Monday, 10 March 2008

Spirituality and Bipolar disorder

Many people have "spiritual experiences" with bipolar disorder. These experiences include feelings of being special, of people recognising who you are, of "knowing", of being different, of being the descendant of Jesus or other prophet. These spiritual experiences are delusions, regardless of how good and exciting they feel, and regardless of whether they resemble the description of biblical spiritual experiences, the bipolar experience of spirituality is not real. It is a delusion fuelled by adrenaline and noradrenaline that pours out of the sympathetic nervous system during a manic high of bipolar disorder.

True spiritual experiences come from the experience of a deep peace, certainty and calm. This calmness is a parasympathetic nervous system experience, not a race for the finish. False delusions of a manic high and true spiritual experiences are incompatible. It is not possible to experience the deep calm and peace of true spirituality at the same time as the delightful delusions of hypomania.

There are plenty of stories in the bible describing these delusions. The most famous is Jesus' forty days in the wilderness where he was tempted by demons. These demons were not necessarily nasty scary demons, - they were delightful tempting demons. No one is tempted by terror, well no one apart from a few House of Horror freaks. The temptation was in the feelings of power and specialness that these demons offered. "Demons" also "tempt" people with bipolar disorder and make you think you are special. "Those whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad" Hanging onto hypomanic spiritual delusions that you developed when you were high, is true madness.

The key to sanity is in being ordinary. While you harbour the delusions of specialness that come from bipolar highs, you will be insane on the inside, regardless of how sanely you behave towards the outside world. If you are looking for a true spiritual path, the first step is accepting humility and ordinariness, that is accepting that are an ordinary human being. I have a couple of friends who insist of hanging on their "specialness", because they enjoy the feeling of power that comes from secretly believing they are a Messiah. Unfortunately, refusing to acknowledge that they are ordinary people means their belief system is "unstable" and consequently, they are both at risk of getting ill again.

Bipolar spiritual delusions are dangerous and deceiving. Delusions reflect a massive overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system which leaves a person in a high state of arousal which, not unsurprisingly, distorts their ability to think clearly. These beliefs make a person feel special but they are not backed up in the real world, even if they do result in an almost irresistably seductive feeling of power.

Sanity and saintliness are real and deeply connected. Saints are not mad. An adrenaline soaked vision of being "special" is not saintly, nor humble nor realistic. Only calm rationality leads to the true spirituality of people like Mother Theresa, Ghandi, or the Dalai Lama.

www.lizmiller.co.uk
www.moodmapping.com

88 comments:

Abysmal Musings said...

Sensible words... sensible words...

You should write more - you do it very well.

atb David

Dr. Liz Miller said...

Thanks David,
I am writing a book on Moods - called Mood Mapping
My problem is finishing things, I can just about manage a blog post ;-)

Anonymous said...

bullshit.

Anonymous said...

That is so untrue. I experience deep peace and stilness and have had undeniable spiritual experiences. It turned my whole life around for the better.

Anonymous said...

youve left me very confused, i have so many theories about my bipolar disorder i dont know which is true, ive always been religious from when i was 11, im now 18 but i always thought i was spiritual as well. I think i agree with you about the demons but its not easy to accept that demons are surrounding you tempting you and it scares the crap out of me,if your right then what a decieving illness that gives the illusion of heavenly spiritualness but is manipulated by demons.

Anonymous said...

I completely and utterly disagree with this. You are a bastard, and you want people to conform. I doubt that you have any spiritual connection to God whatsoever.
I practice deep meditation, have conversed with God himself (he is in me, and everyone, waiting patiently, no matter how much we try to shut him out), and have experienced many things similar to those experienced by people 'suffering' from bipolar disorder.
There are no enemies of God, everything that is described when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness was *internal* disillusion. Jesus was battling his own dissonant mental states, not some external tempting demons.
Bipolar disorder, and its effects are internally derived. Thus, they are brought about from God, and they are a way in which God reveals himself to certain individuals.
Also, we are all capable of being saints, equals of Jesus himself, all we need to do is to properly commune with God.
Please don't be so depraved as to rob these people of their sense of connection of God. Please don't let your jealousy at their ease of connecting take control of you and cause you to lash out against those above you.

BipolarBible said...

The key to sanity is realizing that all your thoughts are true at some level. It is about trusting your brain again. You cannot say that your religious experience is more real than mine. In that case all religion is a delusion.

Dr. Liz Miller said...

Please do not think that I do not respect spiritual connections. However I know that in a state of mania and hypomania there is an illusion of spirituality. True spirituality does not come with the hypomanic delusion of being a Messiah but with the humility of a peaceful mind.

Of course, it is possible to be bipolar and spiritual. Even that bipolar enhances spirituality. However this is not the same as the manic delusions that come with hypomania

I have spiritual connections, but not when I am hypomanic. I had ten plus years of bipolar disorder. I am speaking from my own experience and from that of people whom I have talked with about this subject.

In this post I hope to illustrate the difference between true spiritual experiences and those that come from hypomania.

BipolarBible puts it very well

Anonymous said...

I think that a distinction needs to be made here. That is between the delusional aspects of mania and other spiritual aspects of mania. In mania a person may feel that they have some special connection to God that others do not have, like being a prophet or a messiah. This aspect of mania is false and to hang on tightly to these ideas beyond the mania is indeed "madness," to quote the author. It is my impression that this is the main point that the author is trying to get across.

What the author seems not to mention is that although one may have delusions during mania which are not real and need to be abandoned for a person to function well in life again, there can be very spiritual aspects of mania which can lead to valuable spiritual growth, if viewed with the proper caution. Such as a sense of connection between all things or the idea of a universal consciousness that all people are a part of. It seems to me that in mania some people may be playing around with these types of feelings, but get lost (quite severely) somewhere along the way. At some point, they convince themselves of false truths, and can become delusional (in addition to many other symptoms). But that doesn't mean that they aren't dealing with real spiritual issues. They are just in way way over their heads and can't handle it.

The true spiritual growth comes after the mania, when a person can look back from a place of calm rationality to sort out what about their mania was valid and what was not. This is only after they have come down off the high and can abandon the delusional aspects of the mania and approach the issues calmly and peacefully. Now doing this is playing with fire, since there can be an urge to spiral back up during such reflection and go back into another mania. But if a person can maintain their calmness and rationality (or at least know to stop when they start to feel these slip. . . and this kind of discernment can be very difficult), they can get some valuable spiritual benefit.

I'm not saying that every person's mania is spiritual in this way. I believe that every person's mania is different and that there can be a lot of variation between different people's manias. But this is the experience for some.

Dr. Liz Miller said...

I agree - it is important to recognise following mania, what is real in mania and what is not. A lot is not, and it has been my experience that you have to "surrender" the experiences of mania until you are more certain of what is true and sound and what is not.

This post probably does come down to hard on the rational side. This area does need discussing because of the importance and benefits of putting words to it.

One of my "insights" in hypomania was to see people with mental health conditions as "damaged not ill". This insight has directed my work for many years. It does stand up to the reality test, in that I have yet to see anyone with bipolar disorder who came from a happy relaxed stress free background, without some highly stressful events causing problems.

Other insights, such as being a senior operative in MI5 have stood the test of time less well ;-)

Thank you for your contribution, because it is only by discussing it can we approximate to the true situation.

Anonymous said...

I have a bipolar disorder. True it is unhealthy to hang on to the thrill of being manic with many delusions that come with this state.
I am at a point where I don't really know what was real and what's real now that I have been stable for over two years.
In my manic times I experience some very strange physical phenomena. I can sort out the delusions later on but the things that everybody was noticing like my mom that I was living with is the bizarre part.
It's like their is a 4th dimensional rip that is uncontrolled for a certain time in my manic states. My energy gets so high that besides delusions of the mind, there is those physical things which mess me up the most.
It's been years and years since I felt I was god or a prophet. Now it's become much stranger. Orignially when in my teens I practiced meditation. Became a Yogananda Deciple soon on and then came Bi-Polar full force.
It started to catch up to me that more and more I started to realize I'm an abductee. Strange bruises, blood spots on my pillow after I awoke. All which my mother noticed. Recently after I forgot about it all I found other abductees online with the same bruises and experiences.
My question is where does mania and the delusion end and reality pick up. Unless you would say this whole life is a freaking illusion anyways.
That's where I am...sometimes it isn't so simple.

Dr. Liz Miller said...

This is difficult! We do have strange experiences that can be difficult to understand and interpret. And sometimes the best thing to do is to treat them as that.

"this is what has happened to me and I do not understand it!" By interpreting the experience as "X" you can make it mean something that it does not.

There are many things that happen to us, that cannot be explained. I believe it is important to be able to accept experiences as that, "unexplained" and to tolerate not being able to explain them. In other words to maintain an open mind.

Yes, you have unexplained bruises and blood spots on your pillow. So, for example, do people with scurvy, where their gums bleed easily but heal up equally quickly. You may be an abductee, you may have scurvy. You may never know.

For me, being able to accept the uncertainty of experiences and not feel the need to interpret them immediately. I have had strange experiences, different to yours, but I am sure everyone has strange experiences they cannot explain.

Mania is an extreme energy, that energy can burn people out and in the past people often died from exhaustion because of it.

Delusions come misinterpreting experiences. For me, it was as though the normal filters that limit our experience were not working. During mania, of course, because a person is rushing around so much, they are getting far more experiences than usual and it is easy to understand how the brain can get overwhelmed. And strange things do happen during mania.

Psychologists show that we are not conscious of everything that we hear, or see. For example, we may not be aware of background chatter at a party, but if someone mentions our name, we immediately pick it out and start eavesdropping - because in amongst the "noise" our brain picks out familiar words.

This is also the basis of "subliminal conditioning". People are given instructions (such as "buy Cola") at a level which they cannot consciously appreciate, but the subconscious brain picks up the command and can later influence the brain into making a decision.

Most strange experiences do not reach consciousness. However if our brains start to see a pattern in them, then it becomes easy to start interpreting that pattern. Clouds have patterns, and you might see a face in the pattern. This does not mean that there is a face in the clouds, only that our brains have picked out the pattern of a face. Some people are better at seeing patterns than others. A photographer called John Cooper makes this point http://www.pbase.com/john_cooper/ufo

Is life an illusion?
I don't think life is an illusion. Events happen, people die, flowers grow, disasters happen that we cannot predict or change. In order to survive, we need to know what is real and what our brains make up in order to explain what has happened.

It is as though we are stuck in between two almost impossible choices.
1 - If we do not classify, order and make sense of our experience, usually by making it into some kind of story, we do not know what is going on.

2 - Alternatively if we overinterpret what is happening and fill in the gaps with wrong information, or make up information to support the story we believe, those beliefs mean we make wrong predictions about someone or something. Wrong predictions lead to wrong choices and we put ourselves in a difficult position.

For me, the way to distinguish between a true belief and imaginary belief, is to always be willing to always test what you believe against your own experience (and that is what science can do well) and to check out your beliefs with other people

"If only you believe something its a delusion. If other people believe the same it is a religion."

At all times, we must be willing to test our beliefs against what is real. If the test does not work out, then only "faith" holds that belief in place.

Dr. Liz Miller said...

(Part 2 - original comment overran!)

Sometimes we need faith. I have faith that good will triumph. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't but it is more useful to me, to believe that good will triumph.

I need that faith, because I cannot live in a world without hope. In reality, who is to say what is good? What is good for one person is bad for another, what is good for someone else, is bad for the planet. Yet somehow I persist in believing that everything will work out as long as I keep doing what I can, and encouraging other people to do what they can. I believe that we will make life better for everyone, and save the planet, if we persist in looking for some kind of muddled solution in amongst all the greed and misinformation.

Dr. Liz Miller said...

PS many thanks for the points you raise - fascinating

Bipolar Bible said...

From another perspective, if other people believe you, it is just a mass delusion. Good luck to all of you in continuing to try to deny that there are states of spiritual enlightenment in this world. If you subscribe to any major religion you are worshiping someone who was mentally ill. Let's be honest, you are worried about violence and we all know that every criminal is insane but every insane person is not a criminal. Those you call mentally ill simply know more about life than the people we call doctors.

Dr. Liz Miller said...

