In the Lord I take refuge.

How then can you say to me:

“Flee like a bird to your mountain”? (Psalm 11:1)

When I first began to experience the symptoms of bipolar, I tried to escape them with drugs and alcohol, what some call self-medicating. As you might expect, this only made things worse. Treating a mood disorder with non-prescribed mind-altering drugs is not something I would now recommend.

I then tried to treat my symptoms with only talk therapy and self-help techniques. While it was good to get off un-prescribed drugs, talk therapy alone was ultimately ineffective. It wound up being another form of escapism from my full problem. It was bipolar disorder causing a chemical reaction in my brain, and I needed something more than encouraging words to re-establish balance.

One thing I’ve discovered in my journey through bipolar is that faith and medicine can, and often do, work well together as partners to promote healing. We find refuge in the Lord when we resist our urge to “flee like a bird to your mountain,” and instead seek professional help and spiritual guidance.

The combination of talk and drug therapy has worked well for me over the course of my illness. Counseling goes a long way to help me sort out my mind and function better when the right dosages of medication are balancing the chemicals in my brain. Properly prescribed medication takes enough of the edge off my pain such that I can be more productive in my therapeutic work.

There is no way to escape the pain we are bound to feel as we battle bipolar or other serious illnesses. Yet, we can find refuge in the Lord if we avoid the damaging flight of escape and face our suffering with all the spiritual and medical resources God provides.