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MANIA AND “HYPER-RELIGIOSITY”

Brian Jost

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.

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Comments

Hi Nicole,
I myself am bipolar and was diagnosed last year. If your husband is sometimes depressed and then displays weeks or days of mania, that is a definite sign of this illness. I'm still a college student and my family took me to a mental hospital to be evaluated. If he's resistant to treatment I would suggest seeking the support of family members to persuade him. Also, lithium and risperdal are the most common pills for bipolar.
Good luck

My experience with Mania was all about religion, spiritual based ,numerology,astrology, and even the paranormal. Part of me believes that there is more to just " a Chemical imbalance in the brain"!

Alex, it would be wonderful to see a study on this issue. I too believe there is something more than just a chemical imbalance.

Alex-
I also think there may be something to the spiritual aspect of our mania. I also thought I was Jesus and was getting direct signals from God. Coming from a Jewish home, this was very unusual. As I read more and more stories, it seems that people have the same experiences. It's hard to talk about with people because no one understands who hasn't gone through it. People tell you to go back to your normal life after, but it's very difficult to not be distracted. Have you experienced this in the past? (sorry for the long message!)

I was diagnosed in 1997 with bipolar. I too thought (in mania) I heard the voice of God directly and had many supernatural experiences. I work at a ministry that does "inner healing." We have studied people that are "highly spiritually sensitive" and are suspicious that when people are manic they are actually hearing a sped-up thought process of their own, but also picking things up from angels, demons, and other people's spirit due to a "gift of discerning of spirits" that is untrained. I have been off the stabilizers, with the help of my husband, RN, since 2004 and have gradually been restored to a stability better than most. I now teach on bipolar on what I just described with other particulars and am planning on building a "group" on fb or other media to do a lay research on this subject. In other words, as I have come to a place of understanding my "gift of discerning of spirits," I'm learning to recognize who/what I am hearing and only do it when God directs me. I have helped many more people than just myself. Of course this works well with people who believe in Jesus and the spiritual gifts. Or could help other spiritual people as well.

Cathy-
So refreshing to read your entry. I too have had these experiences to the extreme, which seem to occur especially strongly during mania periods. I was told by a spiritual healer that I have strong abilities that I don’t know how to get through. I am Catholic, so this all seems very scary to me and feeling like a need for deliverance. I’ve gone to confession ( probably scared the priest half to death, especially rambling on about the demonic sounding commanding voices-poor guy ), but I think there’s something to this. It’s like I have sudden dog-hearing for the human psychic. Went off Lithium and Seroquel and Risperdone after 10 yrs. Tired of being sedated of my authenticity. Still on low Latuda, but these auditory hallucinations nearly never end. Rapping, child-like wailing at church, growls, commands, doors, pennies hitting me in the head, sudden need to begin out loud spiritual warfare when I get the feeling something dark is with me. It’s quite frustrating, but I’m so happy to see here that I’m not ALONE!!

God has mysteriously healed many of my body desorders , but I also has body disosociation, I thought that was from God but now I think that is from demand. I can choose to give in or resist it

My husband is schizoaffective and thought he was Jesus for a long time and then after taking Xanax thought he was the devil and choked beat and stabbed me can I please have your info

Very sorry to read this. Hope you have found help.

I definitely agree, it's alost like a gift that you only get to experience while being called crazy.

I also thought I was Jesus when I had a psychotic episode. I believe there is more to this experience than putting it down to stress. I always got all my wishes almost immediately when I suffered from psychosis which made me feel that they could here my thoughts so I had to always have a positive thoughts, and it felt like I had a supreme connection and spirits with me then. It was such a strange experience. I always seek answers. I felt a lot of strange things then that its not easy to put into words, you only have to experience it to know it. Its almost like someone trying to pass a message to you and a battle between good and evil.