As someone who has 3 mental health sections and is also a doctor - can I claim enlightenment?? ;-)

If only you believe something you have a delusion. If other people believe the same thing, you have a religion

For me it is about being able to debate what we believe and from that debate find something that approximates to the truth. Both religions and delusions lay claim to having an absolute truth that cannot be questioned.

I am not sure that every criminal is insane. There are some crimes, eg fraud which can be entirely rational. For example, Nick Leeson, who bankrupted Barings, was not insane, just a little overenthusiastic, but he ended up in jail.

It is my opinion that when people will not or cannot question what they believe, you have a dictatorship. No single person, or single religion has "the truth".

As information increases and the world changes, what we believe has to change. And the way we make changes is by thinking and talking about something, and discussing it.

James said...

Do you think that Daniel Goleman's book EQ v IQ could have reached a wider audience if it was written in a non-academic/medical language?

Dr. Liz Miller said...

Having just written a book myself ;-) Mood Mapping, it is difficult sometimes to express yourself in a non academic way.

Many psychologists think Goleman guilty of the ultimate dumbing down of their research and he is not popular within the the world of positivist psychology.

Great skill is required, I have just been interviewed by a News Of the World journalist with respect of Mood Mapping and it was the most gruelling and most intelligent interview I have yet had.

I think that the less jargon a writer uses, whether it is management jargon (see my comments under "Liz Miller" on the Hospital Services Journal ;-) or in psychology or medicine the better they can describe an idea.

Ideally writing is easily understood by all members of society, not just those with degree level of education. Presonally, I try at all times to live up to that ideal

Anonymous said...

Your language and insight appear so offbase and unenlightened due to lack of more in-depth analysis of spirituality and its connection to the human brain and its funtion/challenges, one would hesitate to consider your so-called expertise as a professional doctor. Surely St. Joan of Arc, who today is considered bipolar would have pitied your major lack of connection to process the divine that clearly can manifest in the shift between ascending and descending.May God have mercy on you.

Dr. Liz Miller said...

I think that assuming we can make a psychiatric diagnosis in the present is arrogant enough, without going back into history ;-)

It is open to question whether Joan of Arc had a mood disorder - bipolar or a thought disorder - schizophrenia

Richard Dawkins denies the existence of any kind of neuroscientifically based spirituality. In the end, all of this comes down to opinion and beliefs.

I am of the opinion that in order to find any kind of truth in this morass, we must be prepared to debate and if necessary change our understanding of what happens to the brain in those states of extreme stress, commonly known as hypomania

Many thanks for your comment

Kay Larson said...

This is something new to me, to be posting a comment to a blog on bipolar disorder. One of my five children (a daughter now 28 years old) was diagnosed with the illness over 10 years ago. I hate to admit that it has taken me so long to begin to get the picture. She lives in another town. Until recently (when a suicide attempt was made), it has difficult to communicate long distance about her illness. We are in touch now and I am reading/learning in order to be more supportive as she begins making significant changes in management and treatment. Without dismissing any of the chemical, genetic, biophysical elements that may be a part of this, I can't help wondering about the spiritual dynamics that are connected with this illness. To begin with, I simply want to express my appreciation to you, Liz, for being a "voice of reason" in the middle of this complex and often baffling landscape. I have questions and other comments, but would like to see if this will be posted to the blog, before I continue.

Kay Larson said...

Even though the posts at this blog are older (and I don't know if anyone is reading them anymore), I would like to use this forum as a sounding board for my own understanding about bipolar illness and spirituality. It will help me string together my own thoughts and make sense of things that have puzzled me all my life (I'm 69. My older brother was incorrectly diagnosed and mistreated, before taking his life in his "final episode". Now I have a grown daughter who suffers from the disease).
For starters, I'm a Baha'i. My references come from a book called, "The Progress of the Soul", a compilation on many spiritually related topics from a Baha'i perspective.
One understanding that is confirmed (from this book) is recognition of the mind/body connection: "The mind which is in man, the existence of which is recognized -- where is it in him? If you examine the body with the eye, the ear or the other senses, you will not find it; nevertheless, it exists. Therefore, the mind has no place, but it is connected with the brain"....and so on.
This helped me understand that if the brain is "defective" in some way (faulty genetic code, chemistry or other physiological features), the thought processes of one's mind may be also become "defective".
I do understand that bipolar disorder is very complex; many dynamics "comingle". So much so that in a manic or depressive state a person's ability to be rational in thought and/or clear in making choices for "appropriate" behavior become compromised.
Another quote from the Baha'i Writings states that "the reality of man is his thought".
OK. This is getting long. I'll stop right here and do a little more thinking about this.

Dr Liz Miller said...

Thanks for your comment - this discussion has been going on for sometime. The spiritual dimensional of bipolar disorder has not been widely explored.
I am not sure personally how much I believe in a separate spirituality aside from the material body.
Nonetheless frequently the experience of bipolar does give the person experiences which appear spiritual. I do not think that these experiences can be trusted.

For me the only true spiritual experiencs are those which come from a calm meditative state rather than a hypomanic or even severely depressed state.

Personally, I do not know to what extent my bipolar disorder relates to my own spiritual experiences, except that I had spiritual experiences before I had bipolar and have them, now to all effects and purposes I no longer have bipolar disorder

Many thanks for the points you have made. It is a fascinating discussion and I enjoy reading the comments people have made

Kay Larson said...

It was interesting to read your observation that the spiritual dimensions of bipolar disorder have not been widely explored. I wonder if this is true “across the board” – in regard to the clients, as well as the professionals treating them, and the research being done. The question seems relevant on all levels, for, IF the soul is an integral part of who we are, then to neglect or overlook its requirements for “well-being” could very well hamper an individual’s potential for “getting better and staying well”. But that only gives rise to further questions…that are sure to come up later.

You wrote, “I am not sure personally how much I believe in a separate spirituality aside from the material body." Another book I am reading (“In Search of Nirvana”, by A.M. Ghadirian, 1985) shows that body, mind and soul are all intertwined…not separate. The soul is likened to a "tree", and the mind to the "fruit" of the tree. In this analogy, the mental faculties such as intelligence, imagination, memory, reason, comprehension and the power of discovery (collectively referred to as the “mind”), are in reality, “fruits” of the soul. Furthermore, according to the author, the “natural strength of all these intellectual faculties can be altered". (He writes, "under certain conditions the perceptions of sensory organs and the interpretation of the perceived images or messages may become distorted, thus giving rise to an incorrect impression of an external reality"....(I would add that this might apply to the distortion of "internal impressions" as well).
Ghadirian points out that “In the Bahá’í concept of the reality of man, the soul occupies a unique place in the life of an individual. It is a centre…around which revolve the intellectual, emotional, physical, social and cultural dimensions of human existence. These various dimensions or forces are not isolated from each other, but rather flow into one another. In a well-balanced life, the soul...brings...all other essential forces into creative harmony and interaction."
He adds that “the precise interrelation of the human brain and the soul is far from clear, as the former is matter and can be perceived by our senses, while the latter is not composed of matter and thus is inaccessible to our physical senses for measurement or recognition. The soul is like an energy beyond the grasp of our sensory perception and intellectual determination; yet it continues to prevail in our life, like the power of thought which cannot be touched, seen or measured, but which exists.”
In the end, we all die. The brain (physical organ) ceases to exist. The Sacred scriptures (all religions, whether an individual accepts them or not) affirm that there is “life after death” - we continue to exist in other realms, in another form after leaving this material world. A pretty heavy concept, but I should stop here and reflect a little more on this idea and its relation to bipolar disorder….
I totally agree with you that "the only true spiritual experiences are those which come from a calm meditative state rather than a hypomanic or even severely depressed state."
Whew!!

Jeffrey said...

I simply do not agree with your idea that being "calm and meditative" is the ony true spirituality. That seems to me to be a modern, indo-european conceit. There are many paths to God. Some of which involve a direct, total experience with the divine. In some cultures such experiences involve believing one is a spirit animal, or, even an archetype.
To me seeing one form of spiritual existance as "real" and "rational" and another as "unreal' and "irrational" is a dangerous duelism. We have seen that in history, witches and cathers burned at the stake for not conforming to the accepted religion. While being burned at the stake is highly unlikely in these 'enlightened' times, being alienated by society and having ones beliefs viewed as "irrational" and therefore "wrong" is possible.
Some of me greatest moments in my spiritual journey are found when I fall into ecstacy. I have seen so much, and, while I do not wish to be totally immersed in the 'other reality' as I was, I do hold, quixoticly perhaps, that my visions have relevence, if only to me. Perhaps on a metaphorical level I am special in Gods eyes, perhaps I am a being of power, stuck in the limitations of physical reality. I am only human, I believe that I can not answer these questions for anyone but myself. What I believe may not be healthy for anyone else, but, I accept others experiences as being part of the person as they are. So, while I disagree with you, perhaps I need to be humble enough to accept that you may be right on some level.

Dr Liz Miller said...

Thanks for your comment - and also the humility of it ;-) I agree, that there can be moments of spiritual ectasy.

Thanks for this discussion because it helps clarify my own thinking.
The problem with hypomania and mania is that it leads to an openness to the universe, but unless someone has the spiritual discipline and is pure enough in heart to protect themselves, they attract a whole load of bad stuff, that leads to unfounded delusions. This happened to me - I believed the IRA was living in the attic amongst other things.

The problem is (in my opinion) that without spiritual discipline, sufficient purity and good intentions people suffer recurrent episodes of out of control mania where they damage themselves and others. These are what I call "delusions". Unfortunately people become attached to this state and for example, never give up a secret belief that they are a messiah or someone special.

Yes we are all "special", but not especially "special" and believing that you personally are set apart and that your own personality and ego are important is a route to continued madness.

For me, I had to get rid of my angertowards my parents and others and forgive them all as well as myself. Once I had forgiven them, I was able to move forward and understand better what was actually happening. People are doing the best they can with the resources they have and if we get drawn into their way of thinking we are likely to end up crazy.

People for the most part are programmed to do what they do, and their behaviour is not personally directed. It is not about you, they are simply doing what they can get away with and we are living in a lax society, so they can get away with a lot. People for the most part do the best they can with the resources they have.

David said...

I love the way this thread pops up once in a while.

I just have to say, while a complete unbeliever myself since 6 yrs old, and also a person who realised he had to move beyond his parents a long long time ago... I agree and disagree with you all! (Love the variety of viewpoints though.)

Keep safe one and all. Dx

p.s. If anyone finds the sleep-monkey, send him home?

Kay Larson said...

Thanks, Liz and Jeffry, for your thoughts. I appreciate the respectful attitudes as we continue to share. I realize that I was trying to say that spiritual experiences which can be trusted (and upon which one can build their faith) do not tend to come from a hypomanic or depressed state. From what I can gather, such expressions are mostly delusions that "vanish" or "vaporize" once stability is regained. I'm still learning.

Dr Liz Miller said...

Yes it is a good thread! I agree Kay and you have put it very well about not trusting the illusions/delusions of hypomania and depression - because it is my experience that if you believe in them or cling on to them in any way, you stay ill without hope of recovery!

Kay Larson said...

I like the thought, expressed above, that one of the keys to sanity is in being "ordinary". There is always room for ecstasy and "extra-ordinary" experiences in relation to spirituality, but the essence of spiritual practice (for me) in everyday terms, is to learn to be loving, kind, generous, patient, determined to persevere in the face of difficulty and in self-less service to others (and hundreds of other such qualities)....in other words, to consciously develop my virtues in helping to make it a better world. It calls for thoughtful reflection, then more action and steadiness along the way. For "believers", the process is heightened in practicing the "presence of God". By the way, Jeffrey, could you tell us what it is that you don't believe in? Maybe we "don't believe" in the same things....??? That you "stopped" believing at age 6 intrigues me. Was it an event? A realization? I'm just curious, if you care to elaborate.

Kay Larson said...

Liz, in an earlier post you used the term "spiritual discipline". Can you say more about that? What would it look like (to you)? Thanks!

Dr Liz Miller said...

for me, spiritual discipline is allowing something greater than myself and my behaviour.for example, I tried to treat people compassionately,and have the long-term best interests of all concerned at heart rather than personal gain.and as you say Kay consciously developing what I believe to be my virtues.

By the way if you would like to be a co-editor on this column or anyone who has contributed so far, please e-mail me at liz@lizmiller.co.uk and I will add your name to the editors list - that way we can keep the discussion going more fluently

Kay Larson said...

