God and Mental Illness

When I was nine years old I prayed Jesus into my heart. I read the New Testement and fell in love with Jesus. It was comforting to believe that Jesus was there for me and could hear all my thoughts and prayers. I started praying and reading the Bible when I was nine years old.

As I grew older and became a teenager I found comfort in church. I felt like an outsider in the youth group but I continued to go to church for the comfort. I found comfort in praying and reading my bible. I wanted to get baptized and have a relationship with Jesus. When I was nineteen I was baptized into the International Churches of Christ. I felt like I belonged there. I felt as if I finally had a relationship with Jesus. This gave me great joy and peace within. Then I started to have depressions. I turned to God for comfort but could find none. I became suicidal at times but was afraid of going to hell.

After I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I felt like a spiritual loser. I felt abandoned by God. I didn't understand why God allowed me to go through such hard times. I felt so alone. I couldn't finish school so I felt like a failure. I had a hard time getting work. When I finally found work it was part time and not enough for me to move out of my father's house. I felt depressed and angry at God. I didn't understand what it was about me that was so bad that I had to go through deep depressions and anxiety. Why do other people thrive and live successful lives? Why couldn't I finsh school? Why was it such a struggle to keep a job? Why didn't my father believe in me?I was so frustrated and alone.

Then I met and married my husband. Finally things were turning around. Then I had to quit my job because I couldn't work anymore. I tried to get on disability but was turned down three times. I felt like such a failure. I couldn't keep a job and I couldn't finish school. I tried to go back to school but my depression would kick in and I would have to drop out. I finally gave up on my dream of finishing school. Where was God? He just left me alone to deal with my illness. I wasn't good enough for Him. I used to love Him so much but something changed. I couldn't go to church anymore. I just felt flatlined emotionally. I didn't have a love for God anymore. Then I began to doubt His existence. I began to feel better not believing in God than believing in Him.

When I was manic I would love God so much. His word would speak to me. I would even hallucinate His voice speaking to me. I would hallucinate His presence. I felt profound joy and love for God. When I was depressed I would struggle with my faith and feel abandoned by God. I would still seek God out , though. I would try to persevere through my depressions and rely on God. Then last year I stopped praying and reading my bible and going to church. I just felt spiritually fatigued. I felt tired in the heart. Believing in a God who would sacrifice His only Son for mankind and then condemn most of that mankind to eternal torment in hell just took too much effort. I still loved the idea of Jesus, though. I began to doubt that Jesus even existed. I began to doubt that the disciples existed.

Now I can truly say that I am no longer a Christian. Is this because of my illness? Maybe. I may be experiencing a new form of depression or emotional flatlining that is a result of taking my medication. I don't know. I just feel different now. I can't pray because what good would it do? I don't feel like reading the Bible because it's message just seems hollow. There are too many contradictions. I tried to live like a disciple for over twenty years. I feel like it was a monumental waste of time. I feel like a fool. God never answered my prayers. My desire for him was only fulfilled when I was manic or hypermanic. Meeting my husband and getting married was a coincidence. We fulfill our own dreams. We make our own desitiny. God has nothing to do with it.

Living With Insomnia

I have not been able to sleep through the night in five years. I usually stay up all night and sleep sometime during the day. I probably sleep an average of three to four hours a day. I find this very frustrating because it keeps me from being able to get a regular job. I have to find a way to make money from home because I can't work regular day hours. Not having a job is really frustrating because I have a lot of free time. We also struggle financially and that is also frustrating. I have decided to try my hand at surveys online and screenwriting. I can't start surveys online until May because of our financial situation.

Not being able to sleep is a trial psychologicaly. I find myself full of anxiety because I spend alot of time worrying about things that might happen. It's really hard because I don't feel normal anymore. My husband is the opposite. He can't get enough sleep. He works early in the morning and gets sleepy around eight o'clock at night. He goes to bed alone and I stay up at night. I hang out online or I watch a movie or two. I don't like to read late at night. I don't know why. I just don't have any desire to read anymore. Sometimes I go to bed just because I am tired of being awake. Sometimes I sleep and sometimes I do not.

Being awake most of the time is lonely. I can't call people late at night or early in the morning. If I post a comment on a forum it disapears after a few hours because nobody is reading it. I hate chat rooms. I can't watch videos because I have dial-up. The only thing I do online is search for information and read the news. I feel so alone most of the time. I hate going places by myself because I feel more alone than if I stay home.

