Mania, Mental Health, Well-being

I am Still Afraid.

So!  The new About page is up.

Even though most of you know who I am, this blog still doesn’t have my name on it. There are a few reasons for this: I want to share this site with my family first, since they have an interest in my health and well-being.

Secondly, I haven’t gone back through all the posts I wrote while I was really-highly-very-manic.  I won’t put my name next to something I can’t stand by, and the odds of me standing by something I wrote when I was unstable are very very slim. Usually the message is there, but the sentences come out disjointed and too-serious.  There’s a sweet spot in consciousness that leads to creation, and mania lies well beyond it.

As soon as I’ve some rereading, clarifying, and editing, I’ll be like “Here I am; these are my new thinkies since I lost my mind.” Except my thinkies are not new.  Everything I’ve come to know has been articulated in various spiritual disciplines over the course of millennia, and/or expressed in cultures that were crushed during colonization.  At least some of this is related to the study of consciousness and yogic sciences once refined in ancient India.

To be honest, I haven’t taken a yoga class since I was a teenager, and for a long time I was disdainful towards the word itself.  Just like with the term “spirituality,” it annoyed me how yoga was co-opted and capitalized on: “But we’ll be so in peace as we march towards extinction and exploit all life on Earth…”

But I’m learning that yoga is something much more complex than seems to be treated in the West (all Lululemon-and-privilege, as I saw it): The yogic process can be much more mentally arduous than it is physical. Yoga psychology posits that one can be guided through vast amounts of unconscious material to ultimately emerge as a transformed individual. This person operates from a new level of consciousness; they fundamentally exist in a way that is very different from before.

I don’t claim to be so advanced in this regard. I’ve experienced heights and expansions in ways that defy words, but the exploration is not fully in my control yet.  I meditate for 15 minutes every morning (and sometimes in the evening) and do with my body what feels right with regards to stretching. This seems to be working out pretty well so far, not that I’m opposed to challenges.

In addition to the yogic sciences, there are also words of wisdom from various faiths that speak to me—things that are just perfectly clear on every level. It’s become painfully obvious how the thread of Truth weaves through all religions, and I’ve only recently moved through the frustration that comes with watching the Truth be so misunderstood that humans create war and closure and everything-else-that-is-bad-in-this-world.

Humans are slow to learn, and for this, we suffer.

In my post Awakening Chooses You, I wrote that none of what I know could be verified scientifically. As long as we look for truth in the outside world and limit the process of “science” in such a way, this will be true.  But I’ve come to learn something new: There are definitely ways to study consciousness; they simply involve direct experience. At present, scientists are searching outward to try and determine reality, which is weird, because I thought we understood some time ago that reality is dependent upon its observer.  If this is true (and it is), it makes a whole lot more sense to study the observer that reality depends on.

I’m not talking about anthropology or even psychology, as fascinating as these fields of study can be. Those are still ways of looking at humans from the outside, albeit in a deeper context. I’m talking about studying ourselves beyond the mind.

Consider that your whole experience of life necessarily comes through you; that there is no way to perceive this thing except through yourself. If we want to know how it’s all working, the answer, then, becomes very simple: Study your consciousness. It is incredible what you can know when your mind is no longer running the show, racing to intellectualize everything.

As far as I can tell, few people can even fully grasp the notion that things can be known through a vehicle other than the mind. We’ve come to treat this awesome tool as the only tool for getting things done, and that’s harmful. Our reliance on the thinking mind has become so total that for many people, it must be consulted on what to eat, when/how much to sleep, what to say, and what to do with our bodies. Quite a bit of scientific research has been conducted in order to tell us that we’re supposed to eat real food, guys.  It’s nuts. These are things that—for a balanced individual—require no thought at all.

The very-busy mind is revered in the West, even though our very-busy minds drive us insane. The belief that thought is our highest tool is so ingrained that we even romanticize being miserable due to thought. A lot of people hold the idea that they’re just too smart to be happy (I thought this myself for awhile), and this notion is carried with a dark, smug kind of pride: “I’d rather see life as it is than be ignorant and happy,” they think. Except that they’re not seeing life as it is: They’re seeing it through a haze of preconceptions, conditioned beliefs, and old pain.  

Joy and smartness have nothing to do with one another. Until we gain at least a little control over our minds and learn how to be pleasant within ourselves, human intelligence indeed goes to waste.

Anyway, consciousness can be studied by way of becoming conscious. Generally, it takes time. It is subtle. (When it doesn’t take time and it isn’t subtle, you’re probably going to end up in the hospital.)  But ultimately the same ends are achieved as with normal science: People who have studied their consciousnesses agree on aspects of it because they’ve had similar experiences.