I can relate thats my problem i wss suppost to b doing something special great now back to norm
.
Were i guess im just a crazy bipolar ...comfused soul

I developed bipolar disorder in my early 20's during a vacation abroad. I too had/still have a religious component to my illness. I am now in my late 30's and have learned to ignore the religious triggers too my mania. I have been fairly successful with the help of medication, but do still have times when I am negatively affected. In reply to Nicole: I know months have passed since your post. If you read this you need to know that your husband's behavior is a medical condition. He needs treatment in the same way a diabetic would. Your marriage will not be able to sustain itself unless he gets help. It may be hard to admit that he is not sble to get help on his own.
For me, getting better involved closing my mind to a the "reality" my illness gave me. I stopped trying to figure out deep spiritual meanings and learned to let go, to the best of my ability, of the religiosity that exacerbated my condition. If your husband gets to the point where he is able to do the same and take medication under the care of a psychiatrist, there is hope for your relationship. If not, he will continue to deteriorate and things will unravel for both you and him. I hope this helps.

i know lots of people who exhibit bipolar symptoms and manage without medication. There is something to be learned from this "disorder". I put it in quotes because these days, lots of natural human responses to this weird world are being called disorders. I would say that bipolar symptoms are to be paid attention to, internally inquired about, worked with, if you can. Find as much balance as possible. Listen to the impulses but don't necessarily act on them. Meditation could be of enormous benefit.

I've been in touch with an old friend for a few years now, and it seems that no matter what talk about, she most always returns to the subject of God. If I have a problem, I'm not praying hard enough, if I am sad, I'm not praying hard enough to remove me from my own sadness, etc. Everything we speak of within minutes becomes about God, and her own relationship with him. I have my own way of practicing my faith, but she is too overbearing and insistent about this subject, that her way is the only way, and (then she goes on in endless detail about what God wants). I have suspected that she has bipolar for a while now and may not even know this. She's brought up the subject of bipolar earlier on (in our reuniting), telling me that her 'friend' had it, and she even went so far as to tell me that she, herself, went blind for about 20 minutes, while leaving a store, only to tell me she prayed very hard and that her sight was restored, prayers answered. I'm not saying miracles aren't possible, but some of her tales are becoming weirder and so hard to believe. She seems to keeps on turning all of our conversations into prayer meetings. I love her and don't want to lose her friendship, but I don't know what to do when she goes into a tirade about God, or what to think? She's had a very sad, terrible, and erratic past (including losing touch with 4 or her 5 children from negligence & drugs) that she admits to having atoned to God for, but says they won't speak to her anyway. I don't judge her, I just feel so sad, at what either her past, or possible undiagnosed bipolar has turned her into. Does she sound bipolar to anyone who knows about hyper religious people here?

Danielle, bipolar hyperreligiosity typically relates to people thinking they are Jesus, GOD, or a prophet. An unswerving conviction that they have a connection to some mystical source of knowledge, this almost always results from or in ecstasy or elevated mood. It seems like your friend is missing the elevated mood part, but might be suffering from some kind of psychosis

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
2 Corinthians 1:12 KJV

I lost my teaching job at a university during a six month period of mania-- I met with the chair of the department and told him I could no longer work because I was basically Enlightened. Yep. I wasn't diagnosed back then. Anyway, this is an excellent book exploring Mania and the hyper-religious mind: *Manic Depression: Illness or Awakening* by Robert E. Kelly. His personal experiences and explorations have been fundamental in me understanding my own.

I believe if you understand your warning signs you can maintain a Hypomanic state, enjoy life and have a joyful relationship with our Creator.

With my past experience, religion has always been heightened and it led me to God. Could it be possible that He allowed us individuals to have this "illness" for a reason? Is it bad that it opens parts of our mind that enhance our relationship with God?

Most people believe in God, many in Jesus and the Holy Spirit; shouldn't we embrace the closeness that Hypomania brings - if it is not destructive and leads us to happiness?

We, as the individual with this "illness" need to examine ourselves, our limitations, and our Bible. Doing so will bring us closer to Jesus and He is our Physician, our Healer. So it makes sense that as He who does good works in us, leading us away from sin and towards the cross, He will heal this "Bipolar illness."

Bipolar can be a blessing in disguise. Since we were conceived our soul longed to have that relationship with our heavenly Father. If you are a friend or family member of someone with Bipolar your best course of action may be to follow them to Calvary.

