Depression sometimes feels like it gets the best of me.
It leaves me crying in the shower. It leaves me feeling like no one loves me, like I dont matter.
I’m not sharing this because I want attention. I just want you to know that sometimes a kind word can go so far. I want you to know that, despite it all, sometimes our spirituality, a belief, can give us something to hold on to.
For me, what helped today was my birdies. It’s a small thing, and may seem so pointless to so many. Very few seem to care about my birds. Im far from a ground breaking pagan author. Yet they matter to me. They help me see, in some way, happiness again.
Thats all that matters with art, really. The joy and happiness it brings us.
Im sharing this picture, hoping it can bring you some happiness too. May you always have a cute mushroom to sit under, dry and happy, from the rain.
I want to apologize for my silence here, though I know I really shouldn’t. It’s been so quiet because I’ve started a new project, and have been trying to be gentler on myself.
What is this new project? A non fiction book!
Essentially, this new book is about mental illness and spirituality, and so much of the energy I would normally put into this blog and my youtube channel has instead gone into the book.
Luckily, however, I have a good friend who has agreed to coach me on the book, so this book should actually get done! So far, I have the beginnings of a contents page, approximately 5,000 words, and several prayers written out.
Why yes, it’s a book that involves prayers. It’s going to be a spiritual book, my friends, and I can’t wait to share more about it soon. But for now, I am going to rest.
So, in this blog post (and the video that will go along with it, at the bottom of this post), I’d like to talk about the difference between mental health and mental illness, and why that matters in a spiritual context.
Mental health and mental illness often get confused together, called the same thing, and mish-mashed together by the general populace. But! They are not the same thing at all.
Mental health relates to your mental well-being. This is: “our emotions, our thoughts and feelings, our ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, our social connections, and our understanding of the world around us.” SOURCE
Meanwhile, “A mental illness is an illness the affects that way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others.” SOURCE
So, when someone is talking about their mental health, they’re talking about their moods, how they’re feeling, and how they can cope and interact with things. But when it comes to mental illness, one is talking about symptoms that are debilitating, crippling, and are diagnosed as things like depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. SOURCE
Now, mental health and mental illness are NOT the same thing, but they are related. There’s this really useful image right here, that explains a whole lot, at least to me. SOURCE
Basically, mental health and mental illness are linked upon an axis. Mental health is the ‘up and down’, while mental illness is the sideways ‘left and right’. Or the y and x axis, if you feel like calling them that.
This means that one can have poor mental health without it being a mental illness, and vice versa.
Personally, I think I have pretty good mental health, at least in some aspects. I’m grateful, I like to see the positive aspects of things, and I try and be mindful (try being the key word, haha). But this good mental health does not imply no mental illness, as the diagram shows, as one can have good mental health while having a serious mental illness.
Now, what does this have to do with spirituality?
Well, because of the confusion of mental health and mental illness, people tend to assume that spirituality can heal it all. But, at least in my perspective and from what I’ve understood of the mental health and mental illness divide, spirituality can only affect mental health (outside of it being a miracle).
Now, there are plenty of great articles out there about how spirituality affects mental health. If this interests you, I encourage you to read up on them!
In my opinion, spiritual practices can help foster things like gratitude, positive thoughts, and a sense of connection with the world and promote happier and more fulfilling social connections. But these are things that fall under the mental health category, not mental illness.
I think you’d be hard pressed to find a reputable scholarly article about spirituality healing a mental illness. This is because mental illness is not dependent upon mental health or happiness or gratitude. Your outlook, gratitude, prayer, and positivity can all be on point and great, but you can still have a mental illness. This is because mental illness is, well, an illness, and not dependent upon our mental health.
Now, why is this distinction important?
Here’s the thing: because people confuse mental health and mental illness, they think that mental illness can be prayed away, meditated away, etc, etc, etc,.
But mental illness is an illness based in neurology! Unless one believes that their spirituality will heal a broken leg, I don’t see why it would heal mental illness. In my opinion, it’s a similar experience, a similar required amount of ‘spiritual woo woo’ and energy healing.
Another important point in this distinction of mental health and mental illness is that people confuse which one they had, and then go on to believe and assert that prayer or other spiritual practices did, in fact, heal an illness. In fact, they believe that’s what happened to them!