If you’ve never had a deep experience of oneness, an ego death, a sense of universal energy pulsing through you, or the deep knowing that you really are a god and a prophet, of course you will deny the reality of such experiences.  And if you’ve been conditioned in the Western way, you’re likely to chalk the whole thing up to someone’s brains going haywire with certain neurotransmitters.  This explanation achieves very little, and simply allows the neurotypical majority to carry on without looking too deep.  Everyone’s minds are constantly playing tricks in order to maintain a stable reality.

Yes, all this is kinda mystical. But in the end, the mystical is practical and this whole thing—consciousness—is what saves us from ourselves individually and collectively. Period.

The time is ripe for ancient knowledge to reflourish, and it is, as evidenced by the resurgence of interest in nonreligious spirituality in the West.  In keeping with my honesty streak, a lot of that stuff still feels pretty ego-based to me.  It’s extremely unfortunate that people try to leverage the Universe to push an agenda, or for personal (and generally material) gain—I’m looking at you, The Secret.

The thing is, all that Law of Attraction stuff can actually work, but without transforming one’s way of being, no amount of gain will bring lasting joy. Furthermore, material wealth has no real value, even when paired with a bunch of universe-manifestation rhetoric.  Learning how to manifest is little more than the simple act of pointing your thoughts in one direction rather than allowing them to flit about chaotically.  This is just a blip on the journey into higher consciousness, generally before one accepts that in reality, there is no personal self to inflate with accomplishments and objects.

Whew.  Looks like I have some feelings charged up in all that, so I’ll need to come back to it.

I started writing this post to highlight something very obvious about not putting my name on the site yet: I am still totally afraid of putting myself out there.  I admit this freely; I know how common it is to be afraid of baring ourselves.  And isn’t that the weirdest thing?  I’m aware that we all harbor similar fears about being loved through our worst stuff and weirdest ideas, that there’s no absolutely difference between my fears and your fears.

And yet still I stall.  Still I wait for the “right time,” knowing full well that this imagined “right time” rarely, if ever, exists.  This is in part because time itself is just a product of our minds, but now I’m getting off track.

Barring any unforeseen returns to extreme insecurity, the “right time” will probably be next week.

Mania, Medication, Mental Health

You are the Upward Mind

Dear Readers,

You might’ve noticed that my site address and blog title have changed! The layout/look may also be changing in the next few days as I figure out which theme feels right.

In keeping with my growth and deepening awareness, Sanity Now has become The Upward Mind. I’m also working on a new About page, where I’ll soon share my personal story and, when I’m ready, my name. After going rather publicly insane in 2015, I’ve had a lot of fear around showing myself and my truths.  It’s about time to let that go.

When I started writing this blog (formerly titled “Sanity Now”), I was manic—like, bordering-on-psychosis manic. The title and the first posts are indicative of the urgency of my mental state. This in itself is a lesson: Our mindsets and attitudes have a serious effect on what we create, and I’m not just talking about our writing/art projects.  Our collective belief in a holistically healthier world is a requirement for it to become true.  When we continually carry ourselves in anger, apathy, and pessimism, we shrink the possibilities for what the world can look like.  Our way of being in the world literally determines what we see.

Back to my most recent manic episode: This time around, I didn’t end up in the hospital.  This is progress. Even better, as I sat with the awful physical sensations that go along with the external “manic magic” I’m sure some of you can relate to, I knew I was healing from personal pain and collective pain, since the two are actually inseparable.

My understanding is that psychosis—particularly that associated with bipolar mania—is meant to be a healing process. More so, full-blown mania is often the result of an accelerated rise in consciousness while one is still identified with the mind, and/or unaware of the evolution of consciousness. I’ll be exploring these ideas at length in the future, and I’m super excited about it.

Although I knew these things to be true, my mind still went really far down the rabbit hole. One night, while sitting up in bed, I entered a trance. Some intense stuff happened while in the trance—ultimately I made the conscious choice to remain in my body rather than go into the white—and then I pulled back to watch Parks & Rec bloopers to stay grounded in this world.

The next day I had enough insight to go my (awesome) doctor, who listened to me and felt my electricity and wrote me a few prescriptions. I begrudgingly took the pills after being unmedicated since my release from the hospital in December 2015. I guess I shouldn’t say “unmedicated,” because I was drinking periodically throughout this time, and alcohol is definitely a drug. Prior to the onset, I’d been sober for almost 3 months—much longer than I’d been sober in about 10 years. If there’s anything I know for sure, it’s that being sober for a few months will reliably result in mania for me.

