How spirituality can help you heal from bipolar and depression

Where do you go for help, hope, and meaning when painful struggles erode your confidence, shake your faith, and taint your happy times?

More and more psychiatric patients report a desire for something that will provide comfort, guidance, meaning, and hope for their lives. Maybe this is because most folks with depression and/or bipolar disorder have experienced numerous traumas and suffered multiple losses. Perhaps you’re searching for the meaning of your life, your illness.

Tragically, too many people with mental illnesses and their families have been badly treated by religious people who shamed, blamed, or simply neglected them. As a result of their hurtful experiences with “organized religion”, scores cut themselves off from anything “spiritual”, including healthy forms of religion and the life-­‐renewing vehicles of spirituality.

There’s a big difference between “religion” and “spirituality”. Religion has to do with a belief in a superhuman power. A religion can be formalized into an “organization” that has a philosophy and code of ethics. Spirituality, however, is a much broader concept that may or may not include “religion”.

I like the way many twelve step groups differentiate between religion and spirituality: religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell; spirituality is for those who’ve been through hell, or who are going through it right now!

Countless individuals have found great support, comfort, and renewed inner strength, and have benefited from traditional religions and their practices: worship, Bible study, prayer, and meditation.

Rabbi Harold Kushner, whose son suffered from a terrible, lethal disease, was able to find inner strength through spirituality. He said, “Life is not fair. The wrong people get sick, and the wrong people get robbed, and the wrong people get killed in wars and accidents. Some people see life’s unfairness and decide, ‘There is no God; the world is nothing but chaos.’ To the person who asks, ‘Who needs religion if these things happen to good people and bad people alike’? I would say that God may not prevent the calamity, but He gives us the strength and the perseverance to overcome it”.

Numerous others, including myself, have profited not only from some aspects of religion, but also from more diverse forms of spirituality such as: walking in nature, listening to music, exercise, humor, journaling, pets, hobbies like painting, reading poetry, novels, and recovery literature, and attending support groups and mental illness/addiction-­‐related educational seminars.

Apart from the Bible, I’ve read numerous “spirituality” books that have given me guidance, encouragement, inspiration, purpose, and hope. Here are a few:

Man’s Search for Meaning—Victor Frankl
Where Is God When It Hurts?—Philip Yancey
Keeping Hope Alive—Lewis Smedes
When Bad Things Happen to Good People—Harold Kushner
Resilience: Rebounding When Life’s Upsets Knock You Down—Norman Wright
Alcoholics Anonymous (“The Big Book”)
The Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren
How about it. Why not give spirituality or religion a chance, or another chance?

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Hi, I'm Jim. I've been through the emotional wringer. I've been a successful pastor and leader and a loving father, but I've also been suicidally depressed. I'll teach you the techniques I used to heal myself, and give you the tools to reclaim your life and move forward!

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