I’m reading a little pamphlet about mental illness and its treatment from a Baha’i perspective (as mentioned earlier in my posts). A statement is made that "mental illness is not a 'spiritual' disease, but a physical disease with intellectual and emotional symptoms.” It agrees that many factors influence the way the illness “plays itself out”. It adds that prayer and spiritual activity can assist those with symptoms, but a competent therapist is also essential.

The way I understand it now, bipolar is more an "impairment", injury, or damage that occurs to the genetic code or make-up of an individual. It prevents the biological system itself from being able to properly regulate moods (like, something gone "wrong" with the biological thermostat that controls moods). Not just that there is an "imbalance" of things (though the person suffering may indeed feel way off balance and out of control).

The pamphlet goes on to say that "You must always remember, no matter how much you and others are afflicted with mental troubles...., that your spirit is healthy, near your Beloved, and will in the next world, enjoy a happy and normal state of soul, Thus it is that the soul is not aided by psychotherapy...." But of course, in this world the individual IS aided by the proper use of medications and psychotherapy.

It’s not that we are “split” into physical, mental, spiritual “units”. Everything is a part of everything else. So where does spiritual “healing and wellness” come into the picture? This is the question that, once again, I am pondering…and wish to continue to explore.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Liz,
I'm just coming to grips with my own experience with bipolar which has been cycling for the past 17 years or so. I'm now 37 and just coming off my last phase. Although I've been more open in the last few years to using the label for my condition, tonite was the first time I've really done any web research on bipolar. A mixture of fear and arrogance helped me to procrastinate. I just wanted to post, even though it's been said a few times already, that this is a great thread, with a real diversity of opinion. You also handle them all with great respect and patience. This thread has helped a great deal as I feel at one time or another I've taken up many of the positions present. In some ways I feel that bipolar and many mood disorders are a natural response to our cultural loss of traditional wisdom. I look forward to future posts and learning more about your work.
Leroy

Anonymous said...

This article is so wrong regarding spirituality and seems to be so unbalanced and assuming concerning both Jesus and many other things. While I do appreciate the authors thoughts and experience on bipolar disorder I would not even consider her ridiculously narrow views on spirituality.

Anonymous said...

It is not the energy of mania that makes a person delusional but that persons state of mind at that time, the concept of "mania" must be split as the ego must be split from the apparition of the self. The Yogic doctrines can explain this very well with there concept of the three gunas.
When manic energy is present it depends on our concious state as to how it will affect both us and the world around us. Western religion has a limited capacity to understand this. This is demonstrated by our limited understanding of conciousness and the self. If whilst manic you can channel your energy into doing selfless acts, that energy will dissipate, if on the other hand you become lost in any of the "deadly sins" you will surely become delusional.
Buddha, Jesus and Mohamed were all accomplished yogis!

Anonymous said...

I do find the article very interesting. I stumbled upon this site because I was looking for info on Bipolar disorder being connected with demonic activity. The thing that irritates me most are the things said about Jesus Christ (God). In His own words from John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." You can look up the Greek if anyone wants to. It's pretty clear that Jesus was much more than a mere "yogi" or just a man. I just wanted to clear up who Jesus is, not change anyone's beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Yogis come in all shapes and sizes, if we understand non duality and "oneness" we see that circumstance and the times shape a yogi, Jesus was as he was due to the times in which he lived.
Interesting that you mention Greek, which language did Jesus speak?

Which is the oldest language on earth?

When did we learn to speak?

Did Mania exist before Language and if so how did it manifest?

Ideas and concepts come before words and linguistic structure, as vibrations they exist in God manifest in nature then to subconscious then the concious mind finally in word form which is then written.

Translation!!!

When we read words only if we are very lucky do we find the true heart of the writer and the word of of God.

The soul does not need words only the ego does.

Anonymous said...

this post is just mean. You should really take into account bipolars reading this thing.

Whether spiritual in the true sense of the word or delusional, every single person wants to feel special.

Everyone.

Bipolars already have a lot of issues dealing with what's real and what's just from bipolar, if there is a difference between the two. This post is just depressing.

The dr. is saying "this is not you this is bipolar in action". And now you say "you're not special you are delusional" from that high horse...

It's easy to speak from the other side.

Dr Liz Miller said...

I have had bipolar disorder and plenty of delusions! the IRA in the attic as well having seen heaven and hell on a number of occasions. I have been sectioned three times for bipolar disorder.

I have been completely well and off medication for the last ten years. Apart from self montoring, self management and making sure I only believe what I can reasonably prove.

It is important to examine beliefs to make sure they are not delusional - and spirituality and manic delusion can easily become confused. The wonderful manic feeling of being a messiah is not real, and neither is it healthy. Not least because it means people put themselves at risk because they think ordinary rules don't apply to them.

Being able to separate what is true from what is imagined is a vital part of staying well. Beliefs need to be respected because if you don't people get upset, but that does not mean they cannot be looked at and studied to find obvious flaws. Faith as much as science is a pursuit of the truth. When people say "My god is more powerful than yours" they are effectively saying "My truth is greater than yours".

The person with the closest approximation to the truth - or a working model of the truth, is likely to do best. eg the better my model of the physics of internal combustion, the faster my car is likely to drive. And on the whole, I will win more races. The better I am able to predict the outcome, the more powerful my "model" or "god"

We are all searching for the truth, and I hope other people have found this discussion as useful as I have

Anonymous said...

I just hope everyone can find what they are looking for. To feel once again fulfilled with the certainty one has when not experiencing a maniac or depressive phase.
To all of those who have experienced any kind of episode and are confused with what´s real or not; good luck! Keep your (self) always humble.

Anonymous said...

just my 2 cents:

After reading you "spirituality" assessment and your later posts, it is obvious that you don't even know what true spirituality is. You clearly give your opinion in the article, but yet seem to change your definition of spirituality throughout the posts. First, spirituality can be defined as an ultimate or immaterial reality, or an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of their being; or the deepest values and meanings by which people live. Just because you have your own simplistic definition of spirituality, it dosn't mean that everyone else who is bipolar is going to have the same experience you may have had/or more correctly put, have not had. just because you might not have had a true spiritual experience, its pure ignorance for you to assume that everyone else hasn't either. By your definition, spirituality can ONLY come by means of peace, without the delusions or madness of mania. But in reality, your ego tells you that it can only be this way and nothing else. I understand you are a psychologist and because of that your word is supposed to hold more credibility over any of ours. But when it comes to true spirituality, I'm afraid that you are going to have to look a little deeper into the true meaning/definition of what a spiritual experience is without taking your knowledge straight from a textbook that you learned in college.

2) If you know your history being a psychologist, you should know that spiritual experiences can be induced from psychedelic plants/substances. Tim Leary and Richard Albert, two of the most revolutionary psychologists in history, were the first to theorize this. 40 years later, we now have substantial evidence - http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2006/07_11_06.html
I for one can tell you through personal experience that these substances can in fact induce sometimes life changing spiritual transformations in people. However, of all of the times I've taken these substances, NONE of them come even close to the spiritual connection I experienced going through my manic episode. Even though it was followed by some delusions, it would be pure ignorance to say that this was not a spiritual experience simply because of the delusions.

3) If you want any credibility of your article, your arguement should and can not be backed up by biblical stories. If you are legitimately using these as examples as of why you think you are correct about the "delusions" that Jesus did or didn't have, then your entire arguement loses all credibility because you are simply basing your personal theories off mythical stories that were put into a book by kings and people of power to control the masses ("opiate of the masses").

Now I'm not going to get into a religious debate with you because none of us would agree to what is the true religion or not. But the best way to asses religion is by looking at it from this open minded perspective: God is not religion, but a spiritual bond. Just keep in mind that next time you feel obliged to write an article about your own personal opinion on the internet, make sure to try to realize that you don't always know what you are talking about just based off of your personal bipolar experiences, and what the diagnostic criteria defines as a manic episode.

Dr Liz Miller said...

I wish I had your confidence and certainty about the nature of spirituality - I admire your certainty that you know and I don't!

It is my opinion that certainty is the one thing that spirituality is not. Spirituality is at least in part about being able to live with uncertainty of not knowing.

As for chemicals - they alter the mind, and give a different perspective on the world, sometimes rose coloured, sometimes not. Spirituality must go beyond an individual perspective, rose coloured or otherwise. It can only make sense if it is seen as something beyond ourselves. I would not disagree that finding different perspectives on events people etc can enhance awareness. Drugs can do that, but there are, in my opinion better ways.

The mind deceives us at all levels, and drugs, delusions, mania are material expressions of mind not functioning in its ordinary fashion. The value of such experiences, in is my opinion dubious. This opinion is based on personal experience and talking to people who have similar experiences.

This is a material world, and, in my opinion, it is fraught with danger to accept anything that is illogical, irrational and cannot be materially proved.

For the record, I consider myself as much a doctor as a psychologist, I am qualified and practice as both.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response,

To begin with, please don't act like I have it all figured out. Lol. I am just as uncertain as you are as to what's on the other side of the material world. But what I have over you, is the personal experience with this true nature of spirituality. Just because you haven't experienced it to the extent that I have, does not mean that it does not exist. However I am simply more confident that there is a more spiritual reality to the material world in which we live in. And experiencing this realm through mania and mind-expanding drugs, has most definitely made me a better person, along with making my bipolar disorder much more easier to cope with.

I agree with you in that certainty can not coincide with spirituality. That is the whole point of spirituality, and I never once implied that it had any connection. Religion on the other hand, has been set in place to replace the spirituality aspect of religion in order to create certainty. Without true spirituality in religion,it is indeed very hard if not impossible to be certain that there is more to the material world than meets the rational mind, or in other words if there is any form of a higher power or a meaning/purpose to life.

I also agree with you in the case that manic delusions can be quite dubious or contrary to the typical definition/value of spirituality. But curiously I ask how you can be so sure that psychedelic substances and the positive aspects of mania have no value? Wouldn't it be a more appropriate consensus to say that the experience itself creates the value and not the actual material/physical trigger(mania or the drugs etc)?
Because essentially what you are saying is that if someone has a positive spiritual experience, you doubt that it has any value whatsoever if they are of "material expressions of mind not functioning in its ordinary fashion". You also say you have personal experiences to back "your opinion", but it appears to me that you choose to ignore the positive life transforming changes that they can also have, instead mostly focusing on the negative ones. The website I posted in the last message will show you this scientific evidence, whether you choose to believe in it or not. If you would simply take these examples into account with an open mind, you would easily see the ignorance in the opinion that there is no value in anything materialistic that alters the mind.

Anonymous said...

Message continued:

Another thing that I agree with you on is that there are indeed other ways to achieve a positive higher awareness/consciousness without the consumption of drugs. Meditation and prayer for example, can help as it has for me. But can you actually give any legitimate examples of ways to achieve this that are actually better than psychedelic substances as you claim there are? I along with everyone on this message board would love to know. Timothy Leary honestly claimed that he "learned more about the human mind within 5 hours of a psychedelic mushroom experience than in the previous 15 years of studying psychology"(this is coming from a very well educated Harvard professor, not the "psycho nut" that the media propaganda played him out to be). But I can understand how this very idea would scare someone of your profession. The last thing you would want to admit is that there is a more positive/better way to cope with personal mental issues than paying a psychiatrist to tell someone how to do it. Now don't get me wrong, I am no expert and I don't at all claim to know it all compared to other people. But the very idea that a 20 year old can have this conversation with you should show you that there are in fact ways to help people cope with their illnesses and problems themselves other than what goes along with the status quo or what is accepted normal. In the end, the entire purpose of my posts are just to encourage you to be a little more open to ideas that you are not normally comfortable considering. Because I for one had the exact same close minded perception/mindset of these radical ideas before I actually saw/experienced first hand the positive and beneficial aspects that come with the experience.

Thanks for your time

Dr Liz Miller said...

To clarify my position ;-)

I am child, if not of the 60s, the early 70s even if I am more than twice your age - in those days, we did inhale. I have had three psychotic episodes and currently live a drug free healthy life, as far as is possible in 21st century england. I am not without the experiences, the question is what value to put on them

On the one hand, we live in a material world where everything has a material logical explanation. We may not know the physical reason for an event, it may be extremely unlikely (like both the twin towers coming down within minutes of each other) but there is always a concrete reason for an occurence in the material world.

