How did this bipolar diagnosis fit in with my faith? Initially, it didn't. I couldn't merge the two in my head. I questioned my faith thinking how could I be a child of God if I couldn't keep my moods from swinging too high and acting on impulse or swinging so low that I would plummet into the pits of despair? I was receiving mixed messages from family and friends. Some would say you're dealing with a medical problem and you need to be on medications to help stabilize your moods. Others would counter it with, you're dealing with a spiritual problem if you eat right, exercise, get adequate rest, have faith and trust God then your moods will stabilize.
As far as having faith and trusting God, the diagnosis came at a time in my life when my relationship with Christ was at its most intimate. I was working on memorizing the first chapter of James. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3. The timing could not have been more perfect because I was being faced with the biggest trial of my life. What awesome truth to have tucked away in my heart when the unstable moods would present. Also, during that time, I had come to a place of understanding that God does what He wants...to whom He wants...when He wants and it's all good. My bipolar diagnosis was no exception.
However, I still met with my friend's pastor per her strong recommendation. After 2 hrs of listening to her pastor read scripture after scripture to me, I walked away feeling shameful and confused and believing somehow I was responsible for what was taking place. Though not his intention, I spiraled deeper into a depression. First John 1:9 was one of many verses he read to me, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Amen, thank goodness that He is a forgiving God, but what sin was I confessing. I didn't ask for the chemicals in my brain to go haywire. I didn't ask for this illness.
Another very well respected individual in my eyes asked my husband if I was trying to seek attention. That really hurt. How does one reconcile their new bipolar disorder diagnosis as nothing but attention seeking sinful behavior? For one, going so long without a proper diagnosis, I knew many ways to get attention and pretending to have a severe mental illness was not one.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder the same day that a church member was diagnosed with leukemia. His family announced to the church their need for prayer. The church rallied around them... supporting them through prayer and with meals. I was encouraged not to go public with my diagnosis. My family suffered in silence because of the stigma in the church re: mental illness. Bipolar is a no casserole illness.