Jan 29, 2017: A Heartfelt Prayer

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Dear God,

It’s been a long time since I’ve spoken to you from the heart, let alone written from the heart.

This journey is a lonely one and I’m in the middle of a piercing darkness. The light of your son is there in Christ Jesus, and it keeps me going, but it does not satisfy my here.

Thank you for showing me the Beyond, the Heavens, and Hades through my psychotic breaks. Without these visions, I would be more empty, fragmented, and lost.

Continue to show me the way you intend for me, and continue to give me the strength to push forward.

I know I will end up falling astray and will inevitably miss the mark of truth. God, I pray you show me truth and the way to shalom, for myself and those around me.

Keep me humble and malleable. Don’t let me lose perspective. I pray that all areas of knowledge, such as the scientific, philosophical, religious, and the spiritual may one day be united. I pray I may be an instrument in this process.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

-theothersid3

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The Elusive Voice of God

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Looking back, I now realize that God has been silent in my mind for a very long time… years, in fact. I have heard God’s voice before in spirit, and I know my Lord’s voice. However, it is apparent I don’t know them well. I’ve been deceived by a number of different spiritual presences since, and I suspect the most pervasive one is my own inner voice.

In June 2016, when I drove myself to the mental health facility to be admitted as an inpatient, I was following something destructive. I ended up writing a few hundred pages in my journal while I stayed there, which I am still not ready to review as of today. That spiritual voice led me down some very strange rabbit holes. This included taking on the identity of the Angel of Death, drinking from cups signifying various things including the tears of the saints, and encouraged the notion of soul mates.

However, in the process of all this madness, I had a profound moment of deja-vu. I cannot tell whether I was sleeping or awake, but I remembered with utmost clarity a religious experience I had in 2003 after I blacked out then. A few months later, this recollection precipitated a chain reaction in my psyche. Under the guidance of my therapist, I revisited many angles of these experiences in my journal and have begun the process of unraveling the twisted rifts in my mind.

Why, I ask myself, is God silent now of all times? I can only speculate. I trust God will make it clear when He speaks to me again and reveal himself when I am ready. He must have a lot of confidence in me to be silent while I sort out a magnitude of burdens with the help of my friends, family, and therapist. While these are burdens, they are also some of my richest blessings and provide me with much wisdom and understanding.

Whether you are spiritual or not, what are some tools you have for sorting out your mind?

-theothersid3

photo credit: Omar.Bariffi The pearl via photopin (license)

About my Hiatus

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I’ve been absent for seven months because I needed to be hospitalized for a manic episode in June 2016. I needed to distance myself from writing online as a result of this.

However, I’m in a good spot again and plan to start posting again, including more personal content. My hope is that someone may benefit in one way or another from these upcoming posts.

Peace,
-theothersid3

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Change

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So many things have been going on in my life… and much that I just cannot talk about anywhere but in my journals. God is making things happen around my friends and I. I don’t know where this is going, but I’m managing to stay sane throughout all these things.

If this were to happen to me a few years ago, I’d probably be in the hospital by now. I’m now strong enough that I can not only just stay sane but incredible things are happening in the process. I can be there for important people in my life and they are there for me.

Sometimes, I wonder if I’m in a psychotic episode.

Only this is not psychotic… this is God working in real life. Through extraordinary circumstances, 2 of my closest friends met from thousands of miles away for 5 days and fell in love and now he’s moving here with me to find a place in my hometown!

I cannot talk about my side, yet. Not yet.

-theothersid3

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My Personal Battle Wounds

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In high school, I was really good looking and I could have almost any girl I wanted. However, I trusted God with everything back then. Then, my first psychotic episode happened along with a Bipolar I/schizoaffective disorder diagnosis. I started taking meds. I assure you, the trauma, the stress, and the meds all together caused me to gain a lot of weight. As a result, I’m fat now.

I don’t call them battle scars, but wounds that can heal. It’s been top 5 in my worst struggles in life I’ve ever had, that is, being fat. I remember how good it felt to feel good about my body and have all the energy and health and ability to do the things I want to do. Now that I’ve managed the trauma, the stress, and the meds, I sense a reckoning at hand soon!!! ūüôā

-theothersid3

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Mild Mixed State?

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I’m encountering something new lately in my bipolar world. For about¬†a couple months¬†or so, I’ve felt a little bit off… and it’s been getting worse the past few weeks.

My thinking is sharper but still slows down so I don’t feel elated. I get frustrated at nothing and ponder why I’m frustrated, hence getting more frustrated for no reason. I find I need to spend more patience than I need to. I don’t feel sad, blue, particularly happy, or even normal. I just feel the way I do, and I’m confused, and I didn’t like it. However, it’s very subtle and doesn’t always feel like the funk is there.

I took the Goldberg Depression test and scored a 14, and took the Goldberg Mania test and scored an 8. I fell in the “minor depression possible” category on the depression quiz and on the upper end of “no mania likely” category on the mania quiz.

These aren’t a replacement for therapy but they can be useful tools for dealing with moods and gauging how depressed or manic I am. Seeing this shows me yes, it’s very minor… but there’s possibly a slight depression going on and I’m also a little bit more up than usual on my test scores.

