Several of the comments I have received indicate the writers do not believe that bi-polar illness a real illness. Some have written that they were diagnosed with bi-polar illness and that the prescribed medicine made them suicidal and when they got off the meds the suicidal ideation went away. I am sure if there is a misdiagnosis this can happen. These are powerful medications and if a person is misdiagnosed these medications can certainly bring on a variety of symptoms.
In the only case I have extensive experience with that of my husband there is little doubt that he had a very severe mental illness. His father also had this terrible illness. Rich’s father killed himself in 1969 before any of the medications for bi-polar illness had been invented. Lithium was being used in Europe but was banned in the US at the time of Rich’s father’s death.
Rich had a deep desire to not take the medication. Several times he tried to get off them with disastrous effects. Each time he had to be hospitalized and it took months to get the meds back into balance. My husband was always good about taking his meds and I guess I can thank his obsessive compulsive disorder for that. Many people with this illness refuse to take the medications when they are in the manic stage ending in hospitalization or suicide attempts or worse.
On the other side of this issue The American Psychiatric Association is currently considering classifying grief as a mental illness. This is medical malpractice. Grief is a normal condition of people who suffer great loss. However depression is a serious condition and though grief may resemble depression there is a world of difference. Depression changes the brain’s chemistry and recovery without some kind of intervention is rare. With grief however there is a natural healing of the pain as time passes and the person comes to terms with their loss resulting in a return to their normal personality. This can be a matter of months or even years.
In my own case I think the prolonged grief I have gone through was caused in part by the length of time I cared for my sick husband. Over 17 years of debilitating mental instability took its toll on me as the caregiver.
I think the suicidal thoughts and depression were something that could have been helped by a good therapist which I didn’t have available at the time they began. When in the course of blogging I talked about issues that turned out to be causing the depression and suicidal thoughts I was released from those thoughts by the very act of bringing them out in the open. Had I gotten a prescription for anti-depressants then I think the symptoms would have been masked by the medication and the problems would still be unresolved.
Prayer helps with this process but does not replace good medicine. If you are dealing with someone who has bi-polar disorder or severe depression or schizophrenia don’t hesitate to get them the medical help they need. You may save their lives or extend them by years. God expects us to use ordinary means to help those we love who are sick. If it were a heart attack or a broken leg you would surely get them medical help. So too with severe mental illness, don’t wait get the help now.