Most scientists and doctors are unbearably smug, they think they have a material answer for all material questions. Nothing could be further from the truth. I agree psychology as it stands is for the most part as much use as a chocolate teapot. Stories for children at Easter.


I like to think that MoodMapping contains an obvious scientific framework, missed by psychologists for the last thirty years. The same for my next book about personality and the third about health - full of simple science based statements which shift the paradigm. My books and writing reinterpret facts to give a more robust and helpful model.

Nothing will shift my belief that all events on this planet are materially possible and have a material explanation, even if the events are unlikely to happen. ie there are no miracles or "impossible events".

However, this does not mean that there cannot be a spiritual universe, responding to peoples' energy and intentions and one which our present paradigms are not designed to understand. And this is where uncertainty creeps in ;-)

Dr Liz Miller said...

To continue
I am sceptical of mind altering drugs because I believe they damage the delicate mechanisms of the brain. I am including psychotic experiences in this. Personally, I suspect my experiments when younger may have predisposed me to later psychosis.

Overall my experience of mental ill health has been lifetransforming. I would not have moved down the paths I have gone without a few dramatic events drawing my attention to the problem. Before bipolar, I thought "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen". Since my experiences I entertain the posssibility that the kitchen is on fire.

One useful insight I came away with, is that mental illness is "damage" not disease and damage, under the right conditions heals. The human body is designed to heal. This insight is very "unmedical"

Psychodelic drugs are not risk free - and can do as much damage as anything the psychiatrist offers. I was in Dublin yesterday, telling psychiatrists that they need to stop putting people on drugs for life because the brain heals. (I took the devil's money - Lilly paid for the trip:-)

I believe in the material world, I do not understand the spiritual world, a far more uncertain place. I cannot even say it even exists because we have no material proof of it. There may be spiritual laws, religions seem to think so. I think that there is so much we do not understand and do not know that I cannot be clear about where my ignorance comes from!

The danger (in my opinion ;-) is pretending to have a certainty about spirituality. Given that experiences depend upon interpretation to make sense of them, and that interpretation depends on previous experiences and interpretations, it is all a little uncertain!

Equally there is danger in pretending we understand something in the material world that we do not, such as how the mind and brain works. And at this time, the materialist are almost certainly more dangerous than the spiritualists.

I very much appreciate this discussion which has clarified and shaped the way I think about spirituality. I still think we need to be sceptical but as you say, the end result may be helpful for some people, if not everyone.

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2006/07_11_06.html

The studies around psychodelic drugs got a bad name in the 70s, - I have no problem with the idea that chemicals can change the way we see the world. Psychiatrists make their living through prescribing antidepressants, and sedatives. Different drugs different experiences. The label "mystical" just means difficult to explain and probably quite pleasant.
Many thanks for a fascinating discussion!

Dr Liz Miller said...

To clarify my position ;-)

I am child, if not of the 60s, the early 70s even if I am more than twice your age - in those days, we did inhale. I have had three psychotic episodes and currently live a drug free healthy life, as far as is possible in 21st century england. I am not without the experiences, the question is what value to put on them

On the one hand, we live in a material world where everything has a material logical explanation. We may not know the physical reason for an event, it may be extremely unlikely (like both the twin towers coming down within minutes of each other) but there is always a concrete reason for an occurence in the material world.

Most scientists and doctors are unbearably smug, they think they have a material answer for all material questions. Nothing could be further from the truth. I agree psychology as it stands is for the most part as much use as a chocolate teapot. Stories for children at Easter.


I like to think that MoodMapping contains an obvious scientific framework, missed by psychologists for the last thirty years. The same for my next book about personality and the third about health - full of simple science based statements which shift the paradigm. My books and writing reinterpret facts to give a more robust and helpful model.

Nothing will shift my belief that all events on this planet are materially possible and have a material explanation, even if the events are unlikely to happen. ie there are no miracles or "impossible events".

However, this does not mean that there cannot be a spiritual universe, responding to peoples' energy and intentions and one which our present material paradigms are not designed to understand. The danger for me at least, is in confusing the two.

Devastated Spirit said...

Posting part 1
My husband of 23 years had a BPD manic episode, for the first time in his life, 7 months ago at age 48. He left me the next day saying that he never loved me, that I had no soul and went to a hooker bar to find his true love. This happened in China, land of the Buddha, so no western misunderstanding BS, please! He hooked up with a Thai prostitute that night and has been with her for the past 7 months. They have orgies on a regular basis to satisfy his new sex mania and he is now, after being totally monogamous to me, an active member of Facebook of Sex and Adult Friend Finders websites where he seeks out sex with multiple partners at once. He calls himself "Anaconda the Free" because a prostitute said his "manhood" (I will try to be unoffensive) was like an anaconda. He is very proud of the fact that now he is “free”. He told our son that he should chose a prostitute as a partner because they were so much more loving, kind and open minded than "normal" woman.

He went with the hooker on shopping sprees, luxury vacations, 5 star hotels, $200 lunches and $500 dinners...inviting total strangers and paying huge bar bills, acting like a big spender. I tried to stay with him but he humiliated me and sent me away. He came back to our home in the USA, livid, when I finally started blocking our bank accounts and credit card access (he was sending the hooker $1000 every few days from our bank account via PayPal). He sold everything that wasn't nailed down and took all of our savings and retirement money and left to go live in Thailand with this prostitute.

He was spending all of our money and running up credit card debt at an astronomical rate. He lost his job and left our children telling them he considered them to be adults. He was spending money as if he was a millionaire instead of recently unemployed. The week before he started this he had sent me an email stating his concern for our economic future because of his job loss and told me we had to be frugal. This was a man who never had more debt than our mortgage, was very financially responsible with cars paid for in cash and taxes pre-paid and no credit card debt, etc…

He insists that his was not BPD mania, but a spiritual enlightenment. What, pray tell, is spiritual in anything he has done? He has raged against me as if I were a demon, demanding a divorce. He was flying high as a kite and talked non stop. He lost all sense of decency and shame. He had some brilliant ideas and they all lacked common sense. HE lacked common sense.

He devastated our family, our children, lost his profession and is now black balled because in his "enlightened" state he has started a lawsuit against his biggest client in a very elite and high end job market (he was released from his contract as a freelancer because he became unreliable and unpredictable and they had to send him home to rest...) He got worse, didn't sleep for 6 days and nights, they sent him to the hospital so he would get the sleep he needed, they put him under 24 hr. psychiatric care; he lost 35 pounds from a weight of 180 over the course of three months leading up to this event.
(continued...)

Devastated Spirit said...

Posting part 2

My husband thought he was Jesus, he thought the CIA was after him, he believes still today that he is in mortal danger and must prepare for combat to defend himself. He says he will need to kill and bought guns for our children to teach them to defend themselves against some unknown threat and tried to get them to take martial arts lessons (they want nothing to do with him even though I tell them to love him) and has been taking them himself for the past 7 months.

A "spiritual guide" who he aspires to look like including his facial hair (in reality a senior athlete named John whose picture he saw years ago in a book called "Growing Old is Not For Sissies"), he named Roger. Roger still comes to him today and tells him to train for mortal combat and even supervises his training sessions.
He still sleeps only 2-3 hours a night and of course refuses all health care, including spiritual guidance, and medication because he likes the high.

I could go on and on because there is much more…

I am just returning from two months in Thailand where I tried to just be loving and understanding and there for him in a country where I took him originally because I liked it and wanted to share it with him, but in which he has no friends or family. He says he will never live in his home country of France again or the USA and will let his green card expire.

I tried to pry him away from the sex tourism industry of Thai prostitutes and have him go with me to Bali, Indonesia (or go on his own or go to Nepal) and find true spiritual healing, guidance and understanding...but, he flat out refuses. He likes his new life. He wanted multiple sex partners and wanted me to accept this and when I wouldn't agree to it, he rejected me saying that sex like he wants now is true love and in saying no to him, I was trying to hurt him and deny his spirituality.

He smokes pot constantly and takes all kinds of risks (such as riding a motorcycle without a helmet, a thing he would never do before, canceling all of his insurance, having unprotected sex with prostitutes and strangers, smoking pot before scuba diving, telling me he has a solo dive certification (it doesn't exist) and refusing to stay with me as his dive buddy on 17 dives last month in Thailand, diving until he runs out of air....

Yes, I really tried and supported his passion for diving and got certified even though I was scared and uneasy about diving. He was cold, uncaring, unloving, and dangerous in they way he dove (him being a professional diver) disregarding all safety guidelines both for himself and me as a novice and his dive buddy. He just treated me like crap....Spiritual? How? Where? I fail to see it….

(to be continued)

Devastated Spirit said...

Posting part 3 and end:

There is so much more to the story of my husband's BPD mania that I can and will write a book.

The major change I see in him is from someone who was compassionate, responsible and caring, to someone who is not. He has given birth to (rather than "experienced" the death of) an enormous ego. I see nothing spiritual in what he did or in what he is doing. He only cares about himself and cares for others only for what he can get from them. People seem to be here to serve his personal gratification. Those who love him the most just keep him from being “free” and make him feel guilty and are shunned.

He told me we should now just be friends (we were married for over 23 years!) and within 24 hrs of leaving me, gave me a picture (with a bio) of the prostitute he met the night before in a bar, claiming that she is his true love and that I never was. He stared me in the eyes and said he was searching to see if I had a soul and claimed that I had none. He insists that I not have loving feelings for him anymore. As if I could turn my feelings on and off like a light switch!

He told me to tell our creditors that he went crazy and we lost everything. It's all easy for him as he lives in a tropical paradise with no cares and his hooker-til-the-money-runs-out, while we struggle. I had to quit my job to accompany him to China for the year of his work contract and still have no job. He suggests I file for bankruptcy, empty our home, dispose of a lifetime of family memories and belongings and handle all the bills, maintenance and responsibilities on my own.

With finances soon depleted, now I face us losing our home. Our son has become depressed and dropped out of school, stopped taking care of his health (he used to be a body builder and very health conscious) and stopped playing the drums that he was once passionate about. He was with us in China when the “spiritual awakening” or his father’s BPD mania took place and he is traumatized by the way his father acted and ignored him.

In the meantime, my husband has consulted three different psychiatrists (one in Hong Kong, one in Thailand and one in France) a total of seven times for the good of his lawsuit against his employer. He says that in reality he had a spiritual enlightenment. He claims it is his employer's fault that he went manic (I mean spiritual) and he will make them pay.
Does spirit lie like that or need to deceive? Isn’t spirit proud of being spirit?

My husband said he was on a direct line with God, his dead sister and dead mother, both hearing and seeing them and having “sex” with his dead sister. If he was truly communicating with spirits, I know that at least God and his mother (who loved me dearly though I never knew his sister) would not have inspired him to treat me and his children with such disdain and lack of caring.

Rest assured that it is not so comforting to me and our children (and I am sure it must not make a big difference to our creditors either) to think that he did not go crazy and we lost everything; he had “spiritual enlightenment” and we lost everything.

He is delusional if he thinks that so much pain, hurt, humiliation and devastation on so many levels, has any rapport in ANY way to spirituality. I have studied true spirituality for years in India and Bali and this just ain’t it.

Of course if it helps him maintain his feelings of grandeur and justify his destructive behavior, then he can knock himself out and think what he wants. Reality speaks for itself and his actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear a thing that he is saying anymore.

I am going to end this missive by sharing with you my deep feelings of extreme loss and sadness for myself, my husband and our children and all of our dreams and plans for the future.

Call it BPD mania or call it spiritual enlightenment; for me and my children it means loss and devastation either way.

Dr Liz Miller said...

This is awful - and the worst of bipolar mania. I am sorry.

There is little that you can do. He has changed and this is mania. You have to do what you can to protect yourself and your family. Your husband has "lost his reason".

This is why I am wary of thinking of all "extraordinary" experiences of mania as spiritual. It is easy when manic, to decieve yourself into thinking that just because it is outside your normal range of experience, it is spiritual. Not all "extraordinary experiences" are spriritual. Some are the result of a chemical cocktail of neurotransmitters that is the biological result of mania and have no spiritual content.