I feel that my insomnia is related to my bipolar disorder. It started after my last manic episode five years ago. During my stay in the hospital I noticed that I couldn't sleep more than an hour or two at a time. Then when I got home I noticed that I would stay up all night. A couple of times I went to the emergency room because I thought I was having a manic episode. Then I realised that I was getting sleep just not at night. I can't afford a doctor to look into this. It's very frustrating. When I tried to get disability I told the judge that I had severe insomnia and couldn't hold a day job. When I got jury duty I told them the same thing. They dismissed me. I don't know why I couldn't persuade that disability judge.

Having insomnia is like being awake all the time. The sleep that I do get is so erratic that I feel as if I haven't slept at all. I get really frustrated because I can't know how much I sleep. I think it's about three to four hours a day. It might be more than that, I don't know. I know I dream so I figure that to dream would take at least an hour. I have two to three dreams a day so that's about three to four hours of sleep a day ,I think. I envy my husband who can sleep through the night. I just want to be normal. I don't know what I can do. I also think my thyroid might be a contributing factor in all this. I might be going through menapause too. I just can't afford alot of medical tests and bills right now. It's really frustrating but our health insurance doesn't cover much. If I get alot of blood work done it could cost over $200. We just can't afford that right now.

Having insomnia also kills my mood. I feel depressed more often. I just feel as if I am living in a bubble and everybody is walking past me. It's hard to describe. I don't feel normal like there is something wrong with me. It's hard to accept this as my new normal even though it has been five years. I can't believe it's been that long. I used to sleep alot. Sleep was my way of escaping the anxieties of my life. Since I can't rely on sleep like I used to I am much more anxious. I'm worried about my health. I worry that the insomnia might get chronic and that I could have a heart attack or stroke. I worry that I might start hallucinating or have another manic episode. I wish I could get some answers but they are out of my reach right now.

Sexuality and Mental Illness

I was introduced to sex at the ripe old age of seven. Some neighborhood kids starting playing sexual games and used me as a pawn. They were twelve and thirteen and introduced me to sex and masturbation. My mother was clueless as always in her absentee parenting. Learning how to masturbate at such an early age was crucial in how I viewed my sexuality as I turned into a teenager. I thought sex was "nasty" and felt guilty for having sexual drives. It took years for me to realize that I was sexually molested by those kids. The guilt and hurt I felt I kept to myself. Masturbation was a way for me to release the stress and self-loathing I felt as I grew into adulthood. I became addicted to masturbation in my teen years. I would feel sexual drives just before my menstrual cycle and during menstruation. I didn't understand why I would feel these sexual urges and why they happened every month. I just kept it a secret. I told noone.

When I became a Christian at nineteen years old I learned that masturbation was a sin. I had to confess it and try not to give in to temptation. I felt such shame and self-loathing for having such sexual urges. I felt like a pervert. I even prayed that I wouldn't get married until I overcame such nastiness. Years later, I felt that I had conquered my sexual drives and addiction to masturbation. I felt that I could marry with a clear conscience.

Then during the first six months of my marriage I felt frustrated because I couldn't have an orgasm with my husband. I knew I could orgasm by myself but I felt uncomfortable around my husband. Eventually I did orgasm and had regular sex with my husband. Then in 2003 my husband lost his job and health insurance coverage. I couldn't get medication. I was depressed that whole year. I stopped wanting sex. Then in 2004 I had a manic episode. During those two weeks I became hypersexual and had intense sexual urges and fantasies. I didn't cheat on my husband but I felf like I did because of the intense sexual fantasies. Then after I left the hospital I was intensly depressed. I was so depressed I didn't want sex with my husband. My husband said we went a year without sex. I just don't remember.

Now we have sex every few months. I want to have sex but my husband but he is not interested. I thing he has been hurt by my rejection too many times. I don't feel as depressed as I was but now I feel emotionally flatlined. I don't feel intense emotion. I feel some anxiety because of the global financial situation but I don't feel deep emotions. Even when my sister died I didn't cry or feel deep sadness or a sense of loss. My husband says I frown alot. He likes it when I smile. He thinks my laugh is sexy. I don't know what to do. Maybe I should change my medication or get checked out for hormonal imbalance.

