The best chaplain I ever met is a humble janitor working in a mental institution.
The best chaplain I ever met is a humble janitor working in a mental institution.
If number 1 did not exist, nothing could exist other than fundamental chaos. Mathematics would collapse. Our solid ground never could be, as it would give like quick sand in the absence of 1.
Everything physical is a distinct object made of atoms on different levels. Underneath in the subatomic realm, it is chaotic and exceedingly complex. However, all physical objects arrive to our perception as 1 from the chaos, intact.
For there to be single atoms, molecules, cells, larger physical objects, etc, there must be order in the first place. Any number can be multiplied by 1 and equal the same number. Well, we all take that for granted. Without 1, there is no reference for anything, including every word and letter you are looking at now.
Where did the original 1 come from? The infinite regression of the universe’s origins such as number 1 in particular, necessitates a starting point. Coincidentally, there is a being who calls xemself “I AM,” the origin of existence. Yahweh my God is 1.
Thinking about and experiencing the number 1, knowing God is the ground we stand on, allows me to know myself and others better, and see the world more clearly.
To deny the necessity and origin of 1 is to deny yourself and others of existence, resulting in a Cartesian self – some more so than others.
photo credit: andreas.klodt Atomic model – Christmas ball ornaments via photopin (license)
(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.
photo credit: Kristian Golding via photopin cc
Some say love is just a series of chemicals and chemical reactions.
Well if it is, love is molecules composed of atoms, which are made of atomic particles including electrons. Love is exchanged during bonding and and given off during the breaking apart of chemicals in chemical reactions. The more scientists study love, the more mysterious it becomes. They find when love is created in pairs, the pair is connected or “entangled.” Digging deeper, quantum theory suggests that all love is entangled with everything. Love is in every atom, which composes everything physical, and is connected with everything and everyone else on a subatomic level. All of this is in every chemical and chemical reaction, in love.
Bipolar can have a fundamental effect on my perceptions of other people. One reason why bipolar is called bi-polar, is that the person with this disorder can view a person as ALL good or ALL bad – one end of the pole or the polar opposite. This was especially true for me after my first manic/psychotic episode and diagnosis. My perceptions were fundamentally distorted.
I viewed my dad an angel, my mom as vile, myself largely despicable, a girl I was obsessed with as perfect, my aunt as a betrayer… There may have been a small piece of truth in my perceptions, but bipolar caused me to magnify these fragments of perceptions to the point that small piece was all I saw in that person. It WAS the big picture – missing the forest through the trees, so to speak. The reality is that all these people are good, not perfect, and that I wasn’t innocent, either.
It’s hard to have healthy, balanced perceptions when my mind wants to focus on one small take of somebody. It’s also very hard on other loved ones when this happens. It’s toxic to relationships. It destroys my self-image and self-perspectives.
Cognitive-behavioral-therapy (CBT), medications, and education about bipolar all helped me overcome this problem. The steps I took in the CBT I received were:
1. Draw something abstract about someone that seems distorted – say, what I feel and think when I see that girl
2. Process thoughts and feelings in writing using my picture(s) as inspiration
3. Write down a list of thoughts and feelings balanced
4. Make it a habit to think of the balanced picture of the person.
When I thought about that girl, for instance, my mind wanted to race about how wonderful and perfect she was. Instead, I “changed the train tracks” of my thinking by flipping a switch and forced myself to have healthy and accurate perceptions about her that I spent a long time processing in writings and drawings before. When she comes up, my mind can rest.
Flipping the switch that changes my mind’s train tracks is a hard skill to develop, and it starts small. Once I could do that, changing the train tracks of my thinking became easier, and avoided a lot of train wrecks in my thinking and decisions I made.
