About

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.

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Comments

  1. Hi Emma thank you for visiting our Blog and for your kind words you have indeed had a hard road to walk, Mental illness is something little is understood about and so is feared but God knows us completely and never leaves our side, so regardless of what disability we have, we do not have to fear and it is not Him who afflicts us, illness does not come from God’s hand but He has healed many people who have suffered illness including quiet a few of mine.

    Do you know it is a proven fact that many people suffer mental problems even though they have not been classified as being Mentally ill, and some who have been classified are not Mentally ill, it is often something physical not mental but anyone who deliberately seeks to harm another my have mental problems or they are just evil and some people point the finger at others it is often their problem not the person they are judging…actions speak louder then words.

    We also remember people claimed Jesus was Mentally ill including His family and those close to Him, so He understands the stigma and discrimination that people suffer, we need not be ashamed of any disability regardless of how others view us.

    I’m physically disabled now from a gean disorder from birth but in some ways it is a blessing when I focus on the good not the bad and God may heal me again, but regardless He will always give me the strength to endure and you too.

    We will be praying for you – Christian Love Anne

  2. Thank you, Emma, for sharing your experiences. Too often, we Christians, especially Christian leaders, are afraid to admit our vulnerabilities, and that is so unhelpful. You may not feel that many people are following your blog, but you’ll be surprised how it’s helping someone. Your blog and twitterfeed are SO HELPFUL.

    I love your honesty. I was interested in your throw-away line about your orthodoxy, as I’ve unexpectedly come to a very similar position myself. I wonder whether it’s to do with perspective when you’re up against it. Then you realise that Jesus’s mission was about something more important than what sex bishops are or what sex people want to live with. It was actually to tell us all, whoever we are and however we’re hurting or isolated, that GOD LOVES US. And he proved on the cross.

    Bless you in whatever you’re doing. I hope your ESA appeal is successful. Having read the debate in Parliament I see you’re not alone (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120614/debtext/120614-0002.htm – Column 503). Meanwhile let’s hang on to His love.
    Michael

    • Thanks very much for your comment, Michael, it is lovely to hear from people! I did win my appeal in the end, thankfully, although three weeks later I am still waiting for written confirmation of that! But that is bureaucracy for you!
      Thank you again
      Emma

  3. Hi Emma , I just want to thank you for the Blessing that your Blogging friendship has been to me and I look forward to sharing with you more in the future, thank you for your flowers of Love.

    Blog Post – http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/friendship-flower-blessings/

    Christian Love Anne.

  4. Hi Emma,
    I just wanted to say I’m so glad I found your blog, I’m looking forward to reading more. Its great to see someone tackle this topic so honestly. I am a Christian too and I have battled with depression for a long time and used to self harm although its been a good 7 years since I last did but am only recently exploring how these two parts of my life really connect. Anyway I look forward to reading your posts.
    Thank you

  5. Emma–looking forward to reading more about your blog. As another Christian with bipolar I am also trying to figure out how God relates to my illness….I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and journey!

  6. thanks for your honesty emma, i came to the christian faith via the pentecostal movement but had to leave due to the harshness i experienced and find it very difficult to believe i’ll ever find a church that i’ll feel able to be honest in and one which believe’s in healing! i’ve lived with
    GAD-PTSD-BPD for most of my life any advice from your experience is most welcome.
    Ephesian’s 3 v 14-21.

    • There are churches like that out there, although I think you’ll have to “shop around” for them. You could ask, when looking at a church, what their policy on mental health is – that should give you a clue about how they feel. I’m a fan of asking questions (particularly as you can often do so anonymously, via email) to get a feel for the church you are interested in.
      You could also try mindandsoul.info which has some (UK) churches and ministries which are supportive of mentally ill Christians listed there. I’m not sure how many they actually have listed at the moment, but hopefully it should help!

  7. Always great to find a fellow believer and survivor.
    Many blessings to you…

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  1. […] can read the About section for yourself and there’s also an entire section of self-harm. Believer’s Brain […]

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