My name is Emma and I am a Christian with bipolar disorder. I came to Christ while suffering from a deep depression, and he has helped me through many periods of illness since then. I am keenly interested in the Bible, theology and mental illness and this blog reflects that.
I have a mental illness. Specifically, I have Bipolar Affective Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and currently am also diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. The latter one I expect to be removed shortly, as I do not feel it describes me at all, really, but was a mistake my psychiatrist wrote down when transferring me to another psychiatrist.
My illness has manifested itself in certain ways. I rarely experience mania, and when I do it is only hypomania, that is, a little high. To be quite honest my “high” is about what some people normally run at! I end up spending lots of money that I don’t really have and talking constantly, rather fast. I can be a bit irritating to be around. These days that is as high as it gets, although when I first became ill it got to a more unpleasant point.
My main problem is the depressive side of things. I can get very low indeed, often being suicidal and regularly self-harming. This has been triggered by stress/anxiety in the past, and nowadays mostly means that I am in and out of work and in and out of sick leave regularly. I get anxious over ridiculous things, but am regularly unaware that I am anxious. I associate a certain feeling with anxiety but am often unable to figure out what has caused it. By a process of elimination I have figured out certain things, that I cannot fly by the seat of my pants for example. I cannot bluff my way out of situations and if I try it produces intolerable anxiety, which then leads to a bout of depression. This, among other things, is the reason why I am not working at the moment but am on ESA (Employment & Support Allowance) although, in common with many other mentally and physically ill people, I was judged fit to work at an assessment and I am currently appealing the decision (I have been waiting for more than a year now to be heard).
I am also a Christian. In fact it was my first real episode of illness which pushed me into faith really. I had played at being a Christian before, and studied the faith, but I was not very serious about God, and I used to go a few weeks calling myself a Christian, then a few weeks being an evangelical atheist, and then a few weeks being a neo-Pagan. Then I had the episode in my final year of university which led to me being very ill, very suicidal, I did actually get hospitalised for overdoses at that time and I was also self-harming every day. Somehow, in that awful, confused time, I turned to God. I know some people would see that as my reaching out for a crutch – but my faith has lasted. No, there was no miraculous healing, I continued to be ill, I continued to feel as bad as I have ever felt, but I had hope. When the chips were down, I found that I trusted in God after all, that I felt close to Christ, and while I couldn’t understand my illness I did have the hope of morning.
I wouldn’t say I am particularly good at explaining these things. There were no bright lights, no Damascene conversion here, although I would have loved that to be the case. Just a sense of calm, a kernel of hope, a small sign that God loves me. And I have continued to love him back ever since. I have been ill again, several times, but I continue to hope and trust in God.
I am an Anglican (Church of England/Episcopalian) now after some years of attending a Baptist church. I would say I come down on the moderate side of theology, I am certainly not a conservative in many issues, such as the ordination of women and homosexuality. In the basics of the faith I am orthodox, however.
The purpose of this blog is for me to post prayers, questions and things that come my way. I also want to discuss things of interest to me. I don’t know whether anyone would like to read it, but you are welcome if you do.