Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and put on a stabilizing regimen of medications, I have not only been dealing with the stress of maintaining a “normal” front in order to continue regular daily schedules (work, research, social life, exercise, etc.) but also find myself putting up a guard against a rather bizarre and highly infuriating family situation.

A self-described Native American medicine person, my mother has decided that my bipolar disorder is being exacerbated and heightened by an evil spiritual entity. She has said that I am influenced by my former “dealings with soul-draining entities and demonic spirits” (in my teenage years, I was a goth and avid vampire fan) and insists I undergo a “soul retrieval ceremony.” I have absolutely no intention of doing so and have been both on the defensive and a bit aggressive in response to her continual emotional attacks. Not only does she claim these spiritual visions of “what she has been shown,” but she also believes I am going to end up a very lonely person because I will push away everyone I care about and fail to have any fulfilling relationships.

I have no idea how to deal with this/respond to this anymore. We have already gotten in so many fights that I can’t and don’t want to do so, but just talking to her about any subject whatsoever her response is ALWAYS spiritual (because she claims “it’s just who she is.”). I’ve tried to be respectful of her die-hard beliefs but am getting tired of her attacks on my already precipitous emotional well-being. I know that I can often shift back and forth between perspectives about my family’s view of my disorder and my emotional ups and downs, and I also know that I can be volatile and cruel at times… but I’m not sure I deserve this treatment.

Any ideas or words of advice? I’ve run out of ways to handle this.

6 Comments

  • I wouldn’t be part of her ceremony, it sounds like she’s not even Native American. Natives have no heaven or hell, so we don’t believe in “Demonic spirits”, there’s the first clue.

    Sarah makes a very good statement, listen to her.

  • The facts that you called your mom as a “self-described medicine person”, she believes in “soul draining entities and demonic spirits”, and the fact that you do not follow these same beliefs leads me to believe that she is non-Native. If this is the case, vere clear of any ceremony she is intending to preform.

    Many people THINK they are following Native American ways, but in fact are not. Non-Natives have a hard time understanding that our ways are a gift to us Native Americans, not things to be used incorrectly by non-Natives. They are not things you learn via internet or from other white people. And when they are used incorrectly, it can be very dangerous.
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/10/15/arizona…

    Additionally, seeking spirituality/religion may be beneficial to helping with your condition, but it should not be forced on you. Only you know the right path for you. Taking on spiritual practices that you have no ties to will not help you. Stand firm that you will not partake in her “ceremony” and do what does seems to work for you, whether it be therapy or meds or both.

  • I hesitate to say this but it sounds as if your mother may have the same illness you have. Perhaps it is a milder case but her religious preoccupation is definitely not normal and would be stressful for anyone to have to encounter!
    Let me give you some advice about religion: It’s personal…like your sex life and your savings account, it is no ones business but your own. It’s not to be discussed with strangers and is definitely not up for others to evaluate and comment on…because its personal.
    Have you ever met a religious zealot who wants to give you religious tracts to read or testify to you in an effort to convert you? Have you ever had these people approach you in public places or worse, come to your door? Do you know how unwelcome they are?
    Whatever is in your mind, heart and soul is between you and God and nobody else. Mom needs to be told this. And the subject of your soul and your religious well being is a forbidden topic…right now. Or else you may have to limit your visits with Mom.
    Either she learns to respect you and your privacy or you limit your exposure to her.

  • I agree that your Mom is probably just suggesting this ritual out of her love for you and out of her own ‘self-described’ spiritual beliefs, but…it sounds like you do not agree and believe in her ritual and I believe that therefore it wouldn’t do you a bit of good. I think it’s better for you to change your relationship with your Mom and tell her that you no longer want help with your medical conditions. Tell her you’re sticking with your medications to give them a good chance to work and that from now on, it’s best to discuss other things than that. Sounds like she wants to be helpful in your life, so discuss other things like places to go for fun, things to do or make, where to find information about something you’re researching, etc. Just talk about anything ‘besides’ your medical condition. Good luck to you – I wish you the best.

  • I think you should continue with your meds but also let your mom do the ceremony. What would it hurt? Who knows, it might even help. There are a lot of things we just don’t understand about spirituality. A ceremony won’t hurt you and who knows, it might actually help. Give it a try!

  • I would like to think your Mom means well and wants to help the only way she knows how-with her spiritual rituals and beliefs. As a mom, it hurts to see you hurting. Please continue the meds your doctor prescribed, but what would her ritual really hurt?

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