Hi Scott, one of our bloggers discusses this idea in another blog called, Is Mania a Spiritual Experience? You can read it here: http://ibpf.org/blog/mania-spiritual-experience 

I'm with you Scott. My hypo mania periods give me the strength and confidence to express my faith in God. I'm constantly praising the Lord and acknowledging His will be done and not mine. This last episode continues on. I joined a church where everyone must be as hypomanic as me as we all Hallejuiah and Praise the Lord all the time. It's good to be around successful folk who love the Lord as much as I do! And yes I have gifts of the Holy Spirit which I guess the professionals say are super powers. Let the professionals label all of us bipolar; I no longer care!

I laughed when I read "this episode continues on" because I in this moment can relate. Ive been seeing a Psychologist at a private Christian practice every week for over a year and today at my appointment she looked at me with great concern after sharing with her the convictions that God rooted in my heart since the last time I saw her. I share almost everything with her and have never left a session feeling anything less that frosted flakes grrrrrreat. Today I left feeling shame. Then I remembered that all of the truths that Jesus revealed to me in this past week weren't any less true because this human I trust thought my diagnosis was causing me to have false feelings. Nahhhhh....God doesn't lie. I used illicit drugs for a decade and during that time I searched so hard for myself that I found God. The messages I received then are nothing like the messages I receive now after being clean and sober for almost 3 years. Back then I had to depend on myself a godless young person to interpret what I was receiving. While leaped in Gods direction, I was conflicted with a Spirit of fear because of the drugs and was often confused. As the light gets closer the devil tries to hid in it and mimic it to fool man into thinking they are serving God all the while it is possible for some to unknowingly be following sin. Nothing is wrong with me even if I have a diagnosis that is properly treated. Gotta love how God turns a negative into a positive!!!!!

This makes the most sense to me out of the comments i read.

Agree with you 100%

Scott, you get it! I agree Bipolar can be a blessing in disguise! God bless you!

He will not take meds...and is absolutely convinced he's the anti-christ. He asks me to "believe in him" and is genuinely upset that I am a doubter. Please help. How can he be convinced he's ill and needs the meds?

My husband I belive is bipolar and he doesn't want to realize it. He became a religious fanatic and even called the police on me and had me arrested because he said I slapped his glasses off his face. Since the day I was arrests we have not spoken and we are now getting a divorce. He has a history of getting obsessed with various things. This time he ha/ taken it too far .

Linda,
I just went through the same thing. My wife says she is a old time prophet with all the gifts. She will curse and pray in the same breath. Her anger is so bad, she calls it holy anger but I'm afraid she will do something to me in a fit of rage. She had me put in jail for injuring herself. I left her, can't take it anymore. I don't believe in divorce, I am born again and love Jesus Christ with all my heart and I want to help her. I just found out about this disease tonight, been married for 13 years. If you tell her she needs help she can get very dangerous fast. But finding this site and a friend at church telling me about this desease I pray I can get her help. Thank all of you for your post and comments, you have really helped me more than you know.

Hi Everyone,

I had my first 6 month episode from September 2014 to March 2015 where I too ended up in hospital. Although I didn't see it that way at first, my family saved me from myself and was lucky to have not completely ruined my future with my current employer. I was "lucky" and perceived them to be part of the world peace plan. I was full blown manic at the time and was "embracing who I was". IE: embracing my (c word) ideas of reference. I grew up Christian myself with a mustard seed faith and my experience seems to be quite similar to many others. I don't need to go into specifics but at the beginning I thought I was being blessed for being Christlike. Grandiosity and the rest really took hold after time as well as after a religious experiencing I perceived myself to be "the one". I try not to follow the trends of thought too much now but it made sense and felt right. It was a confluence of the influences in my life. Faith, Movies, Music etc. Anyways coming back down to earth I really struggled too with my own faith and my bipolar experience. What I've read here on this thread as well as Chris Cole's, Is Mania A Spiritual Experience? has been really encouraging as its comforting to feel that I'm not alone. I'm sure like many others I asked myself either everyone else is crazy or I am. Luke 4:24 NIV "Truly I tell you," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his own hometown". Chris' compromise of mania is both an illness and a spiritual experience is true, but not an answer I'm really satisfied with at this time. There are some scholarly articles on the subject. The journal or neropsychiatry & clinical neurosciences has one on The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered: http://bit.ly/1N3f8I8 I've read this one.

