Mental Health Advice from a Buddhist Nun

Hey everyone! I haven’t been active lately, at all. I’ve been very busy taking care of myself and living life, which, is apparently full of stressful appointments.

But one lovely thing happened this weekend. I met a Buddhist nun for advice regarding meditation and my mental health/illness.

And you know what? She was just so nice and kind and logical. When I brought up my hallucinations, she advised focusing on the reality, not on the hallucination. A thing that, I think, would help reinforce reality instead of the hallucination. And really, why did no one ever mention this to me before?

It was so counter to all the advice I had ever gotten from the esoteric crowd. Instead of telling me to indulge in the hallucination, to go deeper into it, to try and find its meaning, it was rather to focus on reality. Wow. For me, that was ground breaking.

Furthermore, she advised me to lay off psychic activities until I feel better. Another thing that esoteric people won’t tell you to do: lay off the psychic. Wow!

Honestly, it was just so nice and refreshing to be told these things, because they felt true and they resonated so much with me. They didn’t feel dopey or about self-inflation. Rather, it was all just so logical (that was my one biggest impression of her. Logic and kindness.).

So yes, that was my lovely encounter this weekend. Other than that I’ve been working on the next birdie coloring book and haven’t been writing one bit at all. I’ve been knitting, working on Christmas gifts, and they haven’t been coming out totally well, haha. One sock was just so small I had to undo the whole thing. But I’m trying.

So anyways, hopefully I will find more time soon to keep writing and posting! Lots of love to you all, and I wish you the very best. ❤

 

Suicide and Paganism

I listen to a lot of music. I listen to it when I write, draw, and do my dishes. Minus the dishes, that takes up a lot of my time. To put it into perspective, I write usually about 3-4 hours a day, not including  the drawing or general editing.

So what’s this got to do with anything? Yesterday while scrolling through Youtube, I fell across Linkin Park’s music again.

Oof. I bawled like a baby. Linkin Park really helped me when I was younger, and the fact that Chester chose suicide – it’s just rough. What especially struck me was a comment on a Youtube video that echoed my feelings, saying how they felt, yet they added in that it was maybe too late for anyone to care about their comment? And this brought me to thinking about paganism, suicide, and the time it takes to grieve.

First off, I’d like to mention that grieving can be a long process. I don’t feel there is ever a time where it’s ‘improper’ to feel acutely the loss of someone. For people with mental health issues, grieving can be… complicated. Personally, I barely grieve -> yet remain very sensitive about it for a long time. I feel like Ijust don’t grieve like normal people do, and that’s okay. It confuses people and I chock it up to my beliefs, but the raw fact is that I really don’t grieve like they do. I mourn suffering, not the departure. I just don’t feel like death is a terrible thing. Certainly, I will miss the person/being. But do I grieve outright? No. Yet I do miss them and acknowledge their absence.

All that to say, that for people with mental health issues grieving can be extra complex. We are stuck between expressing ourselves honestly and behaving in a socially acceptable way. We are held up to a ‘normal’ timeline and told that that is how it is ‘supposed’ to be. Well, that’s just not how it always is, is it? For some of us, we just can’t allow ourselves to feel too deeply or we fall into a black hole. For others, we simply don’t … feel? Everyone’s experiences of grief is different, but especially among those with mental illness, the expression of grief can be extremely varied.

That brings me to my next point. Paganism and suicide. Unless my head has been under a blanket lately, I haven’t seen it discussed much. So what the hell, peoples? We are a culture that embraces death and the passing of life and goes on about being in touch with our ‘dark/shadow’ sides and being all edgy with our dark clothes, yet we don’t talk about suicide?

Granted, we are a culture rampant with abusers * cough cough * so to discuss suicide within paganism openly, we’d have to point out how we’re a cesspool of insufficiency.

Yeah, insufficiency. Oh, we try. We puff ourselves up. But you know what? For all the activity and esoteric shops, we get ridiculously little done. We party and buy shit, and that’s about it. Whoopee.

I haven’t seen any pagan group really discuss suicide. And the more I think about it, the more I think that we have nothing in our group/culture that prevents suicide.

