Wherefore go I with downcast face whilst mine enemy afflicteth me?Psalm 42/43:2, HTM
I am an Orthodox Christian, and I have a mental illness.
Essentially, I was recently diagnosed with a type of mental illness called Bipolar II, a mood disorder on the bipolar spectrum which is no less severe than Bipolar I but only differs in its reality. The easiest way to explain it is that in Bipolar II the highs aren’t as high (hypomania rather than mania) but the lows are lower (and perhaps last longer). (For more thorough explanations as well as one of my primary sources in explaining Bipolar II, please visit Dr. Jim Phelps’ website, https://psycheducation.org/, where he talks about symptoms, treatment processes, and the like.)
(Note: this post might sound a little detached compared to my usual writing style, but it is difficult for me to write about what happened without sounding detached. It is still new, so it still feels a little like a dream. In any case, please bear with me.)
I had been struggling with the possibility of my having a mental illness for a long time. Originally my spiritual father thought I had some kind of clinical depression, but then I was not seeking treatment for it because some days (sometimes for consecutive days) I would feel great and even on top of the world. Of course, this was actually another symptom of my mental illness, but the cycles messed with me, and so when I was depressed I was too lonely or too scared to seek treatment, and on days I felt on top of the world I felt I didn’t need to seek treatment.
During this time I felt like an emotional yo-yo, at the whim of feelings and thoughts I didn’t understand and didn’t want to experience; one of my dear friends said that in interacting with me I felt like a roller coaster on fire headed for a brick wall. Eventually this finally resulted with me being in what psychiatrists call a bipolar mixed state, where I was experiencing both symptoms of hypomania (extra energy, irritability, racing thoughts, inability to concentrate, not sleeping enough) alongside symptoms of depression (listlessness, lack of interest in my life, things I normally love not bringing me joy, general apathy, and sadness).
As you can imagine, this state was terrible. It finally got to a point where the emotions were all too much, and I had a day where I had three rounds of crying and not calming down because I simply could not handle basic stresses in my life. At this point, my spiritual father was of course deeply concerned about me, and he thought I needed go to the hospital so they could start treatment, since I was unable to calm down in the moment and I had also not been seeking treatment.
So, I went to the ER, and then was transferred to a psychiatric hospital. I spent a week and a half there, and it was so necessary and so lovely to be able to rest my mind, begin treatment, and start to heal.
Now I am back in my regular life, and I have been for about half a week. I am no longer a roller coaster on fire headed for a brick wall; instead, I am balanced and centered. I have been moving more slowly, prioritizing peace and calmness, and taking a little more time to notice the sunshine on my plants. Life is not going back to normal, but a new normal is here, and it is better than ever before.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why dost thou disquiet me? Hope in God, for I will give thanks unto Him; He is the salvation of my countenance, and my God.Psalm 42/43:5, HTM