I’m not positive it’s a mild mixed state, but that’s my best guess at this point. I’ll be seeing my psychiatrist soon and this is a very minor thing at this point, so I’ll ask his opinion then.

-theothersid3

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Slippery Slope Into Darkness

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So, how does someone with severe bipolar appear to become psychotic out of the blue? Does one typically snap into a psychotic state or out of one?

The answer my therapist gave me is true to my experience: No. Psychosis is a long, slippery slope towards falling over the edge, and recovery is a long, gradual, up and down slope out of the pit for acute psychosis. The trick I found is to learn how to catch it earlier and earlier to the point where I can maintain and not have to worry about it happening anymore. A significant part of staying away from psychosis as someone with schizoaffective/bipolar I disorder is staying on my medication, no matter how unpleasant the side effects can be. I’ve had two psychotic breaks: first was when I was diagnosed twelve years ago and the second one five years later when I stopped my medications.

What are some general things that go through my head when I’m psychotic?

Fortunately, I do¬†not experience anger or aggression for the most part towards anyone. The only way I can briefly describe it is that I feel like everything I can¬†possibly conceive of is¬†going through my head at the same time. It feels¬†like I’m transported to a different reality, which is a wondrous new place, or hell depending on what episode I’m talking about. With all this information overload, little details begin to form more delusions: religion, personal, ideas, world events, and reality itself all become torn open and full of mysterious riddles.

While all this is going on in my head, what do other people see?

I remember leaving my physical body and conversing with other people around the ward, conversing with patients and staff, and visualizing unimaginable things. However, my hospital records document¬†me sitting in my room those days scribbling away on papers about a girl I was obsessed with years ago at the time. I remember having glimpses of writing about her¬†in what seems like my subconscious. True reality was a dream to me and I was living in a dream (the kind I have when I’m typically sleeping). I likened myself to the living dead at the time, awake and asleep at the same time. My friend also visited me in the ward and he later told me that he could see it in my eyes that sometimes I left and came back right in front of him. When I came back, he pleasantly said to me, “Welcome back!” Then we’d converse for a few more seconds before I returned to my psychosis trip. The same would happen with staff as well – I faded¬†in and out and the staff were very excited to see me back when I came back, before fading again seconds or minutes later.

Another interesting note: as I fade in and out of reality, so to speak, what happens when I call someone on a cell phone? Well, I did… I called my friend, and I heard his voice loud and clear, then felt myself go to the other reality and all I heard was static coming through on my phone – with a full signal. I’d come back and hear his voice again, then fade away again. I wrote a post about this earlier.

I remember trying to tell myself and hearing other people tell me that all those experiences are in my head, and they may be. However, whether real or not, they are what they are. I’m not concluding that I merely sat¬†in a room as¬†an empty shell of a body working out my obsession with a girl in the hospital is the whole story of what happened there. There are many more precious experiences to be told.

Some day, I hope I can do justice to describing what it is like to go through a firsthand psychotic break. It’s like getting lost in a fractal without any reference points, then coming back out again and seeing everything so differently.

-theothersid3

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Psychosis Needs to Steep.

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If I could do everything over again, I wish I had set aside my mission of interpreting my psychotic experiences aside for later to work on after I had recovered more. Think of it as allowing the fresh, immature flavors of the experience to steep for a while and come back in a truer form that turns into something remotely consumable.

A psychotic experience is inherently an experience so great that I can’t wrap my mind around it. As every month passes, I understand more of it, and every few years, my interpretation of it may completely shift in certain aspects of it. Not only can I not wrap my mind around it, I have no frame of reference within my experiences in real life to contain it or frame it or allow my mind to interpret it.

The stories of my psychotic experiences have taken years to unravel as much as they have and allowed me to start understanding them. I liken these stories to a fractal. I can zoom in on any part or aspect of it and it has a seemingly infinite number of interpretations and implications, no matter where I look, and I find myself getting lost in the beginning.

If I need to revisit my experiences before I’m ready to, I do it in two ways.

The first is to talk about it with people I trust, to vent and to describe to them what happened. This helps me expose some air to all those experiences I had.

The second way is to deal with them more in my journals. If I have problems obsessing about them, I write down the content in my journals, and develop a mental plan of action as to how I can ignore these thought patterns in the future and explain to myself why I need to do so. I need to focus on what is important, recovery, and deciphering fractals of psychotic experiences right after they happened is not the road to recovery. It only leads to more grief.

That being said, after I get to a point where I can handle doing so without triggering my bipolar symptoms, I find it helpful to write down snippets or stories in great detail of what happened during my episodes. This serves two purposes: 1. It helps provide a fresh look later on when I reflect on my journals and look to see and remember what actually happened during my breaks in the forefront of my mind. 2. It helps me process the experiences at face value and understand what content there is in my psychotic breaks to allow me to recognize thought patterns I need to avoid.

In both of my psychotic breaks, God did not abandon me. He was there on every level each step of the way. Sometimes I was aware at the time, sometimes I wasn’t. In any case, God gave me a lot to handle but never anything more than I could. The same is true today. Always.

