(August 18, 2007)

The symptoms of bipolar disorder can be unbearable at times. But the question is, what kind of person do you become as a result? If you don’t become bitter, you become better. (I’m quoting someone here, but not sure who.) I truly believe that. If we can survive the storms and fires of life we end up becoming stronger people. We end up with a lot to offer. We end up joyful and at peace, in spite of it.

I’m 61 years old and have lived with bipolar disorder for over forty years. Since I began relying on God at the age of 42 as the result of a bipolar crisis I have gradually become stronger. Many things came into play as part of this life of faith:

  • my belief that God loves me the way I am meant that I did not suffer from feelings of guilt or shame. My illness isn’t my fault, so why feel guilty?
  • the courage to be open about my disorder (I was fortunate – I didn’t have to work – so was relatively safe in letting the world know)
  • the purpose I found in trying to reduce stigma by writing about mental health issues. This god-given sense of purpose makes me feel strong and well.
  • the Christ-like love and support I received from church friends
  • the compassion I feel for others who suffer as I do. I want to help in some way – to love as God loves me.

Having bipolar disorder isn’t what makes me happy. But I’m happy with the way this disorder has challenged me and made my faith in God important to me. I’m thankful for my ability to become a better person. God has helped give me this positive way of looking at it.

Eugene Peterson’s paraphrased version of the Bible says this: “…every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:28 MSG)