Who is Insane?

I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder almost a year ago. I was hospitalized for nearly a month in the psych ward. I had a complete psychotic break. I had hallucinations and grandiose thoughts – a classic manic episode. I started a blog just before my episode went into full swing. My writings in the days leading up to my hospitalization reveal a bit of what was going on in my head at the time. I think a lot of what I had to say was real, it was true. I still believe most of what I had to say. So, what does it all mean?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about mental illness. Thinking about what it means to be bipolar. Thinking about the emotions I go through. Thinking about what’s wrong with me. And what’s right. How I don’t believe there is anything wrong with anyone who has a mental illness. We’re really just sensitive people, aren’t we? So many people – I read their stories about self-harm, suicide attempts, struggles with their medication. Why? Why do we have to suffer?

I seem to be happy by most accounts. My coworkers think I have it together. My family thought I had it together too – that is until I lost my shit and had to be hospitalized almost a year ago. The truth is, I’m hurt. I’m scarred. I’m scared. I feel lonely and sad a lot of the time. I don’t have many friends, and that may be my fault. I’ve been dramatic and I’ve been told I’m cold. The truth is, I feel like I have a lot of love to give, I just don’t always show it. I want people to know that I have a big heart. I think a lot of us with issues do. That’s why we’re “damaged” – we’re so sensitive to the world around us. The hurt, the suffering. It hurts us to see other people in such pain.

Why would “god” make the world so hard? I guess that’s how I came to believe that good and evil are really just silly notions. God and devil – they are really one in the same. Whatever has caused all this beauty in the world – it’s also caused a lot of pain. I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I do believe in “something” that created all of this – the good and the bad. He made us this way for a reason, now we just need to figure out why.

I think those of us that have been put on medication, told we’re “different”, somehow odd – we’re special. We see the world differently, and that’s not a bad thing. The real issue is that society tries to force us to fit their definition of normal. I say fuck ’em. What do they know? Who are they to say that what you see and believe is wrong? Maybe you just see things they cannot. Maybe the hallucinations are visions – maybe you are meant to see them. They serve a purpose. I don’t know if that’s true – but it certainly could be, couldn’t it?

I’m writing a memoir about my bipolar disorder and the time I spent in the hospital. The themes haven’t all emerged yet, but I hope to get people thinking about what it means to be insane. Maybe we’re not so crazy after all. Maybe it’s the rest of the world with the problem. We are the visionaries, we are the ones with unique insights. We have gifts they cannot imagine. We are special indeed.

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Discovery Darkness

I guess I always knew that I was attracted to the darker things in life – I’ve always enjoyed skulls and kept a Halloween skull doormat on my front porch for 16+ months. I have always been fascinated by crime and I’ve always understood that I was capable of doing bad things. In fact I acted out on plenty of those bad things – I’m not talking about breaking the law, I don’t even think that should count. I’m talking about truly hurtful things. Lying, stealing, intentionally inflicting pain upon others for fun. No one likes to fess up to these things, but I know there are more of you out there!

The funny thing is – I look normal. Some people would even call me nice. More often though they’d use words to describe me like: cold, tenacious, driven, smart. Those are all goods things, well maybe not the being cold part, but otherwise those seem to be good qualities. At least, that’s what I’d tell myself. I’d always been driven to achieve, no doubt because I grew up wanting my whole life. We never had enough. Not enough money, love, credit, appreciation, understanding or courage. In my house anger and passive aggressive bitterness won out. Or, you could always take the drug route. Many members of my family chose that route – it’s pretty easy to be apathetic that way. These days I call those people zombies.

I knew I wanted more. I wanted money, success, happiness, friends, recognition and status. I knew I was destined for something more. I remember telling myself in college that I was special – that I was destined for something great. I thought of Martin Luther and the Protestant Revolution, for some reason he stood out to me as a prime example of a MAN who changed the course of history. This I thought was what it was all about. See – I’m not a total asshole.I wanted to achieve greatness, influence history and make a difference. Not in a bad or destructive way.

I just got lost along the way. Or maybe I got found. You can decide for yourself. I watched the secret about 5 years ago and it changed my entire outlook on life. I realized I really did have control over my emotions and my destiny. I could change myself and my situation. I set out to do that. Along the way I realized I had plenty of things to work through in order for the law of attraction to work. I’d have to convince myself that I deserved all of the great things I wanted. I long believed I was white trash and undeserving of what I wanted. My family would call me selfish or tell me I was unrealistic. My friends couldn’t believe or imagine me having money or a successful career. I wanted to prove everyone wrong. And so I set out to do that.

My first job out of college was a test of my strength and determination. I felt like I conquered the world. I achieved power and control and I felt like I was contributing my passions and creativity to the world. But somehow it all blew up in my face. I got angry. My ambition drove me to insanity. I became impatient with my coworkers and began to say horrible hateful things not just to myself, but to others. I’d call people idiots, I’d get mad that they were not going along with what I saw as the right course. My plan. I needed my plan and my vision to be executed at all costs. I wanted people to be fired, I wanted the company restructured and I demanded more money. It wall all possible now that I knew the law of attraction. I made it happen, but when it wasn’t progressing enough or panning out exactly as I wanted I blew it up. I mean that figuratively of course. I yelled at my boss and made her cry on her birthday. I screamed through the halls. I made a scene. It was fun, but the anger took months to subside and took a serious toll on my marriage and my happiness. That’s no way to get ahead!

