Being entirely out of focus on the world around you. It is impossible to get out bed even for a moment. The struggle to be yourself is real, and the little things in your life seem to be unlikely to get done. What do you do? What can you do when depression gets the best part of your day?
Leigh turns to her faith, “If I take a second to breathe and focus on God, I find that I’m able to concentrate better.”
This is the story of a brave soul dealing with the unimaginable depths of her diagnosis. Each of our mental illness stories is unique to each human being in the mental health community. Here is one story—a good one of Leigh S from Norfolk, VA.
If we could walk a day in Leigh’s shoes, we would find someone stuck between two worlds. Leigh fights with her Christian faith and being Bipolar. It can be hard to reconcile being Bipolar with what the Christian faith teaches us. The dark places that depression can take your thoughts can be hard to deal with and still keep the faith. It is never easy, but Leigh continues to walk the path that helps her with the daily struggles of being Bipolar.
Leigh explains how it is for her struggle with being a Christian and Bipolar. “Being Bipolar and a Christian can be a struggle on a lot of days. Because while I know God is with me, sometimes I struggle with actually believing it.”
When asked about how her mental illness affects her own life daily her answer was a familiar one. “I have days where I don’t know how to cope, so I retreat to my room and bury myself in a book to escape reality for a little while.”
Leigh’s story begins in the year 2000. In her senior year of high school, Leigh received a diagnosis of severe depression. Leigh started to hate life as she sunk deeper into her depression. It was tough going most days with her moods all over the map. It seemed as if the diagnosis did little to help Leigh.
“My grades suffered. The only thing I can think of that could have lead to the depression was that I had MAJOR panic attacks. It would start in the middle of the night. I was laying there when my heart started racing. My hands seized up, and my mom couldn’t pry them open.”
It only got worse over the years. When Leigh mood would swing from depression to mania, her would spiral. It wasn’t long before Leigh was charging up her credit cards racking up mountains of debt.
“I was happy, sad, frustrated, angry, excited, and depressed all rolled into one package.”
It’s interesting that a sufferer will find the first diagnosis of severe depression. It is often the wrong diagnosis. It wasn’t until eight years later that Leigh got the right diagnosis that fit her symptoms. Bipolar Two disorder. But for Leigh, she believes that her diagnosis was wrong.
“Once I learned about the Bipolar disorder, everything fell into place. All my up and down moods, rollercoaster of emotions. I had it all along.”
What causes this to happen? Leigh believes that it could be that her doctors didn’t know what they were looking for. But she believes that she has been Bipolar since her teenage years. At one point, we have all had a time where our diagnosis and the reality of what is going on in our lives doesn’t seem to match. It was the same story for Leigh.
Every single day Leigh does her best to make it to the next in the way that works best for her. She does it with a lot of prayers and daily meditation. There is, of course, the thing we all have in common, the medication that does its best to balance our lives.
Leigh believes in her faith. One thing Leigh wants people to understand from this feature is simple. That it is possible for someone to be Christian and have a mental illness.
“It is possible to experience being Christian and suffer from a mental illness. It’s a struggle, but it is possible.”
This is a unique and vital way of looking at mental illness. It is one we haven’t explored here on “The Bipolar Writer.” Leigh says it’s a struggle, but it’s a significant struggle for her. It goes the same for the many other Christians dealing with a mental illness. It was great for Leigh to bring her trust in her faith here, where she would be vulnerable.
While perusing Leigh’s blog, I was impressed with how committed Leigh is to her faith. Leigh wants only to help those who are struggling with their mental illness and their faith in God. It is inspiring to see Leigh’s article about “Plan of Salvation.” In this blog post, she offers to help for those who want to talk about becoming a Christian. Leigh uses scripture to back up her faith throughout the blog articles that she writes.
A close relationship with Jesus Christ is one way that in Leigh’s life makes it worth living. She believes in a healthy church family that cares and nurtures her spiritual journey. It is essential for those of us with a mental illness to find these little comforts in life.
Meeting others only reinforces Leigh’s faith in God while dealing with an illness. “I’ve been able to meet others who share my mental illness. It has helped me realize that there are others who know what I am going through.”
Many of us in the mental illness community suffer beyond our daily struggles. It is no different for Leigh. In her life, she has to deal with the struggles that are not mental. The illness is a chronic disorder. Fibromyalgia is the widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas. It is downright frustrating for Leigh to deal with both daily, but she always finds a way through her faith.
Leigh’s story of faith and diagnosis is not one this author has heard a lot of in his own journey. It was refreshing to see a journey like the one we see with Leigh. To have faith even in the deepest depths of depression is something worth writing about.
It takes a special person to be willing to talk about her journey with her faith and being Bipolar. When I begin to write these individual feature articles, I don’t know what I will find. But so far, I have seen amazing stories the stories of how strong the human spirit is. It’s stronger than I ever would’ve thought imaginable. It is an honor to write down Leigh’s story here on The Bipolar Writer.
If you would like to see more of Leigh you can find her on her WordPress blog:
Interviewee: Leigh S.
Author: J.E. Skye