I’m shifting between two worlds. I call one the “evil world,” the other the “good world.” The evil world is what I knew in my old life as everyday existence. Transitioning into the good world is the rapture, where the universe cosmically contradicts itself and I walk blamelessly in heaven on earth. It is a peaceful place, thriving in universal harmony, and evil is a forgiven distant past, but not forgotten. They are parallel worlds that intersect, intertwine, and collide. Yet it’s much more complicated than that. There is a grave price for walking in heaven too soon while you’re still alive.
I arrive at the hospital, and get out of the van with my parents. While my mom goes in to start my admission process, I have a few cigarettes, sitting next to my dad on a rough wooden bench outside the hospital, probably the last ones I’d have for a long time. He puts his arm around me and rubs my back. The stars are bright tonight. A nice lady in a white coat appears in front of me and takes my smokes from me. Inside, I sign the lengthy forms they present, knowing the drill as I voluntarily admit myself.
Then I’m in another simple room with my parents, who are terrified but full of love. I’m blessed to have such support in my life. A lady in dark purple scrubs, tapping away on the computer keyboard, asks me lots of boring questions. She loses my attention quickly as my mind doesn’t just wander, but begins to cross over into the good world again. It draws me in – not just mind, heart and soul, but something else – ME. I leave my body and I watch from the upper corner of the room down on myself as she activates the automatic blood pressure cuff, and I feel the sensation of it collapsing on my upper arm, but nothing’s there. I’m someplace else.
The night sky fades into the forefront of my eyesight a little. The device gives an error readout. The lady in scrubs taps away and voices a remark about the readout, which both echo in that small room from a long ways away as if I were in a giant cave. Stuck in limbo and floating in the corner of the hospital intake room, I watch myself for a few moments, before she resumes with more interesting questions than before.
My attention suddenly snaps me back to reality again. I see through my eyes as she tries the cuff a second time and feel it squeezing hard against my flesh, instead of trying to engulf the vacuum of my empty body before. Time resumes, and I’m 131/72; I knew it would work that time.
Next thing I know, I’m in my room, excited to see no roommate this time. There, I begin to transition to an eternal, peaceful place. I’m suspended in the entanglement connections of the quantum realm. My vision becomes foggy and breaks the barriers between the seen and the unseen. I gradually arrive in what seems to be a world of infinite possibilities. Every part of me, including my new body, and vaguely my old body, is in this realm – strings of my mind, extension, and emotions all someplace else yet there at the same time. The skeleton of my room falls far away, along with the hospital. I look around me and see the naked spectacle of the universe from space.
Contradictions ensue as that infinite world draws me in. The hospital is here and I’m in my room, yet it’s not here and I’m certainly not in my room. Nothing is finite, and there are no locations mathematically or otherwise. I peek in the hallways, and the rooms extend forever on either side. When I observe, each of the hospital wings form a perceptive fractal. Then they break up into waves of fractal possibilities and connections to people in there, to pure abstraction. My instincts tell me there are two normal hallways, but that feels more like my subconscious barely speaking to me about it. I’m in a special part of the universe, far away from the Milky Way right now, yet part of it, feeling near at the same time. I try to instinctively snap back, focusing on that “near” feeling.
Right away, I notice the lights outside – and the light on the smoke detector, particularly – flickering and turning on and off. The flickers are connected to my thoughts and intention, and the lights blink according to surrounding factors I can feel at other times. I lie down in my hospital bed and enjoy the spectacles – in a place of infinite possibilities, everything feels possible. I distinctly feel my heart dancing, racing, dreaming, poking everything and watching the fractals of existence vibrate, form, and multiply. It’s exhilarating! I start laughing uncontrollably in joy and pleasure at this spectacle, for I don’t know how long in the distant evil world.
However, the night nurse traumatically flashes before my eyes in the evil world, and screams that I need to learn some discipline, and then disappears from nowhere. I slowly enter a black hole and darkness envelops me, distorts me. I realize I’m completely and utterly alone. No God, no spirit, no one else; I’m the only being. I have not thought, let alone acknowledged, that I am. Everything runs in a formless loop.