The one I will be reading next:

The Journal of Religion & Science: The Limbic System and the Soul: Evolution and the Neuroanatomy of Religious Experience http://bit.ly/1HJiVrI

Tying science in with our experience is the way to find the truth.

My two cents!

Thanks.

PS: Nicole Frysz, Rose, Linda and anyone else who has a loved one struggling with this. Although they won't admit it. Hopefully you've found a way to get them help. Maybe these resources will be useful. I was running myself ragged with my perceived purpose.

Just wanted to comment on my current comment in for review.

The second link I posted: The Journal of Religion & Science: The Limbic System and the Soul: Evolution and the Neuroanatomy of Religious Experience http://bit.ly/1HJiVrI

The author and publication do not seem legit IMO

This has been interesting to read. But WHAT IF this works in an opposite manner. If a person is God geared and devout in a non manic way and then amidst mania is pulled toward "darkness" if you will. Ideas here?

My first episode I felt one with GOD and like He chose me as a prophet to awaken others to a newness of life. My second episode I seemed to struggle with an evilness that was within me, though near the end of it, GOD showed me that He delivered me. My third and final episode so far, I began thinking I was somehow some part of Christ, and I thought other people were Christ, though soon I believed I was a doomed anti-christ and that hell was breaking upon me. It took so much love and encouragement from the Church for me to finally leave behind the lie that I was the anti-christ during psychotic relapses, but I am quite healed now (not from psychosis per se, but from believing a lie that I'm the anti-christ). You might be on to something Hannah, though Christians experience euphoric episodes as well, but I wonder if non-Christians experience dysphoric episodes? I'm not sure I would've come out of it without my faith. I know staunch atheists have preached Christ on the streets when manic, and I didn't even do that when I was manic, although I tried to make people better by leaving them poems or challenging their thinking on things.

I'm muslim and my experiences seem very similar, your post is spot on, everything you mentioned in that.

I deal with voices that judge me. Not in a good way. I am told many lies, that blasphemy God. Working on believing I am forgiven of my sins through faith. It is so frustrating to hear these voices all day and night. I believe it starts when I feel I need to forgive someone.

I was diagnosed with bipolar 10 years ago and became spiritual. Still wondering what is the connection?

I'm glad I found this blog. I'm not sure if this relationship will work. We have only been dating a short time, but this is someone I knew long ago, and I think he is an amazing person and I enjoy being with him so much. I would like to know if anyone who is bipolar and religious has had a lasting relationship with someone like me. I think the most important thing is that we care about each other and are good to each other.

My aunt suffers from schizophrenia, she developed chemical imbalance. But with medication AND her faith along with help from biological and church family she is able to differentiate the two. I believe with this disease that measure is needed without pressure or overbearingness. Even though God CAN heal, it still takes your on work (keeping up with medications and doctor visits).

My husband has always been in and out of religion. Now he's in prison and "on fire". He stopped taking all his meds because God will heal him. I guess it is a coping mechanism but I don't want him to get out some day without medication. That's how we've endured so far!

What do you mean he's on fire?

It means someone who is in the throws of bipolar. From Kay Jamison's book Touched by Fire.

"On fire" means he's excited about God and what He is doing.

My 18 year old son is experiencing all of the things I see in this blog. I am his number one supporter and he is on some med which is helping, but he thinks he doesn't need the meds when he's "ok". How do I convince him to take them all the time?

this book written by a psychologist with a brother with schizophrenia might help
I'm Not Sick I Don't Need Help by Xavier Amador

I am bipolar and have been in a mixed eposode for over 6 months. My belief in reincarnation, and evolving to eventually become one with God is extremely strong; I don't question that it will happen. I think about it almost constantly and have been researching reincarnation daily -- mostly related to Capricorn (my sign) and the idea that Capricorns are ruled by Saturn. Saturn is known as the planet of Karma & 'the gateway to the next dimension' Capricorns often have extremely difficult lives, so being bipolar and Capricorn is fitting.) I feel that in this life, if I am able to make the right choices, I will reincarnate into another dimension - one step closer to God. I wonder how many others with bipolar I are Capricorns? Maybe mania allows us to feel parts of other dimensions?? (for lack of a better way to describe it) Are any of you drawn to the idea of reincarnation instead of Christianity? Any Capricorns? Sorry for jumping around.. i am manic, afterall ;)

Yes I'm a capricorn too! I also think that while in a manic state, it is possible to experience other dimensions. The question to me is whether there might be an observable reality to these dimensions, between disparate manic experiences in separate individuals. If so, is there information in that space that might be useful...both for personal use/development, and for global use/development/evolution. And speaking of reincarnation, maybe there are clues or even energies available while in a manic state, that might help short circuit this reincarnative potential - sort of speed up the process if you will.

