The Serenity Prayer

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July 24, 2014 8:30 pm

The Serenity Prayer, a commonly recited prayer and adopted by Alcohol Anonymous and several other programs. I was first introduced to this prayer during my most recent hospitalization in early May of this year. When the recovery specialist (RS) entered the room she wrote on the board “Developing Your Safety Crisis Plan.” Now, my current state of mind at this time was extremely low: severely depressed and suicidal, and I did not care about developing a so called ‘safety crisis plan’ because I did not plan to leave the hospital alive: I wanted out. I could not leave the seminar since as an inpatient you are required to attend all groups, participate, and make progress in your treatment plan for the day. So I sat there. Giving the RS the death stare while shaking my left leg which I could not control and biting my nails anxiously as I mapped out my “death” instead of my “crisis plan”. Since these groups are for the patients the RS’s job is to encourage others to participate ,share their story and coping skills to the group. Of course, in my head I’m like “yeah right you are NOT getting a word out of me about my safety crisis plan when right now I just want to hang myself with the sheets in my room.” [this did not happen]

Patients, one by one, started to share their story and open up about what brought them into inpatient. My mood suddenly shifted. The knee shaking stopped, the nail biting, and racing thoughts. My mind started to connect with the other patients in the room and all I could do was cry. Tears started to fall and then all eyes were on me. Now, I do not like to cry in public and having people stare at me is a big no-no. But this time it felt right. I felt like this is the place I can do this. The RS did not single me out but asked if I wanted to share my story. I did not. I just wanted to listen, process, and cry. And, so I did.

We went through identifying our triggers/sensors, the warning signs, identifying coping skills, and things to do for healthy behavior. When it came to identifying things to do for healthy behavior the group was silent. It seemed like nobody knew what to do to maintain a healthy behavior. I did not blame them. How can someone with anxiety, bipolar, or depression maintain a healthy behavior during an episode? A few minutes later, something I will never forget, one of the patients stood and recited The Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

And said, “this is how I maintain my healthy behavior ,by reciting this prayer during my manic episodes.”

While I was hospitalized I lost touch with my faith for many reasons. My family and friends would tell me to pray and seek God. And honestly, during that time I could not for personal reasons but obviously could not tell my loved ones that I did not want to “pray”. I did not want to ask God to forgive me for something I truly did want to happen to me. So,I found peace in this prayer. From that moment, I became one with this prayer and recited it day in and day out until I was discharged.

Today, I have a clear understanding on how to maintain a healthy behavior (i.e. eat, sleep, take medications, attend all appointments etc) during my extreme manic episodes. My faith is not where I want it to be but I am just taking it one day at a time and asking God to help me accept myself first, before anything else, then help me accept the things I cannot change.

Recovery is my permanent vacation spot forever. A place where I’ve finally found peace within myself and the courage to stand up and say,
Hi ! I have a mental illness (several) and I am alive and proud to be here talking to you today.

I am standing up for mental illness are you?

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24 thoughts on “The Serenity Prayer”

  1. I sensed something had happened to you. You will overcome this depression.. It will no longer be in your daily vocabulary… People care about you.. I don’t know you personally and I care… Peace

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I cried reading your post. You have been through so much and you survived, stronger than ever. Your writing is honest and sincere. I look forward to reading more.
    Thank you for following my blog. My faith isn’t were I want it to be either but God loves us and I’m thankful for His patience. I wish you the very best on your journey 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry for what you are going through, you will get past it. Stay strong. I too have been told to say the serenity prayer. I pray to God everyday however I am not able to accept what I am going through not my condition and or my anxiety/depression. However I can see the prayer being a big help for when I’m out of the alarmed shock stage. Stay strong! Sending peace and love your way!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand. Not all of it,but some of it. When your in the darkest place it’s hard to see Him. Trust me I know. But I cling to the joy, peace and love I know He has for me, and will have again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Phoenix: I don’t know if this is helpful to know, but the Serenity Prayer is actually a much longer prayer by the American Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. The complete long form of the prayer is:

    God, give me grace to accept with serenity
    the things that cannot be changed,
    Courage to change the things
    which should be changed,
    and the Wisdom to distinguish
    the one from the other.

    Living one day at a time,
    Enjoying one moment at a time,
    Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
    Taking, as Jesus did,
    This sinful world as it is,
    Not as I would have it,
    Trusting that You will make all things right,
    If I surrender to Your will,
    So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
    And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

    Amen.

    Both versions are beautiful and I have always had a better day when I started my day with the prayer. But I thought you might like to see the longer version, too.

    Be well,
    Laura

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Laura,
      Thanks for sharing the longer version. I do have the longer version as a poster. I am starting to memorize the second part as apart of my recovery.Hopefully by the end I can recite the entire thing.
      Thanks for reading!
      Sending positive vibes your way!

      Like

  6. Reblogged this on Cass and commented:
    Serenity prayer is my beloved one…

    For a long time I underestimated it. I even was quite cynical about it because I claimed very strongly that I don’t believe, therefore it’s just useless and pathetic. I was horribly wrong.

    It came back to me when everything else failed me. I thought it’s over. My life’s over. Even more: I’m done. For good. It’s undescribable. There are no words to explain this state. I’ve never been that helpless in my whole life. That’s when I’ve found myself praying. Imagine: what could possibly make a faithless man pray?

