Spirituality and a Wellness Based Lifestyle With Those Who Live With Bipolar Disorder


Why should we be talking about spirituality and mental illness? Many individuals understand the essence of what it means to be a human being through their spirituality, and I find that this is even more so for those who struggle, ones living purposeful life, and those who embrace their resiliency, all the while living with bipolar disorder. When living with a mental illness, it can be too easy to think one is weak, unworthy, deserves to be abandoned by “God– or a sacred source” or that the episode could have been controlled, or the individual healed of the behaviors of the mental illness if religious codes, or other sacred norms, were not violated. Is relying on the sacred – whether ultimate truth or transcendence – being strong or not being strong enough? At the center of these questions lies the way that an individual living with bipolar disorder defines their own spirituality, and there are persons who struggle with what this means at all. How then does spirituality inform and influence decisions and specific wellness practices? With spirituality being a central point of living with purpose, meaning, and resiliency, how and when is this integrated into the therapeutic treatment? These questions on spirituality and wellness were asked of twenty-two individuals in a one hour interview. Out of these interviews, through common themes and evaluating the differences as well, five insights have been identified that will be presented in the webinar, including quotes and comments from the individuals in the interviews. This research leads to additional questions to explore. 

Reverend Cheryl T. Magrini, MS.Ed, MTS, Ph.D.? is a United Methodist clergy, serving the Chicago metro area since 1998, currently with the First United Methodist Church in Chicago, an urban and diverse church. Cheryl publishes, researches, and speaks nationally in the religious education and congregational change fields; and since 2011 specializes in consulting with faith communities to develop comprehensive mental health programs in partnership with community resources. Her current research on resiliency is an extension of her spirituality and wellness study. The resiliency research focuses on identifying resilient qualities, how these can be developed, and the ways that individuals living with bipolar disorder draw on and rely upon resiliency to live with purpose, meaning, power, and strength. Individuals share their personal story of resiliency as the basis of the research. Cheryl is chair, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, and on the IBPF Consumer Advisory Council, on the IBPF Consumer Advisory Council and President of the DBSA Chicago Loop Chapter.

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