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Is Mania a Spiritual Experience?

I was eighteen years old when I first experienced acute manic psychosis. I had just arrived at the University of Georgia for my freshman fall semester when I suddenly had what seemed like a profound spiritual awakening. I felt as if I was waking up from a bad dream, as if my mind and body were merely figments of my imagination. I felt an incredible transcendence and oneness with the universe, an experience I could only fathom to be spiritual. Back then, I didn’t know anything about bipolar disorder. 

My first thought upon being struck with this overwhelmingly blissful state was, “This is what God feels like; I must be Jesus!” It was from there that I began my deluded descent into madness. I ran upstairs in my dormitory, assuming that my friends would be my first disciples, and tried to perform miracles to prove my divinity. When they attempted to calm me down, I punched one of them in the face, calling him the devil, and ran back downstairs. Campus police promptly met me in the dorm lobby and arrested me on the spot. 

On my way to jail, I was no longer feeling so ecstatic. In fact, it was the most excruciating fear I had ever experienced. I began believing that the police officers were the Pharisees taking me to my crucifixion. They placed me in my own jail cell, and I began stripping off my clothes, demanding for the officers to come look at my naked body. Throughout the whole experience, I felt almost completely dissociated, as if I was watching a movie of myself with little to no control of the actor. 

After a few days of trying to convince my parents that I was returning humanity to the Garden of Eden, they realized my condition might not be from taking psychedelic drugs as they had thought. I was escorted to my local psychiatric hospital, and once medicated, came down from my messianic mission to create heaven on earth. The only problem was, I had never been more certain of God in my life, and the clinicians just kept telling me that it was normal for grandiose delusions to take on religious and spiritual themes. I was not convinced. 

My thoughts immediately went to the biblical stories I grew up with: how God tested Abraham’s faith when he was told to sacrifice his son, and how God communicated to Moses through a burning bush. Were these not examples of delusions and hallucinations? Even Jesus was convinced to be the Son of God. Were the holy men of the Bible bipolar? I had a lot of questions, and my questions seemed to be forcing me to choose one side or the other—either spirituality or psychiatry.

It took me about a decade to finally integrate both truths and find some peace around my manic episodes. I studied spirituality and psychology, and I came to the conclusion that bipolar disorder and spiritual experiences didn’t need to exist in opposition. I’ve come to some basic definition of spirituality as the transcendence of ego. In this sense, mania was indeed a spiritual experience, albeit an unmanageable one. This didn’t mean my bipolar diagnosis was bogus, and I’m not saying all psychotic episodes are spiritual. But I can now rest easy knowing that my experiences were both spiritual and bipolar. 

If I’m honest with myself, a major sign of my mania is increased spirituality, but at the same time, a major sign of my depression is a lack of spiritual significance. Finding balance in recovery means that I am able to seek both spiritual and clinical solutions to my bipolar symptoms without fear that I am falling out of grace with God. When I was first diagnosed, I had the idea that either bipolar existed or God existed. There was no space for both. 

My spirituality has necessarily evolved over the years. Because of my history with manic psychosis, I have to guard myself against dogmatic or superstitious beliefs. I try my best to live a life of love, and I rest assured knowing that the more kindness I spread to the world, the more aligned I am with my spiritual path. Telling my story of recovery has become part of this spiritual process. My faith means a great deal to my health, and without it, my recovery wouldn’t be as strong as it is today. I hope that by sharing my story, others going through the same difficulties might not take so long to make sense of their own experiences. 

Chris Cole is the author of The Body of Chris: A Memoir of Obsession, Addiction, and Madness, and he’s a life coach for people in recovery.


Great blog! Many spot on with my story. I think we have all been blessed if we could only understand how to best utilize the positive aspects. Thank you

my aweaking startit before 4 years I was teiking drugs marijuana and lsd that time I was teaking divorce so I was in a lot of painful situation I was doing a lot of fitness and sadenly it hit me hard I dit not now abaut bipolar and this staf so I thought I was jezus you now classic sandely I was capable to thing like genius I have so mach energy I was filing like the hulk I can see peoples intentions like I was capable to look there souls my filings bust like atomic bombs the music like i was out of the time relm the oneness i can write a book and oll that staf you now I can say that took about 1 year to cam back to [normal] and I was doing alout of reseach talking to all of my frends and my parents and my brathers my family by the way is very religous but I was not able to stop it was like samone took body and speak I react about everything from a point stap talking because they was about to kill me xaxaa and I quit from all of this I stop fitness meditation I quit from the drugs to in the end I have panic attacks so I have to stop I must say that I have very sad and painfull expiriences I felt my brain drop to the repetilian function and the dark side of the self as curl jung calls it my bipolar condition is going mad I thing is time yo take the pils but I now the real problem is the hate from all this its like that is a part of me I tried to live from oll this but now I anderstand that my trust to people is gone and I see olny the negative said of things every time that I try to open my self to sam body I fall deeper and deeper i just want to be free again i don't now wtf........