You could hypothesize that prophets of old may have been accessing this same state (albeit undiagnosed), and then coming back to three dimensional reality with clues/teachings that might help us evolve back towards Unity, and then trying to explain to us that our true identity might be a little amazing than we think. But I do wonder, if you could connect many individuals together who were all experiencing a manic state at the same time, if there would be any pattern to it - or any common information being accessed.

The most common one, from what I can tell, is this experience of an obvious presence of God, or some Intelligent Power influencing our reality. It's easy then, to skip from the limited individual identity, to "I must be a prophet", or enlightened, or even the 2nd coming of Christ herself ;) - not taking into account that there might be thousands if not millions of individuals experiencing the same feelings/energy/connection to this greater Source. Maybe if they were able to talk to each other, they would be able to a) help each other navigate these powerful waters, and b) together find a greater meaning to the “madness".

35 years on l have had many battles.it's hard to differentiate between Gods Spirit and manic thoughts. When l am stable l always know that's Jesus loves me. Keep taking the pills and reading the Bible.

Wow!! just found this site. And John, Keli and the rest have been on this recently! OK- here goes...my son was diagnosed with BP many years ago. Been has been in and out of hospital over the years, stayed at a board and care for several years and now he is renting a trailer not far from me. He has had problems with hyper-religion before but he wasn't taking his meds then. He says he is taking them now but he has fallen back into this pattern of 'God is showing me the true meaning of the scriptures, I talk to the angels, the holy spirit is female, and God has given him important facts about the future that I know no else has.' Some translations of the scripture he said are so far reaching I can't even repeat it. He has cut off all communication with me and my husband. He use to call me every day to check in. I am so worried about him but he isn't a danger to himself or others. What would you suggest I do?

Most people here are wondering what to do with their loved ones
My only advice is , do not neglect their views of the time world during the manic state or even when stable. The idea is to establish a baseline where both medical and spiritual aspects coexist. Some of us (like myself) needed the fall (reaching ours body's limit and acting abnormal) to realize we need the meds.

Support is key here. Become a disciple of loved ones with bipolar disorder, their BESTFRIEND without doubting their beliefs, in time they will come to a realization that will help us all.

I have suffered from most of the things mentioned here. However whenever I was sick I took a higher dosage medication, which was slowly tappered off to a maintenance dosage. When there was signifcant change in life patttern, like getting your first job, going for higher studies, the illness resurfaces and I was made to take the higher dosage medication which again, later was gradually tappered off to a maintenance dosage.

Currently I live by myself and take the maintenance dosage, have a good job and am almost the primary breadwinner for my mom and dad. Since my dad is doing research and my mom is a house wife.

I am yet to get married. The big question is, when and what to reveal to my prospective wife? I am an Indian on a work permit in US. If she is a US citizen and I dont tell her the nitty gritties of all the medical dosage and all that, my parents are worried she will take us to court and put us all in jail if something happens.

Another thing is, if I tell her too early and she complains to the authorities, I might lose my work permit and my job, since I guess an international with such a disorder is not allowed to enter the US (I found this online).

Your advice is much appreciated

I was diagnosed with bipolar 1. 13 years ago. The first psychotic episode I had I thought I was God because someone triggered that thought by saying to me life's not fair. Second episode I thought I was jesus. For years I struggled with because I became a believer and strive to be like Jesus so every once in a while for a year when I felt like I was living a great life and going to church and changing my life I thought I was jesus and I was supposed to die for people. Years later the closer I got to God I started all of a sudden thought I was the devil I felt worthless because my husband was not happy with me because I was no longer a fun person and gained weight from my meds and didn't want to do things I used to. To this day I struggle with feeling like I'm evil and deserve to go to hell... I fight those thoughts my meds keep me stable but I still get depressed...does that help anyone

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