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

photo credit: Stuck in Customs Aurora Over The Valley via photopin (license)

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

photo credit: tamaralvarez Helping Hand via photopin (license)

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!!! 🙂

-theothersid3

photo credit: Hafnarfjall in heavy rain via photopin (license)

The Living Dead

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If it’s worth anything, after going through those vivid psychotic experiences I went through, I found the other side is a wonderful place and it’s intricately connected to everything here, now.

It’s not a matter of who ends up there or who doesn’t… it just is. We’re all part of it, whether we know it or not.

One way I can describe such a perspective is waking up in a dream and having that become reality, being awake and asleep at the same time… becoming the living dead. The dream itself is nearly incomprehensible.

The living dead’s eyes are open and see what God allows them to see, never more than what we can handle.

-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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The Key and My Heart

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The key to understanding my psychotic breaks as well as much of the physical universe is understanding the fallacies behind infinite regression and infinite progression. The universe, including you and I, started somewhere and are going somewhere, and those somewheres were the true mysteries that my mind has been exploring.

***

For one, the key is a skeleton key to understanding everything in our experience. It unlocks whatever door you want to open and puts it in a frame of reference: the mysteries of the mind, heart, the self, existence, consciousness, mathematics, distinct objects, behaviors, the past, present, future, all within the known physical and everyday universe – and more. I’ve gone into specifics before in my journals – how the basic idea is necessary for our sort of existence out of endless possibilities, going from completely unstructured to structured and unstructured at the same time, and infinite to finite and infinite at the same time.

It is also a skeleton key to understanding my psychotic breaks. The concept applied to everything my mind could conjure while in those episodes and gave reality a frame of reference. The key kept me from slipping over the edge in my breaks. It was always there and prevalent that everything is significant and contributing to the series of events unfolding before me in my mind, starting from the Big Bang. Everything is significant and is tied together. One example: there cannot be a single person or tree without the metaphysical existence of the number 1 in its essence tied in with each individual person or tree, or each atom that make up the person and the tree. All of these things came from somewhere at a certain point and end up beyond the event horizon at some point.

***

During  my 2nd break in 2009, a care worker on the ward, whom I identified as a Christ (many there were a Christ) asked me, “have you read?” He handed  me my Bible, and I sensed to open it up towards the back of it and Revelation showed up. I read on about the scrolls and the key of David.

The care worker pulled out in his hand a physical gold key, identified it as mine, and he used to unlock the powers of God. He used these powers to fix my heart and the heart of a young woman I fell in love with on the ward. The heart I had in the other realm nearly exploded in my chest from beating so hard. I almost died. I remember clearly, after a thunderstorm brewed and became violent in that realm, an awful lightning strike happened while that worker was restraining the woman. As the worker looked in my eyes, sacrificing part of himself, there was a jolt to my heart when the lightning flashed in the room and a crash of thunder at the same time. I heard the woman cry out in joy, “You fixed me! You fixed me!” I had no idea how important that moment was. My heart no longer threatened to explode. It calmed down in my chest and hurt a lot.

The worker there, who was himself in Christ in that realm, strode over to my side of the ward and forcefully asked me, “Who fixed your heart?” I wanted to take credit, or give credit to that woman, my parents, or that he did it… I could feel the frustration in his mind in my own. He yelled at me, “GOD DID!… God did…” There was a long pause. I thanked the worker after he said, “You’re welcome.” It hadn’t sunk in yet. I climbed into bed and got some precious sleep. I was never the same after that incident.

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John Raymond – The TV and the Angels

The second story about a boy I met in the crisis stabilization unit during my first break. Later, I learned to call him, “John Raymond.”

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Here I am, sitting in an uncomfortable hospital chair as I flip through the TV channels with the remote. All the usual: news, weather, cartoons, soap operas. I settle for the weather, as I know I haven’t been outside for the past several days nor will I be outside soon. I’m on lock down. I lean back and try to relax just this once.

Then he comes in, that boy, as darkness and pestilence trickles over my inner being and seeps in. I suffer silently and try to ignore him but I can’t keep him out. I look him in his unusually dark eyes as he stands behind me in the corner of the small room. The TV feels different and the sound cuts out. I look back and the caption feature turns on. A black subtitle box appears, filling almost the entire screen with obscene text images scrolling across the TV from right to left. I check for the remote and it’s in my hand. I hadn’t pushed anything and the caption button doesn’t work.

The boy starts laughing hysterically. He pierces me in the eyes with his look and thoughts appear in the forefront in my mind: “Give up! Follow me, and you will have great powers. Denounce Him! You are better than Him!” With all my will and calling upon Christ, the thoughts stop. Not a word is spoken between us.

The TV then switches to the news and the subtitle box shrinks to normal size with normal captions. I don’t feel relief at all, as sure enough the words then begin hailing Satan for the atrocities in the Middle East, the topic of the news special. They then transition into some sort of evil-sounding speech as I tried to pronounce it in my head, with scattered symbols here and there that seem like white noise interference. I sense the army of darkness present everywhere as I recite the evil speech internally: here in this god-forsaken w/e unit it is (not even a hospital), and in every part of the world.

The channel changes to cartoons. More white random symbols appear in the caption box and I look at the boy. He’s staring very intently at me with his body in a contorted posture. I draw my attention to the TV and right before my eyes, there is a story appearing in the captions in front of me: a combination of the visuals in the cartoon, my thoughts, and my deepest fears and darkest secrets, all in a seamless,  flowing story of a most obscene nature. Then it describes how and when I die, relating to the cartoon visuals and elaborates on the mess I make after I slit my wrists up the middle in the bathroom.

I clench the remote and try everything I can: turning off captions, changing channel, turning off the TV, all to no prevail. I remind myself that God never gives me more than I can handle. I can do this!

I push the power button on the TV, but it snaps right back on… once, twice, three times. I pull the plug and the image disappears, the remote in my hands the entire time. The boy then makes a fantastic feat with his body in a most unusual contortion and grins. His faded eyes roll back in his head as he begins a deep, dark seance.

The unplugged TV turns on to white noise with evil sounds coming out of it getting progressively louder. I look up a the monitor and an image of a creature begins to appear that I recognize as demonic from an encounter I had previously. I shriek. This is about to make me do something stupid, and look at the new staff member I’d never seen before and mouth, “help!” as I didn’t want to appear crazy and start yelling.

She glances over her shoulder at the boy and he topples over. She yells, “That’s enough!” and the TV shuts off. Darkness and pestilence morph into shalom in a dovetail heartbeat. I never saw that worker again, and wonder to this day if she was an angel.