When a person with bipolar disorder experiences depression the libido disapears. In contrast, when a person with bipolar disorder experiences mania or hypermania they experience intense sexual urges. Depending on the manic episode a person could act on their urges and do some real harm to permanent relationships. I never cheated on my husband but I'm sure that has happened to people with bipolar disorder. I'm sure there are marital situations that were harmed by a person's lack of libido also. I know my marriage has suffered from my lack of sexual desire. I want to change that by being considerate of my husband and have regular sex with him even if I don't feel like it. I can always talk myself into the right mood. It just takes a little foreplay and music and I'm there.

I still feel so guilty when I engage in sex. It's like I feel as if God is watching me and for me to enjoy sex is bad. It means I'm a nasty girl. Remember that song? It was by Vanity. "Do you think I'm a nasty girl?" Anyway, I don't know exactly how to get over the guilt I feel when I have sexual urges. I just want to react normally and without guilt to sexual pleasure whether it's initiated by my husband or myself.

As far as hypersexuality goes while in the midst of a manic or hypermanic epsisode goes I really need to see that it is a symptom of an illness and not indicative of my character or my commitment to my husband. I also need to see my lack of libido when I am depressed as a symptom of my illness and not a commentary on my feelings for my husband. I still love my husband either way and I am committed to the relationship.

There's just alot of guilt that I need to get rid of. Guilt for having a libido, guilt for not having one. I feel a tremendous amount of guilt either way. I feel like a bad wife for putting my husband through the wringer of my illness. It's really hard for him to deal with and I know he feels frustrated and angry because of it. I want things to be different between us. I don't want my illness to destroy my marriage.

Suicide and Suicidal Thoughts

My big brother was 19 when he commited suicide. I was six years old. He was in prison for assault. I learned later that he was sentenced to five years in prison. If he'd lived he probably would have been out of prison in two or three years. My cousin told me he wrote her saying that he'd been raped while in prison. I guess he couldn't bear existing in such a violent place. My brother was a tough guy, yet prison got the best of him.

I remember my brother as a good student athelete. He was on the football team. He graduated with good grades. I remember being scared of him, though. I was his annoying kid sister. He didn't have much patience for me. He would pull pranks on me sometimes or tell me things that weren't true. I remember him argueing with my mother alot. I learned later that he would smoke pot with my cousin alot. He smoked alot of pot. I don't know the details of his arrest and conviction. My mother used to keep clippings from the newspaper but I don't know what happened to them.

My brother was often very depressed and angry. I think he was just discovering the prospects he had as a black man in the seventies. He would make nooses out of my jump rope. He was trying very hard to make sense out of his life. I think he would have turned out fine if he hadn't gotten involved with the wrong kind of people. He was thinking about death already so it didn't surpise me when he killed himself. My sister felt that he was going to hell. I don't believe in hell anymore so his death has taken on a different meaning for me. I think he just didn't want to be gang raped for five years. I also think he probably knew that prison would change him into someone he didn't want to be.

Death scares me. Coming from a religious background suicide was never an option. I feared hell more than death. During my depressions I have often been suicidal. My first attempt had me burning down my apartment. That got me in jail for two weeks. I was convicted of arson and given two years probation. That experience nixed alot of my desires to kill myself by harming other people's property. I made a contract with myself that I would never harm myself. That and the fear of hell has kept me alive. I have often felt like dying but I realized that killing myself only hurts those who love me and want to help me. I think my brother felt alone and frightened of his future in prison. I don't think he was given any hope for surviving. That and being depressed already made a perfect storm of suicidal emotion.

I don't talk about my brother because it's just too depressing. When I started to feel suicidal I thought of him alot. His death devestated my mother and she still hasn't quite gotten over it. I think his death shocked her. I don't think she realized just how down he was feeling. When someone commits suicide it's always a shock to those closest to that person. Again the way this country stigmatizes suicide has alot to do with that. People don't take suicidal people seriously. They don't think they will go through with it. They think the person is just trying to get attention. They think the person is going through a faze and will get over it. They think that the suicidal person needs to snap out of it and stop being so selfish. These are dangerous things to think. Always take a suicidal person seriously and get them the help that they need.