  • We have no pagan ‘leaders’ like a priest that a person can go to to get concrete help.
  • What help? There is no pagan-specific help out there. Do we have message boards for mentally ill pagans to help each other out on? Do we have hotlines? No, we don’t even have fuckin’ temples to meet each other in.
  • We have no books or material discussing the morality of the topic.
  • We are scattered and isolated. This leaves people, well, isolated, and helpless in the face of suicidal ideation.
  • As a group/culture, we are immature. I’ll say it again for the people in the back. IMMATURE! We are a young movement, sure, but I find that we are overfed with bite size simplicity in our thinking. This means the average pagan is ill equipped to deal with suicidal ideation. We say ‘an harm ye none’ or ‘we do not bow to gods!’ and rarely take a step further and think about it. Really, we don’t.
  • We are victim blaming in our approach to mental illness. Telling people to avoid doctors, get out in nature more, and meditate more is ableist and victim-blaming. Period.

I could go on about the flaws in paganism, as I sometimes do. But I’m going to stop here.

People, we need to have these conversations. We need to stop, drop, and think. What would you say to a fellow pagan suffering from suicidal ideation? What are your views on suicide? How does suicide fit within paganism?

 

 

Self publishing thoughts

I’ve been better lately. A good meeting with my psychiatrist has put lots of things into perspective. My move is progressing well, as in things are almost all packed. And Lo! Another dream struck, just as soon as I had finished sorting out the tone for my new novel, I am sidetracked to an older Farfadelian one. And while writing that, I am reminded by a beta reader that I am in the works/waiting for edit recommendations to finish up another novel for publication. Yikes!

I have so much to think about. Self publishing? Traditional publishing? Which ones for which novel? And if I am to self-publish, I had better get better at it (ouch). I’ve been far from successful lately, and I honestly don’t see a way to get better. Maybe once I move I’ll magically become more organized (I really hope so) but I slightly doubt it. I just don’t seem to be connecting with my audience? I have a hard time being stable in my social media presence? I dunno. This blog is honestly one of my most successful endeavors, so maybe I should publish here? Who knows?

If y’all have self-publishing tips/ways to make this blog better as an indie author, I’d really love to hear them! Should I make my blog prettier? Should I balance it better between novel ideas, mental illness, and the lovebirds? Or … what? Ideas! Help!

Don’t Blame the Whistleblower

Now I don’t want to name any fucking names or point any fingers but let me lay some shit out here for people to understand.

It is not the fault of the whistleblower that the shit happened.

It is not a dynamics of abuse and power-over when a healthy person points out a disabled person’s need for help.

It also is absolutely NOT normal to be unable to shower. CAN NOT shower is not equal to your desire to NOT WANT to shower. Capiche?

Normal exists. Functional exists. Being abnormal and dysfunctional is not criminal, but can be a sign of a need for help. Telling someone who is non-functional ‘well what is normal anyways?’ is a big kick in the metaphorical teeth.

You want to break down everything I’m ranting about? Let’s do that because I’m pissed enough to blow my energy on this.

It is not the fault of the whistleblower that the shit happened.

Let’s start with this one. It is not the fault of the whistleblower that the shit happened. Alright, let’s apply this in a mental illness context. Let’s just fuckin’ suppose that there’s someone out there who blows the whistle on someone’s mental health. In my case, my wife. She up and decided that I needed help because hey! It’s not normal to start crying when a fan blows on you. She realized I was in a state of crisis and blew the whistle. And what the fuck has happened since then? She’s been blamed for being the cause of my mental illness when all she’s done is trying to help. Because, point two!

It is not a dynamics of abuse and power-over when a healthy person points out a disabled person’s need for help.

Consider this: my wife constantly and tirelessly advocates for my needs and accommodations. She helps me set and respect my limits as well as try and make others respect them. But what do people think? That’s she’s trying to be an abusive person and gain power-over me in an abusive way. Now abusive relationships are no joke, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the average abuser doesn’t combat daily to give resources to their abused partner. They won’t encourage them to visit with doctors, social workers, therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists who, by the fuckin’ way, agree that this person needs help.

