Foundational to the topic of this thesis is the question, “Can major depression be a true spiritual dryness through which we may takes steps towards God?” The question is posed by Madeleine Kelly in Life on a Roller-Coaster: living well with depression and manic depression. Kelly lives with a form of manic depressive illness. Manic depressive illness, currently known as bipolar disorder, belongs to the family of mental disorders. The nature of bipolar disorder is that it affects a person’s moods, thoughts and behaviour. Consequently, the experience of bipolar disorder is such that it can disorientate a person’s sense of self, thus triggering existential questions around identity, meaning, belonging and religious expression.
These are significant spiritual questions. However, due to the complex nature of bipolar disorder, these spiritual questions often go unheeded. While the Christian church offers pastoral care in the mental health field, is this enough? Or could it be that a spiritual director also has a contribution to make in the spiritual journey of a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder? The thesis examines this question in the light of a response to Kelly’s question.