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Finding meaning in a life with mood disorder

Posted Sep 13 2008 11:48pm


My friend, Peggy, has just started " Mission 4 Monday".

The purpose of MISSION 4 MONDAY is to share YOUR MISSION each week.


I am thankful to God that I can continue to serve Him through this blog.

One of the missions of my blog is to share with others God's goodness and mercies to me in managing clinical depression and bipolar disorder, as well as resources that will benefit a person with a mood disorder and information for their family and loved ones.

Last week, I shared an article " Trust during rough times" which is an excerpt taken from a new book " A Firm Place to Stand" written by my friend and fellow blogger, Marja Bergen. Marja is also the author of " Riding the Roller Coaster: Living with Mood Disorders".

Today, I like to share another very encouraging article written by Marja for CanadianChristianity.com entitled " Finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder". It is a personal testimonies of how God has enabled Marja to find meaning in a life with bipolar disorder. This article is reproduced here with Marja's kind permission.

Bipolar Disorder or previously known as manic-depressive illness is a mood disorder with extreme mood swings ie. manic/hypomanic and depression. It is a medical condition that can be treated.

It is possible for people with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, clinical depression and other mood disorders to live a close to normal life with medical helps and other helps. Support from family and friends are crucial to their recovery and well-being too.

I am thankful to God that with medical and other helps, I am able to live a more functional and productive life.

It is my prayers that resources and testimonies shared on this blog will continue to benefit people with mood disorders and their family/friends who love them.

Finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder
by Marja Bergen

Mental illness is not all bad. I have lived with bipolar disorder for over forty years and have found it has many benefits. I couldn’t imagine living without it and am not at all unhappy with my life. In many ways, I value what this illness has made possible for me.

With effective medication to keep symptoms under control, people with bipolar disorder can live a close-to-normal life. Yes, moods will fluctuate and cause occasional problems, and treatment will need adjustment. Suffering will always be part of my life. But I accept the way God, the Great Potter, made me. I am rich on many levels.

Like many people with this disorder, I am very creative. I receive a lot of pleasure from photography and using my imagination. The deep emotions I experience, although painful, are a source of richness; I feel completely human. My frequent hard times have helped me appreciate the good times and I make the most of them. Spiritually, I’m stronger for having had to deal with great trials. The fires I’ve passed through have refined me.

Most of all, I appreciate the compassion I am able to have for others who suffer from depression and other mental health issues. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1: 4 hold true for me. I praise God “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received.” God has shown me his love, and I want to pass that love on to others.

Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to be part of a church community that has supported me and helped me grow spiritually. With the Christ-like love they have shown me, I have come to understand how great God’s love is. In turn, I now help others through a support group and one-on-one, in person and through my blog. I feel fulfilled. The language of suffering I’ve learned helps me connect with people in trouble. I am able to understand them in a way many others could not.

I feel a bit like Patch Adams in the Robyn Williams film. While Patch is a patient in a psychiatric hospital, he discovers his ability to connect with people. He learns to understand his severely disturbed roommate to see the person behind the illness and helps him through his problems. Not only does this delight Patch, it makes him a well man.

Patch eagerly tells his doctor he is well and needs to leave the hospital. I connected to another human being, he said. I want to do more of that. I want to learn about people. I want to help them with their troubles. I want to really listen to people. Connecting with other people gave Patch joy. It gives me joy, too. When God places you in this role a role he made for you joy happens. Walking with people through some of their toughest times is rewarding and a privilege.

Bipolar disorder will always be with me, and I suffer many high and low moods. But, I don’t feel I’m a victim of the disease. God has helped me find a way to make my illness work for me instead of against me.

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ (Jeremiah 29:11) God has a plan for each of us. Though we might have a severe illness such as bipolar disorder, God has work for us to do. Eventually, we can use what God has given us even the bad and turn it into something good.

Marja Bergen is the author of Riding the Roller Coaster: Living with Mood Disorders (Northstone, 1999) and a new book for Christians about living successfully with bipolar disorder (to appear). She is the founder of Living Room, a faith-based Mood Disorders Association of BC support group. Her blog, marjabergen.blogspot.com, deals with mental health and faith issues. She can be reached at info@candidsbymarja.com.

This article is published on the website of CanadianChristianity.com and reproduced here with the kind permission of Marja.

Here are some information about these 2 very useful books written by Marja:
Books by Marja Bergen:

1) Riding the Roller Coaster: Living with Mood Disorders


Mood disorders, such as depression and manic depression, affect up to 10% of the population. Marja Bergen is one of those people. Over the 30 years that she has had manic depression, she has gradually adopted a lifestyle that makes it possible not only to cope, but to live a full and productive life. In Riding the Roller Coaster, she shares very practical tips on such things as escaping the blues before they grab you, what to do when you don't feel like doing anything, and keeping life stable.



Reviews in the Media


Mood Disorders Association of BC

Robert Winram, Executive Director
This excellent first person account is filled with encouragement for those managing mood disorders. It delivers understanding, insight and very tangible strategies on how to overcome the difficulties of depression and manic depression. Marja Bergen gives us a very human perspective drawn from her experiences. Her path to recovery is exciting and positive.

Burnaby NOW
Annie Boulanger
The publication of her book is very timely as there are indications that mood disorders are a growing problem in the workplace.

Personal vignettes and real-life examples abound in Bergen's book, including frank descriptions of her own history, from her first treatments in Riverview, to problems adjusting medications in later years.

The book is easy to read, and while Bergen's style is warm and encouraging, it is also clearly written from her own experience.

The book is not only helpful to sufferers of mood disorder related illnesses, but also to their families to understand what it is that their family member is undergoing.

2) A Firm Place to Stand : Finding meaning in a life with Bipolar Disorder


" A Firm Place to Stand is a must-read for Christians who struggle with mental health challenges and the faith communities who minister to them.

For too long, society has misunderstood and feared individuals who live with mood disorders. This book dispels the lingering stigma attached to mental health conditions and encourages people to lovingly welcome the sufferers into congregations by understanding them better and supporting them in practical ways.

Most importantly, for the sufferers themselves, A Firm Place to Stand shows that it is possible to have a mental disorder yet be close to God and derive strong support from a growing relationship with Christ.

In her sincere and candid style, Marja Bergen reflects on her forty-two years with bipolar disorder, showing how faith in God can help a person with a serious illness turn weakness into strength. She describes how God transformed her from an insecure, withdrawn person into a leader, an activist, and the founder of Living Room, the growing Christian support group for people with mood disorders."

If you are keen to buy these 2 books by Marja, do check out Marja's new website.

Do visit Marja's blog, if you can, and get to know her. You will be greatly encouraged by her.

Hope the above article and resources are helpful to you or your loved ones/friends with mood disorders.

May God continue to enable us to know His love and mercies through all the changing scenes in life. May God enable us to love, pray and support our loved ones/friends with mental illness or mood disorders, and reflect Christ's love and compassion for His suffering people.

Thanks again for stopping by! Thanks for all your prayers and encouragements!

Take care and God bless :)

For more Mission 4 Monday posts, visit Peggy at MAZES, MESSES, MIRACLES...aMAZING GRACE. It will be a very encouraging experience for you!
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