In your husbands case, I expect that the mixture of recreational drugs he has added to the mix makes his mental state worse.

Uncontrolled mania is dangerous, physically, mentally and also for the damage it reeks on families and friends.

All you can do in this situation is to protect yourself as best you still can.

tuckband said...

Wow, this is a great blog if for no other reason than it's singularity. For years, I have and continue to tease out and reconcile with spiritual aspects of my bi-polar disorder, particularly the hypomanic/manic phases. This is the first and only forum I've found that acknowledges and invites discussion of this on a human level. Not one of my docs or therapists has ever worked with me in this area, as if it did not exist.

I hope some of you are still out there reading and posting. I know this thread is old, but so very important to people's understanding and recovery. And to Dr. Liz, I applaud your tactful responses, though I don't necessarily agree with your materialistic bias.

Here's a brief synopsis of my hx and current perspective on the matter. Spritual themes run throughout my life, especially the bi-polar episodes.

Having lost anything resembling spiritual certainty, a self-labeled agnostic, I had my first acute and overwhelmingly disabling major depressive episode at 18. The cornerstone of my recovery occurred when my therapist gave me a name for the 'force' that was had kept me from taking my life and was compelling me to live from day to day. She simply called it, GOD. I had forgotten it's name. This sparked a journey for spiritual knowledge and understanding, from any and all sources, that lasted until I entered my first hypomanic/manic phase (didn't know it then) 6 years later during which time I was working a family member 12 step program. Pretty much, by step 3,(gave my life and my will to to the care of God as I understood him) things just started to fall into place and felt this amazing connection to all things, starting reading the Bible and came to know Jesus Christ as the Son of God, not simply as a mythical or historical figure, living inside of me, my mind. I never thought I was JC or anything like that, but, interspersed with a few spells of intense anxiety and accompanying delusions, I felt a powerful sense of safety and peace and confidence, culminating with a mental vision of Christ. Well, I understood that my new sense of reality was not normal and I kept it to myself for the most part. As all good things must come to an end, a second disabing depression hit some months later, after a night a heavy wine consumption. Suddenly, nothing made sense as I had lost all sense of connection to God.

Nonetheless, I clung to the reality of JC as my rational mind insisted I do to survive my irrational depression. When I was diagnosed with BPD during this time, I took the meds, but rejected the dx b/c I was convinced that my condition was fundamentally spiritual.

Fourteen years later, including 2 hypomanic/manic and 1 depressive episode with more spiritual dimensions, I embrace my BPD dx and the meds that keep my feet on the ground (though, I would love to learn more about continuing recovery w/o meds). I now understand that my BPD is rooted in my body, just as any illness, but is unmistakably linked to my soul's journey and purpose. It has the added bonus of stimulating in me spiritual experiences (some nirvanic and others hellish)that few others have, that I work through thoughtfully with God's steadfastness. I believe that God works through us as we are, egotistical, flawed, hurting, complacent, sick, coveting, etc.

I look forward to hearing from others. Thanks for listening.

Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating website. Very helpful and thoughtful.

I believe I am on the bipolar spectrum rather than a full blow bipolar but my mother was diagosed bipolar (and drowned herself in the end) and I have had many friends who have been bipolar. I guess I am attracted to their energy (at least when they are not too high).

Spirituality has been an interest of mine since an "awakening" when I was 30, and I have to say that I think bipolar highs can include genuine spiritual experiences, perhaps because they take the person to non-normal states including delusion but not necessarily all delusional.

However I agree with Dr Liz that humility is a great quality on the spiritual journey and that narcissism seems to go hand in hand with bipolar highs. I am reminded of the Jesus parable about the different soils for the growth of the plant. Too stony (mundane) and the plant does not grow. Too rich (bipolar high?) and the plant grows rapidly but without strong roots or producing good fruit or flowers.

I have enjoyed this opportunity to make a few comments.

With warm good wishes,
DB

Debasish Burman said...

Just as Cancer is a natural phenomenon, so is bipolar disorder. The patient is not to be blamed for it, nor should he be made to feel guilty for it.

A true doctor is one who is compassionate and loving. If the doctor calls the patient 'mad' then she is just a technician having a limited perspective of life. A holistic approach is necessary to understand a complicated phenomenon as bipolar disorder. Allopathy is a symptom based system and therefore not competent to go deep into the subject. They should stick to their competence of suppressing and controlling systems. Period.

People who suffer from bipolar disorder, are extremely sensitive. They can FEEL that there is something seriously wrong with the world (like socially predominant practices: cheating, lies, usury, abuse, exploitation of mother earth, wars...). They are a misunderstood lot but if compassionately and lovingly understood, they can clearly reveal the state of the times and what needs to be done for the future. The average 'normal' human has become insensitive to the world around him has been 'conditioned' to become a slave pursuing basic survival.

Let us therefore not waste any further time and start tapping into this wonderful resource that the Lord has bestowed upon us.

fallen ngel said...

Dear Dr Liz
I have recently come across your site and been reading with interest your views and the posts that have ensued. I was diagnosed with bipolar last year after being sectioned during an episode of “mania”. I’m now back at work full time. From what I understand you’ve been 10 years without major incident with your bipolar so something must be working for you. However, I was saddened to read some of your comments that I feel may lead to some people who are still searching for their truth in all this to feel disheartened. During my stay in hospital I came across the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, the story of a young Nepali man in search of spiritual enlightenment. The book had me captivated and I think contains a certain truth that some of your readers of your website are looking for. Although at heart I would say everyone knows their own truth, the difficulty lies in believing it wholeheartedly and taking appropriate actions to make it a reality in this world.
I am also sad to hear that you think we don’t need “therapy”, but then “therapy” could cover a whole range of interventions from delving into the past with a psychoanalyst over a period of years to a few sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy. I wonder what kind of therapy you had in mind when you wrote that and if personal experience has contributed to your thoughts on that. I am grateful to say that I have been fortunate to have a therapist who was open and creative and I would hope that people aren’t put off by the idea of therapy with someone you do feel comfortable with. Equally, I would also say that a good friend/teacher/priest/partner, in fact pretty much anyone could be your “therapist”. “When the pupil is ready the teacher will appear.”
As my own therapy started I was pretty desperate. Some days I would be there early waiting anxiously in my car for the session to start because it felt like such a lifeline. I was a little wary at first and it took some time to feel that I could trust my therapist to the extent that I wanted to. Sometimes it would feel like we were talking about real issues but afterwards I’d feel disappointed, like I’d spoken about things I was “supposed” to discuss, not what was really dear to my heart. After one session I imagined putting a note through the letterbox saying “Please help me” because there was a little bit of me, the most important bit, that wasn’t being reached, but I didn’t know how to say this and whilst I longed for connection in this way it was also frightening and I needed to be sure I could trust my therapist. The thought of letting something like that out and it being dismissed or not treated sensitively would’ve destroyed me. And so we steadily worked our way closer together. My therapist didn’t impose her views of anything on to me, I felt like she really cared and wasn’t just doing a job. As our trust deepened a child-like part of me appeared in the therapy room. I called it childish at the time which I guess has derogatory connotations, my therapist called it childlike which is more about innocence, openness, and potential. After a while I trusted her enough to tell her I wanted to feel “sunshine running through my veins”.
cont'd

Fallen Angel said...

Dear Dr Liz
I have recently come across your site and been reading with interest your views and the posts that have ensued. I was diagnosed with bipolar last year after being sectioned during an episode of “mania”. I’m now back at work full time. From what I understand you’ve been 10 years without major incident with your bipolar so something must be working for you. However, I was saddened to read some of your comments that I feel may lead to some people who are still searching for their truth in all this to feel disheartened. During my stay in hospital I came across the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, the story of a young Nepali man in search of spiritual enlightenment. The book had me captivated and I think contains a certain truth that some of your readers of your website are looking for. Although at heart I would say everyone knows their own truth, the difficulty lies in believing it wholeheartedly and taking appropriate actions to make it a reality in this world.
I am also sad to hear that you think we don’t need “therapy”, but then “therapy” could cover a whole range of interventions from delving into the past with a psychoanalyst over a period of years to a few sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy. I wonder what kind of therapy you had in mind when you wrote that and if personal experience has contributed to your thoughts on that. I am grateful to say that I have been fortunate to have a therapist who was open and creative and I would hope that people aren’t put off by the idea of therapy with someone you do feel comfortable with. Equally, I would also say that a good friend/teacher/priest/partner, in fact pretty much anyone could be your “therapist”. “When the pupil is ready the teacher will appear.”
As my own therapy started I was pretty desperate. Some days I would be there early waiting anxiously in my car for the session to start because it felt like such a lifeline. I was a little wary at first and it took some time to feel that I could trust my therapist to the extent that I wanted to. Sometimes it would feel like we were talking about real issues but afterwards I’d feel disappointed, like I’d spoken about things I was “supposed” to discuss, not what was really dear to my heart. After one session I imagined putting a note through the letterbox saying “Please help me” because there was a little bit of me, the most important bit, that wasn’t being reached, but I didn’t know how to say this and whilst I longed for connection in this way it was also frightening and I needed to be sure I could trust my therapist. The thought of letting something like that out and it being dismissed or not treated sensitively would’ve destroyed me. And so we steadily worked our way closer together. My therapist didn’t impose her views of anything on to me, I felt like she really cared and wasn’t just doing a job. As our trust deepened a child-like part of me appeared in the therapy room. I called it childish at the time which I guess has derogatory connotations, my therapist called it childlike which is more about innocence, openness, and potential. After a while I trusted her enough to tell her I wanted to feel “sunshine running through my veins”.
cont'd

Fallen Angel said...

From my own experience the basic tenet of “Whosoever does not enter the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter” is the key. (People might like to refer to Virginia M. Axline’s book Dibs: In search of Self, the story of a psychotherapist working with a young boy with no sense of self and how through play and empathy and sensitive interest he is able to grow into a very forthright, sensitive and appreciative young man.)
In your opening section Dr Liz you mention demons who tempt us into thinking we are special. I would argue that for some us feeling special is a starting point needed to kickstart a process of self development and genuine growth. We are all special in our own way, in the sense of being individual and with our own personal experiences, skills, talents, and characteristics. Often the demons we are fighting are the demons who tell us we’re not special, that we have nothing to offer, that our ideas and experiences are not unique or valid and important. In order to be able to feel genuinely “ordinary”, we first need to have the experience of feeling special; feeling loved and accepted for the whole individual we are, including our yukky bits. This is the basis for genuine self-esteem and feelings of worth – being accepted simply for who we are, someone delighting in the very fact of our existence. This type of special isn’t the special that feels it’s exempt from the normal rules and regulations that apply to everyone, but perhaps dares to believe that there is an alternative, and that reason and logic don’t always necessarily represent the truth and can sometimes be limiting, although they are generally “safe”. Rationalising can distance us from valid feelings and instincts that are there to serve a healthy purpose as feedback to whether our current actions/environment/state of mind feel “right” for us personally; fulfilling/healthy. I agree that feeling special in the sense of not believing there to be consequences to your actions or waiting for the world to land at your feet is delusional but whilst your demons seem very one sided I would also argue that there are demons who are just as potent who put people down, undermine their confidence, instigate self-sabotaging actions, instill fear and self-doubt and generally act to prevent an individual from fulfilling their potential on this earth. We are capable of far more than we think and that “normal” society accepts. Some people settle for what they think is acceptable whilst wondering if they should’ve pursued their dreams that little bit harder. Others, perhaps some of the people interested in your blog, haven’t given up the belief that this is something more to this life, and I think it would be narrow minded to think that this only applies to people who have a bipolar diagnosis.
cont'd

Fallen Angel said...