Chris thank you for sharing your story it resonates deeply within me. Diagnosed as BiPolar I struggled as I am sure many do to find my "equilibrium". During my first manic episode I too believed I was on a mission from God - the end result was bankruptcy and despair. The second manic episode yielded the same result. For a long time jus like you I was lost not sure of who to trust. Now finally I believe I have reconciled the Poles - essentially I have come to believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience and not the other way around. I have spent many years trying to ground my spiritual beliefs and finally just like you have found peace - it takes courage to share your story - thank you

You are an amazing story teller. Oh my God, I laughed so hard! I'm grateful you have shared, thank you for your insights, I will buy your book.


I have been Bipolar for 30 years now. And we are not gods, we are not enlightened. We feel the way we do because our brains have fracture snap or were just born with wires cross. We liv between two poles Mania summer time and depressive winters. I may have lost my wife because I waited 8 years to get medicated. And the longer we go with out our medication (currently enjoy Seroquel it's like manic smoked a joint) the worse we get. THis summer I tried treating Mania with a combo of bad things: Plenty of sunlight, lots of coffee, and Weed. My brain started vibrating, I went into what is known as Psychosis. My brain literally went crazy and scary crazy too. I believed I was talking to God, I believed that my wife was leaving me for my best friend, to the point I hurt her emotionally and almost physically. Everyone who reads this please ask your doctor for Seroquel try it for 5 days. Please do not let Bipolar make you think your disease is normal and doesn't need treatment, Bipolar is life long and the sooner we jump on meds the happier you will be. We are not gods and just give me a second just a little bits enough, we are not broken just bent and we can learn to love again.

I was getting some really good advice from God about letting go of anger, forgiving. "Love and light." Then it got more intense. I was triggered by Trump becoming president, and jealousy over someone at my husband's job. I cried out, "I'm so depressed! Why is my cup so empty?"

At that point, I instantly climbed onto the tv cabinet, grabbed a book off the top right-hand corner of our dusty bookshelves, and looked at the title. It was "The Four Gospels and the Revelation" translated from the original Greek by Richmond Lattimore.

I began to read Mark, and my life changed forever. I became convinced that the reason God sent Jesus was to liberate us not only from slavery, but from our own minds. That Jesus loved women, and treated them as spiritual equals to men.

I think the devil was trying to mess with me, as I began to think my husband was plotting against me to take away my spirituality. I felt I was the reincarnation of Jesus' friend, Mary of Bethany.

I decided that it was time to leave the country, due to impending destruction, war, something terrible. My kids told my husband I was trying to get them to run away with me. I knew he wanted me to go to a psychiatric hospital, so I ran away in a rain storm and hid in the bushes.

While I was hiding, watching the cops speed back and forth looking for me, the words "ten days" came to me, and "tree" had been stuck in my mind for a few days. I spent ten days in John Muir medical center.

When I got home, I opened my bible, and it said, "For ten days you will be in prison because of my name."

Love and light to you all.

I was never diagnosed, but I get depressed quite a lot. I've experienced one hypermanic episode at age 24, two years ago. Doctor thought it was drug induced. (I used to smoke weed, and he said I got a Spice batch instead of weed... which I would have tasted I think).
I was not religious at all... but was experiencing so much unexplainable things. I thought I had a ghost in my apartment, who was communicating with me through technology. I thought I was superhuman, and I also thought I was anti-Christ who wasn't actually a bad person but someone who unites science and spirituality with math (LOL), and I had to prove that to the world. I tried to explain life energies with protons, neutrons and electrons... I went to Walmart at 3 AM and thought I saw really pale humans slowly shuffling around like zombies. (Ghosts) Then I thought I was stuck in a type of circuit in my apartment, and that was my personal hell. I died and went to hell... I drove to my moms house late at night asking her to watch my son because I knew something was wrong but I had no idea what was wrong, but my mom instinct was coming through even in this insane moment of life. I remember her being so mad and yelling at me, not wanting to watch him. I wish she could've sensed something was wrong with me and called 911.... she sent me back home and told me to come back for him at 7 AM which I remember sitting in her drive way waiting for the time to roll around.
Next day a lady found me wondering on the side of the road, with my son and called 911. They took me to the ER and drugged
me... when I woke up it was like nothing ever happened. I was perfectly lucid, and so very confused.