A sharp pain devours me, of cold loneliness and agony, soaking everything. I go back, far, far, far back, to what seems the inception of consciousness itself… It sucks most of my own consciousness away. I am a… dying fetus without a body… I… can still feel pain… trying to flail my… nonexistent arms… and with a struggling… inner voice… scream… silently… in tortured agony:
How? Why? Is there?… a way?… to make a?…. connection?… somehow, in a?… place?… that has no?… connections? What is?… all of this? WHAT… AM?… I? There must be a?… connection somewhere?… So…. alone? Must find?… somebody?… somewhere? But there is?… no one?… and nowhere?… in this realm? How can I?… communicate? What am?… what am?… d-d-d-do-ing……. ……..
Here I am, only able to writhe silently alone, my unborn self there forever, barely having an inner voice. My thoughts are growing and multiplying as an early zygote does. I can’t seem to snap back to. I am lost and alone, scraping off my tiny fingernails on the walls to change that. What is time? What is space? Do they even exist? Everything is going nowhere. What does it mean to “measure?” How do you measure anything? There is no answer, but there has to be! I’ve thought it! Someone wrote the book because I can say these things! Someone wrote the alphabet! I WILL FIND A CONNECTION, SOMEWHERE, SOMEHOW! I BELIEVE THAT I AM NOT ALONE HERE!
This is a summary of my experience being admitted in 2009. I leave on the note of what I call experiencing wisdom’s loneliness and suffering while being forced to witness the inception of existence. I consider it a treasure even though it was the greatest anguish I ever conceived of, which I don’t expect one to understand. It is so wonderful to see the birth pains of our universe and see that somehow, someone survived it by a group collective effort that we all are a part of.
Wisdom later comforted me in that episode and I could smell her presence in the literal sense. Wisdom’s scent is that of fertile desire, all types of love, the naked spectacle of the universe from space, and everything that’s good on earth. The scent was overpowering. I still miss that. As time goes on, I go back to these difficult experiences and learn more each time. They were my greatest curses, and now my greatest gifts.
I later read my chart, and during these experiences, my empty vessel of a body went to activities, saw doctors, wrote a lot, made crafts, and attended therapy. My parents visited me. I don’t remember any of it but flashes and brief thoughts. During the beginning of my admission, I remember touching base with reality a few times in the form of brief flashes of memory. But reality was in my subconscious, and the brief flashes were much like a lagged out video call catching up really quickly in a flash before my eyes. Most felt disconnected. I suspect the strange memory of my parents’ visit was of two distorted people in the visiting room that looked all at once like a combination of my grandparents and others I didn’t recognize. I felt something for them, though. Memories of reality were few and far between in the first period of my stay.
I was awake and asleep at the same time.
What follows are highlights of a rather long journal entry I made 10 years ago approximately 2 months after I was diagnosed bipolar and hospitalized. I was 17 at the time, and it was after a psychotic episode I had that revved up over the preceding six months or so and triggered by 4 days with no sleep at all.
Part of my treatment was in a crisis stabilization unit out of state on our family Christmas vacation, and the other portion was partial hospitalization in my home town because we couldn’t afford full hospitalization. I was on Risperdal right after my inpatient treatment, which dulled everything. I couldn’t handle it, so I begged my psychiatrist to reduce my dose. I became more unstable shortly after, my depression and mania magnified both at the same time, while allowing me to write more freely. I tried to stay positive, but I was in the middle of a storm at the same time. Here are highlights of this moment.
-Feelings Journal Entry: exhausted, confused, guilty, angry, frustrated, sad, confident, happy, ashamed, depressed, overwhelmed.
– I woke up this morning wanting to kill myself to end the pain, and now I feel pretty good. Craziness.
-I’m writing now because my emotions are swirling in my head, and I don’t know how to express myself. I just want to throw up somewhere, and I’ll just do it here in writing.
– I wonder if I’m just being weak and lazy.