I would say the key to the demons is knowing which demons to fight at which time, or in fact when to rise above it all and keep your focus and determination centred. Where there are demons there is also god. My “mania” was a path to god, building up an escape velocity to leave the demons behind once and for all. You say that saints aren’t mad and offer Ghandi and Mother Theresa as examples but I think this is a very ascetic view. The “god” I was making my way towards initially was a mental health professional who happened to come to my place of work. He was very easy going, acted the fool, but very cleverly was putting people at their ease, becoming a sort of “everyman” who would fit in and make people feel comfortable. I felt the need to approach him, I was in a difficult place, very depressed. He let me come to him and I was able to talk about some very personal experiences with him simply because I could just feel that he understood by the way he acted and responded, or if he didn’t understand exactly he was open to what I was saying and not dismissing anything as weird. Saints, god, however, you want to call it come in all shapes and sizes and walk with people in every day life. The trick is seeing through the ordinariness or the ridiculousness or the poverty or the affliction or the addiction and noticing the diamond amongst the glass beads, and then being true to your own perceptions. There is a saying (I think Rev Chris McKenna) that “every image of god must be broken”. For me that is the essence of “mania” that is coming from a “good” place. A spiritual recovery that leads us to increasing (healthy) self-confidence as we realise that god is to be found within and that we really do have gifts like clair voyance, clairaudience, clairsentience etc, and the more we believe and act on these genuine experiences, the more synchronicities happen and the more we stay within the flow of love. It’s a bit like learning to ride a bike, you practice with the stabilisers on, bit wobbly for while and then comes the moment when your dad’s running along with you holding the seat. He finally lets go and…. You’re off! You’re in control and you’re riding all by yourself. Ll you have to do is keep pedalling and don’t look back.

Dr Liz Miller said...

Hi Deborah,
Thanks for your comments. I agree that there is much wrong with the world and that people with bipolar and other mental health labels are often extremely sensitive to these wrongs.

Nonetheless, we have to work to right those wrongs using what we have here, not what might exist. Certainly there may be more on a spiritual plane, good and bad. However to invoke it in this material world is often to court trouble. Psychiatrists all too often use strong spiritual beliefs as an excuse to diagnose and treat mental health conditions that may or may not exist. We have to live in this world and to do what we believe to be right in the moment without drawing on "spiritual material"

Dr Liz Miller said...

Hi Fallen Angel,
Many thanks for your insightful comments

My problems with therapists are 1 - all too often they stir up emotions without giving people the tools to handle those emotions or even understand them
2 - the power relationship, whereas friends etc can offer help and advice and might have their friends interest at heart, rather than a need to earn a fee
3 - the idea that we can shoehorn our life story into an hour a week - life is much too unpredicable!

As you say, when the pupil is ready the teacher appears and that teacher can come in many guises.

"Feeling special" needs to be grounded, not a magical feeling of special powers or mystical vocation. I agree very much with your point about some people having an equally destructive feeling of not good enough, being evil etc. One delusion doesn't negate another. I believe that we need to get a realistic view of our talents and abilities and who we are. Someone might be an incredibly talented pianist, but unless they are prepared to work at it, day on day, week on week they will never realise their talent. Just wanting to have an audience coming to hear you, in isolation is not good enough!

The mystical spiritual world, whether or not it exists can all too easily take people into a land of fantasy, good or bad, rather than being aware of the moment that we have here and now.

No right or wrong in this debate - just opinion ;-)

Fallen Angel said...

Hi Liz
Thanks for your astute comments. However, I’m still disappointed to hear you talk about therapists in such a negative light and feel I need to balance your comments
1. People who are looking for a therapist are generally doing so because something in their life isn’t working, they are distressed, struggling emotionally and /or finding it difficult to cope. My background is in psychodynamic counselling which, among other things looks at internal processes that begin at the earliest stages of life. Wilfred Bion wrote about the idea that a new born baby is unable to manage his feelings – he has no concept of time, cannot verbalise feelings, does not know that the pain in his tummy is hunger or that he is crying because he is cold etc and has no idea of when or how these unpleasant feelings will be relieved. It is only by the mother’s empathic understanding of the baby’s distress and her responsive gesture of feeding, putting on another blanket, cuddling the baby etc that the baby comes to learn that these states can be managed and builds up trust that someone will come to relieve his distress before it becomes unbearable and he is traumatised. Bion called the mother’s sensitive interpretation and transformation of the baby’s unmanageable feelings/states of mind into tolerable experiences, the alpha function. As the baby experiences the mother’s alpha function again and again and as the mother communicates with the baby, the baby gradually, over time internalises this “alpha function” for himself and eventually becomes a child who can recognise and communicate that they are hungry, thirsty, hot, cold, in need of a cuddle etc, and hopefully, has those needs met.

Fallen Angel said...

However, this doesn’t happen for all babies and a mother who is not in tune with her baby’s needs may misinterpret and for example, try to feed the baby when his nappy needs changing, or put another blanket on when the baby is already too hot, or just ignore the baby’s cries of distress leaving the baby feeling that no-one comes when you need them. A good pschyodynamic counsellor would be aware of this and sometimes supportive work which is about the counsellor using her alpha function for the client and being attuned to and empathetic with the client’s needs can meet the client at a very early level and help to restore feelings of trust and faith that were shattered at an early age. The client gradually then can, like a newborn baby, start to become aware of her own feelings, needs, wants, desires which often may be mixed up with those of other people, and through the counsellor’s empathic understanding and willingness to explore together and give of themselves (a good psychodynamic counsellor will have had her own experience of therapy and will also be in supervision). It does of course require some degree of courage from the client, a belief that a different way does exist, and a willingness to be open and honest and trust the process. That of course means that the counsellor needs to be genuine, congruent and willing to admit mistakes / learn from the client. Someone, I think Michael Jacobs in Psychodynamic Counselling in Action (forgive me if I have misquoted), said something along the lines of offloading being the first stage of containment and recycling of feelings, meaning that sometimes people just need to talk and feel heard, understood and not judged, then follows the process of transforming these feelings into something different. Kay Larson commented about therapy not having soul, (I’m sorry there is so much to read in the blog and so much I would like to respond to, at the minute I am just picking out bits that stuck in my head), and I really would urge you that there are some therapists who DO have soul and who wouldn’t be working in the profession if they didn’t, through their own integrity and understanding of the processes that occur in a counselling relationship and the delicacy involved in working with some clients. There have been occasions when I have been to see a shaman, feeling that they openly profess to work with the soul and sometimes offer more creative ways of working, for example with sand trays and stones/crystals/physical objects that you can hold and touch and at this level, which when we think of a small baby, is pre-verbal, often offers a way of expressing and releasing something that is difficult to do by talking alone. However, seeing someone who is a professional therapist doesn’t mean that they are not familiar with shamanic practices, their path may have just taken them down a different road. I feel I have lost my point which basically was to say that, yes, I guess not so good therapists exist as in everything but there are also some very creative, supportive therapists out there who are able to attune themselves with their clients and who wouldn’t dream of dredging up traumatic experiences/memories without being sure that the client is ready to face them. They would take their cues from the client, as with the mother and the baby, and make sure that what was brought up was manageable. For example, if a client touched on something potentially upsetting, unsettling etc at the end of a session, the therapist would not start to open it up knowing that there wasn’t time to explore properly and that the client might leave in an overwhelmed state.

Fallen Angel said...

2. The power relationship. A good therapist will also have the client’s best interests at heart. Therapists registered with the BACP work to an ethical framework and psychodynamic counsellors are also trained to work with unconscious meaning s that the fee can have, as well as the practicalities of it. A good therapist will discuss fees openly with their client and find a balance between what feels affordable and manageable for the client and what their own needs are. Therapists, like everyone else, need to earn a living but I would say to anyone to check out a therapist first before agreeing to work with them. If you feel they ARE more interested in the fee than in you then go elsewhere until you find someone you feel comfortable working with. More damaging than the quibbles over the fee perhaps are therapists who need to feel that they are “doing you some good” and in fact are completely oblivious to your needs. My first experience of “therapy” was in my early twenties when I became very depressed and distressed due to my dad having a serious and physically damaging illness . I was offered 6 sessions with a CPN at my GP’s surgery. The CPN was male (I’m female if that hasn’t been obvious from what I’ve written so far). Really I was quite desperate to offload to someone and try to make sense of what were very difficult feelings at the time. I tried to do this with the CPN but felt unheard, talked over, misunderstood and that he would never in a million years understand the depth of pain I felt at the time. At the end of the 6 sessions he opened his arms for me to give him a hug. I felt sick. If anyone reading this has any experiences of this sort report the person, it is gross misconduct and should not happen in a professional therapeutic relationship. It is a blatant abuse of power.
But going back to therapists who do work ethically and there ARE plenty out there, they will be only too aware of the dynamics in the relationship. They will have supervision which will help bring to light any blindspots the therapist themselves may have. A good therapist will work with your resources and build your confidence. Power relationships can also exist between doctor and patient, psychiatrist and patient and let’s be honest, sometimes even between “friends.” A psychodynamically trained counsellor working to the BACP ethical code of practice will be only too aware of the nuances of the therapeutic relationship and work with them to the benefit of the client.

Fallen Angel said...

3. An hour a week. I agree an hour a week isn’t long. Therapy can be based on twice, thrice and even five times weekly depending on the need. However, sometimes an hour a week can be a godsend and make the difference between someone being able to hold their life together and it falling apart. Yes, the therapist and client have to get to know each other and understand what brought the client there in the first place. An assessment would usually be done before taking on a client and this would be used to also determine what frequency of sessions felt appropriate. A flexible therapist may at times offer a client an increased number of sessions over a period to allow more containment whilst difficult feelings were being worked through.

Sorry, I feel as though I have just given you a lecture on counselling but I really hope that people are not turned off from therapy. There are some really good people out there who do work with people’s souls and treat them not only with reverence and humility but with joy and delight! Not all of them are “therapists” but some therapists do work in this way and are spiritual and human whilst also being professional. I’m sorry I haven’t had chance to respond to your other points and I’m sorry if my first post was an isolated response to your intro written some years back and not following the progression and thread of the post. There is much I would like to respond to.


However, I did just want to say about your comment that if only you believe something it’s a delusion, if several people believe it it’s a religion. If we are talking about spirituality and faith and belief in people such as Jesus, when Jesus went to the wedding at Canaan he didn’t say to himself nobody else thinks I can turn this water into wine, I’m not going to do it, they’ll all think I’m delusional – he just did it. I hope to write further at some point. Thanks for reading.

Fallen Angel said...

Hi Liz thanks for posting my musings. I have just been reading your autobiography on your other website and I have to say you are a pretty impressive lady! Excuse my initial ignorance. I think we are singing from the same hymn sheet and from what I have read about your "mood mapping" I think perhaps this is another way of creating a sound "alpha function" for oneself. A process of feedback and adjustment, or as someone very dear to me once said "dancing". I went to a christening on the weekend and we sang Lord of the Dance, what a very apt hymn!

Paul said...

A lot of things happened to me that I would describe as "spiritual" during my 6 week first manic/psychotic episode.

I would first like to point out that the surge of adrenaline came AFTER my first intensely spiritual experience. It's similar to the rush after the spontaneous trigger of your first panic attack. Actually the experience was the opposite of a panic attack: intense love rather than intense fear.

Some of the best (and probably some of worst) moments of that whole episode I can only vaguely remember. It's unfortunate because I do remember HAVING a profound spiritual revelation of the Truth just before being admitted to hospital, but somehow losing that different perspective of reality during may stay as I was being "treated" with benzo's, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers and becoming more "normal". A significant moment I remember which seemed to have catalyzed this particular disintegration was when the psychiatric consultant nurse replied that he was an athiest, this "revelation" was a delusion and (after I burst his bubble and he got up to storm off)I have Bipolar and need medication under the Mental Health Act.

Whether this new perspective or "revelation" was real or a manic/psychotic delusion is up to you. All I can say is that when I was in that state, it seemed like everything made sense, all the pieces of life's jigsaw puzzle had come together and all knowledge sprouted from within. Something had "clicked" and I felt the urge to share this knowledge with others and to help "awaken" them from their false perception of themselves and reality.

Anyway, enough rambling for now. Any questions or comments would be nice.

Paul said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGNCMcJVKYs&feature=channel_video_title

This video does explain some of the so called "delusions" I was having during my manic psychotic episode. Watch this video if you want to find out the truth of the matter.

Fallen Angel said...