I really hope it was a one time thing, that was the scariest moment of my life... and I had to go through so many hoops to be able to take care of my son again. A year in therapy, and mental health court.

I've been fighting that battle between the two and have never fully understood. Then I started thinking.. maybe the alteration can cause spiritual incidents and vice versa because you are in a limbo state of mind during mania and so ur open for spiritual connection. thank you for it
It has explained a lot.

I was in a very similar situation. I didn't believe I was Jesus, but I felt like I was seeing through his eyes and I felt so much sorrow for him. I felt strongly convicted to walk til my feet bled to everyone I needed to apologize to to get my life right. I also ended up in jail because they just knew I was on meth (I was not on drugs) so I was there for 27 hrs til I went to the hospital. On my 9th day of very little to drink and eat and zero sleep I finally slept with the help of strong sleep drugs. BTW I left the hospital with no diagnosis because after I slept I woke up to being myself only alot more humble and caring. I've done alot of reading in this subject and I strongly believe that I was so depressed (suicidal actually) and with the insomnia issues I have and the lack of food and water went into a fasting state and accidently opened my 3rd eye and it was so overwhelming I couldn't control it. I was min away from taking my life when a peace came over me and I truly feel I know the feeling of having a clean slate, anew, and feeling reborn. This happened in 2016 and I still have never gotten a diagnosis and I've been seeing a theripist and physiotherapist for pretty much sense. I only take the meds to help me sleep, but it makes my husband feel better if im "medicated". I can't blame him tho he follow me around pretty much for the whole week.

I appreciate that in your writing you do justice, both, to the disabling aspect of mania and the spiritual aspect, without the need to negate one to affirm the other.

I am 22 years old. I was diagnosed with bipolar at the age of 20. I'm still confused. I believe I am spiritual, I can relate to these experiences on a high level. I have vivid dreams. They do not scare me though. Even the nightmares, I like them because I feel each one of them has a hidden metaphor and thats a clue to my divine purpose or just a meaning of what to do or how to help myself. I too have seen red eyes. What does that mean? I'm stuck between reality and delusion. I believe there are demons and the devil because ive seen things like that. But that's either if I was on drugs or if I was sleep deprived. Or in a sleep paralysis. So what is real? I do not see angels the way I see demons. But I do feel a high spiritual level when I notice synchronicity or when I see an animal or get a sign I asked for. So this is really confusing and draining. I do meditation, I journal, but sometimes I just stop and get lazy. I dont know what is the right help for me. I dont know what to Truely believe. Its hard to focus sometimes but then again I have so much potential. If I mess up I get up and I try again always. I get paranoid or anxious into thinking someone wants to kill me. Sometimes when I'm too anxious I see shadows. Never hear voices or see demons. So I wonder how much really is in my head and what isn't? Bless you all. I need more answers :(

I was first diagnosed bipolar at 19. I am now 50. In my long, long experience with thus illness I can offer a little advice to all who suffer mentally. 3 years ago I had a bunch of bloodwork done, I was found to have severe food allergies. SO, to make a long story short, dairy, wheat,eggs and mustard bring on my manic phases, they last 2 months at a time. I have avoided these foods since my results, however I accidentally ingested these food items on rare occasions, hyper mania comes on immediately!! Also, depakote is a popular drug for bipolar, it is made from milk.. So, y'all can summize your own conclusions from this data.. Stress will also kick in phases. Also, bacteria such as h pylori can cause similar reactions to the mind. The gut damage is the root of mental/physical illness from what I've researched and experienced. Hope thus helps.. :)

