Aug 29, 2013
Tom Dearborn

God’s word to the impulsive: Bipolar Disorder verses part three

We continue today to look at Bible verses that address certain specific symptoms people with Bipolar Disorder may exhibit. As said before, people should ask their doctor for advice about medical treatment, these verses are no substitute for that.

When manic patients may commit impulsive acts that they would never normally undertake. One of the challenges for family members is that these do not always look like illness to those who do not know the patient.  One of the challenges for patients, is that on recovery they can feel mortified thinking about what they have done while ill.  When manic it is as though constraints are cast off.  It can look a bit like the following proverb:

 ”He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.” (Proverbs 5:23).

For many with Bipolar Disorder during a manic episode they may act in ways that later cause them much guilt. Of course we can help them to understand that while they may have committed sins that seem grievous to them, Jesus makes it clear that for example lust is similar to adultery and anger to murder.  Even the most respectable of us have sinned.  So, in the ordinary way we can offer the forgiveness of Christ. But since that forgiveness is offered to the repentant, it can be hard for them to receive it  when the act was really prompted by the illness rather than themselves.  How do you repent of something you never really wanted to do? Somehow it can be harder to feel clean of sins that you committed that were against your own normal behavior. Some words that may be comforting in such circumstances come straight from Jesus’ mouth:

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”(Luke 23:34).

 

The person with mania feels great energy.  When that begins to dissipate it can leave a terrible sense of loss. At such a time it may be a good time to point out to them that there is another source of strength for the Christian:

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

(Zechariah 4:6).

The fruit of the Holy Spirit in some ways sounds opposite to what is seen in a manic episode.  Just because your biology might make this more difficult for you, is no reason not to seek God for help that by the power of the Spirit you might become more and more like this.  Medication may help control impulsivity, but cannot transform our inner personality.  The passions of the flesh are unleashed sometimes during mania, they require not merely suppression by medication but change by the Holy Spirit:

 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

(Galatians 5:22–24).

Finally for today, part of impulsivity is sometimes anger and disruption to relationships.  Recovering patients with bipolar disorder (and the rest of us!) can be encouraged by these words:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

(Romans 12:18–19).

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