It also is absolutely NOT normal to be unable to shower. CAN NOT shower is not equal to your desire to NOT WANT to shower.

To paraphrase a doctor who gave me a stern speech, showering is the friggin’ basics. It’s called basic functioning. Being able to shower daily and do a normal care routine is the basics of functioning. Here’s a pro tip: if someone says they are struggling to cope with a daily shower routine, it means they’re on the very low end of functional. It does not mean they don’t WANT to shower, it means they mentally CAN’T. Not the same fucking thing, unless you fail at basic grammar and language. And if you try and downplay not being able to shower and basic self-care, I want to kick you. Just, so much.

Because here’s a thing. Normal exists. It’s a concept. Functional exists. It’s also a concept. And while we’re in concept-land, being a jerk also exists. It’s what I’m going to call you if you down-play someone’s difficulty at functioning. It’s what I’m going to call you if you try to philosophize away their need for help. Because really, that’s what this is all about.

Now, I know that I talk really big on my little blog soap-box. I know that in real person I’m rather timid and trying to practice having a voice and defending myself. So on behalf of all the other socially anxious people out there, just shut the fuck up and listen.

It’s not about you and your philosophical concepts of ‘normal’. It’s about mental illness existing in a concrete way, and requiring concrete help. And if you never shut up and listen, we won’t be able to communicate with you because it’s a two way street. For communication to happen, you have to actually listen.

Because I’ve been talking, and talking, and talking, to some people now for eight years and they still don’t accept that I’m disabled. They still refuse to accept that I have a real illness, despite all my diagnoses.  They blame my spouse. They blame me. They think it’s all made up.

I’m sick of it.  And you know what? I should do something about it. So tomorrow I’m going to talk with social workers at the local mental health clinic to come up with strategies to deal with these people in my life because out of self respect, I can’t let this keep happening.

And now I’m off to write fanfiction to blow some steam. Blessed be peoples. Take care.

Mental Illness Survival Skillz! (A Humorous Post)

As I have posted recently, I am currently in a slump (don’t worry, I’m getting my meds adjusted and coping with it very well :)). As I was messaging a friend the other day, complaining about the horrendous state of my dishes (they were nigh on evolving into life-forms) something happened. She began messaging me all these tips on how to cope with the inability to do dishes, such as rinsing them and stacking them so that when you are having a minor up you can do one or two, then rest.

And I thought, in my dazed state, “Huzzah! Life tips for surviving a mental illness!”.

After some exhaustion-fuelled giggling, I came up with the idea for a series of (potentially humorous) blog posts that I will be trying to post in a streak for the next few days: Mental Illness Survival Skillz!

Ta-ta-ta-daaam! How does one survive their mental illness, all while living a glamorous and fabulous life? By growing a fabulous set of mental illness-coping skillz!

So today’s post is dish- centric. For me, I can gauge how terribly I am doing by the state of my dishes. When I am great, the counter is sparkling clean. When I am terrible, there are so many dishes that there isn’t room to place a cup on the counter. And if you move something, something else might fall (it’s badly stacked too!). So what do we, those whose disability manifests in such visible ways, do when there is visit coming over [eep! In laws!], we generally want to ‘pass’ as ‘normal’ or… we just want a friggin’ clean place?

Well, my friend swears by ‘rinse and stack’ to then do them later. I generally soak the dishes… then leave them to collect life-forms (petri dishes, anyone?) So rinse ‘n stack peoples, rinse ‘n stack. It’s less likely to grow bio-hazards and tip over, y’all.

Haha, so anyone else have trouble doing their dishes? (Personally I had to call in someone for help…) Anyone else have tips on how to cope with this?

Theater, Medication & Beauty and the Beast

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Coffee and thoughts of the day!

I went to the theater this week, and it really was quite fun. Despite my medication not yet having stabilized, I strapped on my “I’m doing this” boots and went out with my wife to celebrate our anniversary at the movies. Not just for any movie either- Beauty and the Beast is a very special movie for us.

It really was quite an experience to go while being unstable. Due to my sensitivity to music while being altered, it brought up some old thoughts for me. Mainly an old saying that was repeated to me over and over in the days where I was trying to heal without medication.

