Anirudh writes about his tryst with bipolar disorder and how his faith in God has helped him transition through it
I have had bipolar disorder with psychotic symptoms for the last 11 years. While I am still trying to deal with the trauma associated with repeated relapses and hospitalizations because I stopped medications from time to time, I must say that this disorder has helped in my evolution as a spiritual being.
Just to briefly describe the symptoms of bipolar (which you can also find on the internet) that I have gone through, this disorder has been associated with periods of highs such as feeling excessively happy without reason, having high energy levels, no need for much sleep, bizarre thoughts, becoming fearless, odd behaviour and more. Luckily, I have not had many symptoms related to the other side of bipolar, which is depression.
I was in my early 20s when I suddenly developed an interest in spirituality. I got attracted to articles on spirituality as well as the Bhagavad Gita, books by Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, and the life histories of several Indian saints. Back then I had no clue as to what or who God was, what the meaning of life was, who I was, and other larger questions. I became so obsessed with spirituality that I was determined to explore this subject more and more. At that time I was working in an organisation in New Delhi and even at work I would use my spare time on the internet to learn more about life and different views on spirituality by different gurus. The more I read, the more curious I became. Finally, by the time I was in my mid 20s, I came to the conclusion, whether right or wrong, that Lord Krishna was God, and I was merely a spark of this Infinite God.
So what does all this reading and analyzing have to do with bipolar? It is commonly believed that most diseases are triggered by emotional, biological, or environmental conditions, if not by stress. In my case the cause was emotional as well as stress-related. I had been in a relationship for a long time, and it suddenly came to an end just before the onset of my illness. I was quite shocked because I had the tendency to get attached to anything or anyone easily and deeply, so getting out of a relationship created a lot of trauma. Added to all this was my obsession with God (after my immersion into spirituality). I was consumed by a desperate urge to become free of the material life and go back to Him in the spiritual world. I was also stressed on account of having left my job, and could only see darkness ahead. Since I could not handle the trauma and stress, I suddenly lost touch with reality and became “mad” so to speak.
For over a month, I remained in that state. Finally, when my parents realised that something was seriously wrong with me, they took me to a doctor and I was hospitalized and given some medicines to come back to “normalcy”. Gradually, I did come back to reality to some extent, and kept taking the medication as advised by the doctors. During my low phase, while I was on medication, I felt abandoned by God. This lasted for a long time, after which through the grace of God, I once again started connecting with the Lord through chanting and Reiki. Gradually, I became fully stable mentally and my faith in God started to increase.
However, after more than four years of my first episode, I decided to stop medication without consulting the doctor, and unfortunately my illness returned. I was again taken to the hospital and this time the dosage of my medicines was increased. Unfortunately, my loved ones could not handle my illness supportively. Their only response was to take me to the hospital, instead of looking at other alternatives such as taking me to a psychologist or talking to me about how to deal with my condition. Moreover, while other kinds of illnesses generate sympathy and support from family, friends and relatives, in the case of mental disorders, one generally becomes an outcast.
But since my faith in God had increased I did not allow myself to get disheartened by my condition. Even though I have had several relapses and hospitalizations in the last few years (due to my own lack of insight into my illness), I have kept holding on to Lord Krishna with all my strength.
|Prahlad: His trials intensified his devotion|
I am often reminded of the story of Prahlad Maharaj who was a devotee of God despite taking birth in a family of demons. Even though his father, Hiranyakashyap, tried many times to kill him, he failed. But why did God appear as Narshimadev to kill Hiranyakashyap after so much cruelty towards Prahlad? Whether right or wrong, I feel it was a test to make Prahlad more and more devoted to the Lord. I can never compare myself with such a great devotee but I definitely feel inspired and strongly believe that living with bipolar can be dealt with through spirituality.
About the author : Aniruddh (name changed) is an author and Reiki practitioner.
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