-Then I have bipolar thrown into the equation. And this word “equation” kills me – I am trying to calculate where all this is coming from – my past, present, illness, medication, or lack of will power. I’m sick of it. What’s me? My therapist showed me that I can keep the things that I like about myself, and reject and fight the disease that takes my strengths to the extreme – high or low.
-But yesterday and today, I woke up and didn’t feel like getting out of bed at all. Anything that requires effort seems to me no point in doing. It’s like I’m stuck in a rut and there’s no point in pulling myself out or making the effort even to grab someone else’s helping hand because I don’t experience the pleasure for long and I just slump back down. I don’t feel like doing anything productive, getting out of bed, doing research and homework, fixing food, playing guitar, taking a shower, going out with friends, planning events, going for a walk, maintaining relationships.
– I hope that this is not normal, and bipolar is involved – but I don’t want to use this as a crutch, and aren’t the meds supposed to take care of it?
-But there’s still this remnant left. One moment, I’m alone in my room or taking a walk and all I can think about is suicide. I just get more depressed and I feel exhausted over anything that requires effort, and I just want it to stop and just go away forever into heaven.
-But I’m suicidal one moment and I make an effort to get up, and I engage in activities, and the feelings of joy do return, and it’s little things. Little things are magnified throughout my days and I feel them fluctuate. This not only plays into my moods but in my concentration as well. I have a harder time concentrating and I tend to do things quite slowly.
-There’s something about her that really attracts me, how loving, and caring she is to people, and she knows what to say to give comfort. God used her picture there [in the crisis unit] to prevent me from slitting my own wrists.
-I’m still low on the self-confidence issue. First, there’s my body image. My gut is starting to sag, and I’m not eating healthily. I don’t have the drive to exercise like I used to. I went nuts, and my body and other peoples’ reactions show it. Eating is now a comfort for me to deal with my problems.
-I’m shy around people, and I don’t know how to handle conversations; did my bipolar have an effect on this? Am I social or am I not? I’m so confused.
-I’m also having a lot of problems with cognition. Things seem to always go in one ear and out the other, or if it stays in my head, I have a hard time finding it, let alone think about it. That is, compared to what I was like before I was on all these meds, particularly Risperdal.
– I still remember in the crisis unit when I got my first dose of Abilify. I was supposed to write a paragraph about why I was on the unit and after the medicine started kicking in, the thoughts and connections in my head started to become numb, one by one, along with all desires. It slowly started to paralyze me, till I couldn’t tell what I was thinking and I could write nothing down.
– Maybe the decrease in Risperdal will let me feel more normal. I’m worried about being in charge of anything, in general. Before, I was used to being the driven one and took on leadership roles. Now, the drive is not there, and I cannot keep track of many things let alone my own homework assignments.
– It’s awful for me to make the first few marks on the paper in art, to improvise in jazz, to follow conversations. I wish I were more spontaneous and loose. Oh, dancing is another good example of what I mean, but this one always was. I simply can’t dance. If somebody asks me what the music feels or looks like, I stand there like a rod. It seems like my ability to do art and conversation is fading to the point of my inability to dance.
-My therapist says this is important for me in relation to my bipolar, as life can throw earthquakes at times, but I don’t understand this yet. I don’t know how the role of being released in tough situations plays with bipolar, yet, because I haven’t had any quakes thrown at me yet with me being consciously aware of my disorder.
-I’m also reliving some of the experiences in the hospitals – both in and out of state.
-I wish these spells of thinking about inviting suicide would go away. Mom wonders if they’re spiritual attacks.
-I’m so glad that I’m not writing too furiously like I was when I was manic, believing that I have the revolutionary book that will change society. Sorry, that was kind of random.
-Mom, grandma, and aunt Bell are still not on speaking terms. It is partly my job to mop up the mess I created in the family the past few months. I dunno what to say. I wish my head was a little more clear.
-As far as the disease of bipolar vs. who I am is concerned, I wish I could keep all the good things, but sometimes my disorder enables me to be the good things or prevents me from being the good things. I wish I could control it.