaps you have decided there is no God. How could there be
when you or your loved one suffers so?
Maybe you do believe in God but you angry with Him. (some
folks say Her).
If you * are * like me, having mental health disorders has
most definitely caused spiritual confusion, anger at God,
I bring this up as very recently I have and am going through
what I would call a "spiritual crisis." Well, that
would mean many different things for many different people. I
can only speak for myself. I am hoping this experience will
have some impact on you as well.
For many years I have pictured in my head a "perfect
package" of much of the meaning of my existence, the
"reason" I have suffered so much in my life and my
purpose in this world today. It was a tight package and it
gave me peace and happiness. Only it was blown up very
recently which caused me to realize that it was only of my own
making in my own mind.
I have shared with all of you countless times that I like you
have suffered a great deal due to being mentally disabled. I
have mentioned that I could not stand the thought that that
suffering had no meaning and that if it had a purpose, I could
accept that and be happy with that. It is very difficult
sometimes to accept such hardship and disability to have
happened for no purpose.
My presence here in mental health on the Internet and on this
newsletter was like riding a bicycle. It was normal, natural
and seemed to occur "on it's own."
I gave the suffering from my mental health disorders meaning,
that without those experiences, I would not and could not be
doing what I am hopefully doing now and hopefully that is to
help others like myself.
Though this is never a reason why I became involved with the
Internet, I felt later that somehow I had "earned"
the right to stop hurting. These feelings did not come until
much later and was a side thought.
This was a pretty cool package to live with huh? I "did
my time" and now I could be there for others.
So what was it that busted up my comfortable package? As a
person with bipolar disorder; I'll be honest I am not sure how
I would address this with the BPD, I am finally coming out of
denial that I am not sitting here waiting for the right med
cocktail that will make Patty go into remission for the rest
of her life.
Every book, practically every article I read, all remind me
that the bipolar disorder is a chronic disorder and even if
the person is taking medication, mania or hypomania and
depression still break through. Don't worry, I'm not going to
leave you depressed at the end of this newsletter but I am
Our DSL line has been up and down lately and I was unable to
work on the computer. Oh boy! For that to happen to a
workaholic is quite a challenge.
So, I decided to start researching the bipolar disorder pretty
thoroughly and starting putting down some important
information for this newsletter and for the website. I read
and read. The more I read, the more upset I became. Finally I
reached a point where I felt as if I had received my death
sentence. That is when I finally came out of denial that I
will continue to relapse with my bipolar disorder in spite of
good medications. I cried for two days and went into a manic
My thoughts at this time did not make a lot of sense. I told
my partner I wish I had the courage to take my life because I
could not stand to continue living this way, especially with
the depression. I felt that my life was over and all my dreams
to come in the future could not take place.
One of my biggest wishes is to be a grandmother if my daughter
has a child. However in that current mode I knew I would still
be ill and up and down and I "just could not put my
grandchildren threw that." There of course have been
times where I have been in remission where my full personality
has been able to come out but I never feel I "get to hear
the end of the song." Always ahead "something
horrible" awaits me.
It was then that I realized that things like mental illness,
car accidents, etc. are not good nor bad. It is through our
eyes that gives them these qualities. Things happen, they just
happen haphazardly and there is no quality within them that
take on these feelings. Feelings and pain belong to people.
They do not belong to events. Perhaps there does not have to
have a purpose to everything I wondered.
I went out to the used bookstore and got the book "When
Bad Things Happen to Good People." I haven't read it yet.
Soon. I also got a book to comfort me about "real
life" stories about people who have experiences with
angels and miracles. As I thought about it later, I thought it
rather arrogant for people to claim such events. Who are they
to say for example that an angel has cured them of cancer when
Joe Bloe is not? In fact, perhaps Joe may have a horrible slow
death and he may have been a very spiritual, wonderful human
Mental health disorders bring up many spiritual issues I think
for consumers and those that love them.
I promised I would not leave you depressed.
I don't have the answers of course. However I do believe that
you and I have a purpose here. It's ok that we don't have all
the answers. We never will.
You must remember also that remissions from the bipolar
disorder can go only for many, many years. Many people with
this disorder have very happy lives and have learned to manage
their illness. As I mentioned above, keeping a regular
schedule, etc. all help a great deal. We do have * some *
Having the BP is * not * a death sentence. You must remember
that people feel a variety of feelings when they fully come
out of denial. Many times we catastrophize and are not
thinking rationally. I do not think that anymore. In fact I am
more devoted to being stable more than ever. I am even buying
stuff to eat for breakfast and I hate breakfast. (grin) It is important to eat three meals a day.
We don't have to change our ways in one day. It is a process
of taking off the old and putting on the new.
Would you believe that this happened only 3 to 4 days ago and
today I am doing fine? I still need to work through my
spiritual crisis however and so must many of us.
Mental Health Matters for information
and articles. Get
help to find
a therapist or list
your practice; and Psych
Forums for message boards on a variety of MH topics.
Copyright © Patty Fleener, M.S.W. All