There are many ways that people with bipolar disorder use to cope with their disorder, and one way is spiritually. There is a difference between being spiritual, though, and being religious.
Now, I want to be clear about this: I’m not talking about religion here, as in going to church or adhering to any type of dogma. I’m just talking about spirituality in general.
One of the most basic ways I’ve discovered that people with bipolar disorder use as a coping strategy to deal with the disorder is the familiar Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
It doesn’t matter whether you are “religious” or not, the prayer still works. From what people who write and talk to me about their disorder have told me, they get tired of the ups and downs of their mood swings, and seek some kind of “serenity,” or peace. So they can relate to the first line of the prayer.
Many times I have talked about how you need medication, therapy, and support to help you with your bipolar disorder, and how important they are in helping you to achieve stability. But in addition to medication, therapy, and support group meetings, many people with the disorder still
feel that they need something more to help them feel “balanced” from the excessive mood swings.
In any 12-Step Program, they call it a Higher Power, and that works for some people, but for
others it is just simpler to call this God. In the Serenity Prayer, they ask God to help them
“to accept the things I cannot change.” For many people with bipolar disorder this is really hard, because they have to ask him to help them to accept the fact that they have bipolar disorder, and many of them are still struggling with their diagnosis.
They just do not want to have bipolar disorder and to tell you the truth, I don’t blame them –
this is something that is very hard to do. Being told that you have a disorder for which there is no cure, and for which you would have to take medication the rest of your life…That you would have to live with these mood swings for the rest of your life…That you would never be “normal”…Well, this is definitely one of those things that you cannot change, no matter how
much you want to.
You have no power over bipolar disorder and the fact that you have it and always will. This is a very hard truth to swallow for many people with bipolar disorder.
“The courage to change the things I can.” There is only one thing you DO have power over, however, and that is yourself. YOUR decisions. YOUR choices. You do need courage to face up to the disorder, as well as the other things you have to do to get to stability.
You have to take your medications, see the doctor, therapist, and psychiatrist regularly, go to a support group, take care of yourself, learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder, etc. It might even feel as if you’re taking on a second job! But the point is, that you can become proactive in your own recovery. That is your own choice. It is the only thing you can change. The only thing you have power over.
“And the wisdom to know the difference.” That’s the tough part. Because some people still try to play God in their own life. Some people still don’t get this line of the prayer right. But if they just do the little bit that they can do, one day at a time, and let God do the rest, they will find that their stress level is much lower, their stability is much higher, and overall, their life will be much better, in spite of the fact that they have bipolar disorder.
Well, I have to go!