However, a person suffering from a mental illness will often not be able to function and perform the mental health practices, nor will they see any positive results, as their problems are neurological in nature, not mental health related.
This mix-up between mental health and mental illness ends up placing a huge amount of pressure upon a person with mental illness. Because spiritual practices are so beneficial to those with mental health issues and because there is no distinction between mental health and mental illness, there becomes an expectation that spirituality will be able to heal a mental illness. Furthermore, as these practices ‘worked’ for those without mental illness, the blame for the lack of success becomes placed not upon the process (because it has been ‘proven’ to work), but upon the person with the mental illness.
In cases like this, the person with a mental illness who isn’t achieving results is often seen as not being ‘spiritual’ enough, or not trying ‘hard’ enough. This is very damaging.
Here’s a link to the video I made where I discuss this, for those who prefer videos to written material!
Well, before I get back into my groove of writing about mental illness, it occurred to me that I should maybe explain the ‘why’ behind the decision to talk about mental illness and spirituality.
There’s a saying that goes (and I really don’t remember where it’s from) something along the lines of how the most earnest prayers come from people in hospitals. I think this is particularly true about people in psych wards, or who are dealing with mental illness.
People turn to spirituality when they are hurt, confused, or generally lost. And mental illness makes you feel that, in an strange way sometimes. Because mental illness isn’t seen as a physical problem, its invisible and most don’t realize it’s got physical roots, people don’t turn immediately to doctors. Sadly, people actually refuse to see doctors for mental illness because of perceptions and biases that have their roots in spiritual beliefs.
Some of these are ones like: mental illness is the result of a curse, or God’s punishment for a lack of faith, or the result of being estranged from God. It can also be believed to be an imbalance of chakras that only requires meditation to be cured, spirit possession, or (my personal pet peeve, and one that truly held me back) the belief that mental illness is some sort of psychic ‘breakthrough’.
A bunch of these are due to the conflation/mix of mental health and mental illness. Due to the lack of understanding on the difference of these two, people will often try and use spirituality and spiritual practices (which can be beneficial to mental health) to treat mental illness.
Personally, when I went out with my service dog for mental illness, people would often ask me what the dog was for. Once they found out it was for mental illness, these strangers would often end up giving me some sort of advice or opinion on mental illness. Most of these were spiritual perspectives that were against medication and ‘western medicine’, as well as conventional therapy.
Similarly, when I really struggled with my mental illness and was unmedicated, people often threw spiritual advice at me. It was all anti medication and anti conventional doctors. Now that I am medicated and happily so, I find it really disturbing that there is so much anti-medication sentiment out there! I sometimes wonder what my path to healing would have been like if I had been surrounded by more realistic approaches.
Anyways, now that I am in a better space mentally, I think it’ll be nice to get back into talking about mental illness and spirituality. I think it’ll do me good, as it’s something that I really care about, and love discussing with others. I find it nourishing and cleansing.
I also want to really show others that getting conventional help is not anti spirituality. I once met a doctor in training at a mental health clinic, and he was really surprised to hear that not all spirituality is against medication, and that I had arguments against those points. It made for a very interesting discussion, but also showed me that there wasn’t much perspectives out there that are spiritual and embracing of actual treatment for mental illness.
Anyways, that’s all I have to say for today! I will be posting a video to MY CHANNEL soon about these points, and it will basically be a copy of this post. I’m doing this because some formats are easier for some people and not everyone likes reading, and I’m hoping to make this as available as possible.
Hi everyone! I’m happy to announce that I’m hopefully going to be doing mental health videos.
It’s been a little bit that I’m wondering if I’ll get back into my mental health blogging, and I think I will. But I really want it to be a positive thing in my life, and to come from a positive space, not to be a grumpy rant. So, as YouTube videos have been a fun thing for me, I’m thinking of doing those, as well as some written blog posts.
I’m thinking of discussing technical aspects around mental illness and spirituality. I’m really hoping that these videos and posts can be educational and resourceful for people, especially those suffering from mental illness.
Hopefully I’ll have some guests who can come onto my blog and discuss some stuff with me, so if you have a mental illness/mental health issue and you want to talk about it within a spiritual context, let me know!
