I write here anonymously, and perhaps imperfectly, not for you, but for me. The challenge and task, is the following: is it possible to articulate to myself the simultaneous whirlwind and dullness of the journey I am taking?
I have only a few followers at this point, and I think it’s time I grow more intimate with these pages, so you are welcome to come along for the ride. Those who have read my writing before may have noticed someone in deep spiritual discipline, finding a few answers, asking plenty of questions. Then, the writing stopped, and the journey took a pause.
So here is where we grow close, my page and I. Here is where I state and own the fact that I have bipolar disorder, severe bipolar disorder, and in the year of a mystical journey, the lines between reality (whatever that is) and borderline psychosis became blurred.
Toward April and May I began experiencing excruciating pain in my body. I attributed this to “Ascension symptoms,” to my soul and spirit growing faster than the cells of my body could keep up with. I even postulated that a new soul was entering my body, a concept I read about which is rooted in the Native American belief that the body can contain multiple souls over a lifetime, sometimes simultaneously braiding into one another. For lack of better description, it felt like my insides were cringing, my chest compressing and being clawed at, my stomach organs stabbed sharply. All the while, due to a kundalini awakening (which I am firmly sure I had, though I can’t necessarily connect with it at present), my exterior buzzed – my skin felt prickly and activated, especially the crown of my head and, around the time I received a reiki attunement, my hands. How my hands burned, as if holes were boring through them! And I became unbearably sensitive to metals; they singed my skin, seemingly electrified by my field.
These were all very real and visceral experiences to me. I was invigorated, exploring a new realm, discovering mysteries.
I became outrageously sensitive and at times I knew what others were thinking, though I was never aware of it until after the fact. I knew somewhat asenine particles of information, and once in a while knew what emotions were being directed toward me. I knew when others were thinking of me.
I asked the universe for manifestations, and I received them. From money, to signs, to relationships – indeed, I even brought into my life a man who had the very qualities I requested (and mind you, they were detailed, from ethnicity to childhood experiences to languages spoken to profession). I wrestled at times trying to understand if I was in control of everything, or if perhaps my higher self was leading me to know of that which lay ahead before it presented itself.
As I write this, little details and memories return of further moments that just seemed too removed from normalcy to not arise from the ethers. One day on my trek to work I found a trail of pennies leading to the train station – dozens and dozens of bright, shiny, new pennies. I thought of old friends and they crossed my path.
I absorbed the physical ailments of others. Spending one weekend with my arthritic mother, I returned home to find my fingers crippled in pain. And toward the tipping point of the whole ordeal, I somehow psychically contracted a sty on my eyelid, mirroring that of my supervisor at work.
At that point, I became cognitively… off. My sleep became disrupted. An incident at work left me sobbing in front of a courtroom. I was extracted from my position and encouraged to seek help.
Admittedly, these symptoms had begun presenting themselves a few months after I stopped taking my medications for bipolar disorder: 2 mg of abilify and 300 mg of lamictal. I attribute my kundalini awakening to being off these meds, and to my nervous system being unleashed from years of various levels of suppression. And by March, mind you, I was seeking help. I was seeing a therapist, a psychoanalyst; unfortunately for me this modality added to my anxiety and brought up terrible memories of my childhood, of past relationships, of abuse and conflict, and so on. I also attempted to begin seeing a psychiatrist again, when the physical pain had grown unbearable, but every time I walked into his office he attacked me with exasperation, insisting I should know better as a mental health professional what his role was; that crying is a cover for anger and it was not permitted in his presence; that I should quantify my experiences of physical abuse. (“How many times did so-and-so hit you? How many times a week? Count it.)
He received a wrathful Yelp review.
It wasn’t sustainable and I started getting totally wacky by June. I would go to work and tremble and be completely unable to retain information. I spent my nights compulsively writing and scribbling away song lyrics and letters to my ex boyfriend. He had been a Freemason, initiated during our relationship, and his group had overtly observed me out and about and fed him information about me – which is creepy, very creepy, and very violating. I became obsessed with it, though, obsessed with the idea I was being watched.
By July I had, in a jumbled mess of communication, established that I was leaving my job for good after a brief medical leave. I was attempting to see yet another psychiatrist who threw any medication possible into my hands: ambien, samples of antidepressants. The ambien hangovers left me with major memory lapses in the morning during which I would write emails to people from my past that I would only know about months after the fact when I looked through my sent mailbox. Another psychiatrist reserved a bed for me at Columbia but I refused, in tears, because all the poor mentally ill homeless people of the world needed that bed, and I had a bed to sleep in – how could I suffer the injustice?