I could’ve rode out the episode without medication, and I would’ve preferred it. However, that choice might’ve cost me my job in the process, and that’s not an option for me right now. Even though I caught my symptoms and got on meds ASAP, I had to take some time off of work so as to not yell at anybody and/or dispense unsolicited spiritual wisdom. I am blessed for my current employers, who haven’t fired me after two major manic episodes, though I will say that the second one went much, much more under the radar than the first.

Taking time off to “rest” means something entirely different when you’re manic than when you have, say, the flu. I knew if I left the house everything would get weird (because it really, really does), and the only time I did leave was to spontaneously join a march protesting the immigration ban. That choice felt obvious.

In order to stay half-sane, I watched a whole lot of Parks & Rec, or rather, I put it on as background noise while I drew clustered spirals and made cards for everyone I knew I’d be seeing within the next two months. The episodes started playing in reverse and the order of events within them didn’t make any sense whatsoever. And then there was the time that the television actually sent me a message. So yeah. That’s where I was.

Baths were good—sometimes three in one day—and Calming tea was good and fresh juice was good.  Taoist wisdom was almost too real. Zen aphorisms were too real.  When your consciousness is in a nondualistic space but you’re still out of balance, it feels like the energy of certain spiritual ideas will pull you right out of your body and into the ether of the cosmos.  I didn’t want to go; I wasn’t prepared. I knew I’d come back having forgotten everything, and I’d already come so far in the game.

I ate as much nutritious food as my snarling stomach could handle and didn’t force myself to sleep, trusting that it would come when it was time. Yes, I did sleep every night, even if just for a few hours, and even though manic sleep tends to be oddly still-conscious. I spent one unfortunate night on Trazodone, and awoke from a dream I was sure was real: It was the sound of someone jiggling my doorknob who was trying to get in to rape me. No more Trazodone for me.

It was during this time that I quietly launched Sanity Now, taking care not to put much time in it, and telling exactly no one.

In my first episode, I was beyond disorganized, Internetting everywhere all the time, expending energy as quickly as it came in. My deluded confidence and impatience were at an all-time high; everyone else felt extremely slow and dull and needy—oh god, the needs. I don’t feel great about saying all that, but that’s how mania goes. This time, I took care not to get lost in an Internet hole or try to express too much about the Universe. There were some tearful nights where I felt certain I would vanish from existence if no one “understood” me, and watching my behavior so as to not do anything crazy was very challenging.

It took about a week and a half for me to stabilize on lamotrigine, and today I’m on 100 mg a night and nothing else. Technically this is a sub-therapeutic dose, but it’s working for me, and my (awesome) doctor wants whatever works for me. Let me be perfectly clear: I do not want to be on medication, and as soon as the time is right, I will stop taking it.  At such a point, I will get manic; I will let my subconscious swallow me up; I will burn away every last shred of my unconscious ego and all my old pain. Until then, I will keep writing this thing and all the other things I need to write.

Whereas Sanity Now was a reflection of my personal urgency while manic, The Upward Mind is meant as a reflection of worldwide consciousness.  I’m talking about the collective mind that each of us has the power to shape: This is the mind that is the machine, and you have an active role in it.  The spiral and its unending nature are symbolic in many spiritual traditions.  To me, the thought of an upward spiral is representative of our ever-expanding personal and global awareness (again, they are one and the same). Raising the total level of consciousness is how we transcend our own suffering, and how we extinguish suffering for everyone else.

Just as unstable, diseased foundations came about one mind at a time, a new world is also necessarily created one mind at a time.  I’m not saying everyone needs to have a catastrophic breakdown like I did—what I am saying is that catastrophic breakdowns are to be expected in sick cultures, and covering them over with the idea that the illness lies within the individual is narrow-minded and simplistic and false.

Almost everyone is anxious, depressed, or at least a little resentful about how things are going in their own lives and in the world.  Millions of Americans are medicated for depression.  This is ridiculous.  If we are going to call these people “sick,” let’s put it in the proper context: They are having perfectly normal responses to living within an ill society, and this problem will continue to worsen until we all wake up.  Furthermore, the relationship between neurotransmitters and mood gets us nowhere closer to the root of mental illness than saying that cancer is caused by abnormal cell growth. It’s like, okay sure, but why?  There’s a whole lot more to the story of humanity than that.

I look forward to further developing this site and being more open about my experiences with mental health and how they relate to the evolution of consciousness.  With so many suffering people in the United States alone, I know there are people who can relate to all this, who feel like something is missing from almost every discussion on this issue.

There will be much more soon.