On Bipolar Disorder, OCD and religion

I’ve tried hard reconciling religion with mental illness, but I can’t do it anymore. I’ve concluded that being too religious only adversely affects my mental health. Now, I’ve struggled with Bipolar Disorder and OCD with psychotic features for seven years and time hasn’t been kind to me. The medication I’m on has made me put on excessive weight which in turn has led to diabetes and high cholesterol levels. I can’t walk properly anymore because my back stiffens, and since I suffer from the cyclothymic variant of Bipolar Disorder, my moods swing from low to high to moderately high to euthymic to low again every day.

I’m probably dying of cancer too because of my six-year-long, twenty-five cigarettes a day chain-smoking habit. I’m jaded, but I’ve gotten so used to my monastic, partly self-ostracized existence that I can’t fathom living any other way. Religion (Calvinistic Christianity to be specific) has crippled me, and I’m shaking myself loose of doctrines like double-predestination. What I’m doing is placing myself in an iron maiden and begging for the doors to be shut so that I’m grotesquely wounded. It’s some masochistic, religious thirst that starves more that it satiates. Some need for emotional martyrdom that’s placing me in an anaconda choke, and I’ve been stupid to not resist it. Now, I don’t deny God or Christ, but I’m tired of this whole ‘Reformed business.’

I’ve attended ‘Reformed Churches,’ and the people there are cruel and self-righteous. They scream, ‘Sin!’ and deny the very existence of mental illness. Not everything is sin. There are things beyond the sufferer’s control. Now, I’ve walked on thorns and have tried to gouge my eyes out with a branch, thinking I was doing penance. I’ve seen terrifying things. I’ve screamed my lungs out in a mental hospital preaching Christ, until they sedated me. I’ve felt unfathomable fear. And religion brings this. And when I speak to Christians about this, they laugh, mock me and say that I’m dreaming or that I’m ‘demonic.’ Where’s the fellowship?

Each time I fall into a ‘religious phase,’ I do the same thing: delete my writing because it’s not ‘biblical’ and because peace coats my heart, repent, focus on Christ, read the Bible and books by Spurgeon, Sproul, and articles by Piper with intense devotion while the joy in my heart increases but my mind feels like pressure cooker about to blow, and finally implode because something supernatural or psychotic (I don’t know) happens and frantically try recovering my work once I’m better, but find just a few pieces tucked away somewhere, start a new blog and follow old followers who think I’m completely insane.

I’ve lost so many of you because I’ve sounded preachy. I apologize. It’s beyond me. They say insanity is doing the same thing on repeat expecting a different result, and by that definition, I’m the craziest man you’ll meet.

Moving on, the mental healthcare system in India is terrible. You have this authoritarian, dogmatic system in place with people still obsessed with Freud. It’s ludicrous. ‘I’m the doctor! I’m in control! Do this mother lover!’ yells the psychiatrist and the psychologist, and I’m sick of them. Luckily I have a long-term prescription for Depakote, Sertraline, Valium, and Solian and I manage. There are days when I ask myself if this is all there is to life; if surviving and living in my mind is all there is, but I hope that I’ll make it as a writer someday; perhaps get a few books published and look back and say it was worth it in the end.

Doubt

I’m struggling. I’m struggling badly with the Christian faith, with what to do with my life, with sin, and with reconnecting with God. Like I said in my previous post, I seriously doubt if I’m a Christian. In the book The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, there is a part which talks about a man in an iron cage. Now, this man was once walking in the light but backslid badly, making him believe that he can’t repent or believe in God’s promises again. He’s an apostate. His heart is hard. Despair and sin plague him.

I feel like this man. I don’t know if I am this man, but I’m finding it extremely difficult to reconnect with God. My heart is hard, and I don’t have a passion for Christ like I once did (albeit for a short time). Christianity isn’t about a list of dos and don’ts. An obedience gospel is frustrating and ultimately plunges a man into despair. It’s no gospel at all. The gospel is about God’s grace poured out on His Elect, changing hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, resulting in faith in Christ which produces an affection and longing for Him, which in turn creates obedience. How can I obey God when my heart is so hard? Do I push against my will and infuriate myself? I need a heart set on Christ. One that loves Him and longs for Him.

We’re inclined to hating God from the time of birth. And after God seeks us out and points us to Christ, we love Him because He loved us first. Now people equate love with obedience, but that’s a wrong notion. I don’t want to get into the details, but I’ll say this: A cold, ‘Obey the Ten Commandments, do this, do that gospel,’ kills more than it saves.

Moving forward, I wish I could connect with Christians who do believe in religious affection and aren’t cessationist and aren’t bohemian or rule-making but Reformed and preferably Baptist in their views in my city. Talking with them, and having them pray for me will certainly help me now. I feel that way at least. The pastors I’ve talked to in the past haven’t helped me at all.

Finally, I’ll end by saying that I hope that there’s hope for me. If God has left me, I hope He returns for me and grants me repentance. I hope He sets my mind on Christ and not on the things of this world. I hope He helps me make a full recovery towards being a God-loving Christian. I hope He helps me do away with sin and addiction, and makes me thirst for Christ. I can’t do it alone. I can’t will my heart to obey Him when it’s cold. I need God. I need Christ. I need His Holy Spirit.