    “God” is just the term. Faith is something completely different than religion. Faith comes from the inside. It has not been given – it’s in your core. And it’s good. It’s not blind, nor intrusive. It does no harm. It lifts you up.

    This prayer has a lot of sense.

    When I don’t know what to do, when I’m scared, ehen I don’t want to live anymore, when I can’t get out of bed, when I can’t force myself to talk, when I have to face something, when something overwhelms me…
    (And when I’m thankful too).
    I pray. Sometimes I remember the words. Sometimes they come along, when I don’t have the strength to remember anymore.

    Alll I know is that I wouldn’t be there without serenity prayer.

    I would like to thank the author of this post for bringing up this topic. I see you’re a fighter… You have my admiration. And… May God grant you the serenity.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Reblogged this on FOR A PESSIMIST IM PRETTY OPTIMISTIC and commented:
    I have the serenity prayer tattooed on my shoulder… And always seem to forget that one, it has meaning to me and has gotten me through times in the past… And two that I have it TATTOOED for a reason. Reading this today has brought some perspective. Will definitely remember serenity, courage, and wisdom when I’m feeling overwhelmed by anxiety. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am pretty much an atheist. While my main issue is pain due to chronic migraine and cluster headaches, like many in the pain community I also struggle with depression and anxiety and was an inpatient for psychiatric care in 1997 during a very bad period. I was scornful of the Serenity Prayer, but like you, I finally found it was the only thing that resonated with me during Groups and therapy sessions. I ended up painting a clay wall hanging of the Serenity Prayer during Art Therapy. 🙂 It seems to reappear at various times throughout my life when I am going through a lot of change or frustration, almost like a sign, or a guide. One of those times is now. Thank you for posting this, and I’m so glad you’re in recovery and doing better. ~elizabeth

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Reblogged this on LadyMigraine and commented:
    This really resonated with me today after deciding to pursue a different approach to treatment than my neurologist has recommended. In 1997, I too was an inpatient in a psychiatric unit, and was moved by the simplicity and comfort of The Serenity Prayer. It seems to reappear at times in my life when I need to be reminded, as I was today. I DO have the courage to change the things I can, and I can change this. My treatment is my own to control, thank you very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for stopping by my site and following me. If you read “About Me” you know we have much in common. I was diagnosed Bipolar 30+ years ago. I’ve been thru every phase or episode in that time. I respect you taking responsibility for your health. Many get bogged down in the why. Only the next step matters. I hold my hand out to you if need someone. I’m a good listener and can chat till the cows come home. I have spent the last several months purging what I can of my child abuse. It has been slow going at times, I’ve had an interesting life. I’m here for support and guidance for those who ask. Hope you’ll stop by soon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Phoenix, not quite been where you are, but been pretty damn close. I know what its like to just want to stop the noise and find peace in whatever format you can; for me thinking of putting myself under a truck day after day was my wake up call. I know what its like to feel so alone in a world filled with busy people and feel that you are absolutely on your own and completely worthless, that the only way out or peace for me was my ending it all. I am still here and it is only by the tips of my fingers I have held on day after day. I know where you are…. I have been there and struggling with bi-polar am sure I may be there again! But you are not alone and I know at this particular time I am not alone either.. We always feel no-one can ever know how bad, or how low we feel, but its amazing once people start opening up that we see a parity in their lives with our own. In spite of your pain, or perhaps because of it; life in all its glory, is well worth living… Hang in there mate – I’ll check in on you, if you check in on me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for encouragement. Yes you are right we are not alone. The best thing we can do is take it one day at a time and appreciate life. I will definitely stop by your blog and check in with you!
      Sending positive vibes your way! -Phoenix

      Like

  12. Recovery is a great place to settle in. I just started going to Celebrate Recovery at the local church and we recite the Serenity Prayer every week. If you are interested in being with others in a Christ centered recovery program CR is worth looking into. Look for one in your area there are programs through out the US.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You remind me of me last November. I had just been released from my third psychiatric hospitalization and finally said, “enough!” It took me three manic episodes to realize I have bipolar disorder and need to seek help. Now I take medication and see a counselor regularly, hopefully preventing me from having another episode. I write about mental illness as well, hoping to remove stigma and educate people. Thanks for stopping by my blog and following! I am glad I stopped by yours. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing your story with me. I agree with you 3rd time is a charm and I take my meds / see my therapist regularly as well. I never want to get back to the severe state I was in a month and a half ago.
      Sending positive vibes yours way – Phoenix.

      Like

  14. This brought me back to my first hospitalization! And then it took quite a few more before I came to the conclusion you did about recovery being a permanent vacation spot forever — but I absolutely LOVE that idea/phrase! In fact, if you don’t mind, I might have to start using that and telling it to others that I know that have mental illness. I think it is a great way to describe what recovery is all about. This is a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for following my blog. This is the second time I have read this post and read the comments. There is so much bravery here and effort to heal. You are so open and encouraging others as well as yourself. all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Always remember that even if you can’t see Him, He sees you! God loves you unconditionally, and forgives you for everything that’s happened. I know it’s hard, but when you feel lost or hopeless just ask for Him to come to you and He will! Much love and sunshine sent your way!

    Liked by 1 person

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