When I was suicidal I would tell people and they would try to help me or get me the help I needed. That was important. When my husband was unemployed I was suicidal alot but I kept it to myself because I knew we couldn't afford me going to the hospital. We didn't have health insurance so I felt like I had to soldier on. I stayed indoors and rarely talked. Looking back I could have contacted someone and maybe I could have gotten on medication. During these tough economic times I'm afraid there is going to be alot of people who will try to battle suicidal thoughts on their own and end up killing themselves instead of getting the help they need.

Since I don't believe in hell anymore the thing that would keep me alive would be my husband and my family and friends. Death still scares me. It's an end and I don't know if there is life after death anymore. It makes me want to live life to the full and really make the most of each day.
In this case fear was helpful in keeping me alive. Fear of hell,fear of death,fear of the unknown really kept me from harming myself seriously.

Suicide should not be an option no matter how bad life gets. We are tougher than we give ourselves credit for. Overcoming adversity is something human beings are good at. I think my brother could have overcome his circumstance but he wasn't given any options. I hope he found peace.

Childhood Mental Illness

Looking back on my childhood and teen years I can see the warning signs of a mental illness. If my mother had been a little more vigilant she could have gotten me and my sister help and could have avoided future heartache.

The first time I was depressed was at age 9. I didn't want to wash myself and get dressed. I was very melancholy and down emotionally. It lasted most of time I was nine years old. My mother thought I was being rebellious and lectured me harshly. I wish she could have taken me to the doctor and maybe I would have gotten some help. The second time I was depressed was when I turned 15. I nearly flunked out of school. I was very depressed. I wasn't suicidal but it was hard for me to get up and go to school each day. Math and science classes were very confusing. I just couldn't get it. I didn't know what was wrong with me. Again my mother was clueless. I don't even think she realized how close I came to flunking out of school or repeating the 10th grade. I think I barely made it through somehow. My teachers didn't seem to care either. They saw that I was doing poorly but didn't let my mother know or didn't seem to care. I think my sister had early signs too in her childhood and teen years but she was so quiet most of the time I think my mother thought no news is good news. I felt very lonely during this period. I was lonely most of my childhood and teen years. I wasn't popular and was used to alot of teasing by other students. I just put my head down and tried to get an education. I liked learning for the most part ; especially writing. I read alot and had an active fantasy life. If my mother or teachers had noticed the difference in my grades and behaviour maybe I would have gotten some help.

My mother was raising the three of us on her own and didn't have many resources. I think that there should be a way to integrate a program in school to ferret out kids who are depressed. Doing a quick survey and targeting the students who make the most alarming answers could help. Informing parents and teachers of the warning signs of severe depression could also help. I think it's difficult because teenagers tend to be moody and depressed. It's difficult to ferret out the really severe cases. Even doing a day where mental illness is talked about would help, I think.

Mentall Illness is stigmatized severely in this country. Depression and suicide is rarely talked about among young people. This should change. Suicide prevention should be a priority in middle and high schools. When Columbine happened there was alot talked about as far as kids who get teased and bullied. Not much has changed since then. Oprah had a day where high school kids talked about their feelings and struggles with teasing and bullying. I think schools should have days like that at least once or twice a year. I think if this had happened when I was in school I would have reached out for help and not felt like I had to endure what I was feeling.

You see, I was told not to complain. We didn't have much. Sometimes we couldn't afford toilet paper and deoderant. It was very tough. If I complained I was acting spoiled. I was told to shut up and put up. I was told not to ask for more than what I needed. I was treated like a burden instead of a joy. I always felt that if I spoke up I was making trouble. It didn't occur to me to talk about my depressions. I didn't realize how depressed I was until after I pulled out of it. Then my sister experienced severe depression and had her first manic episode. She was hospitalized for a while and went on medication. I was in denial thinking that my problem wasn't the same as my sister's. I didn't want to have a mental illness, especially when I saw her struggles. I never dreamed that I would experience the same struggles.

I think parents should talk to their kids and be there for them. They should tell their kids that it's o.k. to be open with their feelings. Parents should not just accept silence as a sign that things are going alright. So many parents are shocked at a child's suicide or violent behaviour because they just didn't talk to their kids.

