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.

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