We both love how Matthew has taken the concept of sin and given a breath of fresh air to the topic. You must read this book because in its pages you will finally gain a biblical perspective on sin and what it takes to free yourself from the bonds that so easily entangle!

Gary and Michael Smalley
Smalley Relationship Center
When mental illness afflicts a loved one, how can we understand what is happening and respond appropriately? This biblically-literate and scientifically-informed book offers helpful insight, encouragement, and practical advice. For pastors and for those who hurt for those who hurt, Matthew Stanford offers sensitive and welcome guidance.

David G. Myers, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Hope College and author of Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Life With Bipolar Disorder

Lately I have been receiving a number of calls from individuals who have a family member struggling with Bipolar Disorder. Mostly they just want to ask questions and get some understanding of this destructive disorder. I thought this week I would post the story of a woman that is living with Bipolar to help everyone appreciate just how difficult and destructive life with this brain disorder can be.

Rachael is thirty-six years old. She lives with her husband of thirteen years and their three children in a beautiful home in a quiet neighborhood near the lake. If you were to meet Rachael, you would find her to be an attractive, energetic person. She is a talented artist and is often thought of as the “life of the party.” She is active in her church and regularly volunteers to help at her children’s school.

What you might not realize is that Rachael has bipolar disorder. The disorder began to manifest during her freshman year in college. Away from home for the first time, she began to slip deeper and deeper into depression. She attempted suicide on three different occasions that year. Surprisingly, Rachael was not hospitalized, but she did begin to receive counseling.

Rachael got married soon after graduating, and noticed that the depression would become worse during her pregnancies. She saw a psychiatrist a few times over the years, but “felt that God was enough” and really never pursued treatment. She told me, in fact, that on several occasions she had believed herself divinely healed and stopped taking her medication, only to realize later that she was still having problems. After her third pregnancy, Rachael felt that her moods had finally leveled out; but then the hallucinations and nightmares started. She began to have terrifying nightmares in which she would murder her family. The nightmares were so vivid that the line between dreaming and reality became distorted, and Rachael would wake up with the fear that she had actually killed her family. She also began to hallucinate, seeing demons. Concerned that she might hurt herself or someone else, Rachael called her psychiatrist, who recommended she go to the emergency room. She was admitted to a local psychiatric hospital and, for the first time, given the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. That was one year ago.

Now Rachael is constantly on the go and unable to relax. She says the world moves too slowly for her and she is never satisfied. She cleans her house continually but never feels it is good enough. She makes out schedules for her children so that she will not be frustrated by the speed at which they get ready for school. Over the years, the disorder has taken a toll on Rachael’s marriage. Thinking that “there must be something better,” she has left her husband twice, only to return a few days later. She still has thoughts of death and dying once or twice a week, but says the fear of going to hell for committing suicide keeps her from hurting herself. Rachael often wonders if God may be using the disorder to humble her. Since she doesn’t fully agree with her bipolar diagnosis, she has stopped taking most of her medication and says it is her faith that keeps her going.

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