I worry about my other sister's kids. The three older kids seem to be doing alright. The younger five are still growing. I think at least one of these kids may suffer from mental illness. Mental illness is hereditary. My sister does have mild symptoms of bipolar disorder. She gets hypomanic and she gets depressed. She has never been on medication and self medicates. If I told her she was bipolar she would be insulted. She is in total denial when it comes to her kids possibly having a mental illness. I don't know how to connect to the kids because I don't talk to them. After my older sister died they came to town last year but that's the last time I saw them.

I hope my sister will be involved with her children enough to know when there's a problem. She homeschools the younger kids so maybe being around them alot will give her a head's up if there is something wrong. I just think she is in denial about the possibility of one or more of her kids developing a mental illness. This kind of blinders given our family medical history is dangerous to have. She could miss the early signs that I described earlier and not be able to head off a serious mental illness.

Living with mental illness

I am 40 years old and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when I was 22. I have been living with this illness for almost half my life. It has been a real roller coaster ride. I am now living at home with my husband of 13 years. I am unable to work right now and haven't for nine years. I tried to get on Social Security Disability but was denied three times. That's the nutshell of it but there is so much I would like to say about my experiences. I have learned alot over the years and I have experienced things that most people don't get to go through in their lifetimes. There are so many issues related to mental illness that I also would like to discuss. The mental healthcare system in this country is broken. I don't know how it can be fixed but talking about the shortfalls of the mental health care system in the country is a start.

My older sister also had Bipolar Disorder and was on disabiltiy for most of her adult life. She died partially as a result of the broken mental health care system in this country. I would like to have her story told as well. She was a good person with a bad disability. She tried hard to live a good life and to find happiness. To some extent she did find some happiness even with her situation.
Her faith was her strength and comfort. I'm glad she finally found peace.

Living with mental illness in this country is extremely difficult. The healthcare system is broken and people with mental illness fall through the cracks. If you don't have a job and are homeless you are screwed. I have lived just one paycheck away from being homeless. It's a terrifying thought. I need to be on medication but I have gone without when my husband was unable to find work for 18 months in 2003 . We lost the house and I finally had a severe breakdown as a result of not being able to afford medication. When my husband finally found work I was able to get back on medication. There are so many people out there who have lost jobs and are wondering how they are going to pay for their medication. I think the number of folks out there who end up in the hospital because they can't get their medication is going to rise significantly. The toll on the general health care system is going to reach a breaking point.

I think that people with mental illnesses have to have a certain amount of strength to endure each day. I find that people underestimate the kind of will it takes to face each day with a mental illness. Even with a medication that works there are still symptoms that persist. On top of that there are scars that have developed from each breakdown and regrets and feelings of low self-esteem because of the illness. I came to admire my sister for going through the struggles she went through during her life. Her ability to face each day with optimism touched my heart. I wish people could see the strength and beauty of spirit that people with mental illnesses have and how difficult it is to face each day. When I was working I struggled mightily to get up and go to work each day. Some days were worse than others but I felt I had to go to contribute to the household economy. When I had a breakdown and was unable to work anymore I felt so ashamed. I felt as if I had let my husband down because I couldn't work anymore. I tried to work form home but even that was too difficult. I felt like a failure. I tried to go back to school to finish my degree but I had another breakdown. I couldn't go to school anymore after that.

I've only had three breakdowns in my life but they have been so severe that it has taken me years to recover from them. My last manic episode was in 2004. I was in the hospital for 2 weeks. It has taken me all this time to recover from that one. The other ones were in 1992 and 2000. It took me 2 years each to recover from those. That doesn't mention the numerous times I was severely depressed. I haven't been hospitalized for my depressions but they have been serious enough that I probably should have been hospitalized.

When I applied for SSDI for the third time I used a lawyer. I tried to get the judge to see that I needed to be on disability because my illness had gotten worse. He argued that I was fine with medication and could do menial work. It was very hurtful and frustrating to get that denial. Now we have been living paycheck to paycheck on just one income. We don't have a car and we dread either of us getting sick or hurt. There's just enough money to live on. I feel betrayed by my government. I worked ten years and paid into social security. I should have gotten it when I needed it the most. I think the SSDI system is also broken when if denies people who really need it. With budget cuts the way they are more people are going to be denied disability when they need it.

These are just a few things I have touched on but will talk more about as I continue this blog.