Have Faith in Yourself

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One may expect nothing good coming from completely losing one’s mind to madness, and dealing with the aftermath. I often heard the cliches about how I would be a stronger person as a result and I would learn so much through these experiences. However, looking back, those words of encouragement only spoke of the beginning of what I gained resulting from embarking on the recovery process.

I did a little bit of reflecting in my journal this evening about what I have lost and gained over the past fourteen years, since I was diagnosed with bipolar I following a psychotic break.

Here’s a small list of profound losses I experienced within the past fourteen years:

  • My physical health and good looks
  • My religion, which was a foundation of my life
  • My spirituality
  • My sense of identity
  • My sharp intellect and ability to learn new things went into remission
  • At a couple points, I lost my mind completely
  • My ability to adequately care for myself and my environment

I still struggle hard with my physical health and my ability to adequately care for myself. However, in the past fourteen years, I’ve regained much about the other items on the list.

So, not only have I gained back most of the above list of losses, I’ve found the following:

  • I’ve broken free from the institution of religion
  • I’ve broken the generational cycle of madness
  • I understand family and friends better
  • I’ve learned who I am and what I need to explore about myself
  • I’ve embarked on the road to recovery from severe verbal abuse and isolation growing up
  • I’ve discovered some things never go away, such as my analytic mind
  • I’ve confirmed my passion for writing
  • I’ve found wisdom and a new way of seeing the world
  • I can explore a rich spiritual identity and experiences

During recovery, there are seasons and there are trends. It was pitch black for many years of my life. I had therapy nearly every week for 9 months after my first episode, often focusing on the reasons why I shouldn’t commit suicide. All seasons of recovery present their challenges. Over time, the light becomes brighter, and during the seasons, this light will fluctuate.

However, just know that the deeper my pain, the deeper my loss, the more constitutive my loss… the deeper character I gain, the more I find, and the more cohesive I become as a result of these experiences. I’ve reached a point where I have become someone that is beyond my wildest dreams or imaginations, compared to fourteen years ago.

I’m at a brightly blossoming point in my road to recovery. I still have a ways to go, but I’m making progress faster than I have ever before. The truth is… those cliche encouragements did help a little bit when I took them in good faith. The darker the valley, the harder it is to climb out and the longer it takes to climb out. I had faith in myself that I could get through when I was unable to call on God for help and no one could be there for me.

One thing is always true: have faith in yourself. No matter how bad it is, you can overcome.

-theothersid3

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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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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

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God Handed Me the Reigns

Horse Carriage

(another excerpt from my journal today)

The part I will end on is God. People who believe God exists ask him, “where are you?” I no longer ask this question because if God indeed is and exists, then God is always here. I do not rely on God for my strength. I rely on my own. I rely on the support of others. God is not a crutch. To me, God is more of a necessary idea for how the world must work. With no God, there is no beginning, end, or structure. Only absolute chaos, disorder, no existence.

So if God ultimately made me, and I’m not programmed to undoubtedly believe in God, then I have been given the reigns to live freely. The possibilities are not endless, for my paths intersect with the world and other sentient human beings. I can’t always do what I want, but I can head in that direction, whether it be for good, evil, love, or hate. Those elements will spice the dish of life to be either appetizing or awful: goodness and love vs. evil and hate.

Most likely, it will be a mixture of both.

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My Cycle

(Excerpts from my journal today)

I feel like I have a lot to write about today. Not sure why but all of it is bogging me down quite a bit. I’m growing restless, impatient, frustrated, anxious, and uneasy. I no longer feel steady like I did yesterday.

I feel restless because I have a lot of inner energy radiating out that burns. The kind of burns that wound and become infected, not the burns that cauterize and sterilize. The toxic energy keeps spreading within me.

I’m impatient, because like any person who was once a child, I want everything I want NOW. I want to skip past all the hard work and navigating the path through dense jungle, and just be there now. Life isn’t supposed to be this hard. Am I really asking too much after the past I’ve endured and the endless recovery from it?

I’m frustrated because things happen not the way they I feel should have. I’m frustrated for many other reasons. I’m pretty much alone without my family and online friends. I have no job. I have no life. I’m out of shape. I’m too lazy to do much about it. I have great ambitions with no clear path how to get there. Suicidal thoughts creep in once in a while. I don’t want them there at all.

I’m anxious because I don’t feel I’m up to the task. What is my capacity for change at this point of my life? Can I do the work to get there? What work needs to be done and how much? I feel trapped in my own miserable existence. I’m afraid I’ll stay here forever to the day I die…

I’m anxious I’ll never measure up to anything worthwhile or be happy about my life. Ever again.

I’m weary because this is a well-established pattern:

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Right now, I’m in the “Waking up” stage. I’m past the “Breaking point.” How do you break this cycle? I haven’t figured it out yet, but the progress and recoveries are cumulative over time, never starting again from square 1. However, every “Breaking point” is perilous.

From the Ashes

Male Jack pine cones
Male Jack pine cones

(Journal entry excerpts from today)

I feel pretty steady at the moment. Reading good material helps. My meds are kicking a little bit more as well. My mind still wanders when I’m alone, not to thoughts of despair and suicide, but rather of how I think about and understand the world, and reminisce about my past experiences.

I feel like my mind is sprouting and blooming again. Is this what the Christians call “faith”? One little spark starting a fire inside me? A spark small as a match strike, growing much like a forest of Jack Pines after a wildfire?

