Barely Breathing

I’d scream but who would hear me? I’d cry but you would fear me. My emotions are too intense. You can’t understand me, you think I’m a mess. Irrational. Illogical. Full of rage. Smiling and laughing. Then crying and drooling. The energy enters my body. It leaves me bloody. I’m rotting from the inside out. I can feel the flesh falling off my bones. I’m cold and alone. My feet are blue. I can barely stand on them. I know I am rotting. They’re just waiting for nightfall to carry my corpse outside these hospital walls. If only I can hang on – my rescue team will arrive soon. I bury myself under the blankets. The smell of rot and death is inescapable. I find it comforting. I sing to myself. It’s the end of the world as we know it. I feel fine. The tune keeps the nightmares away. Don’t fall asleep. You may never wake up. I can barely move, the flesh from my back tears as I try to adjust myself in my bed. I’m dying here. Why won’t they help me? They never arrive. I’m barely alive. I walk the halls with my blanket draped around my body. Beneath the layers I am a zombie. Maybe a vampire. I am definitely dead and I don’t want anyone to see what my body has become. I will frighten them. They can’t stand to look at me. The death. The destruction. I am the darkness the roams in the night. I am the evil that lurks in your mind. There is no turning back now, I’ve seen what I am. I am everything I’ve ever feared. Death and destruction. It’s my construction. I am all that ever was and all that ever will be. I am you and I am me. I’m dying on the table. The doctors are injecting me with unknown fluids. I can feel the life draining from my body. I deserve this. I am evil. I dragged them into the darkness and now they are making me pay. They’ve taken it too far. I’m barely breathing. I know my last breath is near. I have no fear. I deserve this. I am thankful. This is our moment, I say, as they take my life away.

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Thinking

I don’t want to end up back in the psych ward, but I do want to get close enough to the edge of madness that I can taste it. I want to feel it brush up against my skin and send chills down my spine. I want to be consumed by its beauty and intensity. I want to hear it call my name and whisper in my ear.

My thoughts in the last few days would most certainly concern my family. I’m still consumed by the very thoughts that kept me locked away nearly a year ago. The idea that my madness was somehow spiritual – it still intrigues me. When I mentioned these things in the hospital, they determined I was insane. They had me certified and injected me with drugs against my will, as I screamed and hurled insults at them. All because I wanted to feel the light, to feel the madness, to feel the connection to something bigger than myself.

The idea of a commune also raised red flags – they thought this idea was part of my psychosis, that it wasn’t sane to have such crazy ideas. What they didn’t realize was that I was thinking clearly, at least in regards to how I wanted to live my life. I’m not insane – I just want to live a less conventional lifestyle.

I’m scared that as a continue further down this path and this line of thinking that my family will intervene. I don’t want to have to justify my thought process. My husband wants me to see my psychiatrist right away, but I don’t think that is going to make a difference in how I’m thinking. I don’t feel manic. I feel clear, excited, inspired. I feel like a younger version of myself, hopeful about the future, overwhelmed by the possibilities of what could be. I like this feeling. I don’t want it to go away.

Feel Your Emotions

Why do we try so hard not to feel? Feelings are real. They are meant to be felt. It frustrates me that people are told that their feelings are not legitimate. That they should hide their feelings. That they feel too much. There is no such thing as feeling too much. Feelings are yours to be felt. If your feelings are intense, they are just that – intense. They are probably intense because you are going through something heavy and serious. We’ve all had traumas in our lives, things that move us to tears. Or maybe things that should move us to tears, but instead we have buried those feelings because we think we don’t have the right to be upset. Maybe there is even a bit of shame associated with your feelings. By blocking them, you only make them come out in other destructive ways.You beat yourself up. You feel the need to hide from your feelings.

All you need to do is feel. Let yourself be swept up in your feelings – no matter how intense. Don’t judge your feelings. Let them exist. If that means you spend two days crying over a friend you lost ten years ago – cry. If that means crying for no apparent reason, and feeling intense feelings of shame and guilt – cry. Don’t get caught up in how you “should” feel – or what other’s have told you is an appropriate response. Just let it all out. Be honest with yourself about how you feel. You may be surprised to find some old wounds or things you thought you were over, are in fact still raw with emotion. That’s fine.

When as a society we try to dictate how people should respond, what’s “appropriate” – what is the “typical” response or grieving period – we do ourselves a disservice. We shame people and make them feel wrong for their feelings, which makes life harder and more confusing. It’s hard to regulate feelings, they exist on their own. They can be strong and powerful. Their job is to guide us. How you feel is a reflection of your soul, of how your thoughts and feelings align with you heart. If you are moved to tears, that can drive you to take action, or it can simply act as a reminder of how important something or someone is. It can force you to reassess your place in the world or how you interact with it. Maybe you’re upset that you blew off a girl and now she’s gone forever – that can help you change the way you interact with people in the future. It can drive you to be better, to act more in alignment with your heart.

If you’re still upset about something that happened ten years ago – that’s fine. You have the right to be upset about things, and don’t let anyone tell you to “get over it” or “move on.” Do things on your own terms – when you’re ready.