Hi Paul
Thanks for the video link. It really summed up my experience - my "christ consciousness" manifested as Neo from the film the Matrix and I felt I was fighting the "machine" of unawakened every day existence.(Dr Liz - your MI5 agent isn't as weird as it sounds, maybe it didn't hold up literally but you are certainly fighting on the side of love and the good guys and are a great example of transcendent experience). My experience was also about intense love. I feel ashamed because I let circumstances get the better of me on coming out of hospital (I work in mental health and my employer was enquiring about terminating my contract etc and I ended up getting scared when really I know that God was with me and I had right on my side and the power and energy to do what ever was needed to make my experience a continuing reality. It is painful and shaming to know that, when the chips were down, I didn't make it. I had done all I needed to except renunciate my old lifestyle once and for all.I knew that I was perfect, whole and loved and that everyone else could be too. I don't mean this in an arrogant way. How did you fare? I am trying not to be a total demon. I guess the old saying "all it takes for evil to exist is for good men to do nothing" is very true. I had a good cry after watching the video. Thank you for putting me back in touch with something I was living for real last year and which will always be the most meaningful experience of my life.I now have bipolar disorder BECAUSE I didn't trust myself and keep fighting for what I knew to be right even though it appeared weird. All that happens is that depression ensues and you fall back further than before whereas if you follow your instincts and make the insights from your mania a reality, you free yourself from depression for ever. I cannot stress enough the importance of having people around who understand when you are going through this. Much love to all

Paul said...

Hi "Fallen Angel",

I'm glad you could relate to the video. It really does make sense to people who have been through that kind of experience.

It's been about 16 months since my first (and last) manic episode, and since then I've been pretty much euthymic. I have experienced a couple episodes of general anxiety triggered by stress and panic attacks before(which really sucked btw), but I don't think I've ever been clinically depressed.

To me, the manic episode just seems so distant now. It felt like some kind of self-induced "trip" with both mystical experiences and undesirable side-effects. I was also a lot more driven and self-motivated, which isn't my usual self.

How much do you remember of your manic experience/s? I definitely have memory gaps and vague recollections. If only I could experience the "all knowing" revelation/ "light bulb moment" again. There must be a less extreme way to swith the light back on without the fuse blowing or the tungsten filament burning out, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

My wrath gets kindled at the thought of perversion, sin and injustice..It is written that God, leads us to his Son and his Son reveals The Father, to those he chooses to reveal himself to,... in my journey I have been patiently harboring true knowledge and true wisdom, having close to none to confide in, except of course the Lord. Supernatural events that are concealed in psychology handled with meds to conceal the truth about spiritual gifts and the underworld/spiritual realm. I hope with anicipation the day the Lord reveals himself to all and expose our hidden lives.

Some people are spirit binded which leads them to make mistakes and live a lie. Why is it that I can speak of this with freedom and liberty, because I've made mistakes and I've lived a lie. Some people just have a hard heart towards the Lord, which mean we will be with out respect and treated just as equally as the Lord when he walked on earth for the simple fact that we are his diciples and we stand for a Zion.

I'm not sure, I say that we can all forgive one another, and that is our purpose to forgive those who tresspass against us in order to be forgiven for those whom we tresspass, but the Lord also speaks about not praying for some and I can say that it's hard to forgive when in your heart it is written to pass justified judgment, that sets us apart as a holy nation.

I was lonely then, but I was one in one with the Lord, the Spirit was near, my chilldren brought joy into my life and days..teaching them and ministering to them the truth was an amazing experience. It was my passion, but deep down inside I had a longing to be loved like Christ loved the church. My spirit wasn't satisfied, I was hungry and thursty for righteousness, I thirst for Christ.

Now I'm as lonely as I can be because that is the will of my Father in Heaven. I have no one to call friend other than my Lord Jesus Christ. I understand the meaning of friend, because in order to love my nonbeliving husband (at the time) I had to love my enemy and had to pray many times for him because he persecuted my faith. And when I say my enemy I say it spiritually. A friend lays down his life for another, more so for his enemy for they are spiritually dead and it's that act of love that brings them to life..or as some say closer to the light/truth.

Can I actually say that it's a pleasure to be christ like? No not really, it's a privlidge and so I try to endure as much and enjoy the tender moments I share with the Lord, as much as possible and at times I've had to enjoy my time alone apart from the Lord, so he allows me to enjoy peoples presence. And he allows me to listen to the sound of their words, that come from their heart. Some sound as if they speak with sweet water and others mix sweetness with bitterness and it's fine..but it isn't right. We are to be as he is.

Anyway, I'm not sure where I'm going with this blog, truth is I'm not trying to go anywhere with it, that is not my philosophy. I'm not trying to gain anything from it. I've learned that when you're Spirit lead you just take both the good and the bad, because after all we must experience both to reach our destination, and it is good becaue it produces righteousness/we are being perfected preparing us to meet his Glorious one.

What am I saying? I guess I'm saying that I have my own definition of christianity based on my walk with the Lord. I must live out according to the yoke the Lord has set on me. So with out me knowing of my future, It's best to be amicable and trustworthy. It is better to be poor and enter the kingdom than to gain the whole world, be full of knowledge and yet stink lacking love, mercy, compassion and the spirit of charity.
I can't speak for all, but I know that I've been given a spirit of self control/discipline and a sound mind. Can anyone trully diagnose the soul of another by human knowledge? Only those who have walked the road can farsee the outcome.

Anonymous said...

My wrath gets kindled at the thought of perversion, sin and injustice..It is written that God, leads us to his Son and his Son reveals The Father, to those he chooses to reveal himself to,... in my journey I have been patiently harboring true knowledge and true wisdom, having close to none to confide in, except of course the Lord. Supernatural events that are concealed in psychology handled with meds to conceal the truth about spiritual gifts and the underworld/spiritual realm. I hope with anicipation the day the Lord reveals himself to all and expose our hidden lives.

Some people are spirit binded which leads them to make mistakes and live a lie. Why is it that I can speak of this with freedom and liberty, because I've made mistakes and I've lived a lie. Some people just have a hard heart towards the Lord, which mean we will be with out respect and treated just as equally as the Lord when he walked on earth for the simple fact that we are his diciples and we stand for a Zion.

I'm not sure, I say that we can all forgive one another, and that is our purpose to forgive those who tresspass against us in order to be forgiven for those whom we tresspass, but the Lord also speaks about not praying for some and I can say that it's hard to forgive when in your heart it is written to pass justified judgment, that sets us apart as a holy nation.

I was lonely then, but I was one in one with the Lord, the Spirit was near, my chilldren brought joy into my life and days..teaching them and ministering to them the truth was an amazing experience. It was my passion, but deep down inside I had a longing to be loved like Christ loved the church. My spirit wasn't satisfied, I was hungry and thursty for righteousness, I thirst for Christ.

Now I'm as lonely as I can be because that is the will of my Father in Heaven. I have no one to call friend other than my Lord Jesus Christ. I understand the meaning of friend, because in order to love my nonbeliving husband (at the time) I had to love my enemy and had to pray many times for him because he persecuted my faith. And when I say my enemy I say it spiritually. A friend lays down his life for another, more so for his enemy for they are spiritually dead and it's that act of love that brings them to life..or as some say closer to the light/truth.

Can I actually say that it's a pleasure to be christ like? No not really, it's a privlidge and so I try to endure as much and enjoy the tender moments I share with the Lord, as much as possible and at times I've had to enjoy my time alone apart from the Lord, so he allows me to enjoy peoples presence. And he allows me to listen to the sound of their words, that come from their heart. Some sound as if they speak with sweet water and others mix sweetness with bitterness and it's fine..but it isn't right. We are to be as he is.

Anyway, I'm not sure where I'm going with this blog, truth is I'm not trying to go anywhere with it, that is not my philosophy. I'm not trying to gain anything from it. I've learned that when you're Spirit lead you just take both the good and the bad, because after all we must experience both to reach our destination, and it is good becaue it produces righteousness/we are being perfected preparing us to meet his Glorious one.

What am I saying? I guess I'm saying that I have my own definition of christianity based on my walk with the Lord. I must live out according to the yoke the Lord has set on me. So with out me knowing of my future, It's best to be amicable and trustworthy. It is better to be poor and enter the kingdom than to gain the whole world, be full of knowledge and yet stink lacking love, mercy, compassion and the spirit of charity.
I can't speak for all, but I know that I've been given a spirit of self control/discipline and a sound mind. Can anyone trully diagnose the soul of another by human knowledge? Only those who have walked the road can farsee the outcome.

Dmilo said...

Have you experienced bi-polar disorder?

Anonymous said...

I had this feelings from age 17-18 till 21-22 im 26 now. Finish university, and succsesfull working, though... I miss some of my experieces... I would like to be able to relive them.. The intense spiritual and halucinatory.

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt in my mind that God is trying to communicate with us directly. To get an opinion, on what is happening to us, from a medical point of view, is totally nonsensical. How would any other person be able to confirm, or deny, that what we are experiencing as a mental or physical "condition"? We ARE spirit. We are a part of God.

We ARE the Son of God. He created us. We know He is "Our Father". When we say the LOrds prayer, we say "Our Father ...", so why do we want to run away from the clear fact that we must therefor be His Son? Thios was what Jesus was trying to teach us. Not that he was the messiah, but that he was just one of us, and that we were all like him!

We all know that we want the world to be a better place. We all suspect that this world cannot be as God intended because a God of Love would not want any of us feeling/seeing a lack of love.

God does NOT want us to be, or feel, "ordinary". He is not "ordinary", and we are very clearly told that we were made in His image.

To restore our relationship with God, we have to go through a journey encountering our own fears. These are not demonic - these are the fears that we have ammassed in our collective concioussness. There is no demon/devil. THere is only a resistance from us to embrace who we are, and who created us!

There is only Light and Love, or an absence of it. No therapist/doctor/priest can fill this gap unless they can confirm that you are the most amazing, wonderful, incredible thought/creation that God has ever had, that God loves and adores, and that God deemed perfect on "JUdgement Day".

Follow the law of do not judge other. The "demons" are our judgement of others that we have to go through to understand the effects of our judgements on them!

To know God, is to have learnt that beyond these fears, in only LOVE.

Take heart all those who are experiencing this.

The time has come for the Second Coming. The Christ is already here. He is in each, and every single one of us (as Jesus said in the Bible). Wanting to express Himself, in all of us, so that we can realise our Oneness with God!

We are ALL here to save this world. To bring the promise of Heaven on Earth to fruition.

These spiritual experiences are very real. Love them. Embrace them. And even when they seem "fearful", know that God is carrying you through each and every fear, so that you can truly meet Him.

A doctor cannot prescribe a rational "cure". This tired, old world - lacking in joy, peace and harmony, is what is totally "irrational".

Are we going to fix tghis world with pills or love, and awareness of who we truly are, and why we are here?

If someone labels/judges you anything other than perfect, then all you need do, is give them lots of love, as God would do, and you are doing your part to make this world the place we all want this to be.

Where is the Kindom of Heaven? Within you. Where is God? Within you. The best place in the world to find Him, if ever we thought that we had lost Him

How smart is God to hide Himself with us? THat we could never lose Him, no matter how hard we tried.

Know this. Every single human being in this world:

You ARE God the Son. God the Father IS within You. God, the Holy Spirit, is your heart that is filled with love, and peace and joy for all.

Bi-polar? I don't think so.

Does God want a world filled with His children that are miserable? I don't think so.

God is BURSTING to reach us.

Lose ther guilt. Lose the doubt. Embrace yourself. Embrace love. Embrace God.

He wants each one of us to give Him and big fat hug with gratitude. He has blessing AFTER BLESSING AFTER BLESSING for us in Heaven's store, once we remember who we truly are.

Wake up world. You are the change. You are the reason why the world needs you.

Save this world now!!!!

Do nothing more, or less, than love one another, no matter what!

Jack Post said...

I realized that I had "ADD" as a child after my son's diagnoses of "ADHD" when I was 33. I experiemented with stiumlant medication used to treat this "condition" and the result was madness and a "biploar 1" diagnosis. By the end of the year I was reluctantly on meds. I felt special and I now realize it would be my undoing. We're all special and we're all crazy (identify with moulds and models) but we're not all mad (angry) once we get over "ourselves" and surrender our egoic will to the will of One and Oneness...to our will that is free. To be current (with the flow) and free of anxiety do we enlighten the deserving "other" that is "I".

Anonymous said...