If you have topics you’d like to suggest, or things you’d like to see me talking about (not researching, I don’t feel like researching, just talking from a personal perspective), let me know!
Wishing you all a very lovely day, and hoping you’ll like these videos! ❤
Hey lovelies! I am so happy to finally announce that, after much effort and outreach, TwoLoveBirds is officially in two shops local to me! One is a book store called ‘les Appalaches’, located in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and the other is a cute little gift shop located in Lennoxville, Quebec called ‘les 3 fees’ (literally, the three fairies). Both are very charming and cute places, and if ever you are in the are you must visit them! Also, if you’re wanting to buy one of my books, you can order it from them!
I wish I could continue this post by saying that I am celebrating, feasting, and being quite jolly about this new step forward. But the fact is, I’m terrified. I’m upset and miserable.
The moment I knew that my books were accepted, I plunged into a depression. Self-destructive anxiety came over me, and I just worried about how I don’t have enough advertisements, how my books may very well not sell, and so on and so forth.
The truth is I want this project to keep growing. I don’t want to be set back and told that, in fact, my books won’t sell on a local level. I don’t want to be told that they are too niche and too unrelatable and so on and so forth. I’m afraid, and so I quiver and melt down.
I have been supported lately by lovely people, and I am safe and not in harm’s way, so please do not worry. I will persevere, and I will progress. Hopefully the twolovebirds will, too!
I saw an article the other day, in a free pagan magazine. Yay! It was about mental health and paganism. Wow! I was so excited!
Yay, yay, yay, I thought as I first saw the page-long article. Something interesting to read! Finally, some in-depth something on the topic!
Uh, yeah no. After a few sentences, then a quick skim-through, I was instantly depressed. Because apparently, just because we say ‘merry meet’, we’re a welcoming bunch. And the fact that we do fire gazing? Wow, that, like, taps us into ourselves and allows us to be grounded and shit. And the way we say ‘so mote it be’? Well, that allows us to accept things as they are. So, basically, (according to this author) we pagans are well equipped to deal with mental health issues because of these three things.
I was floored. What. The. Fuck.
This article, in my personal opinion, was like saying you get your vegetables from a pumpkin spice latte (Hint: there’s no pumpkin in most pumpkin spice lattes). I mean, really? Really? Not only was this a super-shallow discussion on the topic which failed to acknowledge SO MUCH of the discrimination that happens in neopagan circles, it felt like it was written by someone who had NO knowledge on the topic.
Now, maybe that person does have lots of insights and experience, but that their one article was just poorly written. Because really, it felt like a lazy slap in the face. It was just like a cotton-candied fluff of an article saying ‘don’t worry, it’s all fine, we’re the best, and here are my poorly-researched reasons as to why’.
Ughhh. Here, let me recap for you: most pagans don’t believe in medications, which are essential for most mentally ill people. Most pagans not only demonize psychiatric medication, but they also straight-out prohibit people taking certain medications from entering into their circles. Oh, and many pagans think mental illness ‘doesn’t exist’, so it’s all fake and we don’t really need clinical help. We should just, go trip out with a shaman or something and tada, we’re all cured. (this is a simplistic recap, by the way, but it would be a HUGE rant if I got into details about it).
I guess my point for this article is to vent, and to really say -> please don’t brush off this topic. It’s a real, vital, topic. It’s not something to be taken lightly. It’s meaningful and deep, and has repercussions for people’s mental health. To claim a hostile environment is, in fact, safe, juts because you haven’t experienced the discrimination as a non-mentally ill person is… flabbergasting? To put it nicely.
Also, why is it that there are so few wide-spread articles on paganism and mental illness from seriously disabled mentally ill peoples? Why is it that the articles I find are from people who had mild depressive bouts, not people who are schizophrenic to the point of a disability, crippled by anxiety to the point of a disability, or people with uncontrollable OCD? Why don’t we get people talking about their experiences as Wiccan or pagan in a psych ward?
It feels to me that our discussion, which should be written by very disabled and chronically ill people, is instead being discussed by abled and at best temporarily incapacitated people. Even the course I’m taking on self-healing at Woolston is not led by an ill person, but instead by an abled (to my knowledge) practitioner, and I find it shows in their approach. I really wonder how the discussion would look if we instead had all the disabled and chronically ill through mental illness folks sitting at this table. If you do have resources that are written my disabled folks, especially blogs and such, I’d love to read them. But for now, I’ll just grump and brood in my corner.