-theothersid3

photo credit: Borderline Biennale 2011 – L’Histoire de l’Oeil, Fran√ßois Moncarey & Kevin Ramseier (CENC) acting performance IMG_4165 via photopin (license)

God Speaks to Me Pathologically

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Everything can be interpreted in my mind as spiritual, if I wish to do so. It could be God’s will that this timer went off on my phone right at this moment for a reason, possibly to call a girl I’m interested in, or a reminder from God that I’m loved by him. Perhaps the very numbers in the hour, minutes¬†and seconds in accordance with the date mean God’s trying to tell me to do something extraordinary¬†out of the blue.

Also, my disorder tries to tell me things as well. It really zooms in on seemingly insignificant details and makes them my entire world for minutes, hours, days, weeks, even months, years, a decade Рif not in the forefront of my mind then lingering in the background, always. When I throw the idea of demons into the mix, things just seem to escalate, even to the point where I was afraid to look at myself in a mirror for fear of terrible things happening to me when I do so.

What is real? Where has my foundation gone if God is speaking to me in ways that are pathological? Why when I pray does my mood fluctuate and God become so close yet inaccessible? How long will things be like this? Forever?

First, I ask myself… what is important? What is not important?

What IS important? The answer to this, I know, is different for everyone, but some things are universally the same. For instance, getting better is important. Surrounding myself¬†with people whom I love and trust is important. Finding out how to get better is important. Relearning how to become a happy, functional person is important. How does one get there? That is the journey. Embrace it, try not to dread it all the time. In the process of getting better, I have polished most of my life’s most precious gems and gone through the harshest of life experiences.

What IS important? Learn more about bipolar I disorder and schizoaffective disorder. Learn everything I¬†can about it from the clinical side and personal experiences I¬†can gather from people who’ve gone through it in books and conversations. This allows me to take ownership of my disorder and make it a smaller piece of who I am. When fighting mental illness, knowledge can have much power.

What is NOT¬†so important? The number one unimportant thing for me is proving to myself whether something of questionable origin or reality is real or not. It may seem important to know whether what happened was real or not. However, trying to prove or disprove what happened is moot. What happened happened. For example, I will go crazy if I try to prove or disprove the reality of that experience of the boy teaching me real magic in the insane asylum. If it’s not real, then I’m crazy for thinking it in the first place… if I focus on it being reality, I will be sucked into the world of seeking real magic and end up back in the hospital. Trying to prove spiritual or psychotic experiences are real or not real is a lose-lose situation. Instead, I see them as being there as valid experiences I had and set them aside.

What is NOT so important? God speaking to me literally in my thoughts, ears, events, or random associations. The real truth is expressed and lived out, not a revelation straight from God. Does God communicate through the Spirit like that on occasion? Most certainly, but not all the time, to the point where I feel the need to witness to every weary soul on the face of the planet or have a detailed itinerary planned out for every moment that changes in a second’s notice.

So, what do I focus on? I focus on what IS important. I set aside what I cannot handle to deal with later. I figure things out by writing it out in my journal, so I can lay it out in front of myself. I apply what I learn to my mind. When I get a handle on it, I can start living it out in the world.

My apologies for taking so long to write. I hope to write again soon.

-theothersid3

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Today

 

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I remember twelve years ago, the men and women in white coats said to me that many people who are diagnosed with bipolar will live a normal life with medication and lifestyle changes. I chose to believe this idea, no matter how hard things got.

Today, I’ve conquered the medication journey, fixed my sleeping habits, lost a lot of weight, hold a full time job, made many new friends, figured out what my bipolar is, who I am, and put everything together to make me who I want to be. I feel like a normal person, which I thought impossible many years ago.

How did I, with such a bad case to deal with, get to where I’m at?

  • A very high dose of patience
  • Do not isolate; open up to people I¬†can trust
  • Embark on the medication journey. No one¬†stands a chance without medications.
  • Find a good therapist AND psychiatrist who meet me where I’m at and listen to me
  • Taking care of myself¬†– sleep well, eat well, exercise, take medications, and connect with other people
  • Journaling/coloring to express and process my¬†feelings on paper
  • Music of all kinds – dark, bright, happy, sad, everything in between
  • Faith – in myself, in God, and other people¬†in my life
  • Don’t beat myself up over mistakes I make… learn as much as I can and move forward
  • Remember, the recovery process is often one step forward and two steps back at first
  • Finding my own ways to cope healthily when the going is rough
  • Remember that it¬†gets worse before it¬†gets better – as time goes on, your efforts begin to blossom and things begin to fall into place

I now consider my experiences related to bipolar to be the best things that have ever happened to me. It refined my heart and my mind as gold ore in a forge in the end. I see the world from a different, deeper vantage point than most and I have taken ownership over my experiences. My hope is that I can share my stories with others who would like to hear them.

If you are like me and have been able to finally start moving forward again, my praises be to you! I would love to hear your story and how you got here.

If you are recovering from something awful that has happened, keep your head up and know there is always a light up ahead.

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