Hi there I am writing for some advice as I am very worried about my boyfriend who has bipolar.
We have been travelling around Europe together for the last 9 months and he has progressively been getting more and more paranoid. I guess the stress of the trip was too much and I realize in hindsight that it was foolish of us to think we could head off on a trip like this without any plan for a possible crisis like this and with him not being on any medication. He has been fine for the 3 and a half years that I have known him and he told me that the previous 2 manias he dealt with without medication.
His previous manias have all been of the super active and positive kind where he has thoought he was the reincarnation of Jesus and had many insights and very spiritual experiences. He had many views about how the universe works and the different dimentions of conciousness during his manias, that he has since been able to read about in much of the new physics and consciousness science that is available now. He feels medication cuts him off from this sort of insight and makes him very flat.
Recently he became quite manic: racing thought, little sleep, Jesus delusions, and thinking he has a mission that is going to be instrumental in saving humanity and that there are grave consequences if he does not follow these feelings and thoughts. But he is depressed as well it is a sort of combination, he has never experienced it like this before.
He tried to run off leaving me with our camper, that I cannot drive alone, and two dogs in the middle of nowhere. He was barefoot and half naked in the freezing rain having not eaten or slept for a couple of days. I was lucky we were in Italy where I am from so I drove practically the whole length of Italy to get to my sister's place, she is not here, where I could at least have a base.
He tried to run off again as before so I took him to hospital, which he didn't want and got him to stay for a couple of days where they medicated him with Sodium Valporite which he has had before and an antipsychotic which I do not know the name of.
When he came out he stayed with me for a couple of days still thinking he had this mission and couldn't be with me any more as this was more important than his happiness and mine, but saying he was going to go back th Cape Town where he is from. Instead he disappeared while I was sleeping taking his dog, a few things, some money and passports.
It is still fairly cold here at night and I am worried he may not be eating.
I will not force him to go to the hospital again as I do not agree with forcing him to do things and I do not like how the doctors never listen to the patients here and they are continuously undermined and made to feel unimportant and silly, I think my doing it before has damaged his trust in me and I am very sorry for that.
I do not know what to do, he is in the area as he has been spotted by police a couple of times but if I get them to pick him up they will force him to go to the hospital.
I just want him to be ok. Any advice please anybody? Should I just wait? Should I try to make him take meds? Shold I get the police to pick him up and see if I can just talk to him? Do you think he will come down from this and clear his mind without medication?
Thanks G

Anonymous said...

Hi there I am writing for some advice as I am very worried about my boyfriend who has bipolar.
We have been travelling around Europe together for the last 9 months and he has progressively been getting more and more paranoid. I guess the stress of the trip was too much and I realize in hindsight that it was foolish of us to think we could head off on a trip like this without any plan for a possible crisis like this and with him not being on any medication. He has been fine for the 3 and a half years that I have known him and he told me that the previous 2 manias he dealt with without medication.
His previous manias have all been of the super active and positive kind where he has thoought he was the reincarnation of Jesus and had many insights and very spiritual experiences. He had many views about how the universe works and the different dimentions of conciousness during his manias, that he has since been able to read about in much of the new physics and consciousness science that is available now. He feels medication cuts him off from this sort of insight and makes him very flat.
Recently he became quite manic: racing thought, little sleep, Jesus delusions, and thinking he has a mission that is going to be instrumental in saving humanity and that there are grave consequences if he does not follow these feelings and thoughts. But he is depressed as well it is a sort of combination, he has never experienced it like this before.
He tried to run off leaving me with our camper, that I cannot drive alone, and two dogs in the middle of nowhere. He was barefoot and half naked in the freezing rain having not eaten or slept for a couple of days. I was lucky we were in Italy where I am from so I drove practically the whole length of Italy to get to my sister's place, she is not here, where I could at least have a base.
He tried to run off again as before so I took him to hospital, which he didn't want and got him to stay for a couple of days where they medicated him with Sodium Valporite which he has had before and an antipsychotic which I do not know the name of.
When he came out he stayed with me for a couple of days still thinking he had this mission and couldn't be with me any more as this was more important than his happiness and mine, but saying he was going to go back th Cape Town where he is from. Instead he disappeared while I was sleeping taking his dog, a few things, some money and passports.
It is still fairly cold here at night and I am worried he may not be eating.
I will not force him to go to the hospital again as I do not agree with forcing him to do things and I do not like how the doctors never listen to the patients here and they are continuously undermined and made to feel unimportant and silly, I think my doing it before has damaged his trust in me and I am very sorry for that.
I do not know what to do, he is in the area as he has been spotted by police a couple of times but if I get them to pick him up they will force him to go to the hospital.
I just want him to be ok. Any advice please anybody? Should I just wait? Should I try to make him take meds? Shold I get the police to pick him up and see if I can just talk to him? Do you think he will come down from this and clear his mind without medication?
Thanks G

Anonymous said...

Bipolar mania is a spiritual emergency. See the work of Stanislov Grof. It is the shaman sickness. It is truly a delve into the spiritual dimension. Demons live in this realm, and once exposed can cause confusion and paranoia. The key is to listen to what they have to say, and learn from the spirits that are around. They are attached to thoughts and can twist and corrupt thought processes. The experience of mania is a unification of all opposites, the yin and the yang, with visions of the beginning and the end of time. Love being the source and end of all creation. In ancient cultures bipolars were trained as healers or seers and given a prominent role in the tribe as a spiritual leader. The ego sometimes refuses to die though, and ego driven desires can cause some insane behavior. The key to recovery is catharsis, not repression of the spiritual aspects of it, labeling it as a problem or saying because it is chaotic it is not truly spiritual. People have to face their demons. Becoming one with the universe and then coming back to mundane reality can be quite difficult to integrate rationally, but that does not mean it is not spiritual.

Tim Hopwood said...

This has been a fascinating read. I suffered from Bi-polar for some ten years. By means of a year on medication and a complete paradigm shift which induced a gradual move towards atheism, I was able to beat this illness, and now lead a normal but still wonderfully creative life. Much MORE creative than before, actually.

It is my conviction that religious beliefs do far more harm than good to bi-polar sufferers. The day I gave up the belief that an invisible man in the sky could read my thoughts, and my belief that the universe somehow gave me special signs, was the day I took my first steps on the road to recovery.

Some of you may think me as poorer or spiritually empoverished for having taken this road, but I can assure you: my life is far richer and happier than it ever was before. And infinitely less confusing!

Rudi Richardson said...

No matter what anyone says my bipolar spiritual experiences were real to me. As a result of my experiences it led me to found an organisation called www.streetlytes.org. So I guess this was a result of a so called delusion. What your comments are doing is destructive and hurts people who are bipolar. No one can define a spiritual experience that is outside their owe be it doctor or no.

Chris said...

I find this post somewhat hateful, but at the same time people should acknowledge that psychotic episodes are illusions. With that said, many people consider reality itself an illusion. It seems wrong to judge your friends with Messiah complexes. As long as they are not a danger to themselves or others, a messiah complex could be a great motivational force for someone. Perhaps you would like to take a look at my blog I recently started, a work in progress: bipolaraltruist.com

Anonymous said...

Peace and calm? That sort of stuff would scare the hell out of me!

And why is feeling special bad? Better that than feeling worthless or universally hated.

Jay Athey said...

Bipolar simplified...its basically a clash between seeing the world through Gods eyes and your eyes. Why would people with bipolar think they are special or think they are the Messiah. They are living in two worlds. The one that society gave you, and the one God gave you. You cannot live peacefully in both. Hence the mania and depression. Both the Mania and depression serve a purpose. The Mania shows your world where anything is possible, and yes there are demons, afterall If you believe there is a God, well then you must believe in the opposite force which would be the devil and demons. If there was just a God, you would be in Heaven or shall we say the Garden of Eden prior to the introduction of evil. Since we were given freewill, when told not to do something, we become intrigued. Our ego takes over, we question the authority of the command. Instead of simply obeying the command our ego takes over. Now once you've seen the world through Gods eyes, your ego goes crazy. It's hard not to feel special when your dealing with God. So here's the hard part, doing Gods work without a ego...not boasting about how special you feel to be in communication with GOD...the Bible is a road map of others who got the connection with God. Some were great servants and did his work. JESUS, was the best example yet good luck out doing Jesus. Other people in the Bible had egos, so the Bible explains the struggle of people going against Gods wishes once God empowered them. You can't be Jesus, but you can be you and do God's work here on Earth. Martin Luther King jr was a great example of someone doing God's work ego free. Gandhi another ego free person. Now you want to be the next Messiah...Ok, loose the ego and do what God asks of you. There are tests you must pass to climb the stairway to Heaven. During these tests demons will attack you and try fire up your ego to get you away from doing Gods work. A demon can be inside of your best friend, they only come out and attack you when your doing Gods work here on earth.

Its a pretty simple, if you don't believe in God,chances are your not bipolar. Why do bipolar people commit suicide? They had a chance to see Heaven, and realize this world resembles hell. Everything they thought is all messed up, what is reality? people label them crazy, yet this world is crazy and once you realize that, you feel all alone, isolated and no one understands you, they call you mentally ill, in reality its quite the opposite, the world is mentally ill, yet it labels you insane and medicates you until your numb and conform to a ungodly human being...

Think about this How could you trust anyone who doesn't believe in God, you cannot...Understand what Jesus taught the world...His kingdom is not on Earth...Earth is an ego driven mess, wars, killings, rapes, fraud, divorce, politicians who say whatever to gain power. Once you see the world through Gods eyes yes you will be depressed. All you can do is have a relationship with God, and watch the world destroy itself, since your no longer a victim, your a child of God and in the end thats all that really matters, no matter what society tells you, your not insane, the world is...Good luck and God bless you on your bipolar adventure, its a ride like nothing else...God's inside you and so are demonic thoughts. You can win this battle inside your brain. Never give up, no matter how dark your life becomes, God is light, and he never goes away seek and you shall find.

Jay Athey said...

Martin Luther King jr was supposedly bipolar. He tried to commit suicide in his early years. Yet he had also grandiose ideas. In his last speech, he knew he had fulfilled what God asked him to do. He knew he was going to be killed, and so did Jesus. How did they both know? Easy, God informed them. Watch Kings last speech and you will realize your not Crazy and either was Martin Luther king...yet he was bipolar...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSjf-vLTBzA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Anonymous said...

As a person with bi-polar II disorder, I can tell when I am sliding towards a hypomanic episode by how obsessed I become spiritually. The more time and energy I start putting in to spiritual seeking or seeking supernatural or ecstatic religious experience, the sicker I am and the sicker I get.

In my mind at all times, however, both when I am stable and when I am hypomanic, the question of relevance and ultimate relevance remain important to me. For me relgion and/or spirituality is the most relevant lens through which the rest of life, if not making sense, at least feels manageable.

let me be clear, not manageable like i can handle or control much of it, but manageable because my faith urges me to find the loving response to pain and need and to find joy in what is good.

As for being "special" versus "ordinary," I think for great things, small and large, to happen in the world, or even in a relationship, a family or a community, one has to care to some degree about maximizing one's gifts -- giving one's best.

i don't think that i'm "special" as in set apart from others, but i think that striving to be more than average in what you are gifted in is what great thinkers and doers have in common. I may never be "great" at anything, but i can be more than ordinary at something.

Anonymous said...

I realize this post is 5 years old, so I'm pretty much writing for the sake of writing and giving myself some internal dialogue (how's that for a "self-absorbed deluded mind?").
An interesting post nonetheless, as far as bp and/or spiritual awakening goes. In my opinion though it misses many crucial aspects. There are many variables in the spectrum of mood disorders. It's not so black & white as you put it. Not all bp sufferers have their ego stroked while in the manic phase, many have both mania & depression simultaneously and shed layers of themselves to the core, coming back more humble and at peace with themselves and others.
Thinking you're special, a Messiah , what?? Never heard of such things with sufferers from bp. That must be the exception, not the rule.

Alexandra N said...

I realize this post is 5 years old, so I'm pretty much writing for the sake of writing and giving myself some internal dialogue (how's that for a "self-absorbed deluded mind?").
An interesting post nonetheless, as far as bp and/or spiritual awakening goes. In my opinion though it misses many crucial aspects. There are many variables in the spectrum of mood disorders. It's not so black & white as you put it. Not all bp sufferers have their ego stroked while in the manic phase, many have both mania & depression simultaneously and shed layers of themselves to the core, coming back more humble and at peace with themselves and others.
Thinking you're special, a Messiah , what?? Never heard of such things with sufferers from bp. That must be the exception, not the rule.