Yeah, I know, wow. The author wants to write ANOTHER book. But, hear me out here, this one would be about *drumroll* -> me.
Me, my story, my vulnerabilities, my lived experiences. My spiritual experiences. Now, my knee jerk reaction is that this seems incredibly selfish. After all, what I’ve gone through is not necessarily that interesting for anyone else than me. And besides, I have shit for memory. My memory is like a blended fruitcake that was then strained. Only chunks remain, and they ain’t sweet anymore.
But – would this be useful for me? Would this story help me heal? Would it force me to come to terms with things? I don’t know. I hope so. I feel – I don’t know. Having been told by my psychiatrist to get in tune with my emotions struck a chord in me. I’ve upped my medication, yes, but I want to up my inner game as well. I want to gain some inner strength.
So my question to you all is, have you done this before? Have any of you written out your experiences as a therapy, and shared it for others to read? How did that help you? Was it difficult? Did it really help, or was it just mush?
And finally, I’d like to ask you, my faithful readers, how you would like me to go about this? Would you like snippets posted here and on other sites? Or should I just focus on writing it all, then decide what to do with it? How would you go about writing a book about your life, especially if your brain is something like a mix of swiss cheese and apple pudding as far as memory retainment goes? What would you like to know about me? Ideas on what to focus on?
Lately, I’ve been tired, out of touch with my emotions I would guess (as my psychiatrist says) and really, really, hard on myself. I just feel like a constant failure, and even when I’ve done something, I feel like I’ve not done enough.
It’s rough, and I’m struggling. But lately, I keep dreaming of my character Kuryo (remember him?!). It’s the third (fourth?) dream almost in a row that I had last night. So I guess I’m going to be somehow… picking up that story again? Writing a spin-off? I’m really not sure. I have all the details to start a new story, but it just wouldn’t take shape when I sat down to write. It was more a summary than a story. Blah!
At least I have the summary jotted down though. I wish I could sit and write and write, and have something fun and uppity to share with y’all, but I don’t. My writing has been going, but I’m not sure what to approach and how. I have a Farfadel story on ice, another started, a romance novel, and now this Kuryo stuff. I just… I wish I could get organized I guess. I wish I was better at this. I feel like I should be reaching so many people with my novels, yet here I am, feeling like an author failure.
On the upside, I will be upping my medication again temporarily, so hopefully that will help! Hopefully, I will be able to get my stories together. That would be nice 🙂 I really miss sharing fun stories and getting feedback from y’all.
I saw my psychiatrist recently. When she asked me how I was feeling, at that instant, I couldn’t tell her. Even when I was tearing up, I couldn’t get in touch with my emotions. Well, she said, time to get in touch again.
And so I’ve signed up for an emotional healing course at Woolston. Long story short, we were doing a fire grounding exercise and it made me feel sick. But the important thing was that when I did the next exercise, I realized that I didn’t have the inner energy to shield myself.
Now, a little idea clicked within me then. Maybe a bit dumb, but it bears laying out for those of us with magical lifestyles. And that is that: when you’re mentally/emotionally exhausted, you won’t have the energy to draw on for energy/magical practices.
Be it writing into a candle, or reaching down into the earth, I found that it was inaccessible. I did not merely feel tired, but I had no energy to reach within to tap into. The pool inside was empty, to the point of making me feel sick when I tried to expel/use some.
Alright, so? What’s the use of that?
The use of this is, if you are depressed and chronically ill/fatigued, do magic that doesn’t require you to have any inside of you. Wield the magic of the runes, of the woods you live next to, or what have you. But if you feel dead beat tired and emotionally spent, you might just have no energy, and your spell work may hurt you more.
So be wise, and be a vampire! I’m joking, of course. But really, try and find passive ways of doing magic and grounding. Ask the gods for aid, use elemental magic, and do grounding techniques that don’t require you to output energy first.
Currently I am trying to do grounding and body check ins (as is instructed in the class) and I shall see if any more insights come from that.