Help! I’ve Been Diagnosed With A Mental Disorder by Christine Chappell: A Book Review

‘When I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II, I feared that life as I knew it was over. It felt like a ball and chain had been placed around my ankle, and I was anxious about what the future held for me. More than that, I was unsure how my faith in Christ intersected with this particular problem. After all, ‘Bipolar Disorder’ isn’t a term you find in the Scriptures, and because I’d battled cycles of deep depression for my entire adult life, I didn’t know if healing would ever be possible for me. In a word, I felt trapped—desperate for change and yet powerless to bring it about.’

This mini-book is saturated with Biblical insight and compassion from the heart of a fellow traveler who understands deeply of what she writes. 

‘When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II, I felt some relief because the doctor was able to describe the various challenges I’d been facing. However, the feeling was short-lived. He didn’t seem to see all of me, and he certainly didn’t address the hopes and hurts in the deepest recesses of my heart. Because I had a long-standing history with depression, he also didn’t offer me much hope for significant change in the future. Rather, he focused on pursuing a symptom management plan based on case studies of how other people with the same diagnosis generally responded to clinical interventions.’

Christine walks us through how she found clarity and comfort when she changed her mindset from finding relief from symptoms to living to glorify God in spite of them.

‘I want to invite you to have a seat at Christ’s counseling table. I do this because the Bible is the only ‘reference book’ that will tell you about your whole self while offering you the promise of wholeness at the very same time. This promise has been secured by Jesus Christ, who stepped down from heaven and into our broken world to save us from the curse of sin, decay, and death—the very triad of problems you’re wrestling with. Is there any better Counselor to guide you along than the One who knit you together in your mother’s womb: the Almighty Creator of the universe? He knows precisely how you work and what makes you tick. He’s intimately aware of the griefs you’ve borne and the fears that plague you—without your expressing a single sorrowful word.’

Christine encourages the Christ follower by reminding us that our primary identity is in Christ and that a label is not the sum of our personhood nor does it ‘dictate our destiny’.

And that God’s Word provides practical wisdom and hope above and beyond what any secular psychology or psychiatry has to offer.

‘As I reflect on my own journey over the past two decades, I distinctly recall being told that my brain was permanently diseased, and that a cocktail of prescription drugs would be my ‘yellow brick road’ to a happier, more ‘stable’ life. The problem was that, for me, neither of these pronouncements was true. I don’t know your particular situation, but I do want to encourage you to discern if well-meaning care providers are unknowingly tempting you to shift your ultimate hope away from Christ himself. Beware of banking all of your heart’s hope on a particular treatment plan or prescription. False hopes such as these can lead to disappointment, and may tempt you to believe that God-glorifying progress is not possible for you.’

And that even in the midst of our affliction, we can honor and glorify God as He provides us His peace and faithfulness to abide in Him. 

‘I now stand on the other side of the road you’re on, and I can testify that good fruit is precisely what the Lord has brought forth in my life— not in spite of my previous diagnosis of bipolar disorder II, but because of it. Though our stories may be very different, and our respective afflictions may take different forms, our projected prognosis in Christ remains the same: fruit will grow, and glory will come.’

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, you will notice almost immediately the care Christine has taken to weigh her words thoughtfully with depth and precision. 

And her words are a salve for anyone facing affliction, not just those diagnosed with a mental disorder. 

I’m thankful for Christine’s courage and faithfulness to steward her story to bring hope and help to those brothers and sisters facing ‘particular challenges—ones that, albeit perplexing at times, were neither new nor uncommon to man’.

I earnestly recommend you keep multiple copies of this resource to share with all those who need it. 

‘Dear brother or sister, you’ll find the courage you need to endure your varied trials as you embrace God’s redemptive perspective as your own. Know that a diagnostic label cannot dictate the outcome of your story—and while God’s Word does speak candidly about the very real pain of your present affliction, it also means to comfort you with the very real promise of resurrection glory that awaits you in Christ. This is a hope of wholeness for your whole self, and it’s a gift freely given only to members of God’s family, to which you belong. Take heart and lift up your eyes: though you may feel untethered today, in Christ you’re anchored in hope.’

Disclosure: This book was provided by Shepherd Press in exchange for my review.

You can visit Christine at her site and sign up to receive her blogposts, podcasts and information on additional books she’s authored here.

Purchase Help! I’ve Been Diagnosed With A Mental Disorder by Christine Chappell