One of the reasons I wanted to write this blog about bipolar and spirituality was to help dispel this myth that evil spirits cause bipolar disorder. Whenever I would do a search of "bipolar spirituality," the evil spirits myth would pop up as a search result.
|Photo by Jeff Norris|
Besides the fact that it is just not scientifically possible for evil spirits to take you over, I also don't like that this line of thinking implies those of us with mental illness have no agency. If something else has taken us over and controls us, then there is nothing we can do. It is like being a puppet. We can't get better, we have no free will, we also have no responsibility. What that really means is that we have no hope. For me, hope is one of the things I need in order to live with this illness.
In the midst of deep depression, during mania, or thoughts of what life would be like without me here, I need hope. Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had. I want a happy and healthy life. Hope tells me that I can keep going. It says this whole month might be bad, but maybe one day next month will be good. Hope reminds me that I can learn to manage my illness. I can know myself well enough to notice triggers and stop a downward spiral.
It is extremely devastating and dangerous to promote the myth that bipolar disorder is caused by evil spirits. There are actual counseling centers and religious institutions that teach this myth. I really feel that for counseling centers, it should be considered malpractice to tell people they are taken over by evil spirits. I have no words for how scary it is to think something evil possesses you.
For all of you who, like me, were taught that mental illness is caused by evil spirits, it's not true. It is a chemical imbalance, it may be hard but you can manage it, and you have choice in your own life.