My next job I decided I would detach so as to not let my passion turn to anger and control or fear of others. I became apathetic. I chose a job I was not interested in and become even less interested as time wore on. Eventually I got laid off. That was when the magic started to happen.

That was in February 2012. Since then I’ve been exploring myself and my own internal world. I started dancing all the time. I mean silly dancing – around the house, in my underwear. I have been meditating and connecting with myself like never before.

It was in this time that the idea of shadow work reemerged in my life. (My first encounter with it was when exploring Carl Jung’s work several years ago, but I was intimidated by the work required) I quickly became intrigued with shadow work and started telling everyone I could about it. I told them to get in touch with their dark side. For some reason this seemed to really resonate with every single person I told. They were all touched and inspired by this idea. I, however, felt a strange comfort with what other’s perceived to be “ the shadow”. These feelings were very accessible to me. I always knew I could get pleasure from hurting others – I’d done it before. Not just as an adult, but as a child attacking my sister and even chasing her with a butcher knife when I was 14. I knew I was willing to put others aside in order to meet my agenda. I’d tell myself it wasn’t because I thought I was better, but simply that – if they wanted to, they could do the same thing and I would be fine with that. I believed I was special, but I thought anyone could be if they’d just try and stop consuming so much TV and Prozac.

It was a few weeks after exploring this concept that I started reading Steve Pavlina’s blog and stumbled on an article about integrating the light and dark. It was there that I saw his explanation of the “shadow” of a darkworker and I knew at the moment I was a darkworker. He said a darkworker’s shadow includes ” voices of love, caring, compassion, and the desire for authentic connection.” These were the emotions that I had been blocking for so long. These were the emotions I felt uncomfortable with. I tried to mask it with hugs and smiles, but deep down I didn’t resonate with love and compassion for others – certainly not above myself. I mean, there were times when I would go out of my way to help other people, in an almost unhealthy way. But – I always kept myself as number one and I would not help anyone at my expense. Ever.

I’m lucky enough to be experiencing a huge shift in my perspective. I’m getting in touch with my shadow – it just so happens my shadow is actually the light. It’s been an incredible experience. I can’t wait to share more with you.

The Little Voice

You have negative emotions. Sure, we all do. You have an internal dialog, and sometimes it can be a real asshole. Does it says things like “You aren’t good enough” or “You don’t deserve it.” Or does it says things like “That is not okay to do.” “Mom would never accept that behavior.” If you resonate with the first two statements you are probably a darkworker – you just don’t have enough thought energy – you should probably work on that 😉 If, however, you relate more to the last two statements you are probably a lightworker and you should get some balls.

Both paths can have negative emotions and feelings associated with them, but by making out their distinct calls and cries you can identify what thoughts and actions to feed and which to starve. As I’ve mentioned before, I think while we may lean more towards the light or the dark I think we’re all on one single path, we just have different perspectives. Don’t fight your nature. Don’t judge it. You will only cause more pain.

A darkworker who fights their nature will live a life less than thrilling. You’ll spend your life wanting all sorts of things, but beating yourself up because you don’t deserve them. Maybe you want the happy family, but deep down inside you don’t believe you are worthy of love. Maybe you want to spread your passion for helping animals, but you got into the wrong crowd and murdered someone and now who would trust YOU with an animal? If you let yourself believe you aren’t worthy of what you desire you will be a sad darkworker indeed. Society of course helps fuel this – darkworkers are more likely to be labeled “weird” or “wrong” – which only feeds those negative thoughts and lack of self-worth. Your mission should you choose to accept it is to do the internal work required to make yourself BELIEVE you are worth it and deserving. The hard part is to believe it, and that is where your thought energy can come into play. Do whatever you need to do to convince yourself that you are awesome. You are. If you don’t believe you could be the Next Oprah or you think that Jay-Z is somehow a “better” person than you – you aren’t here yet. When you are so self-delusional that you think Jesus was no better a man than you and that you could take over the world – well, that my darkworker friend is #winning 😉

A lightworker who fights their true nature will live life wondering who they were supposed to be, if only my mother would have let me! Think about the girl who always knew she was a dancer but grew up in a family of academics and was pressured into becoming a lawyer- she’ll spend her life in a career she hates because it’s “what she is supposed to do.” You know slavery is wrong and that something just isn’t right – but it would be illegal to help, and you shouldn’t do that – and so your silence and lack of spine kill your soul. Of course, I am just theorizing here because I can’t really know what a lightworker thinks, or can I? I can only tell you what I know in my heart and what I have seen be played out in the world. It is the lightworkers mission to realize that sometimes pain and change is necessary for growth. You don’t want to end the relationship – but you know you  would both be happier in the end. So why the fuck are you being so selfish and pretending to be “selfless.” It would hurt the other person or society if I was honest and said what I knew in my heart. Hurt them. Stop fooling yourself and get some balls – stand up for yourself and what you know matters, even if it hurts others or the ones you love. You only answer to one person. You.

This seems very dualist, and my apologies for that – as you know I believe we are much more alike than different. I just think it is helpful to understand your motivations and challenges – no doubt each person in unique and we all have our own path to walk. But – I hope this is a nice framework for you, especially if you weren’t sure which “team” you’ve been playing for. Don’t fight your nature – feed it. Just be sure you also work on opening your heart and experiencing love or you may end up on the fast track to misery.