The turmoil inside of me is spinning down. I’m reconnecting with my dreams and ambitions. I’m starting to take better care of myself.

It’s a start.

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Depression, Mania, and The Voice

Mind's EyeApparently, when I’m abysmally depressed, I’m susceptible to obsessing about suicide for one reason or another. In some cases, the feelings I have contain little or no warrant is there for me to feel that way. I would be open to the notion that demons channel their will into my head in those cases, gathered from what I’ve seen and experienced before.

When I have been truly manic on the other hand, which has happened twice so far in my lifetime, I walk the line between the physical and nonphysical. I walk with other people and other beings who seem to be part of what many would call God, yet there’s a strong connection between all parts of the universe itself. I kiss wisdom on the lips and slide back into reality at an utter loss of words at what just happened. I spent part of a decade trying to unwind these 2 experiences, and have hardly gotten anywhere, it seems.

One thing that shines through it all is a certain voice, whether mine or someone/something else’s that always walks the path of love in the level I do not fully understand. Love as a parent’s unconditional love for his or her child. This voice comes from the center of my confusing existence. I can choose to shut it out, like I have been lately.

But now, I’m opening it up again.

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Video Games: Check!

World of Warcraft
Warcraft

One major coping addiction I have had while recovering from bipolar was video gaming. Though I have played many games, the biggest culprit of them all was World of Warcraft, where I accumulated well over a year’s worth of playing time alone (yes, logged in and playing the game time, or /played). My video game addiction lasted for years, and I brought out two things from that: 1. I met a few fantastic people online as friends, 2. It kept me out of more serious trouble.

However, the aftermath is hard to deal with. I’ve always liked video games since I was a kid, and the more I played them, the more I wanted to play them as well. Feed 60-80 hours a week of game time for years and that desire to play grew uncontrollable. However, I do not wish to talk about breaking the addiction. I want to talk about where I’m at now.

On occasion, such as these past few days, I get bit by the video game bug. I came home from a wonderful trip out of state to visit my sister and was a little depressed about life after reality sunk in. I found myself playing a lot of video games and started to panic, as I didn’t want to end up back at square one. I decided today I needed to journal about all of this, first of all, and meditate second. Both seem to help and we’ll see how I maintain these next few weeks in avoiding too many video games.

Long sessions alone playing video games only has one benefit: Fun/escaping. However, when I play for a long time, the game can become mind-numbing and lose its appeal… yet I still keep on playing. However, the longer I play them the more nothing is accomplished. Nothing to put down on a resume, to share with other friends outside the game, and they cause many serious problems if left unchecked.

 

I need to remind myself some things about what happens when I let the video games spiral out of control:

-Employment troubles

-Breakdown in fitness and activity, poor health

-Stuck in the house a lot

-Lose friendships, shallow and strained relationships

-Lack of pursuing interests and writing

-I start to live in my own little world

-Disrupted routine, sleeping, and eating patterns

-My inability to move on in life

 

And, what do I want in life that video games could easily kill?

-Financial independence from my parents

-Employment

-Continue pursuing my writing ambitions

-A steady routine

-The ability to travel and go places, to do and experience more

-Have good friends and relationships

-Enjoy everything that comes with health and fitness

-Self-discovery, personal development

 

I realize this is not true for some or perhaps most people who indulge in video games. It is a reality for me, however, and I must be careful. I have more self-restraint in this area than I give myself credit for. I just need to be wary and keep it under check.

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Bouncing Back

My special pen and journal.
My special pen and leather journal.

I won’t lie. The past few days have been rough. However, I am bouncing back already. Years ago, this may have triggered a major depressive episode for me lasting who knows how long. I’m reminded of how far I’ve come when I can feel normal after a few days of grieving the loss of my job on top of other triggers that came my way. I’ll be much better after I find a position, but I’m not too worried about it.

I’m sorry I haven’t written too much specifically about bipolar lately. I sense there will be much more on that soon. I decided to put ink into a special journal I’ve wanted to start for a while, now. It is the journal I intend to keep that will be the inspiration for my book about my psychotic breaks, as well as a book telling about my journey to recovery.

Before I can really delve into that, though, I must finish doing my reflections on all my journals to help understand myself and the course of my bipolar much better. Not to mention, I would like to understand my breaks better. Meditation and reflection will help on this. My breaks are part of my experience, and I see great opportunities for growth in understanding them. I want to write these books the right way. No short cuts. I’m in it for the long haul, and it may well take a decade to write the books to my satisfaction, but I’m okay with that.

I’m starving for inspiration, too. It’s so easily to get discouraged in the midst of all this, but I press on…

Bawling My Soul Out

I have three things going on in my life that are all stressing me out to the max: I’m losing my job tomorrow, my mom, and something personal.

I’m in tears at this point. It sucks. I don’t know what to do. It’s been so long since it’s been this bad. I need to cry. I was doing so good before, and now I’m broken AGAINWHY?! What did I fucking do to deserve all of this? Why can’t life just go smoothly? I haven’t stopped crying, bawling my soul out. It’s taken me over 5 minutes to write this paragraph.

After crying so hard, I feel oddly okay. After processing in my journal, things are much better. I think I just needed to do both. More of both lay ahead of me, however. Sometimes, you can’t stand strong or stand tall. Time to meditate.