Thank you SO much! While it is a little disappointing that I am not the chosen I thought, again, that maybe I was on this earth to save the lost and bring about the largest reformation before end times. I, too, obviously, have been under the delusion of being Christ. My story is very similar to others. This is the first break I have had since 2003. I believe I received healing when I asked God to remove bi-polar (claiming it was a "defect of character" - language from the 620th step in ALcoholics Anonymous) and I swear to you I felt something leave my body out of the top of my head. This leads me to believe in Demonic Possesion, and I do hope this does not send anyone back out to the outter limits. But it is something to consider. The New testimate is chalk full of Jesus ridding people of what makes us think they are not still present today. Anyway, after that time I went to Colorado and worked with a healer who loves the Lord with all her might. She helped me get off the SAD diet and pumped me full of vitamins. I came off of my medicine and had 13 years of stability. There was a price to pay for that stability. I stayed spiritual fit (for me AA and church), exercised, ate very well. I researched and learned that gluten is associated with symptoms of bi-polar, schizophrenia and depression and I have tested it and found it to be true for me. I also avoid anything mood altering such as caffiene, sugar, and dairy and alcohol. This worked for me for a very long time.
My husband became quite ill and as he became better I slowly became ill with mental health. I had lost a fiancee and a baby and never dealt with it so almost losing him sent me over the edge. Truth be said, I also started smoking pot and quickly became addicted to the relief and quite frankly I would have mini mania with it that I would come down from when the weed wore off and I LOVED it. It was heaven. I felt like I was figuring out my manic episodes from 1991. Well, it went too far, I suppose, and I landed in "psychosis" without weed while in Africa. I truly felt I was able to witness to people without words. Telepathy. I still have a heard time believing that my experiences were not real. I went to Africa to share the heart of God... but without a word. One African lady came to me and asked me if I was a Leader. There is so much to share, as you all obviously know as you too have very real experiences.
I too, get sad/mad with God, but try to trust that He would allow me to have these experiences for His good. I got to the point where I was tired of some of the symptoms, like inappropriate sexual responses and decided to try to let the bi-poar go again. I prayed for the demon responsible for it to be removed in the name of Jesus and immediately felt the peace the passes understanding. I am hoping to be free of marijuana as I know that it is probably too much for my fragile mind, I am going to Celebrate Recovery which is a wonderful place for anyone that has a hurt, habit of hang up. I am working on my diet again, especially gluten. I am trying to get in exercise. I still would love to be part of a global reformation or revival as I do believe it is feeling very end timish. I liked, very much, the comment that we are all of Jesus, so maybe that is why we have that manifestation. I also think maybe I am just learning how to be a true Christian and have His spirit within me...but not actually BE Him (or his sister). It says that when we believe we will have His power to heal and do other mighty works like rid people of demons. It also says that satan rules the earth (I believe) and it is pretty apparent. Maybe we have been called to be warriors for God but then a demon gets in there and warps evrything to make us seem crazy. IDK...but I want the freedom promised to those who believe and freedom from the demons that I believe try to steal us from the Truth. I believe it is massive spiritual warfare right now. Priscilla Shriver has a great bible study called ' The armor of God' and War Room is my favorite evangeslist I don't talk about it.
I am sorry to go on so much but this feels like a safe place to vent.
I also need to share that I have a dark side to this whole thing. I truly believe in vampires when in the height of a delusion. I was molested by my grandfather who would remove his front teeth and I am pretty sure he still had his eye teeth. He would flip his eyelids and wiggle his ears. He was creepy. Around the same time I was molested I was having a hard time sleeping and came downstairs to find my mother.She was watching a vampire movie. It was so sensual. I was only eight but I was so allured by the sensuality. Anyway, for some reason it becomes so real to me when I am "sick" in a delusion. It is terrifying. I could go on and on. Thank you for allowing me to release some of this to ears that understand. May we be strong. Be good to ourselves and press into Truth (without getting stolen by demons). God bless you and thank you all for sharing.

Bipolar has ruined my career. I had a serious episode where it felt more like a spiritual
awakening. I met with God & after the episode I feel I am supposed to do something & help others rather than having the high flying city job I had before. I just don’t know where to start.
I am unemployed now, I do feel I have a lot to offer. I researched how some people who feel they are supposed to save the world or felt the Godly side to psychosis is rather common, can’t be a coincidence.
Anyone just feel that maybe we’re selected for a reason & mis-labelled with a ‘mental illness’ such as bipolar schizophrenia etc.
Just saying...

Love & light to you all

Your last paragraph nailed it for me. Thank you for sharing!


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