It really upsets me that the notion of “mood disorder” even exists. What makes it a disorder? Having emotions and displaying them is normal and healthy. Crying is perfectly normal. Laughing is healthy. You can even do both within minutes of each other, and that’s fine too. I’ve been told I’m moody – and now I have the label “bipolar” – yay for me. I just think of it as being in tune with myself. If I’m upset, you’ll know. I don’t bother trying to mask my emotions. I don’t always cry, in fact, lately I really can’t cry at all. It’s probably the lithium. I think that sucks. I should be able to cry, to feel my emotions. That would be healthy. Masking emotions with medication, I don’t think that’s healthy at all. It buries them and denies them, when in fact there are legitimate emotions that need to be expressed. I should be upset. I should be angry. There is a lot to be upset and angry about it. It’s ok to feel those emotions. It’s ok to feel any emotion. It’s ok to be depressed when nothing seems to be working out. Just feel. That’s what’s real.

Like Animals

I had a conversation with a friend last night that involved him telling me that he believed people with mental illness are animals. They are not human anymore, he said. They are animals. Do not listen to them. They are not there anymore. You can imagine how this made me feel. I listened to his point of view and honestly, I wasn’t really offended. I felt sorry for him. How could he be so confused…and scared? The only reason I can see someone feeling that way is that they are afraid of their own sanity, they fear that which they don’t understand.

He told me that he doesn’t think I should be exploring the topic of mental health, he doesn’t think I should be volunteering or spending time around mental illness. He thinks it could make me snap. He admitted he is fascinated by psychology – but totally uncomfortable with mental illness. Don’t go there. It’s too scary. People never come back. They become animals.

This friend of mine is no stranger to mental illness – he saw my illness in full swing. He was there the night I lost my mind. He’s been there with me through my recovery. You would think he’d be more comfortable with the whole thing – but he’s not. The funny thing is that he was supportive of my “awakening” leading up to my breakdown. In fact, he even told me he loved my blog and was envious of it. He was there the whole time. The night I lost my mind, he placed a pillow over my head and recited a prayer in a language I did not understand. He was scared. It traumatized him. He was apparently quite the mess when I had to be hospitalized. I think it made him afraid of his own mind.

I guess the reason I wasn’t offended by his “animal” label is because I know what he’s talking about – I just interpret it differently. Whereas he sees mental illness as a loss of the soul, I see it as an embodiment of the soul. You become your soul in the most raw and pure form. Like an animal – you simply exist, you don’t bother with thinking things through, you don’t have preconceived notions of how you should behave. You are just you – like a child. I didn’t feel the need for clothes anymore, but being naked was not a sexual thing, it was simply a shedding of societal norms. There was no concern for how it might be perceived, I just did what felt right. There was no need to hide emotions – I just let them bleed from my soul. If you feel sad, you express it like a child, by crying until you can longer breath, until the tears and the drool merge into one wet sloppy mess. Does that make you an animal? Or does that make you a soul – existing in your body, but without all of the silly notions of normalcy and expectation put on you by society. You are wild and free like an animal. A free spirit in the truest of forms.

I find this to be an exciting notion – to no longer worry about what anyone thinks of you. To just exist as you, a soul in this world. My friend fears it, and I feel sorry for him. You can never understand something if you aren’t willing to embrace it. I don’t know if he’ll ever be comfortable around me, he’ll always look at me and wonder what I’m thinking. He said he was concerned that I remembered how I felt when I lost my mind – that I remembered my thought process. That I could still rationalize my thinking. This disturbed him. I think he’ll always be worried about me slipping back into insanity. And I’ll always be worried about him – ignoring his soul and not embracing his inner child. There is a lot of soul searching and internal work that must be done to be a happy and complete person. Some of it involves digging deep into your soul and looking at yourself with fresh eyes. Being honest with yourself. Letting yourself feel and navigate the world. It can be a dark and scary place inside your mind, inside your soul. But, don’t’ be afraid – work with it, not against it. Try to understand yourself, don’t fear yourself – or your mind. There is no place to hide.

I’m a Volunteer

This has been an interesting week for me. I’ve had to face my mental health issues and deal with the darkness that took over me last spring. On Tuesday I took the day off from work because I had orientation for my new volunteer position. It’s at a transitional housing facility for mental health clients. I think of it as a half way house – people can come and go as they please, but they enjoy shared meals, they have chores and house responsibilities. Most of them have just come from jail or a psychiatric facility of some sort. When I was hospitalized, a lot of the other patients were going to this facility following their hospitalization. Some of the patients had been there before and loved it. At the time, I thought it was my house. I thought I ran the program and that I was helping all of these wonderful people. So, a few months ago I decided that if I felt so strongly in the mission that I believed it was my facility, it’d be a good place for me to spend some time. I had some hesitation and worry that it could trigger me. I was worried they might not accept me as a volunteer – less than a year ago I could have easily been on the other side things. Still, I decided to reach out and about a month ago I had an interview there and got the gig.

