I was a Christian from the time I was nine years old until my forties. I always found comfort in my relationship with God throughout my life. In 2007 I left the church I had been attending for 20 years and didn't go to another church. My love for God diminished over the year I was away from my church. I struggled with the idea of divine intelligence. How could a God who is perfect create and expect imperfect beings to follow him perfectly? I was burnt out on the works-oriented doctrine that my church tought. I had a hard time explaining to people in my church how having a mental illness meant that I couldn't always do the things I was expected as a disciple of Jesus. I had to take medication to stablilize my mental and emotional health. Leaders in the church told my sister who also struggled with mental illness not to take her medication. They said we should rely on God. They didn't trust pschology or psychiatry. It was very damaging to hear that. I insisted on taking my medicaion because I knew if I didn't I would end up in the hospital.
I kept hearing from leaders " you need to be a disciple" and deny yourself and make sure you are doing everying as a disciple. I tried but I failed alot especially if I was clinically depressed. When I was manic I was the life of the party and totally able to do everything expected of me. Most of the time I struggled with Bipolar Depression. I had a hard time reading my Bible and sharing my faith. I would stay in bed during the day and hide from God and everyone else. I was angry at God for having Bipolar Disorder. I felt like a spiritual loser. I wasn't like very much by some members who couldn't understand my illness. When I was manic I was lifted up as a radical disciple. It really bothered me that this church rewarded a symptom of a mental illnes.
After I was diagnosed I was so full of guilt and self-loathing. I felt that I was a disppointment to God. I felt like it was impossible for me to be a good disciple. That made me angry because I knew I couldn't help being weak at times because of my illness. When I had my last manic episode I experienced powerful delusions of God talking to me, angels, and demons. I was totally broken from reality during a two week period in 2004. I was hypersexual and had fantasies and was in love with my male therapist. I thought we were married. It was very scary.
After I left the hospital I experienced severe depression. I was suicidal and completely depressed. I felt so guilty for the hypersexuality I felt . I felt as if I had cheated on my husband .I felt worthless as a wife and asked my husband for a divorce. We were struggling to keep our apartment and my husband lost two jobs in six months. I applied at school and got a student loan that I used to pay rent. I became severely depressed shortly after I started going to class and dropped out. My loan was added to my other student loan debt.
I prayed to God that I wouldn't have another manic episode after my episode in 1999. I was so sure God had answered my prayer. I was going to finish my degree and become a writer. I was so happy and then it happened again. I was so hurt and angry at God for not answereing my prayer. I was devestated by my depression after my manic episode. I gradually began to lose my love for God and Jesus. I stopped reading the Bible. I stopped praying because I felt it was a waste of time.
I began to read on the internet about sites that said Jesus didn't exist. I thouight about that. If I coudn't be perfect no matterwhat I didn then how can Jesus be perfect. I doubted that the Bible was the word of God. I doubted the Holy Spirit because when I was depressed I couldn't always feel His presence. My emotions were raw and vulnerable. I decided that God did not exist and that Jesus was just the figment of a bunch of men's imagination.
Over the next five years I missed praying and having a relationship with God. I had trouble with anxiety and fear. I felt like I was given over to the elements and exposed to every bad thing that could happend to me. I was very anxious. Over time I realized that the church I went to for twenty years didn't teach much about grace or the Holy Spirit. I studied those things out and realized that with grace and the Holy Spirit I could be a Christian. I renewed my faith in Jesus and God's perfect son sent to Earth to rid us of all our sin through his suffering on the Cross.
My anxiety disappeared and I felt more hopeful about my life. I realize that I need God in my life and that I need to have Him lead me in my life. I feel that I have to relearn things about God that I was tought wrong or didn't know in the religious system of my former church. I am going to go to my mother's church so that I could encourage her in her life and help her out when I can. I am feeling new and rejuvinized.