It would often go in a series of questions. I would say that I was trying to heal. They, the sage elder or wannabe healer, would look ‘wisely’ over me and ask if there was any part of my symptoms that I enjoyed. Slightly naive, I would answer that yes, I did enjoy the way music would sometimes become a portal to ecstacy. Or that sometimes I felt like I was flying. Instantly they would latch onto whatever I said and say that it was that! I had to “Let Go” of it! I had to be prepared to leave it behind! Ohhh, pop psychology at work.

I would often leave these meetings confused and bitter, wondering if it actually was all my fault, but mainly blaming myself for miscommunicating pleasure instead of pain. For really, I would gladly trade these few moments of bliss against the days of horror and struggle that they plunged me into.

And yes, the medication has taken away the music’s ecstacy. It took away the wings that made it difficult to walk. And you know what?

I don’t miss them. When my service dog signals, sometimes it does feel like music is on the brink of sending me an ecstatic message. But now I don’t jump that bridge. It never goes beyond that. And that’s great. I was able to sit back and watch a movie, and though the soundtrack was very moving it was not overwhelmingly so. I didn’t feel like I was falling into a trance or receiving mind-blowing revelations through a fiddle. I was just watching a movie. And that was really nice.

Sprouts & Healing (Wiccan thoughts on psychiatric medication)

This year, which started with a new, medicated and balanced me, I have once again decided to give gardening a shot. And, as so many other things are going better now that I am medicated, so is gardening.

Thanks to me watering them consistently with coffee (water mixed in with coffee grounds), my herbs have sprouted within a week! A week! Last year they’d sprouted so late I thought they were dead, and the few that managed to sprout had only a few inches of height by the end of summer!

Alright, moving on from gushing about my sprouts, what does this have to do with Wicca? Or even, mental illness?

Well, from a Wiccan perspective sprouting is a very important and symbolic act. It can be tied to the turning of the year, the onset of spring (though there’s still snow and its very cold in my region), and rebirth. But as a Wiccan, I think of all the elements in the ritual as symbolic. This includes the coffee water.

What of the coffee? A foreign element, not usually given to plants, not necessarily appearing in a ‘natural’ form. Yet with the proper care, it gives them the strength to burst free from the natural bonds (that are meant to be overcome) and be what they were meant to be. The seeds become plants, thanks to the aid of this foreign and un-natural product. And that’s ok, it works great.

I like to think of this as a metaphor for what psychiatric medication does. I like to think of it as a gift from the gods, a strange element taken from the world around us and derived so far from their natural habitat- yet it works. Like ashes, wood chips, or any kind of fertilizer, coffee needs to be balanced and tailored to the plant’s individual needs and environment.

The same can be said for psychiatric medication. It is a delicate balance to find the right medication, the right amount, and like so much in nture it can change and need adapting. Once this balance is struck, I feel like the person recovering can be like the plant, breaking free from the natural bonds of the shell and growing freely.

So for me, I find this year’s sprouting to be a lovely, divine, metaphor of life – for all of us, even the non-neuronormative ones. Because we too, are a part of nature’s beautiful cycles.

Self Care & Hot Chocolate

Good morning!

As I woke up this morning, I immediately thought 2 things. One, that I was feeling good, two, that I still needed some good self-care this morning before doing anything.

Living with a mental illness, in my experience, has done that to me. Self-care has become a vital part of existence. Not just to feel good, but in order to remain functional. In order to keep away the guilt of ‘being a burden’ I need to keep floating above water in order to feel confident about myself. And really, the time for self-care is not always when I am deep in my pit of despair, or confused and needing help. I have found myself, especially now on medication, to be a precarious balancing act of chemical cocktails, and if one element (stress, anxiety, etc) becomes too present then everything goes out of whack. The self-care comes the minute anything may be off. The minute too much anxiety kicks in, the minute I just feel that something is ‘off’. And around and between all that- I want to do my day as well and intensely as I can.

So for me, this morning, it was a lovely cup of hot chocolate and some pages out of my favourite book.