Just this past week, I traveled with my wife and our seven-month old son to Winona, Minnesota, La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Viroqua, Wisconsin to share my experiences of living with bipolar disorder with four different audiences. At the end of two of the presentations, I was asked a question that I am often asked when I present my story. The question was “Why is it so common for hyper-religiosity to be part of mania?” This question often comes up because I speak to people about my manic and psychotic episodes which have all included feelings of understanding and knowing God and noticing an unquestionable faith, a faith that is more difficult to maintain when I am stable. At the most extreme of these experiences was the time that I actually thought that I was Jesus, followed by my manic and psychotic mind taking the delusion even further into believing that I was God. An enormous amount of information flooded my brain as I seemed to take on super-natural powers, acquiring knowledge that I believed was flowing from other dimensions that “normal” people are unable to detect. However, now experiencing stability, I don’t have all of that false information, nor do I have the answer to the question “Why is it so common for hyper-religiosity to be part of mania?”
Not only have I been asked this question at public speaking events, but also over the phone by a man who stumbled upon my website and read my book. He was curious about why so many manic episodes revolve around religion, and he asked me if I knew of any studies done on this subject. I know of no such study, but maybe someone else does. If you do, please send me an email.
This man spoke on the phone of similar religious experiences with his manic episodes. I know of many others who can also tell similar stories. Maybe it all revolves around the common and basic struggle of defining one’s faith and religion, and part of a person’s process in defining their belief system. I don’t expect that I will understand why these experiences are common, at least not anytime soon, but maybe someday someone will be able to explain it to me. For now, I have to acknowledge that these experiences stem from my personal experience with religion and from unconscious thoughts that may only surface during a manic episode.