This question was presented in an issue of Psychology Today. I have heard of cases where people who thought they had their Bipolar Disorder under control found themselves back in the hospital because they did not have coping mechanisms in place to keep themselves stable.
Coping skills are absolutely vital to maintaining mental wellness. I remember thinking that I had the bipolar disorder beat by the time I was ready to graduate from a women’s recovery program in February of 2008. I was surprised (and a little offended) when a fellow guest at a homeless shelter told me that I was gearing up for another crash. I thought he was nuts.
But my feeling of being ready to take on a challenging job and begin a romantic relationship with an old friend soon gave way to a feeling of failure and incapacitating fear of the future. After a fourth (and final) suicide attempt, I was back in the hospital.
I remember my intake nurse asking me what my hopes were for the future. I replied, “I have no hope.” In my heart I knew that I did have hope; I had received Christ Jesus as my Savior back in 1977. I knew I was going to heaven, and there’s no greater hope than that. However, I felt hopeless. I did not foresee anything good happening for me during the remainder of my earthly life.
When a dear friend and counselor came and prayed for me, God honored that prayer; His Holy Spirit did a special work in my heart, reminding me of God’s unconditional, steadfast, everlasting love for me. He also reminded me that He will never leave me nor forsake me. That prayer renewed my faith and restored my sense of hope.
I remember walking back to my room knowing that I was going to be all right. I didn’t know where I would be going after leaving the hospital, but I was no longer afraid. Since then, I have had times when I felt overwhelmed, discouraged, and very angry. But when those strong feelings come over me, I now know what I need to do. I have to bring everything to God and cast my every care upon Him. I have to start each day with prayer and Bible reading. It’s called “quiet time” with the Lord, and it makes a HUGE difference. I commit the day to Him and trust Him to guide my mind and my heart.
What other people say to me or about me no longer threatens me because I know that my heavenly Father and my Savior love me and are always with me, helping me along.
Since 2010 I have been medication free and am no longer in need of psychiatric care. I replaced psychotherapy and pills with something much stronger and more reliable. I now rely upon the Lord God Almighty to comfort, encourage, and instruct me as I encounter challenging situations.
Being in fellowship with other Christians, attending a church where the word of God is rightly taught, and being involved in ministry work has done wonders for my mental wellbeing. I cannot overstate the importance of surrendering one’s life into the loving, mighty hands of God for the sake of mental and physical wellbeing. He is worthy of our devotion, and He is so very faithful to those who choose to trust in Him.
“Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence. If I say, ‘My foot slips,’ Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:17-19)