After struggling all of my adult life with periods of severe clinical depression I’ve now begun treatment for bipolar disorder (manic depression). As the name suggests, the latter is characterized by periods of severe depression followed by mania/hypomania. I’m fortunate in the sense that I only(!) suffer from hypomania which manifests itself in over-work, lots of activity and an unstoppable flow of ideas! Still, it’s a serious condition that requires a lifetime of treatment.
What saddens me most about the wider perception of mental illness is that sufferers are stigmatized and the subject of much ignorance and uninformed speculation. The Christian community I’m afraid is often the first to judge and the last to change ingrained attitudes and to offer support where that is needed. There are many Christians who suffer from this disease, in all its different forms and manifestations, and it’s important to do all that we can, both collectively and individually, to combat the stigma.
Prof. Kay Redfield Jamison, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has written a number of phenomenal books on bipolar disorder, including ‘Touched with Fire: Manic Depressive Illness & the Artistic Temperament‘ and ‘An Unquiet Mind‘. Jamison herself has suffered from bipolar disorder for many years; you can see her talking about the condition, and how she lives with it, in this excellent film below (courtesy of youtube). Jamison is one of many high achievers that battle with bipolar disorder (with others including: John Bunyon, Ralph Waldo Emerson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Elgar, Holst, Rachmaninoff, Edvard Munch, Leo Tolstoy and Hans Christian Andersen):