So, back to this past Tuesday – I had to go to orientation at the very same facility where I flipped out last year. It turns out that the half way house is part of the same program. It was weird being back at that building – I recognized the receptionist and prayed she didn’t recognize me. How could she forget. I ran through the lobby screaming and attacking my husband. They had to call an ambulance for me. I pushed around the cops, and apparently threatened to kill them. I barricaded myself in a room and banged my head on the glass window. I made quite the scene. Now, here I was checking in at the counter for orientation. Now I was on the other side. The orientation went fine, it was uneventful. It left me excited for my first shift at the mental health house.

Friday was my first shift. I don’t know how Fridays came into the picture, but since I don’t have much of a social life I decided it didn’t matter to me. So, every Friday from 7-9pm I’ll hang out at the mental health house. My job is really simple – basically I just hang out with the clients, there are about 15 of them. We can play games, do art projects or watch movies. This Friday we watched Oh Brother Where Art Thou. I don’t like that movie, but hey – it wasn’t my choice.

I was really nervous going into my shift – I didn’t know how I should act. I was worried the clients would pick up on my nervousness and not like me. I know how sensitive I was when I had an episode, and I didn’t want to say the wrong thing or come off as rude or cold. I wanted to be kind, warm and welcoming. Of course, being non-judgmental was also one of my goals, and one of the requests of the staff. I only spoke with a few of the clients while I was there, but overall they were very nice. They all seemed pretty heavily sedated and on drugs. In fact, at the beginning of the night the staff read a story out loud about a bipolar woman’s struggle finding the right medication. It was designed to make the patients want to be medication compliant, to keep working with their doctor to find the right meds at the right dose. It was a little difficult for me to listen to because I really don’t believe in medication and am working towards being med free myself. Right now I’m on a low dosage of Lithium and a very low dosage of Zyprexa – an anti-psychotic that makes me sleepy. I’m weening myself off of that one and hopefully next month I’ll be done with it completely.

Anyways, the few clients I spoke with were nice and conversational. However, there was one client who was very fixated on me. He thought I was Satan. I found this to be a very interesting situation, as I do identify as darkworker, and in fact when I was sick, I believed I was Hitler reincarnated. Darkness was part of my story. He spent the whole night talking to me about how I needed to accept God’s love (he thought he was God) and that I was very powerful. He was clearly delusional, talking about all of the war’s he had fought in and the lives he had taken. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by his story. I probably should have corrected him more, but I kind of played along and just listened. I didn’t think there was much I could do to convince him I wasn’t Satan. I tried at first, and he didn’t believe me.

At the end of the shift the volunteer coordinator asked if there were any triggers for me and I said no. But, later in the night I thought – um, yeah. To have this man think that I was Satan got me thinking about my own delusions and feelings of guilt for past karma. Like there is some sort of darkness in me. It’s funny because I am not a mean or angry person. I think I’m kinder than most and wish to do no harm. What I really think is that we’re all a little dark, I’m just more comfortable with that notion than most people. I know I’m capable of doing horrendous things – we all are. Still, I can’t help but wonder what it was about me that made him think I was Satan. I think he’ll probably be around this Friday too – he didn’t seem ready for discharge. This time I’ll work on correcting him – I am not Satan. I’m just a volunteer.

Something More

I can’t simply dismiss what happened to me last year as an illness. Some sort of chemical imbalance. Insanity. Nothing more. Don’t look into it. You were crazy. I don’t believe it.

Something beautiful happened to me. I felt an incredible, overwhelming sense of love. Love for all. A sense of purpose and true bliss. Life was perfect. In that moment. I accepted each moment as it came, with no attachment or expectation. I understood what it was to be a spiritual being. Filled with light and love. Pure of intention and beaming. Strangers on the street approached me, they were drawn to my light. I radiated joy and love.

Of course, it got twisted along the way and I became overwhelmed with grief and anguish. All of the darkness I felt responsible for. Hate and destruction I had unleashed in my past lives. I felt as though I was a vessel, channeling all of the emotions of the world, past and present. I would cry to the point of drooling. Feeling the collective energy and sadness of all the earth’s creatures. It paralyzed me. I dropped to me knees and wailed.

I don’t consider that experience to be bad, it was true. It was real. There is a lot of sadness in this world. I became the ultimate empath, feeling the energies of everything around me. I think it was a blessing. A beautiful, sick blessing. I would never wish it away. Whatever hurt I felt, it was worth it to experience all of the light and love I felt. I hope I feel it again one day. 

Don’t hide

Surrounded by sadness and despair

Why do I have to care?

My heart is wide and open

I want to comfort in the moment

Too many people are sad

They are good people, not at all bad

Why have they been told they’re defective?

They are beautiful, it doesn’t take a detective

I want to scream and yell at those who label

When clearly we are human beings, more than able

The words are on repeat inside our heads

They beat us up, make some wish they were dead

It isn’t fair, do these people even care?

How can you call yourself a doctor

When what you’re doing isn’t proper

We need new answers to our ills

No more taking pills against our will

They’ll convince you it’s what you need

That’s how they plant the seed

But be weary of those who claim to want to help

They’ll take away your soul without a yelp

You must stand strong and look within

Forgot silly notions such as sin

Listen to your heart, it’s been there from the start

Turn inward and let your soul be your guide

That’s the only way to enjoy the ride

Don’t hide