I wrote passionate poems and spoken word pieces about Palestine, my father’s place of birth, and performed at a film viewing, only to later completely freak out the crew over drinks.
I composed the first scene of a musical about how deeply embedded I was in the black lives matter movement, as a descendent of occupied territories, so much so that I should have claimed affirmative action benefits in college (admittedly that one was rather clever, albeit outlandish).
I rambled on and on to my brother on the phone about God. He stopped talking to me. I yelled incessantly at my father. He blocked my calls.
I spent one weekend at a friends house in Long Island trembling in pain, crippled over in tears, eerily removed from everything. It was as if a shadow had been pulled over half my eyelids and I was peering out from behind it with an obscured view. I would stay awake until 4 in the morning smoking cigarettes, furiously writing and reciting angry poems at past lovers, staring at the helicopters in the sky wondering if they were watching me.
I saw flashes of light. I was once reciting one of my poems to one of the psychiatrists I saw, when out of the corner of my eye appeared black sparks, a big explosion. I think these were ocular migraines.
I would sit at bars and tell people I was a writer in the vein of David Foster Wallace, that I wrote streams of consciousness akin to his, and I had never even read his books. I would get inebriated and argue about politics. I took home an Irish tourist one night and was pretty sure we would marry.
One night in September I met up with an old acquaintance and spent all night rapidly talking his ear off, finally taking him home, and sleeping with him. I had literally not shaved my legs in a month. When he left the next morning I felt vacant and vulnerable in my own skin.
I had planned to brunch with a friend that day but I knew it had gone too far, so I called him, and he met me, and squeezing my hand brought me to the emergency room. He stayed with me while I was under observation and helped me take the plunge to voluntarily admit myself.
I didn’t necessarily find the stay therapeutic. I refused medication for many days and really, that’s all an inpatient unit is for: to stabilize the patient on medication and send them on their way. Initially my condition worsened. I couldn’t stop talking, was angry and loud, imposing myself on the treatment of others. I met interesting people and yelled at my parents on the phone and wrote a play, aspired to run for president (a recurring theme when I get symptomatic), and so forth. It’s not really interesting for me to reinsert myself into a period of time that was, in the end, solely about acceptance. I have a disease, and that’s okay. My mentor, a psychiatrist himself, told me, “I really think that bipolar disorder is your diabetes. It just needs to be dealt with.”
So I bit the bullet eventually and swallowed the pills. It took a long adjustment; I’m still adjusting. But my task now is to reconnect with the spirituality that shaped me in the past. To not think of myself as a separate being from that – and not buy into the thought that my experiences between spiritual Ascension and mental illness were mutually exclusive. I don’t believe that the physical and metaphysical events I underwent were psychosomatic, or figments of my imagination. The obsessions, the cognitive impairment, the “speediness” – yes, those aspects were illness. But the evolution that took place was not.
Reading prior posts on this blog, revisiting those trains of thought, was overwhelmingly comforting to me. Not only comforting, but awe-inspiring. Particularly the wisdom I expressed in terms of sitting with pain, detaching from thoughts, and, in the word of Matt Kahn, loving whatever arises, in true and utter presence. These were gems and they are completely applicable to my current state. There is more to accept now, to bear witness to and stay present with. It’s the only way through, though.
And in fact, a kundalini awakening leading to psychosis is nothing new. The blur between spiritual and psychosis is nothing new either. A question that arises is of course, where does the physicality of illness end, and where does the influence of sprite all evolution begin?
I wonder, and often doubt, that anyone else wanders around with as many existential questions as I do. If anyone wonders and questions God as often as I do. It is a constant conversation in my mind, because I connected with something in the past, that I vehemently believe was an objective experience which brought the manifestation of my requests my way. But who, or what, was the grand design in that? Are we each powerhouses of creation, gods in and of ourselves? Is there higher self guiding our desires, or is it in us? Is there a difference? What the heck was it, that circulated around me, and through me, that made the world so magical l?
So my writing will veer off from where I started in this little blogging journey as I trudge through these questions. I don’t know if I’m alone in this quest and I don’t know where it will lead. But I think it may take a turn toward the more intimate corners of my mind, and dare I say a more human search for meaning. A search for God when the science of the world has shaken me up. A way to iron out confusion.
To write it, is to acknowledge it, and honor it. That’s the first step.