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Losing my Religion: How getting diagnosed with a mental illness affected my relationship with God

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

Why do bad things happen to good people?

My sister wrote this on a big neon posterboard in bubble letters when an incident involving one of our town's favorite crossing guard, had passed away from a fatal accident while on duty. (Apologies for the morbid start to the post.) However this explains clearly what my sentiments are when I write this blog post today.

As a young high school peppy girl, I never knew what my sister meant by this. How pessimistic of her, I would say to myself. I used to think, "God makes everything happen for a reason" and though sad about the incident, would go on my merry way letting faith take the wheel that something higher was at work for a better cause. It wasn't until I started having severe symptoms of bipolar that I realized I couldn't easily wish things away. You see, up until having those manic depressive bipolar symptoms, everything in my life was simple. Friends came easily, jobs even. I was betting on my faith, personality along with hard work to carry me. However, having a mental illness was the one biggest life lessons where I myself had to carry my self back to what I can now resemble as normal. It felt like majority of my support system had ditched me during these dark times. Eventually doctors and therapists would be added to the mix, but no prayers seemed to help. Instead when I asked God why, I heard nothing back. I didn't exactly lose faith during this, but more I gained a newfound strength in myself to pick myself back up and live again.

It was me.

A cross with a beautiful cloud sky behind it

I understand there are many arguments to this, but this is my story. Sometimes I do wonder, if by second hand prayers of friends and family that I got healed by the graces of God. But when I remember my mental headspace of going through manic episodes and my mind having no control over my body, I turn into a skeptic. Why would this imperfection be a part of God's narrative for anyone? There were even times when I turned to religious practices in order to get healed, only to go into a manic episode and think I was possessed by the devil. It was rough.

Why would this imperfection be a part of God's narrative for anyone?

The big question of why this mental health fallout had to happen, burns in my mind on some days. I've lost jobs, friendships and relationships; including my family almost. Though they stuck by my side when I needed them and I cherish them so much for that. Continuing down the list: countless trips to the mental hospital (some of them terrifying), assault and more. I do sometimes think I know why I was destined to go through the hardships of my mental health journey. I'm so much stronger and humbler of a person now. I will save that for another post though. However it did make an internal shift in me that has me love religion from afar. Maybe someday that will change, but for now this is my way of healing.

What are your thoughts? How has having a mental illness changed the way you view religion or your thoughts on a higher power?

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