Ten months ago I was in the midst of a psychotic break - I was delusional and paranoid. Compared to the psychotic breaks I had early in my illness it was mild and yet I could not deny that I was sick. I withdrew from social contact, I deleted this blog and a bunch of other writing I had done over the years, I changed the lock on my door, I stayed home most of the time, I stopped taking my medication, I stopped seeing my therapist, I stopped going to a 12 Step meeting. I'm not sure why this happened, and yet I never felt divorced from the Higher Power.
Then I returned to taking my medications, returned to a 12 Step group (Al-Anon), returned to therapy with a new therapist and fostered my commitment to turning my life and will over to God with a simple daily practice of taking my medications and thanking God for them, praying each morning and off and on throughout the day and reading aloud from various daily readers. In the last couple of weeks I have returned to once again approaching the 4th Step by taking an inventory of my life. I've been having trouble doing it because the truth is that I feel good about myself and my life. I love and respect myself and am proud of the choices I made while in an abusive relationship with an alcoholic and afterwards while in the midst of deep psychosis. I don't believe that I have harmed many people, just my ex boyfriend who I have made amends to over the years even though he has been dead since 1999. And even then with him I tried very hard to be strong and loving kind.
I know that a lot of why I have not harmed others is because I have been a recluse for much of my life. The greatest harm I have done has not been towards others but towards myself. And yet I also believe that I have lived the life that I was meant to live. It was necessary for me to live this life in order to learn the lessons I needed to learn. These lessons were about compassion, faith, tolerance, patience and a growing commitment to the good in life. I am now committed to the good in life and I find it all around me wherever I go. God is everywhere, in the deepest hells on earth and in the highest heavenly experiences of humans on earth too. God is in our spirits. We would not have spirits without God. God is in our hearts and minds. God is in our bodies. Believe in God or don't, God will still be there.
All the life on this planet has great meaning. We create our own personal hells when we lose faith about the meaning in our lives. I think one of the worst psychological states a human can be in is severe depression. I feel a lot of love and compassion for all those people caught within that state especially because I have lived through it myself. To be robbed of the motivation to engage in life is truly horrible and yet it can be overcome through medication, therapy, support groups and most especially the practice of gratitude. It is the day to day practice of focusing on the positive that can gradually change one's perspective and therefore one's life towards healing. I have spent many, many hours lying around or sleeping trying to avoid the pain in my life. But I think even when I wanted to die I still at the same time also wanted to live. It was the pain I didn't want and not this world. And so I persisted. At first I decided to listen to many, many audiobooks while lying on my couch. If I couldn't do anything, at least I could listen to all kinds of stories and accounts of life and take my attention off my pain.
I could still listen and learn. So I didn't give up despite being beaten down by my illnesses. I had training to endure and survive acute psychosis and depression through having lived with an abusive alcoholic lover for over five years. He was someone that I loved, but could not save. I learned through him that the only one I can save through the help and grace of the Higher Power is me. And later I saw that that was true for all of us. The most important relationship in every one's life is between self and God, however you define God (and there are so many ways to do that). And whether we admit it or not, I believe we all long for union with God. And by God I mean peace, love and happiness.
There is value in developing endurance through painful life experiences and relationships. If you open up enough to look, there are valuable lessons in every single life experience and relationship. Nothing goes to waste. I have thought of God as sentient space. Space is everywhere in even the hardest seeming object. There is no waste in space. It is open, harmonious, peaceful, receptive, gentle and essential. We tend to focus on the objects in space instead of on space itself, just as we tend to focus on the pain in our lives instead of in the pleasure. Buddhists teachers have taught that nirvana or heaven is in every present moment. Nirvana is now. The ability to be aware, to experience through our five senses, to think, to feel, to breath, this is all nirvana, this is heaven. Pain and suffering can serve to highlight this if we allow it.
Why is it necessary for us to suffer? To learn, to appreciate what it is not to suffer. The farther down you go, the higher up you have the potential to go. Profound experiences, both positive and negative, can deepen your life and make for profound understanding, for revelations about the nature of truth. How can you define and experience true freedom if you have never been in bondage? We are all slaves on the path to freedom. Union with God goes way beyond our life as living beings on this planet. And yet what joy there is and can be for us here in our limited forms. So I say appreciate what is right in every moment while we're here. Cultivate your awareness of the beauty and balance all around us which is the essence of God.
A Recovery Blog
This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.